We had just finished celebrating Christmas with loved ones. Our son opened plenty of presents, I enjoyed as much food as my pregnant belly could handle. Little did we know that not all was well with the baby. A few days later, we went to a regular doctors appointment only to be told she couldn't find the heartbeat. An ultrasound confirmed that our baby had indeed passed. I was 16 weeks along and decided to deliver our baby, hold him, and bury him in our home town. At 11 pm on December 31st, we were admitted to the labor and delivery floor at the hospital. At midnight, when everyone was celebrating, we were waiting. We watched the ball drop on tv from our hospital bed. We watched fireworks out our room's window. Being torn between the joy of a new year and the despair of such a loss. Thinking of all the newness the new year would bring and all the memories we would never create. At 11:11 the following morning we said hello and goodbye to a 1.1 ounce baby boy. We named him Gabriel Russell in honor of my great great grandpa Russell G. This is truly one of the hardest things my husband and I have ever done.
For the last three years, we have only decorated his grave site with wreaths, flowers and other lawn decorations with the intention of putting a permanent marker out there at some point. Nothing ever seemed good enough. A stone is so cold and lonely. A wreath is so bare. I decided I wanted a bench out there. A little bench. One fit for a little boy to sit on. I dreamt up the design, my husband made it a reality. I stained it, created stencils, and sealed it. An unfortunate reason to have to team up with my husband to create something, but this is the most beautiful thing we have ever created (except of course our two other children).
I wanted to write this blog to tell my story. To let others know that they are not alone. This subject can be so taboo and unspoken. Even though I knew I was not alone, the topic of Gabriel is always so awkward and I felt I couldn't talk about him openly. I've changed my outlook on that. Gabriel is my son and I talk about him as if I've spent the last three years with him, not a mere 3 hours. I also wanted to share the story behind the symbols on our bench and show off the beautiful work my husband did.
We will see you again (on back of bench): We do believe we will see Gabriel again. Carrie Underwood's song hit me hard one day. Since then, I can't listen to the song without thinking of our baby.
Top of Bench
These images are on the legs of the bench. I'm not sure why I chose birds to represent Gabriel. But I always do. Sometimes I choose Christmas cards and other things we are sending as a family, that have birds on them so I can sign Gabriel's name without really signing his name. Now you know family :) The little boy and his dog represent Gabriel and my husband's dog. We've always said that the DreamWorks logo (boy fishing on the moon) reminds us of my grandpa and Gabriel. I thought the DreamWorks logo would be kind of cheesy and thought this one was just perfect. And the boy on the tractor represents our family's love of tractors.
The story is not all sad. I have one beautiful little boy who is almost 5 (Brock) and a 2 year old girl (Emma Eve, named for my great great grandma Evelyn G. Wife of Russell). Emma was due January 2nd, 2012 (Gabriel 1.1.11, Emma 1.2.12) which was a sign to me that everything was going to be okay. Of course Emma was fashionably late and came on January 8th. I see a lot of signs in things. Signs that things are okay. Signs from Gabriel and God that they're there for us. Emma being born on January 8th was no different. Because the year before, January 8th, 2011, was the day we buried our sweet Gabriel.
"Every little thing is going to be alright"