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.
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.