Like a scorched tree in an otherwise lush forest, the date stands out, drawing my attention away from its surroundings.
January 31. I see it and the landscape around it fades for a moment as I remember what this date means.
It’s a date that means loss and trauma. It’s a date that is forever associated with a life I didn’t want to be over—a life I never imagined would be cut so short; it’s forever associated with death. It’s a date that wanders from my heart to my soul to my mind searching for a place to rest, to settle into—but it keeps going because it’s job is to remind me of all that’s been lost. As if I’d ever forget. It’s a date that is etched into the walls of my womb—a house of both life and death, depending on the day—and the pregnancy.
It’s a date that reminds me that no matter how beautiful life can be—someone will always get burned—and sometimes that someone will be me because I have no control over the fire.
It’s not just the due date of a bill that shows up in my mailbox every year. Or a reminder that I owe somebody something. It’s not just a date to cross off the calendar or my to-do list. It’s not just the end of another month.
It’s a birth date. Of my baby who was born still, silent, dead—though many prefer to ignore the part about being dead. But while some are afraid to hear it, I’m not afraid to say it: My baby died.
And that’s a fact.
And yet, January 31 is a date that I’ve come to treasure. For so long it represented only loss. But over the years, I’ve come to realize it represents life too. The life of my precious baby who lived for just over 20 weeks within me—his mother.
And like any birthdate that belongs to someone I love, this one stands out. This one matters. And this one—well, it’s one I’ll continue to celebrate.
Because even though my baby died, he also lived. And he deserves to be celebrated.