Today is my son Gabriel’s 9th birthday. Two and a half hours from right now will be the 9th anniversary of his death.
It’s still very hard for me even after all this time. Mostly during this time of year, but sometimes just randomly. I think “What if he would’ve survived?” My brain refuses to think “Well, Lil’lady wouldn’t be here”. Instead, I think “Well, you’d have two kids with birthdays way too close.” I mean that in the most loving way, of course. From June 16 until July 23, my last two children are the same age. I mention this because two people have recently told me “If he’d lived you’d not have her, so that’s good. Right?” No, not right.
My response was both times “There is no silver lining to my son’s death.”
There is a silver lining to his birth though. He was here if only for 36 minutes. I got to hear him cry, though experts said he probably wouldn’t. And he was a beautiful combination of me and TheMan. I was able to give birth to an angel, though his life was cut way too short. I’m grateful for that.
This year’s birthday is rougher than it’s been in a long time. My newest granddaughter almost died and was diagnosed with a brain abnormality. Though so many other people held the hope and belief she would be all right, I was scared to death that my baby, her mama, would have to feel what I felt when my baby died. I prepared myself for the worst because I was really afraid of the worst. Thankfully, I was wrong. She’s home now and, so far, doing wonderfully. The brain damage she was originally diagnosed with isn’t as originally thought. And she’s functioning exactly as expected for a newborn. I’m grateful for that, too. She’s gorgeous and we’re lucky she graced us with her presence.
I never got to hold Gabriel while he was alive. He died before I was out of surgery1. But I got to hold Lil’lady, Lil Man and, now, Lil’est since his passing. I’ve got to see other life come into our family and I am so blessed with them all. I remember being very angry when I first found out I was pregnant with Lil’lady. I was angry because 1) I was afraid and 2) I felt I didn’t have enough time to mourn my son’s death. I know what he may have looked like during his first 8 years as Lil’lady was his spitting image when she was first born. Lil Man and Lil’est brought up his memory when I first held them too. That new baby smell, you know. I wondered if Gabriel was there to see them. I wondered if Gabriel was helping Lil’est with her struggle this past week.
Sometimes I look at Lil Man and wonder if he’s got some of Gabriel’s spirit. Would he have been similar? Lil Man is a great kid, very polite and smart. He loves to give hugs and say “I love you” without being prompted. He’s always smiling and having fun. He and I are very close. We bonded a lot when he was born and my heart just swells whenever he’s around. My mother said she thinks I’ve subconsciously made him my surrogate son. I wonder about that now too. I’m never quite so content — or exhausted — as when he’s here with Lil’lady. Maybe he did fill up that empty spot. That’s ok with me. He’s a wonderful little boy and he makes my life brighter just by being around me.
Today is a day to be grateful for the little ones here and to remember the little guy who isn’t. I have a lot of emotions coming to the surface this year and I’m positive it’s got everything to do with Lil’est being born so close to Gabriel’s birthday and with her having so many issues right out of the gate. So, this year I want to take a moment to remember him and the effect he had on our lives.
I love you, son. Rest well.
- He was transverse breech and I had to have a c-section. [↩]