After making it past the anniversaries of when we received Charlie’s diagnosis and our 20-week ultrasound, we knew the next big milestone would be the anniversary of the day we said goodbye to our son. And before we knew it, that day arrived. Since the Fourth of July holiday was observed on the third this year, my husband and I didn’t have to work, so we started the day by sleeping in. Then, my husband headed out for a “Charlie Run” 7.3 miles to honor Charlie, who was born on 7/3.

To keep myself busy, I spent some time in the nursery, putting away baby items. The doorbell rang a few times with surprise flower deliveries from our amazing friends. Our cell phones buzzed all day long with text and Facebook messages of support, letting us know that they’d never forget Charlie and that we were in their thoughts.

We left the house in the early afternoon and spent the day visiting some of our favorite places in the Cities. Places we had dreamed of bringing Charlie to, as he grew up. Our last stop of the day was to visit Charlie’s paver at our favorite lake.

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It was a hot day, so we cooled off with a root beer float for me and ice cream for my husband. Families with their little ones seemed to be all around us and I felt a twinge of sadness, thinking of how the day should have been different — we should have been at home, surrounded by family and friends, celebrating our little boy turning one year old. By the end of the day, we felt so emotionally drained, we decided to order take out, instead of going out for dinner as we had originally planned.

Perhaps the hardest part of the day, and the days surrounding it, were the things that reminded us of the intense pain we were feeling one year ago. Driving by Fourth of July picnics reminded us of leaving the hospital and seeing people in their backyards barbecuing and playing lawn games. We couldn’t understand how life could still be going on as usual for everyone else, when our lives had just changed so drastically. I know that this is just the beginning and that we’ll be on this grief journey for a long time, but by making it to this one year milestone, I do feel a new sense of peace that wasn’t always there.

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