I never thought that I would be sitting here with this heartache because I never thought this would happen to me. This is the stuff that happens to other people and you feel sorry for them, say a prayer for them, and then every now and then think about how difficult a special date or holiday must be for them without their baby in their arms. Since this became our reality, I haven’t had a day where I didn’t feel a deep despair. I haven’t had a night where I didn’t have a flashback of waking up in the operating room with the bright lights and a tearful nurse holding my hand telling me that our baby had died. I haven’t had a moment where I didn’t yearn to hold our baby boy, Xavier Banks. He should be 2 months and 17 days old today. We should be bonding over breastfeeding and learning to coo and smile together. I should be using that fancy camera that we bought when we learned, after years of infertility, that we were finally going to be blessed with a child. My tears should be about having to leave Xavier for eight hours in order return to work after my maternity leave instead of the daily tears of having to live a lifetime without him. A lifetime is a long time…. As I watch the babies that were due around the time of Xavier’s due date be born and grow, I am torn apart; yet I want to hold them, close my eyes, and pretend for a split second that they are Xavier and this has all been a terrible nightmare. Despite the heartbreak of Xavier’s death, I would never want erase his existence from our hearts. He is so very real and special to us. His short life changed both my husband and I in so many positive ways. He gave us real happiness. He brought us closer together and made us a family. For the 21 weeks of pregnancy that we were blessed with, we were truly, deeply happy. It was a happiness that you cannot get from material things and something I had never experienced prior. They were the best 21 weeks of my life. Even though Xavier is not here with us, Xavier made me a mother and my husband a father, a gift that we will always treasure. Xavier gave me God as well. His too short life brought me so close to God that sometimes I feel his presence so strongly it startles me. It is a closeness that I am certain I would have never experienced had my world not fallen apart. Do I believe God caused this to occur so that I would know Him? No, but I believe God was missing in my life and He seized the opportunity to mend my brokenness and give me a chance at eternal life. I feel that it gives my little boy’s life even more meaning, as I truly believe that Xavier saved me. Now, my hope is in being able to spend my life after this earthly life with my child. The loss of Xavier also softened my heart to the heartaches of others. My heart was hardened by all the terrible things that happen in the world, and I had developed a “life goes on; suck it up and deal with it mentality.” Now, I am more empathetic to the hardships of others. I can understand and empathize with them, and for this, I am thankful. Don’t get me wrong, being happy and thankful these days is a daily choice. I struggle every day to wash away my anger that my friends are holding their babies at night while I’m kissing one of the few pictures of our stillborn child. I have to remind myself that it isn’t their fault that our baby died. I have to remind myself that we are blessed to have such wonderful friends and family and they are only human. I have learned that good intentioned people say silly things when they are trying to comfort you. I have to remind myself that they mean well and just simply do not know what to say. I have to remind myself to not take out my hidden rage on them when they are just trying to help. Fortunately, we have the support of others who have had similar experiences. It is the seasoned folks who have ridden this emotional roller coaster through their own experiences of loss that seem to help the most. Their hearts naturally seem to understand ours. They seem to know when we need a hug, need to talk about Xavier, need space, or need a project to memorialize our baby. I have found such people who understand our hearts in The Smallest Gift. This organization has been there since day one, and I don’t know what I would have done without these wonderful people. Not only has having people who truly understand been helpful, but their gifts provided us with something to hold onto physically as well. They provided us with the things that others without such experiences would not consider. Personally, my fabric heart that weighs nine ounces, the same weight as our little Xavier, has been such a comfort to me. I lay it on my chest and close my eyes reminiscing of his perfect little nose and lips, his dainty little hands with five perfect fingers each, and his two breathtakingly perfect feet with his second right toe, like his daddy’s, just slightly longer than his big toe. It is such moments that allow me to maintain Xavier as part of my earthly life and make moving forward day to day bearable. The world continues to spin and people move on, but we will never forget his precious life. He was a baby, our baby, who we were supposed to guide through life, share milestones with and love unconditionally. Since we can no longer do these earthly duties that so many people take for granted, we have chosen to carry Xavier Banks Pyle in hearts until we can embrace him again.