Recently a friend of mine, Samantha, wrote to me expressing the following feelings of ambivalence. Samantha had just returned from a trip accompanying her sister to China to help meet and greet a new member of her sister’s family, a beautiful 4-month old baby boy, whom her sister and her husband had just adopted. A few years ago, Samantha’s own 11-year-old son had suffered a brain injury that had him hospitalized for over 6 months, from which he continues to recover, slowly but steadily, though it has become obvious that there are limitations to how complete that recovery will be. Walking and talking, likely finishing school, yes, but many visible cognitive and personality, changes that most would view, and that Samantha views, as definitely for the worse. There’s much that I could write on this, but far better to leave it entirely in Samantha’s own words (with her permission), including the question she has. Samantha writes:
China was great. Because we had a 4-month old baby, we couldn’t do quite all the sight-seeing that we would have done otherwise, but it was a wonderful opportunity, and I will never forget it. It was also really nice to be invited by my sister and her husband to share such an important time in their lives with them. The only problem I had–which I did not tell them about–was that I found it rather hard to be around a baby boy who reminded me so much of Trent’s babyhood. It brought up a lot of feelings about Trent, and about the son that Trent can never be now. Maybe I still need to mourn the Trent that is now gone, but I feel guilty about mourning him, because he’s not dead. I guess I feel like if I mourn him it must mean that I don’t love and appreciate him enough the way he is now. I’m not quite sure what to do with all those feelings, but being around a baby boy sure brought them up. It’s going to be hard in some ways, I think, watching my nephew grow up to be a son I will not have now. What to do? . . . .