My baby sleeps on my nightstand–maybe yours does too. Maybe you know what it’s like to open your eyes each morning and rest your gaze on that tiny urn containing your child’s ashes. Or maybe your child spends their nights on a special shelf, on a table in your living room, or next to a headstone.
I know that wherever they rest, it hurts and that hurt runs deep. Your heart is aching because wherever they may be, you know that they aren’t really there. No matter where the remains of our children lay, we know that their true being exists somewhere else.
Our babies, the ones we hold so close in our hearts, exist somewhere out of reach.
We know what it’s like to reach for them and find your hands cradling an urn instead. There is a heartbreaking echo when we talk to them and they can’t talk back. There is such pain in creating a space for them where you cannot stay.
As grieving parents, we are the ones who know what it’s like to dust them off and tend to their gravesides.
Only we can understand that no matter how many mementos we surround ourselves with, we will always take notice of the empty spaces.
We are the moms and dads who have picked out urns and headstones instead of clothing. We have picked out teddy bears that our babies will never hold and necklaces they will never touch.
We are the ones who have planned funerals instead of birthday parties.
Ultimately, we live with the terrible knowledge that the one thing we truly want–it will never be an option. So instead, we make choices that were never our decision.
And even though these are not the choices we want to be making, we make these choices with every ounce of love and devotion that we have. Because they are our babies and that’s what parents do.
Because no matter where our babies are, we are their parents.
We are the parents whose babies sleep on our nightstands. The parents who visit their babies in cemeteries. The parents who were left with nothing to hold on to.
We feel the isolation of losing our children and yet, we know that we are not alone. Because somewhere out there is another mother who said goodbye one last time or a father whose arms ache for one last hug. There is another grieving parent who is wondering how someone you hold in your heart, can feel so far away.
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