I’m taking it slow this morning. I slept in until about 9, went downstairs and grabbed a cup of coffee and my laptop, and came back upstairs to the nursery to spend some time remembering Alexander and writing.
It feels like it’s getting harder and harder to imagine what our life should be like. As much as possible, we have started to settle into a new normal. But there are still regular reminders of how different our lives should be from what they actually are.
We should have a ten month old son. Instead, we have his ashes sitting on the piano in our front room, still surrounded by gifts, cards, and other memorials.
We should be exhausted and sleep-deprived from late night wake-ups and early mornings and all of the other sleep-interruptions that come with having a baby in the house. Instead, I sleep at least 8-10 hours many nights and am still exhausted just from the energy that it takes to grieve and be a functioning adult.
We should be carting our boy around to youth events and church and family functions. Instead, everywhere we go, I look around for Alexander’s wristbands… for signs of him and reminders that others also recognize that he should be here.
We should be celebrating every milestone–crawling, standing, new foods. Instead, I am reminded of what we are missing out on every time I see another child around Alexander’s age.
We should be so excited every time one of our friends has a baby–a new friend who will grow up with Alexander. Instead, it’s as though every joy-filled birth announcement is a painful reminder of what we never got to have.
Milestone days are heavier than most days. In fact, most days lately I feel like I’m breathing again. Even today, the pain of this milestone isn’t as soul-crushing as some early milestones were. Even as I sit here in Alexander’s nursery, surrounded by unused toys, unworn baby clothes, and unread books, I am overwhelmed by the love that has surrounded our sweet boy since the day we announced that I was pregnant with him.
I frequently still get asked how I am doing, which I am grateful for. And, honestly, depending on who is doing the asking, sometimes I stop with I’m doing fine or I’m doing pretty well, and other times I go a little more in depth. Here’s the long and short of it:
I’m functioning like a “normal” adult human being about 90% of the time. I get up in the morning, put my feet on the floor, brush my teeth, and face the day. I go to work and I am able to be both productive in the office and relational when I’m at events. I attend family gatherings when I’m able. I try to take care of myself as much as I can. I’ve cut back on browsing through social media, just because I don’t want to be surprised by baby-related posts. I sleep when I need to, spend time with friends when I need to, and just take a break and sit in the hot tub when I need to. Scott and I spend time together, and we have healthy conversations both about our grief and about our future. I laugh and make jokes and even enjoy life as much as I am able. So, I guess at the end of the day, I could say, yeah, I’m doing pretty well.
That said, I still have hard days. I still have really difficult moments. I still have Sunday mornings sitting in worship where the tears just start to flow. I still grieve as I try to navigate some of the secondary losses that come with losing a child. I am frustrated by the weight I’ve gained from eating my grief over the past ten months, but not quite frustrated enough that I’m ready to seriously do something about it. I can be really overly sensitive some days. I get angry. I get overwhelmed. I feel anxious, especially as the milestones continue to come and that one-year mark creeps closer and closer. I still miss Alexander terribly and wish that all of this was different and that he was here. So, I guess at the end of the day, I could say, yeah, I’m still grieving.
This is my reality. It’s a balancing act. It’s a pendulum that swings from “hey, I’m doing great today!” to “I want to crawl under a rock because I’m having a terrible day and I don’t want anyone to talk to me.” That’s what grief is like.
Oh, my sweet Alexander. On your ten month anniversary in heaven with Jesus, I hope you know and see how incredibly loved and missed you are. I just wish things were different and that you were here. I hope you see and hear and feel the love of your mama and daddy and a whole host of other people who love and miss you like crazy. Sweet boy, today and every day: You are loved. You are loved. You are loved.