Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens.

Sometimes in the grief, I just want to scream and give up. It feels like there’s only glimpses of relief, only to be shut down again. Relief is a tricky word to use. I’m not devoid of all my pain and sorrow in the glimpses, just I can breathe.

There weren’t a lot of times this week where I could really breathe. Anthony started his new job this week and was gone for the majority of the day; leaving me with the cats, grief, and work. Being left alone during the raw moments of my sadness is scary. There’s nowhere to turn or no one to ground me when I want to rip my hair out. At his new job, Anthony can’t pick up his phone when I call sobbing; and this is only week one.

To celebrate his first week at his new job, and for me getting through the week in one piece and mentally okay, we decided to go on a little retreat. Well, more like Anthony bought tickets and I halfheartedly said I would go, scared to breakdown in front of everyone and afraid to disappoint him.

Retreat – a quiet or secluded place in which one can rest and relax.

Our secluded place was Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens in Akron, Ohio. Secluded because there were probably hundreds of people there and three weddings going on while we were there. Thankfully our tour only had two other people in it. Ironically, Anthony and I relax around the hustle and bustle of museums and history.

Quickly, Stan Hywet Hall and Gardens was the home of Mr and Mrs Seiberling and their six children. Mr Seiberling was the co-founder of The Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. The tudor revival home has, around, 65,000 square feet, an indoor swimming pool, and a huge music hall. It’s absolutely stunning. They had a lot of money, stories, and love for their family. The estate echoed all of these when you walked into each room (well we only went through 30 of them), discovered each garden, and learned more and more about the couple. The Gate House on the property is also where Alcoholics Anonymous was created. Just a little Akron history for you all.

After our tour, we retreated to the gardens. The smell of roses and running water was constant everywhere you walked. It was such a hot day, but with the shade and water, it really didn’t feel as miserable as it should have. I personally loved the English Garden. It reminded me of a secret garden where Mrs Seiberling came to relax and get away from it all. It was truly a retreat. At the other side of the reflection pool was a women and cherubs. Little angels were all over the estate. It was lovely.

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Anthony and I spent quite a bit of time in this little spot. Although it was the size of my house, I wish I could be able to incorporate something like this in my backyard. The running water, roses, and cherubs would be a personal retreat for me. A place to sit and think of Jensen. It would be beautiful. Anthony’s favorite garden was the Japanese Garden. It was more whimsical and had elements of Japan and I felt like someone could go and mediate there. We spent some time there too, but it was a little more crowded than the others.

Throughout the day, I only had two breakdowns: just one at Stan Hywet Hall and the other on the way home. Losing Jensen has really opened my eyes to how many babies are stillborn or die in infancy. Sometimes it feels like I can’t get away from it, not that I would ever want to remove myself from the knowledge and stories I hear from other women. Mr and Mrs Seiberling lost their youngest daughter and seventh child, Grace Wenonah, at seven months old. Our tour guide, Landis, let us know the illness she passed from, but I was mid mental breakdown when he let us know. Little Grace passed in 1902 and the Seiberling’s moved into their house in 1915. In their master bedroom, Grace’s portrait hung over there fireplace, which is what led to Landis telling us about her. Mr Seiberling died in 1955 and never took down her portrait. It’s heartwarming to see she was thought of every single day by here family. Still to this day, 115 years later, her name is still said on each tour. Always apart of the Seiberling family.

It probably sounds crazy, but just seeing her face above the fireplace warmed my heart. Even during my breakdown and while reflecting on our trip there. My biggest fear is Jensen being forgotten. My little boy with this huge personality and story, just slipping from everyone’s mind. It would be naive and silly of me to think everyone on this planet at all moments of their day think about him. Just knowing someone is reading this, his name, Grace’s name, and knowing these ‘loss’ babies are important. They effect their family’s life and it’s a big part of their story.

Before losing him, I probably would have felt sad, but it would have never crossed my mind again. Our retreat from the real world brought us closer to baby loss, not that it ever goes away. This journey has let me appreciate life more, while missing him every second. I see the beauty of nature all around me and the impact of Jensen’s life. I’m sure Jensen led Anthony picking us to see Stan Hywet Hall and seeing the red bird sitting by the cherub fountain. We retreated from grief, a little glimpse of relief, to find a little more of Jensen. Always finding more of him each day.


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