After a loss the “firsts” are always hard. The first holiday, first birthday, first anniversary, first big event, it all sucks. I don’t think I’m telling anybody anything that they don’t already know but I want to share my experience with our “firsts”.
It was only two and a half weeks after we lost our baby that my husband and I got married. It wasn’t so much that we missed James during our wedding because I still would have been pregnant. But we all felt the loss of our daughter, Syd. It had only been a month and a half since she had passed away and I was still in denial about the whole thing. We were supposed to get married on June 3rd, but instead that was the day we had her funeral. It wasn’t too long after the funeral that we got married, on July 14th. It was an amazing day and I think we all had a wonderful time as we celebrated finally getting married, but there was a bit of sadness surrounding the one person who we really felt was missing.
The next “event” after our loss was my birthday; I am usually a big birthday person. I wear a crown and my husband has to do practically everything I ask him to do and it is a big deal. Syd would always laugh at me when I would wear my crown and I can still hear her giggling and saying “oh my gosh Kenzie, you’re ridiculous.” So when she wasn’t with me I felt like there was a big huge gaping hole. At dinner that night with my family I noticed at the restaurant there was an empty chair sitting at the table and I had to fight back tears thinking to myself “there shouldn’t be an empty chair here. She should be here. This is so freaking unfair.” And instead of a birthday party, I threw myself a pity party. It was a really hard day.
After that we had Christmas. Now Christmas was a double edged sword because it was also James’ due date. I decided, much to my moms disapproval, to not celebrate Christmas. I said I didn’t want to, but in reality, it wasn’t that I didn’t want to celebrate, it was that I couldn’t celebrate. Just the idea of celebrating a day where I should be having a good time with my husband and daughter while we anxiously awaited for the arrival of my son, would make me burst into tears; I just couldn’t do it. It caused a lot of tension between my mom and I but I know it was because she was also dealing with her own grief and this was hard for her too.
The big thing I learned with Christmas was to just know your own limits. I knew what I could and couldn’t handle and I did have to fight for what I knew. I needed to do and I stand by my choice.
Yesterday, I called my mom crying because I couldn’t stop looking at a live photo of Syd from her last birthday. My mom said something that made me really stop and think. She said “What I like to think about is how happy Syd was the days before and the day of her accident. She had so much awesome stuff happening and she was so happy. Instead of focusing on the moments that you didn’t get with her, focus on the moments that you did get with her.” I really love that. I have said from the very beginning that I would rather have had that time with Syd, and feel that it was cut too short, then to never have had any time with her at all.
Now, here we are, Syd’s birthday. The first birthday without her. I took the day off work, at first it was because I knew I wouldn’t be in any condition to work, but as it got closer I know Syd wouldn’t want time to sit around and be sad. My best friend and I decided that we are going to take the day and celebrate Syd. We’re going to do things that we know she would have loved or things that remind us of her. We have the day planned: first, getting our nails done, one of us with purple nails and the other with blue; Syd’s favorite colors. Then we are going to Build-a-Bear because it just brings a smile to both of our faces remembering how excited Syd was when we told her she could go and make her own Build-a-Bear on her birthday last year. We will be doing something with a dog, maybe taking Luke to the dog park or perhaps going and seeing a new movie that is out about a dog. We are going to get an ice cream cake and take a drive down to Safeway where we will play 5 different songs in about 3 minutes, the way that she always did when she was the “car DJ”.
The great thing about this is there is no right or wrong way to celebrate or grieve your loved ones on these dreaded “firsts”. This is what works for me, you know yourself better than anybody, you know what you can handle. I still find myself quite sad but I am allowing myself to feel this way. I am not trying to “fix” how I am feeling or try and make myself feel happy. I am choosing to celebrate her in a way that I know she would have loved and I know that by doing things that would have brought her joy, I will feel a little bit of that happiness as well.
Happy 13th Birthday to the most special kid I knew. We love you and miss you so much.