Glow in the Woods recently posted it's 7x7 questions for January. Here are my responses:
1 | Welcome to 2009. What have you left behind in the year just past? What do you hope to find in the year to come?
I left behind year one of grieving, the firsts of everything without Henry.
I think I’ve left behind a lot of fear. I hope to find more moments of peace and more moments of good memories rather than the fearful, traumatic ones that seemed to have surfaced so much last year.
2 | We've just come through the season in which our culture touts cheer and peace and family togetherness rather relentlessly. How did your child's death impact your experience of the "holiday" season, personally or culturally?
I definitely felt the hole in our family. This year we marked two missing faces: Henry’s and my sister-in-law’s. This Christmas marks our second without Henry, though it felt like the first. Last year he had been gone only eigh days, buried only three. But this year also marks a different kind of first: our first with our daughter, born two weeks before the holiday.
3 | If you celebrate in any way through December, are there ways you include or acknowledge your lost baby/babies?
This year I could not deal with a proper Christmas tree, but I decorated a small, table top tree with hearts and cardinals (my symbols for my son) and a tiny angel, and I lit candles for him throughout the season. I made an ornament with his name on it, to match the one I made for my daughter, to be hung when we do have a tree again. I brought a heart-shaped wreath to his grave on Christmas day. It felt insufficient, but I needed to do something, to mark his place somehow.
4 | Through the year are there any holidays, seasons, or parts of what were once cherished rituals that have changed for you because of your child's death?
I wonder if I will ever find December to be a season of peace and joy again. It seems like a month that will always be complicated, marked as it is by both birth and death. Birthday, death anniversary, Christmas . . . right now it just feels exhausting.
5 | Do you do anything to remember your baby/babies' birth and/or death day? Or will you?
We planted two trees for Henry’s first birthday: one a hawthorn that family gave us planted on his actual birthday and one a peach tree that I had planned to be his first birthday gift from us. We marked the day with our families, eating cake and bring balloons to the cemetery, one for each of the cousins and one released for Henry. I’m not sure how we will handle it in the future.
6 | Is there anything about the winter season (for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere right now) that lifts your spirits? Is there anything that especially brings them down?
I like the coziness and camaraderie of storms. I love the beauty of fresh snow. The flash of a red cardinal in a bleak landscape reminds me of Henry’s smile. But early darkness and being in all the time sometimes lead to a sense of isolation.
7 | During your hardest times, how have you found your way forward?
I just keep taking it day by day, step by step, and remind myself that grief is not a straight, linear path.