Last weekend Momma was talking with another Angel Momma about the absolutely insane decisions we've made and unthinkable tasks we've performed this past year. As we discussed them, we couldn't help but laugh at ourselves, since the only other option was to burst into tears.
You see, Peanut, having a baby is one of the most hopeful, optimistic decisions any parent can make. From the time Dadda and I started trying to conceive, to when we finally got pregnant, through the whole pregnancy, and all 500 days you were alive, we never once considered a world without you. Every moment of every day was spent imagining your future, your next step, your next milestone.
We were so optimistic, in fact, that we had a closet full of clothes just waiting for you to grow a little bigger, a little older. Clothes you never got to wear. We had toys and books meant for a boy twice your age. Every action was taken with the future in mind.
So, when you died we were suddenly thrust into a twilight zone of choices, actions, decisions that made no sense. From the moment Dadda found you unresponsive in your crib, as Momma was holding you skin-to-skin in her bathrobe thinking my warmth would save you, as we performed CPR and the EMTs worked feverishly to save you, through the frantic ambulance ride to the hospital, and the whole time the ER team scrambled to do everything possible to revive and save you, it never once occurred to Momma you might actually die. That we might have to leave you - forever. Even as I was sobbing, holding your increasingly heavy, stiff little body in the emergency room, my brain didn't process it would be the LAST time I would ever hold and cuddle you.
Which leads to "the list." This horrific list of things no parent should ever have to face. Yet, we did. In the moments, hours, days, months after your death we had to:
- Decide if you were going to try and be an organ donor (yes)
- Say good-bye to our Peanut and watch the medical examiner's office come retrieve your body to perform the requisite autopsy
- Drive home in a car with an empty carseat, and enter a house that had been the site of your death, the race to save you on our bedroom floor, and a visit from the police...an eerily quiet house
- Sit and write your obituary...decide who to thank, where to have donations sent and select the picture to include
- Plan your memorial service...do we try and speak? Ask others? Sing? Have music? Read your favorite book?
- Decide if we should bury you and pick a casket, or have you cremated
- Choose an urn, when companies simply don't make that many urns for children...because children aren't supposed to die
- Go shopping for a black dress for your service...I don't own a "funeral" dress - for my own son's funeral
- Pick flowers from Momma and Dadda to have at the service...nothing too "cheerful"
- Create some type of thank you card to send to all the amazing, supportive people who sent cards, food, flowers, gestures of sympathy...we had over 500 notes to send out...how do we thank people when we can hardly get out of bed?
- Fight to get your autopsy results...why and how did you die?
- Fight to get your bedding and froggy back from the police...why the hold-up from the MEs office?
- Fight to survive
- Decide how to re-enter the world, re-engage with family and co-workers...nothing is what is used to be, including us
- Start to put your toys and clothes away, including that last load of laundry...dust gathers so quickly
- Start to get grief counseling, to find a way to move forward
- Decide to have another baby, when that had never been on the table
- Smile, when it feels so wrong
- Start listening to music again in the car
- Reach out to other bereaved parents, others who relate, who we can actually talk to
- Learn to cry in front of others, even complete strangers
- Rehearse complicated answers to simple questions like, "How many children do you have?"
- Start looking at your pictures, through tears and laughter
- Celebrate your birthday without you, knowing you will never grow older
- Face all the "firsts" and dread the day there will no longer be any more firsts
- Struggle through once-happy holidays...now just a reminder of the loss and emptiness
- Talk about you to others, with joy and laughter...and realize this journey will last forever...
Peanut, this list will never be complete. Because, life without our Peanut will never make sense.
I love you, I miss you. Sweet, beautiful child of mine. To the moon and back.