Empty Spaces

January 26, 2019

By Sanda Rathamone

"You will always be my favorite ‘What If.’"

I often wonder what life would have been like with Elijah. I know for certain that everything would have been different; our life we be completely changed - not that loss hasn't changed anything.

Loss has greatly changed my life and altered my whole identity. I am not who I was before Elijah died. I may look like the same person, but really, I am not. I feel like an alien to my own body sometimes, as if the life I am living is not mine, but someone else's. I am just watching through a set of weak and teary eyes.

I wish I could be like one of those moms who say, "having a baby changed my life." Instead, I had a baby who died and that changed the entire meaning of life. My world - my life -  is now and forever surrounded by the notion that I had a baby who never took his first breath.

Death changes life, especially when death should have been life.  

Sometimes, I would use, "If Elijah was here, would you ________?" on my husband. I want him to  imagine a life with Elijah, making decisions based on being a responsible father. He would say, "But Elijah isn't here." It always brings a silence after that. I know that if Elijah was here, every decision would be based on what is best for him and us as a family. Making decisions would be different because we would put Elijah above ourselves.

Some of those decisions would be easy because we would do absolutely anything, anything for him. 

I look for spaces in our bedroom of where it would have been different. Of course, we would downsize our enormous, lumpy king-size bed to make room for the crib. My dresser would no longer be mine and filled with Elijah's clothes. My clothes would move into the closet. The top level of the bookshelf would have all of Elijah's books. The T.V. would disappear and in its place would be a box of diapers, wipes, random toys, baby lotion.

There would be a bottle somewhere on or under the bed. There would be photo frames on the wall with pictures of Elijah: smiling, crying, laughing, sleeping, playing, posing with us.

The house would be filled with more of Elijah's things. The kitchen with Elijah's bowl, the couch with Elijah's blanket, the bathroom with Elijah's shampoo. There would be letter magnets on the fridge because Elijah would know his alphabet. Inside the fridge would have Elijah's milk and juice and cold snacks I packed - just for him.

And then, I look for other spaces. 

The car would have his car seat in the back, in the middle seat. If we were at the grocery store, the child seat on the cart would be his. Unless there was a cart with the pretend car at the front. He would be going to town with the steering wheel, happy as a bee.

When we are out at the park, we would all be holding hands. Elijah, always in the middle. At family outings, he would be in the lap of uncles and aunties. Throughout the day, he would be in wrapped in our arms and in the night, he would be safely tucked in his own bed, right next to ours.

Life would not be the same, everything entirely different. 

There is this gigantic empty space in my heart that nothing could ever fill. Sometimes, I try fill it with cake and sugar. Sometimes, with dreams and wonders. But nothing seems to make my heart feel complete and whole. That is how I feel at home and everywhere I go. There are all of these disturbing empty spaces, filled with Elijah's absence.

All I want to do is place a piece of him in every corner to tell the world that he was there.

With love,
Must Read:
Read Elijah's Story, "From Gender Reveal to a Spontaneous Delivery"

Photo: wigglywilliam - etsy

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