Tuesday, January 21, 2014
Grieving the Loss of Unknown Children
I'm not baby crazy at any time, but when I started keeping my daughters' babies, Ethan had warned me he would expect the same care for his children. I never doubted that the day would come, probably at about the time I was ready for a break from babies. At some level, having grown into the role of caretaker Ma, I was looking forward to it.
Although I've known many of the things I expected will never happen since Ethan died, yesterday it was suddenly all about babies.
Ethan always wanted to be a daddy. Not just a father, but a good daddy. He didn't really even know what that would involve, because he never had a role model, but it was something he longed for and missed. He would have been a good daddy -- E1 adored him, even though she had not had the chance to spend a lot of time with him. When he was straight, even children who didn't know him were drawn to him. He was funny and could be childlike in his focus. They could feel that he was full of love.
"A life-long goal of mine is to be a good parent if I have kids, because that can really affect a kid's life and what thy do in the future. If their parents get divorced or something, and they don't really get to know both of them because of some stupid law or some other dumb reason then that kid just lost a major role model in their life. They may not get certain talks that they need from their parents and may not know what to do when certain things happen in their lives. When someone offers them drugs or wants them to drink some beer or other alcoholic drink, they may not know how to say no and they could end up saying yes just because they don't know what to do. They may end up doing some bad things because they lost a vital role model in their childhood. There's no telling what they could end up doing when they get older. They could turn to drugs or something else. They could become a criminal and end up in jail for most or all of their life. Some people end up like that no matter what happens in their lives. There is a lower chance if they have good parents and they stay together and other things like that. That just shows how much having good role models like your parents can affect your life in the long run and can decide what happens in your life when you get older, whether you're a criminal or live a decent life, and who you hang out with. So that's why being a good parent is one of my major goals, because if you have that much control over someone else's life, I think you should try to do your best to make their life as good as you always wanted your life to be when you were younger and give them the right choices that they should have. Besides, I figure if I can be a good parent, then not too much else matters."
Ethan wrote that paragraph in high school as part of a project all kids did called "Who I Am," which is a collection of assigned essays. I was already losing him by then, and had been since high school began, although he had not turned the corner that eventually took him away from me. His notebook is one-third the size of his sister's, and while she pillaged photo albums and decorated the covers, he barely took the effort to insert a few pictures of himself and one of his sister.
Reading that, I wonder what bad decisions he may have already been regretting. Reading between the lines, I know what he was missing so often was something I simply couldn't be.
There is no mention in the book of his father, who felt child support was optional and disappeared from his life shortly after the divorce when he learned visitation meant he was supposed to spend time with his children, not leave them with his girlfriend and her kids. Although his father made a half-hearted effort to be around Ethan's sister when she got older, he never did the same for the little boy who was barely a toddler when we separated, the little boy who would call begging him to come get him for a visit, the little boy who soon quit calling and grew into a young man who still wanted his daddy to acknowledge him as someone worth spending time with, but never had that wish granted. I accepted my part of the blame for the divorce, and he was never a good father or husband even when we were married, but I struggle to forgive him his abandonment of his son.
Ethan longed for a daddy and dreamed of being one, and it was that pain that had me crying as I stroked the soft cheek of what will probably be "my" last baby. There won't be any blonde-haired, blue-eyed children who call Ethan Daddy, no little Ethans calling me "Ma." That's another dream dying on the vine that I hadn't really faced up to until yesterday.
I am blessed with three wonderful, beautiful and totally amazing granddaughters and to have dreamed of any more seems greedy at some level, yet it was something I had expected.
There was no version of my reality in which Ethan would not at some point be the person he meant to be and find his way out of the life he was living. There was no version in which he didn't see his dreams come true, no version in which he wasn't a daddy.
The Father he could count on decided that Ethan had been through enough and took him home and reality changed. Ethan is finally with a Father who loves him, and the mother who loves him is still struggling with that.