A stranger in the grocery store probably doesn't know that as I put my groceries in the cart, I am missing Gabriel. When I am shopping in Target and sneak by the baby aisle, they probably don't know that the Gerber onsie set they are looking at is the same one that Gabriel had, the five little onsies that he wore for ten days. Upon my return to work when patrons say, "It's good to have you back. How are you doing?" I wonder if they know that my response, "I'm doing okay," isn't completely honest. And when they see me out having a drink -- or several -- myself, it might not cross their mind that I am just trying to avoid my empty home with its empty nursery.
I miss Gabriel every second of every day. I pour through his pictures to remind myself of what he looked like, felt like in my arms, even to try to bring back the smell. I find ways to bring him into conversation just so I can talk about him. People are uncomfortable asking me about Gabriel, but I wish they would. Talking about him keeps my memories alive.
I think a lot these days about Casey Anthony, arguably the most despised woman in America right now. Some have suggested that her party-girl lifestyle, which continued after her daughter went "missing" (we know that her daughter was never "missing," but dead, and that Casey Anthony very likely knew she was dead), is somehow evidence that she killed little Caylee. Casey's actions, some say, lacked remorse or sadness, which has lead some to the conclusion that she must have killed her daughter. But I'm not quite sure how one is suppsed to show remorse or sadness. If grieving means crying all the time, then I guess I'm not grieving. I don't cry much at all. If going out and putting up a front are evidence of wrong-doing, one could conclude I've done something wrong to Gabriel. These are mostly rhetorical "ifs" but I do have my moments where I wonder if I really miss Gabriel like I'm "supposed to" because I'm not a wreck over his death. Should a real mom even be able to go on living when her only children are not?
The truth is, I've carried emotional pain with me for a long time now. Maybe I've just learned to cope with it. For years I've served patrons who carry unimagineable pain themselves, and at times I've carried it with them. An outsider might think we are just a pathetic bunch of drunks. We're just trying to make our way through this life as best we can. We don't cry, we just sort of exist. Maybe some of us are even just waiting to die. Suffering is not always visible in a way we would expect or in a way we might choose to suffer ourselves.
Two days ago I interviewed with the Kern County Public Defenders. After much deliberation, I decided to disclose that I was pregnant at my last interview, and had that morning received the devastating news that my baby had a fatal defect, and that he would die shortly after birth. I didn't want to exploit Gabriel's life, but I knew the possiblity that someone had noticed my pregnancy either at the courthouse or at the last interview. I explained that I was not looking for sympathy, rather that I wanted them to know I am the kind of person whose personal life can be crumbling but who can still do the job. "I can roll with the punches," I said.
For the rest of my life I will miss Gabriel and Baby Cude, every second of every day, some days more than others. Gabriel and Baby Cude will always be the something missing, but their absence is not something I can control. Accordingly, I will spend the rest of my life rolling with the blow that their death dealt to me.