So, yeah, it's that time of year again. No, not the holidays, though there is that; winter is approaching, and we're approaching the time of year when we lost Ben. Specifically, it was New Year's Eve when I delivered him, so four years ago right now I was 7.5 months pregnant and uncomfortable and starting to feel really ready to be done. Looking back, I can't believe I felt so anxious to be finished with pregnancy, but honestly, I didn't enjoy it. It was just hard and uncomfortable, and though I loved feeling my baby move inside me, I wanted to be able to walk up the stairs without huffing and puffing and sleep without heartburn or aching hips. I regret that I didn't appreciate that time more, but it wouldn't have made a difference to the outcome. That's the thing about parenting: there's always something to feel guilty about.
We've never really established a ritual around Ben's death; we have a lovely candle that friends gave us to commemorate him at his memorial service, and we light that on New Year's Eve for him, but we never do anything else. The first year we dropped our daughter off with friends for a sleepover and went to a hotel where we looked at his pictures, lit his candle and talked about him. Since then, it's all been hit or miss. Twice we've been with family, and his name hasn't been mentioned - though I don't really blame anyone for that, as we didn't mention him either. (Ok, maybe I blame them a little.) It's on his anniversary that I especially wish we had interred his ashes somewhere so that there was a place to go, to say a prayer, to say a few words, rather than attend to the cleaning, the cooking, the ordinariness of our daily lives.
This year my in-laws will be with us on New Year's Eve, as they were last year. I need to figure out something to do that will fill that hole in my heart that day, that will make me feel I commemorated him on his birthday. I realize that Ben doesn't care, but I do. I've just never figured out what would feel right. One thing we do like to do is make an annual donation to a charity: Save the Children is the one we've usually picked, and we also give money to the hospital where he was born. I like knowing that something good came out of his life, that somewhere in the world another set of parents doesn't go through the grief of losing a child because of our donation. Somewhere in the world a child lives because Ben died - and that means the world to me.