A List of Firsts

mile·stone
/ˈmīlˌstōn/
noun
plural noun: milestones
2. an action or event marking a significant change or stage in development.

It takes a lot of energy to make a baby.
It takes even more to lose one…no matter what age it happens at.

It’s called the year of Firsts.

Our lives are marked off in milestones, both big and small, leading us down pathways to futures unknown. We all have them. We all hit them. We all have many similar and many different ones that make us who we are, and how we experience life. Some sharpen our wits, others break our hearts.

We celebrate with children a First tooth, a First word, a First smile, a First step. The happiness of a First birthday, a First Christmas, or a First day of school is contagious. And as we grow, those firsts can include a First job, First promotion, First kiss, First love. It is an ever growing, unending list.
But in the duality of life, there is a different set of Firsts which mirror the initial list but in a more somber way. This list belongs to those that have had to stand by on the sidelines as Death imposed a visit on a loved one, altering their lives forever.

It doesn’t matter what your beliefs, your religion, or your status in life is, Death will touch us all eventually, in one way or another. Be it a parent, a family member, a spouse, a beloved pet, a friend, or even a child. No one is immune to the mortality of life, and when that happens, the List of Firsts begins.

It starts with the First day, First week, First month, without…[fill in loved ones name here].
A First Christmas, a First birthday, a First event without… [your dearest departed].

To the widower, it will be the First time someone enquires about their spouse, or for a grieving parent being asked that First time, how many kids do you have?

It will be the First but not the last time you inadvertently call their name aloud, or call someone else by their name, making everything awkward for everyone involved.

It’s the First time shopping when you find some some-such that they would have loved and the ache that settles into your heart thinking about how they are no longer here to enjoy these little pleasures.

It’s the First but not the last time when reality creeps into your day and whispers, ‘they really aren’t coming back,’ and the word “Never” widens that hole in your heart that will always be there, no matter how hard you try to fill it with distractions, or work, or food, or any number of other things as a way to try to lessen the pain of your loss.

My son has been gone over a month now and as we make our way through our List of Firsts, I wonder how long it will take before the tears stop falling and that list is finally complete.

A lifetime may never be enough to truly know the answer.