I know I mentioned it a little in Friday's post, but lately I've been afraid people are starting to forget about what happened. Not meaning that they don't remember Carter or that we lost him, but that they don't remember the aftermath of everything we've been through, and the grief we are still dealing with. Most days, it's really easy to put on a big smile and fake it, and some days, we're actually okay. But I worry that the good days will outshine the bad, and people will forget that the hard days still exist.
I almost hate to say this, because I feel like it makes me sound greedy, but the day the mass influx of sympathy cards stopped coming, I cried so much. Every time I checked the mailbox and there was nothing but junk mail or bills, my heart broke a little more. I don't know why, but for those of us who have experienced a loss, I think we almost need someone else to validate it. We need someone to let us know that the person we lost was real, not just in our heads. The days there were no cards, I felt like I had made all of it up. Like I made up this little baby, somehow made my belly bigger, bought all the nursery things for no reason, and then was drowning in my own imaginary physical and emotional pain. It was hard. It's hard to explain, but the outside validation meant a lot.
Over time, it's gotten better. I kept all of the cards we were sent, so sometimes I reread them. On March 27th, five months after we lost him, I went up to a quiet room we have at work and read back through the comments from everyone when I posted that we lost him, and I read through the comments on my blog post about our boy and his pictures. Hearing his name from other people, and knowing that we're not alone, has helped so much.
Material things have gotten me through this. It doesn't make sense, because nothing will ever be able to replace Carter, but with every necklace, airplane item, or whatever else I buy, the giant hole in my heart is filled just a little.
Last week was complete crap. I felt like no one remembered him, like no one cared. I felt like people were afraid to talk to us about him and about anything for fear of saying the wrong thing. But we have been given some very strong reminders in the past few days that have helped my heart to not feel so much anxiety about people remembering our little family. And with each gift, I have cried so much, not because I miss Carter (even though I do, every single day), but because people remember him. People remember this perfect little boy that I grew inside me and brought into the world. People remember that even though we don't have our son with us at home, we are still parents, strong parents that do a different kind of hard work than typical parents. People remember that our house, our lives, his nursery, our arms, are all a little emptier than they should be.
I'm not telling you this so you'll send me things, please believe me when I say that. Just knowing you think of him whenever you see an airplane is enough. Mostly I wanted to write this post to say thank you again. The cards, gifts, and Facebook posts right after we lost him meant and still mean so much to us. They let us know we aren't alone. And to those people who have given us gifts this past week, there's no way you knew exactly how awful I've been feeling, but thank you for just knowing, somehow, and doing something so kind to brighten my week.
Thank you for remembering our boy, and for every ounce of love you've shown the three of us.
**title picture is one of the recent gifts from my dear friend and sorority sister from Cardall & Co. on Etsy. I cried for fifteen minutes when I opened it.