Some days you can expect it, other days it hits you like a tons of bricks. That’s the reality of losing a child, or any loved one for that matter. Grief knows no limits, and just when you think life is smooth sailing, the heartache returns with a vengeance. I like to call it the seasons of grief. And right now, I’m in thick of it.
2018 just plain sucks. There’s no better way to put it. At the beginning of the year, it hit me—my surviving triplet will turn five-years-old this year. That’s huge. Not only will she graduate preschool, she will also start Kindergarten in the fall. As the New Year approached, I thought a lot about what life would be like this year. And as reality sank in, a new season of grief arrived.
Five years ago, I was basking in the pregnancy glow. After years of infertility, my husband and I were finally expecting a family of our own. Much to our shock, I was pregnant with triplets, two identical girls and a boy. The spring months were beautiful; my growing belly was everything I dreamed of and more. I absolutely loved being pregnant, even though I faced complications and exhaustion from carrying triplets.
Unfortunately, life can shatter in an instant and my world came crashing down on June 23rd, 2013. I went into labor more than 17 weeks premature and none of my babies were expected to survive. My firstborn, Abby, and my son, Parker, died within two months of their birthday. Our lone survivor, Peyton, had statistics stacked against her. But she not only survived, she thrived, and this year she’ll be celebrating a big milestone birthday.
Anyone who has lost a loved one will agree—the first year post-loss can be unbearable. You’re faced with the first holidays and birthdays without your loved one, and eventually the anniversary of their death. That first year was surreal for me. As watched my lone survivor grow, I was in a haze of grief, knowing that there should be three babies at home with me.
Grief never goes away, but it changes over time. Each year as the summer months approach, I brace myself for what could be a heartbreaking season of grief. Some years have been excruciating, others surprisingly peaceful. And each year as the anniversary of my children’s deaths pass by me, I exhale a sigh of relief. I survived another year.
But this year is different. I could feel it within the first days of 2018. The tears fall more frequently and I find myself dreading the summer months. My daughter turns another year older next month and I can’t help but wonder how I will survive the grief. I’ve watched my little miracle blossom into a beautiful and strong young girl. I’ve watched her overcome developmental delays and medical issues. And I’ve watched her surprise everyone, especially her doctors, as she proves that even the most premature babies can lead a normal life. But as I watch her achieve the impossible, the sadness for my other two triplets bleeds out.
This year I will watch her walk into Kindergarten for the first time. While parents are shedding tears at this big milestone, my tears will be bittersweet; joy for my survivor, yet heartache as I imagine all three triplets walking to school together. This year I will watch my daughter try out different sports, joining teams and other activities along with other kids her age. But as I cheer on the sideline, there will be a painful tug in my heart.
Each big moment this year will be met with an unusual mix of emotions, the painstaking reality of being a parent to children here on earth and in Heaven. And while I may put on a brave face, masked with a smile, I’ve already cried most days. Some days it’s only a few tears with friends, other times I find myself sobbing in the comfort of my home. But as the milestones come and go this year, I’m prepared, as much as I can be. This year is going to suck, plain and simple, but there is no need to push away the grief. As the years go by, you learn how to live life after loss, and part of that living is allowing yourself to grieve. It may be a difficult few months ahead, but by weathering the seasons of grief, I realize my children have made me who I am today…and have made me stronger than I ever imagined.