Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Early Days of Grief

Peanut -

I don't know how to refer to January 26, 2011.  Many bereaved parents use the term "Angel Day" but that feels wrong, like it's glorifying your death.  Almost as if it's an event to be celebrated.  Maybe in some religions and cultures it is, but not for this Momma.  In the absence of an alternative, I have bounced between Angel Day and simply The Day You Died.  While the latter is more raw and course, it aligns more closely with what's in my heart.

This three year milestone in our journey of grief and living has been surprisingly significant.  Possibly because three years ago Momma couldn't imagine life feeling at all hopeful or happy or anywhere close to normal a few years down the road.  Or maybe it's because Momma remembers enjoying the winter 2010 Olympics with a tiny four month-old Peanut, projecting how much fun we would have watching these winter games again in 2014 as we looked for sports that would interest you down the road (Momma always thought you would be an ice hockey star).  Or, it could be watching your little brother blossom into his two year-old self, with new words, expressions, humor and personality every day.  So far beyond what we were lucky enough to experience with you.

No matter what the underlying reason is, this year has been particularly difficult.  Momma has been reliving day-by-day exactly what decisions we made, actions we took, in the moments, hours and days after your passing.

- On January 27 we wrote your obituary.  Picked an urn from an understandably limited array of child-appropriate options.  Planned the day and time of your service.  Had lunch with my parents where I ordered white chicken chili and wanted to throw it against the wall just to watch the bowl shatter.

- On January 28 we met with the minister who came to the hospital the morning you died.  He didn't know you but was so touched, so saddened.  He presided over your service but was very respectful of Momma and Dadda's wishes to focus less on scripture and more on what you loved most - your books and school and toys and family - and people's remembrances.

Without asking, our best friends were at the house at all hours.  Ensuring Momma and Dadda were fed.  Had water, soda or a drink, when needed.  They gave us space to cry and to laugh - even when it felt so wrong.

Tomorrow, January 29 is the day Momma bought a dress for your service and had to face cheerful, friendly salespeople - and I had to be nice rather than shouting, "I'm buying a dress for my son's funeral!!!!."  The day I printed the handouts and made sure we had your favorite music ready to play and realized your brothers, sister and aunts had created beautiful, extensive photo memory boards to display.

And January 30th marks the day of your service.  January 31st is the day when life shifted gears again and we moved into "how to face the future" mode.

But for today/tonight Momma is focused on these days.  The days we were numb.  Much like people who have lost an arm or limb have phantom pain where the absence of the lost limb is excruciating, these are the days when the absence of your hugs and laughter were debilitating.  The absence caused pain where the presence had only provided love and warmth.

I choose to focus on these days as a way to remember what is most important. To fully, truly appreciate how blessed I am to have the love of my Peanut, The Pickle, my step kids...that Motherhood takes many different forms but all of them are a gift.  A gift we must earn and appreciate every day.

Peanut, I believe you can feel what Momma is sorting through this week.  Please know it is all rooted in a deep love you you.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

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