At this time last year, Momma was angry. But, not a normal kind of angry. This was the type of anger born out of deep, ragged sorrow. Anger that has no focus, no direction. Anger looking for a target. It was also an anger I wanted to keep hidden. I didn't want people to view me as the grief-stricken Momma who was mad at the world. Even though, in retrospect, that is exactly what I was.
Dadda and I were grappling with the early, hard truth that we were never going to get any answers about how and why you died. In addition, we were being stonewalled by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's office with no returned calls, no communication, no timeline. Our house had become unbearably silent, and your bedroom was eerily dark and quiet...and beginning to gather dust. The crib was still stripped bare thanks to the police detectives - a daily reminder of the horrific scene we faced on the morning of January 26. In short, our world had lost all meaning, void of hope, happiness, or even a reason to get out of bed.
It was too difficult, too vague, to be angry at the universe for taking you away. That was exhausting and felt fruitless. So, instead, I chose to direct my anger at anything that struck me as trivial. Anything that proved to me how unaware the general population was of our loss. Anything that represented the world moving forward, as if nothing had happened.
So, pretty much everything.
Two of the earliest targets of my rage were 1) Punxsutawney Phil, and all the mindless media coverage of Groundhog Day and 2) Subway and their goofy "Febru-ANY Five Dollar Footlong" commercials. The television was always on during the early days of our grief, in an attempt to fill the silence of our house. But, what was worse? Echoing silence, or the Subway jingle? It's a miracle our television survived those first weeks without getting a large, lead crystal vase thrown through the screen.
I also had to hide all things related to sock monkeys. Harmless, happy sock monkeys. Peanut, I loved to dress you in sock monkey outfits, like the Small Paul line at Target. And, the brightly colored monkeys always brought a giant smile to your face. But, the night after your memorial service, Momma made the mistake of putting on her own sock monkey pajamas while she and Dadda sat in front of the fireplace sobbing for hours. Since that evening, sock monkeys have represented tears, emptiness.
But, the healing snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder this month. This year I saw the Groundhog Day coverage only briefly, but was too busy with your new brother to pay it any mind. The Subway commercials are back in heavy rotation, but I've either learned to ignore them or just have too much else going on. And, last week your little brother received a sock monkey outfit as a gift, and I was delighted. The goofy smile, the vivid red color - it brought nothing but joy and happy memories.
Tomorrow I will take my old sock monkey pajamas and add them to our Peanut Box. The box of treasured keepsakes never to be used with your brother, too precious to let go of, too painful to display. Those pajamas will forever represent happy winter evenings spent with you playing on the TV room floor. They will also represent the most tragic, difficult "farewell" I've ever had to say. They are an integral thread in my Peanut fabric.
Peanut, I hope you are proud of us - of me. I hope you see our healing process and new sense of hope with a smile on your face and a little cheer. I hope that you understand that you are the motivation, the inspiration, for everything good we are trying to accomplish. And, more than anything else, I hope you know how much I love you. To the moon and back!