Celebrating Theo’s sixth birthday this past weekend was both joyous and somber. The kids could hardly contain their excitement at checking into a hotel with a waterpark (planned weeks in advance). I’ll say that it was an act of fate in our favor that we did not have a huge party planned, as is usually what occurs for his birthday. Needing to entertain in our home would have likely pushed me over the edge.
It was easy to feel the kids’ joy at the endless smiles and laughs in the waterpark (although we had to deal with major crabbiness upon arriving home). However, I felt surrounded by “triggers” – knowing that when we booked this weekend, I was expecting that I would be pregnant, needing to drag along my maternity swimming suit since I still have weight to lose, seeing other pregnant women around me. Even on Theo’s birthday, I was greeted with photos of him as an infant that I had posted to social media (courtesy of Timehop and Facebook “on this day” features…) I found the baby photos difficult to look at, even though they were photos of Theo – which then made me feel guilty that even baby photos of my own son could be so painful. I know that this will be temporary, since my pain is so fresh.
At home, we have been packing away the last outward remnants of our grief. The flowers that people sent, now more than two weeks old, have wilted. I gathered up the cards that were sent to us. The meals have been eaten. I ordered a box from West Elm to replace the flowered mementos box that the hospital gave to us, and the box finally arrived. Inside it I placed the small pair of baby shoes I used in our announcement to the world that we were having a girl, the shirt I wore to make the same announcement to my family, the cards we were given, a baby blanket and framed poem that hospital gave us, an inked footprint (the other one is framed), the cremation information from the funeral home, a copy of the death certificate, and a certificate Celebration of Life from the hospital. I have the box on a tray in our room, but eventually I will probably move it. Right now, it feels like that is where it belongs.
I was ready to throw away the flowered cardboard box from the hospital this morning, but at the last minute offered it to the boys. Theo quickly said “YEAH!” and grabbed the box from my hands. Quentin ran upstairs and grabbed a small stuffed bear – it had actually been in the box from the hospital, but held no particular meaning for me so I let the boys have it – and he tucked the bear into the box. “That’s the bear’s house” he informed me.