All Better

Yesterday, in honor of Natan’s three-month birthday on the Hebrew date, Josh and I brought sunflowers to the cemetery. It was the first time since his funeral that we’d been there with the ground exposed. His grave no longer blended into the others because of snow – his little square was muddy and had there not been an imprint of the bouquet we’d left a while back, it could have been a freshly dug grave. I saw that other parents had been there recently and left flowers for their children. I wondered if they’d noticed Natan’s and what they felt if they had.

I must have felt like torturing myself, because we walked over to the other two graves with flowers. One had two stones and two bouquets – a baby boy born still in August 1982 and a baby girl born still in May 1983. My G-d that hurt to see, but I was moved that someone still visits, and on days other than their birthdays. I wondered how that couple has gone on – did they have another baby, a living one? Did they adopt? Or give up entirely on that part of their lives? Are they still married? In any case, they never forgot, or moved on, and at least one of them never yielded to expectations that he or she should be over it and feel “all better” in a few months.

We had a visitor on Saturday, and I think for the first time in three months I didn’t say Natan’s name all day until the evening when he’d left. Someone else might say that’s a good thing, but it only happened because of the guest. Normally I say whatever I’m feeling regardless of audience, but I wanted to avoid an uncomfortable situation. I was thinking about him all day, however, especially after the dreams I’d had Thursday and Friday night.

I dreamt that I was at a party at someone else’s house. I decided to go to the back of the house, to check on something. When I got there, I saw three babies on a bed; two dressed in party clothing and in carriers, and one naked and face down. I went over to the facedown baby and turned him over. It was Natan, limp and lifeless. For some reason, I was entirely calm at this discovery. Two men came in and one of them said, “Sara! Is that your baby? We haven’t met him yet.” I said, “Well yes, it’s him, but you’ve probably never seen a dead baby, so only look at him if you won’t be disgusted.” And the other man replied, “What are you talking about? He’s fine!” And I looked down, and he was. He was wet, newborn, but clearly full term rather than premature. The most surprising part was that he was breathing, looking up at me with bright blue eyes and clearly alive. I started screaming that someone needed to get a doctor because my baby was breathing. A crowd of other people came in, all happy and excited. No one seemed to believe I needed a doctor for a live and perfectly healthy baby.

I wish I believed dreams were premonitory – and that this one meant that despite my fears, my next baby will live. But instead I think it means that in my dreams, reality is the nightmare.

5 responses to “All Better

  1. On a simpler level, I think it means that you are still yearning for your baby, perfectly normal, and wish that you could rewrite the ending, that he could come back to life.

    I’m sorry this dream can’t come true, but I hope you do get to have the lovely live baby someday.

  2. Thanks, Aurelia. Yeah, that’s definitely what I meant without the melodramatic language.

    I hope so too.

  3. Here’s another interpretation (actually two interpretations) for what they’re worth. I can’t tell for sure if you had this dream before or after your visit to the cemetery.

    If it was after, I would say that the two babies in party clothes represent the two other gravestones you looked at, the ones with the two bouquets. While the third baby, Natan, represents the muddy grave, seemingly new-dug, given the impression that he has not truly settled into death, the way the others have.

    If it was before your visit to the cemetery, I would say that the two babies in party clothes represent your two losses — Natan and your miscarriage. The third baby, the living child, represents your hope that your next child will live.

  4. I have had similar dreams. Where Molly and Joseph are all of a sudden in our midst, alive and well, and I’m the only one in the dream freaking out about this.

    I actually think it is great that you do speak Natan’s name so often. That wasn’t easy for me, it still isn’t. I tend to be very guarded, like you described with your visitor, and so I avoid the potential discomfort that might follow the mention of their names.

    I can feel your longing for Natan, as well as your longing for another living child. It hurts my heart. I pray that another child, one that gets to come home and be smothered with love and attention, is in your very near future.

  5. Thanks all. There’s something much more lyrical about Niobe’s first interpretation, but my dream was two nights before we went to the cemetery. Probably her first one was correct.

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