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The Empty Chair

Pregnant together, they had dreams. Throwing each others baby showers. Maternity leave together. It went deep into life. Their kids would be best friends like they were best friends. Kindergarten together. Driving at the same time. College roommates just like their parents. More generations of best friends. They could see the movie playing out in front of them like the chick flick they were watching while they elevated their swollen ankles.

Both pregnancies progressed with perfection and ease. Until they didn’t. One pregnancy yielded a healthy baby girl. Kate was the apple of her daddy’s eye and mama knew that the dream with her best friend was half way to completion. Now, both families wait until little Evelyn was born and these best friends could raise best friends.

At 39 weeks gestation, fetal movement declined. Mom chalked it up to little space in her petite frame. An ultrasound revealed the worst. Little Evelyn hadn’t made it. Grief. Pain. Sacred tears. Agony. Such agony.

Kate grew. As Kate met milestones both moms wondered if Evelyn would be doing the same thing. Evelyn’s mom watched. She longed. She smiled bittersweet smiles. She cried in secret places. There was always someone missing.

Years later tears dried up. The parents did their best to move forward; but, there was five instead of six. Kate played alone as pictures of Evelyn adorned the walls.

The day came and Kate was off to Kindergarten. Evelyn’s parents grieved. There was no backpack shopping. No new outfits. No teacher meetings. Kate’s parents got to live out everything that the two mama’s dreamt while they were pregnant.

As Kate’s parents walked her into Ms. Richardson’s class, they searched for her desk in all six pods of four desks each. Twenty-three students in the class. One desk sat vacant right next to Kate. Her parents couldn’t help but think that was for Evelyn.

They bought into culture’s misconception that grief would end once they mourned baby Evelyn. Just when they had thought that they had reached acceptance in their grief, another milestone missed. Preschool graduation. Muffins with mom in Kindergarten. First crushes. First tee-ball season. No gymnastics competitions. No first dates. Not even a prom with just her friends. No first cars. No he’s-the-one.

There are some of you right now that have made your way through a lot of firsts already after the passing of your baby. This month holds a whole new season of what-should-have-beens. Elementary school starts with a space on the rainbow rug where your child should be sitting and listening to morning announcements.

Honor yourself and your story in the moments while your tears fall for the first time in months. Breathe in the memory of the one you lost while the stories of womb survivors continue. Find support if you need it, and it’s okay if you do. Tell your child’s story. Say their name. Years have passed, but their significance has never (and will never) decline.

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