I have affectionately come to think of the week before my son's birthday as "The slow crash". For me this is a time in which my mind is always split. I cant do a single thing without thoughts of him, of our time together and of how he is doing. While washing the dishes my mind will wander to thoughts of 9 years past. While I am grocery shopping I will forget something because his face seems to hover within my brain. Cherished and painful memories of his voice and his hand in mine. A distant and still poignant ache in my chest.
It starts every year on the 22Nd of January. All of a sudden the memories flood in, and I am 16 again:
On that night 9 years ago my sister and I spent the evening together. My mom took pictures of us both, extremely pregnant and posing belly to belly. My sister had been feeling uncomfortable all day, and that night she went into the hospital. I went too, but was soon turned back out the door with my little man still in my belly. My nephew was born on the 23rd. He was 6 lbs 12 oz, and he looked like Elmer Fudd (I called him Elmer for weeks after he was born, to my sister's annoyance). I held him and felt so happy for my sister, while also feeling a burning jealousy. I watched her hold her baby boy, kiss him and feed him and love him freely. I felt guilty for praying my child would stay put so that I could love him as his Mom just a little longer.
Those nights weren't the hard ones, or at least not the hardest. If they were tough for me then I don't remember, those days before his birth are so shattered by the events they lead up to. I remember the days seemed to fly, even as I wished I would not have to separate myself from this piece of me.
Now, 9 years later, I dread his birthday. Not because having him was painful, but because after his birthday comes the aftermath. For the most part January 29Th has not been excruciating for me since his first birthday. The days I dread are the 3 after that. Memories from our time together flood my mind, I cant focus, I cant sleep and I cant stop thinking about the inevitable bittersweet thoughts. I always know that day will come, February 2Nd, the day I handed a piece of myself over to his Mom and walked away. I know how this all ends, but I still relive it each year. Sometimes more difficult than others. The last few years I have found ways to distract myself. Work, family, friends, activities, sometimes a few drinks. It's worked mostly, numbing what used to be a devastating crash into a minor breakdown that I can manage.
This year all the distractions are out the window. His Birthday is on a Sunday, meaning not much in the way of distractions. I'm not working, and so my only sources of distraction are Cookie and A. I think I will be OK on that day, and I even planned a little party in Dawson's honor. We'll eat dinner, have cake and enjoy some company that night. I think the real kicker for me will be those 3 days after. I will be home on my own, A will be working and so I will be alone with those memories.
Here's hoping that after 9 years this crash will be easier to handle.