Good Morning, May?

 

I woke up this morning, and it was May. Finally. I have been dreading this month for weeks. And it’s finally here.

I laid awake half of the night, listening to the branches scrape the roof, wondering if it was an intruder, or maybe the kids waking up and building obstacle courses in their room again?

But, no. It wasn’t that. It was simply five inches of extremely heavy snow coating the newly blossomed tree branches, weighing them down so much that they trailed over the roof, blowing in the wind and scraping the shingles repeatedly.  Occasionally, I heard a loud, splintering crack, as another huge branch simply couldn’t handle the weight of the snow anymore and crashed to the ground.

Lately I wonder how much longer I can handle the weight of my grief.

This wasn’t how the first day of May was supposed to look.  Last week, it was 70 and sunny. The grass was green and springing up in all new places in our yard.  Tiny leaves sprouted off the branches, and hope filled the air. Spring was coming. But now, winter had stolen back in, its frigid air whistling through the tree tops, its snow shrouding the blossoms.

This wasn’t how May was supposed to look in our home, either. Me, alone in my bed, listening to the eerie scraping of snowy branches, clinging tightly to the tiny blue blanket that my son’s casket had been wrapped in.  I’ll never forget, when I went to pick up that casket to bury him, how I waited in the funeral home narthex. Waited in silence, barely keeping the tears back.  And how the man, kind and gentle, slowly walked back towards me, carrying that precious miniature box.  His eyes met mine as he handed him over, and I was amazed at the depth of grief and compassion in his eyes. We didn’t say anything to each other. We didn’t have to.  We both knew. There are simply no words.  Only unfathomable sorrow.

I gritted my teeth, put my chin up, and walked back to my car.  But as soon as I closed the door safely behind me, I picked up that precious casket, wrapped it in my arms, and held it tightly to my chest, allowing the tears to fall, and the grief to wash over me. The night before we buried him, his casket was in my parents’ garage.  I knew in the morning, he would be buried beneath the dirt, and I would never hold him close again.  All I wanted in the whole world was to steal out to the garage after everyone was asleep, take his casket out of its protective box, and hold him close one last time. I wanted to sit on the steps and cling to him and cry all the tears that felt stuck in the back of my throat, burning, searing, aching to be let out.  But I couldn’t. Maybe someone would hear me. Maybe I would bother someone.  And so I didn’t. And I will always, always wish I had. It was my last chance to be that close to him. And I will never get that back.

Every night, as I climb under the covers in bed, I pull Zion’s baby blanket up to my face, close my eyes, and just inhale its scent. I think maybe if I breathe deeply enough, I can remember what he felt like to hold. Or maybe, if I breathe in deeply enough, I can even undo all the terrible truth and actually hold him in my arms for real, like I was supposed to be doing right now. I burrow under the duvet and grasp his blanket to my chest. If only he was on my chest. I wonder if every stillborn mother feels that aching in her chest–that horrible, awful, heavy nothingness–where your newborn baby was supposed to lie, warm and soft and full of life. Nothing can fill that emptiness. Nothing can take away that ache.

I hear another branch snap and crash to the ground outside. I have been dreading the month of May for many weeks now. With each day it grows closer, my heart grows heavier, the ache more physical than emotional.  May, with all the hopes and dreams it held. The beginning of spring, of new life, of new birth.  All that beauty is buried beneath inches of white snow, but in a couple of days, it will all come alive again.  Spring will still come, even here in South Dakota.  The new life hidden under the snow is still there, still alive, and it will pop back out again.

But while May will inevitably bring forth spring, causing sleeping things to come alive all around, my baby will still be dead. He will still lie cold in his grave. The new birth in our home that we had eagerly anticipated is not to be.  So while it may technically be spring, it may be May, and there may be tulips under all that snow, I look out my window now, and it seems perfectly fitting.

I’ll take it. I’ll take five inches of snow on the first day of May this year.  I’ll stay in my bathrobe in my bed with my baby’s blanket and my baby’s pictures and my empty arms and my tears, and I will wait for spring to come.

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