I’m late. No, not that kind of late… late with getting out all the thank you notes. We have this big stack of thank you cards from the funeral home that we need to address and send. I’m not always a fan of sending thank you cards, but I do like people to know how much we appreciated their gift, card, etc. For some reason, sending out thank you cards for Alex is especially hard.
Maybe it’s because of what it represents. I need to go through a list of addresses and again confirm that he’s gone and not coming back. Maybe it’s because I still never finished sending his birth announcements- so I can’t send out a “death announcement.” Maybe it’s because re-reading all the wonderful stories and letters we have received will be too much to handle at once. Mostly, I think I’m not ready to “get it over with.”
Alex’s death has reunited us with friends that were lost, introduced us to strangers we now cherish, and reinforced the love and friendship we share with friends and family, but hadn’t always taken the time to articulate before. As much as we mourn his loss, it has also brought unexpected blessings into our lives.
It’s sad to say, but Alex’s death was a bigger event in our life than his birth was. As much as we waited, and prayed for Alex’s arrival, his departure has brought more emotion, more attention and more prayers. I’m still processing all the wonderful love and support Alex’s death has brought into our lives. I’m still dealing with the pain. I’m still coping with the fact that his death has left a bigger mark on my heart than his birth.
Once all the thank you cards are out, it feels like we are “officially” done grieving our little boy. We can pack up all those sweet sentiments and file them away in his room. I guess I like the fact that there are things still undone.
Alex’s room looks like a yard sale. There are bouncy seats, car seats, swings, diapers, bottles and onesies galore. The mess reflects how quickly he left us, and how ill-prepared we were for his departure. There was nothing orderly, or planned about it. I’m still sorting through his things. Just like I’m sorting through my feelings.
I’m having a hard time articulating what these thank you cards represent. They represent closing a chapter to a book that should have had so many more pages to it. They represent turning a corner to go down a path I’m not ready to follow. They represent the end to an event I still haven’t accepted.
And I can’t quite express the gratitude we have for the kind words people have sent us, and the generous donations to his memorial fund. The poems that make me cry, and the books I have read more than once.
So the thank you cards sit in a heap on the chair. I pick them up every day, but I can’t bring myself to complete them. I appreciate all the wonderful things people have done for us, but I’m not ready to be thankful.
Remembering Alex (#5): One Too Many. This was written 2 weeks after Alex died.
“I am going to bite the bullet and go back to work tomorrow. There are a few meetings, a few touchbases, etc. Nothing real dramatic. Honestly, just walking into the door could prove to be a challenge. I just think about the first time I see people- how will it be? How will I explain things? How will I keep it together? Will the heartbreak of what has happened be written all over my face?
It’s been two weeks since Alex died and I still think about him every minute of the day. At any point in time I could cry for all the things we’ll never do and the life together we will never have.
Everything I see, everything I hear makes me think of Alex.
I was at the gym today and I saw three high school boys there working out. They were obviously athletes staying in shape during the off-season. As I saw these three kids, on the verge of adulthood, I thought about all of the things I’ll never know about Alex. Was he going to be tall or short? Lean or stocky? A football player or a tennis star? So many things I’ll never know about him. So many questions unanswered. To lose a baby is sad. The realization that this baby will never grow into a man, let alone a toddler, is tragic.
Thinking about Alex is like drinking wine. The first few thoughts are like sips of a good red- they warm your insides as soon as they hit your palette. The next few thoughts go down quickly, and then they just start flooding in. Soon you are literally drunk with grief… you can’t stop yourself from drinking in all the memories, and you can’t predict what you’ll do next.
You could be in public- dropping Benjamin off at daycare, or running to the post office. Everyone else around you is functioning fine and you stagger around, trying to hide the fact that you are stumbling through life, intoxicated with emotion. Will you fall to the floor in a heap, sobbing because he’s gone, or will you get loud and yell because you’re angry he’s not here anymore?
Not that anyone expects you to act perfectly normal, but how do you explain this permanently altered state of being? Where over-consumption of memories makes your thoughts fuzzy and your words come out slurred. When you are this drunk with emotion, there is no sober. You are wobbling through life, swayed by all the memories, or you are completely spent with an emotional hangover from the night before.
I think of all the people that are here with us. It’s in the cards, emails and posts we get each day. Warm words of support and encouragement that give us the strength to keep going… I know I’m not drinking alone. I feel all the prayers that are being sent our way and I breathe a little easier, knowing that there are so many people here ready to steady me before I fall.
I drink in all the memories of my little Piggy and I so appreciate all of the people that are there with me, savoring each drop. The tonic we share isn’t sour or bitter because there is a community of us, aging the barrel and warming the liquid inside. I pray that we will always have such good company because my beautiful boy gets better with time.”