Well, we survived. That's about all I can say on how I feel today, I'm just surviving. As you know from my previous post Friday was a really bad day. Saturday (Christmas Eve) turned out to be closer to ok, but yesterday (Christmas) was tough - really really tough. Let me recap my holiday weekend for you.
After the intensity of Friday I was pretty exhausted. We slept in on Saturday (ok, so I rarely do not sleep in) and Mike started our day by making buckwheat pancakes. I had a nice phone call with a friend from back home, a local friend stopped by with lunch, and I received a very heart felt text message from a friend that's out of town. Those were all very appreciated. My mom visited Marcellus and sent me a picture of his grave saying "Merry Christmas Mommy and Daddy".
We had gotten him the Christmas plant and angel statue before we left MN at the end of November. That was our Christmas shopping for our son, picking out things for his grave. It was pretty hard to find a statue this time of year as they are considered "garden statues". It was important to us that his angel statue have really big wings. Ideally we had wanted to find two matching statues and have one at our house. The only one I liked (and I really like it) was locally made and there was only one left. We are looking for a similar statue to have here, but have yet to find something suitable (Mommy's pretty picky!). We also made the sign (below the plant) before we left and had my mom put it up last week. It says "Merry Christmas Marcellus! You are our greatest gift!" There's a picture of Marcellus on there. I drew a Christmas tree, some Christmas lights and a star. Mike drew a cute little cartoon penguin with a Santa hat. We also ordered an ornament for Marcellus. It's at the top of the plant, a Precious Moments little boy holding a snowman. Of course it says "Baby's First Christmas, 2011" on it. We ordered the same one for ourselves and although we never put a tree up it has been sitting on our mantle. We will be getting an ornament for him every year.
Mike had to work the afternoon/early evening. During that time I briefly talked to my mom. She expressed to me that she was really sad about her Lil Boo. Although I don't want anyone to be sad, it's important for us to know that other people miss and hurt for him too, that he's being remembered by more than his mommy and daddy. She also pointed out this is the first time we wouldn't all be together for Christmas. We have always celebrated on Christmas Eve with my mom. My parents divorced when I was young so we would do Christmas Eve with my mom and Christmas Day with my dad. My mom would even put a special call into Santa and he would come to our house a day early. I am secretly (well I guess it's not a secret anymore) glad that we weren't around family. There was no pressure to be cheerful, no feeling of being a burden by bringing down the Christmas spirit. My family did call and I talked to my mom and siblings. We had sent them silicone bracelets that say "Grandma of an Angel", "Aunt of an Angel", "Uncle of an Angel", and "Cousin of an Angel". We have the ones that say "Mommy of an Angel" and "Daddy of an Angel" (we got them from Remembering Our Babies). They all loved them! My 11 year old brother told me the only time he's taking his off is when it gets worn down and breaks from being worn so long. I didn't really know what else to talk to them about other than their bracelets (since that represented Marcellus for me), so the conversations included a lot of silences and were short lived. I do hope they had a good time together though.
We did decide to go to church. Now I haven't talked much about my faith or relationship with God. That's mostly because right now it's a little shaky. I'm angry at Him and questioning Him. We had only been to church twice since Marcellus died, once in MN and once here in NC. Both times we left feeling angry. Church is also a place families tend to go together, families with babies, families that are pregnant. I did know I wanted to go to church for Christmas even if we weren't celebrating in our own house, we would celebrate in God's house. We decided to go to midnight Mass to avoid families with young children and babies. There was one baby there, an older baby but a baby all the same. I saw the baby out of the corner of my eye when we walked in. I thought it was ok because we sat a ways ahead of them and couldn't hear or see that baby. That is until the baby let out a cry. It was in the middle of the service and all of a sudden there's this cry. It felt like a hundred little daggers just went right through me. Other than that, church was tolerable. We were both hoping to hear a clear message, to really hear God speak to us. But we didn't. We will keep listening though. Even when we are angry we will try to listen.
Since we had been up really late I slept in yesterday. When I woke up dread just came over me. I really did not want to get out of bed. The only reason I did was to go to the cemetery for Marcellus. I wanted to make sure we did something for him for Christmas. We took white roses to a couple of our favorite cemeteries. Yes, we have favorite cemeteries (doesn't everybody?). We attached a penguin card (he was buried with a little penguin) so people would know they were in memory of Marcellus. Right before we left I got a phone call from a woman we met at The Compassionate Friends meeting we went to. She lost her 5 year old daughter 20 or 30 years ago. I had missed her call and she left such a beautiful voice mail. Not only did she mention that she was thinking of us, but how she was remembering Marcellus. She even mentioned his eyes (we had shown pictures of him at TCF meeting). I had to call her back and thank her for the message. She had also called me more than a week prior just to check in and I never called back from that. I called and ended up being on the phone as we walked out the door to go to the cemetery. I had everything all planned out and by being distracted when we left it caused a little chaos. First, we forgot the camera we didn't get very far and turned around to get it. Once we got to the cemetery I realized we forgot Marcellus's candle (the one the funeral home made with his picture and scaled down version of his hand and footprints). It was so important to me that everything go perfectly for Marcellus that we came back home to get it. Finally back at the cemetery we had our moment. The first cemetery we like because of the baby section. It's right next to a tree, off any main roads so it's quite, but not hidden back in a corner somewhere. We were able to sit down next to the tree and talk to Marcellus.
The tears came, but it wasn't uncontrollable like it had been on Friday. We were simply talking to our baby, wishing him a Merry Christmas in Heaven, missing him, and loving him. We were sad and it hurt, but we were there for Marcellus. We went to one other cemetery and laid the roses next to an angel statue. This is something we will do every year. This is the tradition we are starting with Marcellus, not baking cookies, decorating the tree together, or making a ginger bread house. The tradition we have with our son is bringing him white roses to the cemetery.
We then headed for Chinese. Turns out it was more difficult than we thought to find a Chinese restaurant open. We drove around for awhile on our hunt. It was actually kind of nice to drive around the city without all the traffic and usual hustle bustle. We found a restaurant and brought our Marcellus candle in with us. It was early, about 430pm, and we were hoping for a quiet non-Christmas dinner. The restaurant wasn't too busy, but of course there was a family with a rambunctious little boy. Even though Marcellus would only be eight weeks old, whenever I see little boys I can't help but think how we will never know Marcellus as a little boy. We will never know if he would be quiet and shy or outspoken full of energy like the little boy we saw. We had our dinner and went home to watch a movie we had rented.
When we got home I needed to write to Marcellus first. We keep a journal where Mike and I write to Marcellus. I wanted to tell him about all the things we were hoping for this Christmas and everything we would have done for him. I also wanted to tell him about what we did do for him this year. I was pretty focused on writing and didn't get too caught up in any one emotion. After I wrote I decided to talk to God. I can't remember all I said, but it led me to be an uncontrollable sobbing mess. I came downstairs clutching a framed picture of Marcellus and all I could say was "He should be here! He should be here! He should be here!" I started to physically hurt. My arms hurt. They hurt to hold my baby. I longed for him so bad. I have heard other Angel Mommas talk about and have read about 'aching arms'. I hadn't experienced the physical hurt like that yet. My arms just always felt so empty, but it wasn't until last night that I really felt them ache like that. I finally got it together and we decided to watch the movie we rented (The Help) and ate popcorn, m&m's, and sour patch kids. I thought the movie was pretty good.
Before we went to bed I wanted to watch a video of Marcellus. It's a good one, one where he's being moved to kangaroo care with me. He's a week old in the video and we are happy. The nurse places him on my chest and he gets snuggled in. You see him put his one arm above his head like he always does and start to tickle at my neck. I just stared at the video and all of a sudden I start frantically thinking "I had a baby. I had a baby. We had a baby. We really did have him. He was here. I had a baby and now I don't!" The breakdown starts again, the ache starts again. We made it upstairs into bed and I couldn't stop. I couldn't stop crying. I literally felt like I was losing my mind. I don't know what to do. I don't know how to do this. I just don't know how to be the mommy of an angel. I don't know how long it went on for, but eventually I calmed down. We talked and were able to do our nighttime routine for Marcellus. We read his story, sang his song, and prayed. My mind was still racing and I knew I wouldn't be able to fall asleep. I read out of Roses in December: Comfort for the Grieving Heart to get my mind more focused. Eventually I did fall asleep. I woke up late today and still don't know how I'm feeling. Like I mentioned at the beginning of the post, I am surviving. That's about all I can hope to do right now.
Well, that was my Christmas.