William has been using Benjamin’s diapers, Benjamin’s clothes, and the Benjamin blanket since he was born. Sometimes, William even uses Benjamin’s name.
I like to watch people as they’re talking to see if they catch it. A slip of the tongue, a moment without thought, and there it is; they are holding William, but they have called him Benjamin. Sometimes they catch it and put their hand over their open mouth, look at me with wide, sad eyes, and say repeatedly I’m sorry. And I just smile.
A conversation with a family member two months after William was born. He kept calling him buddy. He said I’m sorry, but I won’t ever call him by his name because I’m too scared of messing up and calling him by the wrong one. He stepped around the subject, not saying what he meant but saying it all the same. My response was the same response I give to any one who slips up and gives me those wide, sad eyes.
Why should you be sorry? If anything it makes me happy because that means he’s in your brain. He’s there and he meant something because he existed.
We have been using Benjamin’s things. Today I asked j to go get diapers out of Benjamin’s closet, even though he’s never lived here. Tonight I dressed William in Benjamin’s blue submarine pajamas, even though he never wore them, and when I lay him down to bed William will be wrapped up in Benjamin’s blanket, though it was sewed with love and given to me two months after we laid him to rest.
I didn’t know how unearthing all of those tubs of baby things, that used to cause me so much pain and were hidden from my sight for three years would open up life again to our dear Benjamin.Every time I see something I remember. But it’s no longer the memory of failure and despair, now I remember my hopes I had for him. And though William could never replace him, it’s kind of been a bit therapeutic using his things and laying those hopes to rest.