Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Slap in the Face

"Therein lay the problem. Life had altered in the wildest possible way, but it was imperative that they act as if nothing at all had happened. Imagine smiling after a slap in the face. Then think of doing it 24 hours a day" From The Book Thief, a novel by Markus Zusak This quote, which I came across in a book that I read recently, really resonates with me. I find myself constantly trying to "self-correct" and adapt myself to the "real" world so that I will seem "normal", like the old Kirsten. Isn't that the problem? Why should I have to do that? Something did happen, and it was awful and unimaginable, and I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy. Should I pretend like I have "moved on" and that I am "over it" to make everybody else feel better? I have always been a little bothered by people's nosiness. I know they mean well, but is it really necessary to know everybody else's shiz all the time? Since Boe's death, I am even more bothered by it. Don't get me wrong, strangers out in public usually don't bother me. They don't know me and they don't know any better, but sometimes they make really dumb remarks, or ask really probing questions. What really gets in my craw are family, friends, colleagues, who do know better. They always ask things like, "How are the boys?" How is everyone doing?" "Is everything OK?, and my personal favorite, "How are the TWINS?" WTF? If memory serves, I carried and delivered 3 babies on April 22, 2010. The fact that one is not here does NOT discount his existence. There is a part of me that always wants to save these idiots from themselves and say nothing; I should just smile politely and give the response expected. "The boys are fine" "We are fine" "Everything is OK" "The TWINS are just fine". I find myself willing to actually do this far less frequently than I once was. Perhaps it is because I am at a point in my journey through grief where the shock of what happened is wearing off, and I am becoming more aware of reality. Boe is dead, he existed, and now he doesn't. Perhaps it is because I want everyone to realize that babies do die. It sucks, but it happens and to try to deny it is to deny their little existences, no matter how fleeting. Perhaps it is because I am uncomfortable with what my life has become. In an instant my future, my hopes, dreams and aspirations, was ripped out from under me like a tablecloth being yanked from a table at a cheap magic show. I have to live with Boe's death, and the pain it has caused those I love the most, everyday. It has become a part of me. Some days I am much more aware that it exists than others. Some days I am hardly even aware that it is there. It is something that I will carry with me until the day I die. So, when you ask me if I have twins and I explain that they are surviving triplets, if you ask how many children I have and I say 4 even though I clearly only have 3 present, when you make a stupid remark referencing the fact that my loss would be so much more horrible if it had been my only child and I say until you've lost a child you'll never understand the depth of this pain, when you know my story and you brazenly refer to my boys as TWINS and I correct you in front of others and remind you that they are, in fact, triplets, I am not doing it to be rude. I am doing it to have someone else shoulder my burden, even if only for a second. If what I say or how I respond makes you uncomfortable for a little while, put yourself in my shoes. Remember that I have to live and breathe this until I leave this Earth. The bottom line is, don't ask a question to which you do not want the full, honest-to-God truth. For I have been slapped in the face, and now I must smile 24 hours a day.


  1. I know exactly what you mean. You are right to respond the way you do. This is your way to protect Boe's memory.

    Today I had the experience of someone I don't know well asking me if I am "the one who has a baby.." I had to try to remember if she had seen me pregnant, and then said, "Well, yes, I did recently have a baby, but she passed away." Of course the person felt like she had said something wrong. In this case she didn't, she just didn't know what had happened. But I am certainly not going to deny my daughter's existence.

  2. So beautifully written Kirsten. I applaud you for correcting the ones that know your story. If we don't acknowledge that Boe and Bailey were born, then who will.