Today is the first day of school, your first day of Kindergarten. Today is the day I have dreaded since your Daddy placed your perfect silent little body in my arms five years ago.
We have survived all the milestones up until this moment, all of the should-have-been/could-have-been/would-have-been moments.
Like a roller coaster inching its way up to the highest peak, I feel like we are about to uncontrollably fall down the hill at a mind rattling pace. The heaviness of this day has been carried for so long and now the day is here.
Today I am sick to my stomach to think that there is a teacher who will not know you.
A classroom with one less desk and yet another empty chair.
A backpack left on a shelf in a store and the absence of the smell of fresh school supplies.
Friends who will run and play and explore, not ever realizing that you should be there.
I think you would be quiet yet inquisitive. Serious yet with time mischievous. Your deep eyes would carry a soulful wisdom and an innocence all at once.
You would probably be nervous today, I would be too. I can only imagine walking you through the doors, your little hand in mine, kissing you on the head and then walking away, leaving you in a classroom with a whole new chapter in front of you.
I am sure I would cry. I know I would cry.
Shoot, I am crying now.
Today leads me into a new chapter of this life of loss and love. Today opens the door that counts down to your Kindergarten Graduation which in the blink of an eye will lead to your first day of High School, your first date, your first dance, your first car, High School Graduation, your first day at college, your first job interview, your college graduation and then a wedding that will never be with a groom/mother song and dance which will forever go unplayed.
(There is a reason when the DJ announces that particular dance at wedding receptions I always have the need to go outside and look at the sunset or have the sudden urgency to excuse myself and find the bathroom.)
These milestones are so hard. This life without you by my side is often unbearable. These days hurt so, so bad.
Today your Daddy, sisters and I will run away. I cannot wake up in a house that should be bustling with nervous energy and potentially see a bus go by our front windows.
I cannot see the front walkway where you should be standing with your backpack on your shoulders and a smile on your face holding one of those trendy chalkboard signs declaring it is the First Day of School.
Over the past five years I have accepted that there are a lot of things I cannot do in order to protect my heart, but there are also a lot of things that I can do to parent and share my love with you even though it is not the way I had hoped.
Today I will celebrate you, my only son, my first-born child, the one who made me a mom and made me understand the depth of a love I had never experienced or comprehended before.
Today I will share that love with those in my path, our family, our friends, the strangers in our midst.
Today I will forget about low carb meals and a healthy diet, I will eat at least one, possibly two Peanut Butter Paradise Donuts, because I think I should enjoy one for both of us and I’ll enjoy my Diet Coke more than usual.
Today I will do something I have never done before in your honor.
Today I will live in the moment.
Today I will go down a water slide just for the fun of it… at least I hope it is fun.
Today I will cry but I will also smile and laugh.
Today I will grieve deeply for what never will be, but I will celebrate all that is.
Today I will wish that you were here and yet relish in the ways that you are.
These milestones are not what they should be; yet your impact on my life and this world is even greater.
Today is hard, but I will survive because you are forever my boy and I am forever your mommy and there could never be a greater milestone than that.
Related: One More Milestone Missed
Today should be so many other things. But, today will be a day of love.
On this First Day of Kindergarten your love propels me to be better, reminds me to live for both of us, fills every inch of my soul and will sustain me through another dreaded first without you because even though you are not in my arms, your love forever carries on.
I Love You Forever,
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.