Stacey Skrysak lost her son Parker when he was still an infant.
But she never stops thinking about the boy he would be today.
As Stacey wrote on her blog Perfectly Peyton, after spending years trying to start a family, she and her husband were thrilled to learn she was pregnant with triplets. But when Stacey went into labor at only 22 weeks and six days, her premature babies were given a slim chance of survival.
Abigail died not long after her birth, while Parker and Peyton were transferred to the NICU. They both had to overcome a series of health issues. But as Peyton continued to grow stronger, Parker struggled. He passed away on August 16, 2013. Stacey wrote:
Going through the death of one child is unimaginable, going through it a second time is unbearable.
Peyton continued to fight, eventually overcoming the challenges that kept her in the hospital for months. Stacey chronicles her family’s life on her blog. But while it may be named after Peyton, Parker and Abby are never far from her mind.
And that’s why the sight of a little boy’s shirt on a rack in a store brought Stacey up short.
As she wrote on Facebook, she was shopping for her daughter Peyton when she noticed the shirt and immediately thought of her son:
Dear Son, I thought of you today. I was walking through the store, looking at clothes for your sister, when this shirt caught my eye. It was size four, the perfect fit if you were alive today.
The preppy shirt is exactly what I imagine you wearing, a classic look to match your sweet disposition. The green and blue colors would look perfect on you, complimenting your messy blonde “Parker hair”. I found myself pulling out my phone and snapping a picture, wanting that reminder of what could have been.
Stacey remembered the last time she’d gone shopping for her son — when she’d bought him “the outfit you wore as you passed away in my arms.”
Looking at the shirt made Stacey wonder what 4-year-old Parker would have been like. As she wrote, it’s the kind of question that follows parents who have lost a child:
Would you be into building things like your dad? Or would you be in the kitchen baking brownies with me? Would you get along with your rambunctious sister or would roll your eyes each time she has a meltdown. So many questions that will never be answered. It’s the unfortunate reality for those of us grieving parents who never get to watch their children grow up.
And she thought about the precious days she’d been able to spend with her son. She remembered the “angelic personality” that Parker had, even as a newborn. And she reflected on the fact that she was lucky to have even the too-few days she’d spent with him:
I thought about the tremendous love your father and I could feel the moment we first met you and the lives you touched in those 55 days here on earth. I thought about how lucky I was to meet you and how so many parents never even get that chance, instead losing their children to miscarriage or stillbirth.
Thinking of her time with her son and what he’d have been like at four left Stacey think about what he and his sister and Abby were doing now. She wrote:
As I got into my car, I reached my hand up to my necklace. I rubbed my fingers over the initials P & A, always holding my two children in Heaven close to my heart. I often wonder what you and your triplet sister are doing in Heaven. Are you watching over us as we play with your sister who survived? Are you having your own play date with other sweet children above?
Stacey told Dearly that her posts and articles about child loss have prompted hundreds of parents to reach out to her:
“Children are supposed to outlive their parents, not the other way around. The topic is of child loss is still considered somewhat taboo in our culture, yet so many of us have experienced the tragedy of loss.”
That’s why she shares the emotions brought on by a blue and green shirt, and the triumphs and tragedies her family has experienced. She told Dearly:
“While I write to honor my child and share them with the world, it’s an honor that I can help others realize that they are not alone.”
On this day, it was a Polo shirt. But it doesn’t take much to get Stacey thinking about Abby and Parker. As she wrote on Facebook, they’re always in her heart:
“Dear son, I thought of you today. I thought of you yesterday and the day before that. And I will think of you every single day of my life. You and your sister may no longer be here, but you will never be forgotten.”