Tonight we’ll take our children to the graveyard, we’ll talk about what might have been, perhaps shed a tear or two, and then we’ll go out for ice cream to celebrate a life that changed us.

It’s what we do every year on this day. Every year for eleven years.

Today is the eleventh anniversary of the day my son died.

I woke up that morning, eleven years ago, to find out that his heart had stopped during the night. Hours later, he was born. Lifeless. Still. But so very real.

Today is the day that changed my definition of motherhood. Today is the day that I birthed pain and lived to tell the story. Today is the day my breasts filled with the milk of anticipation only to dry out days later when there was no-one to suckle them.

Today is the day I shook my fist at God, and yet turned in the same direction when I needed comfort.

Eleven years in, pain has become my companion, my friend. It doesn’t stab me with raw and brittle edges like it once did. Instead it curls up in a smooth and familiar ball inside my chest, tightening my throat now and then, but mostly gently reminding me that I am alive, that I am well, and that I have a story to share with other wanderers along this path.

Pain is my teacher, guiding me along the path, deepening my experiences and enriching my relationships.

Pain is my gift. It helps me paint the world with richer colours and more honest shapes. It helps me write with truth and courage.

Pain is my story. It frames the world for me and urges me to enjoy the depths of beauty and joy within the frame.

I am forever grateful for the gift that is my son, Matthew. Never let it be said that he did not live a full life.

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