For Liam, in honor of his sixth birthday……..

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.

For My Beautiful Daughter As She Begins A Very Important Journey…….

I finally went through that bag today. You know the one. It was tucked in the back of your closet, taking up way too much room. Your daddy has been urging me to empty it. To just “give the stuff away.” He is right. I can no longer fight him on this, especially since we need to get organized.  Furthermore, our friend Holly needs them for her baby girl that is coming this November. You no longer fit into these precious clothes. You are going to be five years old. You, my dear, will be starting Kindergarten this week. My angel. My only girl. My world.

Funny how each article of clothing has a memory attached to it. The little Baby Gap sweater dress you wore the very first time that you sat on Santa’s lap. Daddy and I laughed as you posed so calmly with the bearded man who was very far from jolly. “Cranky Santa” may have been a disappointment, but you weren’t. It was a beautiful moment nonetheless. Our baby girl celebrating her first Christmas. Then there was the beautiful pink tutu that you wore at your first birthday party. It was a carousel themed birthday party at the park. It was a perfect autumn day. We were blessed.

You came into our lives under very bittersweet circumstances. In September of 2008, we lost your big brother Liam to a congenital heart defect.  In February of 2009, we found out we were expecting you.  I was excited, but very scared as well. I wanted you to be healthy.  I wanted everything to be okay. That October, we finally got to meet you and things just haven’t been the same since. Eight pounds ten ounces of pure joy. I remember taking you home. I put you on the bed next to me in your little carrier. I cried. I loved you so much. But, I was so nervous. I wanted you to have a happy life. I wanted to be a good mom. I wanted so much for you. I also wanted to be happy again after the loss of your brother.   I will always call you the baby that made us smile again. In many ways, you saved your daddy and I. You were our reason for being.

In the past few years, we have watched you blossom into a sweet and happy little girl. You are loved, not only by us, but by a whole bunch of extended family and friends. You are very special.

Getting back to that whole Kindergarten thing. Yes, I am excited for you. But, I am nervous as well. This is a big step. New school. New friends. New experiences. I see it in your eyes. I know you are nervous. And, as your mom, I just want to protect you. Every time I think of you getting your feelings hurt or feeling scared I want to break down in tears. Believe me when I say that it will hurt me more than you.  I don’t ever want you to feel pain.  Never.  Unfortunately,  every journey includes some tears and disappointments. And, perhaps some pain to go along with it. But, I know we will get through it. Together. One day at a time.

I haven’t really told you about my own school experience, but it was very painful. As a shy and insecure little girl, I was never sure how I fit in. I want it to be different for you. Life, although hard at times, can also be very healing. It has already brought me great joy in seeing you make some wonderful memories. School will be no different. You have some fabulous years ahead of you.

I do have a few things I would like to ask from you. Firstly, never be afraid to go after what you want. This world is yours for the taking, and it needs your participation in order for it to be great.  Always believe in yourself, even if no one else seems to.  Be strong. Be humble. Always treat others with the same amount of respect that you deserve. Surround yourself with quality people. Be a good friend. Be a good listener, but make sure you surround yourself with others that do the same. Be a good person. Give as much as you can, but always know your limits. Be happy. Be proud. Mostly, embrace this life. Even when it gets a little rough.

This Thursday I will walk you to your very first day of Kindergarten. It will be you and me among a sea of scared kiddos, nervous parents and a whole bunch of clicking cameras.  There will be tears behind my smile. Both sad and happy. But I know you are going to be just fine. I love you so much, baby girl. I look forward to what the year brings.  Thank you for choosing me as your mom. Thank you for being the little person that you are.  Continue to make us proud.