Age: Day 8,279 of my life [22 Years Old]
Date: 23 November 2011
Location: Greeley, CO
Category: Saddest Memory
People Involved: Tanya, Blixt, Audy, Jordan, James, Jennifer, Manda
Facebook is strange in the ways that it keeps people together who no longer talk to each other. Such is the case for most of my graduating class. As high school fell further and further into my background, so did contact with most of the people that I graduated with. The thing is, I still knew what most of them were up to. I knew who was married. I knew who had children. I knew what jobs people held. It’s the part of Facebook that astounds me.
When I first ready Tanya’s status update in late November 2011, I honestly didn’t think much about it. I knew she had two kids. I had seen both of them a couple of months earlier while running for school board. Her update said that her youngest—Atticus—was in the hospital. I don’t know why I didn’t think twice about it. Half the time, when someone updates about being in the hospital, it was nothing. I assumed it was a nothing incident. So I let it out of my mind.
They next day, I was sitting in the living room with my roommates. With my laptop on my lap, I went through Facebook. That’s when I came across Tanya’s update. It simply read: “Atticus 4/24/2011 – 11/15/2011.” I froze. I had been close to Tanya for a couple years in high school. I thought she made a great mother…but the concept of having your seven month old baby simply not wake up one morning…I didn’t understand. How is something like that even allowed?
I remember tearing up (much like I am tearing up writing this). I had no idea how to respond to such an event. I have only ever lost two people in my life. My aunt died in a car crash when I was seven. I honestly don’t remember the event very well. My grandfather died of cancer when I was a freshman in high school. That one hurt. This death was something different altogether. Babies aren’t supposed to die. I remember talking with my roommates for a long time. We talked about how difficult it would be to miscarry a baby after a few months of pregnancy…and, in comparison, how cruel it was to let Tanya get to know that baby for several months before ripping him away.
The funeral and the memorial service took place eight days later. They tried to give it enough time for family to come in for the Thanksgiving week. Jordan, James, Audy, and I dressed up and went to Greeley for the funeral. The four of us had only been roommate for two or three weeks. I had only just moved out of my parent’s house. It felt like a strange way to start of my independent life.
At the funeral, I remember hugging Tanya and talking to her husband. I kept accidently asking, “How are you?” It’s the phrase I use to start conversation. Every time I asked it that evening, I felt like a moron. What did I expect? “Oh, I’m good.” I remember sitting through the memorial service. It was beautiful, but I had a hard time paying attention. I put a lot of energy into not crying outwardly. When I cry, I tend to be a little loud. I didn’t want to let that happen.
I remember watching Tanya’s daughter—who was two years old—running around. I tried to imagine that little girl’s life. Will she remember her younger brother? Surely, she’ll grow up in the shadow of her younger brother. She had a smile on her face that day. I’m sure she knew what was happening…even if she couldn’t fully understand it.
It was the memorial service that caught me off-guard. It honestly felt like a high school reunion. Tanya, Blixt, Audy, Jennifer, and I started talking about the old days. Before I knew it, we were telling stories that were making everybody laugh. I remember wondering if it was appropriate to be laughing at the memorial service of an infant. When Tanya joined in on our laughter, that question was easy to answer. If we could help Tanya even for a moment, it was worth it.