We decided in the hospital parking lot to head to my in-laws’ house. It’s always been where everyone gathers for holidays, birthday parties, or just to hang out. I thought it was a great idea. I didn’t want to face our home yet and see all of Nash’s toys. When we got there, my friends Shawn and Julie were waiting. Cars just started pulling in; aunts, uncles, cousins, friends. I wasn’t surprised. Both Todd’s family and mine traveled in flocks; both were extremely close. None of them were going to let us go through this alone. I was standing outside in the driveway with some of the family and then I heard it. Not a normal cry – a loud, wounded, whimper. There were Becca’s girls. Three of our nieces. The two oldest were visibly uncomfortable. They didn’t know what to say. They gave me a hug. The 7-year-old Chandler was the one sobbing. Not quite old enough to fake anything yet or feel awkward. All she knew to do was feel what she felt. I scooped her up in my arms and carried her away from the crowd. She just hugged me and cried louder. Chandler is like a second child to us. She stays at our house almost every weekend. She loves sleeping in bed with Todd and I. She has woken up, like me, numerous times to that Nashy smile. She helped me dress him. Stood over while I had given him baths. Loved making him laugh. She not only lost a cousin, but also a little brother. Becca tried to take her, thinking I didn’t need her crying on me when I felt awful myself. I wanted her though; it felt good to hold a child and comfort her the best I could. My arms didn’t feel empty. Todd scooped her up and I could tell he felt the same way.
I walked back into the house and sat down. I realized right away I wanted to go home. I wanted to be where Nash lived. I wanted to be by his things. I wanted to crawl in bed and possibly never get out.
Our family let us go first. They gave us twenty minutes to ourselves before they came over. When we walked in to our house, there were dirty bottles on the table. I saw his car he loved to play in, his saucer that I was suppose to adjust when I got home from work. I walked upstairs as fast as I could. I wanted to be in the nursery. I have never been so mad that I kept up on laundry. He had no dirty clothes. Just one blanket in the crib he slept with the night before. I lost it. Seeing his crib, the dresser I had refinished to use as dresser/changing table. His rocker. The wall decal Todd had put on the wall when I was pregnant. It said “Owl always love you” and had a totally different meaning now. I just started grabbing every toy and blanket. I wanted to smell everything, searching for some trace of him. I finally grabbed his blanket, sat down in the rocker and continued to cry. Todd was trying to be strong for me. Rubbing my leg, trying not to cry. This would be the first of many times I looked at him and told myself to snap out of it, he is hurting too.
I took a shower and then climbed into bed. I had no intention of ever leaving. I snuggled up to the spot in the bed where Nash always slept. I smelled it of course, grabbed his blanket and started crying again. I talked to him like he was there. I remember saying “Oh my handsome boy, I’m going to miss you.”
Todd came upstairs to check on me. He had something in his hand. It was the shirt he had bought for Nash just days before. The one the doctor had cut off to do CPR. Todd said, “I grabbed it off the bed at the hospital.” He still sleeps with that shirt every night. My girlfriends started coming upstairs; now Jessie was here too. My three besties. They didn’t know what to say and didn’t try to. They just cried with me. I could hear that there was a ton of family and friends downstairs. Todd came upstairs again to check on me. Eventually, everyone started leaving. I’m sure they thought we wanted to be alone and that they should let us try to get some sleep. It was the only night we were left alone for a week and it was awful! Alone with our thoughts; short one person. It was so quiet. I missed the noise of the people downstairs.
Todd went outside to smoke before he came to bed. He was gone a long time so I went to check on him. There I saw him, sitting silently in a chair with tears streaming down his face. He was listening to his and Nash’s song on his phone, “Mirrors” by Justin Timberlake, and looking at pictures; he could barely speak. He would just replay the song over and over again, flipping through pictures and struggling to see through his tears. I had never seen him cry before and I learned quickly that I felt the same way he did when he saw me cry. It was just to much to take. To much to wrap our brains around…Ididn’t recognize these broken people. We would never again be the same happy people we were the night before.