Six months. Twenty six weeks. One hundred and eighty four days. Half a year.

Half. A. Year.

How is it possible that we have lived a half a year without our sweet Alexander in our arms?

How is it possible that we survived the earliest days after coming home from the maternity ward without a baby?

How is it possible that we made it through the first month, and the milestone of Alexander’s due date?

How is it possible that we made it to the second month without our boy, and left home for a week of rest and renewal on the gulf coast?

How is it possible that I managed to return to work and stumble through fall youth ministry milestones like confirmation and fall retreat?

How is it possible that summer turned to fall and fall turned to winter?

How is it possible that we survived planning and attending our son’s memorial service on the three month anniversary of his birth and death?

How is it possible that we made it through the four month milestone and the five month milestone?

How is it possible that we made it through the gauntlet of the holiday season weighed down by grief. Halloween. Thanksgiving. Christmas. New Years.

How is it possible that the calendar changed from 2016 to 2017?

How is it possible that we have lived a half a year without our sweet Alexander in our arms?

These are questions that still go through my mind on a regular basis. It has been six months. Six months.

And, as I have said every month since losing Alexander, it feels like it was yesterday that we held our baby boy in our arms, and at the same time it feels like it was lifetimes ago.

In those six months, grief has both changed and not changed. I remember very little about those earliest days and weeks after coming home from the hospital. I remember that I could hardly eat anything, and I only moved off the couch to go to the bathroom and maybe get a shower. I remember that there were days that I couldn’t even bring myself to get out of bed. I was in shock, literally, paralyzed by grief.

Eventually, grief became less paralyzing and I became able to take care of myself a little bit more. I could get myself out of the bed in the morning, and even put clothes on. I could leave the house to go for a walk or to go out to eat with Scott. I took everything one breath at a time. Then, one breath at a time became one minute at a time. Then, slowly by slowly one minute at a time became one hour at a time. Eventually one hour at a time became one day at a time. That movement isn’t always forward. There are still days that I need to take one hour at a time, or one minute at a time, or even one breath at a time.

And somehow, one breath at a time, one minute at a time, one day at a time, one week at a time, we have made it here. Six months. 

People ask me on a fairly regular basis how I am doing. How we are doing. So, here is a glimpse into how I am doing today, on the six month milestone:

Some days I cry. A lot. For the first five days of 2017, I cried more and cried harder than I have in months. Something about the changing of the year and the approaching half year milestone and navigating life and relationships in the midst of that grief. I just wish everything was different.

Some days I laugh. Hard. Sometimes the laughing and the crying happens in the same day, or in the same hour, or even in the same minute. Laughter is good medicine. It is healing balm for my soul. I love to laugh, and yet that laughter, as hard as it comes, is also so different than it used to be. Laughter no longer feels unbridled and pure. It is colored by the aching in my heart and the wish I have that my sweet boy could be the source of that laughter.

Some days I rally and am able to push through far more than I could have imagined six months ago. This weekend, I had a youth event Friday night, an all day high school leadership workshop on Saturday, worship and Sunday School sunday morning, and then confirmation class and a high school dinner night on Sunday afternoon and evening. And while it did take me a short nap and two trips through the Dunkin’ Donuts drive thru for coffee to finish out the weekend, I did it. And I even had a number of moments that simply and profoundly reminded me why youth ministry is such an important part of my life and call.

At the same time, there are still days that I wake up and I’m not even sure how I will get out of bed. It still stings when I see another pregnancy or birth announcement on facebook. It still stings when I see happy pictures of my friends with their living children, sharing moments that we should be sharing with Alexander at this six month milestone. There are still days where I just can’t motivate myself to pack lunch or cook dinner, so we’ve gotten into a pattern of eating out far more than we should. In many ways, at six months, the grief is still very fresh.

It still brings me great comfort when friends and family who are bold enough to speak Alexander’s name out loud without fear of making us sad. (News flash: we’re sad, and we certainly haven’t forgotten about him or that we are grieving, so saying his name is not going to make us any more sad than we are already. Rather, it will help us to know that he hasn’t been forgotten.) So, please, keep saying his name.

Like this dear, sweet friend, who sent this message literally as I was typing that last paragraph:

alexandername

It also brings great comfort when friends and family remember us on these milestone days. Grief can begin to feel very lonely as others return to their normal lives and routines.

  • Seeing people around us still wearing their wristbands each and every day as a tangible reminder that they are walking with us, often without even saying a word.
  • Getting invitations from folks to hang out, have a meal, or just be together–because even at six months out, we need people around us but there are days that I just don’t have the energy to arrange social gatherings.
  • A photo of a lit candle on Facebook early this morning simply captioned #AlexanderScott.
  • A simple text message from a friend saying, “Thinking of you. I know today sucks. It really sucks. I’m praying for peace within you,” or an e-mail from my supervisor saying: “You’re wise to take today to rejuvenate and spend time with Scott. I am thinking especially about both of you today on the 6 month anniversary of the day you delivered Alexander into the arms of Jesus.”

These little things make a world of difference to our grieving hearts. Still. Especially on this six month milestone.

This day should be so different. We should be dressing up a squirmy six month old, slapping a six month sticker on him and trying to get a “look how much I’ve grown” picture of him next to the stuffed Sully we got from his Aunt Kristen as a baby shower gift. We should be marveling at how he can roll over and is starting to sit up on his own without support or how he can almost stand up and support his weight. We should be celebrating with friends on Alexander’s half birthday. We should be sleep deprived and laughing about stories of diaper blowouts and all the other messes of parenthood.

Oh, how this day should be so different.

I hope that our friends and family will join us today on this six-month milestone in remembering and honoring our sweet Alexander. For Alexander’s one month anniversary in heaven, friends lit up our facebook feeds and blew up our phones with pictures of candles reminding us that there is light even in the darkest moments and seasons of our lives. For Alexander’s three month anniversary we handed out wristbands at his memorial service and have since sent wristbands all over the country. (If you don’t have a wristband, we still have plenty that we would gladly send out. You can request one here.)

If you’ve got a few minutes tonight, light a candle for Alexander Scott. Find some peace with us in knowing that this little boy is safe in the arms of Jesus and that we are all one month closer to the next time we get to see him.

Alexander, my sweet boy, you are loved.

You are loved.

You are loved.

You are loved.

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