On birthdays, counseling, and significant events

Yesterday was the first day of grief counseling. I think it came on a good day as it also happened to be my birthday. The last thing yesterday felt like was happy, even though many people called and wrote to tell me Happy Birthday. Thank you, by the way!

We actually celebrated early by visiting the art district in Denver last weekend. Steven and I and a couple of fun artist friends, Mike and Lauren, strolled around to different galleries and took our time soaking in all the different works. My favorite was an encaustic piece. Encaustic=melted wax and pigment on wood, I learned. So beautiful. We had Mexican food and ‘ritas (my favorite!) for dinner, and flan and sopapillas instead of birthday cake. The night was a perfect pace with perfectly lovely people. My husband is amazing for planning it.

When my actual birthday rolled around, I felt like I ought to be happy, which always sets me up to be frustrated with myself. I cried alot, and I guess that’s okay. Grief counseling that afternoon was affirming–we’re on the right track. It’s okay to feel this way. Others’ reactions are normal too. It was good to tell our story all over again too. There’s something about telling it over and over that makes it more real, and makes it easier to keep in a safe place in my heart. It was also a relief to talk about the day Steven had to call 911 for an ambulance. It was a frightening and traumatic event. Steven says he’s grateful to be able to talk about Sam and all the events surrounding his life and death without being a mood killer or risking hearing sentiments of “move on” or “get over it” from people trying their best to comfort us. We both felt a big weight lift off of our hearts after the session, and it helped us begin to crawl out of the two week straight stretch of darkness. I felt like I’d hit the point of despair for the first time last week. It’s nice to see a sunny day again.

In other news, the time to reopen the blog is coming. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Maybe not in a few weeks. Maybe not even in a few months. I’ll know when it’s time, but I am starting to feel a desire to share with others again… a little part of me coming back to life again. I am glad that I made the blog private for a time. This loss rendered me skinless. Everything hurts. Even if people try to encourage or offer kind advice, it hurts. It hurt especially when people spoke to me from a distance. I needed eye contact and embraces. I still do. A cocoon is gentle. Inside of the cocoon, there are warm baths, good music, healthy food, long walks, my journal, patient people, a solid night’s sleep, white candles on the coffee table after the sun goes down, a routine of work and play and rest, stillness, silence.

I took another step I decided was rather significant. For every blog entry, I choose a category, and until a few days ago, every entry about my journey through this was tagged “Sam’s story.” Now only Sam’s story is tagged that way. Somewhere along the line, this became my story. The line is kind of fuzzy, but I did my best to re-categorize what I’ve written. Now things I’m writing as I process Sam’s life and death are categorized under “Grief”. I’m honoring Sam in this way. His life won’t be all about my sadness. His life will be about his life. And, eventually, I don’t know when, my life won’t be about this sadness, and entries categorized under “Grief” will not have to happen every time I write.

Something else significant happened while I was on my morning walk. I was by the park near our house, and it was crawling with toddlers. For the first time, instead of feeling instantly sad that Sam will never play on the jungle gym, my very first thought was, “Look at all those healthy children. Not all babies die.” Then, I felt sad that I will never get to take Sam to play on the jungle gym. But my first thought was hopeful, and that’s a big deal! Maybe some day, I will be one of the mothers on the playground who is so blessed she’s frazzled and yells, “No more going down the slide headfirst! I mean it!”

For now, Mother’s Day is coming, and I will be tending my baby’s grave that day. Today, I’m not the frazzled mom on the playground. Today, I am the quiet and grieving mother to a baby in heaven named Sammy. Today, I grieve with my husband, and in my transparency with him, I am healing and comforting. Today, I embrace a simple routine and begin to slowly, slowly, slowly wade back into life. Today, my eyes are open to see beauty, and my ears are open to hear the doves outside my window.

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