I recently read a powerful post from an online magazine about triggers. Easter is a huge trigger for those who have experienced loss. I wondered if/how Easter would be hard for me considering this is my first one after losing Bella. As always, I tried to prepare. I tried to brace myself. I can handle this. But it's always the unexpected.
Bella was born right before Thanksgiving. I expected to come home from the hospital with my tiny new baby daughter just in time to celebrate. And being the ultra preparer I am, I cooked my entire Thanksgiving dinner--aside from the turkey--a week in advance and had it ready to pop in the oven. I imagined myself sitting on the couch nursing and snuggling my two girls while Greg would warm everything up.
A special meal isn't a special meal without homemade applesauce. It's a staple for any celebratory dinner at my stepmom's house. So for me, it's very nostalgic. Last fall, I took advantage of having access to amazing local orchards and started making it myself. Of course, I can't replicate hers exactly, but a house full of the scent of apples and sugar and cinnamon simmering on the stove is heavenly.
Tomorrow is Easter. We're hosting a half-dozen cadets for dinner. It's bittersweet because it will be the last big meal with them for awhile. So it's important. Homemade applesauce is on the menu. I still have one vacuum-sealed package in the freezer from Thanksgiving, but I can't bring myself to thaw it. That applesauce was meant to be served after Bella came home from the hospital. How in the world can I bring myself to eat it? Just as the boxes of diapers sit in the corner of my spare bedroom closet and Bella's clothing is neatly hung in the closet that is still dedicated to housing all of her things, I am at peace with the nonsense of being obsessive over this silly bag of applesauce.
It hit me after I poured the finished batch from my dutch oven into the china dish. There was a bit too much, so the few extra scoops went into a small plastic bowl. The same exact one it went into last November, when I had a little extra from that batch. That exact container of applesauce was one of the things Greg grabbed from home and brought to me while I was in labor. I had a few bites right after Bella was born. You can see it there on my bedside table in the hospital in some of my photos from that day. And so it reminds me of her. And so there I am this evening, in my kitchen with this tiny plastic bowl in my hands and tears streaming down my cheeks. Out of nowhere.
In my almost five months of experience with being a mother who has lost a child, I've learned that triggers are almost always a surprise and exquisitely painful--only because the love and the missing are so enormous. The good news is the pain dulls. The shock of that little memory is big now, but I've learned that it won't be so big next time. Living it, getting over it, experiencing it. That silly little bowl of applesauce is a reminder of the most terrifying and devastating day of my life. But at the core, it's a reminder of her. I only had nine hours to make memories of being with her after she was born. Missing her will never change. But from now on, this won't be a trigger. This will be a peaceful reminder of my love for this beloved little girl.