The memories. The grief. OUR journey.

Today was a hard day. Pregnancy after loss is so hard. There is hope, yes, but the moments that need to happen before a Rainbow arrives are so challenging.

I’ve talked before about how Toby’s room has remained the same since the day he died.

Today, much of that changed.

This is our choice. This is part of our promise to Toby, and to ourselves. To continue to move forward, but in a way that carries Toby with us, as well as we can, as if he were here.

We are about 10 weeks away from our third baby boy’s arrival and have held out until now to do these hard things. This morning we emptied his crib and took it apart. We stood around it for some time crying, gripping the rails. His fox fitted sheet still on the mattress; his binkies in the corner of the crib; his sleep sack still lay in the center of the bed, open and unzipped, ready for bedtime routine the night of August 24. A routine that never happened. Two years. Never moved.

When we lifted the mattress to pull off the bedding, this onesie was under the mattress in a ball. We both looked at each other in shock.

How did that get there?” Dan asked me.

I just shook my head as I cried, my hands shaking picking it up.

I flipped it over and the saying says “Bright Future” in Orange. Orange. The breath was sucked from my lungs. I stood there holding it, crying.

I took the bedding and laid it in the hallway. When it fell to the floor, something bounced sideways from the air under the material and caught my eye. I looked down at the floor – it was a feather.

Dan turned the crib and started to take it apart. I sat in the spare room across the hall on the floor watching him with a bin of baby clothes in front of me that never made it into the drawers of Toby’s dresser.

Theo came up the steps and walked into Toby’s room, sniffing the crib and standing next to Dan. He turned and looked at me, walked out into the hallway and laid down across the hallway, looking into the nursery as Dan worked. Theo is Toby’s guardian. He was his protector from the day Toby came home. He would sleep beside the bassinet or his crib during nap time, especially if we were doing something at home and left Toby to sleep, that’s where you’d find Theo. After Toby died Theo would lay in the hallway outside his room at different times. He would go in and stand beside the bed or lay on the carpet. If you asked him “Is Toby here see you Theo?” He would whine or come to your side, wagging his tail. Those moments gave me goosebumps at first, now I just smile and carry on with what I’m doing.

I moved back into the room and asked Luke to help me do something. I took a box into the room and set it in front of the dresser. “Buddy, can you take the clothes out of this drawer and put them in this bin to help Mommy?” He grabbed them handfuls and threw them in the bin. I watched these tiny pieces of clothes be dropped in the box and I felt grief consuming me. I cried. I sat there with clothes all around me, but they weren’t clothes, they were memories.

Fourth of July. A day at the museum. The only long pants we had on him, ever. His sleepers. Each one smelled like Toby. I could feel my heart breaking.

I looked up into the hallway, Theo was standing over the crib bedding, putting his head into it. “Do you smell him Theo?” He came right to me sitting on the floor and stood next to me, over top of Toby’s clothes.

I pulled the small bin out of the drawer with all his socks. I didn’t want to go through them. I started to dump them into a bin and at the last second looked inside. On the top was a pair of Fox socks right below them, the pair of white with blue lines at the top that he wore many many times.

As I sat there on the floor, in a half empty room, Dan put his arms around me as I cried, emotional too. Luke came and stood beside me, leaning in to kiss my nose. “Toby is with us,” he said. “He’s always with us, Mommy.

Each thing we did today there was a reminder that Toby was here, right beside us.

We are in the process of having a wooden hope chest carved for Toby. It will hold all of his items that we have saved; pieces that have sentimental value to us; pieces that will always be his for us; as well as things that we may be given in his memory or pick up along the way that remind us of him. Many of the things that we went through today will be placed in this chest, which will have it’s own place upstairs in our home, just for Toby.

This is just one day of hard moments we have to go through over the next 10 weeks. Then we will start another chapter that will have it’s own trials of grief that we have yet to encounter. As much as I would like to emotionally and mentally prepare myself for this, in my heart I know from two years of grief, you cannot plan. Grief comes out of nowhere. It consumes the moments you are in; the day you are having; it is still very good at robbing me of joy that I’ve had that day.

Some of the time, there is strength to fight through and not be sucked back in, but those are still few and far between for me. I have found that sometimes I need to just let grief and the reality of Toby’s death BE.

Sit with it. Pray through it. Cry while I hold it in my empty arms. Let it drain me dry till I have no more tears. It is after those dark moments that I am able to see some light peering through. It is after each of these that I am reminded by Toby that he is here. That he will never leave me, or Dan, or Luke, or his baby brother, or Murray or Theo. That each day through this journey of grief is one day closer to holding Toby in my arms again.

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