This time of year starts it. The first time you open up the windows in the house and the spring air streams through the house. When you drive home from work with the windows open for the very first time. You see the sun shining and the air is warm… it brings it all back.
It was like it was yesterday. My ankles are swollen, and my bladder is full. I’m craving grapefruit, and donuts and I know that he’s almost here. This time of year gives me that pregnant deja vu. That sharp pang when I remember everything I felt right before Alex was born.
April 11 will be 6 years. 6 years ago when he was born to us via planned c-section. We calmly drove to the hospital and knew we would be leaving with a baby. A little boy to complete our family. Benjamin was only 2.5, but he was primed and ready to become a big brother. We had been in training for months, so he understood all the benefits and responsibilities of being a big brother. If the baby wakes you up in the middle of the night? Stay in bed. If mommy is nursing the baby when you want to play? Wait your turn. If the baby is too little to eat ice cream and pizza? You can have his share!
6 years ago before we knew anything would ever go wrong.
Alex was born on April 11 and died in his sleep on June 9. We had two perfect months to enjoy him and celebrate our two boys together. Every year this anniversary is a painful milestone that doesn’t seem to get easier.
I can feel the emotion welling up inside. Like a force you can’t deny, but you just try to wait for the moment to pass. You’re on the verge of tears, which feels foreign. You’re so used to the reality of his death that it doesn’t stun you anymore. When the kids ask questions about Baby Alex in Heaven, you can answer them without sadness. You try to find a gentle explanation for everything, and you go on about your day. Packing lunches and checking homework. You acknowledge his absence without sadness. You can accept where things are in life.
Something about Springtime disrupts the equilibrium. As the world around me thaws and the sun comes out, there is a rebirth I’m expecting. My body is expecting this baby to come back to me and it hurts all over again.
Life is so busy. There are soccer practices and clothes to fold and books to read. There isn’t time to sit in solitude and pine for my little baby who’s gone. Maybe that’s what is always so striking about this time of year. There is an urgency to this grief that cuts through the everyday chaos. There is something about this time of year that won’t be ignored.
So I surrender. I accept the fact that there are times of day where the pain of missing him takes my breath away. There are unexpected moments where my eyes well with tears and I can’t remember what I was just doing. I have 6 years of data points that tell me that everything will be okay, but doesn’t take away the sharp pangs in my heart as I long to hold a baby who is no longer with us. I know this time will pass, but it doesn’t make the pain any less intense.
I hate being defenseless. I hate not having any control to how I feel or when I feel things. I don’t like this emptiness that washes over me, especially since I can’t stop it.
I don’t know how to make it better. I don’t know what I want or even what will make things more bearable. Do I want to be alone? Do I want to be with friends? Do I want to cry? Do I just want to laugh and forget? What I want is to be done. To have this time of year pass without pain and sadness.
I typically get a little birthday cake for Alex on his birthday. The kids blow out the candles and we sing. I don’t know if I have it in me today. Tomorrow might be better, but today I don’t see myself buying that cake in celebration. We love him, which is why is it hard to lose him all over again.