A beautiful post by Preemie Parent Mentor Ashley O.
The time is here. I have had years, literally, to prepare for it but yet it has hit me like an F5 tornado and I’m trapped under the weight of the destruction. I’m trying desperately not to suffocate but all the oxygen has suddenly been sucked out of the space I now inhabit and I’m not sure how I will survive.
My son is turning five. FIVE! It has been five years since he made his premature appearance and graced us all ever so briefly with his beautiful life. It has been five years since I became a mother. It has been five years since I last saw and held my tiny but perfect little boy. It has been five years since I peered into his dark brown eyes, touched his velvety hair and felt his soft skin. It has been five years since I held his lifeless body as he took his last breaths. And although we’ve been through the birthday and anniversary milestones four times before, something about turning five feels… different. The grief feels raw and more painful than it has before.
I should be shopping for new clothes and supplies for my son’s first ever year of school. I should be taking him to pick out a backpack and making sure he gets a haircut before his first day. I should be meeting new teachers and touring classrooms. But I’m not. That experience and all of the ones of the past were stolen from me when my child took his last breath.
I am not new to missed milestones. I’ve had nearly five years of experience in lost birthdays, Christmases, Thanksgivings, Easters, and all the everyday moments in between. But yet, this missed milestone, the one where my son was supposed to enter school, is the toughest one yet. The endless back to school commercials have me spouting tears and as the pictures of kids lined up waiting for the bus on their first day start to fill up my newsfeed, my desire to retreat gets stronger.
The reality that my son will never learn to read nor paint a painting, play on the playground with new friends or come running off the bus to greet me after a great day at school crushes my soul. I desperately wanted to attend parent teacher conferences, help with homework, go on field trips, bake holiday treats and craft teacher gifts. He will never experience any of that. I will never experience any of it with him and I will forever be left with wondering what this life would be like had he not died.
For the first time since my son died, I realized that despite all the efforts I have made to rebuild, tornados will continue to come through without warning and rock my cracked foundation. Days, weeks, months, years, they don’t matter. The amount of time that has passed will never matter because the missed milestones will always, always be there.
I will keep breathing. I will find more oxygen. I will make backpacks for school kids and give new books to the library. I will breathe his love into all that I touch. This is how I will make sure my son’s legacy continues. This is how I will survive this tornado.
To My Amazing Lion Gavin,
My beautiful first born, you are perfect. Your love, your life, your legacy is perfect. The life I’ve lived since you were born is messy but inexplicably beautiful. You and your little sister are every piece of my heart. I am so proud to be your mom. I love you and I miss you beyond all worlds.
Happy, Happy, Happy 5 th Birthday.
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