Same time last year we were celebrating Amelia's first Birthday. It took me a year to write about it.
Living it is one thing, I don't have a choice. I make the most of it as I go.
Writing it is a choice. It makes it real. I didn't want it to be...
Now, a year later, we attended two other first birthdays of our friends' stillborn children. These beautiful bittersweet events helped me look back and accept.
We started preparing for Amelia's first birthday early, before Christmas. We had this overwhelming desire to make a small difference in other children's lives and we knew it would help us get through our grief. Slowly but surely we collected a package of art supplies: colouring books, crayons and paints, that we shipped to an orphanage in Belarus, my homecountry. That particular orphanage is home to 80 children, all preschool age. Thinking of all those children living in institutions always made my heart hurt, so we did what little we could: we sent them a box of smiles. The package arrived just in time and was delivered on the first anniversary of Amelia's last day of life... I received these beautiful pictures on her first birthday.
We also wanted to help local kids, so over time hubby and I collected same art supplies as well as legos and summer clothes for a little girl. This package we donated to a local shelter for women and children. It was hard buying all the pretty dresses, knowing I should be getting them for my daughter. Yet it helped, at least I got to buy them and bring them home...
In the weeks and days leading up to March 25, I spent quite a lot of time making cherry blossoms from sugar paste. I believe I made close to fifty fragile flowers to decorate her birthday cake (actually, it was two cakes, I wanted to make a two-tier cake but the top one was too full of chocolatey goodness and way too heavy, so one cake became two :).
All this activity helped us get through the anticipation of the day. It felt good. It felt sad.
Sweet, yet bitter.
On the day of her birthday, friends and family waited for us to decide whether we wanted to see anyone or not. We were in such an overwhelming place, an uncharted territory, it was hard to predict what we needed to get through. In the afternoon, we felt we needed to see them, we couldn't stand being alone. In less than two hours our house was full of friends, smiles, hugs, and good food. We greeted the evening with a party, with cake and candles, just like it should have been. It was beautiful.
We are so grateful for everyone in our lives. Everyone who came to the funeral. Everyone who came to the first birthday. Everyone who stuck around for all the good and the ugly in between.