Some might find it odd that I am so proud of my son. Being his mother brings me incredible joy. It is true that he never took a breath on this earth despite the efforts of the NICU staff present at his delivery. Yet, I believe deeply that I know him. The time that we shared when he was within me was some of the most sacred days of my life. He taught me to slow down, to take notice of the small things, to dream about the future yet be present in the moment. I paid attention to every movement and smiled at every flip. I talked to him and told him all about our days, the people we would visit for my work, the adventures that we would take both then and when he would be in my arms. I told him over and over how we were going to be partners.

Life was going to be amazing, full of color and joy, I just knew it.

What I did not know as I breathed a sigh of relief and moved into the third trimester, was that things were going to take a dramatic and sudden turn. All the moments that I had savored were the only moments we would share. The dreams that I had about the future shattered around me. Instead of finishing the design of a nursery, I designed a headstone. And every single thing that I had dreamed of sharing with this first child of mine became images of what could have, should have and would have been. How could we be partners when I was still alive, and he did not survive? Life was anything but amazing. It bleak and dark and devastating. I knew it and felt it in every fiber of my being.

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The memories of those days come back like the rush of a wave at high tide. Many of the memories now make me smile. Some still break my heart and I know they always will. But what I remember more than anything was the love and joy that I felt when I held his little body close to mine. He was mine and I was his. Nothing would ever change that. No matter what anyone said or did. No matter how much time passed. No matter anything.

I wish desperately that I could hear him exclaim, “Mommy,” and have him rush into my arms after I would pick him up from class.

I dream of how I would beam with pride as he would excitedly show me his LEGO creation or his masterpiece painting of a firetruck. I can only imagine how loud I would cheer when he would run the bases at a t-ball game and how many high fives and hugs I would give him when it was over. I will always wish I could see with my eyes and experience all that he could have been and all that he would have accomplished in this life. And yet, even though I cannot do these things, I am so proud of my son.

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Over five years have passed since I memorized his precious face and had his tiny fingers wrapped around mine. So much has changed. Time has continued to move forward. Sometimes I have moved with it willingly and sometimes it has dragged me along for the ride. He has two sisters now. His father and I are closer than ever. The people I have met on this journey are some of the most beautiful souls I have ever encountered and somehow I doubt we would have ever met if it were not for our children who we carry in our heart instead of in our arms.

I count being a mother as the most precious experience of my life.

Just as I get to spend each day with my daughters, I feel I also get to spend each day with my son. I know it is different and most people do not understand. But, without him, my life would be so much less. Without him, I would not have experienced near as many adventures. Without him, I would never have had the dream of starting a non-profit like A Memory Grows. Without him, I would never have met the incredible people that I have the privilege of coming alongside and walking with and sharing the stories and legacies of their children. Without him, I would not know the depth of love and the unbounded joy of simple moments that change life forever. Although I now know darkness and pain like I never had before, I also know vivid color and true joy.

You see, I thought that my life was over and yet a new chapter was just beginning.

I thought my dreams were shattered and yet I simply had to learn to dream again. I thought that happiness was forever in the past and that devastation was all that I would ever feel and yet love broke through stronger and more powerful than ever. I had no idea that my little guy who never breathed a breath this side of heaven would become the greatest partner I could ever have.

He has taught me that each day is still sacred, and there is hidden beauty even in the difficult and discouraging moments. Because of him I still slow down and pay attention to the small details of life. Rarely do I take for granted time. Because of him, I know just how precious each second is. I still talk to him about the adventures that we have, like turning skylines pink and blue to remember all babies who have died too soon. I dream bigger and love deeper all because of him. Life is amazing and beautiful even if it is not at all what I thought it would be.

I am proud of my boy. He is mine and I am his. He brings me great joy. Nothing in life or death can ever take that away.


Photo Credit: DDare