I couldn’t leave the shoes

Two months ago, it was a Tuesday, which is always a hard day anyway.  The hardest day of my life happened on Tuesday, and every one since has been hard.

It was a Tuesday, and I was driving home from counseling, which also is hard.  Nothing like reliving the worst day of your whole life on a day that is full of so many reminders already.

I decided to stop by the gravesite on the way home, on this hard grief day and after a difficult counseling session.  It made perfect sense in my mind.  I needed to be near him.  I needed a reset.  I needed something to help dull the painful ache and endless tears as I drove 40 minutes home from counseling.

As I entered the cemetery and drove down the narrowly paved road all the way to the back of the cemetery, my heart sank.  I saw the cemetary workers were throwing personal items left at gravesites into the back of pick up trucks.  Immediately I remembered what they had said in the spring about personal items not being left at the gravesite.  But when your baby dies and you’re figuring out all the details that go with burying him, you don’t write it down in your calendar.  No reminder that on March 14th I could no longer have any personal items there.  I knew the day was coming, but I didn’t remember the exact date.  I didn’t know the date until I was driving to the back of the gravesite, seeing all the trucks.

It was devastating.  I began to cry harder.  I was hoping for reprieve.  I was hoping for a reset on this hard day, but instead I drove up to a very empty gravesite.  No little converse we placed there to mark his grave.  No lego’s that Isaiah built him months ago.  No little car that someone had recently placed there – I still don’t know who.

I fell apart.  I immediately called Tim.  He came and soon found out that they did in fact throw those items away.  They were confident they were somewhere in the very full dumpster.

I couldn’t leave them.  I couldn’t leave those shoes!  It reminded me way too much of December 9th at 9:30 am when we left Enoch.  We left him at the hospital.  If I’m honest this scenario replays over and over in my head more than any.  It was the most horrific thing I ever had to do.  I left my new born baby… the baby we never thought we could have, the baby I carried for 40 weeks, the baby I took on adventures, the baby I loved more than anything imaginable, the baby of our first and only pregnancy.  We left that baby, our son, at the hospital, less than 12 hours after he was born.

I remember that morning so clearly: Tim handing Enoch to the nurse, because there’s no way I could have, and our walk down the hall.  I remember my body feeling so weird…  I had given birth; I was in shock;  I had stayed up all night; I was hungry; and none of it seemed real.  We walked down the hall. I was glad Tim remembered how to get out of the hospital because I had no clue.  I don’t even know what floor we were on.  It was all such a rush to get in there.

As we walked out the door and into the parking lot, the bitter cold surprised me. The sun was shining. But you could see your breath, and there was a thin layer of ice on our car.  We climbed in and started to drive.  What do you do after you just gave birth to a dead baby and are headed to an depressingly empty house?  Stop by McDonalds.  I was so hungry and knew when I got home I wouldn’t want to deal with food, so I bought a breakfast sandwich. And in my dazed state, Tim drove us home.  All of it seems so weird looking back on it now.

I replay those moments time and time again.  I often ask myself and others why we left him there.  It was the most traumatic part of that 24 hours, and I have not yet talked about leaving him at the hospital without tears coming to the surface.  It was awful.

And now 14 weeks after this traumatic event they throw away his shoes.  I can’t leave his shoes.  No way.  Never.  Leaving him at the hospital was the most horrific thing I’ve ever done.  I couldn’t leave his shoes.  I already left him, not his shoes too.

It took an hour and a half of digging through that dumpster.  Finally we found them, along with some broken legos.  It was another half an hour of putting it all back in the dumpster, but there’s no way I could have left them.

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And now the gravesite looks so empty.  We are waiting on a gravestone, but there’s nothing right now.  If you drive to the gravesite you don’t know that there is anyone even buried in that space, let alone that it’s my son.  His name is Enoch, and he’s amazing and nobody knows he’s even there.

I’ll be honest it’s been harder to go since that day.  It’s hard to go and see the bare ground where my son lay.  It seems so empty.

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