Kind, happy, personable… These are words that are often used to describe me. I’ve always been a happy-go-lucky girl, looking at the world with the “glass half full” approach. But that was before my children died. Don’t get me wrong; I’m still that loveable old Stacey. But, death changes your outlook on life.
I’ve experienced death over the years when my grandparents passed away. But it is different when it’s your own child. Your children are supposed to outlive you. You should be changing diapers and watching them learn to crawl, not picking out a gravestone or an urn for their little bodies. It’s hard to explain how one day can turn your life upside down, how life takes a different direction. In my case, that day was June 23rd, 2013, the day my triplets were born. My daughter passed away after just a few hours of life. She entered this world kicking the doctor and making a squeak because she was far too premature to let out a scream. Not even considered viable by most hospitals, Abigail showed us that a one-pound baby could have more strength than a grown adult. But her lungs weren’t mature enough. Abby passed away in our arms after two hours of life.
Nearly two months later, déjà vu hit. After already experiencing the unimaginable, death once again entered our lives. Our precious son, Parker, passed away in the Nicu. My husband and I were lucky to have two months with our child. Parker showed us his calm and laid back personality, a popular blondie among the hospital nurses. Our lone survivor, Peyton, eventually graduated from the Nicu and is doing amazing at 16 months old.
I guess you can say there is a “pre-triplets Stacey” and a “post-triplets Stacey”. Pre-triplets, I was carefree, thinking nothing bad could ever happen to me. Sure, I faced my own problems over the years…I dealt with health complications and had been laid off from a job. But, I still looked through life with rose-colored glasses. Post-triplets Stacey is a different story. I wouldn’t say that I’m paranoid, but I am definitely more protective than I expected to be with our surviving triplet. We already lost two babies, I couldn’t fathom losing our only child still here on earth.
More than a year after my children died, I’m still getting used to this “post-triplets Stacey”. I’m more jaded in every day life. Little things that used to bother me, don’t anymore. I’ve always been sarcastic, but death has brought out a cynical side of me. And the biggest difference is the emotions I wear on my sleeve. I’m a girl…I’ve always been on the emotional side. But nowadays, the tears flow freely. I may be in line at the grocery store when a family triggers my grief. Or I might be watching a television commercial, when the tears start rolling down my face. But I’ve accepted it and so have my friends and family. Grief has no timeline, so this is now part of me.
As the months go by, my grief is slowly changing. My husband and I are now able to talk about all three of our triplets without choking up. A year ago, it was different story. These days, we can reminisce about little moments in Parker’s short life, even watching videos of him without breaking down in tears. We can look at pictures of Abigail and laugh about the thought of two identical girls causing a ruckus in the house.
And as time goes by, grief has made me a different person; in some ways a better person. I’ve become more compassionate and patient with others. I’ve learned how to love someone both here on earth and in heaven. And I’ve found new purpose in life. Grief has taught me so much about myself, and I hope through my experience, I can help others. While I will never get to hold my three triplets together in my arms, their legacy will live on through memories.