There is no right thing to do on the anniversary of the day your child died, but what has felt most right to me over time is slowing down and making space.
I gave clients a heads up that I'd be out of the office with no email yesterday and put projects on hold. I didn't even turn my computer on. I knew I would find at least a few messages of support and remembrance on Facebook or in my email, but I'd also be distracted and find offers and ads and things that begged for a response.
Instead, I put together a basket of greens and a strung a heart of cranberries to take to the cemetery. I strung another heart to hang on our door. I sat and read.
We all went to pick Kathleen up from school and brought the basket to the cemetery. The snow was falling heavily as we stood looking at the small stone, the dark green and deep red. It was cold. The roads were sloppy. We didn't stay long. This is the only thing I ask for on this day—that we go together as a family to the cemetery, however brief our visit.
It was a half day because of the snow and I got my neighbor's kids off the bus. It wasn't part of my making space plan, but it worked. They made cookies with Kathleen and watched a show with her. They all, miraculously, got a long. When they went out to play in the snow while Elizabeth still napped, I read some more. It felt good to just sit.
After I got my girls to bed, I read some more. I finished The End of Your Life Book Club and then started (and then finished Sun Shine Down). A book about dying and life, a book about Down syndrome and living with the unexpected fit well.
For all the build up, this day I dread wasn't that bad. I moved through it slowly but without spills.
This morning I got up (late) and bustled us out the door. When I got home, I started up my computer and caught up with all I let sit yesterday. I should take breaks more often. I finished my chapter for work, helped Kathleen with her project, picked up milk and bread from the store. I took a deep breath because December 17 has passed again. I'm still ready for a new month, a new year, but I think (hope) the worst of this challenging month is past.