There aren’t many words for the way I felt last night as I tried to fall asleep.
September 5, 2015 was the last time I felt you alive. I went to bed that night with no understanding of how hard life was about to get.
And so last night, as I climbed into bed with your brother alive inside me, I was sad. And so scared that it could happen all over again.
I woke up several times last night. My hands gravitating to my belly. Hopeful for a kick of reassurance. They came. And I would drift back to sleep somehow.
But there are no words once again for how I felt waking up this morning.
“Babies on the inside are allowed to sleep.” A constant reassurance from my own doctor and doctors I’ve met at the hospital. But that is no reassurance when you’ve given birth to a sleeping baby. Waking up today, I felt your brother’s stillness as he slept. I took deep breaths. I held him through my belly. And there came the kicks. The wiggles.
Everything I did not feel the morning of September 6, 2015.
This morning there was no need to drink some orange juice and lay quietly on my side. Holding my breath.
No. This morning, there was life, safe inside me. And it only made me miss you more.
I was wide awake when your dad left for work this morning. The first day of a new school year. I could have gone. And had I, I know I would have made it through the day. Drama free. Meeting my new students and their parents. Doing my job and doing it well.
But now, as I sit here by your grave with your teddy bear in my lap and the sun at my back, I know there is nowhere else I should be today.
Today is the day you died. Just one year later. And I owe you my whole heart today. Alive or not. Here or gone. You will always be a priority to me. Today is important to me because it is the first day I survived without your spirit here on earth with me. A day that I look back on and wonder how I could have ever survived it. But I did.
I can remember the pain and the fog of this day like it was yesterday. The calls to the hospital. The reassurances that “it will be okay.” The patronizing look on the nurse’s face when I showed up to the hospital 30 minutes after calling. (I was instructed to wait a couple hours). The silence on the heart monitor. The look on your dad’s face when he recognized what was happening before I was ready to accept it. His hug in the ultrasound room after the words, “There is no heartbeat.” The phone calls we had to make. The waiting for the induction medication to do its job. The fear I had of this unknown situation. The pain of labour and birth that I insisted on feeling without medication to take it all away. And the absolute pride at seeing your sweet face the first time. The feeling of not wanting to let you go. The joy of seeing you held by your dad. And the heartbreak of knowing these moments wouldn’t last long. The indescribable moment of having to give you up. To say, “You can take him now.” Leaving the hospital hugging a pillow instead. The silence of the drive home. I still don’t know how your dad did it. Did anything in those days following your death. I remember being such a zombie. And I remember him holding me together. He’s a special guy, your dad. I’m pretty sure I survived the day you died in large part because of him.
I sit here now and think of how some memories fade over time, but the day you died and the day you were born will be forever vivid in my mind.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I’ve chosen to be here today, with you.
To remember even the hardest of memories.
To let myself cry over the things I haven’t cried about in a while.
To give myself the freedom to just grieve and not worry about the rest of the world.
Because today is the day that changed everything.
Today is the day that you died.