Thursday, September 17, 2015

He would have been five years old

Today would have been Cole's FIFTH birthday. Five. Wow.

Five years I've lived with his memory.
Five years, off an on, I've worn his foot print around my neck.
Five years worth of tears that I've cried.
Five years worth of milestones I've missed.
Four birthday cakes we've eaten without him. 
Four celebrations' worth of candles he couldn't blow out.
I'm sure there are going to be people reading this who don't understand. I don't know that I would have ever truly understood the profound amount of sadness that comes with losing a child - and losing a child you never really got to know. Of course, I know the important things about him. I know how much he weighed. I know what he looked like. I know how long he was. I know that he heard my heartbeat from the inside of me. I know what his kicks felt like. I know what it felt like when he hiccuped and moved. I know that I carried him in my womb and sang songs to him and prayed over him. I know what Mr. Howard and I named him and I know what his little hospital cradle placard said. I know what color his hair was. I know that he had 10 perfect fingers and 10 perfect toes and the most beautiful little lips. I even know that he had Mr. Howard's nose. I know what he felt like cradled in my arms. I know what he looked like cradled in my husband's arms. I know that my sister and mom got to hold him. I know his birthday. I know he was loved. I know that he is missed. I know I will get to see him again in Heaven.

I also know things I wish I didn't. I know what it's like to hold a baby who has already passed away. I know what it's like to go into a hospital with a baby in your womb, and leave without a baby in your arms. I know what he died of. I know what it's like to have to make the decision when to say our final goodbyes. I know how the nurses cradled him in their arms and spoke sweetly to him as they carried him out of the room, which was the last time I ever laid eyes on him. I know what his autopsy report says. I know what his urn feels like in my hands. I know how to write an obituary and how to tell your friends and family that your baby has died. I know what it's like to have to fill out forms giving permission to have your son cremated. I know what it's like to try to parent a one-year-old while trying to just survive from grief. I know what it's like to go to bed at night and hope you don't wake up in the morning, because you aren't sure how to do it. I even know what it's like to stand in a hallway at school and hear a second grader shout out from the end of the hallway, "Mrs. Howard, how did your baby die?" 

Grief gets easier. The days get easier. But the pain doesn't ever go away. And sometimes, I actually think, in new and different ways - it gets harder. Because people move on. People forget. And I'm still here engulfed in grief.

Happy Birthday, my beautiful sweet angel! I miss you so much, my love. 

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