This is long…just so you know.
Numb. I am numb right now as I begin typing this post. And yet I feel the need to write, so here I go.
For many days and weeks leading up to Solveig's birthday, I had a lot of great moments. I was really feeling good about things and only periodically did I have a meltdown. But yesterday and today I had some really difficult moments.
Yesterday was February 28th. We have decided that we will choose to celebrate Solveig's birthday on the 28th, since her birthday landed so interestingly on the 29th. There are a lot of times that it bothers me that we don't get to have her birthday on the actual date. But it's okay. Really, that shouldn't matter so much. I think that maybe one reason why I wish we could have the 29th of February every year is that for me it would just validate Solveig's life all the more, in my mind. But she was valid. Indeed. She did exist. And I believe that she still exists in Heaven. Her spirit is there. So whether or not her birthdate on earth is available to us on paper each year, we can still honor her life.
For Solveig's birthday, we ended up doing pretty much a repeat of last year's festivities. We allowed our kids to skip school because this is important to us. And we took them to the local kids museum where they had a wonderful time playing and imagining all sorts of adventures. Mr. Squeaker finally fell asleep in his stroller and took a brief nap, which allowed him to be somewhat human for the rest of our time at the museum. I think he didn't want to miss out on all the fun though. It was nice to have him along with us this year, outside of my womb, alive and well. Just another healing mark on the journey.
Spending quality fun time with our Bug and Buzz was so important to me and to Erik. It felt so healthy to be laughing and enjoying them. We played together, and I felt so free. At home it's so easy to get into our routines…go, go, go all day long…and I truly feel like we don't take enough time to just stop and play with our kids. So it felt like such a gift to have that time at the museum with them.
One interesting thing that happened while we were at the museum was that our kids were playing in this mock river dam setup. There were about 5 plastic water creature toys to about 20 grappling children. Perhaps some of the regular toys that live in that river had been stashed in a nearby hole or something, but it was kind of interesting to see the kids trying to negotiate who would get what toy or if they'd get one at all. My sweet boy was playing with a little red lobster toy when all of the sudden, a younger, bossier little blonde girl from a preschool group came rushing up and grabbed the lobster hastily out of Buzzy's hands. He just stood there in shock and awe and didn't know what to do or how to respond. I so wanted to grab it back for him, but of course that wouldn't be helpful now, would it? After watching that child not only take the toy but also claim one of the other five available toys per 20 kid capita, I politely said to her, "would you mind please sharing one of those toys since you have two?" She just stared at me and made some little annoyed sound and rushed off to something else. I think she was about four. Anyway, Buzz was so sad. I told him that he handled the situation politely by not grabbing it back from her. But that he could also choose to say something along the lines of, "it isn't polite to steal a toy from someone. Next time you could ask, 'please may I have that toy?' Poor kid…guess we need to work on healthy confrontational skills some more…but his peacemaker ways are very sweet too. I did end up writing a comment on the comment cards asking if they could perhaps add a few more toys to the river dam…
After thoroughly enjoying the museum and capping off our visit with some face painting where Buzz decided to paint his face entirely green to look like an alien and Bug decided to paint hers like a tropical bird, we headed off to a nearby restaurant for some delicious eats. It was then home to nap the little Squeaker and exhausted parents, and then rev up for another part of the day.
Daddy went out and bought some light pink balloons and some light pink roses. We went to our cemetery after nap time. And in very cold weather, perhaps 5 degrees Fahrenheit, we climbed over the deep snow to Solveig's grave with Baby wrapped up in his warm bundle and blankets over his head and around his body. When Daddy had the camera tripod all set for a few pics, we quickly unveiled our Squeaker's blanket shrouded head and took several pictures of us standing by the stone as a family. Then it was time for laying the roses by her stone and also releasing the balloons. This year, the balloons were able to gracefully fly into the sky. But just like last year, one balloon somehow got a little bit stuck and did its own thing! That to me was so symbolic of Solveig, going on her way to Heaven separate from us. It made us giggle a little bit.
Buzz said, "I hope the balloons make it all the way to Heaven!"
I cried and said, "Me too Buddy! Me too."
We finished our little ceremonial time and headed back home to make dinner out of leftovers. Wow, my creative juices were shot I guess. I had great intentions of making a special dinner, but that wasn't meant to be. However, I did make up some homemade vanilla cupcakes the night before and had them frozen so they would be easy to frost. The kids helped me to make some light pink frosting. And I sat and decorated cupcakes with them. Buzz wanted just gobs of frosting and no sprinkles on his. And Bug spent a lot of time adding TONS of sprinkles on hers! Again, it felt so good to just do something fun with them. The kids sang several different renditions of Happy Birthday.
Today, March 1st, we had a birthday breakfast of homemade crepes with fruit, whipped cream and maple syrup. It was my first time making crepes, so lets just say that there were a LOT of flopped pancakes. But they still tasted delicious. After kind of a slow day, I ended up going out for some big box store therapy grocery shopping. It felt good to get out of the house. And then after supper tonight we had a chance to do some more reminiscing with our kids.
We got out our pale pink scrapbook with Solveig's photos and big purple storage bin that has Solveig's things in it…her white blanket and pink bear that I basically lived with until after Squeaker was born over a year later, the hundreds of sympathy cards that loving people sent to us (I read about half of them again tonight and wept…thank you, friends), the candles that were used at her funeral that I cannot bear to part with or use yet, the outfits that friends and family gave to us in preparation for our daughter that I still cannot get rid of and I think I may always keep, the mini strawberry dress that matched big sister Bug's strawberry dress…purchased just a week before Solveig died inside of me, the box that was given to us at the hospital in loving memory of a little boy named Colton, (the inspiration for me taking on the box project that his parents used to be a part of), her footprints and handprints…so delicate and tiny, her dark brown hair clippings inside the Tress Press…the same dark hair as her sister Bug and brother Squeaker…it was really good but really hard to look at these things.
Part way through going over the memory items, my sweet seven year old Bug said, "Mom, I can tell that you are getting really teary. Perhaps this has been enough for one day." Bless her heart.
I said, "Honey, it's okay that I'm crying. It's okay to be sad about this and to look at Solveig's things. But thank you so much for being sensitive and for caring so much about your mama."
Then Buzz said as he was looking at the photos of Solveig, "I miss Solveig so much. I can't wait to see her again."
I said, "I know, Honey. We all feel the same way."
My sweet husband was soaking in all of the mementos. He was looking at it all and holding back the tears in his eyes. What especially caught him tonight were the photos of him holding Solveig and weeping when we were holding her and bathing her. Those are some of my favorites…they are so tender and show his depth and love for his daughter. As he said last year when we visited her hospital room, "It just makes me sad to think about the life that could have been."
Yes, it makes me sad too. Sometimes it really makes me very sad.
And other days I truly don't feel sad about it like I used to. I think it is perfectly healthy and good and normal that we dug out all of her things and went through it today…that we spent time thinking about her and talking about her as a family…that we will always remember her out loud…because I don't want our family to ever forget her. She meant something to us and always will. She was born. She was still. But she was born.
Having our sweet Solveig has changed my life forever. I feel things more deeply now than I think I could before. I see other people hurting in a different way than before. I feel more aware of a lot of things that I think matter in this world. And I wish that I could help everyone who is in pain. The reality of course it that I can't do that because I'm just one person. But I do care. And I can pray. I can pray for people…that is something that I can do. I so long to help other people who are going through the loss of their child, and I am thankful to be able to do some of this.
Thank you for caring about me…about our family…for remembering our daughter with us. We all miss her very much. It isn't just me. We all grieve differently, and that is alright. But we are learning to process our grief alone and together. It is still a process. And I believe it will go on for the rest of our lives, and that is alright. It is okay to grieve. And it is healthy to grieve.
And in grieving fully, I believe we are able to more better move forward in our lives. I truly feel like I am able to "do life" better now than I could two years ago, or one year ago, or even six months ago. Each day brings new strength that only comes from God. I could not go on without His love for me.
Blessings and peace, friends.
I cherish these family photos that we had taken that day. Thank you Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and Jen Kelly.