Since ten years is rather a significant milestone, I expected today to be terrible. So far, the anticipation was far worse than the reality, just like with his birthday.
As I reflect today, I'd like to focus on the positive. YES, there WAS, indeed, positive through the whole long experience, from "HOW am I pregnant?!" through the interment. If I forget something or someone, please know it's a fault of middle-aged memory or incomplete record-keeping, not an intentional slight.
As I go through the little notebook I kept while I was in the hospital, I am grateful for those who visited me during my 19-day stay:
- Mom and Dad
- nail polish remover
- my girls
- Rick, Adriana, and Jesse
- Diane (who was pregnant at the time; THAT had to be hard!)
- a flowering plant
- back scratcher (stupid morphine!)
- Life Savers
- a pen
- a notebook (wherein I recorded...all of this!)
- a little blue teddy bear for Paul, which T2 has to this day
- Jeanne and Genna
- beautiful white 0-3m outfit for Paul
- Rich and Antonette
- neck pillow thing
- buckwheat "hot water bottle"
- Erica (was *very* pregnant!)
- Kerry was with me the one time I got to see Paul with his eyes open!
- Juan and Jovita
- mystery novel
- Uncle Barney and Aunt Becky
- prayed with us!
- Uncle Eddie and Aunt Simona
- Lino and Viesha
There were people who brought meals to my home when I was in the hospital:
- Jennie (ice creams for the kids!)
Ruthie (my MIL) had roses and a snack care package sent to me.
My sister and sisters-in-law made sure my girls were well cared-for while I was unable to take care of them. Christa even came and stayed with them at our house so that they could have some sense of normalcy.
My Aunt Ame's stepdaughter Mariesa was a great help with all kinds of information and support that would have proved invaluable, had Paul lived.
Paul himself had many visitors; we couldn't fit all the names we wanted on the "authorized visitors" card at the NICU!
The day Paul died, we had a number of visitors supporting us, some of whom stayed for many hours, some even until the very end in the wee hours of the morning:
- Mom and Dad
- the girls
- Grandma Ruthie (She arrived from the airport around 11pm.)
- Rick and Adriana
- Mike and Diane
- Uncle Jimmy and Auntie Velia
- Cousin Tammy
- Mike Amodeo (Came by twice that day!)
- Rich Hua
- Gordon and Fiona
- Mark and Bobbi
Over 100 people attended the memorial service BBQ (I have a list!).
I could go on and on about all the friends we've made through the neonatal death support group, the people we've bonded with as we've been able to empathize with their losses, the people who remember *every* year, the people who fasted for Paul while he was alive, those who have surprised me with their encouragement, but this is enough for today.
Thank you. Thank you all. Your support and love have been so important.
As I reflect on this milestone, I thank God for all that our family has learned from what we experienced. While I would never wish such an experience on my worst enemy, and I would never have signed up for the pain, each good thing that has come from it lifts the burden a bit and makes the pain more bearable. I can actually say (well, right this minute; who knows about an hour from now) that I am grateful for it all because, otherwise, the four of us would not be who we are today.
I leave you with a picture I took on July 31, 2006 of The Pieta. The sculpture never meant a lot to me before, but seeing it IRL on the two-year anniversary of Paul's "Angel Day", it kicked me in the gut. I know what it feels like to hold your dead son in your arms. I know something of her pain and the love she must have felt.