Our beautiful baby daughter Anabelle was born sleeping June 2010.
Blessed with the screaming arrivals of our gorgeous rainbow sons,
Alexander October 2011, Zachary November 2013 and Lucas July 2016.

After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows
Heartbreak. Joy. Death. Life. But most of all Love.

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Rituals

Rituals are what get us through those important dates, those difficult dates. 

A plan quickly became incredibly necessary. A plan to give meaning to those dates, a plan so we knew what to expect of those dates, a plan gives us strength for those dates. I guess Anabelle's birthday, christmas, special dates have become a ceremony of sorts. 

I always see her birthday in. I see 00:08, the time she was born, on the clock before I get into bed. I see her moment in and then I sleep. Much as I did the day she was born. Oh how I wanted to stay awake with my tiny girl but after labour and morphine working its way through my system, my eyes could no longer stay open however hard I tried. 

On her birthday we get up. There are tears and sadness. The weight of the 21st June is so heavy on my chest. I breathe differently on her birthday. It aches.

Then we leave the house.  Taking with us her birthday gifts that will decorate her garden, her book that we'll read there. This year on her fifth birthday those gifts were garden fairies. 

We collect her birthday posy from the florist. The same florist where we ordered her funeral flowers and have collected flowers for each year on her birthday since. 

Then we collect her balloons from town. A big number balloon that decorates her garden and shows everyone visiting how old she is, or she should be. And two others balloons to send to her in the sky from her brothers. 

Then when we're ready we make our way to her garden. 

We tidy it up, making sure her headstone is as clean as it can be. I trim the grass around the headstone so it all looks neat. Then we fill the pots with flowers, flowers in pinks and whites. We place her gifts on her headstone. We place her posy. We tie the big number balloon to her headstone. We sit and read her story, the boys run and chase bubbles. 

And then we send her balloons to her. One for Alexander to release. One for Zachary to release. Pink balloons for our girl, their sister. 

This sending balloons always feels the most poignant part of her birthday to me. Almost like sending a piece of ourselves to her. The balloons feel like the physical connection between us and her on her birthday. 

After the cemetery we go for a drive or a walk. We take a pause. Allow the boys a sleep in the car and a time of quiet for us. Sometimes we find ourselves at Keeper's Pond. Sometimes we send balloons from Keeper's Pond. 

And when we go home the rest of the day becomes about creating her home garden. Each year we buy pink bedding flowers and create pink beauty at home like we do in her cemetery garden; but I guess I'll save more on this for another topic in a few days.  

Then there is garden play, cake, the boys bedtime and then candles to see the remainder of her birthday out. 

This is the routine on her birthday now. The rituals on her birthday now. We need it this way; its this that keeps me together. The plan. Always the plan.  

I dread the day I'm supposed to work on her birthday. I don't know how I will get through the day intact without these rituals, these routines.  The last time her birthday fell on one of my working days (and I wasn't on maternity leave!) I was owed a day in lieu, which worked out well for me, and for my need to get through her birthday in the only way I know how. 

Next year her birthday is on a non-working day but after that there are three years of birthdays where I will be in work. Where I should be in work. Gulp. I'm not in a job where I can just book days off, my time off is dictated by school closure time. 

Maybe by her 7th, 8th, 9th birthdays I should be better than this. I'm sure some people will wonder what the big deal is. But we've just had her 5th birthday and I'm no closer to feeling anywhere near like I cope with this day. The rituals gives us elements of it that are bearable, but its a day where I feel immense pressure, immense grief. Each year I react more violently to her birthday, each year feels more chaotic than the last, each year more and more painful, somehow. I don't feel mentally, emotionally or physically well on her birthday.  But I also realise it is unrealistic to expect to have leave of sorts on her birthday indefinitely. 

I dread the day we might, we'll likely, have to deviate from the plan.

Necessary rituals, routines, plans. 

Day 22. Capture Your Grief. Rituals. 




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After Anabelle - Raising Rainbows. I'm Caz, Mummy to beautiful angel Belle and my wonderful rainbow boys, Xander, Zachy and Luc. Wife to Jon. Twitter @cazem Instagram @cazzyem
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