It has been 4 years, 2 months, 2 weeks and 5 days since he came into this world. His name is Avery and is my son. A beautiful and lanky long boy who weighed 4 kg and had velvet fuzz on his head, the colour of morning sunkissed wheat. It was copper and golden, full of warmth.
At 59 cm, he was long. So very long. I joked that he would have one day played the piano, with fingers that long. As I touched him, I noted his full cheeks, his long legs and the cleft-like chin.
I also noted, a thousand times a minute, that he was not breathing.
Avery was stillborn.
This month is Pregnancy Loss Awareness Month. Leading towards an International Day of Remembrance on the 15th of October. Every year I want to write something meaningful, but the words get lost in translation, between my heart and my fingers.
But this year there is something I thought everyone should know.
“But we know his name! I hear the hoards cry! His name is Avery, and he was stillborn. We know all of that!” Of course you do. I have said it all a million times over. In person, online, in grief therapy, in passing comment. I know you have heard it. In fact, some of you are possibly rolling eyes at the thought of hearing his name again.
But there is something I want YOU to know. I don’t say his name for me. I hear his name in my head every second of every day. I hear his name in my dreams, in the smell of fresh dew melting off cut grass. I hear his name in the song of the birds, and the silence of the night, just after dusk has settled. His name is echoed in the touch of a friend’s embrace, or the tears of his sister when she is upset. The world whispers his name as it inhales, and cries his name as it exhales.
What I want you to know is that I say his name for you. For YOU to know him. For YOU to remember him. For YOU to feel him as you hug your children and think “It could have been them…”
I want you to hear his name and think of every 133 children you meet, and know that there is one child missing. One child who should be in your class, one child who should be in your dance group, or in your sports team.
I say his name so that you see his face in the shadows of your story time, in the pages as the fox springs in the woodlands. I want you to feel him snuggled against your breast as your child’s warm breath caresses your neck while they tell you how magical their day was. As they tell you they love you as much as they love rocks and marshmallows and fairies.
I don’t say his name for me. I say his name to make your shift your weight, to feel uncomfortable at the thought of a baby or child dying. I want you to think of the babies not here. Of the miscarriages, the stillbirth, the neonatal deaths. I want you to think of the 1 in 4 women who have lost a thousand memories and a million kisses. Whose dreams rest in a plastic box on the mantle piece for them to burn a candle next to on special occasions.
I tell you about my son, Avery, because he matters. He matters as much as your son, as much as your daughter. I tell you about my son because his name is all I have, and I want to share it with the world.
And so I leave you with his photo, his precious, sacred image, in the hopes that tonight, and all of this month, you think of him and every other little soul who is flickering in the starts, because they are forever just a memory.