Part 8, After the Service and the few days following
After the short service, people were invited back to my parent's house for a meal.
One of the things I forgot to mention in my previous entry was the my uncle, from Hawaii, had flown in for the service. I just remembered, once again, being baffled by this. I had to keep reminding myself that my son died. It was a Big Deal. I know he had come to support my dad, his brother. It was something that meant a lot to us.
It was a beautiful, early summer day. People chatted on the back patio, chomping on fruit and sandwiches my mom's friends had made. I remember sitting on the love seat, next to my grandfather, and him hold my hand. It was a sweet gesture. I remember sitting outside with a few friends of mine and talking about another friend's recent trip to Mexico to meet her now in-laws. I remember my mother in law joking about how far away we lived. I remember changing into different clothes later in the day, in my parent's gust room. I remember leaning against Craig, him wrapping his arms around me, and I remember sobbing into his chest.
I don't remember much else.
We came home later that evening to a very quiet house. We had stuff strewn every where. We decided to sit down and open all of the cards we had been given lately. Letters poured out of so many. Heartfelt, heart broken words, people were just aching for us.
I read each one with almost...numbness. It was all kind, it was all sweet, I knew it would mean so much to me at some point. But when I read it at the time I just thought "oh, that is nice." And pushed it aside. In the months, and years, following, I would read their words, find comfort, and sob. But at that point feelings had started to turn off. My brain couldn't handle the overload anymore. It was too much. I think that is why so often people say others forget or they feel abandoned. Because at the time of the loss, the love and support is all immediate. And it is almost too much. As time moves forward and you are able to process thing and truly grieve, others have stopped the outpouring. You often need it more 6 months down the road then you do 3 days into the process.
That night, we were just sitting in the living room. This air of "what do you we do know?" hanging over us. Craig started pacing across the living room floor. "Let's go to a movie. Do you want to go to a movie?"
A movie? Hell no! I wanted to be tending to my screaming baby.
There was nothing we really wanted to see, but picked out anyway. A comedy. A movie called RV with Robin Williams. It had gotten horrible reviews, but we didn't care. We went, we watched. We tried to lose ourselves in the movie. We didn't, but it felt nice to do a normal, routine activity.
There was a scene in the movie, where a father and son are playing catch.
I burst into tears.
Craig rubbed my hand. Father and son stuff...that still gets to me to this day.
The next following days, things are a blur. We went to a BBQ at my aunt's house while my uncle was still in town. My cousin sat down with me and wanted all the gory details. How we found out. What delivery was like. What I was feeling. Grateful to talk, I poured it all out. Every last thing.
Craig took the next week off, as planned when the baby would come. We didn't leave each other's side on Monday and Tuesday unless it was to shower. On Wednesday, his brothers and dad came over and they went to play 18 holes of golf. It was the first time we were apart and I went out to dinner with my parent's. For my mom's birthday. It was a somber dinner. I was on autopilot so much of this time.
One of the days, I called Curtis' daycare. They were expecting a phone call the beginning of June so they could start preparing to take him on in August. The poor woman on the phone who answered was on the receiving end of my first out loud explanation of what happened. I stated my name, said they were expecting my son to start in August, but he had been stillborn a few days ago. So wouldn't be in their care. It was a stupid thing to say, but it was one of the first times I spoke it out loud to someone who didn't know my story. Since this time, I have gotten very good at explaining it to people. But then, I just stuttered and stumbled my way through it. She stuttered and stumbled her way through saying she was sorry, and she would pass on the message, she hung up on me even before I could thank her.
Craig had the task of calling our insurance company. We had some extra disability pay that we were entitled to when I gave birth. We had the form that had been filled out and needed to call to get some type of ID number. The woman was chattering away on the phone with him.
"Oh! Your wife gave birth! Great. Boy or girl?"
"Boy." He answered. Softly. Matter of factly.
"That is just great! Congrats! When?"
"I suppose you are having all those sleepless nights. Woohoo. I do not miss those! Not at all."
"Well, he actually ended up stillborn."
The woman rushed through the rest of the case and got him off of the phone quickly. The same thing happened to me when I called to make a follow up call with my doctor.
"Oh! A post delivery check! Congrats. When was he born? Babies are such blessings. Are you getting any sleep?"
Then the "Oh. I am so sorry."
Honestly, couldn't they flag my chart or something?
The upcoming weekend, Craig and I decided to go on a little trip away. Craig would be heading back to work and I would be alone at home. We wanted to spend a little time together and just try to relax. I had come to Craig and said that I wanted to get a tattoo in Curtis' memory. I had a tattoo already and I thought maybe I could add his birth date and name to it. Craig, who is the last person on Earth you would expect to get a tattoo, looked at me and said "I want to get one too."
We decided on our little trip we would find a tattoo shop and pick out tattoos in honor of our little boy. We were so excited. We left on a Friday morning and drove the 2 hours south. We approached the little town of Red Wing, MN and found "Spirit Garden's Tattoo" shop. We walked in and started to look at designs. I was almost giddy at this point. I had so badly wanted this, I wanted something permanent to say "Yes, he is my son. Yes, he was alive. Yes, he matters."
Teddy bears had started to play a significance in our memory of Curtis. His urn was a teddy bear, and he had been posed with a tiny teddy bear at the hospital. Craig picked out a sweet little teddy bear holding a flower design. He asked me my opinion and I loved it. It was done, we would both get this sweet tattoo.
We made an appointment to come back later in the day and get the tattoos. We decided at this point to go see if we could check into our hotel when Craig's phone rang.
I clearly remember him answering and looked in shock. He turned into an empty parking lot and said "what?" I started thinking it was his Gram. She is 90 years old. In good health, but obviously something serious was wrong.
Craig turned, horror in his eyes and said "Diane died."
I was confused. The only Diane I knew was in her 50s. We had just seen her a few days prior at Curtis's funeral. She had never been sick. She was Craig's best friend's moms. She was my mother in law's best friend. She went us to Vegas the previous year. There must be some mistake.
"We need to go back home."
I offered to drive. Craig looked like he was going through hell, for a second time. We switched places.
And started the drive back home towards the second saddest event we had to live through, ten days apart from the first.