It really isn't a "Happy birthday" when the person is no longer living. And is it even a birthday when the person doesn't get any older? Our daughter Allison should be celebrating her 7th birthday today, but she isn't. There will be no cake or presents or streamers. Instead she will forever be 101 days old.
Each year I tell myself that this April 29 will be easier than the last. While the sadness has changed over time, each year seems to bring different feelings and thoughts. And this year is no exception.
I think many of the thoughts and feelings I have this year stem from all the changes that our family has gone through the past 6 months. "Birthday number 7" can pretty much be summed up with one word –– guilt. Not guilt as in "did I cause this to happen" or "if only I had done x differently when I was first pregnant", I have already dealt with those.
I am enjoying Japan. I miss my family and friends dearly, and yes I find things very frustrating and isolating at times, but I look at my kids and they are thriving and having an opportunity of a lifetime and I know we are where we are supposed to be. And then I feel guilty for that because being "happy" somehow means that I am "happy" with how things turned out. Had Allison lived I know without a doubt that we would not be here today. Our life would completely different than what it is now. It would be a life filled with doctors, medicines, tests and precautions.
Then there is Sam... there is not a day that goes by when she does something and I don't think "I wonder if Allison would have done that" or "I wonder if Allison would have had Sam's smile or big brown eyes". I cannot imagine my life without Sam, yet if she weren't here then we would still have Allison. I thought as Sam got older and time passed those feelings would fade, but they haven't. Someone told me once that loving both didn't mean I loved one any less. It sounds good on paper, but convincing my heart and head is a different story.
There is no black and white when one looses a child. There just seems to be many shades of gray. So I think back 7 years ago with a heavy heart and I miss my little girl. Seven years ago I remember looking at Allison for the first time in the NICU terrified of what the future held. If only I had known that the future was only 101 days long I would have held on to her a bit tighter.
Happy 7th Birthday Allison. We miss you.