Gotcha Day: Returning to five

RETURN TO ZERO – Official Trailer from Sean Hanish on Vimeo.

“So, let me get this straight,” I said with all the sarcasm of a 15 year old, “We are going to a movie to watch Minnie Driver pretend to be as sad as us. Right?”

It was a Wednesday night, my only night off from my evening media job, and my wife was pulling my petulant body to a film screening. But this wasn’t dinner-and-a-movie date night. It was a screening of Driver’s film “Return to Zero” for our baby-loss support group. In it, Driver and Paul Adelstein portray a 30-something couple who go through the loss of a child similar to the one my wife and I suffered. Our year was 2009, and our daughter Violet October was the life we lost.

As it turned out, Driver, Adelstein and Zero were perfect. It was a schlock-free, no-sweetener-added portrayal of the dark avenues many parents of loss travel in the days/weeks/years following their loss. The honesty and poignancy of the writing clearly came from a point of deep understanding.

But this isn’t a film review — although, if it means you’ll go see it, then, by all means, do so.

What struck me most about the film was how it prepared me for the next important date on our family’s calendar: March 18 — Gotcha Day. You see, six months after our daughter’s death, our son Milo was born. Seven months after her death (nearly to the day), a 4-week-old Milo came to live with us.
Two years after that, our Calder was born, and one year after that we made Milo’s adoption officialwe got him! Hence, “Gotcha Day.”

Last night was the two year anniversary of our Gotcha Day. We refer to it as our family’s birthday, and treat it as such. Dinner out, singing, etc. In some respects, it’s the most important holiday on our calendar.

But last night, while Milo and Calder were smiling through dessert, I couldn’t help but see the symmetry in my week: If not for that stupid movie (which really wasn’t stupid), and the very real tears Caroline and I cried through the majority of it, Gotcha Day 2015 would not have been complete. Because Minnie Freaking Driver stirred up the muck from those dark, sticky muddy spots of my soul, I was able to reunite with the true genesis of my family. All five of us.

Even if only four of us sign our holiday cards.

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.