Every year as I sit down to write your birthday letter, I feel a familiar sense of sadness that, not only has another year passed without you, but it still hasn’t gotten any easier. It often amazes me that I am still here, my broken heart still beating, that the world has kept on turning for all these years, without you in my arms.
I’ve been sat here all day, just staring at an empty screen, tears rolling down my face as the realisation hit that with every passing year I have far less to say than the last; that the words are so much harder to find knowing that it has all been said a thousand times over, that all of those memories are further away than they have ever been.
That you are further away than you have ever been.
I found myself longing for just one more moment, for something new, a tiny snippet of information about your 12th year, something tangible to share, something more than all we have. I berated myself, for the millionth time, for forgetting so many of those wonderful memories throughout my pregnancy, when you kicked inside my belly, when our lives were filled with so much promise and joy; for failing to capture every single moment, never knowing that one day they would be all I had left.
And my heart broke, all over again, knowing that those 24 short hours we had with you will never be enough to last us through the years.
I’ll be honest with you, I very nearly closed my laptop and accepted there would be no more birthday letters to you, that I no longer had the ability to put into words just how huge our loss was, even after all this time. And then upstairs in the children’s bedroom I heard a commotion, the excited sound of your younger siblings, “Come quick! There’s something up here!!”
And there it was, a huge black creature on the window sill, crawling in from through the window, sat watching us as the children screamed in horror. “It’s just a moth!” I told them, as I tried to usher it out of the window, frustrated as it dodged my hand every time and refused to leave. Finally I captured it, with a cup and a sheet of paper, and I shuddered at how symbolic is was for a black moth to visit our house on the eve of your birthday – a symbol of death, a reminder of all we had lost.
As we took the moth outside and released it into the garden, it simply hopped onto the fence and sat there, just watching, just waiting. As we approached it, surrounding the moth with curious eyes, just inches away from our faces, it opened it’s wings to reveal the most beautiful colours I have ever seen. And we realised that far from a moth it was infact a butterfly – notorious for representing endurance, change, hope, and life.
And right then I knew that, although it may feel as though I have so little left of you to share, and although it may feel as though there is nothing more for me to say, you are so much more than those 24 hours we had together. For although I cannot share our memories of the last 12 years together, I can continue to share our story in a bid to help others, to know that, whilst I cannot change the outcome of our story, perhaps I can change the outcome for another baby, just like you.
Because the truth is, you are still right here, enfolded in the midst of our lives together, in the sound of the children’s laughter and the sparkle in their eyes, in our smiles and our tears, our good days and bad. You are there on Christmas mornings and through birthday wishes, on the special days and the ordinary moments, you are right there at the forefront of our minds and with every beat of our hearts. And I promise you that for as long as I live, I will continue to share your story, to talk about you, and smile about you, and endeavour to make you proud.
Just like that butterfly, I have needed every bit of endurance to survive the last 12 years, to accept the things I cannot change, to cling to the hope that I would find happiness again, to live a life I did not plan for, but a happy life all the same. And today when I needed a sign, when my heart hurts and my arms feel empty, you are still there, never more than a whisper away, reminding me that, although life indeed goes on, I will carry you with me for always.
We have missed you with every heartbeat of the last 12 years. You are so loved, and so missed, by all of us.
Happy 12th Birthday Joseph, My favourite hello and my hardest goodbye.
Love you all of the stars in the sky xxxxxxx