Today marks five years. FIVE YEARS. Your fifth still birthday. It has been five long and short years without you. Five years since I said “hello” and “goodbye” all in the same day. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think of you. Some might say I’m crazy for continuing to wrap myself up in the pain that is you and your death. But what they don’t realize is that you are not only pain.
You are love.
You are my first child. My first son. The one who made me a Mommy. How could I forget you? Why would I want to? I love you more than anything. You are my child. My little boy. Even if you are not alive, you will forever be my baby.
Related: What Love Can Do
If you had asked me on day five if I could imagine my life how it is today, I would have struggled to comprehend how I could go on, unable to imagine my life with any joy. After all, my world came crashing down around me that day.
But here I am five years later. Living life, and honoring you while I live it.
Some ask me if the pain gets any better, if it gets any easier. I don’t have a good answer and often struggle even to find accurate words to describe the pain. This is my best answer: It doesn’t get better. It gets different.
Today, I don’t care if I make others uncomfortable by mentioning your name. I love you and am not ashamed of it. But it still hurts deeply. It hurts that I often feel like the only one who will keep your memory alive. That is a weight that I cannot begin to describe.
Today, the tidal wave of pain that comes on holidays and on the anniversaries of your diagnosis, death, and birth is not a shock anymore. Instead, I welcome the pain, as it’s how I know my love for you burns strong.
However, each passing year brings a new realization of what I lost when you died. You would be five this year. That means you would be going to Kindergarten. I won’t ever get that Pinterest-perfect 1st day of school photo. You won’t get to pick out a backpack. We won’t get any of that.
Instead, I’ll be donating a backpack full of supplies in your memory to a Kindergarten class. This will most likely make at least one person uncomfortable, but in year five, who frickin’ cares?!
I will not be ashamed to love you or to honor you.
On year five, I have more moments of joy than those filled with uncontrollable crying. And I no longer feel guilty for that — well most of the time, anyway.
I still wonder what could have been. I wonder who you would have been. But then I stop myself from asking too many unanswerable questions. If I stop to think about it… if I never had and lost you, I wouldn’t have your brother and sister. And that is just too deep and confusing to contemplate.
These days I’d say it hurts less and hurts more. It’s hard to explain. But one thing remains the same: I love you. I love you so deeply it hurts. And at the same time, I am grateful for what you taught me in your short life.
I hope you know how much I love you and how much you mean to me. You will forever be my first child and I will love you with every breath I take. Happy 5th Birthday, Parker James.
Kelly is owner and therapist at Evolve Counseling, LLC and proud mother to three children, including her son, Parker who was stillborn at 24 weeks gestation. At Evolve Counseling, LLC she provides counseling services to individuals and families healing after infant and pregnancy loss.