D is for dream, like the one that filled my heart the day I learned you were on your way. The little dreams - You'd have my eyes, your daddy's nose. The big dreams - Maybe someday you would cure cancer, pitch in the Major League, even be President. September 28, 2010, with one positive test, the world opened wide.
D is for "Danny's Song," the lyrics that piped over the pumps at the Arco station where I stopped for gas that wonderful day, the words "Think I'm gonna have a son" and "Everything is gonna be alright" filling me with their promise.
D is for Doppler, that incredible machine by which I heard your heart beat for the very first time. The tears poured from my eyes, streaking my face. I'd never heard the heartbeat of your brother or sister before you, gone before we ever had the chance. November 8, 2010, when everything was gonna be alright, because you had a heartbeat, and it was strong.
D is for December, a bittersweet month. Your brother or sister was due that month, but nature had other plans and instead, I was three months along with you. The holidays, the anticipation of the birth of the Christ child, took on new meaning as I spent the Advent season also planning your arrival. It was the most wonderful time I would have for years.
D is for Diagnosis Day. The words hit me like a spray of bullets, striking me with a force I had never felt, lodging in my chest, making it hard to breathe, hard to live. "Incompatible with life". . . "Minutes, sometimes hours. Sometimes days.". . . "No brain.". . . When I recall that day I can still feel it - The pull, drawing me into the whirlpool, forcing me under, drowning me in the greatest pain I had ever known, washing over and drenching me so completely that it will always be a part of me.
D is for drop, as my heart did, down to the pit of my stomach where it burned.
D is for destroyed, what happened to your father and me as we watched our dreams go up in flames one fateful morning.
D is for damned, the way I felt knowing my body had twice failed my children, unable to grow you each "correctly."
D is for decision. You were my son, my baby boy, my Gabriel, my strength. I'd waited my whole life for you. The law makes you nothing more than a choice, but you were everything to me, so I chose you. I'd chose you over and over and over again.
D is for drunk, the only way your father knew how to relieve his pain. I resented him even while I envied him. I longed to join him in a haze, forget it all. There was so little I could do for you then. Sobriety was one of the few parts of this journey that were within my control.
D is for Days - Ten of them. I'd hoped you'd be that rare exception. As we fed you, took you home from the hospital, bathed you, changed your diaper, I wondered how I got to be this mom that got to keep her child for 10 days, all the while knowing we were living on borrowed time. You were not mine to keep. . .
D is for dead. Dear. He's dead. My son is dead. He died in my arms. He died. He's dead. The words, the truth is so hideous that sometimes I still can't believe it. I have to see the truth written out in front of me, my way of waking myself from this walking nightmare, only to discover this is no dream. You're gone. The pain is invisible, but runs so deep. How can a stranger not see it in me? It's settled in my bones, a part of every move I make. It's pooled at the bottom of my fractured heart, which strains with every beat. It weighs me down, making every step, every breath, every day a struggle.
D is for differences. Over the course of the year following your death, your father and I learneed that the differences between us were insurmountable.
D is for divorce. People ask if it was because of you. It wasn't. You are just a tiny little baby, and it wasn't because of you. Without you, though, there was no reason to stay together.
D is for dare. To get out of bed every day is daring. To take each step is a risk. To go on living, to go on loving was brave. I idn't understand how life could go on without you, Gabriel, but I dared to go on with it.
D is for date. One date with your stepfather Marcos led to another, then another, and the next thing I knew. . .
D was for daughter. There she was. My daughter. Your little sister. Eden. Paradise. Eden with her perfectly round skull. Eden , nearly twice your size. Eden, who could never replace you, who isn't here to take your place or fill my aching arms. Eden, her own little person, her own little light in this world.
D is for Delilah, the "one who weakens," that precious little girl who's just stolen my heart away once again. In her sweet face I see a perfect blend of her big sister and her big brother.
D is for the day that I hold you in my arms again. I dream of that day you and I are united. I pray that it's many years from now, that I have an opportunity to raise your sisters and watch them build families of their own. But when death comes for me I will not be afraid. I will face it with dignity, a lesson you taught me. I will humble myself one last time, beg forgiveness for my sins, and pray that I have done enough with this life to spend eternity with you, my son.