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The Conversation I Imagine Having When Someone Asks If I Have Kids


All of my life my mind has wondered. I think most of us do this a little. (Maybe I do it more than others.)

When I’m about to meet someone new, go to a party or present to a group, I imagine the event and the dialogue that goes with it. I will often imagine full conversations in my head — sometimes out loud. (My husband has caught me talking to myself more times than I can count.)

When I was pregnant with my daughter, Casey, I imagined how conversations would go when I went into labor, telling our friends and family about our beautiful baby. I imagined much more than just conversations. While I was pregnant, I imagined the rest of our child’s life. All of the firsts: first word, first step, first day or school, first crush.

It was clear right away the life I had spent imaging for those 36 weeks wasn’t going to be anything like I had planned. It was hard to grieve the life I had imagined, but I did. Eventually, I embraced the life that I was given. I learned so much from Casey. She taught me what really matters in life and about real true love. Every day I was able to be her mother was a gift, and I am so thankful for the nearly 10 years I had with her.

It’s been over six months since Casey passed away. I’ve found my mind still wonders, and I still imagine full conversations, but the dialogue now is so different. I now imagine conversations that never crossed my mind before.

There’s the conversation with an old friend that I run into. I haven’t seen them since school, and they have no idea about Casey and the shattered heart I now carry. When they ask, “How have you been?” or “Do you have any kids now?” I imagine how I’ll respond to that. Do I tell them about how I had the best kid and how lucky I was to be her mom? Do I tell them about the amazing things she did in her short life and the number of people she continues to inspire?

Or do I tell them about the challenges she faced (and often overcame) and the emptiness I am left with in her absence? Or do I simply say, “I’m doing good. Yes, I have a daughter. How about you?”

I don’t want pity, and I hate the “Oh, I’m so sorry” face that comes with telling someone that your child passed away. I do want to tell the entire world about my kid, the best kid, and how amazing she was every single day. How do I tell her story and not get the “I’m sorry” face?

I play out the conversation with strangers as well. How do I respond if a stranger asks if I have any kids? Do I say yes, do I say I did or do I say no, not anymore? How do I share Casey’s strength and story with the world without it becoming the saddest conversation that person has had all day? How do I get people to see her light without seeing my darkness?

I play the conversations out in my head, and no matter how many different ways I play it, I can’t seem to avoid “the face.” Time is never an issue in my imagination. In my imagination, I am able to get the face and then recover by telling them all about how amazing she was and how she continues to inspire people every day.

I know I am still new at this. I hope that in time I’ll be able to find the best way to share her story with the world and for them to see the amazing little girl she was — not just my broken heart. I’ll figure it out, and I am sure she is helping.

If you see me and ask about her, please stick around and hear the whole story. I promise it’s worth it.

Follow this journey on Casey Barnes.

Lead photo source: Thinkstock Images