Monday, February 3, 2014

Small Talk

"How many kids do you have?"
Elliott is 8. Asher is 6. Alaska is dead.
This question has been on my mind since I was in labor with Alaska; I started writing this piece before I created my blog.
"How many kids do you have?" 
I have three children.
"How old? Boys? Girls?" 
My sons are 8 and 6. My daughter is dead. An angel baby. I lost her.
I now fear these innocent questions from friendly strangers. For me it comes down to protecting my heart by acknowledging my daughter or protecting a stranger and myself from a potentially uncomfortable conversation. Talking is my weakness. I completely suck at social situations, so I fear that I will panic and choose the second option, the lie.
"How many kids do you have?" 
I have two boys.
If I deny Alaska as my daughter, I will hate myself. I know that when most people ask these questions, they simply mean to ask about living children. The intention is not to start a conversation about dead babies but to make small talk. Talk about dead babies is not small. I know that it's natural to answer the questions about my living children and to swallow my truth, but so often these exchanges include follow-up questions.
"Are you going to try for a girl?" 
I already have a daughter. She died.
I can only keep my head down for so long. For my entire life I have done my best to say as little as possible, to observe and listen, to save my words for the meaningful conversations. So what if I choose to look up and to protect my heart by saying Alaska's name to a stranger? What if my acknowledgement of my daughter is an opening to a true connection with someone who has experienced a loss? What if I just tell the truth even though the truth hurts?