Later this week, on Earth Day actually, we have two birthday parties to attend. One party is for a boy about to turn 4 and one party is for a girl who should be turning 6.
The birthday boy will have a party that incorporates the Earth and recycling and the environment. I suspect there will also be some sort of tractor or construction vehicle as well. There will be a crowd of grandparents, cousins, friends and family. There will be presents and cake and lots of laughter.
The other party will be different. It will just be the mom (me), the dad (my husband) and her baby sister (our other daughter). There will not be any presents. There will not be any cake. There will not be much laughter. But there will be a balloon release and there will be tears. You see, our firstborn daughter died before she even had a chance to be born. Many think it is silly to celebrate the day that I delivered her still into this world, but not us. We take this chance to remember her and honor her.
I debated not going to the first party. After all, we need that day to mourn. We need one day a year to belong to the daughter that lives only in our hearts. However, that is not fair to the boy who is excited to turn 4, and for his family who mean so much to us. And would our firstborn want us to miss that chance to be with them on her behalf? I think not.
It’s hard, though, to not have her with us. Even after all this time. She would be finishing up her kindergarten year in June. I do not know who her friends would have been and can only speculate as to what kind of child she would have been. Would she have played with Barbies and dolls or Legos and trucks—or both? Would she like to dress up like her sister or prefer to be casual like her older cousin? Would her laugh make my heart soar and her tears bring me to my knees? I will never know.
There is a creek by our house that reminds us of our daughter. We may walk down there to honor her. We may drive over to the park where we planted a tree 6 years ago to remember her and the other babies that were born still that year. I am not sure yet. We will decide on that day what feels right for us.
Six years later, it’s the not knowing that hurts so much. The potential that is lost, the dreams never fulfilled. Those things haunt my days.
But I will not take that out on the birthday boy who deserves as much love and light as possible. Life is about the living and to pretend otherwise is just not fair. Even on the day when my first born would be turning 6. Yes, even then.