Past Tense

It happens at least once a day. I’ll see something cute, pink, and girly and the words almost escape my lips. 

“I bet Aria will love this.”

And just as I begin to speak, I remember, and my heart sinks. I had gotten so accustomed to talking about Aria in a certain way, always in present tense, or future tense. Everything changed so suddenly that even now, parts of my brain haven’t fully adjusted. Planning for a future with Aria had become such a defining part of me, and it feels a bit like I’m trying to break a habit. I’m not used to talking about her in past tense, and it certainly isn’t something that comes naturally. 

Do I say Aria is beautiful? Or do I say she was? My heart is very conflicted on the matter. Sometimes saying she “was” just doesn’t seem appropriate. I could never say that Aria was my daughter. She is my daughter, and always will be. But if I were to go around saying that Aria is almost three months old, and is the most adorable little girl, people would be quite confused. 

Sometimes, using past tense makes me feel like I’m denying her existence. She is very much alive in my heart, and her life continues through me. Saying that Aria “was” just doesn’t adequately express the way I feel. But such is the case for many aspects of life for parents who have outlived their children. There just aren’t words to fully explain.

When a child loses his parent, they are called an orphan. When a spouse loses her or his partner, they are called a widow or widower. When parents lose their child, there isn’t a word to describe them.

-Ronald Reagan

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