He Would Be Twelve
Every year we visit the grave of John's firstborn son, Johnathon Wayne.
We visit several times per year, but we always make sure and visit around the end of October. Because he was born on October 18th, 1998, and he passed away on November 9th, 1998. We want to visit his grave around his birthday, around the time of the year that he was here on earth.
It's kind of awkward to be the step-mother of a baby who passed away. I feel like if I include him when discussing "our" children, I am seeking sympathy for something that did not happen to me.
However, I feel that it's wrong to exclude him.
Recently, I asked John, "If someone asks you how many children you have, what is your answer?" and he immediately said "Five". My three, and both of his sons, living and in heaven.
But what makes it awkward for me is that if I say "we" have five, and then go on to explain that John's firstborn son passed away shortly after his birth, I feel as though I'm laying claim to a loss that wasn't mine. I never met Johnathon Wayne. Although I grieve for my husband's pain, and for what might have been, I didn't suffer that loss and I can't even fathom how it truly feels.
I'm not asking for answers here....are there really any answers?
Another thing that is awkward is that "Baby JW" would be twelve now. We still refer to him as "the baby". In the beginning, around his birthday, we would leave Hot Wheels cars or other toys on his grave. But what do you leave for a twelve year old? What would he like now? How do we do this? Is he twelve, or is he three weeks old forever?
I'm reading a book right now, a memoir by a woman who lost her first son. He was stillborn. Reading her point of view makes me think about the loss of Baby JW even more than I normally would at this time of year, and think about it from a mother's perspective. Reading her story gives me insight into what John went through. He doesn't talk about it much, and even when he does, it's hard for him to express those kinds of feelings.
I just want to make sure to never forget Baby JW, not even for a moment, and to never exclude him in a way that would hurt John. He has hurt enough.