Sunday, January 25, 2015

January Reflections

Peanut -

Tonight marks fours years since I last felt you hug me so very tightly and whisper "Mommaahh" in my ear.  Since you tickled my eyelashes and wove your fingers through mine like knitting a blanket.  Since I believed that, no matter what, children outlive their parents.

January is a complicated month for Momma's heart.  First, we burst with joy when we learned we were pregnant with you over the Martin Luther King holiday weekend in 2009. The warm glow of that memory burns in Momma's heart every January...we so desperately wanted to get pregnant and you were our gift from heaven.  In more ways than we ever realized.

Two years later we woke to find you unresponsive in your bed.  January 26, 2011.  Tomorrow.  My healthy, beautiful, curly haired son with the musical laugh and expressive fingers.  I still see your deep blue eyes and can hear that head-thrown-back laugh you inherited from me.  Tonight I pray in my superstitious head that everyone (Pickle) survives the night.

And then there is the miracle that is your brother.  The Pickle.  Born just a week before your Angel day, he is the glowing beacon who brought light and laugher back to Momma...and maybe to our whole family.  How do I explain tomorrow to him?  At age three he grapples to understand the concept of a brother who exists that he's never met...yet, he knows who you are and can name you in any picture or story.

Four years.  How have we - how have I - survived?  After you died I was confident I would whither way, and life wasn't worth the effort of waking up, showering and getting dressed.  Yet, I went through the motions, wrote thank you notes, went back to work and had dinner with friends.  Eventually we found Henry the Dog, and his furry dog love reminded me what it was to experience a version of Momma-love.  After that we made the decision to get pregnant again...with the help of some wonderful doctors and amazing science/medicine.

Even the miracle of Pickle brought its own heartbreak - his twin sister didn't survive past four months.  But, here he is today.  Smart.strong.  And, in so many ways aware that he is special. Not spoiled special but toughed with an ability to see beyond the retractions of this world.  Often, I hear him having long conversations in his room with stuffed animals and I'm fairly sure this is your way of communicating through him.  It is...delightful.

Tonight I read your brother "Guess How Much I Love You" and gave him a Backyardigans book to read.  Momma reminded him these were to help honor you and he gave me his, "I know, Momma'" look.

Peanut, tomorrow I will celebrate you.  Your life.  I will not focus on those seconds, minutes, hours when we found you at home. administered CPR, rode in the ambulance while praying feverishly, answered police and transplant services questions, held your lifeless body and prayed with our full family, and eventually watched you roll out the door with the County Coroner's office. That was the last time we saw your body - but not your spirit.

Peanut, you are with us - with me - every day.  Sometimes Momma loses sight of what's important and the lessons learned through your death.  But, January always brings those reminders front-and-center.

I love you so much, my sweet Peanut.  And, four years later I miss you as much (if not more) than the day you died.  From the deepest part of my heart, to yours.  And, to the moon - and back.

- Momma

Picture from our 2011 "Happy New Year" card, sent just weeks before Connor passed away.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peanut Effect Pete


Today is Christmas Eve.  Another holiday season filled with memories of the two Christmas days we were blessed to spend with you, while watching The Pickle discover the mysteries and joy of Santa.  Your absence looms large for Momma during these family celebrations, and I so desperately wish you were here with us. 

Once again, we decorated a special tree in your honor - your Peanut Tree - during a holiday party for family and friends.  It is one of my favorite ways to remember you, and keep you very much alive and present.  And your little brother is now old enough to discuss you, hear stories about your antics and to realize that this tree and its ornaments are  unique to you.  

Dadda also presented Momma - and the entire family - with a fabulous surprise during our Peanut Tree party.  Back in 2010, when you were still with us on earth, Momma and Dadda discovered a delightful character named Pete the Cat while on vacation.  We came very close to purchasing an original painting of him, but second-guessed ourselves and walked away from the art gallery.  Apparently, in the years since your death, Dadda has been in touch with the gallery about commissioning a Pete the Cat painting in your memory.  And this year - close to four years later - the gallery agreed to contact the artist, James Dean, and share our story.  The painting below is the result...and, frankly, I am speechless.  Delighted.  Amazed.

Your Peanut Effect has once again touched someone else's heart, and this painting will grace our home and watch over our family for years to come.  

Merry Christmas in heaven, my sweet Peanut.  Momma is sending you hugs, butterfly kisses and lots of memory-filled tears today and every day.  

I love you, to the moon - and back!

- Momma


Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharing Your Favorite Things

Peanut -

Momma feels terribly guilty.  The month of October slipped by without a public blog letter, even though there was a constant question that tugged at my heart the entire month.

As Momma and Dadda attempted to navigate the conflicting Halloween costume wants of your little brother (Fireman? Ghost? Spiderman? Broom riding witch/warlock? We landed on Superman for the second year in a row.)  I couldn't help but realize...I have no idea what costume you would have chosen at the big boy age of five.  What sports would you be playing?  What movie would be your favorite?  Is there a particular book that win favor over all the others on your bookshelf?  These are the choices that would normally dictate the costume dreams of a little boy.

It's hard to acknowledge that your favorite things at 16.5 months of age - your Froggy, The Backyardigans - would no longer even be on your radar screen at this point.  It's only as I watch your little brother grow, mature and move through the infant to baby to toddler to independent boy stages that I've had to face this stark reality.  (That and the fact that Nick Jr. seems to have totally discontinued The Backyardigans?!)

Tonight, as I put your little brother to bed, he chose one of your Backyardigan books.  At the end of the book he asked me to repeat the name each character, with a big grin.  I explained that this was your favorite show, sang a bit of the theme song, and talked about each of the characters: Tyrone, Austin, Pablo and Uniqua.  The Pickle just giggled and said, "I know Momma.  I'm going to see him in a few minutes."

I managed to calmly ask, "You're going to see Connor???"

And he just looked up at me and stated, "Yep!  I do lots!  Nighty night.  Thanks.  I love you."

Well, huh.  I've always believed you are here with us, on my shoulder, in the butterflies that visit us, sitting at the kitchen table as we laugh and share stories.  And now there is this.  You're getting to know your brother within the limitations of this earth through dreams.  Yes, Peanut, I believe.

The week before Halloween your brother ran into a table and gave himself one heck of a black eye.  Just like you did in 2010.  The feeling of history repeating itself is nagging at my brain and heart.  Is this merely a coincidence?  Gosh...I have trouble believing in coincidences at this point.  Maybe it is simply bad timing.  I don't know.  What I do know - Momma's vigilance is on steroids for the next several months.

Peanut, I miss your sweet eyelashes, gentle touch, head-thrown-back laugh, blonde curls and deep blue eyes. I miss hearing you exclaim, "Hiiiiiii, kitteah kaaaahhhh!" and whispering, "Mommmaaaaa."  I. Miss. You.

Momma loves you so very much. To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Peanut Froggy - Halloween 2010 (Can you see the shiner over his left eye?)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Your 5th Birthday

Peanut -

Happy 5th birthday.  I'm sure there should be an exclamation point after that, but Momma just can't muster that level of enthusiasm today.  Just uttering or typing that phrase brings tears to my eyes, thinking about everything we are missing.  And how much I miss you.

Peanut.  My first born son.  The child who opened my heart and eyes to selfless love.  Momma love.  The child who, even (or maybe especially?) in death, has taught me to live with joy, grace and forgiveness even when anger and despair felt like the easier, more justified options.  My child.

Five years ago it was a hot September Saturday.  Summer was enjoying its finally hurrah for the year, and Momma wasn't expecting you to arrive until September 25 so a pedicure and late lunch were on the agenda.  But early morning cramps had me wondering...could these be contractions?  And by early afternoon Momma and Dadda were rushing to the hospital, praying we made it in time as we hit every single red light.  We did, and you were born just a few hours later.  As the delivery nurse so appropriately said, just a tiny little Peanut.

Peanut, I wish I could see the 5 year-old version of you, blowing out five candles on a giant chocolate cake, tossing a football with your friends in the backyard and wrestling with the dog.  While I can picture this image in my mind, my heart and hands long to reach out an touch your long, graceful fingers.  To gaze into those deep blue eyes again, and give you Eskimo kisses.

Happy birthday in Heaven, Peanut.  Here on Earth we will celebrate your birthday, your life, your Peanut Effect, your love  My amazing son.  I love you so very, very much.  How much?  Come on, silly, you know!  To the moon - and back.

- Momma


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost 5

Peanut -

Your birthday is coming up on Friday of this week.  This has proven to be a particularly difficult birthday for Momma for a number of reasons.

First, Momma simply cannot envision what you should be doing at age 5.  The things - activities, words, phrases, opinions - I thought would wait until 5 have emerged at 2.5 with your little brother, so I am clearly way out of my depth.

Second, an extremely close family member seemingly forgot your birthday was this week.  When I was asked "what do you have going on this weekend?" Momma responded, "Peanut's birthday is Friday so we're pausing, remembering, and celebrating."  The response?  "Ohhhhh....yes.....that's this week....<big sigh>"  Should Momma be upset?  Maybe.  But this is the shape of the future.  Momma and Dadda will always remember but can we expect others to do the same?

To that end, last night Momma and Dadda made a pledge.  We will always talk about you.  We will share our story and help others realize that grief isn't so scary when shared with joy.  That I love talking about you, my amazing, adorable first son.

Coincidentally (I think not), the Zac Brown Band is playing in St. Louis on Friday night, September 12.  Your birthday.  The guys responsible for "Chicken Fried" - which you learned and loved at school - are playing on your birthday.  Thanks to Dadda we have tickets!  So, Momma and Dadda will be bopping up and down to your music as we celebrate the life, love, smiles, hugs, grins, and butterfly kisses that are you.

Peanut, I'm sure there will be more posts this week than usual (lately).  The grief is heavy in my heart and this blog helps Momma lift that weight.

Peanut, I love you so very much.  I know you are with us, every moment of every day.  And, I hope you are proud.  I love you sweet, darling boy with the deep, blue eyes and feather-long eyelashes.  Mmmmmmmwwwwwwaaaahhhhh!

- Momma