On birthdays and the saving of lives

violet cake
This post is bound to be sloppy. It’s bound to be a bit rambling. I guarantee it’ll be unfiltered.

You’ve been given fair warning.

Four years ago today, my oldest son was born. He saved my life. Not in a figurative sense. I truly believe he saved my life. Now, here’s the thing: He’s four, so there’s no way for me to properly articulate that to him and have him understand. Nor do I want him to–saving your dad’s life is a pretty heavy cross to bear.

Let me explain: Four and a half years ago, my daughter, Violet, was born. My first child. My daughter. Nobody can take that title from her. But unless you’re a member of my inner sanctum, you might not hear her name come up as often as my two younger sons.


Because 74 hours after she was born in September of 2009, she passed away. My wife and I held her as she left. It was our first time holding her. Five years later, no doctor has ever offered us an answer. No member of the hospital has ever reached out with condolences. It makes me so angry that, to this day, I’d rather bleed out than walk into that place for a Band-Aid.

Needless to say, the ensuing six months could best be classified as dark and destructive. Violet was gone. My daughter was gone. Why bother staying tethered to The Good?

Four short months later, with years of parenting energy stored up and unused, I was sitting at my desk at work when my phone rang. Our social worker–assigned by the state when my wife and I entered the adoption process 18 months earlier–was calling with the curious news of the birth of a healthy baby boy. Unwilling to mourn the loss of a second child in a calendar year, I proceeded to launch an interrogation that would’ve made my detective brother proud.

I’m not one who would easily pass as religious, and only occasionally refer to myself as “spiritual.” Even that label is one typically uttered after a few beers among friends.

“What’s his name?” I asked her as my final inquiry.

“His name?” she replied. “Jesus.”

(I know, right?)

So you can see just why I’m a little choked up when I prepare to go home and celebrate the birth of my son. The kid who saved my life–even if I’m not about to give him that cross to bear.

(Happy birthday, Milo Jesus. Your sister, parents and baby brother love you.)

Kyle Belanger

Written by: Kyle Belanger

Proud father to three children (in order: one deceased, one adopted and one biological), Kyle is constantly navigating the worlds between actively grieving and openly gloating. Learn more about Kyle here.