January 21, 2018
I’m a day late for this. I couldn’t find the energy to write about this topic yesterday. Today it feels a little easier.
This date holds a special meaning for me, but not necessarily a good one.
Twenty-six and a half years ago, my husband and I found out we were expecting our first child. It was a time of celebration. We held off telling anyone until after our first trimester, just to be safe. Once that date passed, we shared our happy news, convinced we were home free. At four months we painted the baby’s room, scoured baby swap meets for furniture, and began collecting baby clothes, all unisex of course. We had chosen not to find out the baby’s sex.
At five months I bought a fancy new stroller and we began debating names, so proud when a tiny baby bump began to emerge.
Then, at twenty-one weeks, I went for a detailed ultrasound. Sadly, it seemed we were not home free. Testing revealed that the baby, a little boy, had lethal birth defects and would not survive.
Yesterday would have been his twenty-six birthday. I think of him often, wondering what he would have been like as he grew. Would he have been tall and muscular like his sisters? Blond or a brunette, blue eyes or green? Would he have chosen engineering like his father, science like his oldest sister, or music, art and psychology like his baby sister? Or perhaps he’d have been a physiotherapist or writer, like me.
Each time I think of him, I’m filled with sadness and a heavy sense of loss. But at the same time, I can’t be truly sad. If life had taken a different turn, and he had survived, we would never have had the two babies girls who have become shining lights in our lives. His gifts to us, I suppose.
Ironically, January 21st was also the day we lost one of the most amazing men God has put on this earth. My father. My hero. He was a quiet man, strong, funny, and so capable I used to think he was superman hiding in work-boots and a button-up shirt. His ubiquitous laughter was the soundtrack of my childhood.
He lost his battle with lung cancer on a snowy day sixteen years ago. I think of him often, but especially on his birthday and on the anniversary of his death. I don’t think I’ll ever truly stop missing him, or wishing he could have lived to see what incredible young women his granddaughters have become. Countless times over the past sixteen years I’ve longed to have one more hug, just one more conversation with him. To ask his advice and listen to his wise counsel.
Grief stabs and slices at the beginning, tearing at you with a furiousness that you think will never end. In time, though, it gentles, ebbing and flowing in an almost comforting rhythm. Reminding you that as long as you hold tight to your memories, the ones you loved are never truly gone.
I’m so grateful for my memories.