Baby calendar, baby book, Big Bird balloon and stuffed toy
First bib, bottle, pacifiers, rattle, shoes, socks, pajamas
Captain Crunch Cereal in a sealed cup, his favorite
Newspaper articles, photos,
Birthday cards, get well cards
Stacks and stacks of insurance claims and bills, hospital wrist bands
every card that came with flowers we received at the funeral,
guest book with hundreds of names written inside
his last outfit, my last outfit
dried tears that have fallen into that box over the years
I have had this box for many years now. As of late, the box sat on a shelf in the closet. It is a box I look through every year on his birthday and death date and random other times throughout the year. I look through the box and think about that very short time in my life and how I wish I could have changed it. There are so many memories packed inside, some good memories, others- definitely the worst time of my life.
Just another day of the year for some, perhaps more meaningful for others and yet bittersweet for a random few, perhaps. I fall into the random few category.
This time of the year has always been bitter but I’ve tried to make it sweet in years past and will continue to do so.
“It” is one of the most difficult days of a bereaved parent’s life. The birthdate of their dead child. However it is a day that can’t always remain exclusively bitter when the twin brother still needs to have a celebration and be recognized.
It’s been this way for so many years now, though it seems like yesterday we had their first birthday party. They smashed their little faces into their ice cream cakes from Baskin-Robbins. It was a party like no other. We were so grateful our little boy had survived so much in his short life and the other two children were handling our insecurities and discombobulations like pros, thanks to grandma and grandpa and numerous friends helping with them. It was time for a celebration!
Our family had already been through so much by the time the boys first birthday arrived. Code Blue is something we were familiar with in the first 365 days of these little boys lives. Code Blue is something you see on “Grey’s Anatomy,” not something you hear while sitting in the waiting room at the hospital realizing it is your little boy the Code Blue team is running toward….again.
Just a short six months after the birthday party, our son was dead.
He had been through so much in his first year of life that I never dreamed he was going to die. Who thinks that? He survived every Code Blue! Had I known he was going to die would I have done things differently? Who knows? Woulda’ coulda’ shoulda? Over the years I have beaten myself up wondering if I did the right thing? Did I spend enough time with him? Did I spend enough time with the other kids? Could I have done anything to have prevented his death? Yes and No to all of these questions.
I pulled the box off the shelf in the closet and took things out piece by piece for one final look and shed a few tears.
Packing and needing to scale down for the next chapter in my life, I took one last look at the box, contemplated putting it back on the shelf, but instead sent a text to the kid’s dad asking him if he wanted “The box.”
He came by, picked it up and put it in the backseat of his car and drove away. Standing in the driveway watching “The Box” leave my possession was heart wrenching. However, I know he needed to take some time to look through the box and remember some of the happy memories that were in there, too. “The Box” is healing in a way, and I wish him a peaceful heart as he looks through each pair of sunglasses from the Drillers Baseball games, books they’ve read and birthday cards that are stored in “The Box.”
I did keep a couple of things, like the bibs in the picture and the shirt I wore the last time I held my son. I will wear it today.
In the meantime, Happy Birthday Eric. I hope you have a sweet day.
I Love you.