counting by fives

The fifth of the month has been a special day since Caemon was born. Although he was due on the tenth of September, he made his way into the world on the fifth instead, and thus began our marking of the fifth of each month. For his first year, every month, on the fifth, we would take these photos of him next to his big crocodile. On the fifth of each month, we watched him grow and grow and turn from baby to toddler.

Caemon at 5 months old

Like most parents, we kept counting those months until he was about two, and then we stopped. The fifth of the month was something we remembered occasionally, but mostly when his half birthday rolled around and then his birthday.

It should be no surprise to me that Caemon decided to leave the world on the fifth of the month. A month ago today, he gave his last hugs, said his last I love you’s, and took his last breaths. And once again we find ourselves noticing the fifth of the month. Caemon’s day.

I wish I could say that the pain is somehow less after a month, but I honestly feel like it’s greater. We’re not numb, not in so much shock. Instead, Jodi and I feel the stark anguish of missing our boy, of spending far too long without him in our arms. It’s been a month since I’ve touched him, kissed him, held him. Before his diagnosis, I hadn’t spent more than nine hours away from him. I couldn’t imagine tolerating a few days, couldn’t fathom a full week, but a month feels like forever. Still, we’re trying to forge ahead. We ride the waves of grief like labor pains knowing that time will bring both healing and longing.

Being away from home this past week has helped some. There, we have so many memories and so much to do that the weight of the grief can be suffocating. We have managed to get out in the sunshine, move our bodies, breathe fresh air. In those moments, we can almost forget that we’re grieving moms for a second or two. It’s hard not to notice how easy it is to get around, though, and that we’re living a life we used to live before we became moms.

We have been reminded in different ways by different people that life is for the living, that we have a responsibility to work toward healing, living, and maybe even thriving one day. We’re trying, but it still feels so alien to engage in even the most everyday activities without a child. We are seeking out grief camps for parents of children who died of cancer and may be attending a conference for grieving parents in the summer. This feels a little more right, and we hope to find some community amid these strangers who know stories like ours all too well. 

I don’t know that it will ever feel normal to walk through life without Caemon. He gave every day such purpose, and it’s going to take some time to find that kind of direction again. I think for now, we’ll just keep tracking the fifth of the month, working each time to find new purpose and new ways to honor our beloved boy.

Courthouse Rock, Sedona, AZ–Our first stop on our journey.

14 thoughts on “counting by fives

  1. Because I did not know Caemon or you and Jodi, I fear that any sentiments I may post will cheapen what you are experiencing. I found Caring for Caemon through a mutual friend’s facebook, and started following your journey just one week before you lost your sweet boy. Your story has touched me more than I feel like I have a right to, like I’m intruding on something immensely intimate. I have two little ones of my own (3.5 and 20 months), and my empathy for you aches something fierce. Please know that I am keeping all of you in my thoughts. And thank you, for sharing Caemon with us, for sharing this journey, and for the bravery and positive light with which you and Jodi are healing.

    • You would be surprised how many people who loved Caemon never knew him or us. Your words are just as meaningful, and I thank you for sharing your love and compassion.

  2. I don’t know if you have heard of Rockstar Ronan but his Mom’s blog has some great resources about grief and dealing with cancer, death and children. Hope it helps, you and Maya are both amazing writers

  3. Another supremely moving tribute, Timaree. Oh my … I’m sure a month doesn’t begin to make it better. Even with losing a partner though a break-up, I felt like half of me had been cut away for six months to a year, just getting up every day and finding a new way to live and feeling empty. Different kind of loss, not tragic in the same way, but permanent in its own way. Yours is exponentially worse. I pray for you both to find directions that work for you, including non-direction when you need it.
    Thanks so much, Sarah Spring, I hadn’t but I found the incredible Taylor Swift song and now I’m crying. It is so beautiful but excruciating. Here is the link to the video:

    and an interview with Maya about how it came to be:

    • I am sitting here watching this video with tears streaming down my face. I’m sure it is partly hormones, partly emotions, as I will be giving birth to my first son within the next two days.

      But, Timaree and Jodi, I wanted to let you know that I think of you *every day*. Even though we will never meet, I send you my love and good thoughts.

  4. About the 5’s, that is so interesting. I have had two friends born on September 5th. They are some of the most talented and unusually interesting people I’ve ever known, both musicians and visual artists and writer/scholars — and as a result I always think of them on September 5th. It’s been a special day to me for decades. Now I will think of Caemon.

    Another 5 relating to Sept 5th/Beb 5th is that the transiting sun had formed a Quincunx aspect to his birth chart sun, because it was five months after his birthday.

    Is Caemon’s Moon in Pisces (or just into Aries)?

  5. Sigh. Still wearing my Caemon wristband. Still broken-hearted for both of you and for Caemon’s loss. Still holding my little boy tight.

  6. I wish it got easier and not harder. It would be more fair, or something, if the worst was behind you and every day meant a little less pain. But I know grief is so much more complicated and layered than that and that you will have better days and days of unimaginable pain. Thinking of you all and of your special boy.

  7. If you haven’t already, look into Camp Okizu. It’s near where you are, and from what I understand, they have time, weekends maybe, for supporting grieving parents. Love to you both–We’ll chat soon.

  8. I have just spent the past hour reading through your journey. You are brave. So very brave. Your entire family. I know there are no words that I can say to express to you the sorrow I feel in my heart or even the admiration that fills my heart for the way that your family choses to love. I am just in awe of the lessons your little boy brought to you and to the world. Everything you have written is simply the most beautiful tribute to him and to your family. Thank you, from a very very deep place, for sharing his story with all of us here. He will live on in the hearts of so many people, including those of us who only had the chance to know him through your words.

  9. When my brother died, my mom noted that there would be times when she wanted nothing more than to be around people who constantly reminded her of him, and times when she would go places she’d never been, where nobody knew her or what had happened, and she could bask in the escapism of not having to be the mom who’d lost a child.

    I hope that you both can find what you need in the moments that you need it. ♥

  10. I love your crocodile photo! What a sweet and darling photo of a sweet and darling boy.

    I hope that the company of other parents who can truly understand and empathize will help lessen your pain some. You continue to write so beautifully, and as many many many people have said already, even those of us who were never lucky enough to meet Caemon in person do truly feel as though we know his spirit through your words and descriptions. Your words touch me each time I read a post. I wish you health and continued healing, and I continue to think of you daily.

  11. When my brother died it helped me to talk to other people who have lost a sibling as young adults. I think, although it is really hard, you feel much more understood when you are around people who experienced something similar. I think it is a good idea to meet other parents.
    From my experience it is normal to grief more after a couple of days. Reality hits you like a train. And I know the grief lessens in time, but it will stay forever. Don’t expect too much too soon. Take your time, do what’s good for you! Best wishes to both of you.

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