Today marked the fifth anniversary of our son's birthday. It is sadly, also the anniversary of the day we discovered he had silently slipped into heaven. Our grief is not nearly as heavy as it was that first year without him, as we are now able to identify passage of time, cook and eat our own meals without it seeming as challenging as climbing Mt. Everest during an avalanche, and there are, not complete days, but certainly hours that pass without thinking of that bittersweet day five years ago.
Today we (Michael and the kids, I, at the last minute decided it would be too much for me) visited his grave, the place where his tiny body lay inside his tiny coffin, inside the earth. I will visit soon, bringing fresh paint to color the crayons (His name is inside a crayon where the word Crayola usually is.) and the necessary tools to properly edge and clean his grave. His stone also appropriately reads, "Having Fun With Jesus".
We also, as per request of Lucy, sorted through a box of mementos. We affectionally call it, "Isaac's Box".
Without fail, it always rushes back. The lid comes off the box and we sort through locks of his soft brown hair. Our faces snuggle into the blanket we wrapped him in durning those precious moments in which we could cuddle his tiny body before we left the hospital. The bonnet placed on his head after his birth is set aside to allow the soaked tears to evaporate before carefully replacing it in the box. We read the piles of cards so many dear to us sent, while wishing with all their might that they could've done more. And we contemplate whether or not we should've written something in his empty journal with the price tag from Borders never removed.
Lucy seemed especially drawn to that journal. She held it close and studied us, for a long time. She admitted later she had never seen us cry like that and was waiting for the right moment to ask a question. "Mom, Dad, May I write something for Isaac in this book?" We nodded and she scurried off in search of a pen.
Extremely curious as to what she had written, I peeked over her shoulder and was moved by her happy message to her little brother:
"Today is your fifth Birth-day. We got into your box. My favirite thing that I found was the picture that mom drew for your gravestone and two of your ducks. Today your little brother Noah said to dad I love" you daddy. It was so cute. I hope you have nice Birthdays in heaven."
It's good to remember our loved ones and our times together, even if our times together were only the times they kicked our ice cream bowl off our abdomens. But, a little "fresh ink" moment can help draw us gently back into "the now" with a joy no sadness can conquer. A refreshing perspective from my gem of a daughter has me basking in the present with two beautiful healthy children, and looking forward to the future when I will be surrounding myself with three.
And now, I might just grab that pen and share a thought or two in that formerly empty journal.
PS. Lucy also asked me if Isaac's room in heaven had a closet made out of cheese balls. I answered her with the most frequent response to her inquiries, "Honey, I really don't know, but that's a great question."