As I finished packing my suitcase on Friday, I wanted to bring something physical to hold onto of our son’s, so I could feel his presence with us while we were away. Jon and I entered his nursery and contemplated what to bring, then the tears completely washed over both of us. It has been some time since I went into the nursery. I could face it in the beginning, it actually brought me much comfort initially. But the weeks leading up to his due date, it was just too hard. So when we walked in together the day before said due date, I just lost it. The true reality finally sunk in that we were not bringing our perfect son home to his perfect nursery. That we wouldn’t lay his sweet little body down into his crib at night or onto his changing table to change his diapers. It felt so unfair. But we got all our tears out, held one another, and voiced these unfair realities to one another. After the tears subsided, we reached into his box of things and decided to take his blanket with us. The one blanket that only ever touched him, the one that was wrapped around his sweet self while we held him that day in the hospital.
So we packed up the car and headed to Asheville late that Friday afternoon. I’m so grateful to live in Charlotte, where just within a 2 hour drive, you can be transported to the world famous Blue Ridge Parkway with stunning mountain sky lines. It’s such a beautiful escape. Then the city of Asheville itself has so much to offer: a loving liberal community, foodie hot spot, brewery capital of America and probably the most dog friendly city I have ever been to. Because of course we just had to have Rocky with us … bonus, the aloft hotel downtown is totally pet friendly, with no extra pet fee 🙂
We arrived, checked into the hotel and immediately needed to feed our hunger. So we walked right down Biltmore Ave. with Rocky to one of our favorite places, Wicked Weed Brewery. Had a stellar meal, of course a few beers, and toasted to our love and declared we were going to do everything in our power to honor Baby Boy this weekend.
Surprisingly I awoke Saturday morning to a lot less anxiety than I ever imagined I would feel on this day. It seemed the anticipation and build up was a lot worse. We got dressed and set out for our hike. We drove 45 minutes up the Blue Ridge Parkway to Craggy Gardens. Our drive started out very hopeful and sunny, but the further we drove up, the heavy fog began to settle. As we pulled into the visitor center, you couldn’t even see the marked parking spots, that’s how heavy the fog was. We thought to ourselves, just our luck lately … setting out for this symbolic hike, to see all the mountain peaks when we arrived to the top, but in fact we couldn’t see a thing. But once we stepped out of the car, and breathed in the 60 degree clear mountain air, we were determined to complete the hike, no matter the view. We hiked the mile up to the Craggy Pinnacle, first choosing the path of the “top summit”, once we arrived to our dismay the fog was still extremely heavy and you couldn’t see a single thing, there were about 6 other people at the top, chatting about the lack of view, and we just sat there feeling kind of defeated and underwhelmed. So then we headed back down to take the other path of the “lower summit”, finding that we were the only people at this view point. Then suddenly the fog lifted just enough for us to see the view. Jon and I grabbed one another, shared some tears and spoke to our son. That’s when a bunch of bumblebees started swarming around us. We call Rocky the “bug catcher” he LOVES jumping up and snatching up any flying object, but he rarely succeeds at actually capturing any. Of course Jon and I both had a good giggle watching Rocky attempt to chomp at these bees and didn’t think much of it.
So we decided to make our way back down the mountain and head back to the car. But on our hike down, every couple of feet we kept seeing clusters of bumblebees on a random plant or flower. I finally turned to Jon and said “Man there quite a few bumblebees on this mountain” and he replied “I know it’s crazy, I didn’t think bees even liked his high of an elevation.” So as we kept making our way down it just kind of hit me as a sign from our son … bumblebee, the letters BB, symbolic for our Baby Boy. I still wasn’t sure if it was just me searching for some sign of peace but I couldn’t help but connect the two.
So then we arrived back into the city of Asheville and were quite hungry from our hike and immediately decided to head a to brewery. Somewhere we could bring Rocky, enjoy a bite and a beer. The evening before the bartender from our hotel told us about this brand new brewery that just opened a few weeks ago called Brhmari, that they have some great beers, and that it’s just around the corner, so we should check it out while we were here. Of course Jon is always looking to try a new beer, so that place stuck out in our heads of where to go. So after our hike we arrived at Bhramari, ordered some beers and lunch and just sat outside enjoying the weather. As we glanced around the brewery we kept seeing artwork of bees everywhere, so I told Jon “I wonder what significance is of all the bees at this brewery.” So of course Jon whipped out his phone and googled it. Bhramari is the Hindu goddess for bees, she’s associated with all species of bees and they are know to cling to her body. OK, a little weird coincidence given our recent bumblebee swarm on the mountain. But we continued to enjoy our lunch and beers. As we were getting ready to leave, this tiny baby bee landed right onto Jon’s arm. So he initially raised his arm so the bee could fly away, but when he placed his arm back down the bee was still there. We began to take a closer look and just examined this tiny bee. He was crawling his way up and down Jon’s arm, without a care in the world and tickling Jon with his antenna. We were amazed no matter how much movement Jon made, the bee stayed. Even a few times it briefly flew away, but then would land right back onto Jon. So we decided to make our walk back to the hotel. During out entire walk the bee stayed right on Jon. When we arrived to our hotel, we said our goodbyes to the bee and he flew away.
In that moment I knew that these where all signs, signs from our son that he was there with us in Asheville. Because I had so much anxiety leaving home, because I felt like we were leaving him – his house, his nursery, where his ashes and belongings were. But it showed me that he is always with us, wherever we go, because he truly is a part of us. So when I see a bee, I will think of him and it will be just the reminder I need that he is there. Just this morning while walking Rocky, I was feeling quite overwhelmed and there on a rose bush was a bumblebee, I smiled and immediately pictured his sweet face.
When I woke up on Sunday the thought of “I’d still be pregnant” was no longer there. It’s a hard thing to accept, because it’s what I wanted most in this world, but the fact is, that it can no longer be true. I’ve endured these past 10 weeks with that constant weight, but now it is lifted. I am still very heavy in my grief and pain, but I’m starting to slowly breathe again.