It’s been 10 years today since my son Connor Marley was born to Heaven. Just a few days before this date 10 years ago, I had no idea what pain felt like. But on this day, I discovered firsthand what it’s like to have your whole life change in the matter of an instant, and the reality that even babies die suddenly stare yourself in the face.
10 years ago, I felt like the whole world had suddenly stood still. I was shocked at how totally unjust life was that an innocent baby could die before he even took his first breath. I learned what it was like to hold my newborn’s son lifeless body only moments after I gave birth to him, and how much the look of his face scared me.
10 years ago I was in a different world. And every year after that, I relived the pain. Days would lead up to his birth/death date, and I would be on edge for no reason I could think of. And then it would hit me. September 23rd was getting close. In the past years I have learned how to be kind to myself as I near this date, allowing myself a day to remember and to grieve. And each year gets easier and easier.
This year, I decided that instead of just remembering, I would celebrate Connor’s birth into Heaven with a day of family. Mr. W and I took the kids to church in the morning, and then we went in our own separate directions so that I could spend time with DQ and Taz on my own. I think it was fate that I accidentally left my phone at home all day, because there was nothing to distract me from giving my full attention to the kids. We went to DQ’s soccer game first, where Taz and I sat on the sidelines joking around in between cheering on the girls. During halftime, the three of us got into a game of football toss, where DQ and Taz threw perfect spirals and I tried to look as little like an unsporty wimp as possible and miserably failed. When the game was over, we went in search of the nearest Starbucks and bought ridiculously expensive high calorie drinks, and enjoyed every single sip.
Then we went to Connor’s grave.
Taz doesn’t remember much from that time 10 years ago. He was only a toddler. But DQ remembers it all clearly. She and I stood over the grave after I placed a bouquet of roses from our garden into the holder below his gravestone. We talked about what it would have been like had he survived, what it was like back then, and how things had changed. Taz came and joined in, expressing how he would have loved to have had a little brother he could teach things to. Had Connor survived, he would have been a special needs kid, and Taz told us in all seriousness how he would have encouraged him. DQ slipped a folded note she had written him between the stone and the flowers, tucking it in so that the words were between her, Connor, and God. And then we went on our way.
Today was special. It was just the three of us, sharing a moment about something that we experienced together. It needed to just be us three honoring Connor while honoring the family that we are. In less than three weeks, we get to experience another change in our lives – the day Mr. W and I get married. Then we will officially be a family of 5. And over the past few years, we really have become a family of 5. But inside that family of 5 is still this family of 3.
Today, I celebrate that.