My Dearest Three,
I can’t believe it’s been a year. I try to stay busy, but all it takes is a few minutes of calm before I realize that something is missing. You. My goodness, I miss you more than words could ever say. I know I don’t talk to you much, but that’s your dad’s thing. Mommy’s more of a writer. And I wouldn’t dare let your birthday pass without putting pen to paper for you.
I couldn’t wait to meet my K3. The little guy who had me eating steak and potatoes (when I barely eat chicken), drinking Fanta Orange, and crying over Popeye’s forgetting to put blackened ranch in the bag. I allowed myself to be free, unbothered, and loved while I carried you, something I never got to do with your brother and sister. My time with you was so special. I wish I could’ve held you a little longer, given you a few more kisses. Sniffed your curly hair a little more. Held your tiny fingers. It hurts that I didn’t get to mother you. Walking away from you is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
I just knew you would be here causing a ruckus and as tall as Malik by now. You’re supposed to be getting your first haircut from Pop Pop! That would’ve meant everything to me. Sometimes I close my eyes and imagine what life would be like if you were here. Toys and slobber everywhere. I wonder what your gummy smile would’ve looked like. You were the spitting image of your father, so I know it would’ve lit up any room. I just wish I could’ve heard one coo, or a cry. Any sound would suffice.
I recently gave away your diapers and wipes. Whew! It felt like I lost a piece of you when they drove away. I guess I’m just not ready. Your pack ‘n’ play is still in my room. The bears your dad bought for me at the hospital are in there. He organized your closet so neatly in anticipation for you. And I’m grateful he did. Sometimes I stand in there for a minute, tracing the edges of the boxes. Touching the clothes and blankets. Still trying to accept that I never got to use them.
Your brother, your sister and your dad need me, so I’m staying strong. It’s hard every single day, but you know mommy runs the show. I do the best I can to keep us all going. I’m not the well oiled machine I used to be, but I’m here. The world has given me grace, even when I haven’t given it to myself, and God has given me so much strength. I know He’s the only reason I’m making it. He’s been taking really good care of us.
Malik asks about you a lot. Before you were born, he said he had a dream about you. He described you just as you were; yellow, with curly hair. That Malik is special.
Did you see him go into full-out big brother mode when we visited you? Dusting the dirt off of your flower petals. He asked if we could bring you a bear and a toy. He comes home from school every day with “K3” written on his hand. He’s literally counting down the days until he gets to meet you in heaven. I’ll do my best to keep him focused on life, living, and making you proud. Will you help me?
Your big sister is coming around. She’s says your name now. It always makes my heart smile. She hides all the books that she knows will make me think of you and bring “baby tears” to my eyes, but she always gives me a tissue when I find them.
Bubby fell asleep early the other night so we got to have our own little story time. We read “Maple”, a story about a girl becoming a big sister and carrying her little sister around everywhere. Hari said she had big plans to make you her first regular, full-face make up client. She laughed, flashed a huge smile, and her little eyes sparkled when she said it. I would’ve loved to see it. My babies.
We still visit the canal a lot, the last place we went as a family before we lost you. Hari’s still clumsy! She about gives me a heart attack trying to navigate her way to the slide. I thought I’d be bringing you along in the baby carrier; I’ve never been much of a stroller mom. Can you imagine me trying to save the princess in distress with you in tow? Ha! Don’t get me started on your brother and the anxiety he gives me riding his scooter near the water.
It might not mean anything to them, but I feel so close to you at the canal. It’s the only place that still feels normal. The only place where the kids can have fun while I grieve. I often find my way to the waterfall where we had our last photoshoot. It’s so calm and peaceful there. I could sit and listen to the wind and water for hours, but we always find our way back to the playground.
Story time isn’t the same without us marveling at your kicks, or listening to your heart. But! Your dad got us all stuffed animals with recordings of your heartbeat for Valentine’s Day. The very sound that confirmed your life, the one the doctor told me she couldn’t find, we get to hear it every night. I wonder what your favorite “stuffy” would’ve been. I don’t know why, but you gave me lion vibes.
You had so much personality, kid. Still do. It’s the way your dad’s chain smacks him in the face when he least expects it. The way the huge, golden “3” balloon from your baby shower falls to the ground when I walk through the front door. The way your flower tells us where it wants to be in the house. And how can I forget the way your memorabilia has made daddy’s house a home? He needed that. There isn’t a day when I don’t have my bracelet on or he isn’t rocking his chain. Send daddy some love today. You were his everything.
You know you have the best father in the whole wide world, right? You were his first and only. He was going to love you so good and so hard. Sometimes when I wake up in the middle of the night and he’s still asleep, I just stare at him. When I laid eyes on you, even in immense sadness with tears flowing, I was annoyed that yet another one of my children didn’t have my face. It used to drive me nuts how crazy you went when you heard your dad’s voice, as if he was the one you’d been waiting on. I miss hearing him laugh, seeing his smile. I know he’d give anything to feel those long, narrow feet going to town.
Mommy finally went back to school. It’s been bittersweet. The last time I was listening to a lecture, you were kicking in delight! I know you loved listening to those epidemiology and biostatistics lectures. Ha! You were gonna be a genius like ya mama. I did the same thing with your brother. Probably why he talks a mile a minute now!
You know, it’s so ironic. We just took a class on negative outcomes for black women during pregnancy and child birth. Remember, the one with mommy’s favorite professor? I cried watching so many of the videos he showed, empathizing with those women, rubbing my belly. Thankful for “good medical care”. I never thought that would happen to me. To us. We’re a part of that number now. It pisses me off so bad. I really wanted to quit, but I’m going to finish for you. I’m going to learn as much as I can and be a part of the answer to this problem that’s taking lives and breaking hearts. I promise you, your life will matter. It already does.
Remember when it was just you and I? And I asked you why you didn’t want to come home with us? I’m so sorry. I know you didn’t have a choice. I know you miss us too. I know you wanted to come home with us. It was the way the thunder roared and the lightening flashed as you entered into the world. The way the wind took the pastor’s breath as he said “ashes to ashes and dust to dust”, how your flowers blew away shortly after. How it rained almost everyday this week, accompanied by gusts of wind that seem to only come from your love for us. Trust me, my little Aries baby, mommy and daddy threw fits too. You had a whole village of people ready to love on you.
I want to be angry, Three. I really do! And I was. I was furious for a long time. The pain is gut wrenching, but He didn’t say “no.” He said “not yet.” My prayer for the miracle of breath in your lungs was only one of few that went unanswered in a sea of many yeses. He gave me you, carried me when He took you back, and He’s still blessing me so big in the midst of it all. So instead, I’ve decided to be thankful. For the light that your life sparked in me. For you being the current to a new found ocean of peace in my life. For God protecting and sustaining me through it all.
Mommy has to come out that place. That darkness that makes it feel like I’m right next to you. My favorite place to be. But it’s time for me to associate your life with something other than pain. I couldn’t go with you, so I’m going to live for you. I’m going to live for Malik and Mahari. I’m going to live for me. You taught me not to take anything for granted, and life is so beautiful. It doesn’t mean I understand. It doesn’t mean I’ll forget you. It doesn’t mean my heart hurts any less. I’ll still have my days, I’ll still need my time, I’ll still yearn for you, but I’m ready to shine for and because of you, my sonshine.
Your birthday is right on time for spring, a new season. For the deafening silence of winter and heartbreak to be replaced with sounds of life. For putting away coats and sweatshirts, taking off layers. For getting out of the house and shaking off the winter blues. It’s right on time for both the beauty in nature and people alike to awaken again. For sunny days, laying in the grass, gazing at the clouds that remind me of where you are and Who you’re with. Right on time for brighter colors as we come out of mourning and step into a season of joy. Isn’t God so sweet? While I was wading in ashes, He was orchestrating beauty. Beauty that I had to choose to see.
We’re all here in Florida celebrating you, missing you, wishing you were here getting your little toesies wet. Instead, you’re running circles around your grandparents in heaven, playing with your cousin. I suppose I can live with that, you being loved there although missed here.
I don’t know when, but we’ll meet again. And I’ll give you all the hugs and kisses my heart can stand, for eternity. Until then, I’ll be here keeping everyone in check and doing my best to make a positive impact for all the brown mommies in the world. All in your honor. Happy Birthday, Three. I love you. I love you. I love you. And I miss you, so damn much. Be good for Grandma, give Aunt Mag and Aunt Pam a hug for me. Come and see mommy in her dreams soon?
“When my dad died, everybody used to tell me that he died for a reason. That sh*t used to piss me off. I would literally wanna f*cking strangle them. But, I think what they’re saying is you actually gotta give it a reason. You gotta give all this sh*t a reason. Cause I don’t wanna hold on to this forever. I can’t, I can’t hold on to it forever. Just doesn’t feel good. It’s too much for me.” Rue, Euphoria