I made myself small on the day my son died.
As I cradled his stillness in my arms, rocking him rhythmically out of habit. While hours passed, feeling both like an eternity, and the blink of an eye.
I knew those last moments would at some point come to an end. I was aware that the visual of us, me staring at his lifeless face, my tears falling into his cold skin, was at risk of living only in my memory, and the memory of those who quietly milled about our home.
I wanted desperately to ask someone to take a photo of us. I was longing for some kind of grounding proof, for whatever version of me I would become in the days, weeks, and years that followed. Longing for those last moments holding my son, to be immortalized so that I could return to them whenever I longed for HIM.
But, I was too afraid to let the request leave my lips, for fear of someone judging the validity, necessity, and importance of what my grieving mama heart craved then and there.
I tucked my needs away, and I did not ask. Because of that fear and shame, the boxes that contain my sons entire life do not hold photos of the hours in which our world caved in. I would revisit those horrific, tragic, beautiful images infinitely, just to feel the closeness of the last time the weight of my sons body filled my arms.
Society, with it’s misconceptions and biased views of grief, took that from me. I didn’t realize it at the time, but I was already trying to stifle what space my grief occupied in the presence of others. In the immediate hours following our child’s last breath, I was already making myself, my process, and my pain, smaller…for the comfort and perception of others.