"Do you have any children?"
I hate this question and even more so, my inablility to answer it.
Maybe I had been naive to it, or just hadn't noticed the weight that these words could hold. Maybe they had elicited different feelings in the past, bringing images of the happy future that I assumed would be. Maybe it is simply because I could never have imagined a situation where in trying to say the right thing, everything would feel so wrong. Whatever the reason, this question, in all of its cruel irony, seems to surround me now.
I know that my reaction is unnatural, that those who ask me expect smiles, maybe some light bragging, or the passing of a few pictures. I know that when I go to answer, their faces change, and they look around awkwardly for something appropriate to say, or an escape from the conversation. How did I end up here, unable to answer this simple question? This was never supposed to happen.
I hate this unforgiving limbo of having carried a child, birthed a child, loved a child, nursed a child, held a child, and yet, having to feel like an outsider in the realm of motherhood. Is it okay to say that I have a child, if my only child is no longer alive?
I wish there was an easier way to talk about Peyton, to talk about my daughter, to talk about the child that so few actually met and no one else will ever meet. Why don't people ask if I have had any children, that would be easier to explain. "Yes I have had one. No she is not here anymore."
Why can't I answer without stuttering? Why can't I answer without wondering if I am doing Peyton justice, or honoring her appropriately? Why can't I answer in a way that feels right?
Do I have any children? If only it were that cut and dry. If only life had been that easy.