Being at home was hard at first. The house felt empty and we were so grief stricken that it was literally hard to move at first. Luckily, we had so many people stop by that we did not have time to worry about feeding ourselves or cleaning the house or occupying ourselves - our friends and family did that for us. We got the most beautiful flowers and plants that I have ever seen. Then there were the delicious chocolates, catering food trays, frozen food meals, steaks, burgers, cakes, cookies...you name it, it all showed up at our house those first 2 weeks home. Fruit baskets, edible arrangements, gift cards for restaurants...check, check and check. And then there were the cards. We must have gotten 50 cards in the mail. Each one sent by someone who shared a story with us or offered a shoulder to cry on or just wanted us to know that there were people out there that loved us and were thinking of us. All promised to keep Allie in their hearts. It got so that we were looking forward to seeing the mail man each day. And the UPS delivery guy now knows who we are. (You would have thought with the way I shop, this had already happened, but I digress...).
And so, we tried our best to acclimate to being home. Our company gave us both a week of Bereavement Leave so we did not have to even think about work, which was quite a relief. Gary took an additional week after that and I decided (with my doctor's consent) to take a total of 6 weeks leave. I am not sure that "time heals all", but it certainly helped to have the time to start to heal.
One of the hardest parts of being home for me was learning to not entertain, but just to "be". To let others do the dishes and laundry and take care of things around the house as I was not able to do much for the first 2 weeks. No heavy lifting, no driving, nothing that would get my heart rate up.
Another hard part for me was the day everyone rallied together to clean out the nursery. We did not want a shrine to Allie so we had our support system carefully pack everything up and put in away in the basement. Bins and bins of Rubbermaid containers were filled with her clothes and books and blankets and picture frames to be put away into storage with all the other items that were stored when we were at the hospital. The nursery went back to being a guest room and with it, our hearts just sank. The freshly painted walls are a reminder of what the room once was and what we both hope the room will be again.
So night after night, our company would leave and Gary and I would be here - alone - in a quiet house. It was crazy - after all these months of expecting sleepless nights and late feedings, there was none of that. Instead there were tears and hugs and such a sense of loss that you felt it from the tip of your head to the bottom of your toes. I am still not sure how much pain for me was the recovery from the surgery and how much was the grief and sense of loss. I would look at my incision every day to make sure it was healing and rub my fingers over it in awe that a baby came out of there. My dreams of holding my daughter and nursing her and singing to her have all been reduced to an incision that I do not care if it turns into a scar as then I will at least have a constant reminder physically that she was once here.
Then came the day we had to pick Allie up from the funeral home. My youngest brother had bought and open ended ticket when he flew up from Austin so he was here to help us as much as we needed. He knew what we needed before we did sometimes. He drove us to the funeral home and held my hand, as Gary held the other, while we signed the paper work. And just like that, she was ours again.
There is a small creek behind our house that is now called Allie's Creek. The afternoon we brought her home, Gary and I walked into our yard and said our final goodbyes. We told her that she was home now and that we loved her so much and then we let her go. We watched as the water and the wind took her to her final resting place and we knew we had done right by her. We brought her home.