As I look through Alexander’s website and see all the photos, I realize we’ve been selfish in dealing with our grief. Alexander had a very happy life but it wasn’t just because of Dan and me. There were lots of people who loved him and those same people are also mourning his loss. My usual, normal self is to reach out and help others, and I wish I could this time. I can barely handle my own grief that I just don’t have enough in me to be able to provide comfort to any one other than Dan. Maybe in a few weeks or months, I’ll be in a better place. Until that time, I hope everyone understands and knows that I’m not intentionally keeping them at arm’s length, it’s just too painful to try and process anyone else’s grief at this moment.
I did accomplish a very normal thing yesterday. I managed to get all the laundry folded and put away that I washed. We’ve had two HUGE laundry days in the past few weeks but have never put anything away before it was all dirty and needed to be washed again.
When I woke this morning, I heard a voice in my head say “Stay Strong”. I don’t know if that was stay strong for what I’m facing now or because there are more bad things to come for me/us. Either way, I don’t know if I can be strong.
We had several visitors yesterday. They were all planned so it was ok and we spaced them out enough so that it wasn’t overwhelming. The last visitors brought us dinner and it was nice to just to have a casual dinner with friends. The evening didn’t focus on Alexander and how we’re doing but he was definitely part of the evening as we were able to comfortably weave memories of him in the conversation throughout the evening. I thought I was doing ok yesterday but when the last of our visitors left, I broke down crying. I looked around our house and seeing the pictures of Alexander just reminded me of how much we’ve lost.
I recently received a prayer book. I know some people find comfort in their faith when faced with a tragedy but Dan and I weren’t religious before Alexander’s passing so praying to a God that took away my precious son offers me no comfort now.
I had another dream about Alexander. Dan, Alexander and I were attending a lavish party at someone’s home. There was food everywhere and the house had every luxury one could imagine. We’ve never been to anyplace like this so I’m not sure where we were. I only know we were all happy just being together. Whenever Alexander visits me in my dreams, it always make me feel peaceful (and a little sad when I wake) and I welcome his joyful visits.
I awoke early this morning from another restless, dreamless night. Seeing that it was still before 8am, I decided to stay in bed and try to sleep a little longer. For the first time, in a while, I did have a dream: Dan and I were at the hospital and trying to make plans when I walked over to look at Alexander’s body. I saw it move. Not believing it, I waited a few seconds and saw more movement. I went to get Dan to show him and when I returned, Alexander was sitting up in the bed. He smiled, held up his arms and said Mommy. As I walked over to him, he kissed me and gave me a hug. I know it was only a dream but I felt like my little boy was communicating with me, letting me know he is ok and sending his love to me.
Dan was meeting a friend this afternoon so today was my first time visiting Alexander alone. As I neared the cemetery, the gates loomed larged and I wondered if I’d be able to enter. I did, of course and the visit with Alexander was very emotional. I talked to him about all sorts of things.
I see Alexander every day all through the house and I talk to him in my head.
Yesterday, in addition to our daily pointless pursuit, we had a real errand to run. We visited a couple of memorial stone places to get an idea of what we wanted in a headstone for our family plot. At the first place we visited, a friend was passing by on the street and stopped to say hello to us. The second place seemed to have more to offer or at least had more on display. Who knew there were so many options available when purchasing a headstone. We’re probably not going to do anything for a while but both Dan and I have some details we’d like to see.
One thing we both wanted but the cemetery won’t let us have is a headstone and a small bench. We figure we’re going to be visiting Alexander a long time and it would be nice to have a place to sit. But again, we’re learning about all sorts of rules. Our cemetery only allows you to have a headstone or a bench (but not because) because of the ease of grounds maintenance. They want everything lined up so it’s easier when they have to mow. If they let us have both, then next thing you know everyone will want a bench and a stone making maintenance less neat and tidy.
It’s not the outcome we would have liked but can understand it. So, I guess it’ll be chairs on the road when we go for a long visit with Alexander.
When Alexander started “talking”, of course, da was once of his favorite words and I was a little hurt that he didn’t have a name for me especially since I was the one taking care of him all day. I know all the books say da will come first because it’s an easier sound for them to make but still. Slowly, I also became da and then I became ma. However, the best was in late October 2008 , when I was rewarded with Mommy. As far as I was concerned, it was the best sound Alexander could have uttered. In my head, I can still hear his little voice say Mommy. It makes me sad and happy at the same time.
Someone said to us recently that the normal you once knew no longer exists and it’s time for you to construct a new normal. I’ve given this new normal some thought the last couple of days but still don’t know what it’s going to look like.
Today, was a good and bad day.
The cleaning lady came this morning. At first, one would think what’s so bad about that? She usually comes every Wednesday but this is the first time I’ve felt able to have her come since Alexander’s passing. Under my old normal, Wednesday was my day. After the cleaning lady arrived, Alexander and I would get dressed and I’d take him to daycare. I then had 6-7 hours to myself to do what I wanted. More often than not, I used the time to catch up on work, go to the Junior League office and run other small errands. I even got my hair done once or twice. Sometime between 3pm and 4pm, I’d pick up Alexander. We would either come home or go to Barnes and Noble for the kids’ concert. We had fun when we went to those concerts. If it was going to be just the two of us for dinner (because Dan was out of town or playing tennis), we would sometimes have an early dinner at one of the restaurants in the mall. I always felt slightly guilty for putting him in daycare and tried to make up for it by making sure we had a really fun afternoon.
Dan and I set up two funds today. One, the Alexander Michael Dodson Memorial Scholarship Fund and the other, the Dodson Emerson Family Fund. We’re going to concentrate on funding the scholarship fund in Alexander’s name so we can help lighten the financial burden of a family attending the River City Community School in Trenton. We were hoping Alexander would be able to attend this school but since he can’t, this is one small way we can continue to support the school in his name.
After we left the PACF office, both Dan and I got emotional. I continued to be sad as we drove to visit Alexander. As I told him about the day, I broke down again. Things weren’t supposed to happen this way. I had such plans for us this year and beyond.
So, today was bad because it reminded me that another old routine would have to change. It was good because we were able to get the funds set up without stress.
It was another weepy day for me. I miss Alexander so much.
JC Penney was kind enough to print some additional Christmas photos for us after we called and asked them about getting a cd of Alexander’s photo session. Dan had plans to meet a friend so I went alone to get them. The staff person knew who I was and quickly helped me. I waited until I got in the car before I viewed the photos. I broke down while looking at the photos. I kept remembering how happy that photo day had been: After a playdate with a new friend that morning, we headed to the photo session. Alexander was initially uncooperative. He didn’t want to sit by himself and kept running over to me. He usually likes to have his photo taken so I’m not sure what was wrong that day. He perked up when one of the female staffers came in to assist. She was great and as a result, we got some fun photos of Alexander. I left there thinking, I’m looking forward to next year’s photo session and was already thinking about what he’d wear.
It seems the only time I can find peace lately is when I sleep. We stay up late almost every night and if we manage to get out of the bed before noon it’s a good day.
I’m only able to sleep a few hours at a time so I haven’t had any dreams in more than a week. I usually wake about 7:30am or 8:00am hoping to hear Alexander call for me. Knowing the call I long for isn’t going to come, I turn over and sleep a little longer.
After we both wake for good, Dan and I can easily spend 1-2 hours in bed talking about Alexander and how we’re feeling.
I awoke to a brief moment of happiness morning. Then, I remembered it was another day without Alexander. Could it be that the past 20 months was the dream and the life I’m living now has been the reality all along? When I look around the house and see all the photos of Alexander and remember all the happy times, I know he was very much a real part of my life and continues to be even if he’s not here in physical form.
For some time, Dan and I have discussed that we’d like to have a small family foundation. We thought it’d be a few years from now but have decided to move up the timeline and create a memorial foundation to celebrate Alexander’s life. We’re still working out the details but we hope to have it up and running within a couple of weeks.
Another sad day for me. Today is Alexander’s 20 month birthday. We didn’t do anything special on these “month birthdays” as I like to call them but I did try to take his picture and update his website (www.alexanderdodson.com) with the information. Instead of celebrating another month milestone, I have to live with the reality that my sweet Alexander left us two weeks ago.
Our friend Sarah had her baby two days ago on January 1. After our counseling session, Dan and I decided we’d go visit her at the hospital. Two weeks ago, I wouldn’t have been able to make the visit but we were fine yesterday. I think it helped that we were the only visitors she and her husband had at the time because it gave us freedom to be able to talk about Alexander. In the end, I surprised myself and was able to hold their baby boy.
After our quick visit with them, we went to a movie. We saw Slum Dog Millionaire. Ordinarily, I would have really liked this movie but so many scenes reminded me of Alexander and things we wouldn’t be able to see him grow up to do.
Dan and I agree we both feel an emptiness without Alexander. We’re thankful to have each other to go through this grieving process. Although nothing could make this pain go away other than our beautiful, loving baby still being here with us, we’re appreciative of the many cards, calls, visits and emails we have received to express sorrow for our loss.
When I woke this morning, I thought I heard Alexander playing softly in his crib and I thought this has all been just a bad dream and I’m awake. I quickly realized I was wrong.
Dan is out on the daily walk he started after Alexander’s funeral. I go with him sometimes. Other times, it’s just too much effort for me to get out of bed much less think about getting dressed for a walk.