Celebrating Mary’s 6th Birthday

I wanted to sit here and write a long post, but decided that I would give a glimpse into our day of celebrating our daughter’s life. I won’t call it brief or short because, as far as I am concerned, she lives on. She lives on in the hearts of not only us, but the hearts of our friends and family. Mary also lives on in all we do in this fight. That baby is my inspiration to keep going.

This morning, I got up before everyone and just sat downstairs with my coffee and laptop in the silence. It was nice. I looked at the clock and remembered that morning. I was holding my new daughter who was “in perfect health”, Brenda had already left. The times today, I still remember them. As of now, it’s 10:50 am and in ten minutes, it’ll be exactly 6 years ago that I was woken up to a lifeless baby. My God, I wil always remember that moment. It’s a moment no parent should have to live through. At 11:34am, she was pronounced. “I’m sorry, there’s nothing more we can do”. I remember being in such shock. “This couldn’t be happening, she was healthy, I did everything right, no”. I was alone outside that tiny room, but there were so many people, so many people. At times I am still in disbelief that this truly happened, that she really existed. When I share the story, it’s like a bad lifetime movie. This stuff doesn’t happen in real life, right???

I sat and flipped through all of my photos of her. It’s enough to fill two albums on Facebook. That’s all I will ever have and it blows. As I looked a these my 12 year old son woke up and cuddled up against me. We looked together. He mentioned how much his 7 year old sister had grown since losing Mary. She was only 21 months at the time. We had to pick her up and hold her so she could touch and kiss her sister during calling hours. She told her “I love you”. Although she got to hold Mary when alive, that was the one photo we never took. I will always regret it.

While sitting here with E, I noticed my husband was on his mobile Facebook, so I went on upstairs. My 4 year old was in our bed, so we laid there and cuddled. This is the one thing we really come together on. 4 year old asked if we can go have lunch at Mary Beth’s. We said yes, so she decided we’d do pink cupcakes. She was excited that it was her sisters birthday, she loves her sister. Daddy asked if she wanted to go to the store with him, so she jumped up out of bed to go get dressed.

My teen daughter has always been all about her sisters, so, naturally, wanted to be in charge of the baking. She handled making batter while my husband helped the other two girls put some cinnamon rolls in a pan for breakfast. Mommy played photographer. As soon as the cinnamon rolls were in the oven, we just held each other as I let a few tears fall. Our 7 year old came up and joined the hug. It was nice.

Shortly after breakfast and baking, we went ahead and threw sandwiches together and packed a cooler for our picnic with Mary. We hit the local drug store for balloons. This is our yearly tradition. There’s always one balloon per person to release, two for the cemetery, and one for home that we tie to her statue in her garden. My husband shed a few tears on the way to the cemetery It breaks my heart to see him hurt like that. As we go walking up to her headstone, we see one big peony blooming against her headstone. I remember when that spot was bare and the only person there was his grandfather. I also remember the day we had to say goodbye at that very spot, gathered around her tiny casket. Until we planted her flowers and got her headstone, you could still see that tell-tale square where she had been placed in the ground. It’s now a beautiful place to just go to think about her.

Due to the kids being antsy, we went ahead and released her balloons before anything else. It truly was beautiful. We then laid out our blanket and had lunch. It wasn’t too hot, wasn’t too cold, and had just the perfect breeze blowing. After eating, I walked around with 5 of the kids to show them a grave we had found the previous weekend while walking in the cemetery. The grave is tucked away and had originally been a spot where a family had buried their lost baby boy. It takes your breath away seeing this spot.

After showing this to the kids, we meandered on through a small infants and children section from the 50’s/60’s on back to Mary’s grave. When we got there, it was decided that we would go ahead and do her cupcake. We bought a #6 candle since we figure we probably wouldn’t fit 6 candles on one small cupcake. Everyone gathered around and sang her happy birthday and then we let I blow out her candle. We enjoyed our cupcakes and stayed a little longer. As we were gathering our stuff to leave, J pointed out a deer that wasn’t too far away. Unfortunately kids got loud and spooked her before I could get a photo of her. It was really awesome!! We kissed her headstone and said our goodbye’s. My husband and I stopped to just hold each other. Times like these, it hurts so much to leave her. I take comfort in knowing that one day I’ll be joining her there and won’t have to leave her. Our younger boys saw us hugging and had to join in, so it became a group hug.

When we arrived home, we tied her balloon to the baby statue and that gesture means that birthday celebrations are pretty much done and the rest of the day is ours to do as we please. We need that distraction to unwind from all the emotions the day brought on. One funny thing did happen during our picnic- J lost a tooth while eating! We’ll have to remember to do the Tooth Fairy thing tonight. One of our friends dropped off a card and bouquet, which we split in half between here and the cemetery, but did not knock or leave a name on the card. We are clueless.

Here are some photos from our celebration.

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This Sucks

In 8 days, it will be Mary’s sixth birthday. I’m actually sitting here bawling alone. As I look back at these years, I really have no words other than, IT SUCKS. Losing a child sucks. I look back on all the platitudes and so many, though well meaning, they ended up getting on my nerves because I heard them so much.

I’d have so many do the “I’m praying for you”. It was well-meaning, I get that. However, when it was said in place of “Go ahead and talk”, it quickly made me think “Take your prayers and shove em”. These days I’m glad that those who say this to me are those who will truly take the time to stop and listen instead of using it to shut me up!

Then there was the “God needed another angel” thing. Loved that one! My thoughts never changed on that. No, our babies are needed here in our arms, where they belong, nowhere else. 

Another treasured one was those who understood how I felt because they had lost a grandparent or an aunt or a pet. True story- someone once said they knew how I felt because they lost their cat. Unless you’ve endured this, you don’t understand and you don’t get it. This loss is like no other. I’ve lost family members that I loved. Still, there is nothing like losing her, nothing. 

There is the infamous “God only gives you what you can handle” line. Not how it works. That makes God look like a sadistic bastard and is certainly not how to win over people to Christianity! Let’s just say it- Shit happens, even to good people. No God cares what a person can handle and they certainly would never inflict this kind of pain upon a person. 

Then you have the “Too perfect for earth”. I think this ties in with the God needed another angel thing. No, she wasn’t too perfect for this earth. She was just perfect for us. 

These well-meaning platitudes really do get old. After we’ve heard them a million times and then some, we’re just like GRRRR. I learned that the best thing you can say to me about this is “This sucks”. Nothing more. Honestly. Because it does, it sucks. This is something that every single bereaved parent can relate to. This sucks is an all encompassing term, too!