Tomorrow will be four years since Alex died. Four years since I held him in my arms. Four years since I nursed him to sleep. Four years since I nuzzled his little tummy. Four tears since he spit up on me after a feeding. Four years since he peed on me in the tub. Four years is a very long time.
In the last four years, I have delivered two healthy, beautiful baby girls. I have watched Benjamin grow from a toddler to a graduating kindergartener. I have changed jobs twice. I have done 4,366 loads of laundry. I have changed 1.2 million diapers. I have also thought about Alex more times than I can possibly count.
I have cried because he’s gone. I have cried because I can’t explain why he’s gone. I have cried with joy because he’s in heaven. I have cried silently, hidden behind false smiles and fake laughter. I have cried.
My grief has been manageable because I’ve had plenty of other things to keep me busy… Having two more babies, juggling work, family and friends can keep you busy 25+ hours a day. (No, that isn’t a typo… I really feel like I have 25 hours of things to do every single day.) I am grateful for all the joy that exists in life, but there will always be a part of me still holding onto Alex.
I think the hardest part now is that I’m not really sure where Alex belongs. He isn’t top of mind for me every single day like he was right after he died. Likewise, he isn’t a distant memory for me like a friend you’ve lost touch with, or a family pet who died years ago. There are times when his memory feels very, very present, which makes his absence even more painful. The memory of Alex is a transient thing that is unpredictable and sometimes unforgiving.
I don’t know how tomorrow will be, and I don’t know how to help anyone else understand. It is a day that marks a tragedy that once defined you. And now this day is a painful reminder of what you’ve lost. You appreciate what you have today, but you never fully forget what you lost yesterday.
I am probably more cynical than most people. I think about the glass half empty more than half full. I think about missed opportunities, suboptimal outcomes and imperfect circumstances. But when I turn over the events of Alex in my mind, I am blank. I think back and I don’t have a litany of regret. I don’t have a laundry list of things I would have done differently or better. My mind is empty. I try hard and squeeze my brain to try harder, and I come up with an empty canvas.
I guess this means that I loved him as well as I could have, knowing nothing about what would happen. I am grateful for our time together, and I mourn his loss now. The pain of losing a child is different every day. Tomorrow is an angel-versary day. A day to remember his life, but nothing will change how I feel about him.
God bless you baby Alex. We love you every day, and tomorrow we will say an extra prayer for you. We miss you and we will remember you always. With love.