A’s first birthday was last week. Here are some reflections of A’s birthday and the last week of anniversaries. I ended up calling in to work the day before A’s birthday. This was the date last year that we found out he had died. After being induced that night, A was born late the next morning. Again the flashbacks tormented me and I cried much of the day but it was actually therapeutic. I was relieved to have extra time and space to rock his snowsuit and urn; to sit in the nursery; to face all of the brutal reminders that I actively ignore each day in order to function. I was relieved to be able to fall apart again, even for a short while.
On his actual birthday we laid low and stayed in. E worked but came home for an early lunch. We were together when the clock struck A’s birth time. I spent more time journaling, crying, reading books to A (and Dragon) and rocking in the nursery sobbing. E did not have anything particular that he wanted or needed to do to commemorate the day. In all honesty, I think he was just focused on surviving it himself.
We had previously sent out memorial cards (made from a customizable birth announcement). On the front was his name, three photos and A’s birth stats. On the backside was a brief message from E and I asking that folks join us in remembering our son and to honor his life by performing an act of kindness in A’s name – even an anonymous one. We feel that this spreads the positive impact of his brief life and ensures his spirit lives on. I got much good feedback from our family and friends about the card and the sentiment. Our OB provider even asked if they could hang the card on the wall with all the other (living) birth announcements. I tearfully consented.
For our own act of kindness we are donating a bunch of household goods to a local immigrant assistance organization. I would still like to plant a tree for A. Something that turns brilliantly vibrant this time of year. The hurdle is deciding where to plant it. I don’t want to put in our yard because we will likely outgrow this house in the next few years and I want to be able to visit A’s tree for the rest of my life and have it accessible to his siblings and others for many years. Perhaps one of the local parks or historical sites. One friend even suggested that when we do plant the tree, E and I each write A a letter and bury them with the roots time-capsule-style. I like that.
Additionally, I have started to organize a little memorial for the house. Ever since we brought A’s ashes home he typically hangs out in the bassinet in our bedroom. Obviously we will have to put baby Dragon in the bassinet (assuming all goes well). Besides I have some lovely mementos that I’ve been meaning to display. I’m thinking either the mantle or perhaps a shelf in our room where I can hang the glass locket with his hair, a charm with his name, a photo or two of our sweet boy and of course, his urn.
A few days after A’s actual birthday I noticed a definite shift emotionally. Not that I wasn’t excited about this new pregnancy before, but it feels more tangible now, the excitement more palpable. I am all of a sudden inspired to start taking care of things in anticipation of baby Dragon’s arrival. Mixed in is the motivation to take care of this A memorial project.
It’s almost as if my anguish, dread and resistance leading up to his birthday was all-consuming and now that it is over, space and emotional resources have opened up. I don’t know but it is a nice surprise. A little brightness after a very dark previous month.
The evening of A’s birthday, E and I were on the couch watching the tube and decided it was time to hit the hay. He clicked off the TV and we embraced. He whispered, “We made it through the day.” I half-smiled and replied, “We made it through the year.” It’s still crazy to think it’s been a whole year.
I am still struggling to get back on my feet and Halloween is going to be another major setback. In all fairness, the lead up to A’s birthday was intensely emotional for weeks prior to the actual event. Given the weeks of building to the apex, I imagine it will take a little while to recover. I am trying to be patient with that. I am also holding onto how therapeutic it felt to grieve heavily again. I plan to continue to make time to sit with him, sit with my feelings and face my reality.