A note for Bianca
By Bill Fletcher, Jr. (March 20, 2016)
My first born would have been 30 on March 18th. She was supposed to have been born in June 1986, my own birthday month. Yet something happened. Entirely unexpected and impossible to predict, she was born prematurely. She was gorgeous. Beautiful brown skin, waving her arms and squeaking, but she was just too small and too underdeveloped. She lived for three days and then…she could live no longer.
I write about Bianca every March 18th. It is important for me to remember her and to remember the moment that she came into our lives. It is important that I remember those three days; days that mixed hope with the most profound sadness.
My first born, my first little girl, would have been 30 on March 18th. Yet we—that is, my wife and I—had to make a very difficult choice on March 21st. Do we use various artificial means to keep her alive—despite the profound physical challenges discovered by the doctors— or do we disconnect her from the machines? In some respects the decision was actually easy. When we understood the quality of the life that she would most likely have, it sounded like we would be condemning our little girl to a hell encased in a body. On the other hand, saying good-bye was not easy since there would never be another hello.
I have written, in the past, about the ‘underground’ of parents who have lost their children. I do not wish to repeat that point. What is worth noting, however, is that over time one adjusts to the pain but that is not the same thing as the pain disappearing. It is analogous to getting used to arthritis, that is, you come to accept that it is part of you and that there will be pain. At the same time you figure out a way to navigate around it.
Every March 18th I feel a sense of guilt. This may seem odd to you, the reader, but it is very true. I feel this sense that I should be over this sadness by now. It has been 30 years and I still cry. It has been 30 years and I still remember her. It has been 30 years and I cannot let go. The guilt is so strong that I rarely bring up the matter of Bianca. I feel as if I might somehow impose upon someone with my sadness and make them uncomfortable. So, during 364 days of the year, I keep it internalized, at least for the most part. I don’t want to see the look in the eyes of someone conveying to me the notion that “…here he goes again…I am not sure how to handle this…” So, unless it is another member of the ‘underground,’ I leave it alone.
But on March 18th I insist on making a statement. Bianca lived, if even for a moment. And her mother and I will never forget her.