I always expected to have children. The past three years have brought a dawning realization that this is not likely to be happen. Most days, I face this reality with a grudging acceptance.
But some days, out of nowhere, I am tackled by a staggering sense of loss. It happened the other day while decorating the Christmas tree.
You see, every year, Mom and Dad would give my brothers and me each a new ornament. It was something personal, chosen just for us. The felt elephant that was my favorite as a child, because I loved elephants (it looks rather sad these days). The copper angel with curly hair. The snow bunny grasping a handful of stars.
I haven’t put up a Christmas tree for a few years, so it was a particular delight just a few days ago to unwrap these memories, each one a small hint of the past. Until I realized, this ends with you.
Without ever consciously thinking about it, I had assumed my ability to carry on this tradition for my own children. The careful choosing, the recording over time of new interests and phases. The building of a dowry, of sorts, that they would take forward into all the future versions of their lives and selves.
It’s a silly thing, really. A symptom of loss, not the cause, and not even the worst kind. And perhaps inappropriate to even mention in 2020, a year of so much loss for so many people. But a small part of me insists that grief shouldn’t be compared, or minimized, or ignored, so instead I let it wash over me.