I have a brother-in-law I've never met.
His name is Evan. He's only in Arlington, a short drive from our house. I got to see his place in April. The thing is, Evan only lived for 12 minutes.
I don't remember when it was that I found out about Evan, but I remember that it felt a bit like the air in the room disappeared. I immediately started wondering if I'd said anything insensitive, or if I'd ever just brushed off something that had been said as a slip of the tongue. As the years have passed, I've learned that while he isn't talked about a lot, there is still a very keen awareness of his existence.
I've also learned a lot about what there is to know about him. There was something wrong with his lungs - perhaps they didn't develop correctly - but that something is now able to be diagnosed and fixed in utero. He was the second child, and the oldest ended up giving his own son the middle name Evan in his honor. The loss of Evan led to my MIL dropping to under 90 lbs during her third pregnancy and just wanting to shake all the other pregnant women in the waiting room and tell them what could happen, because it happened to her. All of her following pregnancies were labeled "high risk" as well. According to my FIL, the hardest thing he ever had to do was to go with his own FIL and pick out a casket to bury his son in. My MIL wanted to kick out a guy (who was in their bridal party) who was sitting in their house telling dead baby jokes a few weeks or months after Evan's birth and death (no matter how many feet I stick in my mouth, I am slightly comforted by the fact that it has never been that bad). When my MIL's dad was signing up for his burial plot in Arlington National Cemetery, he requested that he be laid close to Evan; when we buried him in April, we found that he was just a short walk away, practically looking over his grandson over 30 years later.
I've also learned that there is a lot of pain still there. I've been gently corrected - my MIL has 5 children, not 4 - when I forget. I've seen the sorrow in their eyes. I've heard the trembling voice of a woman who never got to sing her baby to sleep. I've listened to the anger of a man unable to understand how anyone could consider a baby not a baby simply because they haven't been born. And I've found that while it might be easier to pretend he never existed, they immensely prefer that I and others acknowledge that he did. He was real. His death was real. Their loss was real.
And so I spend today, October 15th, Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day, thinking about the brother-in-law I never met, and praying for him and his parents and all others like them.
Rest In Peace, Evan.