Friday, January 25, 2019

The Peanut Effect Revisited

Peanut -

Hi, sweetheart. It's been a year since my last post, but I still talk to you every day. Today is significant for Momma since it marks eight years since the last time I took you to daycare, received one of your amazing Peanut hugs, read your favorite book to you (Guess How Much I Love You) and heard you whisper, "Momma..." in my ear.

In the time we had on earth with you, and in the subsequent years, your spirit, love and influence softened Momma's heart. You taught me to be to be kinder. To assume good intent. And to always listen when someone needed a friend. I named it "The Peanut Effect" and it is still active in my life today - and I think it is with others as well. The world needs more of your Peanut Effect today. That is part of Momma's mission - to remind people that one act of kindness creates another, and another and they start to multiply. The Peanut Effect.

Your little brother turned seven years old last week, and I know he desperately wishes you were here to celebrate with him. He has hit milestones you never got to experience on earth but we talk a lot about what you're doing in heaven, and those are magical conversations. Every family picture he draws includes you - and it makes Momma's heart sing. More Peanut Effect.

I know you see everything we are seeing and doing, and I feel your touch, your love. Just know, we/I miss you desperately. Tomorrow is not a day we "celebrate" which is why I wanted to write this letter today - because it is full of good memories. And tonight, I will read you your favorite book. Because I know you will hear me.

Peanut, please know I cry and have moments of sadness, but also joy, because I love you so very much. How much? Guess. OK, OK - you know this one. To the moon - and back.


Friday, January 26, 2018

Anticipation and Seven Years Without You

Peanut -

Hi sweetheart. It is so hard to believe it’s been seven years since we last held you. Seven years since our world was turned upside down. Seven years of committing to live, love, grieve, cry, laugh, hug, and be a mom and person you can be proud to watch from Heaven. And, while I am sure I often fail, I can say that on the flip-side I do often succeed in that effort.

When Monday of this week arrived I felt the black fog of sadness cloak my entire mind and body. Fortunately, Momma has become a master of compartmentalization over these last seven years which allowed me to function at work and home for the majority of the week. But, I have learned many lessons over years and I recognize the importance of self-care and creating a safe space to uncage my grief. Yesterday afternoon I signed off my work computer and spent hours pouring over pictures and videos of you, my dear Peanut. Tears flowed but, miraculously, the black cloud began to lift. The more I allowed my love and sadness to run free, the more I felt the overpowering love of your Peanut Effect.

Peanut, you continue to be the savior of my heart and spirit.

Thank you for changing the shape of my heart by making me your Momma. And, thank you for never abandoning my heart as I navigated the very confusing, complicated road of grieving your death. While I continue to walk that winding path every day for the rest of my time on earth, I know you are by my side, on my shoulder, and watching over me and our entire family.

I see you in your little brother’s smiles. I hear you in his laughter. While his personality is very much his own, there are many echoes of you, which tells me you - his big brother - have been instrumental in his life. While you weren’t physically here, you have been here surrounding him with love.

Peanut, on this day of remembrance I honor you, embrace you...and I might even snuggle with your special froggy for a bit. As the remarkable Stevie Wonder sings, “You are the sunshine of my life...” Momma loves you so, so much. How much? You know, silly! To the moon - and back.

With all the love in my heart,

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Six Years...Forever In My Heart

Peanut -

Today. January 26. This is not a day to celebrate. It isn't an "anniversary." It is the day my earth stood still and everything that made sense and was right, good, normal got turned on its head. Today is the day you died. Six. Years. Ago.

How can it be?

We have somehow survived in the massive wake left by your death. Cobbled together a new existence that includes your little brother and our scarred, re-shaped hearts that have found joy and hope again. Time does not heal the grief and wounds. Time simply gives us the grace to learn how to compartmentalize, cope, manage the grief.

Even though it's been six years, I can remember every moment of this day in 2011 in vivid, stark, raw detail.  I can't say the same for the subsequent days and weeks - those, quite frankly, are a blurred jumble of snapshots in my head. But this day. This day is tough. From the moment I saw your sobbing Dadda holding your lifeless body while I was in the shower, my hair full of soapy suds, to the paramedics in our bedroom, to the frantic ambulance ride in rush hour traffic when I couldn't stop praying for your to somehow live, to the calm, focused doctors in the ER, to the kind doctor who explained that after an hour there simply was no hope, to the painfully long phone call with the organ donation service, to the horrific interview with the police, to the hospital room filled with our stunned extended family, to the garbled phone call to my boss, to the endless walk out of the hospital to our car with its empty car seat, to the phone calls we made to our closest friends, until we finally drove home to our house. Your home. An empty home. The master bedroom floor still littered with tubes and paper from the paramedics. Your room and crib stripped of bedding and your beloved froggy by the police. And the silence.

Until the calvary arrived.

Friends and family arrived on our doorstop with alcohol, food, flowers and love. Our house was filled with hugs and conversation about you. Your beautiful laughter and spirit.

That night we had to face the empty house again, and had to decide if we were going to try to survive your death. Honestly, I had to decide to survive. I had to commit to Dadda that I would survive. And that was the most I could promise at that moment. It wasn't until many months later that I could make the conscious decision to actually live, love, and thrive again to honor you.

Every day I wake up and commit my day to you and your spirit. You, Peanut, are my North Star.

I love you with every fiber of my being, and that love grows every day, even though you aren't physically on this earth with us. How much love is that, you might ask? To the moon - and back, silly boy!

- Momma

This might be my all-time favorite picture of you.

To honor your memory, this year Momma purchased this froggy paperweight, and a dome paperweight of the universe where I see you every day.

Friday, March 11, 2016

When You Wish Upon a Star

Peanut -

I'm sure you've been hearing your name around the house a lot lately. And, you've probably noticed how your little brother, Pickle, has taken to calling you "his Connor" or "Baby Connor" even though you're his big brother. You are so much a part of our daily conversations and a source of many, many difficult questions that Momma is really struggling to answer.

The other night Pickle and I saw an ad for Walt Disney World, which immediately sparked his interest since we are planning our first trip there this spring. The background music was, "When You Wish Upon a Star" which has always been one of Momma's favorite Disney songs. However, this time around I realized how potentially dangerous the lyrics are to a young child's ears and understanding. The line, "anything your heart desires will come to you" resulted in Pickle turning to look me directly in eyes and declare, "Mom, my heart's desire is for Baby Connor to come back. Can I wish upon a star tonight and make that happen?"

Uh oh.

My quick response was to give him a big hug and share that having you come home was one of my heart's desires too. And that we keep you alive and with us every day by talking about you, sharing stories and looking at your pictures. I went on to share that we will all be together again someday in Heaven.

Fortunately, that answer seemed to satisfy him. This time. However, the concept of Heaven is still somewhat nebulous and confusing to Pickle. Where is it? Can we go visit? Take a plane? In addition, he is now fixated on the concept  of death, how people die, why they die, when they die.

Bottom line: Momma is failing at this whole conversation.

Peanut, you know Momma. I'm a voracious reader and researcher and I've searched high and low for resources that address how to talk to a subsequent child about the sibling he or she never got to meet due to death. Sure, there are beautifully illustrated books that talk about nature and dying leaves and flowing streams, or pets that go on to another place but the fun we had when they were alive is magical. Books and articles that extensively cover the death of a parent, grandparent, classmate, or a sibling who was an active part of the child's life. I thought maybe books that discuss miscarriage could be relevant but the topics are far too different to really be of help.

So, in the meantime, Momma is making this up as I go. Scary.

I keep telling myself that one way or another we will get through this. As we have every day since you died. It won't be perfect, but what is? And maybe, just maybe on the other side I will have gained some mysterious wisdom that I can pass along to other parents struggling with similar situations.

Until then, the goal is to continue to keep you alive through stories, dancing, songs and memories. That joy will far outweigh any stumbling Momma (or Dadda) might do when asked the tough questions. Your magic, your Peanut Effect will continue to transform our family as you walk by our sides, sit on our shoulders, whisper in our ears, and watch us from Heaven.

Peanut, I still miss you so much every single day. But, I also find so much happiness in sharing you with Pickle. I can feel your presence and it is...simply magical.

I love you so very much my Peanut. How much? You know! To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Birthday Dance Party

Happy 6th birthday, my amazing Peanut.

While we can't celebrate with you in person on earth, with a cake and big party with all your friends, we are still celebrating with you. Today Momma, Dadda and The Pickle are going to visit lots of butterfly friends, eat birthday cake and we're going to have a super special dance party just for you. The featured song? You know! King Louie's jam, "I Wanna Be Like You" from The Jungle Book, of course!

Your little brother is so excited to celebrate, but can't wrap his brain around the fact that you can't be here. He asked this morning if you could fly in an airplane from Heaven to visit. (Sigh) I fear I'm not doing a great job of explaining you, your death, and the concept of Heaven to him. And now that he's nearing age 4, he is full of curiosity about his big brother Connor. Of course, in his mind, you are his "baby brother" which is also very confusing.

Earlier this week he informed Dadda that they couldn't be best friends anymore because he wanted to be best friends with you. That moment warmed my heart but also shattered me. Your presence, and associated absence, looms over us every day and there are still moments when it cripples me. But, more often than not these days, I smile when I talk about you, think of you, dream of you.

Today we celebrate you. We celebrate your Peanut Effect, and the fact that you made and continue to make this world a better, more beautiful place. You make me a better, more kind and patient Momma. You make us a stronger, more loving family.

Peanut, I hope you and your friends in Heaven can join us for the dance party. My heart will be looking for you. I love you, Peanut. How much? To the moon - and back! Always.

- Momma