A week and one day after Sonzee died was the date of her 5th birthday. Our period of morning finished with a walk around the block and me needing to decorate her gravesite like it was her bedroom door. It had to be ready for her on the morning of her birthday. I had not really known what I was going to do, I mean it isn't something I ever really planned in my mind. I didn't even know what I would give her, and then our friends took my need for thought away and sent us rocks and paint pens. We each painted a rock for her 5th birthday, and it was those paint pens sitting in my car that became the inspiration for all the painted rocks that have been placed since.
On her birthday we told the school the kids would be late, and we drove to the cemetery to eat cupcakes and place her birthday rocks. I had never walked into the office, Sam and my sister took care of all the arrangements before her death. I remembered my sister telling me the office staff wouldn't call to discuss the monument until a month had gone by at the earliest. Sam was not in the right mind to discuss any details, so I walked inside the office myself. I remember the awkward feelings that were in the room, you could seriously feel the heartbreak in everyone there. I asked about what I could look at to get started on her monument and they all looked dumbfounded. They reminded me that I had plenty of time, and I said I understood that but.
So I took the pamphlet of some artwork and the advice to walk around the cemetery and take a look at the inscriptions, stones, and colors. I remember I asked if the monument had to be the standard type. I was relieved when I finally found out it could be different. I knew the moment I settled on the shape and type and the color. Of course, I picked the one that would take the longest, but since it was March when I placed the order it was perfect, it should arrive in time for her anniversary. Sam and I were not on the same page, but we never really were the entire parenting journey with her, so this wasn't any different. The main difference was that I was adamant I didn't care anymore about listening to anyone else over her or her needs, I was buying this stone and every single option provided and that was it, cost wasn't an option.
The truth and horrible reality is the simple but yet incredibly challenging fact that this is the last physical gift I will ever give her. I don't get to buy her birthday presents or random things that remind me of her so she has to have them. I didn't get to buy her a Kindergarten graduation gift. She won't be having a Bat-Mitzah, a sweet 16, a middle, high school, or college graduation party. She won't be getting engaged or married. From now on there are only going to be celebrations in her honor, so this tiny plot of land has to do justice in honoring her 4 years 11 months, and 23 days of life. I am confident it really is as perfect as it possibly could be. I know like we always did, we made the best choices for her. I am honestly really proud of the way the proof looked, but I am really scared to see the stone in person.
The date, December 31, 2020, for her unveiling was chosen to represent this chapter of her journey being officially closed. It was chosen in hopes that 2021 will be the first step towards moving forward, but honestly, I am really unsure how I am going to handle the finality of this entire year. What I am even more fearful of is closing out another aspect of my parenting journey in relation to her.