Seven years ago, yesterday, my son was born. He was early, 30 weeks, gestational. And he was stillborn. We knew he was dead before he was born. I've always looked at that as a blessing. It would have been much, much worse to be expecting a baby at the end of the rainbow.
The 17th, his birthday was hard. The 18th was harder. So was the 19th and the 20th and every single day for a long while. Then it began to get easier, lighter. Now, this year, the 17th crept up on me. I almost forgot it completely.
Every year, on Ethan's birthday, I try to set aside time to remember him, to imagine who would have turned out to be. He would be seven, in first or second grade. I can't help but think that he would be an awesome big brother with Brynna so close behind. He would be funny, because all our kids are funny and I think he would have been a little geeky too.
It's nice to imagine him at seven or five or fifty, but it's melancholy, too. Because I don't know. I don't really know that he would have been funny or geeky or anything. I don't know what color his eyes were or what color his red, red hair would have ended up being. I don't know what he would have liked or who he would have emulated. And I never will.
At the same time, though, I recognize how very, really and truly blessed I am. I have two beautiful daughters. I wasn't dragged totally into the never ending pit of depression that often accompanies the loss of a child. I kept my head, my work, my sanity, my love. I ended up okay.
And also, also, I am the ONLY human being on this earth who really got to know Ethan. I know that he loved lemonade, because he would get all kicky when I had some. I know that he loved music, because he always kicked to the beat. I know that he was a squirmy little thing and a snuggler.
I believe with all my soul that this world would be better with Ethan in it. It would be more complete, more beautiful, more amazing with my little man as a part of it. But I also believe that there was some reason for him to stay up there. Some reason that I may someday get to know.
This is a sad day for me, the annual remembrance of the day I went home empty handed from the hospital. The day I put on non-maternity sweatpants and got in the car without a carseat full of baby. The day I carried out a box, rather than a child. It is a lonely bereft day.
But it is also a day that I can't help but see myself as truly lucky. To have known him, to have held him, to have walked away at all. To have made it out relatively unscathed. To have lived to fight and love and give birth again.
Ethan, there were days when I wondered if I would survive, but I can certainly say that you made me a better mother. I will hold you someday. Wait for me.