When I look at my calendar, my mind begins to race. My daughter’s therapy sessions three times a week, work meetings and special reports, buying a house, moving into said house, speaking engagements and entertaining a toddler. When will I have time to breathe? This summer is zipping by at warp speed, yet I’m not complaining. I long for the busy schedule: It’s what I call survival mode.
Ask anyone who has lost a loved one, anniversaries can be difficult. In between reminiscing over the happy times, your mind forces you into the darkest moments, remembering where you were when you learned of their death; or in my case, that exact moment as you watched your children take their last breaths. It’s hard to even fathom losing a child. You don’t expect to outlive your kids. But for some of us, that’s our reality. It’s something that we relive every year at the same time. For me, summer is the toughest season. My children were born in June. My daughter Abby passed away that very same day, my son Parker said goodbye nearly two months later. Those days in between are a blur. We faced so many uphill battles during our time in the Nicu, watching my surviving triplet thrive over time while my son slowly took a turn for the worse. July 11th: The day Parker needed emergency surgery. July 30th: The day we learned Parker suffered brain damage. August 16th: The day we held our only son as he died in our arms, also what we call Parker’s “Angelversary.”
You can see why I like to stay busy during the summer months. After two years, I expected the grief to be easier and the flashbacks to be fewer and further between. But, I was wrong. I miss my children every single day and that will never change. I watch my survivor dig into her toys and think, “she should have her two best friends playing by her side.” And I daydream about what it would be like for all three to bloom into teenagers, each with such different personalities. But as the days, months and years go by, I find those tears turning into smiles. My face lights up when people ask about all three of my triplets. My heart swells with pride when I hear others speak the names, Abby, Parker and Peyton. And absolute joy takes over my body as I watch my children touch so many lives.
I may look exhausted, frazzled and sometimes a little sad, but do not fret, it’s my survival mode. The busier I am, the easier it becomes to get through the roughest days. And as we approach my son’s “angelversary,” I remind myself of my favorite Dr. Seuss quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”