Twelve years ago my son was stillborn.
His things are packed into an ancient Samsonite suitcase my grandmother used. Inside are his urn, a blanket, and I believe a crocheted hat and booties he wore. Clothing for premies is handmade and donated to the hospital. After my son’s birth I made many hats myself and gave them to the labor and delivery ward for future babies.
Every February I tell myself, “This is the year to open the suitcase.”
And this year was no exception. I was ready. I was good. I was telling myself a hundred times to move toward the case, to open the case, but I found a hundred ways to circumvent the case.
So Tuesday, his birthday, I went to work to stay busy.
And all morning, I was fine.
At noon, I sneaked away to buy Subway sandwiches and rescue my fifth-grader from the confines of gym so that he could hunker with me on the pickup tailgate in the school parking lot to eat lunch under a gorgeous, crystal-blue sky blanketing a breezy 75-degree day.
It was the perfect meal.
I spent the rest of the afternoon in complete normalcy, then endured the hated car line to gather my boy and head back to work until 8:00.
Long day, I was tired, but Tuesday television evenings offer my favorite show. I caught the last forty minutes, but that was okay, because it’s my favorite show. I’ll take forty minutes “live” and then Hulu the first twenty next day, no problem.
Except that my favorite character on my favorite show was killed off on Tuesday night.
All of the “okay” I’d had all day was gone in a wash and for two hours I mourned the loss of my boy, the video of that day twelve years ago playing over and over in my brain.
I needed that two hours, I know I did, and though I was weepy all of Wednesday, I was fine again; survivor’s guilt and a deep longing for things to be different, but still: Fine.
Then Thursday came along and I felt the need to Hulu, but instead of my favorite show, my second favorite had a new episode I hadn’t seen.
Whew! I thought, knowing I was delaying the inevitable repeat of maudlin behavior I’d exhibited Tuesday and yet no way to divert away from it because, dang it, I wanted to see the first twenty minutes!
So I blissfully pushed play on Second Favorite Show and do you know what the writers did? KILLED one of my OTHER favorite characters!
Then, on Friday, the real life cow in the pasture down the road birthed a beautiful calf, wobbly, confused, leaning at the side of his mama until he found footing.
It was the perfect ending to five tortuous days.
I tell you, people, the week tried to take me out, but I persevered.
And as for my son’s suitcase, well, it’s just fine as it it. Closed until next year.
“But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.” Genesis 6:8

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