Blog #3: The Box

15 Jul

I can’t fix it. I can’t make it better. No matter what I try, Alex doesn’t get to come back to our family and it kills me. I plan and I solve problems. That’s what I do for a living and that’s what I do in life. The plan I had for our family has failed, and I don’t know how to solve that problem.

It’s always about Alex.  It has taken me a month to realize it, but everything is about Alex. I’m mad because of a traffic detour, and I’m annoyed because my password needs to be reset. I’m irritated that we’re out of milk, and I argue with Ben. I peel back the layers and it’s Alex. How could I have planned everything else so well, and not seen this coming? Shouldn’t there have been some sort of contingency plan, or disaster recovery scenario that covers this? The bottom has fallen out on our family and I did nothing to protect us.

I think about Alex all day. Every day. I miss him and I carry around my grief in a little box. I try to tuck my sadness into the box until I can open it at a more convenient time. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.

Every day I have a different shaped box that I carry with me. There are days when it’s big and unwieldy. The box is huge and can hold a lot of sadness, but it’s so big everyone can see how I struggle to carry it around. Other days, the box is compact and fits neatly in my pocket, unseen by others. The problem is that it doesn’t hold very much. I can’t go more than an hour before the box is full and I need to empty its contents.

Sometimes the box is wrapped in ribbon and bows. It’s beautiful when you open it- filled with sweet memories of happier times. When the box is pretty, I take my time to look through it and to examine the contents.

There are times when the box is dirty and misshapen. Like the contents are damaged inside. Those days there is nothing but gloom and sadness within. I try to hurry through the insides when the box brings nothing but sorrow.

There are times when the stupid box is spring-loaded. It pops open on its own when I least expect it. There contents look like they’ve literally blown up, and I struggle to sweep it all back together and out of sight.

But it’s not all bad. There are good times too. Like when people bring me their own box. They bring me sweet memory gifts wrapped in tissue, with fancy trimmings. They share happy thoughts of my little boy and sweet recollections of his time on earth. We pore over the contents of their box together. And instead of trying to hide my package of grief, it looks like we’re going to a party. We are bringing presents to a party for my little boy and we are so proud to share what’s inside.

I wrote this nine days after Alex died. I was apparently feeling more optimistic than I am tonight.

Remembering Alex (#3): Our Vacation Together

I am beside myself with gratitude as I read through all the cards, letters, facebook messages and wall posts we have received through this difficult time. Not only do we truly feel the love and support of so many, but we feel the healing power of all of our friends and family.

As much as I shed tears for Baby Alex, I shed tears for all the other parents out there who have shared in the loss of a child.  I have received countless stories from other parents who have endured terrible loss like we have. These parents are loving, inspiring and brave. Their words of wisdom bring hope that time and faith heal, and allow me to believe that our family will grow and blossom.

There is a fellowship I feel with these parents- those who have loved and lost. They understand the tragedy of losing a child and the pain of healing your family. I’ve received letters from complete strangers who have shared their stories, and have opened their hearts to our family. I am humbled by the love Baby Alex has brought to our lives from people we would not have known before him.

I spent some time today with a dear friend who knew and loved Baby Alex as much as I do.  As we were talking and remembering, I thought about the meaning of Baby Alex’s brief stay.

God needed Alex and took him back. My time with Alex was like a vacation- it was never meant to be permanent. During this vacation, we had the very best of times together. He was my miracle baby who slept 8 hours by the time he was 8 days old. Our times were spent together with fun and laughter. Our time with Alex allowed us to travel to a very special place; our family was meant to take this voyage.

When your trip is over and you return home, you aren’t the same person you were when you left. That’s the point. The journey was supposed to teach you something; it was supposed to help you grow in some way. The lesson isn’t always evident when you first get home, but the travel takes on more meaning as time passes.

Much like seeing shells from the beach, or hearing a certain song on the radio can bring back memories from your vacation, there are things everyday that remind me of Alex.  Some are sad, some are happy- but they’re all important. As time passes, the happy memories are etched a little deeper in my mind, and the sadness slowly starts to fade. I can see a pair of his socks in the laundry basket without losing my mind. I can go to sleep without clutching every blanket he ever held in his short life.

We aren’t meant to memorize the details of every trip we take in our lives. The point of the journey is to consider what the trip meant to us, and how it changed us. It’s okay if I can’t recall every last detail of his body- I remember the way his life touched my heart.

There are still sad moments and difficult times. We went to out to dinner tonight and I saw at least 5 babies on my way to the bathroom. My diaper bag feels surprisingly light when I pick it up, and my hands seem empty as I take only one child with me. 

But I think about the vacation I had with my beautiful boy, and it was a beautiful journey. Our days were filled with warmth and sunshine and our nights were filled with stars and love. As I look back on the pictures from our trip together, I smile and think about the postcards I would write him now, “Wish you were here…”

Everyone has struggles in life. I don’t for a second pretend that I’m the only person who has sadness. I just don’t want to be so self-absorbed with my own crap that I can’t look around and see when other people are hurting too.

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Posted by on July 15, 2011 in Uncategorized


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