It has been 2,185 days since we first saw Joey’s beautiful face.
2,185 days since we heard the tiny squeak of his first breath.
2,185 days since the nurse tearfully told us that she was not able to intubate him.
It has been 2,185 days since we watched Jack be rushed to the NICU within minutes of being born.
2,185 days since I gave birth to two miracles.
2,185 days since my world changed forever, and I became a member of a club that I never wanted to join. A club in which the dues are too painful to imagine. A club that 1 in 4 women are a part of, but don’t talk about openly for fear of making others uncomfortable.
It has been 2,185 days since I held my son for the last time. 2,185 days since we prayed over him while he took his last breath. 2,185 days we have lived without him. 2,185 days of dreaming of his face, and what it would look like today. 2,185 days of wishing he were in my arms. 2,185 days of guilt. 2,185 days of depression and anxiety. 2,185 days of happiness as Jack speaks his name. 2,185 days of growth as I navigated how to help others. 2,185 days along this journey that I never asked for, but one that has changed my life.
It’s truly amazing to think back on how much different my life was during the first year after Jack and Joey were born. I was destroyed. I can see now in retrospect how I could have handled myself better, and avoided many hours of toxic self loathing. Rather than take the proper amount of time to grieve and take care of my physical recovery, I dove right into making up for lost time trying to care for Jack, my family, and catch up on the time I was away from work.
I answered e-mails from the hospital on the day my son died.
I only missed going to the hospital one day out of the 53 days that Jack was in the NICU before he came home.
I held my tears for the middle of the night, and didn’t let my friends and family truly know how much I was hurting.
I did everything I could think of to keep myself busy so that I wouldn’t have to face the truth and the pain that was bubbling under the surface.
I couldn’t keep my son alive.
It has been 2,185 days since I first had the thought that I was not a good enough mother to bring my son into the world safely and keep him alive.
And it has taken me 2,185 days to learn that it was not my fault. My sweet Joey was given to me for a purpose, and his short life will always have meaning, but he was too special for this world. And there was nothing that I could have done to change that.
I have learned that the love we have for our children that are gone before us, becomes our purpose. When they are no longer able to make their mark on this world, it is our job as their parent to find purpose through our grief. What would they have wanted us to do for them after they are gone? Who would they have wanted to be? What accomplishments would they have achieved? What can we do to help their legacy make these things happen?
It is my belief that every single life, no matter how long or short lived, has purpose. Those of us left behind can either take the path of destruction by letting our grief swallow us whole, or we can find healing by using the love we have for them to bring good into this world. Drowning in our sorrows or blaming ourselves for the loss of our child is not going to bring us healing. It is only going to prolong the emptiness we feel in our hearts. Grief has no timeline, and it weaves and transforms as we grow, but how we chose to respond and live moving forward is how we will be shaped in the end.
No one wants to be in this club. But if you are here with me, please know that you are not alone. I am here with you. And no matter where you are in your journey, you will find healing when you are ready. All you have to do is listen to the love in your heart, and feel the spark of your child, igniting the flame of their purpose within you. Then all you have to do is take the next step forward. Whatever that means for you, each day is an opportunity to find ways to forgive, grieve, give yourself grace, smile again, find purpose, and feel the love of your child.
Because that love can never be taken from you. That love is what keeps our children alive in us forever. It is what keeps us going, and what keeps their memory alive.
If you have lost a child, through pregnancy or infant loss, I invite you to share their name in the comments below so that I can keep you and your babies in my thoughts this month.