6:12pm. It may be a random moment in the day, but for me, it’s a time etched in my mind for eternity. While most people remember the exact time they gave birth to their child, I remember the time of death. On August, 16th, 2013, I held my sweet son as he took his final breath. 55 days after he was born, Parker died in my arms. After experiencing the loss of a child, I have found that grief never goes away, but it changes over time.
We knew our son faced an uphill battle with our triplets being born more than 17 weeks premature. One sister passed away shortly after birth and the other was fighting alongside Parker in the NICU, attached to a jumbled maze of wires and chords. Hour after hour, day after day and week after week, my husband and I stared helplessly at our one pound babies, hoping and praying for a miracle. While our lone survivor, Peyton, was making strides, Parker encountered one set back after another. Nearly two months after he was born, we watched the doctors slowly take each chord and tube from our child. For the first time in 55 days, we saw our precious little boy free of any medical constrictions. We gently rocked Parker as we read to him and shared snippets of our lives. At 6:12 in the evening, four hours later, our son passed away.
It’s hard to describe what it’s like when you lose a child. Four years ago, I expected to be planning a special homecoming for our triplets, not making funeral arrangements for our two children who never witnessed life beyond the hospital walls. But, my grief was quickly put on hold as we stayed strong for our lone surviving triplet. Each day, I returned to the same place where two of my children died, walking the same hospital halls where we held so much hope for Parker just weeks before. At four months old, our daughter, Peyton, came home from the hospital. As we settled into our new normal, reality sank in. The grief and anguish I tucked deep inside for so long, finally resurfaced with a vengeance.
In those early days, there were moments where life just didn’t seem fair. The “woe is me” attitude consumed me as I looked back at the tragedies my family endured. I found myself conflicted, my mind and soul pulled in every which way. I felt immense love and joy for our miracle survivor, but my heart physically ached for our two children who never came home. As the months passed by, and my family settled into a routine, I began to feel at peace. I found my smile once again, and laughter eventually returned to our home. I quit blaming myself for my children being born prematurely and I realized that I shouldn’t feel guilty for things that were out of my control.
Four years later, I have found that happiness outweighs the grief. There are still moments of deep sorrow and the occasional nights where I find myself in tears, unable to sleep, but those are now few and far between. There will always be difficult anniversaries that bring me right back to those early days, where I can still vividly picture each moment with my triplets. And special milestones with our survivor will often be bittersweet as we celebrate all that she has overcome, mixed with the reality that there should be three children each step of the way. While the grief will always stay with me in some capacity, it does not define me.
There wasn’t a revelation or one single day that changed the course of my life after loss, I simply found that time truly heals all wounds. The deaths of two of my children have shaped who I am today, making me realize I am stronger than I ever thought possible. The grief I experienced has made me who I am today and my three children have given me a new perspective on life. I no longer take each day for granted, instead, I live each day to the fullest, never knowing what tomorrow may bring. Life doesn’t always go as planned, but thanks to my triplets, I’ve learned how to find happiness, even in the darkest moments, where a glimmer of hope seems impossible.
A version of this originally appeared at Perfectly Peyton