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Sunday, September 2, 2012

A father who lost his baby to SIDS sent me an email yesterday on what would have been his son's 20th birthday.  I have corresponded with him several times since finding him on a grief website a while back.  He reached out to me on his son's birthday - ME: so early on in my grief and HIM: many years along this terrible road.  I felt honored to hear from him.  Had I known that yesterday was his son's birthday, it would have been me reaching out to him...but I didn't know.  He has had five children since losing his baby boy and told me in his email yesterday that he just found out that his wife is expecting.  And yet, around this time every year, his thoughts turn back to the baby he lost and his heart breaks again.  New babies do not cancel out the grief or love of babies who died.  I asked him if, after twenty years, he remembers the details of the baby he lost.  "I remember a lot about my son", he said, "including his eyes, which were changing from blue to gray.  I remember his smile and his little movements.  I remember his smell, and even the smell of his diaper.  I know that sounds weird...".  I cried while reading this.  It doesn't sound weird to me at all.  Honestly, changing my babies diapers never really has felt weird or gross. In fact, to change a baby's diaper is truly a sign of unconditional love.  And I remember the bonding Maxie and I did while he was on the changing table.  He'd look into my eyes and smile.  I'd make the sign for I love you and sing it out loud to him.  He'd try to turn over while I wrestled with him to get the diaper on straight.  I miss changing his dirty diaper because I miss everything about him.  I miss every interaction I had with him.  I miss all of his smells, dirty diaper included.  My friend told me that he and his then wife had another baby right away that didn't remind him of his son.  "A couple of my kids cried like my son.  His lower lip would quiver for a little while, and then he would cry out.  It was both cute and pathetic."  Twenty years later, he remembers his baby's cry.

I asked him about whether he remembers, in part, because I am so afraid of forgetting something...some small detail.  I don't want to forget a thing about my Maxie.  I am so afraid of losing his memory in addition to losing HIM.  Maxie's birthday is in a month.  He would be two years old....but he will never be more than nine and half months old.  How can this be?  I am working hard to try and remember everything about our nine and half months together so that even when he has been gone twenty years, I will still remember his sweet face turning pinkish red when he cried, his effort to insert his little fists in to his mouth, his gigantic smile lighting up his bedroom when I went in to wake him up in the morning, the way he always settled down when I recited "Goodnight Moon" in his little ears.  He lit up our lives and our hearts.  I wouldn't trade my nine and a half months with Max for a lifetime with any other kid.  He was just perfect and I won't let myself forget one thing.

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