Sunday, June 27, 2010

Post 2...Joey's memorial

A sleepless night welcomed in the light of a life changing day. It was the day of our son's memorial. Although I had been gradually piecing together this event over the past month or so, I still didn't know what to expect. So many times I have had days where I can talk about our son without any problems. There are times where I can laugh and talk about how comfy he looked in the ultrasound, and the way he would kick me like crazy after every meal. But there are other days where I can hardly get out a single word without choking on them as they catch in my throat, tears falling without even blinking. Even as I laid in bed on the morning of his memorial, I had no idea how I was going to handle it. Would I be a crying mess? Would I come across as a careless mother if I didn't cry? As I gathered up his things, blankets and stuffed animals, I couldn't help but feel like he was still coming. Seeing all his things together, it felt like the miscarriage was just a bad dream and he was still on his way. But as I was carrying his memory box containing his tiny little urn, I couldn't help but feel that familiar twinge of shame and guilt. I remembered all the other ladies that walked out of the hospital that same day holding their sleeping little babies, where I had only a box to show for it. Yup...I was going to cry at the memorial. How silly of me to think otherwise.

Although the day had started off cloudy, the evening was nothing but golden sunlight. As the guests arrived, by husband and I in our white clothes and the tables dressed in bouquets of beautiful blue, yellow, and white flowers, the memorial started off with warm hugs and smiling faces from our pasts. Friends from grade school days to new acquaintances, everyone was there to celebrate the life of our little boy. In one room we had a memorial spot set up with his pictures and blankets, stuffed animals and clothes. We also had a paper for everyone to sign with pictures of his hand and foot prints on it. It was a space for people to write a message to him if they wanted. Each message touched my heart deeply. I was so proud to see how many people my little boy had affected, reading such tender messages and knowing he was so deeply loved. In the backyard we had tables set up for the potluck, all with beautiful flowers open in the sunlight. Everywhere I could see my son bringing light to all things around us.

Later that evening, we had a candle lighting ceremony where each guest could light a candle from the main candle that represented little Joey to show the way he affected each life. My parents sang a beautiful song to start the ceremony. I couldn't help but feel such sadness as I watched them sing with such love. I could have made them grandparents again, but there they stood singing at their grandson's memorial. As things often are these days, it was so happy and sad all in one. After the song had finished, I stood there and watched as everyone came up to light a candle, and I couldn't help but cry. The experience was beyond words. There I watched as even people I had just met that day lit a candle, blown away that such a small and short life could affect so many. A friend had come, bringing a new boyfriend to the memorial and, though he was going to support his new girlfriend, his life was also affected by my son. There he stood lighting a candle recognizing that his life was also affected by this little boy. Here he was at his memorial even though he didn't even know who he was. I couldn't help but smile as I cried, feeling such immense connection to everyone and everything around me.

As the evening came to an end, we said our goodbyes to the family and got ready to head home. With one last glance out back, I could still see the glow of the candles burning late into the night, looking like liquid gold as they floated in the basin of water. A warmth filled my heart. My son was at peace...I just knew it.

Today, more than I ever expected, I feel a sense of relief. Both my husband and I feel such an overwhelming feeling of peace and, I suppose completion for lack of a better word. Though it doesn't feel like our son is gone, necessarily, we feel like things have finally come to a conclusion. It was kind of unexpected really. We had cried so many times and have had several "goodbye" moments with Joey Jr. I didn't know if the memorial would really bring any more closure. We had to say goodbye at the hospital. We had to say goodbye when the nurse took him away. We said goodbye again when we had a small service to say a prayer for him. Then again when we had him cremated. What more could we say? How many more tears could we cry? But cry we did, and for one more time we said goodbye (though it never really feels like "goodbye" as it does "see you later"). Now that we feel more relief, I noticed that I don't really have the same drive and urge to try asap. I mean, I still see September as a time where we might try since that is the soonest I can physically try without putting myself at danger. But now the wait for September doesn't seem so unbearable. I can wait. I'm not sure why laying my son to rest relieves me from the pressure of needing to try again right away, but it does to some extent. Maybe the feeling will pass, but for today it is there.

If tears could build a stairway,
And memories were a lane,
We would walk right up to heaven
To bring you down again.
No farewell words were spoken,
No time to say good-bye,
You were gone before we knew it,
And only God knows why.
Our hearts still ache in sadness
And secret tears still flow,
What it meant to lose you,
No one will ever know.
When we are sad and lonely,
And everything goes wrong,
We seem to hear you whisper
"Cheer up and carry on."
Each time we look at your pictures,
You seem to smile and say,
"Don't cry, I'm only sleeping,
We'll meet again someday."

Monday, June 21, 2010

Post 1...Nothing but 'how' and 'why'

No man is an island entire of itself; every man
is a piece of the continent, a part of the main;

if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe
is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as
well as any manner of thy friends or of thine
own were; any man's death diminishes me,
because I am involved in mankind.
And therefore never send to know for whom
the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.
-John Donne

I was 20 weeks along when I miscarried due to an incompetent cervix, losing my beautiful baby boy, Joey Junior or, as we so lovingly nicknamed him, "Pickle". Never in my life have I felt such immense pain as the death of my son. Suddenly I was being asked to do the say goodbye. It has only been a month since I lost him and still, I don't know how I have gone from there to here. I don't know how I have found the ability to get up each day and put one foot in front of the other. I don't even know how I have managed to have good days and moments of joy and laughter. It seems weird to have those happy moments. At times I feel like I should have turned into a total recluse by now. But with the support and strength of my wonderful husband, family, and friends, the healing has begun and new hope is starting to grow.

My father once read this poem to me, and though I knew what it meant, I never did really understand it's impact. In the weeks after my son's death, I stood in front of his urn, looking at all the flowers and cards surrounding him. The card the amazing nurse gave us, the flowers from my co-workers, all the love an support from all over flooding our little apartment. (It was sort of a George Bailey moment.) But not only was it people my husband and I knew, but our parent's friends, our grandparent's church members, neighbors, clients, friends of friends....I see now that no man is an island. When even the shortest and tiniest of lives is lost, like my son's, everyone feels the loss, everyone is less. It is aw-inspiring how much each life touches the next. Though my son's life was short, my little guy touched the hearts of many, and for that he will live on forever.

My original blog, "Preparing for Pickle", was meant to track the experience of mine and my husband's pregnancy and the planning we did to prepare ourselves for the life changing event. And, though it did not end in the way we had planned, it was life changing for sure. Now, as we make our way through the impossible, I want to track our healing as well as the growing hope of trying again. The feeling and need to be parents and have a successful pregnancy is still strong. And though I still have a couple more months before we can try again, I want to log the step we take to getting there. With the help of a cerclage, we will be able to have a successful pregnancy (as far as my cervix is concerned), however; it will be a complicated pregnancy far more different than anything we have yet experienced.

Our son gave us the gift of knowledge, showing us how we can have a successful pregnancy. From his passing, there is still hope of new life. This is my journey through healing and hope.

From the ashes, the phoenix will rise.