Merry Christmas, Gregory

My dear baby boy, Gregory,

I haven’t written you any more letters since the morning after we said hello and goodbye. So, here you go.

I’ve written about how I’ve missed you. A lot. I’ve worked through my grief and feelings over and over again. Much of the stress, sadness and anxiety died down once your due date passed. I no longer had to anticipate a date with empty arms. I was able to take a deep breath again and really feel like everything was going to be OK.

As the holidays have approached, though, my sadness has been bubbling just under the surface. I didn’t realize it until tonight as I tried to process why I’ve been hyper-sensitive to words said or not said by friends, or perceived imagined injustices by people I know are good friends. 

I realized that I’ve been pushing my sorrow down the past five months — hiding it. I’ve been putting on a good face, because that is what this world expects me to do. I moved on…outwardly. What else could I do? Your older sisters and brothers depend on me to be present to them and not spend my life missing you. My job requires that my mind be present and accounted for and not dreaming of the life we never got to experience. We’ve made some decisions in the last few months that impact our family long-term — and I need to be fully committed to those decisions — the dream of sending your older siblings through Catholic high school, discerning that our days of adding to our family biologically are over, and deciding that Vincent will most likely begin Kindergarten at the age of six, meaning an extra year of daycare before two years of preschool. Those are just the biggies. Our lives are filled with little decisions every day that impact the entire family…and they require that I not spend much time sorting through my sorrow, my grief.

I miss you, Gregory. It may seem silly to say. But I knew you best, outside of our Heavenly Father. I miss the experience I could have had giving birth. I miss warming bottles and tiny diapers. I missed those first few weeks where I’d have slept on the recliner with you cuddled up on my chest…our hearts beating next to each other.

I miss it that we didn’t have a Baptism and all that entails. We’re so blessed by the couple we asked to be your godparents. I truly feel like Rebecca is walking this path with me. She doesn’t hesitate to let me know that she remembers you and misses you, too. I never feel awkward talking about you like you’re real with her…because you are real. But it’s awkward for people if I talk about it in passing…I can tell. 

Tonight, as I was sitting down to write…Craig placed a box in front of me. Well, first he asked how I was doing and I lied and said, “I’m doing just fine.” Then he said, “Then you can open this” and laid this box in front of me.

First I pulled out this…


And before I read the names at the bottom, I knew whom the gift came from. And the tears came. Because I was already feeling the sadness that had been just under the surface, bubbling up and spilling over…and before I even saw what Rebecca and her husband had sent me, I knew it was perfect.

So, now you, sweet boy, have two beautiful Christmas ornaments atop our Christmas tree (this one from your godparents and the one Grandma made for you). You are our “Angel” or the “Star” that tops our tree. You will be every year for the rest of our lives.

I know that since you’re in Heaven, you probably are busy basking in the Light of our Lord and Savior and interceding for us that you don’t particularly care whether we remember you or not. But that’s okay. Because remembering is for us earthly beings. You’re a part of me that I can’t smell, see, or touch. And I miss that more than anything. I miss that I will never hold your hand as we cross the street. I miss buckling you into a car seat. And I miss tucking you in at night. As your siblings grow up, I discover new things I will miss about you. And know this: I WILL miss those things. I’ll miss late night talks when you’re in middle school and I’ll miss whatever sport you would have found to be your niche. I’ll miss learning about your special talents and gifts. I’ll miss wondering whether you’d become a priest someday. I’ll miss the way you’d surely tell me that I’m the best Mommy in the world, just like your big brother, Dominic, does. I’ll just miss everything and anything we could have done, said and had in this world together.

I want you to know that I think about you every damn day. 

It’s funny…but I don’t even have to TRY and I think about you every day. Sure, it’s not constant…but I think about you just about as much as I think about each of the other children who consume my days on Earth. Some days I just wish I could look at everyone who seems to have forgotten that you’re in Heaven and be like, “Hey! Missing my baby boy right now. Hang on a second.”

But that’s not how life works. It’s not anyone’s fault that they’ve forgotten. They think they are helping me by not bringing it up, if they do remember. Onward and upward. Moving on. That is what we do here on Earth. We live in the present. And you, my dear boy, live where Time and Space have different dimensions.

So, this first Christmas, I guess I just want to say…send up some extra prayers for your Mama, sweetheart, because she’s missing you something awful.

Pray for me, Gregory.

Merry Christmas.





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Real

It took me by surprise the other day, the flashback to Thursday, February 28, 2013. 

We had just arrived at Mass Saturday afternoon, the Rosary was in full swing, the kids all filed into the pew behind me and Craig and Vincent sat on the end. Dominic and Helen vied for their spots right next to me. All of a sudden, my mind was in the ultrasound room at the hospital where I found out that Gregory had passed away. I was seeing the screen, feeling awkward at the tech’s silence, trying to make small talk — “Oh, is that the leg?” and “That looks like a normal size head alright” — as my voice shook and my stomach sank the longer she was silent. My memory lingered on the moment she said she had to call my doctor and then I recalled the phone conversation with him. I felt so helpless. And I don’t know why I felt the need to try and console him or anyone else trying to console me! But I did…I kept apologizing when there was nothing to apologize for. But I didn’t know what the hell else I was supposed to say? I had to call Craig, but what the hell was I supposed to say to him? I had plans that night that I needed to cancel, but what the hell was I supposed to say to Maggie when I called her? And for some reason, I called my dad — I just felt the need to burden him with my sorrow. I didn’t know if he’d understand, but I needed to talk to my dad in that moment…to tell him. All of this whipped through my brain as I was sitting there Saturday, trying to get ready for Mass.

Then, my throat caught as I looked around the church and remembered how I had come there that afternoon. Our parish has Adoration on Thursdays, so our Lord was exposed on the altar. I had walked all the way to the 2nd pew from the front, gone in and knelt down. I had laid my head on my forearms — and the sobs had come violently. I didn’t know any other reason to be there at that time other than I wanted so badly to feel the presence of God in this horrible time. And I was worried about being loud and disturbing others. As I thought about this Saturday, I realized how absurd that was. But I remember thinking to myself, “Hold it together, don’t cry too loudly.”

I shook my head trying to expel the images that kept coming to my brain. But I couldn’t stop them from popping into my consciousness. My mind floated to the remainder of that afternoon while we waited for the children to return from school. I felt so lost. I wanted a priest, but I didn’t know what for. But, Father had come and just sat with me for a bit at my home. He didn’t know what to say. And I didn’t either. And I don’t know that I needed anyone to SAY anything to me right then. I needed to make phone calls to find places for the children to stay and I hated every single time that I had to explain what had happened. 

Then for some reason, the moment we told the children about their baby sibling — that we didn’t yet know was a boy — and my chest throbbed as I remembered their tears. 

Almost as suddenly as the memories intruded on my consciousness, I was able to pull my mind into the present. I think the pain was too much. I’d avoided tears for most of the past 5-6 weeks at Mass. When the due date passed at the end of July, I truly felt as though I exhaled for the first time in a long time. I can’t explain the feeling, but I knew it was good. I know I will always love Gregory and have a different relationship with him than I have with anyone else. 

I’ll always remember him. 

And even though the memories that take the forefront in the scrapbook of my mind are sad, I’m still happy that we accepted the gift of Gregory from God like we accepted the gifts of all of his siblings. I am a different person because Gregory is a part of my life and experience. I’ve aged and matured in ways I could never have anticipated. I see life completely differently than I did before. 

This is the first time my mind transported me so wholly to that point in my life. And even as I have written it here, I’m feeling the tightening in my chest, the lump in my throat and the tears have fallen freely down my cheeks and pooled in my lap. But I don’t wish for it to go away. I welcome the refresher of pain and sorrow. It helps me remember my baby…my baby I didn’t get to snuggle close and hold tight. 

But he was real.

And he was mine.

And I love him.

Ultrasound Picture
These items (bear, block, rattle) were placed in pictures they took of Gregory at the hospital. The hat on the bear’s head was on Gregory’s head for a photo or two. The items are tiny and made to scale with how tiny he was.


Dull Focus


How is it possible to love you so much
When I never saw you smile, or heard your sweet cry?
I never even felt you move,
Or felt your hand wrapped around my finger.

There are so many things I miss about you already…
I miss the snuggles I’ll never get from your face on my chest.
I miss the cries that won’t wake me in the middle of the night.
I miss saying, “Bless the baby!” because I’ll never hear your baby sneezes.
I miss the giggles and the laughter you’d surely share with your brothers and sisters.

Sometimes the tears just well up in my eyes.
And I don’t want to stop them.
Not that I could.
Sometimes I just sigh…for no reason…take a huge breath and…
Let it out.

Sometimes I am irritated by everyone because I can’t just sit still and miss you.

Most of the time, I am sad.  Just so very sad.

The books I read tell me someday the sadness will lessen.  
But right now, I don’t know how that can be.  
I put on a smile and I face each day.

I put one foot in front of the other.
It’s been my mantra for so many years now,
And only now, since I lost you, my son,
Does my heart understand how truly difficult that can be.