The kids all wanted to write messages on balloons and send them heavenward. It was so incredibly windy... they really just blew east, but then seemed to lift off.
I have to say I have a lot of mixed emotions now that we are past a full year with out our son. There were many amazing little notes that I received, gifts that were delivered, or friends that I was able to talk with over the last couple of days. I will try to either post some pictures or tell you a little bit more about them in the next week.
Just a few thoughts a couple of days later. Actually, today I think I feel worse than the last 2 days... why... I have no idea. I know I had friends praying me through the last few days... it feels kind of like Christmas... you know how you can be kind of depressed when all the hoopla is over with? I don't really mean depressed just kind of the let down after all the anticipation... it feels a little like that for me. I am not at all meaning to say that the last 2 days were a party... they weren't but I think you may be able to follow what I am saying.
Thursday which would have been the day we found out Samuel had died just a year later, was actually a really nice day. I was completely struck by the fact that I didn't really feel like I was reliving it. That is how I thought I would feel, like I was reliving it all day. And of course I did have thoughts that morning thinking... "Yeah, this was about when I called Greg home from work worried sick that something might really be wrong with the baby, this was when we went to the Dr. and were told the heart beat was great...(It was really my heart beating exceptionally fast)... I could go on and on. The thing I was struck with though was that it didn't really feel that much different than the 365 days before.
One thing I have been since day one of this journey of grief.... is real. (The only time I haven't been would be if I clearly could tell people really didn't want to know how I was doing, or if I knew the reaction I would get would just cause me further pain.) Other than that, I have been open and honest about how it feels to lose your child. If it struck me in Walmart and I cried there... then so be it. If I would start to cry during communion, where I know I am communing with all the saints gone before... (thus communing with my son, that makes me feel close to him) then I let the tears fall... When it hits me I let it hit me and go with it. I haven't stuffed it, I have grieved fully when I have needed to.
With that grieving fully and deeply comes the reliving of the whole experience. I guess those that stuff things maybe don't really relive the experience all that often... when it comes up they push it off or just don't let themselves go there. But I haven't done that, and quite honestly, I have thought about the memories of that day and how it all went down soooooo sooooo many times. I think for the first 3 months, I truthfully thought about it all the time. And since then I relive the memories of those days at least a few times a week, sometimes a few times a day. So to relive it all a whole year later really didn't feel that much different to me.
I think that has been one of the blessings of grieving fully when I need to, just that this one year anniversary of losing Samuel was not as bad as I thought it would be. The anticipation of the 2 days was actually worse for me. Don't get me wrong, there were lots of tears shed by all of us. When we watched the video that our photographer had made for us yesterday, (I still want to try to post that on here as well at some point. She did such a beautiful job... still am trying to figure out how to do that... not the smartest with the computer that is for-sure) we all just sat on the couch crying. Poor Anna was a real mess. We discussed all the precious things we remember about him and our time with him. It is so hard to go there. We still just miss him deeply, and it still hurts so much. Our hearts are still broken that we don't get to spend this life with him. You know we have gotten used to the fact that he really isn't here, but we still miss what life with Samuel would have been deeply. I am not sure that will ever go away. There will always be someone missing from our family memory making.
Thursday, Greg and I were able to go out for lunch together to our favorite, cheap, hole in the wall, Chinese restaurant. A friend watched the kids and we got some time to talk. He took off that day, and Friday is usually his day off. It was a great comfort to me, just to know that he would be here. That was really nice. Then we took the kids to see the new movie Astro boy. It actually was really good, I of course was so tired I couldn't help falling asleep during it. Then this will sound crazy, but we had a gift certificate to Babies R Us that we received for our shower for Samuel a year ago. It was going to start to lose value... so we headed over there and got something for the baby we hope to bring home through adoption or biologically if the Lord would see fit to bless us in that way. It kind of felt good. I know, that may sound a little twisted, but I let myself go there, look at the baby clothes, walked the store, picked out what we wanted and left... all on Samuel's birthday. I just had a lot of peace that day. Really it was almost strange, kind of like the day we buried Joel, there was unexplainable peace. It was a really a miracle to me, and I was so incredibly thankful to God for that.
Friday was much rougher... again, I have no idea why. We pretty much just hung out all day, slept in late, went for a run and got ready to have friends over. We did our balloon release and watched our video. I think it was the reality of just seeing our time with him on that day. Those are such precious memories to all of us. We all talked about what we remember of him, what we miss about him. It was just nice to talk about him.
We were so blessed to have some dear people who have meant so much to us this past year join us for cake. We had our friends the Tiews... Lula was the only other person to hold Samuel and they watched the kids when we had Samuel. Grandma Bottom was able to come, she is like family to us. The Dinklemans, our new friends from Sweden, they have just embraced us fully as new friends. I often think, wow, they knew what they were getting into with us as friends, they knew we were and are in the midst of sorrow and they took us on exactly where we are... that is a gift. And the Odom girls came over. Carla, has been one or those few who put their own feelings aside to be what I needed when I needed it. She was one of just a couple of people who came and sat with me, just to talk, let me let things out that first 1/2 year. We will be forever grateful to them for all they have done for us here in Tulsa over the past year. They wanted to see the video, so all the adults watched it together. I love sharing my son with people... even though I know seeing pictures of a family with their stillborn son isn't normal, it is all a part of who we are, and it is so nice to be able to be who we are with people who want to know more about Samuel. That is a gift to us.
It is strange looking back on the last year. There have been people who I never would have expected to come forward to walk this grief journey with us. That has been such a beautiful thing, to see old friends, friends from around the country where we have lived prior, rally around us. There has been the amazing blessing of completely new friends through my support group or blog land that have also had losses and completely get me. And there have been many disappointments, people who we would have expected to be there and offer support, who haven't... Friendships or relationships that you would have thought would have grown closer, have actually been distanced. It is all just so interesting to me. Disheartening at times, weird and uncomfortable at other times and amazingly beautiful at other times. All in all I would just say it is hard, very hard.
So as we head into year 2 without our son... we are thankful. Thankful that we survived, really that is how I feel. I look back and think I survived a year... how many more, Lord? We managed to have food on the table, keep the house somewhat in order, managed to home school, managed to laugh and smile, managed to be there for each other. If we can weather this, with God's help, I know we can manage whatever comes our way, with the Lord by our side. It may not be pretty, but we will manage to put one foot in front of the other and keep going. We are much closer and stronger as a result of all of this. I am amazingly blessed to have the kids that I do, they are amazing and such a blessing. It has comforted me to have them to hold, snuggle, and love on.... Greg too of course... but there is something about snuggling your kids when you have lost one.
We are thankful for all God has done for us this past year... and we cling to the hope that we have in Him... and we continue to trust Him for our future. Here is a little crazy trivia for you. On my wedding day I sang to Greg, it was a surprise for him... the reason that I mention that is because one of the lines in that song said, "We don't know what tomorrow holds, but we know who holds tomorrow." Boy, that is so true... and I am glad it is God and not me holding tomorrow.
Thank you for walking this last year with us.... the good, the bad, the ugly and the beautiful... We are thankful for you...
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11