Today is Henry’s third birthday. I held my son, Corin, while standing in front of Henry’s photos, and we sang happy birthday to him. It was a teary moment, followed by a big smile when Corin wanted to next sing happy birthday to Thomas the Train Engine.
Henry never lived outside my womb. We have no way of knowing his temperament, hair colour, food preferences, or what his favourite toys would have been. If he lived, I assume he’d be a rambunctious toddler, tearing it up much like his almost two-year-old brother. So I have etched out an existence for him on the outside. My bedroom has a Henry corner with two photos and his framed, miniscule footprints. I have a statue of an angel cradling a baby, where I hang the locket necklace that holds some of his ashes, and an urn I made to hold the his tiny bag of ashes. I have a tattoo of an aster – September’s birth flower – on my right rib cage. And I talk about him, and write about him very openly for all the world to see.
Part of me has always been uncomfortable of the notion that my public grief exposé might be to simply get attention. I can’t deny that it’s one of the factors in writing a blog about Henry. But there’s a few reasons I’ve always been so forthright:
1- Writing helps transform me from a troll (not the mean-commenting Internet troll, but one of those gnarly, smelly ones that live under bridges) to a functioning human being. It helps me understand the world with greater clarity, therefore, it helps me deconstruct angles of my grief that might fester and pus.
2- I felt more encouraged to keep writing after receiving messages that my story was helping people cope with a loss they never felt free to explore. That’s some powerful shit.
3- Grief is a living thing that needs its own space, and I learned it’s best to be honest with your feelings and give them their space. Or risk being the bad kind of crazy, or the weird type of dysfunctional person who pretends they’re stronger than the pain.
So, three years on, and I can still cry like I lost Henry yesterday. Time does, and doesn’t, heal, but writing about my journey helps make it bearable.
Thanks for reading.