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.
I feel like a sobbing mess. After I dropped Daniel off at school today, I went for my usual Monday morning walk. Thinking about Alexander’s upcoming birthday and what I wanted to do to celebrate the day. The people at the mall must have thought I was crazy because I couldn’t stopped sobbing. The grief is just so overwhelming these days.
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.
Every time I checked Facebook for the past few weeks, someone was posting about another event happening on May 3. Ordinarily, they’d be events I want to attend but not on Alexander’s birthday. I wished today could have been about the frenzy of planning for a birthday party. Instead, it was another intense day of missing my boy.
A few friends did send me a text or email to acknowledge Alexander’s birthday. I know everyone gets busy and I’m ever grateful for those who still remember.
We had a quiet family day. After picking up supplies at one of the local nurseries, we spent the day gardening (planting flowers, putting down fresh mulch, etc.).
Later in the day, we visited Alexander’s grave and released 8 balloons (7 in honor of his birthday and an additional one just because). Though I talk to Daniel about Alexander, he doesn’t yet understand why we go to the cemetery and on these especially tough days, I’m happy for Daniel’s innocence.
Preparing to release a balloon in Alexander’s memory
Daniel watching the balloons.
The last of 8 balloons released for Alexander.
I was doing ok this week until I started looking at some photos of Alexander last night. We have photos of Alexander all around the house which I see everyday so was very surprised at how suddenly the sadness overtook me. I guess after Daniel being so sick early in the week and today being the anniversary of Alexander’s passing, it was just too much for me. As I said to a friend today who is also grieving the loss of a loved one: The grief does overwhelm you when you least expect it. I’m not sure that ever goes away. You just learn to let your happiness and grief coexist because they’re both now a part of your life.
Poor Daniel was sitting next to me on the couch while I was looking at the photos and didn’t know what was wrong. Even though I talk to Daniel about his brother, he doesn’t understand just yet. Soon, I will have to figure out how to tell him about what happened to Alexander.
Alexander, December 2008
The day went ok. Daniel and I did some errands this morning. After he took his nap, we planned to go to the cemetery. Sadly, the cemetery visit didn’t happen. When we arrived, the gate was already locked. We planned to decorate the little tree at our family plot and release balloons. It won’t be the anniversary but we’ll do it tomorrow. We took Daniel to buy books and then out to an early dinner. It was a nice quiet day for our family.
I normally don’t post about Alexander’s birthday or anniversary on Facebook but felt the need to do so today. The comments from friends really helped to make this difficult day just a little lighter.
Today is December 17. Three days before December 20. Three days before the 5th anniversary of the most horrible day in my day. I think of Alexander all the time but this week is especially intense. We decided to celebrate Christmas this year. We went to a tree farm and got a tree (something we haven’t done since 2008). We decorated our house and participated in our neighborhood holiday house tour. We’ve always wanted to do the house tour and felt we’d finally come to an emotional place where we could do it. These were all big steps for us.
I thought I would feel some guilt like I was moving forward and leaving Alexander behind. Maybe I was distracted because I was so busy prepping for the house tour but I really enjoyed all these activities. I feel like I’ve come to a place where my sadness and happiness about this time of the year can co-exist. I will always miss Alexander and especially during Christmas but also feel I need to have Christmas for Daniel (Alexander’s younger brother).
Daniel has been really sick the past few days. He had a high fever on Friday evening which climbed to 105 yesterday morning. I tried to remain calm for Daniel’s sake but inside I was totally freaking. When he had the 104 and 105 degree fevers, all I could think about was what if he has a febrile seizure? Will that set us up to go down the same path as Alexander? Thankfully, Daniel’s pediatrician prescribed him some antibiotics and some other things for me to do. His temp is down to only 101 this morning and he’s starting to eat a little. I never want to see my child sick but especially not this week when my emotions are already so heightened.
I think I started to breathe and relax a little about something also happening to Daniel but this week has changed for me.
Well, my sweet boy, we hosted the 4th Annual Alexander’s Run on October 26. We had a good crowd, great weather and most everything seemed to go as planned. The only thing missing was you but if you were here with us, this event wouldn’t be happening. I am grateful to have this event. It makes me feel like I’m still doing something for you and keeps me distracted from my sadness.
Today, we mark another “significant” day in our unending grief journey. Daniel is one day older than Alexander was when he died. It’s a day I’ve both dreaded coming and am grateful that it’s here. Daniel has been waking in the middle of the night/morning a lot lately, and when he screamed at 5am this morning, I was hoping he’d go back to sleep. No such luck. Yet, it was the best sound I’ve heard in a long while.
Before we head to the drive in tonight, we’re going to stop by the cemetery. With today’s impending milestone, I’ve been thinking about Alexander more than usual all week and really need to be there.
Even though we’ve only had one more day with Daniel than Alexander, I feel like we’re entering new territory. Just recently, I found myself thinking about 2nd birthday party ideas for Daniel and that scares me a little. It’s still hard to let myself believe what might be. I’m trying to have more hope that everything will be ok but some days it’s hard because I know how easily things can change.
Early this morning, the Angelcare monitor started beeping. This is the first time the alarm has sounded and I momentarily froze. I checked the screen and quickly figured out the problem was related to Daniel’s room being too cold not that he’d stopped moving. I breathed a huge sigh of relief. I couldn’t have handled it if it had been anything else especially today.
I’ve been sad about today’s upcoming anniversary for the last few weeks. I knew it was coming and there was nothing I could do about it. I tried to just live each day and busy myself with taking care of Daniel. I thought I was doing ok until this morning. Then, all of a sudden, it hit me like a ton of bricks. My baby boy isn’t here and I just had to stop and cry for a while.
Dan, Daniel and I had a “relaxed” day. After Daniel’s morning nap, we ran a few errands and then went to the cemetery to leave a small evergreen for Alexander. This is the first time we’ve taken a tree for the holidays. I forgot the decorations so we’ll need to go back over the weekend to add them to the tree.
I’m sad for myself that Alexander isn’t here. I’m also very sad that my two boys will never get a chance to meet and do the things that brothers do. I talk to Daniel about Alexander often and will continue to do as he gets older but it’s just not the same.
I’m grateful to the many friends who texted, emailed and posted on Facebook about Alexander today. Of course, he’s special to me and it was nice to know he touched so many others.
I received a card from our local The Compassionate Friends chapter this week and it had a quote on it that I think I want to frame:
“It has been said, ‘time heals all wounds.’ I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone.” – Rose Kennedy
I think she’s right. The pain is never gone. It’s just becomes manageable.
Why do perfect strangers think it’s o.k. to ask questions about my pregnancy? When are you due? Is this your first? I think I’ll pull my hair out if one more person asks me if this is my first pregnancy. I’m thinking of getting a t-shirt made with ‘No, this isn’t my first pregnancy. My first child is named Alexander and he died in December 2008. Now, back off and stop asking me questions.’ The sign may seem a little harsh but I’m so tired of strangers asking questions. Why can’t they just leave me alone and let me enjoy my pregnancy.
Since losing Alexander, I have definitely become more sensitive. Questions I thought were innocent before can now cause a deep wound. It has also made me realize that you just never know what a person’s situation is or what they’re going through at any given time. So, it might be better to wait and let them take the lead in what they want to share.