Commemorating Life

With the “-ber” months marking the start of so many holidays, the end of September always ushers in a particularly special time of year for me. I married Jake on the very last day of summer 14 years ago, September 21.  So this part of September is kind of like our personal celebration kickoff to the seasons of autumn and winter.

This year, our anniversary also happened to fall on the Jewish new year. This was especially meaningful to Jake and I because we look toward our own new beginning as a family, what with Jake’s transition into a new career and planning our next house move. We’re not Jewish, but it made our anniversary feel extra celebratory this year.

Two years ago, our first embryo transfer fell on the very first day of autumn and the day following our wedding anniversary, September 22.
This year on September 22 I wasn’t thinking about the 2-year milestone/anniversary/commemoration of our embryo transfer. Instead, Jake and I were outdoors riding our bikes. I was lost in thought reflecting over our wedding anniversary the night before and its correlation to the Jewish new year.

Suddenly I remembered back to two years ago today.  On September 22, 2015 I certainly wasn’t out riding my bike on a gorgeous sunny day! Instead, I was nervously anticipating my embryo transfer, brimming with excitement to bring home a baby in nine months’ time.

In November 2015 I had miscarried naturally at home at 11 weeks gestation, although the embryo had stopped living inside of me at the 5 and a half week mark. I didn’t know what to do with the product that I eventually miscarried. To flush it down the toilet was appalling. To save it was horrific. So I placed the remains in a small jewelry box and waited.

A few days later when the physical pain had subsided, Jake and I drove the box to a secluded sandy spot near the river. We found two identical “parent” trees with a tinier “baby” tree growing between them. There by the baby tree we buried the box deep in the sand. We held a small memorial service—just the two of us—then we left town for three days.  I’ve rarely visited the site since. Being there tends to make me cry.

20151111_160523
The river near the spot, but not the actual spot itself.

This year, it happened that Jake and I were riding our bikes very close to where our embryo is buried, on the exact two-year anniversary of its transfer. What kind of monster would I be not to visit the site on such a day?

Jake and I each stopped to pull handfuls of white and yellow wildflowers. Then we biked to the spot by the three trees. In two years, the baby tree had grown some, although it was still dwarfed by its “parents.”  We placed our flowers on the ground before the baby tree and weighted them down with a small rock. We said a prayer to God. I cried a bit. We walked back to our bikes in quiet solemnity.

Our burial site visit was unplanned. I’m thankful that the Lord had us near that spot on the exact day. Being there doesn’t hurt quite like it used to hurt. The sadness is etched less deeply with the passage of time. It’s now a scar, no longer a fresh wound.

I’m thankful that we marked the anniversary, impromptu or not. Because as Jake and I look onward to our new beginning—our “new year” so to speak—I don’t ever want to forget the old, our baby’s life (and babies’ lives).

To me, it matters.

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