Since Alexander died, December has been a tough month for me. This year it will be especially hard because this December 20, it will be 10 years.
Ten years of memories not made together.
Ten years of missed milestones: first day of school, losing a first tooth, learning to tie shoes, riding a bike…so many things we won’t get to do.
Ten years to think about what kind of kid he would be now and the man he would become later in life.
Ten years of missing my sweet boy every single day.
Over the years, there have been genuine moments of happiness but the grief is ever present. This week the grief really seems to be weighing down on me.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Alexander! I can’t believe how quickly May 3 has come around again. After dropping Daniel off at school, I decide to go have breakfast and distract myself with some work on my computer. I usually walk on Thursday mornings but didn’t want to be alone with my thoughts on this bittersweet day. I was sitting at the table for about 3 minutes before I started to cry. I couldn’t stay. I gathered up my things and rushed out to the car where I sat and cried some more before heading home.
I’ve spent most of the day trying to distract myself. I volunteered at Daniel’s school, ran some errands, and took care of some things around the house. Alternately, I let myself cry.
Alexander’s 11th birthday is in 6 short days. In the years since his death, I’ve gone through varying emotions near his birthday. In the early years, I was definitely very sad and needed to hide from the world. The last couple of years, I’ve been sad but better able to cope. I haven’t cried in a long time but today I can’t seem to stop. It took just one small thing to trigger me this morning and my emotions completely overwhelmed me. The therapist said to let the tears flow but somehow, I’ve got to pull it together before picking Daniel up from school.
Summer is over and school has begun. All the t.v. commercials and talk of the first day of school didn’t bother me a couple of weeks ago. Even the first photos of friends sending their kids off to school that appeared on Facebook didn’t bother me. Now, it’s a little overwhelming. Alexander would have turned 6 this past May and should be heading to first grade this year with the rest of his friends.
I miss my sweet boy so much.
After the long wait, I received a draft of the report from the SUDC research study this afternoon. I emailed the research associate earlier in the week to check on the status of Alexander’s case review and she told me to expect the report this week. I told myself I would wait before reading the report but as soon as I saw the email today, I had to stop what I was doing and read it.
I had mixed emotions about finally getting the report. Part of me was filled with dread there would be no answers and I would be left to wonder what happened to my child and why. The other part of me was scared they would find something that I should have known about and prevented Alexander’s death. Either way, it was going to be hard to read.
Much of the report was based on family history that Dan and I provided along with Alexander’s medical records so it was all information I knew. Based on this information and evaluation of tissue samples provided by the medical examiner in our town, Dr. Krous and his team concluded that Alexander’s death was caused by Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood. The report did say they couldn’t rule our cardiac arrhythmia (such as that caused by Long QT syndrome). I’ve been in touch with the Long QT study at the Mayo Clinic to check on the status of Alexander’s case review with them but haven’t back yet.
So, for now, we still have no answers. I’m a bit numb and feeling a wide mix of emotions. I’ll probably reread the report and then schedule a conference call with Dr. Krous in a few weeks to review his findings. For now, I just need to let the report conclusion to soak in.
During the summer days, the cemetery stays open until 7pm. As it begins to get dark earlier, they switch the closing time to 5pm. Not realizing the hours were changing, I visited Alexander in the early evening and got locked in. Thankfully, the caretaker was still on the grounds and was able to unlock the gate for me. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
Thursday was a busy day. In addition to getting locked in the cemetery, I also got an education on taxes. As usual, Dan and I were among the late filers. Our accountant called me a couple of weeks ago to tell me that our tax forms had been rejected because of Alexander’s social security number and that we’d have to file manually.
I finally picked up the taxes and while there, I reviewed the rejection note and asked for more explanation. Our accountant didn’t know specifically why the rejection happened but we both guessed it was because the social security office had been notified of Alexander’s passing. Apparently, when taxes are filed electronically, the social security numbers are first transmitted to the social security office to verify their validity. Who knew? Since I haven’t had the energy to contact them yet, I guess the hospital or medical examiner’s office must have notified them.
I checked online and sure enough there are a few genealogy websites which allow you to search the social security death index (I’m not kidding. That’s really what it’s called) and Alexander’s name is listed there. I couldn’t believe there were only 6 Alexander Dodsons in the index. Aside from our sweet little boy, there were 2 born in the late 1800s and 3 born in the 1900s.
The index even includes the social security number. With records being so automated and easily checked these days, I guess it’s a little difficult to steal the identity of these folks but still, it seems odd that their numbers are listed.
It made me sad to see Alexander’s name because it was yet another reminder of our loss.
My emotions have been all over the place this week. Tuesday, October 20 marked 10 months that Alexander has been gone. The day itself wasn’t so tough for me. It was the following day that bothered me more.
I had to pack for a trip to Denver for a conference. As I was packing, I began to think about preparing for the same conference last year and all I had to do before leaving. Of course, the biggest job was making sure someone would be here to care of Alexander. Thinking I didn’t have to do that this year and that Alexander wouldn’t be here to greet me on my return just made me so sad.
On the way home from a JL event Wednesday evening, I just couldn’t stop crying. At one point, I thought I might have to pull over because I was slightly blinded by my tears.
I returned from Denver this afternoon. For the most part, the trip went fine. There were a few times I needed to excuse myself from conversations because they became too kid centric. However, I do enjoy being with my fellow NJ delegates so that made the trip better. I heard lots of useful ideas to take back to my JL and I look forward to sharing with my membership.
Alexander’s Run Update
I participated in a webinar earlier this week about organizing a run. The webinar was conducted by the Boston Marathon Race Director but much of what he said could be scaled down for a smaller, first year run like what we’ll doing for Alexander’s Run. I took plenty of notes and have started working on the project plan.