The following essay appears in our Summer 2017 digital issue. The entire issue is available for immediate download.
The strangest thing about Robert is how his voice changed in the years after he died. In the beginning, it was the wailing of a newborn infant, always at the other end of the house from where I was. Sometimes, the voice laughed – the happiest little infant giggles from another room. Later, it became an older child’s voice, and it sounded nearer and more plaintive. It said, “Mommy.” That’s all it ever said. None of this happened often. Maybe once every six or eight months. Sometimes, there might be a whole year or two of silence.
Much later, it was the voice of a teenage boy, startling me at moments when I wasn’t even thinking about Robert, although to be honest, there have been few moments like that in the past 30 years. The voice said “Mom” in that husky, reproving, half-exasperated tone in which adolescent boys address their mothers. That’s when Robert would have been about fifteen years old, if he had lived.
I never told anyone about this because people have a way of condescending to the mother of a stillborn baby. They think it is easy to get over a dead infant because you never really knew him. Let them think what they want. What do they know about how you carry him in your heart all the days of your life?
NAOMI LAKRITZ is a journalist and was a columnist and editor with the Calgary Herald for nearly 20 years. She currently devotes herself full-time to her freelance editing business. Naomi lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband, Mark, their border collie, Bridey – and the memory of Robert forever in her heart.