I find it hard to believe that the second anniversary of the start of Henry’s hospitalization (April 27) and death (May 31) are so close. Last year at this time I was really not doing very well. I was finding it pretty hard to function, actually.
In hindsight, I think that the 6-8 weeks leading up to the first anniversary of Henry’s death, and the weeks right afterward caused me the most intense, fundamental, indescribable, non-stop suffering I have ever felt in my life – so far, anyway.
Yes, the pain was even worse than right at the time of his death because during that period, I was in shock. As I have mentioned before, I barely recall the day of Henry’s death, or the months right after. As in, it’s almost a total blank to me. But by the time of the first anniversary, the protective numbness and amnesia had worn off, and I had to face reality. Plus, by that point, no one was allowing me to lie in my room all day and cry. One year in, I was expected to behave like a normal person – getting up and going to work each day, being productive at work, caring for my other children, etc, etc. So the hurt last year was worse than in the beginning, and I had no protection or cushion from it.
Plus, despite multiple, loving warnings from other parents who have lost children, like my cousin Julie and my friend Heather, I truly did not understand or expect the monumental impact that facing that first anniversary would have. I just didn’t see how it could be any worse than how I had felt in the 12 months previous to that stretch right around the one year mark. But it absolutely was worse. It was hellish, nightmarish, torturous pain that had me in its grip for about 2.5 months, and left me battered and shaken when it finally began to lift.
This year, I am bracing for it to get really bad again. So far, it’s been manageable, but I have felt little twinges of the really bad stuff. When I am forced to drive past the hospital where Henry spent all those weeks and then died in the spring of 2010 - with its brick exterior bathed in the spring sunlight, with the dogwoods in bloom just like they were then – I physically wince in pain. It’s like someone has momentarily thrust an icepick into my temple. But overall, the pain level is nowhere near what it was this time last year, and I am definitely functioning pretty much normally in all areas of my life. I really hope that I don’t crash again in April and May, but I am better prepared if I do have a temporary grief relapse. I know now that it won’t be that bad forever, and that makes it more bearable, I think.
One thing that has kept me afloat during some of my darkest hours since Henry died, bringing me joy I can’t ever really explain fully, is the growing collection of “Henry photos” that friends and strangers alike have taken all over the planet (seriously, even Antarctica!) and sent to me. I have spent so many hours in the past 22 months poring over these photos for Henry, again and again. They are just unbelievably precious to me, and I think that they will be to Henry’s younger siblings for the rest of their lives. For Christmas this year, I had the photo up there in the left hand corner of this blog post ( taken and sent to me by a lovely German reader of my blog who was traveling in Kathmandu) blown up and framed for each of my children, and for grandparents, aunts and uncles. It’s so beautiful. And I plan to create a special photo book for each of the kids with all the photos published in it to commemorate the second anniversary of Henry’s death in May.
Perhaps because year two is coming up soon, people have begun sending me new Henry photos in recent weeks, and I want to share all the new ones with all of you. For the first time, I am working on collecting each and every photo into a single online photo album (below), and I am adding the new pix as they come in, and older ones as I have the time. So the album will just keep growing as time passes. If you check back, I will be adding new photos every day this week.
I hope that you enjoy looking at all of these amazing, holy, wonderful, awe inspiring photos taken in memory of my child, and I wish all of you could have known him yourselves, because he was all of those things himself, and I miss him like mad.
HENRY’S TRAVELS: 2010-Present
nggallery template=’carousel’ id=’15′
If you have lost a child, have you found that the grief that comes with each new anniversary is different? How bad was the first anniversary for you? Was the second one just as bad? Talk about your own grief experiences in the comments below.
LEARN MORE ABOUT MY SON AND HIS LEGACY BY BECOMING A FRIEND OF HENRY’S FUND ON FACEBOOK
READ MORE FROM KATIE OVER AT MAMAPUNDIT (HER PERSONAL BLOG)