Elijah Turns Two... In Heaven

June 17, 2018

By Sanda Rathamone

Mommy and Elijah's Bear
Asilomar State Beach
Monterey, CA
I sang “Happy Birthday” to you, but I didn’t sing it as loud as I have for everyone else that I have met and loved. Instead, I sang to you in the lowest voice I could, but still loud enough that it wasn’t a whisper, like how I would always whisper, “I love you” to you. And when I finished singing, I didn’t clap, I didn’t smile. I just sat there and waited for my singing to make it to Heaven and for it to reach you. The magic of it all came from having your bear with me. He had heard me sing to you. Happy birthday, my sweet little boy.
The beginning of June started off with so much anxiety, mostly because it will be two years since Elijah was born and died.

So much anxiety, that I have decided to take a break from school and life. 

I enrolled into massage school and started the program in late May. Even with so much excitement and hopes for the future - the past, the loss, and the grief were creeping up on me. Two-and-a-half weeks into the program, the waves came crashing and toppled over me.

I couldn't "leave my sh*t at the door" and forget about it. 

My infertility journey really dug into my heart and my body felt weak and useless. I couldn't get up in the mornings; I couldn't focus in class. I had lost my motivation. And knowing that Elijah's birthday was coming up and that I was still not pregnant made me feel so broken. (Read more about it on: Misreading in the Waiting Womb.)

I am planning on resuming/restarting the program in the fall, but planning for Elijah's birthday wasn't as easy as planning for school.

We have been going through financial ups and downs, but it wasn't anything new to us. However, we had doubts on plans for Elijah's birthday. There were times that I was going to decide on doing nothing because I was so down about everything.

The plan, for awhile, was to visit Monterey Bay.

One of the beaches there is where we had started this ash-releasing journey for Elijah. Monterey was also a place that I had felt at home because the water is always so calming, refreshing, and beyond beautiful. We have visited there four, maybe five times in the past two years (since we had lost Elijah).

Unfortunately, traveling and staying a night or two isn't a friendly place for your wallet if you're on a budget. 

We went anyway.

We drove for two hours, stuck in mostly hot weather and heavy traffic, and arrived to a chilly, cloudy Friday afternoon in Monterey. It was like Monterey was behind on making it to summer, but it was nice.

When we had arrived to our room at the resort, the both of us had the same thought, "What now?" 

"What do we do now?" 

We ate some crappy Mountain Mike's pizza and like the last time we stayed there, we had an awesome time in the sauna, swimming pool, and jacuzzi. (Fast forward, it seems that swimming in the "heated" freezing pool under a night sky was the highlight of our trip.)

We haven't laughed so hard for such a long time. It felt really good to just let go and enjoy the present moment. It was like everything else didn't matter anymore, even when we were giggling, shivering, and splashing like little kids in the pool, while the "adults" quietly enjoyed the jacuzzi.

On Saturday, we woke up early.

We set the alarm to 6:51a.m. because that was the time that Elijah was born. 

We woke up to shower and had some more crappy food. The "complimentary" breakfast was... laughable. We certainly felt like kids eating a couple pieces of ego-waffles with syrup and butter.

After checking out, we still didn't know what to do. We hadn't exactly planned everything out. Nothing was really planned except for the room and eating at the Thai restaurant we loved on our very first visit a couple of years ago.

We ended up at Asilomar State Beach, one of the places we visited (on our first stay). And we meditated. We sat on a rocky cliff, put on "Om Mani Padme Hum," closed our eyes, and meditated. We drank in the sight of the water, the waves, the rocks, and the view from high up. It felt refreshing, as if we drank from a natural spring.

We had Elijah's bear with us.

It was enough just being there.

After that, we had sandwiches - from Mundos.

We took our sandwiches and went to Marina Beach, where we had released some of Elijah's ashes. We put up a tent, ate our sandwiches, and watched the beach from inside, as if we were watching the beach in 3D. The view of the water, the sand, and the people looked so animated that we weren't even sure what we were looking at was real!

Although, the best part for me wasn't the beach, it was the "tri-tip" - more like roast beef - sandwich. I went on a vegetarian diet (including fish) for the past three months. My goal to be a long-time vegetarian faltered just last week (I finally had the fried chicken I was craving for). I reveled in my meat sandwich and didn't care about anything else in the world.

It was a glorifying and well-deserved treat for me, but also the only time I would ever do this. I am working on "re-editing" my vegetarian diet.

We had dinner at the Thai restaurant, but it wasn't as impressive as the first time we were there. I guess nothing compares to "the first time."

On the drive home, my husband was already thinking about Father's Day. I could feel the dread in his voice.

We stopped by a favorite bookstore before making the complete drive home, but a part of me just wanted the day to end. I didn't think that Elijah's birthday would feel even more incomplete this year.

Perhaps it was because I had sang "Happy Birthday" to Elijah all alone. I realized how much I had wanted the whole family to celebrate his birth and death. I realized that I had wanted the whole world to light a candle for him and grieve, too.

It has been two years and there is still a silence and uncertainty from both sides of the family about Elijah. I had wish that everyone would gather around us and sing to him. I had wish that everyone would help us carry the weight of losing Elijah.

Slowly, I had to come to terms with that not everyone will remember Elijah's birthday. Not everyone will show up with hugs and kisses.

Not everyone will love him as much as I do.

But from sharing his story, my memories, and the pain, it shows the world that losing a baby does not stop me from being a Mother, not even on the day that he had died at birth.

Happy birthday, Elijah. I love you.

This song reminds me of you. This song is for you.

Elijah Rathamone-Saeteurn
Born Thursday, June 16, 2016
6:51 a.m. 9.9 oz and 10 in.
Due October 30, 2016

Recommended Reads: 
 Read the full story about Elijah:
Elijah's Story: From Gender Reveal To A Spontaneous Delivery

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