I really thought this year's anniversary would be better. I had a real good cry and moping about on Monday. I bought clothes for two NICU babies and thought about how I won't ever buy clothes for my sons. I cried, let the kids eat whatever they wanted for dinner, they watched too much television and went to bed late.
But as the week progressed things got better and all of my friends remembered my sons. They wrote me inspirational notes like the one from Joy and another from Laura . And then I met strangers at Red Robin who reminded me of how lucky I truly am.
I assembled these beautiful goody bags for two moms and babies in the NICU at Glendale Adventist Hospital. The hospital that my sons were born at and, if they had lived, would have spent the first weeks of life. I bought baby clothes, hats, and mittens, luxury items for mom like lotion, kleenex, fuzzy slippers, acrylic frames, face cloths, a journal and disposable camera. I had so much fun shopping that I went over my budget by quite a bit and still had to force myself to stop. In fact, the items barely fit in the gift bags.
My visit to the hospital was great. My husband came with me, but then sat in the car with William. It was so nice to have a conversation that focused on the twins rather than wrestling a squirming baby or reminding a preschooler to 'not touch'. First, I gave the maternity ward nurses a box of chocolates and a heartfelt thank you note. They were truly the silver lining in that sad day two years ago. They were so kind, thoughtful, and caring. They allowed me to cry and grieve. And then just 10 1/2 months later when William was born they remembered me and realized that his birth would be bittersweet. They were gentle and kind allowing me to be fearful of the epidural and take my time in William's labor and delivery.
I went upstairs to give the goody bags to the NICU nurses. It felt so strange to tell people I have gifts for someone I don't know. A cheery lady greeted me in the elevator commenting on how exciting that I was visiting a new baby. I told her no. I was dropping off these gifts in memory of my sons who were born still. I was so amazed I was able to say it with a smile and cheerfully. It really was a nice visit. The nurses were very grateful and chatted with me for some time about my sons, my living children and how did I find the time to do it all. That was the only time I began to cry. I said, "I just do [find the time]. Its a priority to celebrate their short life, but without allowing it to consume my living children's lives." The nurses were very excited about the goody bags and I told them to get used to it. Soon I would be dropping off quilts.
So I expected today, our train trip to San Juan Capistrano, to go just as smoothly. Despite the fact that we were 2 moms traveling with 5 kids ranging from 4 years to 9 months. Despite the fact that it was raining, after all what's a little rain on the windows of the train. We had planned everything for our train trip to the last detail. Our layover in San Juan Capistrano would be 90 minutes. We would get back with enough time to go to bed early and spend some time with Daddy. I had packed snacks and toys. I borrowed a double stroller (ironic, huh?). We were set.
Until I got a phone call from Amtrak at 8 am. "Hi. Your train is stuck in LA. You will get on a bus in Glendale and travel 20 minutes to LA where you can board at 9:40 to go to San Juan Capistrano." Well, this scared me since the children would be on a bus, on a busy freeway without seat belts or car seats. But I decided to be adventurous because quite frankly I had no other choice. At 10:30 we were still in Glendale with no bus in sight. There were no Amtrak attendants available at the station, there were no updates, and when we called the 1-800 number the operator was useless.
We finally boarded the second bus (as the first one was full) with the promise of arriving in LA in time for the 11:10 train to San Juan Capistrano. Yup. We were on time. Too bad the train wasn't. "Not to worry it should be there at 11:30, or 11:45, well, to be honest we just aren't sure", was the official word we got from the Amtrak employees. The kids were hungry and tired and still hadn't been on a train. I was becoming defeated and just one more outburst away from tears. It wasn't supposed to happen this way! The train trip was to keep me from remembering the twins and crying all day. Instead it became one big hassle and I still hadn't left Los Angeles.
I was done. I was fed up. I went to a ticket agent demanded a refund and wanted a FREE ticket back to Glendale, seeing as they just abandoned us in LA with no hopes of heading south. Three people were unauthorized to give us free tickets. But a sweet lady named Rosie understood our plight - maybe that's because she could hear the preschoolers banging on the vending machines and she could see the babies snoring in the twin stroller. She gave us a carry on pass. I'm still unclear as to what that is, but I do know I didn't pay for it.
To celebrate our refund and ticket home everyone got Cheetos from the vending machine; Connors were the flaming hot variety of course. We ended up on a train eventually; for 10-minutes just to get back home. They seemed content with their adventure out once they were fed Happy Meals.
I just don't feel like I celebrated their anniversary sufficiently. We never made it to the Cemetary. I just can't bring myself to go there and see the plot without a headstone. It is so depressing. I feel like I have failed them once again because after two years there is still no headstone.
I guess I shouldn't complain too much. I was too busy fuming at Amtrak to cry about my sons. And after all, I had a much worse day 2 years ago.