Today is Benjamin's birthday. I overheard Charlie telling a friend this morning that today is her brother's birthday--her brother who is in Heaven. She said that we will be having a party for him. Then Charlie's friend said, "But your brother won't be there." And Charlie said, "Yes he will. He is in Heaven, but he will be at the party."
The hardest part (these days) of having lost a child so soon after his birth is trying to figure out how to feel. I've always felt like on the grief scale, we're somewhere between 'had a miscarriage' and 'lost a child that had been around for a while.' Does it matter that we knew during the pregnancy that we'd lose him? Does it matter that he wasn't our first child? Isn't this ridiculous? There's no reason we should be comparing our experience to any other experience, real or hypothetical. But I've always wanted to know what is the proper response to having a lost a son to Trisomy-13.
I have since learned that there really isn't a *proper* response to losing a child--no matter the point that he or she was lost. It just plain hurts. It feels like a bottomless pit of pain. So the only thing that a person can do is *feel* the pain.
I will say this, after three years, it doesn't really hurt as much anymore. I really miss Benjamin, and I feel a loss, like I should have been able to parent this baby that I carried for a full pregnancy. But the loss isn't nearly as sharp anymore. So for those of you out there that are wondering if the day will ever come when you won't cry yourself to sleep every night, I say to you, Yes, it will come. And it's okay to allow yourself to heal. It doesn't mean that you are forgetting your child or abandoning him somehow. It means that you are healing from the pain of the experience. Benjamin will always be my son, and I will always love him and miss him. But I have chosen not to live under the dark cloud that surrounded his little life and his death.
Because of this choice, I like to share his story. I want to pay tribute to this little saint. Please read about his birth story here. I'd also like to mention that I'm thinking today about all of you out there that have recently lost children, whether due to miscarriage or some other tragedy. Please know my thoughts and prayers are with you.
Soon I will pack up the kids and the cupcakes that Charlie and I made today, and we will pick up Paul and then head to the cemetery and have a little graveside picnic birthday party. I have no idea what people generally think about this potentially morbid celebration, but for us it works. We will enjoy our time together as a family saying happy birthday to Benjamin and remembering his beautiful life.