Her first day of Kindergarten… a day that will never come. Today I should be doting on her – in dismay over how little she no longer is, but also so proud of the big girl she is growing up to be. Today I should be tearing up as I send a piece of my heart out into the world. She should be growing, she should be learning, she should be discovering all on her own.
It’s hard watching your babies grow up. Kindergarten is one of those bittersweet parenthood milestones everyone warns you about. No one or nothing in life ever warns or prepares you for your child’s milestones that never come. That’s the thing about Pregnancy and Infant Loss. It is more than just the loss of a pregnancy or a life that ended too soon. My husband and I lost a lifetime of memories – a lifetime of milestones when Emilia died. We never got to hear her cry or see her first smile. We never got to dry her tears or watch her dance at ballet recitals. I’ll never get to help her dress for her senior prom or watch her fall in love with the man of her dreams. There will be no high school graduation. No wedding. No large family with lots of sweet babies to call her own. She is the broken line on my family tree. The soul seemingly forgotten by everyone… forgotten by everyone but me. I will always wonder who she was and what she would have become.
Today, I am left only with my imagination on what her first day of Kindergarten would have looked like. This is just one more day added to the long list of never-to-be milestones and ‘what ifs’ our family has already lost. But right now, I am purposefully taking the time to pause and remember Emilia Madeleine Rose – not for the life that was lost, but for the kind of life I would have hoped for her. A long life full of joy, accomplishments, excitement, and love. Today I am choosing her story. Whether that be deciding in my own mind what and who she would have been at each of these exciting milestones in her life. Or me choosing to honor her in a dignifying way that helps to carry on her legacy. Her story didn’t end the day she died and I want to make sure the world is reminded of that.
So here is to Emilia and to all the other members of the Class of 2035! To not just the kids who will be skipping into their classrooms with large grins, backpacks, and lunch bags in hand this morning. But also to the children who walk beside us each day – unseen and unheard. It’s still their day too. To the grieving parents who long to know how this day would have felt had their Kindergartener headed off to school this morning… I wonder and long for those very same feelings and moments too.