When There is No Dash

August 24, 2017

The dash.

A simple little line placed on a headstone. It seems so small and unimportant. It’s only a dash after all. One tiny dash placed between two dates. A birth date and a death date.

The two dates that are suppose to represent a persons life. A beginning and an end of a persons life. Those two dates are suppose to mean something, not only about that person, but the life they lived. Those two dates are just a moment of time here on this earth for the person whose name is etched on that stone. A minuscule amount of time they actually spent in this life.

However, that tiny little dash represents so much more. So much more than just simply two days a person lived. That dash represents every single moment that person lived. Every event, situation, joy, pain, sorrow, happiness, and pleasure that person experienced here on earth. It represents a persons entire lifetime. That dash holds so many stories to tell of a persons life. How they lived and what kind of person they were. If only that dash could speak.

More often than not, that tiny dash represents decades of a persons life. A life that was hopefully full and complete. Then sometimes that dash represents only a matter of years, months or even mere days. That dash seems to scream at you that this isn’t fair. It doesn’t want to forever reside between those two dates. Not with dates so close in a span of time.

Seeing that dash you automatically know…this is a child’s grave.

Someone’s precious and dear child. A heartbreaking story of a life cut way too short. Someone’s child who mattered more than anyone could ever understand. A Mom and Dad who thought they would have a lifetime of memories with their child. A Mom and Dad who had to bury their child before their time on earth was over. I once heard someone say, “it is nature working backwards”. These parents are left with such a small amount of memories they hope they can cling to with every fiber of their being and never forget over time. Memories to keep their child alive within them while they are left to face their life without them.

Than you see it.

A headstone missing a dash in its entirety.  A persons name and one date. One solitary date. It is clear this date is not waiting for another date to join it in due time. This date is all there was and ever will be in that headstone. A birthday and a deathday all in one day.

No dash.

It doesn’t seem possible for a life to be cut so short. You can’t quite wrap your head around having to say hello and goodbye in one day. You know that a tiny baby rests in that sacred ground. A tiny little baby that never had the opportunity to have a dash. The dash that would represent their life.

The dash that would say he or she “lived”. I can tell you there are thousands, hundreds of thousands, and many more of those headstones with one solitary date.

No dash to be found on any of them.

As a mother who has an infant son, a beautiful baby boy named Turner, with one solitary day that will be etched onto his headstone, I can tell you that my son lived. Turner won’t ever have a dash to represent the life he lived. However, I carried him for 9 months. I watched and listened to his little heart beat for 9 months. I felt his kicks, punches, twist, turns and even hiccups for 9 months.

Did he live?? Yes he did! He lived for 9 beautiful months knowing only love, comfort, happiness, and warmth. A dash may not be present, but he most certainly did live.

The day on his headstone only represents a moment in time. A moment in time 9 months AFTER his heart first starting beating. A moment in time 9 months AFTER his life really began.

That moment, that solitary day, March 25, 2017, was a paradox of pure and utter devastation and pure and utter beauty all at the same time. On that day, at 5:02 am, we finally met our 6lbs 2oz son, Turner. Our beautiful perfect newborn son for the first time face to face. We finally met this little person who had been living inside of me for the last 9 months. Staring at him in complete awe of the beauty that was his. Looking over all of his features and seeing our 4 living children in his face, hair, cheeks, nose, lips, hands, feet, toes, fingers, legs, baby neck fat and even his tiny behind. He was 19.5 inches of pure perfection. We gave him a lifetime worth of kisses, hugs and snuggles. We told him a million “I love you’s”. Our perfect little miracle. Our newborn son.

That solitary date also means that was the day we had to do the hardest thing we’ve ever done… give his little body over to a stranger. It was the day we said hello and goodbye all within 12 hours. Not only saying goodbye to our son, Turner, but saying goodbye to all the hopes and dreams we had for him.

The hopes and dreams that we fully expected to have. Hopes and dreams that were shattered and robbed all in a second flat when we were told our healthy baby boy unexpectedly passed away at 38 weeks gestation.

Saying goodbye to memories that we were looking forward to making, not only with him but as a family of 7. Memories we will forever wish we had. Memories I was never fortunate enough to have, but yet somehow those memories play over and over again in my mind. I’m left constantly living in my reality, a reality of a life without my baby boy in my arms, and also living in a reality where Turner is here with us. Always wondering what he would be doing in that moment in time. Seeing his face everywhere I turn. He is always on my mind.

When there is no dash and a baby passes away before they are born, please know and understand the missing dash and the missing little baby doesn’t mean this little person never lived. They lived long before they were physically born into this world, whether it was mere weeks or months. Know they lived more than you could ever comprehend. Know they will forever be missed by their parents who are left with a permanent hole in their hearts and souls. A hole that won’t ever heal. Know that nothing and no other subsequent baby could ever replace their precious son or daughter.  Know that we didn’t “lose a pregnancy”.

Our baby passed away. And yes, there is a difference between those statements.

There may be no dash, but these babies have already lived a lifetime in their parents minds, hearts and souls and will forever continue to live with them, despite their physical absence. Don’t expect anything less.

A son or daughter who forever will remain their baby.


  • Desiree' Crocker

    Desiree Crocker is the mother to 5 children, with her youngest child, a son named Turner, unexpectedly born still on March 25, 2017 at 38 weeks gestation from a cord accident. She has been married for 13 years to Dave, who is the love of her life. She is also the founder of the Facebook group “Turning Hearts” and the blog “Turning Hearts”, www.turningheartstillbirth.com, which is a blog and website designed to share her everyday life, thoughts and feelings after the loss of her son, help support parents who've had to endure the pain of child loss and to help those who are left to support these grieving families understand how best to love and support their loved ones. Her goal with openly sharing her son and grief is to bring more awareness to stillbirth and the devastating effects it has on families, while also hoping to reduce stillbirth rates.

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