Tonight is the annual candle lighting service for the SHARE group here. It's a really special time. Everyone brings a candle and says a few words when lighting them. We also decorate a tree to donate to a local hospital so everyone brings an ornament in memory of their baby. I buy two now, one for the tree and one to keep, since the first year I couldn't leave Toren's ornament behind. We can also bring mementos.
This morning I packed up Toren's dinosaur memory box with the dinosaur pajamas, stuffed dinosaur, a candle, the ornaments (yes, both so I can actually have one to hold on the way home). Then I decide to bring his little hat and some photos. I wanted to print off some pictures instead of bring any Polaroids or ultrasound photos, because those are irreplaceable.
I don't look at the disc of photos taken by the hospital often but when I do I scroll through them over and over and it seems like there are so many! Today I noticed that they are all numbered 1 through 17. That's not a lot of photos considering there will never be more pictures taken of Toren. Seventeen digital photos, about 6 Polaroids, and a handful of ultrasound pictures as proof that he was here for a little while. The photos printed off dim and hazy, hopefully just indicating that the ink is low, but that's how those days in the hospital to deliver feel - hazy. The visual memories are all a blur of soft edges and muted colors. The physical memories are sharp - stabbing contractions, my heart feeling like it was being squeezed, wrung out, twisted apart.
When it was time to leave the hospital after delivering I couldn't even imagine leaving Toren behind. You know what it's like. Even now I don't know how I walked out of that room. Even now I don't think I'm strong enough to leave him behind like that. I think I was given some Xanax. I put on sunglasses before leaving the room, not because I was ashamed of puffy, red eyes full of tears, but because I needed a barrier so that there would be no risk of making eye contact with anyone.
Even though I get very anxious about Toren's things when they are away from the house, the dinosaur box stayed in the car while I went to my office. Then there was a small fire in my building. Sitting outside waiting for news I imagined the fire engulfing the building and leaping over to the parking garage putting Toren's irreplaceable hat at risk of burning up! Even though the fire was probably extinguished already and the parking garage is concrete and not very flammable, my heart started beating faster and faster and my throat tightened. To rescue myself, I rescued the dinosaur box from the absent flames.
And that is how I came to be sitting at my desk with the dinosaur box sitting at my left elbow.