For the stonemason in particular the death of his stillborn son felt like a betrayal. It was as if he had livd in the never acknowledged faith that his profession granted him some kind of special reprieve from death, that someone had agreed to that it was not to occur in his private life as long as he continued to carve memorials for the dead, and that this someone now had let him down. He was an atheist in the service of the church and loosing his unborn child felt like a disciplinary measure for his godlessness. Like many atheists he had a system of inner convictions that replaced religion. He did not believe in a creator, an organizer, a final judge, and yet he felt like he had fallen from grace.
Iris quietly lived in the shadow of their loss, simply mourning and nourishing the inconceivable thought that they should now never know him, their son, certainly not by the way of a new pregnancy as friends and relatives suggested. These well-meaning people did not realize that the depth of her grief was rooted in the very circumstances that they thought would alleviate the loss – the fact that neither she nor anybody else had ever seen this child alive; that it had in fact never been born in the true sense as he had died in utero. Her grief was that her child had lived, if ever so briefly, unknown to her, and that she would never know it. She sat at the kitchen table with her encyclopedia and with a three hair sable brush paint stamp-sized paintings on miniature panels of oak wood while thinking about all the small things she would not ever know about her son. She wouldn’t know his face. She wouldn’t know the sound of his voice. She would never hear him laugh. She would never hold him in her arms. And yet he had lived.