Kellen's Birthday was on November 12th. Time has slipped through my fingers. It is amazing to me how a year can pass so quickly, but at the same time feel like ages ago.
We moved to Colorado just 2 months after we lost him. I had boxed up his stuff with the intention of getting it out again just two months later. However, losing a loved one is expensive. Moving is expensive. Colorado is more expensive than we remembered. We ended up living with Lucas' parents for 7 months. Then we unpacked at our new apartment, and when I saw the box marked "Molly and Kellen" I couldn't face it. I put Molly's memory book away, and put the box of their things on a shelf in the closet. And life got busy. It was easier to live life than it was to go back into that box where feelings and memories were sure to be fresh. In that box is where my sorrow was packed away prematurely.
A couple weeks before his birthday, I started feeling guilty that I
haven't made his memory book yet. I had Molly's finished a few months
before her first birthday and I hadn't even started Kellen's. I read their stories one night after Lucas fell asleep. At first it was like I was reading someone else's story, but as I kept reading and suddenly I was back there. I was in the hospital. I remembered all the details and the pain and the peace and the fear and the love. I cried all night.
Usually, I don't cry over the babies more than once in a few months or so. I will have a hard day, and then I feel refreshed in a way. Like I faced something difficult and I feel more empowered to be strong. So when Kellen's birthday arrived so soon after a night like when I read their stories, I wasn't surprised when I was feeling less sadness than usual. I was feeling, for the most part, like celebrating. I wanted to celebrate that he ever came to our family. I wanted to celebrate the seven months I carried him. I felt happy. I opened this beautiful birthday gift one of my greatest friends gave us to honor Kellen's birthday (Isn't it perfect?!):
So it was with no trepidation, but rather a sense of celebration, that I finally pulled down the box labelled "Molly and Kellen". I opened it, sure it would be the clothing I dreamed of them wearing, the precious gifts from friends and family, and some sympathy cards. For some reason, I had completely forgotten what I ever packed in that box.
I pulled strip of moving tape off the box, Lucas in the other room. I opened the box and looked inside. There was a sweater my mother in law gave for Molly. I loved it too much to pack it away. It was Molly's sweater from the first second I saw it and so I kept it. I held it up and imagined her in it. Then I folded it and set it on the bed and looked back in the box.
And suddenly I was bawling.
One second I was smiling and feeling happy and full of love, and literally one second later I could see nothing, gigantic tears were falling down my face. I was weeping, in my hands I gently cradled the little blue robe that once held my son. It was the robe he wore when we held him. The robe he is wearing in all his pictures. Seeing and picking up that little empty robe brought with it an instant tidal wave of grief.
Lucas heard and probably felt the change and came running into the room to check on me. He saw me bawling and ran over to me, placing his arm around me. "Honey, are you okay?!" I looked at him, still bawling and held up the robe.
"I had forgotten. I didn't remember we still had this. It's his. It's Kellen's robe. I'm so glad we still have it. But I didn't expect to see it in here. I just, I wasn't prepared" He hugged me and kissed my cheek. I calmed down a little and we kept going though the box.
Inside we found Kellen's tiny ankle bracelet from the hospital. A lock of his hair. His tiny little hat. His hand and footprints. The blanket we wrapped him in the day we spent with him. I cried of course, but felt more together with Lucas in the room with me. I felt better. I continued to tear up as I looked at his things and remembered him, but felt almost healed. I finally faced the grief I hid away in that box.
Later in the evening we met Lucas' family and my mom and brother at the cemetery. When we arrived there were two stuffed animals at my babies memorials. A Pooh Bear for Molly and a giant Clifford for Kellen. I had no idea who brought them but, of course, I was so touched I cried more. I cry a lot. (Later we discovered that the gifts were brought by one of Lucas' clients. Lucas had shared with him our story, and every time that client came to visit his recently passed son he also visited our babies. When I learned that my heart melted. I am so touched)
We brought Kellen some birthday flowers. When everyone arrived we all talked and then we took a notepad and we each wrote him a letter. We rolled our letters up in tiny scrolls and tied them to the balloons.
All together we released our letters and sent them to Kellen. Watching the balloons was really beautiful. I felt peaceful and happy. After the balloon release we all went back to our apartment where we ate a birthday cake and visited more. It was a good day to think of our adorable baby boy.
His birthday was perfect, with moments to miss him and moments to celebrate him.
We love you Kellen, and we miss you every second of every day!