We went to the memorial service yesterday. I still am unsure if I'm glad I went or not. I guess I am still processing how I feel about it.
Sometimes I think I am different from everyone else. I feel like, I don't grieve like 'normal' people. I do not like to be made to cry, I never have. I hate tear jerker movies, Beaches and Terms of Endearment and all those kinds of films, I feel manipulated by them. That's the best way I can explain how I felt yesterday.
I cry for Jack. Every.single.day. And every day, it's something different that makes me cry. It's the corner of the nursery where his crib used to be. It's the sight of a little boy marching in the St. Patrick's day parade. It's a picture of my two babies with this small, empty spot in between. It's Alica Keyes on the radio. It's PJ telling me how he had wanted to give Jack the nickname "Flapjack." It's a card in Target that says "To A Sweet Boy on his First Easter." It's a million things, it can be anything, it can be nothing.
I don't need help crying for my baby. I don't need to hear "Yesterday" played, I don't need to hear poems about empty arms and broken hearts. I don't need to pick at a wound that already hurts, for me it just makes it hurt more....
But that is me. The service was done very nicely, and it seems that for everyone else, it helped, and they are all glad they went. I did like seeing Jack's picture, huge, up on the screen, so sweet, with his name underneath, and his date of birth, and date of death. I want everyone to see him, the world to see him. He deserves that.
It was heartbreaking to see the other 56 children's faces up there too, one after the other. Each one took your breath away, knowing that child is gone, that family is hurting like we are hurting. Some families sobbed so loudly as their child's picture was shown, it was the saddest sound I've ever heard. It felt like, it was more picking at my wound.
I didn't sleep well last night, and all this morning I could not stop crying. Could not stop thinking about Jack, about CHoP, about things I had forgotten that going back had made me remember. But it wasn't all bad, really. I am glad to remember, I am glad to think of Jack.
And I am glad I went back to CHoP, if not to the service itself. It felt like we'd never left, and yet it felt totally different. It's not 'ours' anymore. The first few days Jack was there, we were so lost... we didn't know where anything was, where we were going, what we were doing. By that last day, we felt like regulars. We knew what was good to eat in the cafeteria, what was the best way to Jack's part of the NICU, who were the nicest girls at the front desk, where to get free cookies and crackers, where to do Jack's laundry, where to get our parking validated..... Going back, we weren't the lost new people, and we weren't the regulars, we were the veterans. Everything has gone on without us, and that's okay. That's how it should be.
Jack is not at CHoP anymore, and going back helped me accept that. He is not in that little bed by the window. He is not laying cold in that little bassinet, like the last time I saw him. He's not in Philly at all. He's here, with me. Every time Katie and Charlotte stare at what seems like nothing, the corner of the nursery where Jack's crib was, the lamp that's not even turned on, every time they smile when no one is even playing with them, every time they laugh for no reason, I know it's because they see Jack. He's home.
Like the butterfly who lights beside us
like a sunbeam -
for a brief moment
its glory and beauty
belong to our world -
but then it flies on again.
And though we wish it could have stayed
we are so thankful to have seen it.
-- from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Memorial Service, April 6, 2008