Letter to the editor. Identity withheld.
My son, if you had lived, you would be celebrating your 18th birthday soon. Your sister–your half-sister, but, if you had had the chance to know her, I know that you would have not only loved her, but would have gotten a huge kick out of how intense and feisty she is—will be graduating this year. Your death allowed her life to exist. For that, I am so sorry, but I am also so grateful.
You see, your father, although I loved him, was not someone that I could have spent the rest of my life with. He protected me when I needed it, showed me that I was beautiful, and loved me when I desperately needed to feel loved. That wasn’t enough, though. He knew of God, but didn’t know God. He also tried to love me through his imperfect knowledge of what love was, but because he didn’t know God, he ended up taking advantage of me when he should have known better.
He raped me. Some might call it date rape, because I had been dating him for awhile, and did tell him that I loved him with all of my heart, but it was still rape. And that betrayal was so much harder, because I had been sexually abused for my entire life, and was hoping that this relationship would allow me to escape that abuse.
All of that being said, even though your beginnings weren’t optimal, to say the least, I wanted you so very much.
I remember talking about the possibility of you with your dad. I knew that I was pregnant with you at that time, but was too scared to take a pregnancy test that would confirm it. Your dad and I talked through baby names, choosing Brandon for a boy, and Amanda for a girl. In my heart, I knew that you were a boy, so even as your dad and I talked about names, I knew that Brandon was the perfect name for you.
At the time, I didn’t know how I would raise you, but did know that I would do my very best, because I loved you so very much. I knew that you would have blonde hair and blue eyes, have your dad’s musculature and athleticism, and have my brains and musical talent. I also knew that you would be stubborn and have to learn lessons the hard way, but also be able to love wholeheartedly and see the best in people. I knew this, because that was the best of what your dad and I had to offer.
Even now, so many years later, I can remember how I felt when I first knew that I was pregnant with you.
I was terrified that a baby would irrevocably change my life. I also knew that your dad wanted you so very much, and as such, would be a permanent presence in my life. As much as I wanted you, and as much as I loved your dad, I knew that couldn’t be.
I was scared.
I went off to college—a Christian college, no less—not knowing what I would do with the knowledge of your existence. I lied my way through orientation, putting on a confident façade, not letting anyone know of the internal turmoil that I was experiencing. I pretended that my life was perfect, and that everything was fine. I pushed the knowledge of your existence off into a corner of my mind, repeatedly telling myself that it would all be ok if I could only compartmentalize the knowledge of your existence.
I refused to verbalize your life.
I finally broke, calling your dad, and telling him that I really was pregnant with you. I wept, even as he told me how happy he was that we could finally be together as a family.
He was so excited to know about you. He wanted you so very much.
As much as I wanted you—even being scared that having you would alter my life forever—I knew that being with your dad was not the best for me. I was determined to have you, and let you know your dad, and for him to know you, but not for him to be an everyday part of our lives.
I loved you so much. I didn’t know what to do, but I did know that I loved you more than I had ever loved anyone before, and that I would protect you with every fiber of my being.
I am so sorry that I was not able to fulfill that promise to protect you.
You died a few days later, and my world was shattered.
I had been out with the other college orientation students at an end-of-orientation celebration, and started to bleed heavily. I was terrified that I was losing you, but was also terrified that anyone would find out about you, because that would mean that I would be kicked out of college. So, I left that celebration early, went back to my dorm, and stayed in the bathroom, alone, bawling as I prayed very hard that you would be ok.
As the rest of my incoming college classmates partied, I gave birth to you, alone, in blood, pain, and tears. I was farther along with you than I had thought, so was able to see little features of your body, after you were born, in the midst of the blood and gore.
You were perfect.
Your face looked at peace. Your eyelids were screwed shut against an unjust world, and your tiny ears stuck out like miniature butterfly wings. Your tiny hands looked like they were curled around dumbbells which you would never be able to lift. You had long toes, like your daddy, while your fingers ended in graceful crescents, like mine. You were the best of what your dad and I had to offer. You were beautiful.
I carefully wrapped you up in my high school graduation robe, and I buried you in the dark of the night, in the woods, under a beautiful, sprawling oak tree which bordered a nearby pond.
I wrote to your dad, told him of your loss, and told him that I couldn’t handle being with him anymore. I hardened my heart, determining to become educationally and financially successful and to not allow myself to love again. It hurt too much. I threw myself into activities which would deaden the pain that I felt from your loss. I became reckless, not caring for my safety and started to make many unwise and dangerous decisions.
I felt lost and alone.
But God wouldn’t let me self-destruct, and He wouldn’t let me stay alone.
In my foolish, pain-driven state, I did what I had promised myself I would not do. I fell in love with a man who was a better man than your dad, and got pregnant again.
Your sister will be graduating this year. Having her helped my heart to heal some. Being a teen mom was more challenging than I had thought it would be, but, with the grace of God, I was able to make it.
There is not a day that goes by where I do not think of you.
Even now as I write this, I can envision not only the baby that you were, but the man that you would be now, had you lived. Although it hurts more than I can say to deliberately break open the conveniently scabbed-over region of my heart that your death has created, thinking about you is something that I cannot keep myself from doing. I love you too much for that.
Someday, I will see you again. I will be able to hold you, and tell you how much I love you. Until then, I will continue to entrust you to God’s care, knowing that He has you in a place where you will never experience pain or loss, a place which is far better than anything that I could have provided for you.
I love you more than life itself, and am so very grateful that I was entrusted to your care, if only for a little while.
Until I see you again, know that I love you forever and always.
Brandon’s song: The Braes o’ Balquhidder, by the Tannahill Weavers