Day by Day · grief

How we remember

M. and I drove to NJ two Fridays ago to get tattoos. This was something we’ve been thinking about for a few months. It’s probably something people would recommend you not doing without more thought. I mean they say no big decisions right? Considering I decided to switch jobs last week, I guess I’m beyond the big decision conversation. More on the job later.

We chose NJ because they are regulated in a way that the Red Cross allows you to give blood sooner than if we did it in Maryland, which is important to both of us. We picked our artist from searches online and eventually from Instagram feed. M.’s a big fan of InkMaster, so he felt confident picking our tattoo artist (clearly its the same as watching tv, do you think tattoo artists like or hate that show?). We had a general idea of what we wanted and sent him a few inspiration pieces, he drew a few options and we were good to go. M and I ended up with the same tattoo which means a lot to me because we are in this together. When I see it on my wrist, I think of my love for Nora and Matt.

I wouldn’t say it was an easy process. The tattoo hurt a little but laying back in the chair with Matt next to me brought me back to all my tests and eventual c-section. My anxiety automatically heightened. I expected to be sad but it didn’t occur to me that it would trigger all of these feelings. I think I often focus on how much we lost, I gloss over how absolutely terrifying that week was. I don’t think (and hope I never again) I’ve ever come close to that level of terror and anxiety before.

But that isn’t what I wanted to focus on today. I wanted to think about all the ways we remember our love for Nora day by day, rather than focusing on all the sadness. These are the way I see her throughout the day so I eventually can see her or think of her without wanting to cry. Sort of like my own immersion therapy.

Here are a few other ways we tangibly remember Nora-

Jewelry- I have a heart pendant that holds some of her ashes that I wear every day. It originally was on a chain but I had it put on a bracelet last week. Matt had a (manly) bracelet made that he doesn’t take off. It gives us something to physically hold on to when we need the support.

Blankets- M. and I each have one of her blankets on our side of the bed. I don’t always sleep with it necessarily (though I probably do more than I don’t), but it’s close enough that I can grab it if I wake up in the middle of the night.

Announcements/Photos-  I am a stickler for thank you notes (even though it took forever for me to finish my wedding, I still feel guilt over it) but knew this time, we had a pass. Who was going to be upset with us for skipping it? Apparently, me.  I wanted to thank everyone who supported us and gave us presents for our showers (we went into the hospital the week after our shower, so those notes never got written) but knew if I had to write them all out, it would never get done. So we went online searched for language ideas and made a card that encompassed a little bit of everything. We sent them to everyone who came to our shower and/or showed us support after Nora’s passing. It was also a way for me to show she was real and existed. I want to be able to look at her picture without feeling such sadness. I think this was one of the ways I hoped to get that point. We also printed some of the pictures from ‘Now I lay me down to sleep’ that we gave to our parents and put in our bedroom next to her heart shaped urn and memory box.

Commemorative Items- M’s office purchased a memory stone in Nora’s honor that will be placed in the garden of M’s alma mater. So when we go home to visit his family, we can also go to it and visit with our memories of Nora. My office purchased trees that are being planted to help rebuild after Hurricane Sandy in NJ.

Fundraiser/benefit- I didn’t want to have a funeral service for Nora. M’s over God right now and I wasn’t ready to hear about bigger picture thoughts. I couldn’t cope with seeing a tiny coffin. Instead, I randomly said we’d hold a blood drive in her honor. In hindsight, I wish I picked a date further away, but the planning of it really did give me a purpose in my grief. We had friends and family come in from all over to support us. It was extremely stressful. I can’t say that enough, BUT I am happy we did it. It gave us a way to honor Nora and a way for our friends and family to support us and show their love. I am also really glad I had time off after the drive and prior to my new job to decompress. I was useful to no one at that point.

As we approach 5 months without her, I’m sure we will come up with new ways to honor and remember her. I’m open to any suggestions. I know October 15th is National Baby Loss Day, so I plan to light a candle for her. Until then we’ll hold on to what we have.

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