Dearest Max,

Today after your daddy and sister Stephanie went to mass we went back up to MD for a Christmas party with the extended family on my mom’s side. It wasn’t as bad as I feared. I ended up having a pretty good time. I did get a few “I am so sorry for your loss, how are you feeling?” greetings. The hardest part of that is I have no idea how to respond. It feels weird to say thank you in response to someone saying I am sorry for your loss, there is just something that does not feel right about that. And to respond to “How are you feeling?” There is no good response for that, I feel like there is a hole in my heart, I miss my son, I feel broken. No one really wants to hear those answers, so I just said I am fine. I mean, for the most part I am fine, I am getting through this, I have great family and friends that are supporting me and showing me so much love. Your brothers and sisters and I are having a great time with your daddy being home. It’s hard to be sad when we are having so much fun together.  But the questions and looks of sympathy are difficult.

On our drive up to the party I talked to your dad about my concerns and fears. I had told him that I was not sure that I wanted those questions and thoughts of sympathy, but at the same time, I don’t want them to pretend like nothing happened either. I am still not quite sure where my comfort level is. I want to talk about my real feelings and I want to talk about you and your funeral and visiting your grave, but I don’t want others to become uncomfortable with the subject. I just don’t know what to do.

I was introduced to a cousin’s girlfriend at the party and they mentioned that I was the one with 7 kids, I wanted to say actually I have 8, but that would mean having to explain what happened. I was asked again later one how many kids I have. I wanted to say 8, but I couldn’t get the words to come out. She then said, “7, right?” I nodded my head in response.

I do have 8 children. You are still my child even though you were not able to come live with us. But is it appropriate for me to include you when introducing my family? Would it just make everything awkward? Does worrying about this just go back to my worries about what other people think of me? Or does it reflect on me being a people pleaser?  What is the right answer to this question? I am so conflicted and confused. Saying I only have 7 children is like ignoring the fact that you ever existed. But saying I have 8 is confusing and complicated. I have 7 living children, so saying I have 7 children is not lying, but it just doesn’t feel right. I love you just as much as I love each of your siblings.

On a lighter note, I realized that I never looked up the meaning of your names when we decided on your name. I looked them up and really love what I found:

Maximilian: Greatest

Isaac: He will Laugh

You would have been a fun little guy to raise and love and play with. I can’t wait to see you when I, hopefully,  make it to Heaven. I am going to do my very best to make it up there.

I love you Max!