I don’t cry as often. I smile more. Yesterday the tears came so hard, though. I envisioned this moment as a celebration of April’s life. I’d known for awhile that it was coming. I never thought I’d cry. But as I drove, the tears showed up. I was crying before it even began. And then a friend spoke. And my heart exploded. The tears flooded my face, and I could hardly find the words. The simple words to just say “thank you”.
Before April was born, an amazing group of women came together to support me through this difficult time. The moms club that I am a part of- they were already planning a special tribute to April. When they mentioned their plan to me, my heart was so full of joy. They were wanting to plant a tree in April’s honor. They gave me the opportunity to weigh in on the type of tree and the location. They were planning on having our children paint rocks to put at the base of the tree. It was perfect.
Two months after April’s birth, this tree was planted. And the day was perfect.
The hole was ready in the earth, and the tree was waiting for us. We showed up and got to help place the tree in the ground. Caroline grabbed a shovel and helped spread the dirt and mulch over the roots.
On the way over, I’d told her that this day was for her, for us, for April. I told her about the significance of the tree. She was focused and worked so hard. She literally kept saying “I have more work to do”, as she shoveled the dirt. She didn’t want to stop. It seemed to be such a healing moment for her, and it was for me as well.
When the tree was planted, my friends were all gathered, and I could no longer compose myself. Friends thanked me for sharing our story, and for allowing April into their lives. They hugged me, they gave understanding looks of sympathy. We lifted up April’s memory and the loss felt painfully strong in that moment. I tried to thank my friends. I stumbled on my words and cried as I stood looking at this tree. I cried as Caroline continued to work hard on planting, and refused to be done. I cried for my baby.
We then got to paint rocks. Each child painted a rock, and most lost interest after the first rock. Caroline, however, sat and painted every rock she could get her hands on. She kept saying “I can’t wait to put these on the tree”.
My friends had printed out pictures of April and placed them in a frame. They’d brought cake and snacks. They’d gone ALL out. I was so surprised, and so amazed. These women are truly so special, and I’m so honored to call them my friends.
Caroline and two of her friends then took the painted rocks to the tree. They placed the rocks at the base, and again Caroline seemed as focused as ever.
When we left, Caroline talked about the tree all the way home. She said she wanted to take Daddy to see the tree that we planted for the baby. She wanted to show him the rocks she’d painted. And so we did. We took him back later that afternoon.
There are days that I feel guilty for not crying. Days that I feel like I haven’t thought of April enough. Days that I hate the smile that’s made it’s way to my face. And then there are days like yesterday. Days that remind me of the loss in such a real way. Days that remind me of my support system, and that it’s ok to cry. Days that take me by surprise. Days that heal.
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