Happy twenty-second birthday. This birthday will bring you joy and hope for the future. It will be busy going to a football game, spending time with your most loved ones, and choosing baby names. Today you found out you are carrying the most precious gift in the whole entire universe. At that second it turned positive, you knew this year for you would be completely different from any before. You would start counting down the days to important pregnancy milestones and planning for the rest of your life. Soak in this happiness, this will be your last birthday that you will be able to freely smile with meaning.
This year you will grow and not just your belly getting bigger and bigger. Your love will grow and be greater than anything you thought was possible. The pride you have for you family and son will burst from the seams. There will be a light in your life that grows with every single beat of Jensen’s heart. He will grow and as you watch him dance across that screen, your smile will grow at each visit. Your little house will have a ceiling and walls up, even a nursery. Instead of your mind focusing in on a single person’s house, it will grow suitable for a small family. Everything around you will be nurtured for the future you came up with, as you woke up on your twenty-second birthday.
November will be the happiest month of your year. You find out the little baby in your belly is a boy, your Jensen. He sits there just like Dad does on the couch. He isn’t shy about being a boy and you’ll soon find out he cooperates for everyone when you ask him to. Even when he’s being the most stubborn little boy for the nurses, when you ask him to move he does. The love you have for each other is unbreakable. You find out his heart is strong and he has hair; the only two things you asked for when you found out you were going to have a baby. Even though you didn’t think you would see Jensen twice a week while you were pregnant, you will be so thankful for that time with him.
There will be so much happiness and love in this year, you will be on the greatest high in your life. Collect those moments as they come and never let them go. You will have bumps while you’re pregnant that you’ll never think you can get over. They are not important. You would’ve got through the, but you didn’t think anything worse could happen. You could never have imagined the alternative. Instead of listening to almost everyone around you, you’ll fight for Jensen. Just as any mother would. No matter the challenges placed in front of you, you will always do what’s best for Jensen and you.
Then comes April. At this point in the year, it’s gone so perfectly. You will be so ready for his arrival, just getting a few more things the weekend before. In the second day of this month, you will joke how you feel like Jensen won’t wait to come out for very much longer. You will be surrounded by Anthony and your family. Love will pour in that weekend. Everything will feel just like it has, until you walk in the doctor’s office on Monday, April the fourth. This is when everything changes. The joy and happiness that you felt on your birthday, this day one year ago, will vanish. Your hopes and dreams will go away and you have to say goodbye to the one, little person that brought you so much light.
On April fifth he is born. You find out he did in fact have hair, looked exactly like you, and never once brought you pain. He’s a perfect baby at seven pounds one ounce and nineteen and three-quarter inches long. All ten fingers and all ten toes are there for you to count. His big cheeks and button nose would have scrunched up to boast a big smile. You made him with love and he looked so peaceful. The day will be static, even as your twenty-third birthday comes. I can’t tell you when that day comes back clear. It hasn’t yet, there’s a chance it never will.
I’ll be honest with you, Danielle. The days, weeks, and months that follow his birth are hard. You’ll plan your son’s funeral, tears come more freely than smiles, and the light is impossible to see. It will hurt to breathe and nothing will scare you anymore. I wish you never had to meet death this year. This isn’t what you wished for as you blew out the candle on top of your sundae. You’ll wish to go back in time, something you never did before. Depression will creep up, self-doubt will happen, and all you will be able to do is survive. There will be people who don’t understand this and you’ll feel alone. A loneliness and emptiness will eat away at your everyday. There will be darkness.
Somehow, you will keep surviving.
Jensen, even in death, is your light. He and all the memories you have with him will keep you going. There’s not a lot of smiles in the last few months of your twenty-second year, but when you do, it’s when you remember him. Many will tell you to find some light in your life and somedays it’s just a flicker. Jensen’s light is so strong, but sometimes grief is pitch black. When you feel like giving up, search deep down. You’ll see his light. No matter how pitch black it is, Jensen’s light never goes out. He never hurt you when he was here and he would never leave you in the dark.
I want you to know that grief does not get lighter, we become stronger. This pain and darkness does not go away. You just learn how to live with it. There will always be an absence in your life, but his presence was so great. Through this year, soak up all the light and happiness you can. Even now, as this year is coming to its close, I would never wish it away. I would never want to forget all this love and each day Jensen was with us. I can say that even through this darkness and pain.
This year you will become a mother of all mothers. One who does not hold her son in her arms, but in her heart. Forever.
Danielle at almost twenty-three.