My brain seems to be kind of a jumbled mess this morning, full of all kinds of random thoughts and so many mixed feelings that I can’t seem to focus on any one thing. Sometimes this is what grief is like. Heck, sometimes this is what life is like. Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month continues on, we’re hitting all kinds of three month grief milestones this week, and my brain and heart are in a million places at once.
Yesterday was hard. Not in the sobbing all day and uncontrollable grief way. It was just a heavy day. I didn’t want to do much at all, despite the fact that I had taken the day off to start getting things together for Alexander’s memorial service on Sunday and to prepare for a weekend full of out of town guests starting tomorrow. A couple of people texted and checked in, remembering that the 5th is hard. We got a card in the mail from some family friends, and received an unexpected gift of beautiful wind chimes from a family at church. I managed to start putting together some things for the memorial service: ordering prints of some photos and getting a few pictures into a shadow box. I hardly ate all day, and then we ordered pizza for dinner at about 8:00pm. I was pretty exhausted at the end of the day, considering I hardly did anything. But, that’s grief for ya.
Today is Hiro’s fifth birthday. Last week, he got some doggy bakery treats in the mail from our friend JM. He’s never been a fan of any kind of “homemade” treat, but these may just turn him into a treat snob. He got one this morning for breakfast. He’ll probably get some extra love today for his birthday, and maybe we’ll take him for an extra long walk tonight. I took this picture of him next to the puppy picture from the day he got home. After I shared it on Instagram and Facebook I got sad thinking that Alexander should have been in this picture. We should be taking a picture that celebrates Hiro turning 5 while Alexander turns 3 months. All these little things that remind me of my boy.
I’m getting a haircut today. My last haircut was on April 22, while Alexander was still alive and kicking. I may have even joked with the stylist that my twice-a-year haircuts would probably become once-a-year haircuts after the baby was born. Because if I neglect my hair this much now, how much more will I neglect it once I have a tiny human to take care of. Well, here I am almost six months since my last haircut and it’s time. I’m trying to practice some self care. I’m nervous the stylist will ask about my family (like Scott’s did last week at Great Clips). I’m nervous that I won’t be able to respond as gracefully and candidly as Scott did to that question. Maybe I’ll just pack a couple extra wristbands in case anyone asks.
Speaking of wristbands, ho.ly.cow. We have been overwhelmed by the response. When the idea of having wristbands made first came up a few weeks ago, my friend SC “The Wise One” suggested that our friends would appreciate having a tangible way to support us. Well, I guess she was right. There’s some more information on the new dedicated page for wristbands, and we’re going to start sending them to our out of town friends as early as next week (if we don’t run out and have to re-order this weekend). We love that people want to support us. We love that people are already sending us pictures wearing their wristbands. More than anything, though, we love that they are bringing awareness and prompting conversation about pregnancy and infant loss.
Yesterday morning I spent approximately two hours (far longer than I should have had to) trying to order prints of some special photographs for Alexander’s memorial service on Sunday. First, I tried to go through Shutterfly, but because of the type of prints we were ordering or something, site to store wasn’t available and the pictures wouldn’t arrive until sometime next week. So I ended up going through Walmart because their online photo ordering is easy to use. I paid online for the photos to be available at our local store for 1-hour pickup. Perfect. I could swing by and pick up the prints, then swing by Michael’s to find some frames. Well, my confirmation e-mail came about 10 minutes later and everything was estimated to be ready for pickup next freaking Thursday. Nope. That’s not going to work. So, I logged onto Walmart’s customer service chat (ha!) and cut straight to the chase. I’m pretty sure I said something like, “the reason I ordered these for one-hour pickup is because I need them for my son’s memorial service this weekend.” I promise not to pull that card too often, but I was pretty upset at the thought that I might not have the pictures in time after I had already paid for them. In the middle of my first conversation, the customer service rep disconnected and a new one connected. So I had to explain it again. And before I could find out anything about the status of my order, the second guy disconnected too. I can’t make this up. (Though, maybe it’s not a stretch to imagine since I did go through Walmart of all places.) Anyway, third time was a charm. Thank goodness for Amber from Walmart customer service who not only expressed condolences for my loss, but actually called the store to make sure it would be taken care of. She followed up with and e-mail (because it was taking longer on the phone than anticipated – surprise, surprise) letting me know that they were coming off the printer and would be ready for pickup at my convenience. Regardless, it was far more hassle than I needed yesterday.
Last night, less than 72 hours after sharing information about the memorial funds we had set up for Alexander, our Molly Bears Rally exceeded our initial goal of raising $900. It was a bright spot on what was an otherwise pretty shitty day. Twenty grieving families will have their aching arms filled in honor of our precious Alexander. Obviously donations are still welcome and are still rolling in, and we can only imagine the hope that Alexander’s legacy will continue to bring through this wonderful organization. Additionally, this means that our Alexander bear should be bumped up on the waiting list for production next month. We are so thankful for the many family and friends who are helping us to honor Alexander.
A bunch of people in the baby loss community are participating in the Capture Your Grief project this month. I decided this year to participate, but not online. I’m working through the project at my own pace in a more private space. Maybe I’ll share it at the end. Or maybe I won’t. Maybe I won’t even finish it. (I said at my own pace because I’m already three days behind. Not that it matters.) But it has been comforting to read as other people participate. This community is a terrible thing but a good thing.
I have never been good at accepting gifts, or help, or anything. I’m pretty self-reliant and independent. Probably something about being a first-born. Losing Alexander has forced me into a place of having to accept all kinds of things gracefully. Like when a friend offers to pick up the photographs at Walmart because she’s right around the corner and I’ve been through enough grief already just trying to make sure they’ll be ready in time. Or when my people offer to provide food for our family coming in from out of town this weekend so that we have one less thing to worry about. Or when people send us beautiful gifts to help us remember Alexander. It’s all pretty overwhelming. I’m sure there’s a lesson in there about grace. It’s still really uncomfortable for me, but I’m learning to just say thank you and open my hands and heart a little to the help from others.
Tomorrow, family will start coming into town for the weekend’s events, starting with tomorrow’s special ceremony at the Kettering Medical Center (where Alexander was born) for the laying of his brick in the Garden of Hope and Remembrance. We have quite the posse of friends and family joining us for that. While I am looking forward to seeing family and friends tomorrow and throughout the weekend it just sucks so much that the reason we are seeing them all is because our son died three months ago. And we’re having a memorial service for him. It’s just not the natural order of things. It’s not how things were supposed to be. We should be welcoming friends and family for a baptism celebration… not for a memorial service.
Like I said, there are a lot of random things vying for my brain space today. Maybe this is what taking two days off of work is doing. Maybe it’s the grief. And in all of these things, one thing remains: a love for Alexander that will not ever stop. I miss that kid. Every. Single. Day.