I am officially ready to fast forward. I don't know how far - I will know the right place to stop when I find it - probably well into January, maybe February. I used to look forward to the Christmas season with such eager anticipation, now I find that it brings heaviness to my heart. I observed a sad anniversary on Thursday - two years since a friend died unexpectedly. Today I observe another anniversary - 24 years since my grandmother, after whom Gracie is named, was killed. The anniversary of another friend's death comes immediately after Christmas. In two days we will observe the first of many 'anniversaries' of a slightly different nature. Monday, December 22nd, 2008 we discovered that we would be celebrating Christmas 2009 as a family of three. That is even how we announced it to several of our friends (via traditional Christmas text, or course). What a difference a year makes... Instead of buying our first born child presents and watching as she tries to figure out the lights on the tree and all of the other decorations, we are collecting items to donate to charity in her memory and picking out memorial ornaments. Instead of ordering the photo Christmas cards that I was sooo looking forward to, I have figured out a way to include angel wings in our signature for the regular boxed cards. Instead of dressing her in cute Christmas outfits, I occasionally stop at her dresser and look at the 0-3 month clothing still folded and neatly put away - just waiting for her arrival. Instead of shopping for her unique stocking, I had to make her unique stocking because there just isn't a great selection of dead baby stockings out there. Instead of reading Gracie traditional Christmas stories, I am reading poems entitled 'My First Christmas in Heaven' and 'I'm an Angel Now, Mommy.'
I have cried more in the last 3 days than I have in the last month. I think that there are definitely some hormones involved, but the rest of it is just aching heart, sadness and a little bit of anger. It's sadness in knowing that my life is now about accepting and embracing (or at least giving accepting and embracing some thought) the new normal, and accepting that what I have known to be normal for 32 years is long gone. It's sadness in knowing that days like December 22nd, April 7th, July 31st, August 1st, August 5th, and August 27th will always be on the list of days that I would prefer to avoid all together. It's sadness in knowing that every holiday celebration for the rest of my life will be incomplete, regardless of who we celebrate with. It's sadness in knowing that we will never be able to gather all of my children around the Christmas tree. It's sadness in knowing that Jeff and I will always have aching hearts, and that we will always feel like our earthly family is incomplete.
I hope, with everything I have, that we will be blessed with a rainbow baby by the end of 2010. That means that my body must host another pregnancy - very soon - which scares me to death. I loved feeling Gracie move around inside my belly and interacting with her that way, and I am so looking forward to having that experience again. But beyond that, i am just fearful. I am fearful of every decision we will have to make. I am fearful of every moment that I might realize the baby has been still for an hour or more. My brain keeps processing all of the things that I want to do differently during the next pregnancy, so we can have more to remember the baby...as if it's already a certainty that the next baby won't come home either.
I hope with every bit of spirit I can find that the next few days will be peaceful and easy, even though I am already feeling a bit of angst about Christmas Eve dinner for reasons other than Gracie. I hope that Jeff and I are able to find some common emotional ground and enjoy a bit of the holiday the way a newlywed couple should. I hope that I am able to take a break from work and the rest of life and find a little bit of inner peace, even if it's just for 15 or 20 minutes...