The third year, and, why do I grieve so publicly?

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.

Dealing with being called a first-time mom

It’s difficult being referred to as a first-time mom when I’m anywhere with Corin. I try to stick with the truth – that he’s the second – but with so many of the fumbles that come with FTM-isms, I relent and don’t correct people when they throw that box over my head.

What I mean mostly is the buying of useless baby-things that experienced moms know to avoid. The clip-on-holds-the-spoon-for-kiddo ‘convenience’ thing that really just ends up being a whip/chew toy, for example. That’s $5 wasted that could have bought more useful chocolate.

I just roll with it. Being called a FTM with those types of things. It’s not always fun to stand there and awkwardly correct well-intended acquaintances that my first son doesn’t walk this earth. And let’s not get in to the step-son I have been raising for the past eight years. When he plopped down into my life, he was four, potty trained, all teethed, and etc. So, in a very long thought-line of self-assurance and justifying, yes, in some cases, I am very much a first-time mom. There, I said it.

Two years ago

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.

Hey, hacker!

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.

Still your mom

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.