It’s October. Leaves are starting to fall off the trees and there is a chill in the air.
The color pink is starting to hit the shelves—in every store that we go to and every place that I look. Pink is synonymous with breast cancer awareness. I am fully on-board with this movement. The more awareness, the better. I have family members who are proud survivors and I always donate to Susan G. Komen (as well as other charities) throughout the year.
Most people are not aware that October is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month. Declared to be so in 1988 by then-President Ronald Regan, it seems that each year, it is slowly getting more and more recognition. October 15 is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day and my family gathers to light a candle, release a balloon, and remember.
My first daughter was stillborn. I carried her under my heart for 37 weeks and one glorious day. And then, with no warning, rhyme, or reason, she died.
Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement, also falls in October this year. On that day, we fast and reflect and vow to not make the same mistakes we have made in the past. We repent for our sins of the past year and get a clean slate for the next year.
I do not need to know what season it is or what holiday is coming up to remember my daughter. Nor do I need to fast in order to repent. However, having a specific day or month to celebrate or commemorate really works for me.
I am now a mother again. Parenting my second daughter does not allow for a lot of time for self-pity. But it does allow time for self-reflection. I can think about how my life would be different had my first daughter lived, and I can mourn the fact that she died, but for the most part, I have to focus on her sister and all that she needs from me.
When my daughter died, I felt pain like nothing else. Five years later, I still cannot describe that pain.
Then we adopted her sister. I felt joy like nothing else. Three years later, I still cannot describe that joy.
Does happiness only come out of pain?
Am I a better parent because at one point, I had nothing to lose? Am I a better person for the same reason?
There is no real answer to these questions. There does not need to be. All I need is to know that people remember the babies that are only here in our hearts. Remember them when you are buying pink ribbons. Remember them when you are atoning. Remember them whenever you can. Remember them simply because you can.