Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Our Noah Anniversary Season is Here

I am always amazed when I bump into women that I see regularly that end up having lived what I have lived. For example, every month I go to Dream Dinners, a place where you can spend an hour and prepare a dozen or so meals that can be frozen for later use. I can’t say that I have felt much like cooking since I lost Noah, and I am making life easier for myself where I can. Every month when I go, there are the same small group of very pleasant women who work there, who clean up after you when you are done at a particular station, and make sure you have all the tools and ingredients you need to make your meals. I overheard one of them talking with a customer about adoption. In particular they were talking about the costs. Since I have just been in the world of infertility, I bumped in, and mentioned that I had done in vitro, but was curious about the costs of adoption. They were just as curious about in vitro, so it was an interesting conversation! Of course, the reasons why we were all doing this came up and I had to admit that I had lost a child. I worried about it (people’s reactions to this news are always so varied) but lo and behold, the employee had had a stillborn baby. It was a little boy named Justin, born on New Year’s Eve. Then conversation comparing our experiences and feelings ensued along with a tear or two. It is a comfort to talk with others who know what this pain feels like!

The thing that really kicked me in the gut was that she had explained that she just passed the seven year anniversary since her child was born. Her family (she now has other children) celebrate her son’s birthday every year. Her family and friends ignore the anniversary. It hurts her deeply. As parents of these lost children, we understand that it is tough for others outside of our immediate family unit to either deal with these sorts of things with us, or understand that they worry about it making us too sad. The problem is that there is no way that we can forget these anniversaries. Whether you celebrate with us or not, it will always be in the forefront of our minds. We will never forget our children. We want to remember. In fact, the worry that our child will be forgotten consumes us. I think that as I meet these courageous women of lost children, I need to make a note to write their babies dates on my calendar, and get a stack of kid themed birthday cards to send whenever these dates come around. I know that I don’t have to say much. Just something along the lines of “I am thinking of you and on this anniversary. Sending you lots of love, Sarah.” And that is all it takes! Just simply recognize the day and that it is the child’s birthday. Another year of survival has passed. We keep putting one foot in front of the other, and keep trying to live, and somehow have succeeded for a little bit longer. The years since the tragedy are irrelevant. Every day, walking this earth without your child, no matter how long it has been, is not easy, and it needs to be honored when we reach these times when we can feel like we are making it, even in some small measure.

What I have learned from the last year of grief, is that our kind of loss leaves our family and friends completely unsure of what to say and do to support us. And, rather than having us walk around with hurt feelings because of what people did or didn’t do for us, it is easiest to be direct and let others that want to help know the best ways to support us.

We are coming up on an anniversary. Both a joyful and a painful one at that. On June 26, it will be one year since our sweet baby Noah was born. On June 30, it will be one year since our boy left us. For us, we find it best to celebrate the joy of his birth openly with our family and friends. Conversely, June 30 is the anniversary of the very worst day of our lives, and Chris and I plan to share that day between the two of us.

If you are wondering what would feel good to us on Noah’s birthday, here’s a list of ideas:

  • Send us a birthday card. You don’t have to say much. Just that you are thinking of us and Noah on this anniversary. Here’s our address: Chris and Sarah Wilkerson, 1214 Adams Drive, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

  • Call and talk about what you remember about the day he was born. Did you remember seeing me post about it on Facebook? Who told you I had gone into labor? What did Chris first say to you after he had officially become a father? What did you think when you found out we were going to have a baby? Remind us of those joyful days.

  • Make a donation to the Noah fund at the Children’s Hospital in Denver in his memory. Or to the March of Dimes (they promote expanded newborn screenings on all infants). Or to some other charity that benefits babies or families.

  • We are always looking for interesting ways to memorialize Noah. If you think of some neat way to do that, either get it set up for us, or tell us about it.

  • Post “Happy Birthday to Noah!” on my Facebook page. Or something to let us know that you are thinking about us and Noah.

  • Say his name. It means so much to us to hear it.

  • Light a candle in his honor at your house on his birthday. At the end of the day, sing happy birthday to him, and help him blow out the candle.

  • Know that his birthday is a joy, but the anniversary of his death is right around the corner. Don’t be too shy to send words of support to us. It really does mean a lot.


Anonymous HawZan said...

Hi Sarah! Thanks for sharing. Time flies, it will soon be Noah's first birthday anniversary. I will light a candle and sing happy birthday song to him, and tell him he has the best parents and he is deeply missed!

8:47 AM  
Blogger Alyce said...

Me, too.
Elizabeth was born on April 25. I usually bake something special...because I never got to bake her a cake. Sometimes, I buy a gift for someone. A gift that I might have bought for her. It's kinda comforting. After so many years, we still talk about it... The time surrounding the day is tender, but not painful. Only one or two people remember now. One friend puts flowers on her grave every year. Talking about her, even to our families, is ok for us, but still hard on them. I'm careful. They've all had their losses as well. Life's a long road. Bumpy, smooth, sunny, snowy, stormy, with holes and big boulders in the way sometimes. As long as it continues...

2:33 PM  

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