I get more texts and calls on the ninth of every month than any other day. Especially from family. I see their texts and Facebook posts as the day approaches and how sad they are getting. This is a difficult day for them. I think they expect it to be a hard day for us, too. I get a lot of texts on the nineteenth as well. It marks the day he died. People assume we are at our worst on these two days. This is where they are wrong. I don’t acknowledge the nineteenth. I don’t even give that day recognition. Sometimes I don’t know it was the nineteenth until it has passed. That’s how much I care about that day. The ninth is Nash’s monthly birthday. Family will tell me they cry more on this day than any other day. They say they have a hard time even getting out of bed. We don’t feel that way. To us, everyday is equally hard. The ninth feels no worse than all of the days before it or any of the days that follow. We can’t decipher one bad day from the next. If anything, the ninth is our favorite day. We smile a lot that day, seeing people celebrate his life. We look forward to it. It’s our favorite day! Yes, we cry and think of all that he would be doing. We cry and ask ourselves why. We think of how much we miss him, how much we want to hold him, kiss him, see that smile and hear that giggle, but we feel that way everyday. If people worry about us on the ninth, they shouldn’t. If anything, we are at our best that day.
The morning of the ninth I always wake up to a “happy Nash day honey” from Todd. I tell him the same and we both smile. I can not explain the feeling I get when I see everyone change their profile pictures on Facebook to Nash. I get the chills as I scroll down and see endless pictures of him. I cry every time. Todd will look at me smile and say, “It’s happening honey.” I jump to grab my phone and look…it’s truly amazing. Our faces are in our phones all day. I get on Facebook and flip between mine, Nash’s , and the When Nash Smiled pages. I’m obsessed, really. I’m always surprised by the amount of effort people put into paying it forward on Nash day. They print his picture and put it on everything. People donated crayons and coloring books to a pediatric surgical heart unit. They handed out lottery tickets and gas cards. People bought flowers for their dental hygienist, which I love because that’s what I do for a living. A local restaurant, Culver’s, ran a Nash day special for one dollar ice cream sundaes. People left large tips at restaurants and donated to different funds in Nash’s name. People donated food to those in need, bought lunch for their coworkers. Everything always has a Nash day card attached. It’s so much fun to see what people come up with. I wish I had a hidden camera to catch all of the reactions. I always get a ton of Facebook friend requests that day. Most, I’m sure, are from people who were Nashed. I see the amount of likes on Nash’s page go up. It spikes every ninth and so do views of my blog. It’s enough to make anyone feel good, so you can imagine how it makes me feel.
For this 9th, Todd and I participated in the Nash Dash. It was a 5k put on by Tawas St. Joseph Hospital. I used to work there as a nurses aide, years ago. I loved it. I had worked other jobs, but the nurses there were always special to me. They have huge hearts and all are exceptionally great nurses. I’m not exaggerating at all. They truly are wonderful. They made it nice to come to work everyday. Most I have kept in touch with on Facebook. When Donna my old boss contacted me about the event, I wasn’t surprised at all. That place is filled with amazing people and I knew they would want to be a part of Nash day in some way. What I was surprised about was the amount of work put into it. They had shirts made. They had required permits for the actual race. Things had to be approved. A lot went into the planning. All of the proceeds are going toward the purchase of halo sleep sacs for the babies born there. There are no words for the feeling I have when I see so many people working hard and putting so much thought into honoring my son. When I am approached by these people, I never feel that I look thankful enough. I’m so much better at expressing myself on paper than I am in person. I often think later, did I show them how much I truly do care, how much it means to me?
Before the dash, Todd and I decided to Nash a couple of patients at the hospital. When I walked down the med/surg hallway, a hallway I have walked down many times in the past, I doubted I would know anyone there. I thought, please God let me know someone there. I didn’t know who all would still be working there seven years later. When I saw all of the familiar faces, I cried and so did they. These women hadn’t seen me in years and I could tell their hearts broke for us. I could tell they just wanted to give me a hug and let me know they were thinking of us and of Nash. With help from the nurses, Todd and I picked a couple of patients to give flowers to and tell them Nash’s story. It never gets old, making people smile. It’s also impossible not to smile when you see people’ reactions. It’s the best therapy, in my opinion.
Afterward, we all went outside to start the dash. Donna spoke first, explaining the cause and our story. Then a poem was read, followed by some words from the pastor. It was hard to fight back tears as I looked at the crowd. Seeing how many people were there, seeing them all wearing their Nash dash shirts. Hearing the kind words they had to say. I just stood there in awe like I had for all of the previous Nash days. Thinking to myself, this is crazy how much support we have. I know I am a good person and so is Todd; but what people have done for us, for Nash, is beyond anything I have ever seen before. It’s hard to feel worthy of all the attention. After everyone was done speaking, they gave us rainbow colored balloons to release to start the dash. I watched them float up to the sky until I couldn’t see them any longer, and then we were off. I walked most of the way with my family. All of my nieces and nephews ditched me for Todd, which is pretty common. It was nice being home, being around my loved ones. I can’t put into words the feeling I have when I see so many people honor my son. A little boy most had never even met. To me, Nash was my world. When he died, a part of me died. As I looked at people doing the dash and pushing strollers, I felt sad. When people see Todd and I out now, they won’t see Nash, they will just see Todd and I. We won’t have Nash in our arms like we should. They won’t see a family, they will see only a couple. Now, because of Nash day, when some people see us, they immediately think of Nash. When most people see just a couple, there is an equal amount of people who see Nash’s parents. I can not begin to tell you how amazing that is. How lucky we are to have that.
As we drove home that night, Todd and I talked about how much people have done. How special they have made us feel. As we pulled into our driveway, we saw our house completely covered in fall decorations…mums, corn stalks, welcome rugs, straw, and pumpkins. You could tell that whoever did this put a lot of time into it. As we walked into the house, there was a dish of candy and a couple of pumpkins with a Nash card. The card read, “You have been Nashed!” I turned the card over and it was signed by many of our friends and family. Caroline sent us a picture of the whole group standing in our front yard earlier that day. That night, I went in Nash’s nursery before bed and didn’t cry for the first time. I smiled and said out loud, “I had a Nash day baby. Thank you!” So if you are worried about us on the ninth, if you wonder how we are getting through such a difficultly day, don’t. Wish us a happy Nash day. The ninth is the only day we feel…………..HAPPY!