For some reason, half a year felt like a really big deal. Somehow, we have managed to survive half a year without a piece of our hearts. Without a piece of our family.
I had been hoping to be able to write down his story by then, do something sort of big for a date that seems, to me, anyway, big. But I still can't get more than a few snippets down. It's just too much to handle still, putting it all out there in black and white.
Instead, I visited Ben's grave for the first time. Alone.
There have been people who have silently and sometimes audibly questioned why I haven't done it until now. It made me feel like I am somehow failing him as a mother by not visiting his grave regularly. A week after he was buried, someone told me "it's so lonely up there."
I know. He's dead. It's a cemetery. Not a nursery, not a home, of course it's lonely.
I couldn't bear the thought of visiting the last place I left him though. It hurt. It wasn't just my child I put into the ground, he was literally a piece of me. He had my nose and mouth and chin, his daddy's eyes and hair. He grew and lived inside me for 34 weeks before he died, he was a part of me and I knew him. He didn't care too much about music, but loved when I read out loud. He didn't like when his big brother would yell into my belly. He liked ice cream and potato chips (or at least made me like them). He was always quiet, never moved overly much like his big brother did. And I had to put him in the ground instead of taking him home.
Visiting his grave was something I had to do on my own and in my own time. Not because others thought it was the right thing to do.
And I sat in the car, shaking, sobbing, for ten minutes. Waiting for the old couple, who was walking up the hill to glance around the graves, to leave. Waiting for my legs to work so I could walk again.
When I got to the grave, the smallest in this small country cemetery, I fell on my knees, clutching at the dirt that covered him, sobbing so hard I made no noise. I don't know how long I was there, but by the time I was able to tear myself away, because I didn't want to leave him again, it was very cold and getting dark.
I know I'll see him some day again, I know he only ever knew love inside me, and went straight from me to an even greater love than I could ever give, but that doesn't make the hurt any less. It doesn't make the pain of having to leave him, instead of holding him, any less. I have hope, so so much hope, because I WILL see him again, but it doesn't negate the pain I feel of not having my baby boy with me.