Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grief Revisited

The calendar pages are thinning out again. We're closer to him.

I'd be lying if I said it wasn't easier anticipating his birthday this year than it was last year. There's just something so definite about 1 year. It seems so monumental in so many ways, including personal relationships. At the 1 year point, things always started to get real. We were engaged just weeks after our first year of dating was up. Now that he's nearing the age where babies aren't referred to in terms of months but in terms of years, it feels different. But it doesn't change that he's gone. Or how much we crave to have him here, in our arms to hug, love and watch grow.

But two years? I'm not as anxious, and maybe Benjamin is in part to thank for that, but I guess I just don't know what to think anymore. We had a long talk the other night about Andrew and how we're dealing. It's not that this is a closed chapter of our lives. We'll forever be damaged and changed. We talked about how we're just worse people for losing him. That it caused us to be more guarded and scared. That we're more angry and still question why our family was crushed.

The jealousy is still harbored when we pass another family with two beautiful children in tow. When we learn of a firstborn being welcomed into someone's home. When a two-year-old boy is in our presence.

I told my husband the other night that I'm glad we're still broken. That I hope we're always broken and lack acceptance when it comes to losing Andrew. I don't want to accept that our son had to tragically die when he was supposed to be welcomed into our home at any moment. I don't want to accept that we'll forever memorialize him and speak to his sibling(s) in past tense, because they will never have a chance to meet him face-to-face. I'm sad for us, but I'm immeasurably sad for them.

We sat last week in our formal living room that doesn't have a whole lot of living in it at all. It's where Andrew's urn is and all of our tangible memories we display of him. It's also where we keep the photobook of his entire life, all in about 40 pages. It displays pictures of my entire pregnancy and how excited we were to be growing a son. Our son. Our firstborn. And now? It's so difficult to see those photos of our smug, innocent, naive selves; so difficult that we skip straight to the back for pictures of him. Just reliving the pregnancy in pictures, though wonderful as it was, makes me weak in the knees. I become nervous, sad, and angry when I see us in that state. It's like were were a ticking time bomb just waiting to explode. Every single picture framed in our home aside from the few of Benjamin were from before we became the people we are today. We were happily hopeful and lived in the world where babies didn't die. I'm jealous and frustrated looking at all of those photos. Seeing blog posts from our former selves is just so hard for me to read, because I was different and... better.

We talked through our tears about how the greater part of our lives will be lived in this broken state and world where babies and innocent people die terrible, horrible, and unfortunate deaths and it's just sad. Sure, there's beauty and will always be beauty, but it's always going to be less beautiful and less good. And that sucks. There's just no way around it.

My husband used to work for a company in LA that handled all the back-end work for professional photographers. He met some incredibly talented people there. It's LA, after all... but when you pair up photography with hip individuals and young, free spirits, you get a pretty nice mix of people. One of those amazing people shot our wedding.

In our broken state on December 5th of 2010, an equally talented and selfless person stepped into our newly broken lives and took photos of our deceased son for us as a volunteer for NILMDTS. He didn't have to come into such a vulnerable situation, find parking at a hospital in the middle of the night and meet our dead son and his broken parents. But he did. Those photos are absolutely the most valuable we have and we cherish them. This week, Ray wrote a note on the forums of his former photography company to thank and encourage those photographers who volunteer their time and resources (and emotions!) to do such good for families like us. We know it's not exactly easy. As we approach the two year mark, Ray decided to reach out again in admiration for those who humble themselves to do such remarkable deeds. They deserve all the recognition; it's because of them that we have photos of our firstborn and those just cannot be more important to us. As Ray wrote in his letter, ..."because of you, {Benjamin} will get to "meet" his older brother through the most beautiful photos..."

If you're a volunteering photographer reading this, we thank you. So many of us loss families just cannot even begin to thank you enough.

Today we prepare for a playdate at our home with some families in our area that we've grown to consider as part of our own family. It's a beautiful day, the sun is shining, the beer is cold, the new toys are ready, our second son is growing and learning, and we're thankful. In a good, but not ever as good as it could have been way, like it was before our worlds changed. We miss you Andrew. We miss who you were, would be now, and would be tomorrow. We miss all of the memories we'll never get to create with you. It doesn't have to be the 5th or your birthday for us to think of you or mutter those words. We think them every single day we live.


Caroline said... [Reply to comment]

I think the rest of my life will feel like this. Are we forever worse off? I can't really say we are because we have Finn and logically I know we probably wouldn't had Cale lived. But it's what you said ... Good. Just not as good as it should be. I am living two different lives and they can never be one but I will forever wish I could just have one life with all my children.

Amelia said... [Reply to comment]

I think for the first year I was waiting to be....better? To heal I guess. I'm not better. I'm different than I was before we lost them, and I'm different than just after we lost them. But I'm not better by any means. I'll always be broken, so I guess I just have to figure out how to live life to the fullest at the same time.
It's really hard.

LauraJane said... [Reply to comment]

Yup to all of this.

It's impossible to "move on" or forget that life could always be just a little bit better had our first sons lived, you know? I hate that I'm jealous of another version of my own life which we never got to live.

I can't let go of any of my prior hopes and dreams an plans. I don't WANT to live in a world where I'm not sad that he is missing, because the moment I forget him, I feel as though I've learned nothing, and I can't let his legacy be of nothing. There has to be a balance somewhere- treading between life and heaven... I just don't know where to find it.

Ben and Katie said... [Reply to comment]

I admire you! Sharing your raw feelings and yet in the midst of them shines do much strength!
Bless you friend!

Hope's Mama said... [Reply to comment]

Oh my goodness yes. To all of this.
Sending you love as you count down the days all over again.


Addi's mom said... [Reply to comment]

"it doesn't have to be your birthday or the 5th" yes yes yes. It makes me crazy when people tell us how far we've come. I want to scream from the rooftops how much worse off we are for losing her that we may have done/do good things, but those things will never e worth the price if our daughter's life...never ever. Thinking of Andrew always <3

Nicole said... [Reply to comment]

I still have jealousy when firstborn baby girls are welcomed with all that love, anticipation, joy, and desire we had for our girl. I don't want to feel...I guess almost resentful. Yes, I'm glad that another baby didn't die and another family isn't crushed, but why didn't we get to keep our baby?! Ugh.

2 years. Doesn't seem possible.

Sarah said... [Reply to comment]

I feel all of this, too. We're supposed to be better people for having gone through something so hard, right? I know I'm more grateful. But I'd give back all that gratitude in a second to have my innocence and my daughter back.
I'm glad you mentioned NILMDTS. I'm doing a fundraiser for them on my blog right now. I'm donating $1 for every comment I get.

Renel said... [Reply to comment]

I think we will always be broken, always missing, sometimes more than others...but always missing and wondering about the little life we never got to see unfold. I am so sad Andrew is not here, I am glad you have some photos...I wish it were enough. Love sent from me to you.

Monica said... [Reply to comment]

first time reader. so sorry for your loss. your post is beautiful in its sadness. sending you a virtual hug.