Sunday. With a hand full of tissues, Rae pointed out the note in the bulletin that noted members of Ascension who would be remembered during the service. So simple: We remember the saints who have been called to heaven. As the service started, the pain began to grown. I was getting almost angry that Owen’s name was among the other eleven names. I don’t want to be this person in the congregation that has a connection to this message. Please just let me go un-noticed. I don’t want to belong in the grief group today. I don’t want this scarlet letter … but I do and I am. I am Owen’s mom and Owen is gone. Soon he’ll be gone longer than I had him. The day is heavy on the horizon … slowly but surly coming.
When his face appeared on the screen, the tears flowed. I felt him in my heart. I felt the softness of his hair on my hand as I remembered rubbing the top of his almost bald head. He did have the most hair out of his brothers … The words were kind and spoke of his warrior spirit and the light he let shine.
At the end of the service, all those who had lost a loved one were asked to come up and receive a white carnation. A gift of love and an offering of church’s condolences. Pastor Frank nodded at me during the last song and held his arm out, inviting me up for a flower. Oh how I didn’t want to deserve a flower. I felt my heart tightened, deep breath. Then one foot in front of the other. Pride and honor to accept the gift. Pride of my son .. my baby boy … who still lives on. Of a baby boys who is slowly making a difference on the world. Who is not gone, but inspires change and faith. I felt like I was about to accept a flag in honor of my fallen solider. I would rather have him than a flower. I would rather have another poopy diaper, another screaming baby cry than this white carnation.
I was surprised at how “easy” the triplet’s first birthday was … I was strong and able to genuinely celebrate Logan and Weston without a feeling of grief and sadness. Now Thanksgiving … it’s hitting me a like a ton of bricks. The day I brought home Logan and Owen from the NICU. I’m pretty sure exactly one year ago today (the Wed before Thanksgiving) Doug and I were being CPR certified in preparation of the boy’s being discharged. I remember giggling with Doug in the back room at the “silly” movie. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would actually use it. Just 363 days ago, I had SO much to be SO happy for. It was a joyous Thanksgiving. Symbolic of the gifts we had received.
A good friend said it best … Thanksgiving marks the first of events that I’ll be remembering what it had been like when Owen was alive. He never had a birthday … there wasn’t a comparison of what it used to be like. I didn’t feel the weight of memories of what it was like when he was there. Last year, we were at the NICU early in the morning. Doug and I arguing over how to install the car seats. Mom and Dad came over with steak dinners and we watched the parade for my sister and brother who were marching in the Macy’s Day parade. Owen was here for a Thanksgiving. He lived through one and frankly, he should still be here for this one.
Then Saturday is the 6 month anniversary of his death. Then in two weeks after that he’ll be gone longer than he was alive. boom boom boom Right in a row. Owen was alive for 196 days. He’ll be gone for 196 days on 12/12/11. Perhaps I should try to plan something nice as a way to get through the day. Send another lantern? Make a donation in his memory? Lay in bed with the blankets over my head and cry all day? Pick a fight with a loved one because I’m mad at the world? While all of them are a possibility, I will pray that I find something healthy and something that will be “just right.”
Just telling someone that I’m struggling and feeling the weight of the upcoming holiday makes me feel just a little better. My grief becomes something in the room that is identified … not the heavy secret I have to bear on my own. I’m blessed to have a family who loves me. You know what? They’ll love me even if I cry through the entire thanksgiving dinner meal too …