February 12th. The day of life-altering events. On February 12th, 2005, Ger asked me to marry him. And on February 12th, 2016, I learned that Iris had no heartbeat.

Two years ago. The year cycles through so many anniversary dates that it feels like I am always approaching some sort of reminder. Another holiday spent without them. My due dates. The days they were born. February 12th was the day that I received the shocking and devastating news, and she was born on February 13th, after sixteen hours of labor.

I have been watching this day approach the way that one might watch a car accident in slow motion – knowing what is about to happen, but unable to stop it. For weeks before, my writing dwindled down to almost nothing, so overtaken I was by anxiety. I know exactly the pictures I took that morning of the kids, before unknowingly heading into my appointment. The other night, I woke gripped by panic and fear, only to realize that it was the 11th, not the 12th.

Birth and death and birth and death over and over. The cycle.

I was low today.  Awake at 5:00 am with Autumn, then never fell back asleep, a long day.  Of course, I couldn’t survive the day without having the conversation “How many children do you have?  Finally got the girl!”

Then my big kids hopped off the bus, waving a flier from school for a family night magic show.  Tonight.  Both begged to go.  I looked at the flier and wanted nothing less.  Then looked at their faces.  From the day that we lost Nelle, I have wanted to be there for them.  There were days when I wanted nothing more than to stay in bed.  Activities that I wanted to skip.  Events that I knew would make me cry.  But I thought that it wasn’t fair to them for me to draw into my own grief and keep them from doing things that they wanted to do.  So I forced a smile and said “sure” to the magic show.

We headed out, into the dark, into the cold.  Listened to “The Greatest Showman” soundtrack in the car on the way to the school.  I had single tears running down my cheeks as the song “A Million Dreams” came on, ruining the makeup that I so rarely wear but had applied for this school event.  Iris was my dream, the baby that was my dream come true after losing Nelle.

I think of what the world could be
A vision of the one I see
A million dreams is all it’s gonna take
A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make

I was so tired by the time we entered the crowded school gym.  I couldn’t laugh with everyone else, and just kept telling myself “I’m here.  I’m here.”  The magician ended his show with some rather insightful words: “The past is history, tomorrow is a mystery.  Today is a gift, that’s why they call it the present.”

Ger suggested that last week that we go out to dinner to celebrate her birthday, and I was surprised and pleased that he made such a suggestion.  Usually I am the one that has to acknowledge the day.  When we told the kids that we would be going out to dinner, Theo wanted to make sure that we light a candle, so I think some cake will be in order.

The present, or presence, today I was there for my kids.  It was enough.  Today was about them.  Tomorrow, the day that she was born, will be about Iris.  Her birthday.  She will always be my first rainbow baby.