Time for me to weigh in on the Dear Abby column...
My birthday will be nine months since losing Travis...almost a year and nine months after losing Alex. I have few precious pictures of both of them. After all this time, there are still days I look at the photos of my own children and all I see is dead. And quite honestly, it's a difficult thing NOT to see. They ARE dead. I really can't fault someone else for being a bit horrified by that. I'm their mother and I am horrified by it (if I'm quite honest about it, I am horrified by it A LOT of the time).
I think that just because I have dead children I do not have the right to tell the rest of the world to go to hell. I do not have the right to force my pain on other people. I mean, I COULD, but I don't think I have some special pass to do so. Forcing my pain on others only makes me bitter and angry...and that is not a tribute to my children that I want to create.
And yes, I'm fully aware of the imbalance this creates. While I'm so busy trying not to offend anyone's sensibilities, people all around me are moving forward and leaving me behind without a thought. There is no extra care given to me to lessen my pain...except by those who really matter. And that makes me sadder...and angrier. But when I feel ready to rant at those who lack sensitivity...those who really aren't worth my time and energy...I take a deep breath and ask myself who I really want to be. Do I want to be like them? Do I want to be the person who cries and yells and demands other people feel things that aren't genuine? I would much rather whisper and join hands with those who hear me than yell and not be able to tell the difference. Besides which, if "it" doesn't come from the heart...if it's not genuine love and kindness...then it's not going to make me feel any better anyway.
Even after all of this...I think every single person should be respectful of every single other person. Some will fall woefully short of the mark. But not me. I won't let this change me into something I do not like in others. I will not become one of them.
So I personally compromise...I have a pencil sketch of Alex and a photo of Travis' little half-finished feet in my office. They are less harsh to outsiders than some of the photos I have...and they still allow me to keep my boys close while at work.
I know it's not my responsibility to shelter other people from my horror. I feel it is, instead, my privilege to do so. I don't want other people to have to feel what I feel. I don't want others to know the fear and anger and sadness and revulsion that all comes from something that is supposed to be so simple and beautiful and miraculous. I don't. I WANT to keep them from feeling the horror. I WANT to protect them.
I will never deny my boys, or the love I have for them. But I don't need to make the world around me uncomfortable in order to honor their memories. It sounds like the subject of the Dear Abby letter is sad and grieving...and feeling just a bit lonely. This is her way of yelling to be heard. I wish, instead of condemning her for her pain, her coworkers would find some kindness and understanding to share with her. I also wish this woman would reflect on who she used to be and find some empathy for her coworkers. But like my wish for world peace, I'm doubtful any of this is going to happen.
But honestly, if you have to resort to writing to Dear Abby to answer such a simple question about human interaction, you've got bigger problems than seeing death personified in a picture in someone's cubicle. The picture may be inappropriate for the workplace...but so is the lack of simple human kindness for one another.