Today marks ten years – 3,650 days – since we held and said goodbye to our firstborn, Zachary Conner Furwangler. Not only is this Zachary’s double digits birthday, but it is also his golden birthday (when you turn the age of your birth date) – a big milestone to celebrate. Birthdays are a big deal in our family and it is no different for Zachary, even though he is not with us.

In the past years, we’ve always made cupcakes and cards of thanks to take to the L&D night nurses who took such amazing care of us. We’ve gotten balloons and taken them to Zachary’s bench at a park we frequent because of his memorial bench. But this milestone year feels different – like we should be doing MORE to celebrate and remember him on this tremendous day.

Photograph courtesy of the Furtwangler family

Photograph courtesy of the Furtwangler family

Photograph courtesy of the Furtwangler family

Do you ever feel like you aren’t doing enough for your baby – to help others remember them? Or despite all you do, others who are important in your life still forget?

I think that it is a forever conundrum that all of us loss parents will battle.

I know every person is different and each grief journey varies greatly. Now, ten years later, not much gets under my skin, but this big day has given me a lot to think about. The buildup to such a big milestone birthday, in my experience, has been the worst part. My emotions feel all over the place – the feeling I shouldn’t be sad anymore but have that silent sorrow that creeps up, the desire to stay positive and celebrate on this day that ten years ago broke me.

So much has changed and yet there are still some things that I cannot believe, ten years later, have not. I still curl up in bed with Zachary’s small blue knit blanket we received at the hospital. I still bring my cat, Lu, snug to my body at night and every once in a while feel phantom kicks, thinking of Zachary, when he purrs. Those fond last memories of his movement, not knowing until after that his kicks only with vibrations was a bad sign.

Photograph courtesy of the Furtwangler family

Ten years later I still wonder what would have been. Not only questions left unanswered about Zachary and who he would be, but questions about who I would be too. Would my career be different? Would my parenting be different? My marriage? My relationships with friends and family members? So many questions left unanswered that will always remain unanswered. In ten more years will I still wonder?

Yes, life is good and time does heal but the scar remains. I miss my oldest baby boy every day and only hope that the life that I live after his loss is one for which he is proud.

Islah Alexandria’s Story

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