"There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are messengers of overwhelming grief... and unspeakable love.” - Washington Irving

Sunday, April 11, 2010

New Identity

"Identity: also called sameness, is whatever makes an entity definable and recognizable."
The sound of "Papa and Mama" brought immeasurable happiness to our hearts. Just the thought of our son calling us by such is incomparable to any other name that one could be identified.

It feels like just yesterday when I found out I was going to be a father. I still consider myself as one and I will always be, even though our Marcus could not be with us here on earth. There will always be an emptiness in my heart, and an eternal sadness that Jet and I would be carrying with us for the rest of lives.

How do people who do not know us nor who do not know our son Marcus identify us? It's been a little over two months and yet I'm still unsure of how to deal with people. As I read my book The Grieving Garden, I come to realize some issues that parents who lost their child have to deal with, these are the same issues Jet and I go through everyday.

The one that struck me the most is the fact that, we who have lost a child have no word in which to identify us. As one parent said,

"There is no word for a person who has lost a child. There should be, because I feel that in many ways it is the most central thing about who I am."

This is exactly how we feel. We are not the type to solicit pity or are in need of preferential treatment, but how do we tell people? If these people are going to be an integral part of our lives, then they deserve to know that we are parents who have a lost a child. I can lose my head pretty quickly if people have the inability to react, respond, or take in what it means to be a parent who is grieving the loss of child.

Why is it that there are no words to describe parents like us? One could be called a "widow or widower" if they lost their husband or wife. A child could be called an "orphan," after losing his or her parents. Does this mean our society does not put importance when it comes to this issue? I feel like like we are exposed and vulnerable every time we have to say "our son died." At the same time, I feel a protective instinct inside me not to expose my Marcus to those dreaded words.

It's very difficult to approach a friend or an acquaintance, and be confronted by the question "how are you guys?" It's hard enough to answer the question when a dear friend or family member asks, but it's even more difficult when I'm unsure if the person I'm facing knows our story. I often run this scenario in my head, and sad to say I have no answer. This is precisely why we choose to stay home, where we are protected and not have the need to divulge information.

We are fortunate still to be surrounded by family and friends who understand, but the fact remains, most people won't understand. Our lives will never be the same, but we can cling to the hope that one day we will see our Marcus in heaven. This is who Jet and I are now, we are parents and we are proud to be but we are also parents who lost our Baby Marcus, but we will forever be "Papa and Mama."

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