Some days, it really is the little things, and today I needed those little things.
See, our son Patrick’s fourth birthday is next Monday.
This birthday seems different somehow; I can’t quite put my finger on why. He’d no longer be a baby or toddler. He’d be a little boy. I wonder so much what he would be like. I look at his little sister, Stitch, and how much of her personality flourishes at two, and it just emphasizes how much we’ve missed with Patrick.
His birthday is the day after Easter this year. Since Easter moves around each year, it hasn’t been as challenging of a holiday as most. I sort of let it slip by each year. But, this year it falls on the anniversary of the day we found out he was gone, April 1st: the cruelest of April Fool’s Day jokes.
I usually hunker down on April 1st, but I can’t this year. I need to make magic for our two-year-old.
A project and a plan!
This morning, as I was scrolling Facebook, I saw that a friend and fellow loss mom had changed her cover photo to a picture of little paper Easter bunnies taped above the doorway into a room in her home—one for each member of her family. As soon as I saw it, I knew we had a little project we could do today.
I found an Easter bunny coloring page, printed it out on springy-colored cardstock, cut them out, and grabbed the crayons and some stickers. We made one for Stitch’s Papa to take to him when we visited today, and we set the others aside to make after nap.
While visiting with Papa, it occurred to me that we were very close to Mrs. Nelson’s Candy House, the candy shop where my husband, Lloyd, bought my mom and me boxes of fancy chocolates for the Easter after Patrick died. He bought them again when my parents came to visit for Easter after Stitch was born. We had talked about wanting to get Stitch a chocolate bunny from a local candy shop for her Easter basket—the only candy she’d be getting—but Mrs. Nelson’s Candy House seemed like a long drive just for a chocolate bunny.
I was so excited to realize I could take a quick trip from Papa’s and get the bunny from Mrs. Nelson’s Candy House, a place that held meaning to me. I don’t think I’d realized how important that little piece was to me and how I equated Mrs. Nelson’s Candy House with Easter after Patrick (ah, the before and after of loss).
So, off to the candy store we went.
I’d never actually been there before, and let me tell you, Stitch and I were like two kids in a candy store. Literally. We wanted one of everything. It was busy, but the line wan’t out the door like Lloyd had warned me it might be. We perused, filled our basket with more than I’d planned, and headed home with lots of nummies and a lighter mood.
When we got home, we ate lunch, then I put Stitch down for her nap. Her nap allowed me a little bit of time to sit with my feelings around this anniversary and process how I’m managing it all. I was able to take some time for some self-care, plopping myself on the couch to read for a bit until my daughter woke up from her nap.
After some post-nap snuggles, we got to work on our art project.
We colored, and Stitch carefully placed stickers on each of the bunnies. As we worked, we had great fun choosing who each bunny would represent.
“This Daddy,” she said, pointing to the blue bunny.
“This Mama,” she said, pointing to the bright pink bunny.
When I asked her, “Which is Patrick bunny?” she pointed to the light pink.
And, just like that, we built our little bunny family.
When my husband got home from work, he wrote each of our names on the corresponding bunny and helped finish coloring the last two. As I finished dinner and set the table, I taped the bunnies to the wall above our kitchen table.
My daughter squealed with absolute delight when she came to the table after washing her hands for dinner. She pointed to each bunny and said their names. She doesn’t say, “Patrick,” yet, so she looked to me for help with that bunny. She was so proud of her work and loved seeing them on display.
After dinner, I pulled out some special pre-Easter treats I’d gotten at the candy shop—chocolate covered Peeps. Stitch pointed to the bunnies on the wall, then to her bunny chocolate covered Peep and giggled gleefully. A few little bites in she said, “Nummy,” and then continued to say that after every bite. The special trip was worth it.