I never finished his baby book. I received a beautiful baby book from my best friend while I was pregnant, and I was so excited at the prospect of filling in all of the little memories as they happened once our little boy arrived. This book would contain all of Miles’ firsts; first smile, first foods, first time crawling. I spent his first month in the typical new mom daze as I tried to figure out breastfeeding and, well, being a new mom. And so, month 1 is blank. I started to write in Month 2, and got most of it down. Details like “you really started exploring new sounds at 9 weeks!” and “you love cuddles and sleeping on our chests” populate this two-month page. But, in month 3, shit hit the fan. We found the lump in his foot, and a flurry of doctors and hospital appointments took over. In months 3 and 4, the details became things like “lots of cuddles with mommy in the hospital” and “you flirt with all of the nurses!”. I still can’t believe that these are moments I ended up writing about in a baby book, but they were our reality.
This week marked the four-month anniversary of his death. Each month on the ninth, my husband and I spend the day doing things to honour Miles- looking at pictures and videos, talking about him (even more than usual), and working on fundraising in his memory. This month, though, I asked Kent if we could spend some time filling in some of the gaps in his book. We sat at the kitchen table crying, reminiscing and trying to decide which pages to fill in. We finally landed on a page entirely dedicated to firsts, called “Darling Firsts to Remember”. We filled in the dates of his first laugh, first vacation, the first time he rolled and the first time he sat in his highchair. As we landed halfway down the page, though, we got to things he never did. Things like “stood up” and “spoke a word” and “caught a ball” populated the rest of the page, and the realization that he will never get to do these things- that we will never get to watch him do these things- was a punch to the gut.
There are so many pages and parts of his baby book that will stay empty. Some of them because it is too painful to go back and remember, some because the memories are already getting blurry, and some because we simply can’t write about things he never got to do. This book is both precious and incredibly painful. The filled pages are memories that I want to indelibly ingrain in my brain- details both happy and sad that represent the beauty and pain we experienced as a family during his short life. The blank pages, though, will always represent what could have been- what should have been. The blank pages are reminders of the Darling Firsts we never got to experience together. The “lasts” are also hidden in those blank pages. The last time he smiled, the last time I kissed his face, the last breath he took. In many cases, it is now the lasts that I remember most clearly. A year filled with firsts and lasts and all that came between, in a book that is both incomplete and complete. Here’s to Darling Firsts and Precious Lasts- and to honouring and remembering both, forever and always.