I started writing this post as a continuation of Luca’s story, but this week has not been easy and I cannot seem to focus on remembering those details at the moment. The holiday season is hard. It is a time to celebrate with family and be with loved ones. For someone going through grief, the holidays magnify what you have lost. All I can say is that grief is very unpredictable. I never really know what the day will be like until it is here.
Last weekend was six months since Luca’s birthday. I thought that day would be extremely difficult, since six months is a big milestone for a baby, but surprisingly it was a really good day. I purposely did not plan much for the day, since I knew that I would need some quiet time to myself. I thought a lot about what Luca would be like at six months. What would he look like by now? I asked my mom to send me a picture of me around that age and searched for baby photos of my husband too. It makes me smile to think about what his cute little face would look like and who he would take after. Here are our baby pictures: 🙂
As usual, my friends were wonderful and this day did not go unnoticed. One friend delivered beautiful cookies to celebrate Luca – so sweet to remember and they were delicious! My husband’s squadron Christmas party was that night and another friend decorated a candle for Luca and put it at our table, so we could think of him throughout the night. There was a beautiful sunset that evening and we had a great time at the party surrounded by wonderful friends.
I had also just so happened to get a message that very day that Luca’s Christmas stocking was ready! I had it made locally and wanted it to have something to represent that he was born here in Japan. I LOVE how it came out!
In Japan, cranes are a symbol of peace, happiness, good luck, hope, and resilience – all things that remind me of my Luca. If you would like to read about how the crane became a symbol of peace and healing in Japan, this is an interesting article!
While Luca’s six month birthday was a happier day for me, the days after were not. Sometimes you wake up and realize that it’s just not going to be a good day. For me, my grief is magnified when I am overtired, so I try my best to get adequate sleep, but I’m not always the best at that. On these bad days, my heart physically hurts thinking about my son. I ache to be able to hold him, smell his sweet baby smell, and touch his soft baby skin. I sit in disbelief that this has really happened to us. I tell my husband that a lot. “I just can’t believe that this happened.” And, I cry a lot. Most of the time it’s not one thing that suddenly makes me sad. It’s perhaps just being alone with my thoughts. While I truly feel that those sad days are necessary to keep making progress, they are hard to get through. They are absolutely exhausting. They are lonely.
On those days, to cope, I sit in his room and have quiet time, I cancel many of my plans, and I try to muster the courage to tell my husband and friends that I’m hurting. I think for many grieving people, we worry that our sadness will be a burden for our family and friends. Or, you think, why bother telling someone you are sad if they can’t fix the problem? I want to write more specifically about how to help a grieving person in future posts, but I am learning that it is best to tell someone you are hurting and being very honest about what it feels like. It’s also best to tell people how they can help you. For me, that is talking about Luca. On one of my bad days, my friend came over and I showed her Luca’s room for the first time. We sat in there for awhile and talked. I felt so much better after being able to share what brings the most joy to my heart – my son.
Flowers from the farmers market to brighten a sad day
A college friend of mine who is a counselor did a great piece on dealing with loss over the holidays. I think it’s so true when she says “there can be pain and sadness alongside joy and happiness.”
A few months ago, when I was beginning to get over the initial shock of our loss, I told my nurse friend who helped to deliver Luca that I wanted to help in some way. I wanted to visit families at the hospital who had experienced a loss similar to ours. I certainly hoped that there wouldn’t be many such losses, but I felt that I could help give other families hope, and that perhaps helping others would help me heal too. I knew that I had to be careful to protect myself in my grief process – that maybe not every situation would be something I could handle – so, we handle it on a case by case basis. Recently, I was notified that a family had lost their son and I went to the hospital and sat with them for awhile. I won’t discuss the details of the visit, but will say that it was so nice to be with them and do my best to offer comfort to them after they had said goodbye to their child. One of the hardest things is to be alone in that hospital room after you say your final goodbye. Or to wake up the next morning and realize there is no baby in your arms. When I was in the hospital, I would have loved to talk to someone who truly understood that kind of emptiness. I would have liked to see someone who had been through the same pain, yet could find happiness again. I asked them to show me pictures of their baby and explained how perfect and beautiful he was. I tried to think of all of the things I would have wanted someone to ask me or talk about after Luca was born. There were times that not much was said, but just sitting in each other’s presence was peaceful. I feel honored that they allowed me to be there with them during that special, but heart wrenching time.
On my way out of the hospital, I had a question for the nurse. In my last post, I wrote about tracking down the clothing that Luca had worn to make Luca Bear. The only thing that was missing from Luca’s memory box was his tiny blue knitted premie hat. I asked the nurse if they would, by any chance, have an extra one of those hats that I could have. She went to look and after awhile she reappeared with the hat!
She said it was the only hat left like it and it was meant for us! That made my day! Moments of happiness like this one help me get through the worst days. I am thankful for everyone who has been so patient and kind and willing to walk this difficult path with me. ❤