I’ve been back at work now for almost two full weeks. It’s a strange feeling to have to reintegrate into the “real” world. I anticipated that it would be hard, but I don’t think anything could have prepared me for leaving the safe bubble of home. At least I’m not alone.
From the moment my co-workers found out that we lost you and everyday since, they have been by my side – like family. To have that kind of support in a professional setting is rare and for that, I am so lucky. Even so, for six weeks I spent 100% of my energy taking care of myself, thinking about you and trying to come to terms with our loss. I immersed myself in the sadness and the grief and it became familiar…something I could count on. Having to suddenly re-focus that energy has been a shock to the system. How was I going to make myself care about anything but you?
The hardest part? The realization that the world didn’t stop, but continued on, business as usual, while our world crumbled. This seems obvious, but I think experiencing it first hand made your passing all the more real. It brought to the surface the understanding that we were entering a new reality – one that you wouldn’t be a part of the way we hoped – and my heart broke all over again.
That first day of work was just the beginning of many “firsts”.
#1: Your Daddy and I went on our “first” date six weeks after losing you. Our intention was to have a fun and relaxing night out to celebrate my positive postpartum check-up. We got dressed up and walked over to Craftsman, one of our favorite local restaurants. The hostess was able to seat us immediately, a tiny table tucked away in the back, squeezed between two other tables. The moment I rounded the corner, I spotted him. A newborn baby boy in the arms of his grandma. From where my seat was, I could have reached out and touched him. My stomach turned and my eyes swelled with tears. We ordered a bottle of wine because there was no way we were making it through this dinner without a drink. Your Daddy asked if I wanted to leave and I shook my head, no. Instead, I asked the woman how old he was.
“Six weeks,” she said. “He was a premie, so he’s only 6 lbs, 5 oz.”
I froze. Six weeks old…6 lbs, 5 oz? What are the chances that on our first time out since losing you we would sit next to a newborn who was not only the same age as you, but your EXACT birth weight?!? His name was Jackson and he was another one of your little signs.
#2: We celebrated the 4th of July with your aunts, uncles, cousins, Bubba and Grampa Dave. It was our “first” big holiday without you. As I played with your adorable cousins and friend, Liv, it brought me so much joy and simultaneous sadness. I love all three of them as if they were my own children, but I found myself day-dreaming, as I had so many times before, about what it would have been like to watch all of you play together. My Facebook newsfeed was flooded with adorable pictures of my friends’ babies dressed to the nines in red, white and blue. It was the first of many holidays that we would celebrate without you and the entire day just felt like one big reminder of all the “firsts” we wouldn’t get to have with you. Watching the fireworks later that night, I finally let myself cry. You would never get to see those beautiful, colorful explosions in the sky and I was overcome by how unfair it all was.
#3: Your Daddy and I went surfing for the “first” time last weekend. It is something we’ve talked about doing for five years, ever since we moved to California. When you died, I promised you that I would live fully in your honor, so it was time we made it happen. There’s something about being in the ocean that really makes you feel alive. While I don’t see myself becoming a professional surfer anytime soon, I was appreciative for the opportunity to embark on a new adventure in your honor.
There will be a first time for everything as we continue to move through our grief. It will be sad and we will wonder why it had to be this way. We will feel envious of those around us who get to experience a lifetime of “firsts” WITH their children, as opposed to without. But, for every “first” that drives us deeper into mourning, we promise to balance it out with one that reminds us we’re alive.
We miss you everyday.
I love you,