It's been five years since Zia died. Five years of yearning, five years of missing, five years of her not growing. Her body is no longer with me, her remains a constant reminder of what I lost that cold winter in 2013. All those missed milestones and birthday parties we never had. Five years is a long time and yet there are times when it feels like it was all just yesterday. I vividly remember what it felt like holding her and saying my final goodbye.
This year was harder for me in a lot of ways. I fell ill in July and was hospitalized twice. I was ill physically, mentally and emotionally. I spent so much of the last two months in a drug induced state, numbing the pain on the outside but not even touching the surface of healing on the inside.
Her birthday arrived and I sat at my laptop the entire day. I didn't light a candle or buy a cake. I didn't release balloons or lanterns. I was in a trance. I could barely smile or do anything memorable. The heaviness was just to much. But still, I remembered, as I always do.
There was no celebration to mark this day, no flowers arrived, no themed cakes baked in her honor, I can count the number of messages received on on hand, but still I am at peace as I freeze my fingers and toes and work on this beautiful collection of words from parents all over the world who have come together and made magic on paper.
But what I did do is get together with group of brave and beautiful bereaved parents who courageously and boldly shared pieces of their hearts, through their beautiful words which are now bound together in an anthology of poetry and prose. In memory. Two words I never thought I would have to ever place before my child's name.
We took the brokenness and converted it into words and these words are now captured in history. Their names and stories being read by people all over the world because they matter and there are parents out there who need to be reminded that they are not alone.
What do we have but memories? A box of ashes, a picture in a frame, a few keepsakes. The time we spent with our children was too short, by anyone’s terms, but whether they were lost through an early miscarriage, or we carried them for several months or if they lived out of utero for a short while, they’ve lived. They are still with us, intertwined in every facet of our lives. Their tiny footprints across on our hearts, their names a valued treasure. This anthology is about remembering who they were and also who we were. It is about marking their names in history, it is about showing the world that they were, that they are.
I read each memory and realized the depth of love we hold for our children. It doesn't matter how long we held them, whether they died in utero or in NICU, the important thing is that they were loved and still are. A love like that cannot be questioned. It simply is the most beautiful and natural thing in the world.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old. Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn. At the going down of the sun and in the morning, We will remember them. —Laurence Binyon
Society sometimes expects us to remember a little less, but why should we. Never feel guilty for allowing yourself to feel.
We remember because they exist.
We remember because their lives deserve to be acknowledged.
We remember because it is all we have left.
We remember because we are no longer physically together.
We remember because there is a story to tell.
October 15 is Pregnancy & Infant Loss Remembrance Day. In tribute, this post includes excerpts from Footprints on the Heart: A Remembrance Anthology. What do you remember as sacred to you?