In my upstairs hallway there is a duffel bag. It’s a smallish duffel bag, well made, plum color with deep green accents. My parents gave it to me when I was a sophomore in high school. I’ve used it continually since then, it even went to the Philippines with me on my mission. You wouldn’t know it by looking at it that it’s nearly 15 years old, it is in very good condition. I guess that you might say I’m emotionally attached to this bag, as much as a person can be attached to a bag.
It comes into my view as I walk up my stairs to where our bedrooms are. Sometimes I avoid looking at it. Sometimes I stop and stare at it. Sometimes it grabs ahold my heart and squeezes it so terribly terribly hard. You see, that bag is packed for trip that it never took. It is filled with tiny pajamas, swaddling blankets, burp cloths and special glass bottles. I can’t see those little things, but I know they are there.
I can’t bring myself to unpack that bag or even move it. I haven’t opened it. I don’t want to touch it. My duffle bag has become a small, discrete coffin for the dreams of a child that will never come home. It is the only evidence of the heart break that we have suffered.
When will my very rational self take over, realize that a duffle bag does not belong in a hallway, that we will need to use that bag the next time we take a family trip? I don’t know. It feels like it never will. I wonder, will I just go buy another bag or will necessity force me toward the shaking and sobs and despair that my little coffin will unleash?
Really though, I’m not afraid of the tears. There have all ready been so many. I’m afraid of loosing the only thing I have left of him. A child that I lost, but who is not dead. A son who grew in my heart and then was ripped from it. A baby whom I will never raise, not here, not in the eternities.
And so, a smallish duffel bag remains sitting in my upstairs hallway.
(Please take this only as an expression of my personal loss, and do not derive from it any anger toward K.’s mother. K. is not my son, he is A.’s son, and he is not the child I grieve over. He is a miracle that we celebrate with her. He is the possibility and the child that she would have grieved had she been able complete the placement. We grieve the possibility and the child he could have been as part of our family, but isn’t.)
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