This post originally began out of a desire to recognize the kindness of sweet friends who, in the past two days, gave me gifts I didn’t even know I needed. Their gifts reminded me of things I hadn’t known I needed reminding of. That it is okay to need grace each day and that I am not forgotten. I seem to forget these two things in the days leading up to July (okay, I forget them a lot but ESPECIALLY in the days leading up to July). The following processing is what then ensued. It is raw, it is honest, it is a bit rambly but if you know me by now you know I have a tendency to do that from time to time as I process through things.
July is a month of both/and.
I realize now, July will always be a complicated month for me. In my journey of working to become more in-tune with my body and my emotions, I have come to recognize I dread July’s approach, feeling the stress aptly in my body and mind. I am more quick to anger and judgment. Less likely to give myself grace on the hard days. More prone to isolation. Less likely to celebrate the beauty that has grown from our loss.
Honestly, I thought I would be past it by now.
But the end of June arrives and I am transported right back to July of 2017.
July 1-3, 2017 – while camping with friends, we revealed our baby was a girl! We were overjoyed but also cautious because we had been told in our gender-reveal ultrasound that our girl was measuring small and they wanted to measure her again after a few weeks of growth.
July 7, 2017 – appointment with a perinatologist/genetics specialist to see if she had done it, if our girl had grown or if we were looking at a potentially life-long genetic disorder that would alter how we did life together. We were hopeful she had grown and we would be told all was well. We never once stopped to consider the alternative, that she was gone. Her heartbeat had stopped.
I’m pretty sure mine stopped too, if only for a moment. My mind, on the other hand, was racing in search of answers. Was it my fault? Am I being punished? Why us, we had waited for her for what felt like an eternity! Could the doctors be wrong? Did they miss something?
We had our last night at home with her, praying her heartbeat would miraculously re-appear the next day when we went in for delivery.
July 8, 2017 – still no heartbeat. Instead, I labored and we grieved and felt the weight of all the things we weren’t going to get to do with her anymore.
July 9, 2017 – Verity Grace Drake was born. We held her and cried and said our goodbyes.
Each year, leading up to July, I am brought back to that place. The hospital rooms, the goodbye, the deafening silence that echoes in our house where an almost-three-year-old should be.
I also know it is felt by those around me. Especially those who have walked this journey with us. But somehow I still feel alone, isolated in my grief and frustrated by my inability to just “move on”. My head still needs reminders that I am not alone, even though, deep down it’s a truth I already know.
In the last two days, the final two days of June, as I brace myself for the start of another July, I received two perfect gifts reminding me there is grace for each day and that I am not forgotten.
After a full weekend of laughter, bubbles, walks, Monopoly Jr. (which is the ONLY kind of Monopoly that should even exist in my personal opinion), and Mickey Mouse’s Clubhouse with two of our favorite tiny humans while their parent’s celebrated their anniversary, we were given a “thank you” gift. This gift was a combination of thanks for taking care of the girls AND in honor of Verity’s upcoming birthday. It is a beautiful sign that says, “Just enough grace for today”. Not only did this gift remind us we are not alone and have our daughter’s middle name represented, but it also serves as a beautiful reminder to me that it is okay to need grace each and every day.
Days when I feel like I shouldn’t have such a hard time with the month of July…grace.
Days I am frustrated at life not looking how I thought and dreamt it would…grace.
When I am discouraged by still having unbearably hard days…grace.
The second gift arrived today from a friend I have known since college who, although we go through seasons of silence, has always had a way of reminding me I am seen, heard, and loved. This gift arrived in the form of a Willow Tree figurine titled, “Forget-me-not” and a note reminding me that she remembers Verity with me and that she always will. For the second time, in as many days, I was brought to tears over the kindness and thoughtfulness of my friends.
These gifts not only reminded me to have grace with myself and to remember that Verity is not forgotten but also encouraged me to reflect on the other Julys.
July 2018 – we traveled to Austin, TX to visit my sister and brother-in-law. My sister has dealt with me her ENTIRE life. If anyone can survive my anger, tears, and dark sense of humor and still come out loving me on the other side, it’s her! So we celebrated the 4th of July and Verity’s birthday exploring Austin and eating our weight in smoked bbq, Tex-Mex, and Hop Doddy’s burgers! We flew home on Verity’s birthday and were greeted with thoughtful gifts from family members, reminding us she is loved and celebrated and she will never be forgotten.
July 2019 – for the 4th of July we headed out to the Gatewood beach cabin for a few days with our friends (the same friends who gave us the sign). We introduced their then 3-year-old to the Tillamook Creamery cheese sample line and yummy ice cream, played with sparklers, watched fireworks and turned pop-its into ammunition (I’m pretty sure I was the favorite target, at least it felt that way…maybe it’s because their aim was way better than mine). Then, for Verity’s birthday, we went to the Oregon Humane Society just to look and came home with, what I am pretty sure, is the world’s best pup, Kili Kaleo!
With July 2020 starting tomorrow, I am holding space for the sadness, loss, and grief AND I am also remembering to look forward to the good things I already know the month will hold. We are headed back to Texas (Buda this time) to visit my parents and my sister and brother-in-law. There will be time to relax in the pool, eat really good food, play games and just breathe in and out together, relishing the moments of getting to actually be in the same space. We will celebrate Verity Grace’s birthday AND Kili’s gotcha day, welcome our new niece, and celebrate our wedding anniversary.
July is exceptionally hard. July has a lot to offer. July is a month of both/and.