I had first dream about Alex last night. In almost two months, I haven’t dreamt of him once. Is that weird? For awhile, I was really mad about that because I thought that if I could hold him in my dreams, I wouldn’t miss him as much when I woke up. Maybe my mind was protecting my heart this whole time… When you wake up and realize he’s still gone, it starts to hurt all over again.
I dreamt that I had forgotten Baby Alex in his car seat when I was running errands. I noticed it a few days later and went nearly crazy trying to find him. When I finally did find him, his cheeks were stained with tears, but he was asleep and otherwise okay. I was thrilled. I sent happy emails to everyone rejoicing that “Baby Alex is back!” I woke up with a smile on my face. When I realized it was just a dream, my heart sank a little bit more.
I real life, I do keep looking for that moment of relief when I “find” him. That moment when I can finally breathe a sigh of relief and relax.
I think about having more children. Is that wrong? Nothing could replace Alex, but I feel like our family is missing something. I still want Benjamin to have a sibling on earth for all the same reasons I did before we had Alex. I long for a time when I will feel life growing inside me again. I look for another miracle to bless our family, to prove that the curse of what has happened to us is over.
I’m not saying that there’s a plague on our house, but things are hard right now. If we had wonderful news of another baby on the way, it feels like the tide would turn and we could focus on life instead of death. I’m not trying to jump the gun on anything. I swear. At the very least, the promise of new life in our household gives me hope and gets me through some of the tougher days.
Benjamin still remembers Baby Alex. Not that he talks about him all day long, but he remembers him at prayer time. He absolutely beams when he sees Alex’s picture. We have one of the picture boards from the funeral hanging in Benjamin’s room. I like to think that Alex is looking down on his big brother every day- in more ways than one.
I kind of want to put Benjamin in a big brother shirt today. I don’t want him to forget that he is a big brother and that he can still be proud. I just don’t want to elicit confusion or pity from the people who might see him. Maybe he can wear it to bed or something.
I draw so much strength from Benjamin. Every day I spend with him is another 24 hours I cherish in my heart. In life there are no guarantees, so I record as many memories with him as possible. I’m not sure how other parents out there handle their loss when they don’t have a toddler running crazy to distract them… I’m not sure I would get out of bed.
I’m not sure what the future holds for our family. It’s been almost one year since I found out I was pregnant with Alex. I learned that I was pregnant when I was staying at my parent’s house for the death of my uncle. My mom lost all three of her siblings and her mother in just two years. News of my pregnancy with Alex was the one bright spot in all that sadness. Maybe that’s why Alex came to our family? To help us through a difficult time, and to help us focus on something positive?
Who knows what life will be like for us in one year from now. Maybe I’ll be pregnant, maybe I’ll be happier, maybe I’ll be skinny! Just kidding. There’s so much that’s unknown right now that thinking out that far overwhelms me. I am trying to focus on the things I do know:
I love my husband.
We have two amazing boys.
Benjamin was the first love of my life.
Alex was the second.
I will always love Alex, but my heart holds enough love for more.
Remembering Alex (#7): Combat— I wrote this 25 days after Alex died.
So I’m in therapy. I’ve gone twice now and I have another session this week. Is it weird that I look forward to going? It makes me feel like I’m actively doing something that will help me through all of this- something that will actually make me feel better. I don’t feel any better yet, but I’m sure I’ll feel better sometime in the next… century.
Not that our friends and family haven’t been great- they are. I just like the idea that someone is financially obligated to be there and listen to my rambling. More than that, I like the idea that a professional can help me work through things faster… I feel like I’m doing everything I can. I’m going to church, I’m going to therapy. Why don’t I feel any better?
The hardest part about dealing with Alex’s death is that every single day is a battle that I feel unprepared to fight. Every day is just as hard as the last day, but in a different way. The things that helped me get through the day yesterday don’t do anything to help me today. Each battle is different, and I’m not any better prepared in my war against grief. One day I need grenades, the next a bow and arrow… tomorrow I might need chewing gum and a detonator. I have no idea what is coming.
I have people around me helping me to fight this battle- we are at war with grief and we arm ourselves with memories to help guide us through the fight. When sadness creeps in, we blast back with pictures and stories and prayer. We win the battle for the day, but the next day comes with a surprise attack. I am growing restless in my fox hole and I long for a truce. My dear enemy grief, if I agree to be sad for 23 hours a day, can I please have a single hour to myself each day? An hour where I can play with my child, or chat with my husband and not feel like I am going to collapse from injuries sustained in combat? Negotiations aren’t going well.
We took Benjamin to a water park over the holiday weekend- it was the same hotel we stayed at with Piggy just a month ago. It was impossible not to think of him as I remember sitting on the sidelines watching Ben and Benjamin play in the water. Much as I wanted to go in the water with Alex, I couldn’t find a swim diaper small enough for him. Alex and I sat by the pool and cuddled, ignoring the world around us.
I long for that same feeling of contentment I had while holding Piggy. I cherished his hugs in a way I probably didn’t with Benjamin. I understood how quickly he was going to grow up and resist being held. We could sit for hours together and I could ignore the world passing us by. I don’t have that feeling anymore. I don’t have that feeling of sheer, in-the-moment, bliss you get holding a beautiful little baby.
I look for him everywhere. That feeling I had when we were together. He’s not in his room- it smells familiar, but he’s not there. He’s not at his small grave underneath the tree. I don’t feel him while listening to his music, and I don’t feel him when looking at his pictures. Isn’t there some place I should be able to go to visit him? Isn’t there something that I should be able to do to enjoy and remember him?
I couldn’t sleep in the hotel- I kept tossing and turning, so I went to the bathroom and wrote some thoughts down on paper. I don’t remember writing all this, so I was surprised at what I found in the morning.
Everyday is harder than the day I thought it’d be,
In my sleep I hold my baby, when I wake up- it’s just me.
I wonder if he knew how much that he was loved,
I hope he sees it now as he looks down from heaven above.
He’ll never understand all my wishes, hopes and dreams,
Feel like I’m drowning everyday in useless tears and angry screams.
Nothing I say, nothing I do, can ever bring him back.
Want to focus on what our family has instead of what we lack.
No matter what we do, our lives are not the same.
Don’t know whether to smile or cry whenever I hear his name.
I pray that he knows how very loved he was,
His mommy’s still on earth sending love to him above.
I never will forget the way I held his head,
The way I kissed his cheek and tucked him sweetly into bed.
I laid him down to sleep- he never did awake,
I hope to understand why God chose my special child to take.
Because I have a child and a husband that I love, I get up every day and prepare myself for battle. I arm myself with memories, and shield myself from sadness with prayer and love. I don’t feel like I’m winning this war, and I don’t know when it will end.
Each time someone who doesn’t know asks, “how’s the baby?!?” it’s like a bomb has been dropped on my camp. When I get a bill in the mail for the ambulance ride to the hospital, it feels like I’ve been hit with grenades. Seeing the worst day of your life itemized into a bill is a midnight attack from the enemy I just wasn’t expecting.
I cry. I pray. I fight.