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How to Kill a Conversation

The dreaded question usually follows my answering the question concerning the number and gender of my offspring.  Three daughters and five granddaughters is my simple reply.  What??  No boys??  Follows immediately.  Ok, you asked for it.

Well, I had a son, but he died of crib death or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) in infancy.  Their feeble attempt at humor is crushed immediately.  I feel compelled to follow  with the following statement,  I really don’t care about gender, it’s all about health.  There’s always agreement with that.

End of discussion.

It will never be the end for me, I now realize.  This date of Aaron’s birthday, September 23, will always hold challenging memories. That’s how it is, especially for the mother.  How could it be otherwise?  As long as I’m alive, I’m the Keeper of the Flame.  I can testify that he was born, lived only a few months and then left us.  The worst thing for me is for the world to  forget that he lived.  He was too young to have developed preferences; a favorite toy or a just a learned word.  But he was my son.  Yes, I had one! An infant I tried to raise to maturity was not meant for this world. Two healthy, wonderful daughters were to follow.  I was made whole again.  Or almost whole. Except on September 23, when I am truly broken hearted.

Dianne Vapnek

Dianne Vapnek

In an attempt to slow life's quickening pace, I'm writing to share my personal perspective on the aging process, its dilemmas, the humorous self-deception, the insights and the adventure of it all. I spent the bulk of my time in beautiful Santa Barbara, CA, but manage to get to NYC a few times times a year. I've been a dancer/dance teacher and dance supporter almost all my life. For the past20years, I help create and produce a month-long creative residency in Santa Barbara for contemporary American choreographers and their dancers. It's been incredibly gratifying. This year, I decided it's time to retire! Big change. I also now spend several weeks a year in Kyoto Japan, residing for several weeks in the spring and the fall. I've been magnetically attracted to Japan for many years. Now I live out a dream to live there part-time.

9 Comments

  • Martin Ringel says:

    IF MY MEMORY IS ACCURATE, I VISITED YOU WITH SUSAN NOT TOO LONG AFTER YOU LOST YOUR CHILD. WE CAME TO SEE
    YOU WHEN DANNY WAS WORKING ON HIS POST DOCTORATE AT YALE.IT WAS A SAD TIME. THE DEATH OF A CHILD NO MATTER WHAT AGE
    REMAINS FOREVER. I PLAY TENNIS EVERY FRIDAY WITH ONE OF JEANNIE’S BEST FRIENDS AND SHE LOST HER DAUGHTER MIA WHEN SHE WAS 24 YEARS OLD. IT REMAINS WITH HER EVERY DAY. IT WAS THE SAME WITH MY GRANDMOTHER WHEN SHE LOST HER YOUNGER SON DURING WORLD WAR TWO.

    • Dianne Vapnek says:

      That’s right. I think you visited during a big snow storm. It was a hard time for me. thanks for your kind words. xox

  • Eleanor says:

    Well stated. Your son lives within you beautiful woman and friend. Love you

  • Ann Starck says:

    Dianne, thank you for posting this. I have not forgotten that you list your child, but..,,,I have stored that memory as losing a baby girl, not a boy. My mother lost a boy to a late-term miscarriage before me and it so influenced how both parents were with me. You are brave.

  • Kate Weare says:

    Oh Dianne, I didn’t know this. My heart aches for you, that must be so very hard to bear.

    But I’m so glad that you have many young (and young-ish 🙂 men in the dance world who absolutely adore you. ❤️

    I send you love, Kate

  • Elaine Toshiye Nakashima says:

    My heart goes out to you, Dianne (and Danny). Tears welled up in my eyes at the end of this piece (and then starting in the middle of it when my voice cracked while reading it aloud to Michaell.) I for one will remember Aaron now, the day after my birthday each year. Xo

    • Dianne Vapnek says:

      Thanks, Elaine. It’s tough, but such is life. It’s unusual to lose an infant these days, but I think of how common it used to be. Thanks for your support.

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