low-angle photo of lightened candles

Reflecting On My Son’s Life On What Would Have Been His Seventh Birthday

About two weeks ago I found myself in the car alone, a rare event these days (both being in my car—thanks, Rona—and in my car alone), with a sudden urge to play Milton’s funeral song (Bridge of Light by P!nk). Randomly, I was wondering to myself why I picked the song I did. I remember at the time it felt ideal, coming to me from a children’s movie, sung and written by a talented woman who seems to have been singing about my life for 20-plus years. But I hadn’t listened to the song for so long that I’d forgotten just how deeply the lyrics had resonated with me and the situation. I hit play, and within four lines, I was beside myself. Intense sadness was pouring out of my eyes and my heart.

I was taken straight back to the church, the service, the numbness, the disbelief, and the utter fear about how I was going to survive from that day on. And as I was singing through my horrendous car crying, I realized how true the hope in that song has proved to be. At the time following Milton’s birth and death, I resonated with those parts of the song that hurt. My world was black. My feet felt like they were made of stone. I was convinced I was alone.

There were no obvious explanations. And his tiny little broken heart had the strongest palpitations I’ve ever felt. Still felt in me today.

My hope had just died. I was ready to give up. It was all so true. So true was the pain reflected in the song that it felt like the hope may be true to. I needed the hope to be true. The hope would be true. The hope must be true.

When I was listening to the song the other day, I realized the hope had come. It had arrived. But the hope took time. Some arrived years ago, some very recently.

Over the years, that song has given me both grounding and aspiration. When I’ve needed it to, it has simplified things—wrongs turn right, nighttime turns to day, stars shine in darkness.

When I’ve been ready, it has challenged me—build the bridge Jess, find the light, create the light, fight for it. It will be worth fighting for.

And at times, it has been my mantra:

Deep breath,

Take it on the chin,

But don’t forget to let love back in.

And so although I seem to have all of the above pretty solid in my life now, there is one main part of this song that I just haven’t had the courage or capacity or willingness to start dealing with yet. And I’m not surprised. Not only is it proving to be the scariest and most challenging, it is so focused on me! And who does that while they are grieving? My grief has been focused on Milton. My healing has been for my living children. My acceptance has been driven by the necessities in my life. But my confidence being cracked, my anger being lost. That hasn’t moved since the days leading up to your birth. The trauma is real and it has steadily eaten away at me for seven years. And it feels sad. And it feels powerless. And it feels like it’s a big mountain to climb. It feels like it needs to end. Seven years is a long time to feel hatred and anger towards yourself. Towards the only thing that can get you out of bed every day. Towards the only thing that does so much for others. Towards the only person that can love you and remember you for that little baby that you were on Saturday, September 21, 2013.

So with the assurance of our song, I am going to try. I am going to try to relieve myself of all of the self-hatred that I have carried for so long, about how your journey ended. I’m not sure how it will impact our connection, but I am going to try to trust in our song. The need to be right is coming at way too high of a cost.

I’ve gotta be strong tonight.

Today has marked your seventh birthday, and sadly, this year, we have found ourselves away from your place of rest, which has seen a break in our traditional way of celebrating you. And I did make every effort to celebrate you, but nothing went to plan. Today has been tough. And although you continue to be remembered by some, the reality is that your only real connection to this world is me, and unless I want to jump and down every year and make a fuss (which is not in my nature), this day will always feel quite underwhelming. I truly hope that regardless of all else, the love I send out to you every day is enough. Enough for you to know that you were here. You were held, you were kissed, and you were admired, for hours on end, and I feel it like it was only yesterday.

Happy seventh birthday, my littlest love.

I miss you. I thank you. I love you.

Your mum always – xxx.

About the author
I have four sons but can’t keep an indoor plant alive! Follow Jess on Instagram or read more articles from Jess on Thought Catalog.

Learn more about Thought Catalog and our writers on our about page.

Related