"2 boys. 2 deaths. 1 Re-birth" Open Call

Back-in-the Day Playdate: Toby Simpson's backyard - his little sister center, me & my little brother right - Toby didn't get the memo that I was coming.

When I was 7, living in Silver Spring, Maryland - I had my first boyfriend.  I take that back - to be a boyfriend; he would have to know it.  Toby Simpson was my first crush.

Boys that age don't think about those things & besides; it takes them a while to feel the heat.  Not being a boy; this is just what I have garnered thru the years - but mostly; I guess, at that age they're too busy with boy things to notice or be bothered.

I loved him from afar; well - down the street. 

Red Hearts Images

Dark hair, brown eyes & fit; for a 7 year old.  When my mother told me to take my little brother to his house to play with his little sister; I was most happy to do so!

But, one winter day; I heard rumors that I couldn't understand.  Something happened to Toby that didn't make sense.  He fell in the ice in the back of his house & he was gone.  The rest of the seasons of the year it was a deep creek; but now, it was something that mysteriously took him away. 

20 years later; I was a suburban housewife in Rockville, Maryland with 2 young children.  We only lived there 2 1/2 years; but during that time - right across the street from me; a family of 4 - became 3.

Their youngest son; 5 year old Mikey, was on his first 2 wheel bike when a Garbage Truck backed up & ran over him - right on our street.

Being Jewish; there were ritual "sit Shiva" services for 7 days in their home & I walked over with a casserole or cake & no words were spoken - nor needed to.

For me; it was a Mother to Mother moment - yet it's something I hope I never know.  It was not one of those "celebration of life" services; it was clearly an inconsolable sadness only recognized by those who have lost a child - everyone else can just imagine. 

Before we sold our house & moved to another part of Maryland - that mother across the street was soon pregnant & gave birth to a baby boy.  Thrilled; I went over to see the baby & saw the joy in the family's eyes & the pain lifted to start anew.

When I left; the mother's eyes met mine & we both smiled as I walked away.

Most lives don't get wrapped up like a pretty package like that. 

For so many who have lost a child; the agonizing pain causes a rift in the marriage or deep depression that never leaves - no matter how much love & support rallies around you, projects of distraction or volunteerism you attempt. 

Yes, there are exceptions & they're so very lucky to have made it thru.

As much as I couldn't be happier that that family was happy with a new arrival; I don't completely believe in the idea of having a baby to replace one that passed away.  For one thing; that child lives in the shadow of the 1st. 

It's great if they can pull it off; what with relatives/friends or even themselves making comparisons or references.

Of course, the decision has to do with the age, desire & fertility of the couple to even consider the big step; but the heart wants what it wants.

But at some point; the new child will be cognizant of the one that passed & of his gigantic job of taking all pain away - but I guess there are plenty incidences where family dynamics mimic that without having to lose a child.

In the medical community; they call it "The Replacement Child" - presenting a complex & fascinating picture of an individual caught in a dilemma of identity & are often overprotected, restricted & have a designated role.

What do you think?

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Views: 151

Comment by marilyn sands on May 19, 2016 at 10:51am

Thanks Steel!  So happy you did do what the heart wants.

Comment by nerd cred on May 19, 2016 at 2:58pm

Can't imagine and thank god I have no experience to draw on. It seems to me a very individual thing. Maybe the new baby gave them somewhere to focus their love for the other one rather than having to let it out into the ether. Not so much a replacement, an addition.

Comment by marilyn sands on May 19, 2016 at 3:11pm

Thanks nerd cred!  Yes, it is an individual thing - like the whole issue of what goes on in a woman's body - the decision should be ours alone.

Comment by JMac1949 Today on May 19, 2016 at 5:29pm

The loss of a child is something that I cannot comprehend.  R&L

Comment by marilyn sands on May 19, 2016 at 5:44pm

Thanks jmac - I too, think the loss; must be the hardest to bear.

Comment by Kage Alan on May 20, 2016 at 6:10am

I'm not a parent and the chances of me ever being a parent are extremely slim. That being said, I have to wonder if the desire to have and raise a child would be the deciding factor after losing a child, as devastating as that would be. To open a home and life up to a child, even after having lost one--maybe they were planning or hoping to have 2 or 3 children--would (I think and hope) become such an adventure that it wouldn't feel like a replacement child. The first child would never be forgotten, but the second child will still arrive with their own agenda. The politics of life? =)

Comment by marilyn sands on May 20, 2016 at 11:06am

Thanks Kage!  We do what we have to do to make us whole - with or without children.

Comment by koshersalaami on May 20, 2016 at 10:04pm

I think it is a very individual thing. I have experienced the loss of a child but in some respects it didn't resemble this. There are things they went through that I didn't. The loss did not damage my marriage. 

My son wasn't five or seven, he was just short of eighteen, and he had a severe disability, which meant that I had a very different relationship with his future than these parents had with the futures of their children - in my case, promise was balanced by serious worry. I was nearly forty when he was born, so I worried what would happen to him if I outgrew the ability to take care of him physically. 

Part of it is the repercussions. Something killed my son suddenly that I had no way to see coming. With these parents, there's just a tremendous amount of "what if" and "if only," asking themselves what the Hell they were doing to allow that little boy to ride a bike behind a garbage truck or let that other little boy walk on a frozen creek or, maybe worse, what the Hell their spouse was doing. The truth is that they were just being routine parents, going through actions that in the vast majority of circumstances leads to no harm at all, but they are not likely to have seen it that way. They are likely to have felt a very powerful mix of guilt and blame. Those things magnify the pain of loss, which is intense enough as it is. 

We were too old to think about a replacement child, even if we'd thought along those lines, and i have my doubts. My daughter became an only child, going from not enough attention (having a kid with cerebral palsy in the house involves a whole lot of demands) to maybe having too much. She didn't want to. Just this week she asked for the news to be on TV when she got up because my son used to watch the news in the morning before school and so she woke up to its sound. She decided she misses it. After over four years. I don't think I'm being helpful. 

Comment by Julie Johnson on May 21, 2016 at 4:22am

I love how the old pictures of us now, are all in black and white.  I remember the first time I saw the Wizard of Oz on a color television, how it went from black and white in Kansas to color in Oz.  We'd had color tv for a while, just hadn't seen that particular movie on it yet.  Blew my mind.  If I remember right, it was the same year we ran outside to look at the moon when they landed.  The whole world changed...

oh, but back to your post Marilyn.  I think, I was a replacement child for my grandparents for awhile.  My mother died young, and unexpectedly. Makes sense, especially how her brothers and sisters have been towards me and still are, over the years and how I feel about them.  Old grievances that I have no idea what they're going on about.  I moved a thousand miles away, and we all lost contact.  I did miss them for awhile, but not really.  Sort of like I died too.  They get uncomfortable around me, and therefore I get uncomfortable around them. 

You have no idea how I appreciate this article, how it has directed my thoughts.  Like, 'aha!'

Comment by koshersalaami on May 21, 2016 at 5:18am

Julie, It's so weird that your uncles and aunts reacted toward you through the lens of her and not through the lens of you. You're not your mother. It sounds oddly like people's (and a lot of writers') idea of cloning - it's the same person, just with a different set of memories and experiences. But, of course, it isn't - a clone is a delayed twin, and twins are clearly separate people. If your aunts and uncles saddle you with their grievances with your mother, you are probably better off away from them. You don't deserve that. Losing your mother is enough of a burden without adding her baggage.

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