As we wander through the world, amongst the people whom I now refer to as the “uncomfortable people”, I often wonder what makes them so uncomfortable.  Uncomfortable with grief, I get that.  A year ago, that would have been me.    Don’t know what to say, don’t know what to do, maybe it’s best to not say anything or pretend the grief is not there.

But there’s something more.  Our grief, together with our story, seems to bring about a different kind of “uncomfortable”.  The kind that makes people feel the need to be different than us.  The kind that makes people feel the need make their child different from Rowan.

Rowan had differences.  He had a bigger smile, he had a louder “Hi!”.  He spoke a different language (sign-language) while other kids learned to talk.

And Rowan was the same.  He encouraged a friend to crawl, he loved to swing, he learned to kick his feet and blow bubbles in the bath with his big sister.  He loved his family and friends, and the world around him, and made new discoveries in that world each and every day..

To those differences and similarities, people say “Of course, of course”.  We are in the 21st century, we have come a long way from institutionalizing those who have external differences.  Of course we understand.

But.. here’s where this post in going to get uncomfortable, and I forgive you if you choose to stop here.   Well, sort of.

Because what I need to tell you is that Rowan was the same.  Rowan was the same as your child.

His entire life, a common cold was the only medical ailment that bothered him.  No visits to the ER, no hospital stays, no medications.. his entire life beyond the first four days.

Yup, he had diagnostics.  Just like your child.

And he saw lots of doctors, because he was different, and doctors were interested.  In his entire life, how many of those diagnostics revealed an ailment that needed medical treatment?  How many were more than a quick look to say “Everything looks good”?  Just one.  The one that killed him.

Rowan was the same.  That’s right.  The same as your child.  The same as any two year old visiting the hospital for a routine test.  Has your child ever received an x-ray, an MRI, an ultrasound, a lab test?  Because something about your child was slightly different than the average?  Something that made a doctor say, “we just want to take a closer look.”  If yes, than your child is exactly the same.  Rowan walked into the hospital, exactly like your child, and was supposed to walk back out an hour or so later,  just like your child.

“Wasn’t Rowan sick?”  Good question.  No one will ever know.  We know the doctors said he was “healthy” up until moments before he was killed by anesthesia.  But we will never know how “sick” he was, or if he would have lived a full and happy life with a heart that was “different” just like many before him. We will never know if he would have needed a risky surgery, or if that surgery would have been a great success.  We will never know because nobody looked at his heart before anesthesia.  Nobody looked before they gave him the poison that killed him.

So I guess that I’m trying to say that I’m okay that people are uncomfortable.  I understand why people need to feel like what happened to us cannot happen to them.  I understand why they need to hold onto the “knowledge” that their two year old is safe.  Because my empty arms are a scary site, and I understand why people  look away.

I don’t write with hopes of scaring people, or vilifying the medical practices that have saved many lives.  I write with a hope that people will look at my empty arms, and with a plea that they will face the scary reality that those arms hold.  Rowan died because too many people looked away, please don’t look away now.  For each time you do, Rowan life loses just a little bit of its importance in this world.  Is that what you would want for your child?

 

 

 

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