We don’t say his name a lot, my husband and I. We talk about him a great deal, but we call him ‘macho baby’, as we did while I was pregnant with him. He never really got to be Xander - that crying baby, that toddler wobbly on his feet, that little boy off to school, that teenager in love or that adult making foolish and wise decisions. He never got to do fun, silly and normal stuff with his family. And sometimes it just hits me, the weight of all that never was. I’m playing with Barney, or out with Jim, or working, or washing up… and out of nowhere, it hits. My fun, silly, normal life is rocked by the absence of him.
I’ve written before about how I love my boys differently. Barney will always be part of me, but he’s also his own person. He’s stubborn, and funny, and cheeky, and fearless. He’ll change over time too, and become a whole host of other things. But my other boy… well, he was only ever alive when he was part of me. When he was our macho baby. And so he remains.
I’ve told Jim that when I die, I want to be mixed with my first boy’s ashes, and scattered somewhere. I don’t believe in a god, or an afterlife, so it feels right that we’d be reunited physically, be part of one another like we once were. Lately I’ve been reminded of this by these beautiful lyrics from ‘Fade Into You’, as sung by Claire Bowen and Sam Palladio in Nashville:
‘If I was just ashes and you were the ground
And under your willow they laid me down
There’ll be no trace that one was once two
After I fade into you.’
Right now I am happy. I am no longer filled with thoughts of being with my macho baby now, as I once was. I want to live a fun, silly, normal life with the family I have here with me. But one day, when my life is done, I will fade into my lovely first boy again, and we will be how we were when he lived. Together. And that makes me happy too.