Now Or Never·POV

Why I write birthday cards to the children I've lost

On the anniversaries of their birth, Christa Couture writes cards to her sons Emmett and Ford. Today, they'd be 13 and 10 if they were still alive.

On the anniversaries of their birth, Christa Couture writes cards to her sons Emmett and Ford

Cards for Ford, on what would be his 10th birthday. (Submitted by Christa Couture)
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Contributed by Christa Couture, as told to Now or Never

I'm mom to Sona, she's two years old.

I'm also mom to Emmett and Ford, who would be 13 and 10 if they were still alive.

Emmett died as a newborn and Ford died at 14 months old. 

Very early on, I started a practice of making something on the anniversary of their birthdays. I'd knit something like a little bunny, something I could make in a day. I would take those objects to their grave.

But as my kids got older, kitting them something seemed like a such a baby thing to do. Even though it's imaginary, and my children are not 13 and 10, it didn't feel quite right.

Creating the cards 

The most recent birthday was Emmett's in October.

This year, my partner Marsha, my two-year-old Sona and I got together in the living room, pulled out our craft supplies, and we each made a birthday card.

Christa, Marsha and Sona's 13th birthday cards for Emmett. (Submitted by Christa Couture)

In my card, I told Emmett what was happening. I told him that it's his 13th birthday and what I remember about being 13.

I wrote that it breaks my heart that I don't know what he would like or want to do. I wrote how much I love him and miss him. And I wrote how every day his birthday is filled with so much wonder and joy and love and pain.

I wrote how every day his birthday is filled with so much wonder and joy and love and pain.- Christa Couture

For years, I honoured them on their birthdays by myself — which was so lonely. It's still such a hard day.

But it means so much to me that Marsha and Sona and I do this together now. Even though they didn't know Emmett and Ford, they're taking a moment to honour them and to think about them and imagine them with me.

Christa, Marsha and Sona. (Submitted by Christa Couture)

Releasing them into the world 

When we're done making the cards, we drop them in the mailbox unaddressed. There's something about sending the cards somewhere that feels really good to me. I like that I can put down these wishes and thoughts and give them to the mailbox. 

Emmett is not here, I can't give him that card. But being able to send it out into the world gives me a bit of release. I can feel like it's going somewhere. 

And maybe somebody at Canada Post will read this messy, sad, loving card.


 This interview has been edited for length and clarity. To hear Christa's full story, click the 'listen' button above.