This month marks two years since Olivia was born. April 24, 2016. Two whole years.
If I’m being honest, I don’t spend much time debating with myself as to whether it feels like yesterday, or like a lifetime ago. I know it’s normal for bereaved parents to struggle with the passing of time after a loss. Time, not enough time, the passage of time, the fact that we’re growing older but our babies are not. The question of whether our babies are forever babies or growing older in heaven. The fact that each passing day is another day between us. More time. More space. One day farther from when they were last here. From when we were with them. When we held them, kissed them, felt their tiny fingers. More distance. More worry that we may one day forget… something. Like the sound of their breath or the look of their smile or the exact way they wiggled their toes. Some loss parents cringe at the passage of time. Other parents greet it with thanks and relief for each passing year is one year closer to when they’ll meet again.
Simply put, as a bereaved parent the concept of time brings about a whole host of emotional mind f*cks that I personally have come to recognize, accept, and put aside. Time is what it is, and it’s been two years since we first met Olivia.
So while this year didn’t hit me like a ton of bricks, as more experienced loss parents warned, it did stir up some strange emotions. What made this birthday harder than the last, wasn’t the issue of time. Instead it was the realization that when I really think about it, Olivia’s birth day was the worst day of my life.
You know how most parents say the moment their child was born was the best moment of their life?
I could tell you that. I could say that despite all of the circumstances surrounding Olivia’s life – that “meeting her on April 24 was still the best moment of my life.” But it wasn’t. And I guess I’m beyond saying what I think you think is the right thing to say.
Olivia’s life was nothing short of incredible. The days we spent with her were literally (and I mean *literally*) life changing and beautiful and so filled with love. Even her death was in its own way peaceful. But her birth wasn’t. And the hours that followed were not. The sights and the sounds and the ambulances. The conversations that Luke and I had with each other and with doctors on the night Olivia was born were nothing short of a nightmare.
Yes, I recognize there is something special about Olivia’s birthday. It’s the day she was born after all, and without it we wouldn’t have had her. But my memories of that day, the way those memories make me feel, the emotions they bring to the surface… none of it is in line with how we remember Olivia. Her life, or her legacy. So in some strange way her birthday feels disconnected from her. Her light, her personality, the way I choose to remember it all.
Will we celebrate her birthday each year? Yes. Of course. But perhaps what I’ve realized this year, two years out, is that we don’t need to put all of our energy into specific events and holidays.
There’s more to our babies than dates and anniversaries.
Despite all my thoughts on the topic, Luke and I did have a wonderful day celebrating Olivia. We went to church, took a long walk through Mendon Ponds Park, dropped off NICU donations, put together snacks and treats for the nurses, and had lunch outdoors at our go-to spot near the hospital. We enjoyed the outdoors, exercised, spent time sharing stories, looked through photos and watched our favorite videos. It was a good, good day.
Until next time.