As I turned the calendar to August upon returning home from vacation, there it was in bold colorful letters- James and Penelope's 4th Birthday, on August 19th. My heart sank a little. Gwenevere was asking me a question as I felt my face getting hot and my eyes filled up with tears. I couldn't really hear what she was saying and I didn't answer her right away as I thought to myself, "19 more days".
I've celebrated 5 birthdays with Gwenevere and 1 birthday with Victoria so far. Not to mention 35 of my own. I love birthdays. I especially love celebrating a birthday through the eyes of a child. Gwenevere absolutely adores birthdays. I think it's usually around February when she starts asking when her next birthday is, which isn't of course until December. The cake, friends, gifts, candy, excitement, birthday wishes, all on this one special day. Each birthday that we've celebrated is also a time to look back an marvel at how much our child has grown and changed. It truly is a magical day.
Celebrating a birthday of a deceased child is complicated. Honestly, it's depressing, but important. Penelope and James' birthday is not only the day that they were born, but also the day that they died. So yeah, it's sad. But it's important to me. Because while it marks the saddest day in my life it is also the only day that I ever got to spend time with two of my children. It's the only day that I was able to see their faces, hold their tiny hands and stroke their tiny cheeks. It's the only day that I was able to say "I love you". It's the only day that I was able to hold them in my arms. To snuggle them and take in every little feature. It may have been the day that we said goodbye, but it's also the day that we met. That's a day worth celebrating.
This month is hard. I'm pulled back to that place in time when they were born and died and it hurts. There still isn't a day that goes by that I don't miss my son and daughter. I don't think there ever will be. Like grief tends to do, it ebbs and flows. I will allow myself a few rough weeks this month. We'll plan a special day on the 19th with cake and balloons like we do. I will look at their pictures and cry. Then I will pull myself together as best as I can and continue to move forward. I miss them so much, but I can't change the past. It's only 19 days.