You arrived silently at my home at the stroke of midnight. I knew you were coming, a new year without my baby. I have been aware of it since March 12, 2013. I’ve dreaded you since that day and the realization of all that time would hold within your 365 days. Like a roller coaster climbing a hill and about to reach the peak, I knew we were about to head full speed ahead into the milestones that my son will never experience. Where others are looking to you with great expectations as to what you have in store for them, I have no fond feelings for you. In fact, to be honest, at my core I despise you.
If he were here we would be talking about his 5th birthday party. Five years old. He should be five years old. We would be planning our last family vacation before being bound by the school calendar for the next 18 years. Instead, I’m planning the family vacation that we will take so that I do not have to face the school bus passing by the house with the with the empty seat, or the front porch that will not have a nervous little boy on it holding a sign declaring his first day of Kindergarten for a picture. No shopping for school supplies or the smell of new crayons, no new clothes to be worn. There will be no first report card or school program. No first class parties. None of this will be in this year of 2018. None of this will be. Ever.
I’m not sure how I have made it here, not sure how I have survived. If I close my eyes I can go back to the excitement of the baby shower we had, of the trip to California that was to be our final vacation before the baby arrived. I can remember my excitement on Valentine’s Day holding the sonogram picture and being elated about how perfect everything seemed. Then I remember “There is no heartbeat, we have to do an emergency C-section, it’s our only hope of saving the baby.” The rush to the OR, tears streaming down my face. The kind and peaceful assurance of the anesthesiologist and then waking up in the OR to silence. The silence that was the beginning of a new chapter, of a new story. They told me I had a son. And, they told me he did not survive. They did all that they could but he never breathed or cried. He was placed in my arms. Silence.
I remember laying in that hospital bed over the following days and when the room got silent, my mind would take over. It never stopped. Even in the silence, my mind was moving so fast it was spinning out of control at a deafening pace, and yet all seemed so silent. It always drifted to 2018, the 5th year, the beginning of school, etc. And now, here we are.
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I am hoping that in all of my dread of you that the new year actually will not be nearly as bad. I am focusing my attention on things that will bring honor to my son. I will laugh at the beautiful and funny things that this life has to offer and I will cry when my heart breaks over the pain and grief and sadness that this life has as well. I will speak his name, share his story, sit with others who sadly feel alone on this journey and I will love deeply because that is what Max taught me to do.
2018 I have dreaded you and I am sure there are days that I will be hard and tears will fall and it will not be at all like what it should. But, I refuse to let you steal the beauty and innocence and love that encompasses all that my little guy forever will be. It has been a hard 5 years. It will be a hard year. But, he is love and I have promised that I will live for both of us. In the beauty and in the pain. In the chaos and in the silence, I will live and love for both of us.
Photo Credit: emmzett/pixabay
DeAndrea is a wife, mother of three beautiful children, and the Founder and Executive Director of A Memory Grows, a 501(c)(3) based in Fort Worth, Texas that provides retreats and events for parents who are grieving the death of their child.