I just got back from Mexico. It was a trip I had planned with a girlfriend shortly after Alex died. It was meant to be a brief getaway. A time to relax, to cry, to think, to talk and to just do nothing… Time passed and work schedules were changed, and we didn’t get to take this trip until just last week. As it turns out, I didn’t spend the time quite the way I had planned.
We did all the things you do inMexico. Enjoy the sunshine, drink margaritas, eat too much Mexican food, etc. When I got there, I didn’t need to sink into a depressing Alex coma. The sun was shining and my mood was soaring. Later in the trip, I tried to summon my grief and sadness. I wanted to mull it over and spend the time thinking about my precious boy. As it turns out, I couldn’t do it.
There’s no magical button that lets you recall your grief “on demand.” It is there when it’s there, and it’s gone when it’s gone. You can’t really wish it away when it’s inconvenient to deal with it, and you can’t call upon it when you want it. Grief and sadness have their own schedules and they don’t consider yours.
I know it sounds ridiculous. Why on earth would I think I could schedule my grieving? Wait for a time for it to work into my life and then just spend 4 days solidly, considering how much I miss Alex. The heart does not work that way, no matter how much the mind can will it to.
When I got back from a peaceful, serene trip, my mind wandered into the darkness and started to churn on memories of sweet baby Alex. When I’m on my way home with a thousand things on my mind- that’s the time my heart wants to think about Alex. Good grief.
Not like I have a choice- I succumb to the memories and the thoughts and the tears. There’s so much more that’s happened since the last time I strolled the path into the darkness. The Medical Examiner is signing the death certificate and we should have it this week. The cause of death is “inconclusive” with an asterisk indicating this heart condition.
As I wander through the fog of grief, none of these details change my journey. It’s still sad. He’s still gone. I still miss him.
I feel like I come out of the haze a little quicker. Not sure it is because the path is shorter, or because I know the way out. Either way, I now understand that I can’t schedule a trip to grief, and I can’t avoid the trip when it’s time. There are unexpected times when I’m sad about Alex and unexpected times when even deliberately thinking of him doesn’t spark the same sadness. There is no rational schedule to any of it.
Tomorrow is my birthday. For the first time in years, I’m not sure this one is worth celebrating. I have a theory on birthdays. If your life is better now than it was last year, then the number of candles on the cake doesn’t matter.
As much as I have learned from losing Alex, I don’t think I can say that this year is better than last year. I was 12 weeks pregnant last year on my birthday. I hit that magic mark where we heard the heartbeat and didn’t worry if the baby would make it. That magical milestone was cause for joy and thanksgiving. God had given me the best birthday present I could ever ask for!
What is this year? It’s missing Alex. As the holidays approach us, it’s a first Halloween costume he won’t wear, a first Thanksgiving set of PJs he doesn’t need and a Christmas bib he can’t use. Doesn’t feel like much of a celebration to me.
I haven’t forgotten the blessings I have in my life. I promise. I know they’re still there and I don’t take them for granted. It’s just that I wouldn’t say that my life is better this year than it was last year. It’s not filled with the excitement and promise of a new baby in our family. There is no guarantee of happiness. There is only hope.
When I blow out my candles this year, I’ll be praying that hope is enough. At least until next year.