“At least…”

At least

  1. not less than; at the minimum.
    “clean the windows at least once a week”
    synonyms: at the minimum, no/not less than; More
  2. if nothing else (used to add a positive comment about a generally negative situation).
    “the options aren’t complete, but at least they’re a start”

At least your healthy.

At least your insurance covers infertility.

At least you know you can get pregnant.

At least you got to feel him kick.  

At least you had the chance to meet him.

At least you got to hold him.

At least you have another son.  

At least you won’t always feel this way.

At least it wasn’t your fault.

Wait. What the what? I haven’t heard all of these phrases, but sometimes it feels like I have. And, a few of them I have heard. I’ll let you guess which ones.

Let’s talk about the one that I did for sure hear.  At my support group nonetheless. I know that it was not meant to be hurtful. But think about how it sounds.  “At least you have another son.” Yes. I have Nolan. I love him. I am grateful for him. I am thankful that he is in my life.  I would do absolutely anything for him. He is my everything. And yes, my son Simon DIED. He’s dead. My child. My child! Simon will never come back.  He’s in a tiny urn on my mantle. Does Nolan distract me from grief? Sometimes. Does he make grieving more complicated? Absolutely. How? Everything. Everything he does, Simon does not get to do.  He is a constant reminder of what we will not have with Simon. Nolan is learning to play catch, we will never play catch with Simon. Nolan makes friends easily and is very social. We will never know Simon’s personality. Nolan has a contagious laugh, we will never laugh with Simon. Nolan is sweet, kind, determined, athletic and smart.  We will never know what Simon would have been like. Nolan has crazy wild and curly strawberry blond hair. We will never know what Simon’s hair color would have been. Nolan has stunning ocean blue eyes. We never saw Simon’s eyes open. I sure as hell didn’t have to lose Simon to better appreciate Nolan.

I remember after my embryo transfer people asked me if it felt differently than my transfer with Nolan. Each time I responded, absolutely.  And why? Because i wanted it even more. I wanted it to work so badly because I knew what I would be getting. We would have another child in our life just as precious as the one that we already had.  We would love him just as much as we love Nolan. God I wanted it to work so badly.

A double-edged sword.  Let’s not forget that not only that, Nolan lost his brother.  His partner in crime. He has to live the rest of his life without Simon, his sidekick.  Nolan is grieving too. Just as we did everything we could to prepare him to be a big brother, we are now doing everything we can to help him understand the death of his little brother. He is two. What is death to a two year old? TWO. How sad that he is experiencing grief like some people never experience in their lifetime.

At least. Can we at least try to take this phrase out of our vocabulary? Instead of “if nothing else” by attempting to add a positive comment to a negative situation, think about it first? Think about the implications of what you are saying? Instead of trying to make the situation better by using the phrase, listen to what the person is saying. Sometimes there just are no words that will make the situation better.  Sometimes no words, and admitting there are no words, is better. Trying to soften the blow to an already negative situation could be attempting to find a glossy cover instead of truly listening to the person’s feelings. We need to be there for each other. 

Can we at least say that we will try? (Wink wink..)

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