Today my girls would have turned five.
It feels like quite a milestone. It feels like it was a million years ago that I discovered what real heart-break feels like, and yet, if I close my eyes, I am back there in an instant.
I’ve always guarded this day, July 10th, Rebecca and Maria’s birthday. It was the one day I could devote to just them. It was a day to feel the heartache and to shed the tears. A day to shut myself away and just wallow in the grief. One day, out of 365, that seemed reasonable to me.
But, of course, life has a way of moving on… My life is blessedly busy and full these days, and my grief has mellowed through the years. I had a turning point last month. Yet another one! Here I thought I’d figured everything out about coping with our loss…
It all started with a long overdue trip to the dentist. When I was checking out, making my next appointments, I realized that Nate and Julia needed to go in for their first check-ups. We have a very busy schedule this summer, and it just so happened that the only day they had that matched up with our schedule was, you guessed it, the 10th. I stood, frozen to the spot, in an unfamiliar setting with people who don’t know, inside howling, “NOOOO! That’s THEIR day! It’s my day to do nothing else but remember them!” And yet, I had no other reason to not book this much needed appointment. I found myself yet again having to make that difficult choice of choosing to live my life or wallow in the could’ve/should’ve beens. I so badly wanted to wallow…but I didn’t. I made the choice again to honor life, not grief. I stood still for a long minute, then swallowed, sighed, and whispered “That’s fine. We’ll take the 10th.”
The story doesn’t end there though. It continues with an invite to spend the day with some friends and their kids. Now, I didn’t particularly want to go to the dentist… But this, this I really wanted to do. So once again, I faced that choice, and with a twinge of guilt, made the decision to go and live my life as it is right now.
I spent so long after the birth of Rebecca and Maria living between two worlds, reality and the one where I was still pregnant. I marked the weeks, thought about how my girls should have been still growing, safe inside me. Thought about the changes that would have taken place. Drove myself crazy with longing for what should have been. My EDD (estimated due date) was a tough day, but it was also one that forced me to make a decision. The decision to live in the real world, full-time. I didn’t realize when I made that choice, that it was one I would have to continue to make over and over again.
A friend just reminded me though, that living my life is honoring their memory. I don’t have to be sad to prove to the world that I loved my girls. I have to live my life and include them in it. July 10th will always remain a special day, a day to remember, but I don’t have to wall it off, carve out one day and pour sadness into it as proof that I still grieve. Instead, I’ll bravely live 365 days, and include their memories in all of them, speaking about them with love when appropriate and mourning the loss of them as needed. And never, never forgetting that for one all too brief moment I got to meet my two little angels.
Today I remember. It would mean the world to me if you would take a moment to remember too. Rebecca and Maria, you existed and you continue to be loved.