What is it about driving that starts those meaningful, thought provoking, and sometimes painful conversations? Is it the lack of eye contact, as the driver focuses on the road, only to glance sideways or in the rear view mirror for brief seconds? Or could it be the hypnotising vibration of the vehicle as it cruises over the outstretched road, lulling the anxious mind, making room for the wayward thoughts?
What ever the cause, I was caught unaware by just that type of roadside tête-à-tête last Friday as I drove our youngest to camp. It was a rare occasion where it was just him and I; no brothers, no dad. He had me all to himself. For the majority of the ride he sang to the songs on the radio. I am sure it was a pitchy rendition of the latest pop song and I was already at work in my mind, laying out what needed to be done to get through my day. The song must of ended because my trance was interrupted by his little voice from the back seat, "Flynn is dead, right momma?"
My only response, "yes he is honey."
"He was my brother while I was still in your tummy, right?" Oh I felt so torn. It wasn't that we kept Flynn from him, I had every intention of talking to him when the time felt right. Here was my baby wandering into the ugly truth and away from the nativity of innocence.
I inhaled and replied, "yes, he was your older brother and born many years before you."
A pause. Maybe that was all, possibly I had curbed his curiousity, could I be that lucky?
"How did he die?" asked the little voice.
How to answer, I had said it wrong with his older brother, or he had gotten confused - prematurity is such an abstract concept when you are five.
"He was born before his body was ready and he was too small to survive." It was all I could come up with, not having had to explain this to a little person in such a long time.
"Ok." I look in the rear view mirror and he grins back at me.
"I love you baby," is all I could get out through the lump in my throat.
"I love you too momma."
And my heart swells to twice its size once more.