Four. Oberon would have been four this year. Longer than high school, longer than a bachelor's degree, exactly the amount of time we dated when we got engaged. Somehow that seems both exactly right and totally out of step.
This weird relationship with time continues.
November has been a weird month for our family. We've had some health scares (we're fine), ER visits (promise, we're fine), infectious diseases that kept the kids out of day care (they are fine), air quality so bad we had to stay inside, work travel, and then Thanksgiving weekend, which included Oberon's birthday. This resulted in Elizabeth barely going to the office for the better part of three weeks, and Everett and Imogen being home from day care for nearly two weeks. Our routines were all out of whack leading up to Obie's Bee Day.
Regardless of what's going on with the day-to-day, Oberon's birthday will relentlessly come each year on November 24. This year was no different. We actually took two trips to Uvas Canyon
- one on Thanksgiving Day and the other on Obie's Bee Day. On Thanksgiving, we hiked the Waterfall Loop Trail and visited all the off shoots to various markers and waterfalls. Everett walked most of the way himself, and delighted in finding more and more waterfalls. We haven't hiked this section of the trail by itself in a while, and it was very healing to take our time and go to so many of these special places.
Hiking the Waterfall Loop Trail - November 22, 2018
On Obie's Bee Day, we hiked the Alec Canyon Trail up to Manzanita Point (where Oberon's memorial bench is) and on to Triple Falls (which we almost never make it to). We talked a lot more about Obie on this particular hike. Everett was amazing and walked all the way to Obie's bench and then some (3/4 of a mile uphill). He voluntarily transitioned to the carrier as we made our way to Triple Falls and was mostly in good spirits the whole time. While we snacked at Obie's bench, we sang Happy Birthday to Obie, only realizing later that this was at pretty much his exact birth time, 10:21 AM.
Enjoying a snack and a rest at Obie's bench - Obie's Bee Day 2018
Elizabeth teared up a few times on the hike, only to have Imogen claw her neck or Everett venture too close to the edge of the trail and require reminding. Balancing the living and the missing.
Hiking all the way to Triple Falls - November 24, 2018
To round out the day, Elizabeth crocheted a bee during naptime and we all made birthday cake and frosting. We read a special new "birthday book" about how hugs can help us feel better
. Earlier in the week, we had made sure to read some of our baby loss and Obie-focused books. Not all of them, and not all at once, but more than usual.
Obie's Birthday Cake 2018
Bedtime came, and it seemed like we were going to make it through the day reasonably well. As Elizabeth snuggled with Everett, they talked about the day. Elizabeth thanked Everett for doing such a great job hiking to Obie's bench and for singing Happy Birthday. Evie started tearing up and whining.
Everett: I'm so sad!
Elizabeth: Oh, honey, why are you sad?
Everett: The only thing that will make me feel better is for Obie to stay with us.
After reassurance and cuddling, and acknowledging that it is sad that Obie isn't with us, and we are all sad about that, he seemed to calm down. And then...
Everett: Mommy, in a few days I'm going to die.
Elizabeth: Why would you say that? Is it because Obie died?
Elizabeth: Darling, Obie was very sick. He was sick when he was born. But you are not sick. We checked you out very carefully and you are not sick like Obie was.
This was followed with more reassurance, but with subtle caveats that only loss parents truly understand. At this point, we called Chris in too and had some extra snuggle time. Finding the balance of toddler boundaries and routine with supporting Everett when he needs it was a bit tricky, but we tried to find the right place.
Of course there was falling apart after the fact. And discussions spanning the days since then. Are we doing the right thing being so open with Everett at this young age? Should we try to hide some of the more intense emotions? Ultimately, we think our approach is the one that works best for our family (open, honest, frank discussion). But that does not stop the self-doubt and guilt. Everett and Imogen should have sheltered, carefree, tragedy-free childhoods. That is what we would have wished for them, but it isn't our family.
As horrible and as tragic as it all is, we would never want Everett or Imogen to think that if they died, it wouldn't impact us in a huge way. Oberon's death impacted our family so much because we love him so much and he remains a part of us. The message we would send if he was hidden away seems worse. Admitting the pain validates the love and importance of all our children.
Hiking at Uvas Canyon - November 22 and 24, 2018
We made pie too - Day After Thanksgiving Apple Pie - November 23, 2018