Two years ago, I held my tiny baby for the first and last time.
Happy birthday Henry.
Two years ago on September 28 (two days from the date of this post), life was a never-ending swath of grey. Inundated with tears. Enveloped in a cocoon. Burnt to a crisp. No one allowed in, no way of going out. I lost my first child. My beautiful Henry.
If I take a look and open that door, the hurt is still a vibrant shade of angry-orange. I think about Henry every day. I will never heal. Forget what they say about time as the great healer. You just get used to a hurt this big. It muscles its way in to your life and you just live with it. You don’t get over it. It’s always there.
I look at Corin, my almost 11-month old son – my second child – and am taken away with how healthy he is, and I can’t get over how lucky I am. Every day is a gift. And I always wonder if Henry would have looked like him.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve written. Maybe it’s a good thing. I’m not living in the sea of sadness that was once so consuming I didn’t think there’d be a way out. Though Henry is still a part of my daily life. That’s not going to change. It never has. Hence, nothing new to write about, I guess!
I’m prompted to write today because someone other than myself has tried to access this WordPress account and change the password. And I ask… really?!?!?! Who are you, other than someone having a laugh, or some sick individual, would want to break in to the vault of the pain of losing my first born child? These words are the tracks of sorrow, anguish, and loss. Don’t fuck with it, you jackass. Don’t touch. Go away.
Your brother is fascinated by the necklace I wear every day in remembrance of you. Today, he ripped the small blue moonstone locket clear off its golden chain. Normally, he reaches and plays with it while nursing. When I take it off at night, his arm waggles near my heart, looking for you. He inspires awe in me, and makes me think of you constantly.
Would you have had the same smooth, round head? The same deep blue eyes? The same translucent strawberry platinum blonde hair? The same squawking manner when hungry or can’t reach a toy?
It’s Mother’s Day this weekend. The second Mother’s Day without you. Does time fly! The holiday will forever be bittersweet. There is the deep gratitude I have for your brother. The feeling that lets me hold him and drink him in that much more intently. The feeling that’s always present of how absolutely blessed I am to have him. If not for you, we wouldn’t have him. But looming until the day I see you again are the What Ifs.
You will always be my firstborn. You are already fading from people’s awareness. But never from mine. Never. I will always be Mother to you. I will always have my present children and another. And I love you and miss you always. Thank you for making me a mother. I’m proud to be yours.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog. Henry has been gone far longer than his all too brief life with me. It brings me some measure of comfort to see how many other people met him over the past year.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 8,500 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Sitting around the tree decorated with beautiful ornaments, old and new, I glimpse the one I gave your grandparents last year in memory of you. A carved wooden angel holding a baby. Cradled in ephemeral arms in a place I can’t reach you. Just another reminder you’re gone, and this is my second Christmas without you.
With your brother here now, it’s hard to imagine I gave birth to you in the same way he was brought into the world. I held you, my firstborn. It’s hard to believe you were flesh and bone, and that you left us so quickly. Your life was a brief whirlwind that tossled our lives and left us with the aftermath of your absence. Losing you stings badly, and I’m left wondering what this Christmas would have been like with you here instead.
I only have my imagination to gauge what our memories would have felt like. A bouncing baby Henry, dressed in the clothes Corin wears now, sleeping in the bed your brother has claimed. Your shadows dancing on the wall, your eyes gazing up at the ceiling fan. Your cries on the change table, your coos and burps on my shoulder. Your body I hover over dozens of times per day to check, again, that you’re alright. In a way, Henry, you gave us Corin by ceding your spot in our family. But you will always have a placeholder in my heart that is unreachable by anyone alive today. No one but you can be my first child.
Do I have to wipe the grit from my knees from the times I collapse, literally or figuratively, at how unfair life is, that you would not be here with us, and worst of all, that others might not remember you and how important you are to me? My one Christmas wish is that you know how much I love you, Henry, and that I would carve and paint myself like that angel in the tree if it means I would get to hold you.
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