It’s here. The eve of the first anniversary that marks when life was good to when life was permanently scarred with my grief for you.
One year ago, Avi was sick and I was distracted and I failed to notice you weren’t moving inside me. My body was sore, I was tired, and I slept a dreamless sleep…my last night of sleep that didn’t include blowing you kisses up in the stars where you now live.
Today, I was distracted with packing and moving boxes to our new home. Avi threw up in the car and is sleeping fitfully again. I’m tired, I’m sore. But I’m haunted with thoughts of you, and how much has happened in this past year.
Manav, you have permanently altered who I am for the rest of my life. Your short life elevated me in ways that words cannot describe. Your death shattered me into countless pieces…but I am slowly rising from the ashes, my son. I am rising despite my broken heart, despite the pain I feel when I only see one of my children at the breakfast table each day. I rise my son, to honour you.
Losing you felt like the biggest betrayal from the universe. It felt intolerable. I felt fear I never knew existed, and a darkness that felt eternal. I was paralyzed, I was suffocating. I felt so robbed. I felt like someone ripped you from my body and stole you away. I felt violated. I felt shame.
Today, it is different. I’ve watched the days go by on the calendar and knew I would need to face tomorrow eventually. I knew that I would need to think about that darkness and fear and remember every second of those horrid days of discovering your life had ended, to birthing you, to holding you close while I sobbed, to letting you go, to your funeral. I will need to face these memories forever. I cannot escape my worst nightmare.
However, I can breathe a little easier again. I can laugh, I can smile, I have hope again. I can believe that there is goodness in the world. I can appreciate life, and beauty, and love. Losing you has taught me to live differently. I see things in a new perspective – through the eyes of a grieving mother. As your mother, I am forever holding you close to me. When your big brother runs to me and throws his arms around me, my heart misses you. When I hold a young baby in my arms, I remember your peaceful face. When I see nature bloom around me, and see the world grow, I imagine what you would be doing at almost one years old.
There is no me without you. There is no going back to who I was before you entered my world. You have been my closest confidant as I crawled out of the ashes and fought to regain my strength. Only you saw my struggle, my fears, and my determination to survive. You heard me cry in the middle of the night and you felt my ache when I relived your birth over and over. You are my witness to my rebirth as a loss mom.
Manav, you have such an important place in our family. As I sit here and dread the dawn of January 20th, I also see how deep of an impact you’ve had on us. You are counted as my child, and your grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins and society honour your memory. We miss you. We think of you everyday. As we prepare to move into our new home in just over a week, we have found ways to include you in the fabric of our new reality. We constantly search for ways to incorporate you into our everyday life so that we can remember how much you mean to us.
Baby, thank you for the honour of letting me be your mother. Thank you for giving me the strength and guidance to find a way to carry the burden of grief and the purity of my love for you while continuing to put one foot in front of the other for the sake of Avi and Anuj. Thank you for handpicking a sweet baby girl and sending her to us to help us believe in the universe again. Thank you for always being close to me so I don’t feel any further from you than I have to be.
I will survive the next few days. I will remember you. I will love you harder than ever. Stay close to me, ok? Because the fear of child loss doesn’t ever fully go away…I need you to help me get through the rest of this pregnancy and to the end of my days. Only then will this fear ease – once I can see you and hold you again.