I had been so focused on Ryan leading up to his birthday I hadn’t really considered the “big picture.” The fact that I’ve been grieving his loss for one whole year.
I’m sitting here, in the cemetery, on a hot and sunny day, with burnt orange leaves on the ground signalling a change of seasons. And I’m realizing I’ve been here for 4 seasons now. I’m about to enter my second Fall at the cemetery with Ryan. A year can happen so quickly.
Who I was one year ago at this time is so far gone from who I am as I’m sitting here now. The fog of my grief eventually lifted, though I still can’t pinpoint the exact moment. And it became a manageable load that I carry each day. And I carry it willingly. Because carrying my grief means he was loved. He is loved.
Loved with a love that is as strong today as it was when we laid his sweet little body to rest. Writing here now, I’m reminded that a little over a year ago, on September 12, 2015, we held Ryan’s memorial. We memorialized him that day. It was the first of many ways we have celebrated him since he died.
His grandparents, aunts, uncle, and great-aunt gathered here. His dad and I collected his ashes in an urn much too big for his little remains, but the thought of something smaller seemed too disproportionate to the importance he held for us. We laid him to rest along with various other small tokens of our love.
A baseball to represent all of the hopes and dreams we had for him.
A cross given to his dad from his great grandmother to represent the love waiting for him in Heaven.
A photo and love note from his dad and I to represent the love still held for him here on earth and so that he would never be alone.
And the 11 people who attended his service that day each left him with a rose on which we spoke a prayer or wish for him.
I read once that inviting a lot of people to a memorial or funeral for a baby helps others to understand how real the loss is. And although I sometimes wish we had invited more people. Allowed our friends and extended family to come witness this great loss. Experience at least some of our pain up close. I know, in the end, he was so surrounded by love that a million more people could have stood by his grave that day and it wouldn’t have made any difference.
The love for my boy is so strong.
And I’m so relieved to still feel that one year later.
To see myself out of the darkness now.
But to still feel so much love for him. From inside my own heart, and the hearts of so many others.