In my last post I made up a fake word since there wasn’t one to describe how I felt, so obviously I fully subscribe to new words being necessary in the nightmare of child loss. One word affectionately coined and widely used among bereaved parents is angelversary. [I preface the remainder of this post by saying that I never would judge a grieving family for choosing to refer to the date their child died with this term. If that is the term you prefer, I respect that and will gladly use it when I refer to the anniversary of your child’s death.] But for me, I will never refer to April 30, 2017 as anything but the day my son Chase died. Angelversary has an ethereal lilting tone that suggests that it was a beautiful day, which belies the obvious truth that this was the worst day of my life. That day was as dark as they come. It was the day my son suffocated on his secretions and turned blue in my arms and stopped breathing. The last time I hugged him. The last time I put his favorite clothes on him. The day a truck came in the black of night and strangers took him away on a gurney alone without anyone he knew. Without his mommy to go with him.
Although I know his soul will never die, I don’t know if Chase became an “angel” because I don’t claim to understand the rules of the other side. And I know that more religious people than myself find beauty in death because we return to God and now can frolic in Heaven for eternity. That begs the question that if Heaven is so great why aren’t we all mad rushing the pearly gates to get out of here? I don’t want to start a religious debate, but suffice to say my point is that the foundation of the human condition is to survive at all costs. Tales of epic feats of survival are made into blockbuster movies and account for complete chapters in our history books. When faced with death we pray for miracles to this same God in Heaven so we can stay.
Death is the day we leave. The day we stop surviving. The day we succumb to forces beyond our body and mind’s ability to overcome. When we die when we are old, it is a chance for the living to reflect upon legacies of long careers, the creation of new generations, lives well lived, and memories shared. It’s always sad when someone dies, but there is some peace and acceptance when a person has lived a long life. In fact, I don’t think I have yet heard of the anniversary of the death of an adult being referred to as an angelversary.
So why do we use this word for our lost children? This is a euphemism of grandiose proportions. Perhaps it makes others who have not lost a child more comfortable when we make it sound beautiful and put a pair wings on the date. It softens the true meaning of what really happened the day we lost a chunk of our beings. The day most of us started to look forward to our own deaths. And no, that does not mean contemplate suicide, although I am sure many have. It means looking forward to the day we will finally see our babies again. It means living the rest of our lives somewhere in between surviving at all costs and wishing this life away.
April 30 has no wings. It has a big black X in my mind and heart. In truth, the holy grail of the rest of the time spent here is not allowing each and every subsequent day to wear the same X. Our Chase was an angel while he was here. His angelversary-if there is one-is the day he was born, not the day he left.