Today was the original of Gabriel's multiple due dates. Today was the day based on ovulation. Today was the day I secretly loved and wanted for his birthday, because I'm a number/pattern geek and I loved that 1+9=10. Same reason, I suppose a Sept. 1 birthday would be cool.
I approached today, this whole week, with a bit of caution. Unsure how I would feel or what I would think. Not wanting to put pressure on the situation to feel a certain way.
And now it's here.
And I feel . . . okay.
'Okay' and 'fine' seem to be my new catch phrases. It is what gets said a lot when people enquire, it's what got thrown around a lot in my last therapy session. It's how I feel.
When I pause, I still feel sadness. There is always a tiny ache, a hole where Gabe should be and isn't. I'd be lying if I said that I hadn't lain in bed, and wondered how far my flesh would have protruded, how uncomfortable I'd be in the end, how it would feel to have a real life-size baby curled inside me. How I would be feeling now. But it's only slightly wistful, and often more clinical and detached than anything. Like wondering how one would feel to win the lottery or to be held at gun point or to witness an accident.
You are emphatically not in that situation and so to ascribe feelings to it is a little unreal, a guessing game. That is how our lives with Gabe are now. Our reality is not January and no sleep. It's August and tears. I think of Gabriel as a grinning, drooling, toothless baby, a four-nearing-five month old, or not in flesh or age at all. Sometimes he's a toddler, sometimes a full little boy. Often smiling or laughing, often eager and curious, and mischevious. Those things I extracted about his personality from the short time we were with him, brought to life on the canvas of my mind.
I'm curious to see G's baby, interested to watch him grow, to have a visible reminder of what Gabe would be doing now, but again, it's with clinical detachment, curiousity, not a desperation to know or filled with sadness.
I miss him. I miss him when I don't feel his presence nearby. I miss what our lives could have been, but feel less often plagued with what should have been. It is how it is, full stop. I still have unsettled feelings about this reality, but I don't fight it.
Dr. K calls it healing.
Today just feels like wrapping the last bit up. I'm not saying I'm done grieving or all over his death - I expect August to be a difficult month. It's just that I have looked so forward to 2010, to new starts, to trying to conceive again, that my mind isn't dwelling on Gabe right now. It's on the future, which has potential and is, dare I say it? Bright? Certainly, reaching and soon passing this last milestone, it feels unfettered.
My first thoughts this morning weren't about the date or about Gabriel. It was about whether my temp was going to be high enough that my chart would be triphasic (it was, though I need one more temperature to confirm triphasic; at least it confirmed that the super high temp of yesterday was not a fluke involving the repeated efforts to get Barney off.my.fucking.face. because he was confined last night and I slept in peace). My next conscious thought was about testing, whether it might be too early (it is, especially if I ovulated at the end of that four day possible window). Then I thought about breakfast and which project to tackle today. Then I mentally said, "Good morning, Gabe. Love you baby." And came downstairs intent on looking through cookbooks to plan our next week's meals.
It truly wasn't until I sat down to write and thought about contradicting myself to write about my chart that I thought, "Oh. OH. Oh. Right." and knew I had to explain and explore how I am feeling today, of all days.
And it can be summarized as such: at peace. Thanks for asking, I feel fine. No, really. I'm . . . okay. And I smile. And mean it. And my little boy grins at me from somewhere beyond my sight.
* * * * *
Adding . . .
One of the kindest notes I received after Gabriel's loss was from a friend I had made online. When I lost Chickadee, she arranged to have a gift certificate waiting at a favorite restaurant, so we would not have to worry about a meal. And when Gabe passed, I opened my email one day to find a notification from March of Dimes stating that she had made a donation in Gabriel's name. I cannot tell you how grateful I was, or how kind I found it.
If you are thinking of Gabriel today, I would encourage you to consider also making a donation to March of Dimes. The research they support is phenomenal, and the strides made because of their dedication to helping mothers have healthy full term babies is astonishing. Of course, we hope that prematurity may someday be eliminated, or hope beyond hope that someday babies born as early as Gabe may have a chance at survival. It doesn't have to be today or in his name, just something that if you ever have a little extra that I would ask you to consider.
We have done so today, as we will do every year on his actual birthdate. It is one way we can honor him, and love him and live true to being better people for him - by possibly helping others. I like to think of this as our love letter to Gabriel, ever evolving, always being written.