I wonder if you can sense just how much I love writing my nightly letters to you? These letters have become my touchstone, my therapy, my outlet, my sanity. And, most importantly, my way of staying connected to you through tears, smiles, laughter, pictures and stories.
Several people have asked, "How did this blog come to be? Why did you start it?" Excellent questions. Because, these letters didn't start as this blog...
In the weeks immediately following your death, I looked for every book, article, resource on the subject of grieving and surviving the unexpected loss of a child. There isn't much out there - and even less that is truly helpful. The clinical, sterile books clearly didn't have an understanding of this type of pain. The research based-books were hiding in just that - research. Many of the books are so dated, they're totally irrelevant. Some of the books are too focused on the total requirement that you subscribe and commit to one faith or another. But, there were a rare few resources that put me in touch with real survivors. Parents who had walked through the fire, and come out on the other side. Maybe a little singed. Even a little crispy. Definitely changed. But, they survived. Ah...a spark of hope.
One thing all these parents had in common was a need to journal, to pour out their thoughts, emotions, tears, anger. Not only was it an outlet, but a way to track their slow but steady progress through grief. And later they all recognized a need to capture precious memories. Over and over, each parent lamented the fact they didn't begin to capture their memories early on, while the images, smells and details are still fresh and unfaded. And there it was, my new purpose.
On Valentine's Day I went to the bookstore and bought a blank journal. I began writing with pen to paper that night, and didn't stop for a month. That journal is a dark, desperate place that is very hard to visit now. I embraced my sorrow like a warm, furry blanket. I wrapped it around myself tightly, burrowed into it, and decided to see where it would take me. I wanted - needed - to feel the jagged depths of my grief. My rock bottom. That hand-written journal became my traveling companion on that journey. It was private, non-judgemental, safe. And on the evening of March 13, the day after you would have turned 18-months, I stared my rock bottom squarely in the eyes. It was on the heels of a particularly sorrowful journal entry. The entry ends, "I'm struggling with meaning and reason without you. The sorrow deepens, changes, morphs. The weight is unbearable. I pray to be with my Peanut tonight and every night." I finished writing that, poured a glass of American Honey, brought out a bottle of sleeping pills and stared at a picture of you for over an hour. Then I got up, dumped out the glass, put away the pills and Googled, "How to start a blog."
What changed that night? My need to 1) be accountable and own my grief and 2) balance sorrow and love. The scary safe-zone of the hand-written journal gave me almost too much freedom to spiral down. Which is what I needed for a brief period of time. But, that can too easily become the death spiral. Honestly, I scared the hell out of me. So, this blog was created to honor you, my Peanut. To capture love, pictures, memories. To track my personal journey through grief, mourning...and hopefully, eventually into hope and rebirth. And, most importantly, to balance each piece of sorrow with a piece of joy. Keeping that mission has saved me, and allowed me to remember you with laughter through tears.
After feeling the sharp edges of my rock bottom, I now know what it feels like to climb up. Sure, I slip and fall back some days, but the trajectory is up. Or, in Peanut-speak, "UH-PPUH!" Sweet Connor, I miss you and your sunshine smile so very much. I look at your pictures and feel your warmth. Tears still flow freely, but a little smile, a little laugh, escapes from my lips at the same time.
Peanuckle, oh how I love you...to the moon and back.