The last couple of weeks have been bittersweet. On September 8th, I watched my daughter begin her very first day of Kindergarten. As her mom, I was very proud. And a little anxious. But she was ok. At dismissal, I was greeted with a bunch of smiles. In return, I smiled back. As it was pushing three o’clock already, we couldn’t waste any time. We had a lot to do. We also had another occasion to commemorate; our firstborn Liam’s sixth birthday. Liam is not with us anymore. He died at nine days as a result of a severe congenital heart defect.
Each year, we get him a little balloon and release it. It is our way of saying “Happy Birthday”. In the only way that we can. On our drive over to the park, I wondered what Liam would think of his cranky siblings who were busy bickering in the back seat after a long day. A great sadness came over me. He should be right there with them.
Often called “trigger days”, days such as these are very emotional for a grieving parent. It doesn’t matter how long it has been. Liam would have been six years old, but in many ways, I miss him as much as the day that I lost him. Time passes, but never heals. It never will. Liam would be starting first grade this year. It is a very hard reality that we are living with.
As much as I love my other two children, they are not replacements. They will never be. They are two other beings that have helped me smile in spite of my tears. I am very grateful for them. But, I still miss my firstborn.
Throughout the years, I have received some interesting comments. “Oh my God, if I were you, I don’t know what I would have done. I would be in institution by now.” These comments can be hurtful, but I have learned to shrug them off. I am that lady that you see on the street. The one with the adorable two kids. The perfect family. Little do people know, it will never be perfect. Many times there are tears behind my smile.
I often wish that more people would remember Liam on these particularly difficult days. I think friends and family do not know what to say or do. They don’t want to upset us, while in reality, someone just mentioning his name brings me comfort. Today, September 16th, is another difficult day. On this day, six years ago, we got “the call.” Liam wasn’t doing well and we had to get to the hospital as soon as possible. He died before we got there.
While at the cemetery a couple of weeks ago, my five year old daughter took notice of all the little toys and stuffed animals placed at the gravesites. “Mommy, I am sure these other babies are missed by their mommies and daddies. The same way that we miss Liam. They put down these toys because they love them too.” Out of the mouth of babes. Each day I say a little prayer for Liam. And for all of the other children gone too soon. They are missed. They are loved. For always.