I go to Daniel's grave every day or so since it gives me peace. Even though I know his spirit is around me, there is some solace in standing there where his body is at rest. My husband usually goes with me about once a week, which I respect as what he needs to do to grieve. Daniel's grave has a simple, yet beautiful, little wooden cross marking it until we get the headstone once the weather breaks. My sister made the cross to take out when we buried him because I couldn't bury him without something marking his name on his grave. She made it from a wooden pallet and wrote, "Daniel John Dice, November 6, 2015, 89 minutes". Just enough to identify who he was and the miracle of the time we got with him. On each side of the cross I put some Christmas-type flowers so he would have some decoration for the holiday, but I wanted something more. I talked to my husband about purchasing a grave blanket for which he agreed with. On the day I was preparing to call around town for one, he sent me a message saying a student was selling them for a fundraiser. He ordered the grave blanket which was in the shape of a cross, which was perfect for Daniel. When my husband went to pay for the cross, a few days later, he was told that it was already paid in full. One of his co-workers had heard that he was purchasing it for Daniel's grave and purchased it for us. We were both so touched by the kindness shown towards us and our son by this action.
When Bill came home from work yesterday with the grave blanket, I was eager to go out to finish decorating Daniel's grave. We went out this morning to place the pine cross on his grave and I wasn't ready for the grief that came with it. When we got to the cemetery and parked along the road it hit me. We were here putting a "grave blanket" on Daniel's grave, my son's grave. This wasn't supposed to happen like this. Daniel wasn't supposed to die. My mind raced as I walked to his grave alongside Bill who was crying the pine cross. How could it be that for Christmas this year the gift I got my son was a pine cross? When we got to the grave Bill laid the cross down on the fresh topsoil that covered Daniel's grave and we both burst into tears. All we could do was cry and hold each other overlooking our son's grave. After our emotions subsided, we put an angel light beside his grave and attached a little red stocking. I was upset that Daniel would celebrate his first Christmas without any of the normal Christmas items, so I decided I was getting him a stocking for his grave. We finished arranging his things and as we stood back to look at our work the tears came again. I thought about all the Christmas memories that were taken from me when Daniel was taken. So I wept. I wept for my baby boy who would spend his first Christmas and every Christmas that follows in heaven. I wept for every Christmas I will spend here without him laughing, singing, and playing. I wept for Bill who will never get to spend Christmas morning putting together Daniel's toys with him. But most of all I wept for the pain I felt realizing that every year for Christmas,instead of buying items for my son to open, I will be buying a pine cross.
I became a mommy in 2015 to a beautiful baby boy, Daniel John, who taught me the depth of a mother's love and the sorrow of neonatal infant loss.