Today we took Joel on a walk, and it was freezing, so we layered him up, and had to put him in some size 18-month sweat pants (!), and I hope he was warm enough. We were headed to the playground, because we are wicked-awesome parents, and we thought it might be stimulating for Joel to watch some older kids play, but not too long into our walk he fell asleep in his front-facing carrier, so we quickly turned back home, first taking a quick detour, trespassing through a neighbor’s house, which is under construction. (It’s okay – everyone does it.)
When we arrived home, Mark successfully managed to transition Joel into his swing for a nap (!), and then we each sat down to work on some mind numbingly boring accounting stuff. (I have to write some memos on revenue recognition, which is such a pleasure.) But then I was hungry, so I got up to microwave some Annie’s more-organic-than-Kraft macaroni and cheese. And I’d just returned to the office and was studying the gelatin bits that I’d apparently not stirred into the macaroni mixture well enough, contemplating their effect on my insides, when Mark came in to interrupt me. (Apparently he’d left the office without me noticing as I was so deep in thought.)
And I saw that his eyes were filled with tears as he plopped a stuffed teddy bear into my lap.
I grabbed the bear, and I was immediately surprised by the weight of it. And then it hit me that it was the 5 pound, 8 ounce Molly Bear we ordered in memory of Matthew, and the shock of holding exactly Matthew’s weight for the first time since July 13, 2015 overtook me. And then I too burst into tears as all of the precious-yet-indescribably-traumatic memories came rushing back, and then my tears turned into more heaving-type sobs. And then Mark started sobbing too.
I began to examine the bear, and I noticed that one of the cards attached to it notes, “Our hope is that when you hold your Molly Bear for the first time you will find peace and comfort.” And though it is really fucked up that we have the need for this bear, and my heaving-sobs hardly qualify as “peace and comfort,” as soon as I recomposed myself, I started to imagine that this bear might actually bring me some peace and comfort.
In some ways holding this Matthew Bear makes me feel as though I’m holding Matthew again, or at least that I have some tangible piece of him left here on this earth… It’s also something we will carry with us on vacations as well as include it in our family photos for years to come.
Pretty quickly Mark suggested that we go to the park to take a family photo with Matthew Bear, and while I’m eager to do this, I was like, “Well, I look like shit, because I haven’t showered, and I’m wearing maternity clothes, and, by the way, you don’t look so great either – everyone needs a bath, including Joel…” But then I contemplated that maybe it might be fun to mail holiday cards that are very much opposite from the catalogue-worthy ones that everyone else sends. So we’ll see…
Molly Bears was founded by a family who lost their daughter, Molly Christine, at 34 weeks to a true knot in her umbilical cord (just like Matthew). It’s beyond devastating that there is a need for this organization, but I’m also thankful it exists – it is making a huge difference in the lives of thousands of families each year.
Our Matthew Bear was constructed by a woman named Jean, grandmother to Hope and Grace. We told Molly Bears that a blue jay is our Matthew sign, and I love the way that Jean incorporated this.
Also, a huge thank you to our friend and fellow baby loss mom, Erin. We weren’t sure whether our Molly Bear would arrive before the holidays, and, because of her, it has, and we couldn’t be more grateful – this is truly one of the most special gifts we could have received this year. I like to imagine that her Alexander, and our Matthew, born almost exactly one year apart, have found each other and are happy we’ve connected.
I constantly long to hold Matthew just one more time, and today I feel as though I did.