Some people are still calling. I love that. People worry about saying the wrong thing, or not wanting to make you sadder than you already are. Dude, I assure you, nothing could make me more sad than I already am. And the “wrong thing” to say, is when you don’t say anything and I think you don’t care, or have forgotten all about my beautiful boy.
Two conversations have changed my week. The first, was a conversation with my Pastor from childhood. What a special man he is. I am so lucky to have him in my life. We spent over an hour on the phone talking about the theology around what has happened. He told me the most profound thing I’ve heard to date.
Life is not a single event.
Alex didn’t die because of the angle I laid him down at, or because of where I laid him down, or when I laid him down. Like the basketball player who misses the final shot of the game at the buzzer and thinks he lost the game for the team. It doesn’t work that way. The game was lost by the hundreds and thousands of events that led up to that final shot. That person can only take responsibility for the final shot, not the entire game.
Alex is gone and I can’t take full responsibility for it. God is in all things and God was there when Alex died. Not for me to understand, but I take comfort in knowing that I am not the sole reason that Alex is gone.
The second conversation was with Alex’s pediatrician tonight. He called to check on our family, and to let us know that he has been following up with the pathologist’s office. Just like us, he hasn’t heard much of anything about what caused Alex to stop breathing. We are 99.9% sure it was SIDs, but we’re still waiting to hear.
He was so sincere, and what struck me most was that he apologized for not calling earlier. He said that he would have called three weeks earlier, but he didn’t have any news yet. He had been thinking of us, and waited to call until now, hoping to have more of an update. I would have hugged him over the phone if I could have. Three weeks ago?
I almost laughed out loud. Everybody and their brother was calling three weeks ago! It’s the few and the proud that still call to check on us now. The people that let you know with a hug and a smile that they’re still thinking of you… Or the rare person that says it with an ice cream bucket full of cookies.
We still muddle through the days and nights. The contrast between life now and what life would have been is hard. Things are calm with one child versus chaotic with two.
I get an email alert every few days, “Your three month old: what he’s doing now” and the lump in my throat gets a little bigger. For some reason my attempts to ‘unsubscribe’ aren’t working. I get regular updates on the milestones for my Baby Alex and it hurts. Weekly reminders of all the things he didn’t get to do here on earth.
Maybe he wants me to know what he’s doing. Maybe they’re more like status reports. He wants me to know that he’s smiling socially now, and that he may start to develop an attachment to a nuk, blanket or other transitional object.
Either way, I never forget how old he is, and I always know what he’s up to.
Remembering Alex (#6): If…Still — I wrote this 2.5 weeks after he died.
“Work was fine. Not sure why I thought it was going to be as hard as I thought. I had wonderful people welcoming me back. I had flowers and plants on my desk and chocolates and spinach dip in my fridge. I had condolence cards on my keyboard and fresh kleenex on the bookshelf. I am very well cared for: at work and at home.
The single thought that plagued me was the missing baby gift. The week before Alex died, a baby gift was delivered to my office. I had planned to pick it up later in the week, and then Alex died. When I returned to work, there was no sign of it. Did the sender come to re-claim it? Did someone thoughtfully put it away? Did everyone think it was best to put it out of sight? My baby boy never got to open it.
Everything about the work day was fine. Once your baby dies, there is nothing that could possibly make you feel worse. Whether you’re at work, home, church or the grocery store, it’s all the same. Even though some people avoid you, and others don’t make eye contact, you are at a point where none of it matters anyway. The people that care are there- and that’s what you focus on.
We have been keeping busy. We have so many people supporting us that it’s easy to fill the days with lunches, dinners, zoo time and play dates. Nothing changes the circumstances. As soon as your plans are over, you come back to the same quiet house, the same empty nursery.
I had a vision for our family. As soon as week #20 hit, we knew that our baby was going to be a boy. We even had his name picked out shortly after that… Once you know you’re going to have two boys, you have this picture of your life as a family of four. How it will be, and what it will look like. At 2.5 years apart, the boys will play, but hopefully not argue. With two boys, you can re-use most of your clothes, except maybe the shoes because Benjamin has exceedingly thick feet… That vision will never come true.
I can’t help but think about what we would be doing if he were still here. Would we have gone to the zoo today, or would I have likely complained that it’s too hard to find a place to nurse, and I would rather stay closer to home? Would we cherish each moment with Benjamin the way we do now, or would we bicker about who was going to change his increasingly smelly diaper?
Alex didn’t even make it two months. I wouldn’t be back at work yet- I would be spending my days cuddling my little piggy and planning play dates. I’d be nursing and pumping and gladly still eating like a linebacker. I wouldn’t have a stack of thank you cards from the funeral home to address and mail out.
If he were here- I would feel guilty for not spending time with Benjamin and I would have twice as much laundry to sort and fold. I would still be astounded at how quickly we go through diapers, and I would still never have a spit up cloth handy for the magic moment when Alex decided his stomach was full.
If my two boys were together- I would have to remind Benjamin not to scream so loudly during naptime, and I would still trip over the bouncy seat in the bathroom. I never quite knew where to put it, but I knew that was the best place to put Alex when I wanted to take a shower.
If I still had my piggy here- my hair would be gross and I wouldn’t have gotten a chance to shower yet today. I would have spit up on my shirt. There would be even more laundry piling up in the basement.
If Alex were still with us- I wouldn’t run out of Kleenex every day and I would sleep better at night. I would have a facebook page full of funny stories, and a camera full of adorable drool-y faces.
If I still had my baby here on earth- I would worry about him eating, not eating, sleeping, not sleeping, moving, not moving. I would still log everything. I would still coordinate outfits for both my boys and they would match more often than they didn’t.
If I could still cuddle Alex in my arms- I wouldn’t be very quick at returning phone calls. Or emails. I wouldn’t have time to make dinner. We would be out of milk.
If I had both my boys in the car- I would ask Benjamin whether or not baby Alex was sleeping. I would play the Brandenburg concertos for Alex on my iphone until he fell asleep. I would get mad when Alex woke up as soon as we pulled into Target.
If I had Alex here- I would run out of wipes at the mall. I would forget the bottles for my pump and my shirt would leak. I would bring the wrong diapers and I still wouldn’t have a burp cloth for after he ate. He would cry because he was tired, Benjamin would whine because Alex was crying and I still wouldn’t have taken a shower yet.
I am not a perfect mommy. I forget things. Every day. I don’t have spare outfits in the diaper bag, and most of the time I eat the snack I packed for Benjamin. Life was crazy and hectic and scattered with a toddler and a newborn. The house was noisy and I never got a break.
Dear God, I never realized how good life could be.”