Charlie's party went beautifully.
On Saturday night, hubby was working overnight, so I was alone in the house. I'd been doing ok, knitting and watching movies, but once I started getting ready for bed, it hit me that it was Father's Day (it was past midnight), which was the day Charlie was born (of course, the dates shifted this year, which meant that part of my brain was constantly trying to figure out what was happening at "this moment" a year ago). I suddenly couldn't stop myself from thinking about the day Charlie was born and my experience, and everything suddenly weighed down on my and I started bawling. I was texting with hubby, but even that didn't calm me down, nor did cuddling with Pookie, so I was at a loss. I ended up calling my parents (at 2:30 in the morning!) and baring my soul to them. I had many things on my mind. Foremost, of course, was the combination of being alone and missing Charlie (and thus being sad). But I also had some responsibilities the next morning that I was finding overwhelming. As my parents talked to me, I was able to get things off my chest, find solutions, and calm down.
Sunday was largely quiet, since I had excused myself from going to church (and thus avoided a lot of "Father's Day" stuff as well as some baptisms), and since hubby came home from work and needed to sleep for several hours. Once evening rolled around, the in-laws arrived, and we went out to dinner and drove them around town a bit, and then went out for ice cream. While we were getting our order at the counter, a DOWNPOUR arrived! So we all hung out beneath the awning and enjoyed dessert and chatted. Once we got back to the house, we chatted, caught up with each other, and then played a light-hearted game.
Between the release of stress and worry on Saturday night, and the distraction of guests and conversation on Sunday night, I feel I was actually in a pretty good place, emotionally, heading into Charlie's birthday.
Hubby made us all YUMMY pancakes on Monday morning, which is also just a great start to any day! And once we got ourselves reconnoitered, we packed up the cars and headed over to the town where we were going to have the picnic/party. We had lunch with my side of the family as well as the in-laws, and then went to the picnic shelter to set up. We had only a few decorations: a banner I found at Target and then added felt letters to (the picture at the top of the post), some orange balloons with tiger stripes, and a candle shaped like a tiger, to put in the cake.
We brought most of Charlie's things, and spread them out on a picnic table, so people could look at the things we saved, but also pictures, cards, and various things we've gotten in the last year that remind us of Charlie or were given to us in remembrance, like blankets and statues and stuffed animals.
Once most people had arrived and were snacking a little bit, I brought out the cake. This cake has a story. Last year, I had bought a cake just like this, and the plan was that, when I went into labor, I'd get the cake out of the freezer, and then it would be ready to welcome the new baby. Instead, we ate it at the lunch following Charlie's funeral. So I got the same cake, and had them write "Happy Birthday Charlie" on it, and I served it at his first birthday.
We are not vegans, but at the time when we first had it, I couldn't eat dairy, so vegan was a safe option. Also, it tastes good! Here's Hubby watching me cut the cake:
I even got a new dress for the occasion, with cool tiger stripes on it (but in my favorite color, blue!).
There was just enough cake to go around! It's a little bigger than a smash cake but smaller than a typical round cake. It's great for a small celebration. Sorry for any blur or darkness... good photography in the shade of a picnic shelter can be tricky.
Then we handed out cards and presents. People had brought us a few lovely ones, like a board book from one of my sisters, and 2 music compositions from another. We had cards for our dads (the grandpas), and I also had framed photos of Charlie for the godparents (my mom and hubby's dad). So it was pretty cheerful! I even got a present for the Pook: He's showing off his new shades in this picture!
Here's a picture of hubby reading one of his Father's Day cards. He got several, but one was specifically a card I got as "from Charlie and Pookie" because it has tiger cubs all over, going "daddy daddy daddy! We love you, daddy!" so this is hubby getting really into reading that aloud!
Below, Pookie in his birthday attire: an "I'm One" bib, a "My 1st Birthday" pin, a hat, and his toy tiger.
Here's me with all of our stuffed tigers! I love tigers now. From the left: a Tigger toy, which is a rattle too. Given to me by my best friend at Charlie's funeral. We just call him Tigger. The one in between him and the red hat (a bit of a blur) is Eunomos, then the one in the red hat is Daniel, and the big one is Blake.
Pookie's tiger (in the above picture) doesn't have a name yet, and I also have a smiling teddy bear without a name yet.
Photography credit goes to my little sister and my hubby, they both helped. It was a wonderful day: to be able to celebrate the life of Charlie, and what he means to us, WITH family and friends, was amazing. We felt so loved and supported.
We went to the cemetery after this, mostly just family, and spent a few minutes there. It was a somewhat more somber moment than the picnic. We all love Charlie so much, and miss him ever so much.
Infant loss resource document: www.tinyurl.com/infantloss