I'm three weeks late writing this, you would actually be almost eight months old by now. Let's just say it's been a crazy month. Cue mom guilt.
Month seven was a hard one. It contained Christmas without you, and a New Year without you. On your six month birthday we were in Oregon, and it was hard to be away from home, unable to do some things that we usually do on your birthdays like visiting your little grave. Two days later, it was Christmas. I am glad, I think, that we were able to be away for Christmas... I think it would have been pretty miserable for everyone at home. I'm glad especially for Judah's sake that we were surrounded by family and uncles to keep him busy and having fun. However, I hardly remember much about Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, and the day after. I couldn't sleep at night, and I had a terrible headache... it was partly from having a cold, but I know it was a grief headache. It was my body's way of grieving. I remember sobbing for a good hour when I woke up Christmas morning and saw your empty stocking alongside our full ones. I had no idea what a trigger that would be... I went and got your blue giraffey and put him in your stocking. Then I wiped my tears away and tried to enjoy the day for Judah. My headache stuck to me like glue, no matter what medicine or naps I took to get it to go away.
We said goodbye to family and flew back to Kansas City on New Year's Eve. On New Year's Day, we had our own little family Christmas celebration. This time I was a little more prepared, I had bought some sweet little baby toys and I stuffed your stocking with them. Judah delighted in pulling them all out for you. I had planned to donate them, but I just couldn't part with them... and Judah attached himself to several of them, so we will keep them for your baby sister.
After the New Year, I was so worn out from heavy grief and being away from home, it was like my body needed a couple of weeks to recover. Facing a new year without you - I think it was all just too much for a little while there. 2014 was hard to say goodbye to because it's your year - the year that I carried you and gave birth to you. 2015 is a year that you don't live on this earth. The first couple of weeks of the year are kind of hazy to me, I wasn't functioning very well and I think Judah watched too much Netflix. Cue mom guilt again. But then I found my feet again, just in time for your 7-month birthday. I started taking care of myself - eating better, going to a holistic chiropractor for my aching out-of-whack body, and exercising again. One of the things that has struck me on this grief journey is the importance of looking after yourself - your body, mind and soul. When I neglect any one of those areas, I struggle much more with every day life and the heaviness of grief.
On your birthday, we picked up seven blue balloons and let them go with your seven-month sticker and we visited your little grave. Judah gets a balloon too, and he always wants to let it go with your balloons. I know they don't really go up to heaven, but it's a helpful symbol to me of "letting go" each month and letting God carry my dreams for you. We got little matching windchimes, one is at your grave, and the other hangs above my kitchen sink. I ring it and think of you often.
I'm never sure when I start these letters to you what they are going to be like. Since I am writing this later on I'm able to look back and comprehend a little of what I was going through during your seventh month in heaven. I'm just so glad that you don't feel any of this - you are whole and perfect and there is no empty spot in your heart that misses me or life on this earth.
A dear friend, and deeply bereaved mother, sent me this quote a few weeks ago:
"Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she is, but she is not, all at once. She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity." - Anonymous
A part of me is elsewhere, with you in heaven, until we meet there again. It is part of my identity now, and it is not easy to live without a part of your heart every day. I know it will grow less painful but it will always be with me, because you are not here. It's part of life on this earth - it will never be perfect because this is not our home... and never have I longed for home more.
We love you Theodore. I can just picture your chubby seven-month-old self delighting the hosts of heaven... though I wish you were here to delight us.
Love, Momma, Papa, Judah, and baby sister