Sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago. Most of the time it feels like it happened to someone else. All of the time I feel like I am a different person to before.
My life now is divided into two parts. Before and After. The truth is, I can barely remember what life was like before. What was it like to live life in ignorant bliss? What was it like to not know how it felt to bury your child?
And recently all I have been thinking is: if Star had never died, Manny would never have lived. My baby's death is so closely linked with my other baby's life, the two can never be separated. This thought has been going around in my head for over a week now. The greatest joy in my life, could not have existed without the greatest sadness in my life. It hurts my brain just to think about it.
I do remember the early days. I have written about them before. About how liberating it was, the freedom to grieve openly. The freedom to hole myself up in my home and ignore the world. The freedom to lie on the floor and scream and sob at the top of my lungs regardless of who might hear me. I miss being able to be so raw - so openly bereaved.
As time marched on, and particularly after Manny's birth, the expectation was that everything was "better" now. I remember 8 months out, on the 27th of the month, my mother asked me what was wrong. I told her the 27th is a hard day for me. Her response was "what, every month!?!" I was dumbfounded. My own mother expected I should be "over it" after only 8 months.
Now, over three years out, I cry less. I think of him frequently, but I do not cry. I talk about him all the time, but I do not cry. I pull out his photos and stare at him, but I do not cry.
Some nights, late at night when everyone else is in bed, I think of him and cry. But the tears are no longer racking my body with sobs. They are silent tears that simply fall from my eyes of their own accord and soak my pillow.
Three years out, my eldest has weaved his baby brother into the fabric of his life. Every now and then he mentions his name in passing...and it reminds me. He was here. He left his footprint on this earth. He wasn't just a part of me, he is a part of our family.
We do not cry for him anymore. But we love him with every beat of our hearts.