I have always heard that the 2nd Birthday and Angelversary of an Angel Baby are harder than the first. What I have learned over the past two weeks is that these special Angel Dates, like mourning, effect us each individually, in different ways. I had long dreaded this time period of the year as I did last year, but was surprised to find that I got through the nearly two weeks between Trey's Birthday and Angelversary unscathed, well almost. The Monday before his birthday I asked Trey for strength to get through the hard days ahead and BOY did he deliver!!! With only two meltdowns (inspired by beautiful, healing words of song), I consider the passing of this difficult time a success.
I started off the month kicking off a service project for Trey's 2nd birthday in which we donated and collected teddy bears for an Angel Mommy who has done SO much to help her NICU and Angel family community. Angel Ella's maman (mom in french) Yolaine and I formed a friendship after the passing of our children and from the get go I felt that we were meant to be life long friends, as were our angels. My Canadian friend sent me the ELLAs Teddy Bear Care Package (pictured above) towards the beginning of the month which included a medium sized bear, mini bear, beautiful angel, and blessings from Angel Ella. It was a beautiful blessing from an angel in heaven and her maman, an Earthly Angel. Receiving that package confirmed for me that our service project was the PERFECT tribute to Trey on his birthday. Shortly after Trey's 2nd birthday I was pleased to find out that 49 bears were donated and sent up to Yolaine to be contributed to her charity that supports NICU and Angel Families. Of course, I would rather have enough bears sent up to the point where she would never have to worry about collecting bears again, but in the grand scheme of things, 49 families were comforted due to our efforts and those of my loved ones so I was very proud!! On Trey's Angelversary, I was comforted to be informed that the same day Trey earned his wings was the day that Ella's family, caregivers, and friends were honoring her life in ceremony, and, as her maman says, she waited on her pink cloud to welcome her new ABFF (Angel Best Friend Forever) to Heaven. What a comfort to know that not only did he have family and other loved ones waiting to receive him, but new friends as well. I believe that Ella and Trey are forever entwined in friendship, love, courage, and strength, as are her maman and I. We were honored to be a part of ELLAs Teddy Program!
Speaking of stuffed animals, while Trey was in the NICU we were encouraged to sleep with his smaller stuffed animals to get our scents on them. We would then bring them to the NICU and leave them with him so he was able to feel our presence even when we weren't there. After his passing, the practice of sleeping with his stuffed animals never really ended, especially for two of our favorite of his stuffed animals. When I was pregnant with Trey, people were giving us stuffed animals along with other toys for our him. I encouraged my husband to choose a stuffed animal of his own to give to his son as I had already done. Low and behold, not long after that request a package came to our home with two stuffed animals in it: a beaver and an owl. Perplexed, I asked my husband to share his "inspiration" upon choosing those two animals and he explained that those animals represented the mascots of two Ivy League schools he was hoping that Trey would get into. I appreciated his "outside the box" thinking, never knowing how much of a role those two stuffed animals which we named Logger (the beaver) and Bartlebee (the owl) would play in our lives in the next two years.
Sleeping with those two animals was like having little pieces of him with us while we slept, it was comforting in a way I am not sure either of us could ever explain. In the days leading up to Trey's Angelversary, I got to thinking about the two stuffed animals we had slept with for two years and what their role would be once the new baby gets here and for the rest of our lives. It occurred to me that these animals were gifts to Trey from his Daddy and everything else that Trey was given (with exception of the "boy" stuff) had already been given a permanent home in the nursery for Lorelei and maybe these stuffed animals needed to be turned over to her as well. So on the eve of his Angelversary, I slept with our two stuffed animal friends for one last time and the next morning I placed them in the nursery, ready for Lorelei. That night I began sleeping with the larger of the two bears that we received from Angel Ella and her maman whom I named "Ange" which is angel in French. He was a gift given to US for our healing and comfort so the transition from Trey's stuffed animals to "Ange" was pretty seamless. I still felt as though I had a piece of my little boy with me while I slept, but added to it was the love of many more angels looking down on us as well as my Earthly Angel friend Yolaine!
The day before Trey's Angelversary, John and I celebrated our 6th Wedding Anniversary. We didn't do anything extravagant, just the exchanging of gifts and sweet sentiments. I was reminded of our 4th Anniversary two years ago in which we stood on the back deck and weighed Trey's options and decided to allow him to earn his wings. We were encouraged that day not to sign anything papers or make that the day we released him to Heaven lest our Anniversary would also be Trey's Angel Day and we would not enjoy an Anniversary for a long time to come. Despite the fact that we took the advice and waited until the next day, I think EVERY Anniversary will forever be in the shadow of the day that follows. That's not to say that we will not celebrate and honor our Anniversary, but I am sure my husband had the same thoughts that I did throughout our day of "celebration", "today is a beautiful, wonderful day, but what will tomorrow bring and how will I get through it?" That day, our love and recognition of our special day were not lessened, our minds and parts of our hearts were preoccupied.
The back to back special days came and went, blessed with beautiful weather and peace in our hearts. I planned to spend his Angelversary soaking up the sun and enjoying the beautiful day. Instead, after a while of soaking up the sun, I gave in to my body's desire to nap and, with windows and doors wide open as to enjoy the Spring air, I let the moderate winds lull me to sleep for most of the afternoon. The ironic thing was that I have always associated the wind with Trey, like he floats in the wind and flows in and around me! So having the wind blowing that day was an added blessing to the peace that surrounded us throughout the day! I wish EVERY Angel Family that kind of peace on their angel's special days.
Throughout the nearly two weeks between Trey's Birthday and his Angelversary, instead of updating my blog with my daily reflections, I worked tirelessly on adding resources for Angel Families, poems, articles, and anything else I could find that would enhance the blog and also help other Angel Families. I created a page to list Trey's Angel Friends along with their special days and websites. We were able to get two organizations to write Trey's name in the sands of beaches in Hawaii and Australia, the one in Australia was created on his Angelversary. It warmed my heart to be able to do something positive and helpful in the wake of these difficult days, it definitely made the days more enjoyable.
All in all, the days passed peacefully with limited sorrow but as I said before, we got through unscathed, ALMOST. After nearly two weeks of having my chin held high, the bottom was bound to fall out. Just when I thought I was in the clear, last night brought "the murk" back with a vengeance. Yesterday itself was SPLENDID! I had lunch with a new Angel Mommy friend and later met up with another Angel Mommy Friend. It's always a bittersweet therapy session when getting together with other Angel Mommies, DEFINITELY more sweet than bitter. It's practically the only time in which an Angel Mommy can bare her sole to someone with no judgement and every bit of support and empathy that one could ever encounter. Yet often times, these encounters open up the flood gates of emotions, memories, and feelings. Both encounters that day were EXTREMELY beneficial and soul soothing, yet laying in bed last night reading a book that centered around a woman's struggle with Cancer, my mind started a painful emotional loop.
Knowing this character's eventual fate, my heart and mind reverted back to Trey's struggle with CHARGE and his eventual passing. I began a slow spiral of panic stricken thinking and worrying about the baby I am carrying. I started thinking about the ugly realities of life that my husband and I, along with other Angel Parents, know all too well, that ANYTHING can happen between now and the birth of this little girl even though we hope, wish, and pray that the outcome is favorable to us. I know from my experience and the experiences of my Angel Mommy Friends just about every possible outcome to our pregnancy, both joyous and tragic. My heart ached at the notion of having to go through what we went through losing Trey again with our precious little girl!
Daily, with all my heart and soul I plead with God not take this baby away from us too and I hold onto as much hope and faith as I can that this time it will be different. I was told once that these negative thoughts and feelings are the devil getting to me, but I have to whole heartedly disagree. The thoughts, feelings, and fears are the NASTY residue of child loss that NOTHING can ever remove. I feel like I will forever be wrestling with the fear that something will happen to my child(ren) and they will be taken away from us again. I will forever be fighting to keep these thoughts at bay and seeing through the fog of doubt and fear that losing a child brings with it. It's hard for most to understand unless they too have lost a child. One can show the greatest of strength in the face of loss, but their are times when that strength is tested and last night was one of those times.
I am incredibly grateful for my peaceful days in the past few weeks that I thought would be so hard. I also am strangely grateful for hard times like I had last night. It's those hard times that allow us to release feelings and emotions, keeping them from eating us alive and helping us pick ourselves back up can carry on. This delicate balance is essential to ANY type of healing, it's never easy, but in the end we walk a little taller in strength and love. We don't know what the future brings and we have no control over it, but I will continue to draw from the on-going courage and strength of our son. I will strive to enjoy EVERY moment we have with our daughter trying to keep the worry and fear at bay in the mean time. But for now, I will look to the future with hope, faith, love, and strength surrounding me and hopefully sustaining me! EXHALE!