I had a friend/colleague tell me a while back that one question above all others would be most difficult to answer, and that is the question "How many children do you have?" After pondering that question I developed answers for what I thought people should hear. Family, friends, and trusted colleagues were easy since they knew I had two children, one living, and one deceased. Total strangers and peripheral people in my life were easy to deal with as well. They didn't know me, knew nothing of your death, and in my mind at the time, just should hear the answer "one daughter." It was the easy way out of an awkward spot from my perspective.
I went with the "one daughter" response since it was true and didn't seem to dishonor your memory. Well, after some thought and a few times having to answer that question to total strangers, I realized that I was completely dishonoring you and your memory. Giving an answer to make it comfortable for others or just easier for me was a cowards way out. I can tell people my father is dead, grandfather, some great aunts and uncles, and various people who have come and gone in my life, but I felt weird about talking about my son. Why?
Colin, first I will say that I am sorry that I did not acknowledge you early on. It was the wrong thing to do. I hope that you forgive me for my cowardice during those early days/weeks after your death. But, back the the question of "Why?" After a great deal of thought, I was trying to manage other people's grief and not make them feel awkward or sad, and that was/is not the right way to deal with things. Death is a part of life…"no one gets out alive, so enjoy the ride" is a saying that some people use to acknowledge that we all will die someday…even the wee ones like you, and we adults try way too hard to avoid the subject, especially if we think other adults can not deal with it. Well, after facing the harsh reality of your death (not for a few months after actually), I realized that I should celebrate and honor your life and not be afraid to answer the question "How many children do you have?". With pride in my voice I say "two, one living and one deceased." People then have the opportunity to ask about you, and when they do, I am all too happy to share a little something about how special a little boy you are, and that makes me cry tears of joy instead of sorrow.
I love you!