That is the day, 7 years ago, that Flynn was born and died.
Some Background Here:
Flynn, our second son was born at 9:30pm to a room of doctors, nurses and family, they wanted to send us to McMaster, they thought we had more time, we wanted to hold him for what little time we had.
He was 17 weeks too early and in our city without neo-natal intervention he lived in our arms for a mere hour and a half, dying at 11:05pm.
Every anniversary is different and sometimes there are rituals or traditions that are born out of the memorializing of those important dates.
On Flynn's anniversary I do not work, I do something for me that day. I always take blue orchids out to the cemetary and spend a little time meditating around the past year without him.
With the passing of every year the anniversary has actually caused me more stress. Trying to fit in a day to myself or a trip to the cemetary has become more difficult to work into an increasingly busy schedule. Last year I did not make it out at all and that did not sit well with me so this year I felt that is was necessary to return to my tradition. Of course his anniversary fell on a Sunday that quickly became full of important and almost immovable obligations.
Saturday at 6pm I realized that I did not have the blue orchids for the following day at the cemetary and the only place that I would be able to get them now would be at the grocery florist down the road.
When I got to the store I was relieved to see floral displays with the blue orchids sprinkled throughout but when I asked the girl behind the counter for 6 stems (one to represent each member of our family) my heart sank to hear that there were none left. I begged the girl to allow me to take them out of the arrangements but she could not do that (understandable really). I asked to call the other store further up the road, they did not have any either. I began to feel panicked, this was the most important part of my ritual! Finally I settled on buying a very overpriced arrangement that had 6 stems of the blue orchid in it, it was the best I could do on short notice, but not before I got teary with the girl behind the counter and confided that they were for my dead son at the cemetary, she looked like she heard that every day.
The next morning I had to be at an event for my work, a Walk to Remember, fitting really and I planned to take the whole family to the cemetary after. Landy had not been to the cemetary since the first anniversary. I know that is his way of coping and that we grieve differently but sometimes I wonder what his grief looks like and if he swallows it or embraces it. The event was nice but it ran later than anticipated and before I knew it, there was no way to make it to the cemetary and on to our next commitment.
I could take a separate vehicle and drive 25 minutes out of my way by myself or I could wait and do it on May 4th with Ash (my 4 year old) and Kinley (my 17 month old) with me. Neither seemed an appealing option.
Then something happened, a friend offered to go out with me on May 4th so that I did not have to go alone.
When your child dies before most people meet them, it is hard for that child to have an identity in your life and especially with friends and family. It meant a lot to have her offer to come out to the cemetary.
We went out first thing in the morning, Tonya beside me, Ash and Kinley and Tonya's baby Sadie in the back. Ash is a very chatty child and the 25 minute drive was full of questions:
"Momma, we are going to see Flynn, right?"
"We are going to the cemetary where Flynn is buried actually."
"Because that is how I choose to remember him on his birthday"
"Are we going to dig him up?"
"Um, no honey" (Tonya looked pale and slightly traumatized at this point)
"Then why did we bury him?"
"Well that is what we do when someone dies, when their body stops working and it cannot work anymore."
When we got to the cemetary I asked Ash if he wanted to come out to the stone with me, he had never been to the cemetary before and I thought this may be a good opportunity.
When we got to the stone I read him the inscription:
Flynn, May 3, 2002
"If only for a moment we were blessed to share our love."
"Is he under us right now?"
"Well his body was buried here a long time ago and now we come here to remember him"
"Well I don't think he would like that you are standing on top of him right now."
hmmmm. Fair enough. I kissed my hand and touched the stone, I asked Ash if he wanted to do the same.
And that was it. All the worry about the day, the preparation, the anxiety and in five minutes I had an insightful conversation with my 4 year old about his big brother and introduced him to a ritual to remember him. It may not have been the idealized representation of the perfect way to memorialize Flynn's anniversary but it was a real way in this current life to remember him.