What Do You Do When There Is (Almost) Nothing Left?

A little more than a week ago I wrote a post about how I realized I had been miserable and was looking for a change. I thought I had found one that would make me happy.

Then I woke up Saturday morning to find my baby boy and a frequent topic of the blog, LIttle I, dead in his bed as the result of a terrible, tragic accident. I made an absolutely lunatic call to 911, jumped into his bunk bed, and did CPR until the paramedics arrived. They pronounced him dead. All of the light drained from my world. I was reminded what a terrible, selfish mother I am because I still have TD. But, my relationship with Little I was different. He was becoming a man. We could talk about grown-up things. He was taller than me and could put his arm around my shoulder. He was interested in learning our family traditions and learning to cook our family dishes. He shared with me thoughts of his future. He went through a stage in 5th and 6th grade where he wore a trenchcoat and a fedora to school every day. The only kid in the school with a trenchcoat and a fedora. I reminded him of it the other day and he told me…

I’m so embarassed about those years, but I know they were necessary to become the super cool teenager I am now. Thankfully, I haven’t peaked as a human and I’m only going to keep getting cooler.

– LIttle I

On Thursday we had his funeral. I was stunned to see the church absolutely packed. Kids from the high school, people who know him when I was a grad student and postdoc, his teachers from elementary school all came. Usually, at church, you struggle to hear people sing. I’ve never heard people lift up their voices as they did for him.

Half of the church gathered for Little I’s funeral

The deacon who baptized him and gave him his first communion came from Penn State to say his funeral mass. The show choir came and sang. I held my shit together and hugged easily two hundred people while keeping a brave face and many of his friends came back to our home. We talked about Little I, and grief and loss, and about how his death wasn’t their fault. It wasn’t his fault. It was a horrible accident. We talked about how I would always be there for them. I sat with people who sat in my grief for a week and I need a break from it. I can’t keep sitting in this crushing grief alone. I’ve been told that my job is now to be a martyr for TD, but I need something else to distract me. I never wanted to be only a mom. I decided to go back to work today. I told my boss I was coming back to work today.

I went to a meeting to discuss planning space for a new building, to choose a new cancer center director, and my student’s comprehensive exam meeting. I cleaned the blood off of my son’s floor. Now well-meaning people have started canceling things I was supposed to be involved in. It feels like I am being kept from the break in the mourning. I have no purpose. I’m just the mother of the dead little boy that I couldn’t save despite pouring my whole life into him. There’s really no other scientific job I do that someone else couldn’t do better.

Isis the Scientist

Professor, physiologist, mother of the iKids, stepmom to the Strange Tots, Strange’s wife, Iowan, bikes, shoes, debt-free zealot, post-stomach. Old crone of a blogger who just never learns. Not even close to affiliated with my employer.

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