The Missing Orange Backpack

The triplets start kindergarten this year! Can you believe it? They were just little babies, all three of them crying and wearing diapers. How did we get here? How did the last five years just fly by?

A fellow incoming kindergarten mom organized a few play dates at parks in the neighborhood so we could let the kids meet each other … and we could get to know one another too. We were only able to make the last one, last night.

2045cr-orgThe boys ran ahead, SO excited to be playing on their big school’s playground. I had this moment … this gut wrenching moment.  I saw three boys running to the playground. I saw three boys getting ready for kindergarten. I saw a blue, green and an orange backpack running to the merry-go-round. Owen should be going to kindergarten too.

Shortly after Owen died, I decided to still call the boys triplets. I carried three babies darn it … Owen’s death didn’t change that. I figured it would be a temporary thing. Everything was going from three to two … I at least had control over what I called them. At the time, I imagined I have to let go of the term triplets when we started kindergarten. It would be too hard to explain to everyone. Just dragging up Owen’s story when I didn’t have to.

Well kindergarten is here. The sting isn’t any less. They are still triplets.

As the boys jumped on the merry-go-round, one of the moms at the playdate said, “Oh wow, twins?” I tried it on for size. “Yes, twins.” I said, trying to smile through it. I just couldn’t do it. I had to correct her. “No, actually they are triplets. Their brother passed away when they were babies.”

I was foolish to think that one day it would ever be ok to call them twins. Naive to think that one day it would ever be acceptable that Owen isn’t at a big life moment. It’s not fair and it’s not ok. I should be buying three backpacks dang it! I should be seeing six little feet run towards school on Thursday morning. And you know what? There isn’t a thing I can do about it either.

These sweet memories will always be laced with a thread of loss and sadness. I sighed when Logan introduced himself to his teacher at Open House. “I’m Logan. I have a brother who died. His name is Owen.” The sweet, blonde and smiling teacher looked down at Logan, and said “I know you do. I’m sorry he died. Thank you so much for telling me that.” Logan ran off, not missing a beat.

I still have a choice in all this. I can still chose what to focus on … a beautiful, painful story of love, loss and healing. Two beautiful boys who are thick as thieves. Two boys who are so ready and so excited to start “big boy school” with their big brother. It will never feel “right” to buy two backpacks. Who knows, maybe one year I’ll still buy three. Just because.

Love, Mel


  1. Oh, Mel, this takes me back to two years ago. Same school. Same teacher. Same story, except that there should have been a little pink backpack, instead of an orange one. A sister running off with her co-triplet brothers, ready to start the adventures of kindergarten. Such a happy, exciting time interwoven with sadness and a mix of other emotions. Know that I am thinking of you.

  2. Ironic that this came this week Mel. I left labor nursing 4 years ago. I don’t know if you remember me. I took care of you in the hospital for weeks on night shift and I was there the day you delivered. This Friday I go back to being a labor nurse. Reading this reminded me why. I love doing this work because of patients like you. Don’t quit sharing your story!

  3. Wish things could have been different for Owen. Think about you often. Enjoy your blogs Cathy

    Please excuse typos. My phone likes to auto correct me Sent from my iPhone


  4. Thank you for sharing your blog with us. It helps me understand those who have lost a child but don’t speak up like you did.
    Just thanks,

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