Today should have been my son’s first birthday. I should be watching Josiah smash into his cake and taste sugar for the first time. I should be looking forward to other milestones, like his first step and his first big fall. Instead I am reflecting on different milestones, because today, for me, signifies two anniversaries in the aftermath of my son’s death.
For my husband, the day that Josiah was taken from us is a difficult anniversary. It is for me as well. Yet last year, as his due date of September 15th approached, I felt impending dread for what the emotions of that day would bring. The day we should have seen his sweet face for the first time. The day we should have brought him into our family. To counter the pain I might feel, we planned an evening with family and friends, to commemorate his short life with a small ceremony. We also asked family and friends around the world to think of him and light a candle with us at 8 pm that evening. There was such an amazing outpouring of love and support from everyone that I couldn’t help but be lifted up by the strength they gave me.
That makes this is an anniversary of sorts. It’s a day I can’t forget, in both sorrow and love. I can’t call it his birthday, because he never had a chance to be born, really. So I’m calling this his Unbirthday. While that may sound a bit morbid, I can’t help but think of the scene with the Madhatter in Alice In Wonderland, and the Unbirthday Song that is sung. An unbirthday is a celebration of all the other days. I choose to celebrate Josiah today. Unmarred by the memories of our loss, like the anniversary of his death brings us, today is a day I can think about the life that was so very loved.
Today also marks the final first anniversary in what has been the hardest 16 months of my life. Since Josiah’s death, I’ve had to face his impending planned due date, as well as the many dates that were moments of our lives with him. The day we found out we were pregnant again after three and a half years of trying. The day of our first sonogram. The first day I felt him move. Each date sliced the wound open a bit more, reminding me of what we had lost. But after each cut occurred, I would find myself continuing to heal. Through talking about our loss, seeking others who understand it because they’ve experienced it themselves, and accepting the love and support of those around me, I was able to keep myself moving forward. I’ve made it to this anniversary with a clearer vision of who I am and the strength I possess. I don’t believe that we ever get over grief, only that we simply learn to live with it inside of us. I don’t know what the future holds, or how this pain may be muted by the passage of time, but I do know that I feel better prepared now. I feel like I can face all of the future anniversaries in a healthy way for both myself and my family. This year+ and this anniversary have taught me that it’s ok to be sad, it’s ok to remember, and most importantly, it’s ok to keep going.