I don’t think it’s a surprise to people that the past week has been difficult. I have heard over and over again that grief comes in waves. Well, if that is the case, then the past week has felt like having my head plunged back below the surface. Milestones are hard. Today, my head is feeling awful jumbled–still reeling from a really hard week, occupied and overwhelmed by the thought of having lived eight whole months without my son in my arms, and trying to balance productivity with self care while trying to take it easy on myself.
Today, it has been eight months since Alexander was born. I can still remember the eerie quiet in the operating room in the moments following his c-section birth. I can still remember the pride juxtaposed against Scott’s grief has he turned to me and said, “We made a really cute baby. He’s perfect.” Perfect. Yes. Everything about that sweet boy was perfect. Except for the two knots in his umbilical cord that had cut off his life supply just days earlier.
Today, it has been eight months since we held that sweet boy in our arms. 5 lbs 13 oz. I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately, as our Alexander bear has been riding in my car with me a lot. He’s been with me to work, to Louisville for a youth ministry conference, on a youth retreat, and to the grocery store.
Sometimes, I find myself just holding that sweet bear during my drive to work and wishing so hard that my sweet boy was here. Lately, I have been caught off guard by how light that 5 lb 13 oz feels. If Alexander were here, he would have grown so much by now. He would weigh so much more than 5 lbs 13 oz. Yet that is the only memory that we have of holding him, and all we have to hold onto is our Alexander bear that is weighted at his birth weight.
I read recently on a friend’s blog about how grief can make you physically cold (which she read somewhere else). I’ve spent some time trying to find more information about that, but web searches for “grief physical effects” usually leave me with painful reminders of the days last July and August when I, literally, couldn’t move off the couch, when I couldn’t eat, and when I was still feeling the extreme physical trauma of both the c-section surgery and my grief. That said, lately I have noticed that I’ve been feeling extra cold–or that I prefer a room to be warmer than most people. At home, I spend a lot of time sitting under a blanket. And there have been a few times recently that I’ve sent Scott to get an extra blanket for on top of our comforter in bed. So, I’m not sure if that’s grief or just poor circulation, but I can totally relate.
Yesterday, I spent most of the morning at home before going into work for the afternoon and evening. I worked on getting some things done around the house: catching up on laundry, cleaning out the refrigerator, making a grocery list, catching up on budgeting. At one point, I was standing at the kitchen sink with Scott, and he said something to me along the lines of “Did you see what’s going on outside?” Then, he pointed to Alexander’s tree. I have been so afraid since we planted it in late October that it wouldn’t survive the winter. Yet, there it is, out there in our backyard, starting to bud.
Sometimes, it’s the little things that bring me hope in the midst of the most difficult days. A budding tree. A friend who takes the time to really listen. Seeing #AlexanderScott wristbands on people’s wrists, still showing their love and support. A youth group parent who stops Scott and I towards the end of a busy Sunday to check in and see how we are doing. A candle lit and posted on Facebook as a reminder that our sweet boy is not forgotten. These little things make a world of difference.
So, even though this past week has been excruciatingly difficult, it is still true that there are good days. And there are hard days. And there are days when I’m sitting next to a friend in a restaurant, and I’ve totally spaced out getting caught up in the grief of what’s coming and she turns to me and says, “Please, just come back to me. Come back to today and let tomorrow come.” Good days are coming in longer and longer strings, and the strings of difficult days are fewer and farther between.
Grief has changed me and continues to change me.
Alexander has changed me and continues to change me and teach me.
Oh, how I miss that boy. Today, on this eight month anniversary of his birth into Jesus’ arms, I am especially missing my boy and wishing he was here in my arms.
Alexander, my sweet son, you are loved.
You are loved.
You are loved.
You are loved.