I was in full agreement when he agreed to do the work trip, but of course life throws curve balls… some expected and some not. It was supposed to be a 6-month trip, then changed to 10-months before he even left “but we really mean it, we are being realistic so it’s not extended,” and finished in 11 months. The extra money he makes on these trips does help and we definitely did some outsourcing with it. Our upstairs long-term tenants left at our old house and we had a lot more repairs there than we usually deal with. I am always stretched thin in my time management but this was a new level of survival mode that I still can’t seem to shake ourselves out of. (Partly because of the many “oh we will just shelve dealing with that until he is home” decisions are now pressing and/or overdue.)
As far as Naomi’s place in our lives, I feel like as a family we are in a good place. I do wish we made it to visit her grave more often. I am trying to talk about her more with the littlest one, but she still finds the whole thing quite confusing. She also gets upset when she sees old pictures of her siblings and doesn’t understand why she isn’t in the picture too (it’s from before she was born!), so I think the concepts just may still be beyond her. She is very social/relational and a passionate person, so I expect she will struggle at some point when she does finally get it.
Back to the grave – my husband surprised me by arranging for and picking up a replacement name plate for the grave site. No, we still don’t have a headstone. At one point this year when I was talking with the funeral home about headstones and mentioned the broken nameplate, they said they could get us a new one for no charge. I’m very happy to have something official up again, even if the snow and frozen ground made placing it difficult. My son and I picked out a wind chime fairy at Dollar Tree to put up, one for home and one for the cemetery. The next day I was back at Dollar Tree with the littlest one for something else, when I saw the second runner-up fairy available as a garden stake, so got two of those too. She wanted to carry them to the car, and proceeded to make the two fairies “talk” to each other on the way, making all the older shoppers comment on how cute she is. (She can turn anything into pretend play. Even in a shower with no toys, she has sat with her feet facing each other and wiggled her toes as pretend people.) I know the fairies are likely to be thrown away by the groundskeepers in the spring when they start mowing, but I don't care. That's partly why I got them from Dollar Tree.
|He braved the cold wind to help while the girls took a break in the van.
|Every additional child reduces the chance of getting a decent group picture by 70%.
|She thinks putting her hands on her cheeks is her "cute face" and does it for most staged pictures.
|A little haphazard, will fix when things start to warm up.
I was all proud of myself for remembering to tear off the tags at home, and forgot about securing the windchime to the stake. So I decided to make a list, for my own future reference but also to share.
Things you might wish you had brought with you, when visiting a grave…
-Scissors to cut tags off things you brought with you to place there.
-Something to drive a hole into the ground, if you are placing a garden stake and the ground is hard.
-A rubber mallet or similar, again might be needed for driving something into the ground.
-If you are placing a garden stake and hanging a wind chime or similar off of it, something like a rubber band to secure it to the stake. It’s still going to blow off, but maybe it will stay on for a couple days instead of blowing off before you even get in the car to go home.
-Large hedge trimmers. (For a fresh grave that has been seeded with new grass, as it grows faster than the rest of the grass.)
-A large bottle of water. (If you have any live potted plants there to care for. I eventually discovered our cemetery has water spigots and empty milk gallons available nearby to use for watering. It’s pretty much impossible to keep up with watering potted plants in cemeteries, so I would always water anyone’s live plants anywhere in the area, because overwatering is near impossible.)
-Gardening gloves, if you see an errant strong weed inside a bush or something that is difficult to pull out and won’t be mowed down.
-Wear good boots, coat, and gloves.
-A shovel or even a snowblower, depending on climate and depth of snow.
|Fairies in the garden bed at home.
As far as the headstone, I spent quite a bit of time trying to make a decision. I finally realized that this was not a matter of me being indecisive so much as it was that all the choices plain sucked. I am not generally a fashion/art/interior decorator type person, but the stock art in my sample booklet is just BAD. I have some ideas though on next steps and am hopeful for quicker progress now that I know we are going to do something custom.
I looked through the last few posts earlier tonight and realized I never posted a picture of the necklace I had engraved with Naomi’s footprints. I am not sure if I ever took pictures of it when I got it, and unfortunately I don’t have jewelry cleaner here, so this was as good as I could get it (after a quick soak in white vinegar and baking soda). And now I know I need to be keeping my jewelry in the bedroom and definitely NOT storing in open air in the bathroom… the steam definitely caused some tarnishing.
I also want to throw in one more picture. The doula I had with Naomi went on to start a bereaved parent support group at the hospital that has a Facebook group and monthly meetings. I am not a consistent attendee (especially when my husband was gone), but I did get myself there when they had a special paint night. An art therapist came and guided us all on the project and I love how mine came out. It hangs over my desk now.