Sometimes I get the feeling people WANT to ask about Gabriel, but are afraid to. Maybe they feel uncomfortable, or don't want to make others around us uncmfortable, or don't want to make me sad by bringing him up as if a moment of the day could go by where I forget that I am a mommy and that my son is in Heaven.
Yesterday I had a solo counseling session for the first time since Gabriel died. At the end of the session my counselor asked to see pictures of Gabriel. I don't know if this was one of her counseling tricks, her way of acknowledging my son so I would feel better, or if she had genuine curiosity. Either way, it worked. I happily showed her a couple of pictures of Gabriel, smiling as I always do when I get to show off his picture.
Today a new co-worker boldly asked a few questions about Gabriel and asked to see some of his pictures. I showed her a few that I have on my phone, but she wanted to see more. She wanted to scroll through all of them, but I was worried about her coming across some of pictures of his opening. I didn't want to freak her out, and I didn't want her response to freak me out, so I offered to show her a few of the less severe pictures. She took a deep breath and said, "If his were my child I would look." I don't know what her honest thoughts were, but if she was startled she didn't show it.
I love when people ask even strange questions about Gabriel. I love explaining what anencephaly is, sharing with women the importance of folic acid, talking about how rare and special it is that Gabriel lived for ten days, showing pictures of his shocking blond hair.
Long ago I learned that people will avoid what makes them uncomfortable, and death tops the list of uncomfortable things to talk about. But I learned the above fact while also learning that death is just a part of life. I'm not afraid to talk about it. I'm not afraid to hear about it. Sometimes, when someone's loved one dies, one consolation that we can provide them is the opportunity to talk freely about their death and their memory.
People can avoid talking about my son all they want. If avoiding the subject spares them discomfort it does so at my expense. Whether someone talks about him or not, Gabriel is still my son. He is still noticeably absent from my arms every day. I'm still his mommy. He still lived.