Story by Jordan Peterson
It’s been 15 months since my baby died. 15 months since the last time I held him as a body, and not as ashes in a bag. It’s been 15 months since the worst day of my life.
When I need to feel my child, I cannot hold him or kiss him. My time with my baby is now spent rifling through his old things, smelling the bits of his beloved grey blanket where his scent still lingers, touching the tiny locks of hair the funeral home cut from his head and tied neatly with a string. Holding the castings of his hands and feet, that had been pruned from being kept cold a few extra days just so they could get us the best molds.
Opening the small box the bag of his ashes rest in, running my fingertips over the charred metal tag attached to it.
“Mountain View Crematory 31934” it reads
This is my baby now.
I can look through photos and videos of him, but they all end, because his life did. I have 7 months of tangible memories with him, and the rest is “life after loss”.
As they grow, my other children will tell his story. “I had a brother” they’ll say. Rowan will talk about playing peek a boo, holding him for the first time, making him laugh. Perhaps he’ll tell people about that morning, watching us screaming over his brothers body. Or maybe he’ll hold that in his memories quietly, to spare others that sadness.
Phoenix won’t have memories of Sloan. She will tell people about the baby her parents lost before her, repeating what she’s been told of him, how her life has probably felt defined by his death.
As Justin and I age, every day will start and end the same, with one of our children missing. We will silently ache every time someone asks how many children we have. Carefully working through how to explain, in our head before we answer.
Rowan and Phoenix’s milestones will forever be a reminder of those Sloan will never meet. It’s not to say we won’t celebrate every one of them, but they will be bittersweet.
This is what it is to be, without your child.