June & July are not just any months

The closer Ayden’s birthday, the faster my heartbeat.

I’ve thought about June & July of 2017 days following his passing last year. Like all parents in my boat, I knew I wouldn’t want to exist on these months, especially on his birthday & death anniversary. I used to think what I’d do on these days in the coming year. That was anyway left unclear & unanswered.

Now that June & July are imminent, it’s hard to ignore the sweaty palms.

I asked my husband a few days ago what we should do on his birthday. He just said – “you tell me.” Every time we start to discuss him or his birthday, we end up not discussing. We end up in silence, until one of us makes an effort to break it with some joke that actually works. And it does work, most of the time. I think that’s the power of having someone who knows you in & out & has the same experience as you. That’s good.

I was pleasantly surprised when a colleague of mine recently asked – “Chhotu’s (little one’s) birthday is coming up na?” It was like she read my mind because I was actually thinking about it at that very moment.

“Oh, you remember?” I didn’t hide that I was surprised.

“Ya. June 2nd or 4th, though?”

“2nd”

“Do you guys have any memorial service or anything like that planned?” Strange that she spoke about his birthday & anniversary in just that one sentence.

Nevertheless, that’s when it struck me that if I need to plan anything, & later not regret not planning, I need to do it NOW.

I don’t remember what I answered to her. I must have said “nothing planned” or something on those lines.

We’ve been wanting to get a video compilation of his pictures & videos and a few of our pregnancy pictures, and put a story together. We started doing it a while ago, but left mid-way for the interruption by some random un-invited throat lumps in between. Maybe, we should finish that.

In a recent phone conversation with my mom, she said – “last year this time we were in Hyderabad with you.” She & my sister had come to visit me in my second trimester. “It’s almost a year.” I sensed the sigh in her voice.

That almost in her sentence actually meant that she was referring to June & July & not about their visit. Their visit wasn’t almost a year ago; it was more than a year ago.

For a bunch of us – Ayden’s parents, grandparents, uncles, aunt – it’s hard to brush aside the upcoming few weeks. It’s hard to oversee anything beyond those few weeks.

Last night again, I popped the question – “what should we do on his birthday?” This time there was an answer, a reasonably clear one – “We’ll do whatever you want to do. we’ll plan it well.” When it was followed by a hug, it felt right.

As days go by, I’m just trying to keep my fist tighter, my feet firmer and my people closer.

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When does it hit you?

My son died.

It hits you everyday. Some days, harder. As hard as it can get.

The thoughts come in at random times. There’s no defined pattern. It could be when you are having breakfast, during an office meeting, watching TV, taking a shower, in the middle of a party…

It has hit me while shopping groceries. It has hit me on a coffee break with a bunch of colleagues at work. It has hit me while working on a complicated excel sheet with way too many vlookups enough to screw up the numbers. It has hit me at the ruins of Angkor Wat on our holiday to Cambodia. Woman, you should be focusing on the ruins of the largest religious monument in the world, built centuries ago, and listening to the tour guide about the amazing Khmer architecture. You paid a good amount of money for all these! Nop, if it’s Angkor Wat for 2 seconds, next is Ayden for 10. That’s how child loss works. In mysterious ways.

Then there are special occasions – your birthday, your spouse/partner’s birthday, wedding anniversary, your siblings’ weddings… Everything has your child attached to it.

When you see a kid who could be of your child’s age, you tell yourself – hold up now, you can let it out once you are home, in private. Even more, when you hold a kid who could be your child’s age… I’ll leave it at that. When I held a kid maybe 5 months older to Ayden, my head was spinning. Not figuratively; literally. This was a kid whom I had met 2 times and refused to attempt to hold him for the fear of hurting myself. As much as I wanted to experience that holding-a-baby-close-to-heart, I told myself to refrain. The 3rd time I met this kid, in the elevator to the parking lot, without any attempt from my side, he voluntarily jumped to me. Man, he got me this time. The feeling of holding, the warmth… That’s when the head spinning happened. After we sat in the car, I held him tighter.

At the airport when you see parents with infants getting priority to board, you keep thinking that you could have been one of them – not because you want to board first, but to be included in that category of parents.

When you overhear your colleagues talking about their kids – their school annual day, home remedies for cold, etc – you contemplate between putting on the headphones or still sneakily wanting to listen to that conversation to get an idea of how life could have been for you.

It hits you when you get the package from the stem cell bank congratulating you for protecting your kid for life.

It’s almost business as usual when you get emails from those parenting websites that you had signed up for, during pregnancy. The pregnancy weekly updates have moved on to be ‘your baby at 8 weeks old’ kind of updates. But then there are days when they remind you on the things to keep in mind when your baby starts crawling, or when they start solids.

Then there are also days like these when you randomly wake up at 3:30 am & wonder what just happened – not to the sleep, but to your child.

I’ll say it again – it’s not just your child that you lose. You lose the fairytales, the broken tooth, the picky eater, the first day of school, the teenage tantrums, you lose a lifetime!

And, those moments when it hits you harder, you lose much more than all these!