Today marks the 16th birthday of my son Connor. He died when he was 3 months old from Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) so unfortunately he’s in heaven for this birthday as he has been for every one before this. Every year I find myself compelled to write something about him because on this day all the memories and emotions come rushing back.
Unless you’ve lost a child, it’s hard to understand the feelings a parent has and how they survive the loss. My life has gone on but it will never be the same. I’d certainly say that I’m happy but there will always be a sense of melancholy overshadowing everything.
Very shortly after Connor died I got pregnant again. People often remarked that they were surprised I wasn’t afraid to go through it again. To be honest, yes, I was a bit afraid, and when my second son was born I was constantly waking him up out of a sound sleep to be sure he was still alive. But my desire for happiness and a family outweighed my fear.
Now, 16 years later and with three other children, I still have fear. I wouldn’t necessarily say irrationally so, but there’s always a feeling in the back of my head that most parents fortunately don’t have. It’s that split second of initial agony when you’re told your child has died. So yes, when I see my daughter stunting in cheerleading or when my son is bike riding down our street I do have fear. But I try my best not to allow my fear to stand in the way of their happiness and desire to do the things that they enjoy.
I often think of the parents of the children who died in the Newtown massacre, probably because the school is within miles of our town. I think about the fear they must have every day they let their other children out of their sight to go to school.
So many times people say to me that they couldn’t survive losing a child. Well, you’d be surprised what you can survive when you have no choice. I guess the only piece of advice I would give to someone who’s recently lost a child is that time does help. One day you will look back and you won’t believe that 16 years have passed. I know I certainly couldn’t imagine that when I met other SIDS parents whose children had died one or even two decades before.
So for every grieving parent out there – you will never forget and you will never be the same. But one day, when the paid subsides, you’ll be able to get through the birthdays and accept the gift of having your little angel watching over you.
I welcome any parent to share their stories here on my blog so we can all celebrate our children’s lives together.