Thursday, July 22, 2010

Angelversary Day

The other moms out there that have lost babies call the anniversary of the day that their child died the “Angelversary” or “Angel Day.” It is a less painful way of referring to the day. It is the anniversary of the day that the world ended for us. The day we learned that the worst really can and will happen to us. Some of us knew that the day was coming when our children were still here. Some of us like me had no clue. To get through the birthday is really hard, but to get through this day is the worst. There is a DVD set to replay in our brains, and the whole time you just can’t help but put yourself back in the tragedy that was this day a year or years ago that it happened. It requires special thought and care to get through it. I was shaken up from it for days afterwards.

The plan for us was to stay home together and avoid everyone and everything. We just needed to be together and to be busy. As I mentioned in an earlier post, we will have to move Noah out of his room soon to make room for his brother. It is such a painful task, but it has to be done. I knew that there had to be somewhere that we put Noah’s things where they could all be together, and not hidden away in the back of a closet or storage area. It is comforting to have them close by after all. I have had a hard time finding just the right storage chest, so I asked Chris if he would build Noah a special chest where all his things can be. It will live at the foot of our bed, and it will be made to match the rest of our furniture. I think Noah would approve. He spent most of his time with us in our room, so for his things to be there with us would feel good to him.

For Father’s Day, I took Chris to Lowes to pick out the wood for it. They had a lot of great options for a project like this. What we kept coming back to was a section that had all solid aspen boards. That was it. It felt perfect. To date, Noah is the only child in this family that was born and spent his life in Colorado. Aspen trees in Colorado are part of what we are known for out here. We both felt pretty excited and misty eyed when we made the decision that that would be it. We got all the materials and tucked them away for June 30th, Noah’s Angel Day.

I have to admit that we spent the majority of the day feeling numb. We got up and went out to breakfast at a new favorite spot in our neighborhood. Chris needed a last item or two for the chest so we went and got those things and then headed home. He spent most of the day just getting everything cut. Since there wasn’t much that I could help with, I got out Noah’s Christmas stocking that I had started making but had not finished and focused my time on that. Chris helped me drag a chair out to the garage so we would be close by one another as we worked. We both focused on our projects most of the day. Later in the afternoon, Chris got to be worried about all the sawdust and what that might be doing to Aaron so I took off and treated myself to a pedicure. By the time I came home, he was done with what he was doing, so I could settle back in working again.

As the evening came on, I started noticing myself slipping out of the numb feelings and getting into the angry-jealous-crazy feelings that have sometimes come along on this grief journey. I would stop a tirade of crazy thought and wonder where the heck it was coming from. I finally looked at the clock and realized that it was getting to the time when everything went downhill very fast one year ago. We lost Noah the night of June 30. There were a wild series of events that took up most of the evening, and he died just before midnight. (Again, I don’t want to talk about the details of it all because it is the worst experience I have ever lived through and I don’t want to relive it any more than I already do at times like this.) As the evening progressed I felt it more and more intensely, and over dinner, I told Chris how I was feeling. He suggested that we leave the house and go do something. Everything happened at home last year, so both the combination of watching the clock and being in the house where it all happened was exacerbating the feelings. It was a good idea. We hurried up and ate, and got out of there as soon as we could.

We went to the movie theater to see what was playing. We decided to go see “Grown Ups,” the new Adam Sandler movie. It was perfect. For two hours, I couldn’t pay close attention to the clock, and the movie was funny. It was a good distraction. It got out late, and we had to work the following day, so we went home and went to bed. I woke up the next day feeling unsettled, because there were the anniversaries of those days too – waking up that next day and realizing that the horror that was the night before had truly been real. My boy was gone and not coming back. The days that followed where the baby books got moved off the bedside table, and the grief books took their place. Having to plan his funeral, having to arrange to have some of the baby things put away or moved out before we came home again. Those first few weeks were agony.

Noah’s chest isn’t completed yet. I told Chris to take his time with it. I think it is important to be emotionally present when you do something like this. It shouldn’t be done with any hard deadlines. The intentions and love that go into it need to be preserved and honored, and I want him to do it when he feels good about doing it. He is not the kind of guy to start things and not finish them. I know he will get it completed. At the end of it when it is done, I want him to feel good about what he made and how he made it so that it is therapeutic to him too. I will post pictures when we have something to share. He has a few pieces put together, and he can kind of hold it up and show me how it is going to be a chest. He is doing such a great job on it!

At the end of it all, we survived. We also learned what we need to do to get through it. Clearly, we need to plan an activity that is completely different from our daily routine at home on the evening of the 30th. I think being home together busy working on things was also valuable. There is no ignoring this day. I was amazed at myself that even without realizing it, there was something in me that sensed the time and the grief feelings came and took hold of me. I just need to plan better now that I know. One year down. Many more to come. It is exhausting to think about, but somehow we will do it.


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