The sun filters down through your closed bedroom curtains and you wake. It is much too bright; this means it is late in the morning and you've overslept.
You remember your baby usually would have eaten by the time that amount of sunshine streamed through, and so you panic thinking you have missed your child's first meal of the day. For a few hazy seconds, you look for your child. The well-made yet empty cot decorated with toys is your reminder of what happened; of the life you now have 'after' the day your infant left.
Time is divided by one pivotal day; the day your baby left the world marks the beginning of a new era, where you view all of life through sad new eyes. Still lingering in bed, you close your tired eyes and hold them shut tightly; you really believe if you force them hard enough that when you open them again your baby will be there snoring in his bed, rolling around occasionally and getting comfortable; the quiet of the room punctuated by the sweetness of half-awake baby giggles.
And then you remember that last night while you were dreaming you were together again. He was showing you how he can now feed himself from his bottle; something you will never see. Dreams are so special but then again so sad, because when you are in them you are just doing everyday things, such as eating yogurt in the park; you don't realize your child's presence is something special, something rare, and something you will never again get to have. You don't know your child is gone, so you don't take the initiative to swoop your child into your arms for a big hug. It doesn't matter how much you wish for this before you go to bed, you can't make it happen. Believe me, I have tried. So it is not until you wake you realize; and then you wish to go back to tell your child how much you love them.
You cry. You spend time wondering if he misses you. You hug your child's soft toys; you sometimes sniff them. If you are lucky, they still have that special baby smell on the parts which were lovingly slobbered over. You tell people you have good and bad days, but you have more of the latter. You wonder if your baby knows your name, because he was too young to learn it. And of the song of the same name; you hope nobody plays Eric Clapton anywhere near you for the next few decades - you may just collapse into a blubbering mass. That song; I just don't know how he had the strength to write it - I admire him greatly for it.
You spend time wondering what he saw in his little life. My boy liked being carried around our apartment on his dad's shoulders; I wanted to see what he saw from up there, so I got up on a kitchen chair and looked around. He loved it up there; it is comforting to just look at what he would have been enjoying from that height. I wonder what he thought. You sit in his favorite places, now empty, and imagine how he felt looking at things that made him smile. He would often laugh at one corner of the room, we don't know why nor what he was looking at when he was laughing. I spend a lot of time gazing up there looking for an answer; trying to find out what it was that was the cause of so much pleasure and so many sweet little grins.
You wonder how you could ever be afraid of dying, when someone so tiny and innocent has already been down that journey; you now know you could never really be afraid of facing it yourself anymore. For that will be the day you hug your child again. And so you wait.
Sarah Bell lost her beautiful 9 month old son, Gio Kang, in January of 2016. Bell's writing portfolio is viewable at http://www.themscript.com
Project Butterfly is an award-winning New Zealand registered charity that supports families through the death of a child. Project Butterfly is accepting submissions for their upcoming publication 'Good Grief - 365 ways to get through the first year of grief'. If you wish to send a submission or have a query, you can visit us at http://www.projectbutterfly.co.nz
This post is part of Common Grief, a Healthy Living editorial initiative. Grief is an inevitable part of life, but that doesn't make navigating it any easier. The deep sorrow that accompanies the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage or even moving far away from home, is real. But while grief is universal, we all grieve differently. So we started Common Grief to help learn from each other. Let's talk about living with loss. If you have a story you'd like to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.