Sunday, October 30, 2011

My Little Lion Man

Peanut -

This weekend has been painfully sad.  And, it's been the worst kind of sad.  The kind Momma couldn't - didn't - anticipate.  The kind of sad that kicks you in the stomach just as you're taking a breath of fresh air, admiring the cloudless, blue sky day.  I knew Halloween would be a hard day, but the weekend before?  Nah.


Dadda and I tried to spend yesterday running errands, only to find ourselves trapped in stores hosting large Trick-Or-Treat and costume party events.  Children in their costumes, running around with pumpkin baskets, posing for pictures with their parents, taking delight in the novelty of their hats, outfits, special shoes.  We saw sock monkeys, bengal tigers, pirates, princesses, scary monsters, and fuzzy puppy dogs.  Adorable and debilitating.  The tears were unavoidable, unstoppable.  Persistent.

If you were here with us this year, what would you be?  A superhero?  A cartoon character?  Hmmm...I think you would have been a lion.  Well before January 26, I thought of you as my "little lion man" - a phrase brought to mind by the popular Mumford & Sons song.  It was just so fitting, with your ferocious hugs, booming laugh, wild head of blonde curls.  Momma's vivid imagination allows the bittersweet projection of you at age 2 in your costume, hamming it up with little growls and hand swats, your blue eyes glowing with mischief.

Peanut, we were blessed to have you with us for two Halloweens.  Last year was so much fun, seeing you in your froggy costume with its giant orange and green feet, and bulging-eye hat.  When I bought that costume I thought of all the years and Halloweens to come...appreciating the joy of the moment, but never once considering we might lose it all.

Halloween kicks off the start of a long, two month holiday season.  A season I'd like to ignore.  Can I opt out of November and December this year?  Is that an option?  Peanut, I honestly don't know how I'm going to survive Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas without you.  For the health and safety of The Bean, I must find a way.  Here's hoping I can find a way for my head to reason with my heart.

Allowing my heart to win the battle tonight.  Sending you love, butterfly kisses and bright green froggies.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Do They Have Baseball In Heaven?

Peanut -

The St. Louis Cardinals won the World Series last night.  Unlikely post-season candidates to begin with, they continued to defy and redefine expectations throughout August, September and October.  Each time they were "counted out" they came back with a vengeance, always proving to be stronger than anyone expected.  And, whether you are a baseball/sports fan or not, they were a true delight to watch.  On a very personal level, they gave Momma and Dadda something to cheer about this fall.  And, in a strange way, their journey of perseverance and strength reminded Momma a lot of her own journey this past year.

Peanut, you would have taken such joy in all the festivities.  The town awash in a sea of Cardinal-red, strangers high-fiveing in the streets, music, fireworks and chants of "Go Cards!" around every corner.  As I got caught up in my own baseball fever, I felt a little pang of guilt laced with sadness.  Guilt for the excitement I felt.  And sadness because you should have been here witnessing it all.

I took the opportunity to go back and look at pictures from your first Cardinals game.  The photos capture a day filled with delight.  You with your "Future Cardinals MVP" hat on, Momma and Dadda decked out in Cards was supposed to be the beginning of an annual tradition.  Instead, I now have to treasure that day for the memories.  Another piece of the future I have to let go of...

It sounds odd, but I hope you and your friends in heaven got to watch and participate in all the fun in St. Louis.  I picture you in a Cardinals cap, doing your own little happy bounce-dance to celebrate your hometown team.  Maybe you were even sitting on the bed with Momma and Dadda last night as we hugged and cheered after the big win.  Hopefully.

Peanut, I'm feeling your absence in a sharp way today.  But also smiling as I think about you popping a few fly balls into the clouds.  Go Peanut!

With loads of Momma love - to the moon and back.
- Momma

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Mahna Mahna!

Peanut -

Tomorrow is Friday.  The day I used to spend working from home so I could spend loads of extra time with you.  On Fridays you could sleep in, take an extra long nap in the afternoon, watch Yo Gabba Gabba and just hang out with Momma.  And we always ate a nice, long lunch together.  Especially as you got older - we would split grilled cheese quesadillas, chicken meatballs, steamed veggies and chopped up bananas, apples and grapes.

Momma also spent a lot of time tickling your funny bone on Fridays.  Friday was my special day with you.  Normally, Dadda was the funny one.  The parent who tumbled and played with you, while Momma was the snuggler, who read you books, kissed your nose and sang to you.  But on Fridays, Momma got to be funny.  One thing that never failed to crack you up?  When Momma sang and silly-danced to the old Muppet skit, "Mahna Mahna!"  Sometimes, in the middle of the song, I would dance up to you and touch noses while I would reach out and touch my cheeks while you laughed and laughed.  And, in that moment, I would feel like the best Momma in the whole world.  In that moment, nothing else mattered.

I miss those moments.

Peanut, it's been a long time since I've been able to watch that Muppet skit without crying.  Tonight I watched it and laughed through my tears.  And maybe, just maybe, I'll go to your room tomorrow and sing it out loud for you and your froggies.  Because, I know you'll be listening.

I love you Peanut.  To the moon and back.

- Momma (Mahna Mahna!)

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Seed of Love. Seed of Hope.

Peanut -

Today marks 9 months.  Nine unthinkable, unbearable months since your devastating loss.  How can it be?  How is it that in just a few - three - months we'll be facing the one year "anniversary"?  And, at the same time we will be welcoming your little brother into the world, into our family.  In the midst of settling into a lifetime of sorrow, we have also found a reason for hope.

My grief is deep tonight.  Too deep to express or share.  Peanut, you know.  You feel it.  I share this very personal sorrow with only you tonight.

Instead, I choose to share a poem from Anne Morrow Lindbergh.  She wrote this 10 years after the kidnapping and murder of her beloved 18-month old son, Charles Jr.  This poem was her very personal way of expressing how her deep grief transformed over the years and eventually gave birth to hope and love.  My inspiration.

For whom
The milk ungiven in the breast
When the child is gone?

For whom
The love locked up in the heart
That is left alone?
That golden yield
Split sod once, overflowed an August field,
Threshed out in pain upon September's floor,
Now hoarded high in barns, a sterile store.

Break down the bolted door;
Rip open, spread and pour
The grain upon the barren ground
Wherever crack in clod is found.

There is no harvest for the heart alone;
The seed of love must be

Peanut, I love you so very, very much.  I miss you in ways I can't describe or explain.  I can only hope you feel my love.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Dadda's Birthday

Peanut -

Today is Dadda's birthday.  Not just any birthday, but his 40th birthday.  A pretty big deal.  In a normal year, in a normal life, we would have thrown a party and had a big celebration.  But...that just didn't feel good or right this year.  Instead, we had a nice dinner with friends this weekend, and a family dinner tonight.  Small, relatively quiet.

Yet still, the absence of you loomed large for Momma.  Dadda and I haven't talked much about it, but his expression told me everything.  He misses you terribly.  You guys were best buddies.  He picked you up from school every day.  You guys would eat snacks, and watch the news together every evening.  Dadda was the first person you saw every morning, much to your delight.  And, he was the first person to find you that terrible, life-changing morning.

At dinner tonight we were surrounded by children.  Little blonde boys, eating mac & cheese, toddling around on unsure legs, chasing balloons and exchanging kisses with their Mommas.  Out of the corner of my eye, they all looked just like you.  One boy with particularly blue eyes kept running up to Momma, wanting to play peek-a-boo.  Every time I popped around the side of the table, he would squeal with delight.  Each laugh was adorable, but a tiny knife in Momma's heart.

While the presence of these children was bittersweet, what was truly heart-breaking...overwhelming, in fact...was the total absence of All Things Connor during dinner.  No one mentioned you.  Even when Dadda and I brought you up, the conversation quickly turned.  As if ignoring the subject of you could erase all the pain and sorrow.  Almost as if you never even existed.

Peanut, I don't know how to handle this new development.  Because, your life, your presence is very real.  Your impact has been life-changing.  Earth shattering.  Tremendous.  How can NOT talking about you make anyone feel better?  Especially those who are so close to us?

As I've said before, and I'm sure will say again, I know there are no guidebooks or rules for how to grieve the "right" way.  I can't - won't - judge how others need to navigate their own paths.  However, I will always, always, always be the first person to mention you.  Tell stories about you.  Smile about you.  Cry about you.  Remember you.  Be your Momma.  Peanut's Momma.

Please, if you have a chance, send Dadda a giant birthday hug in his sleep tonight.  Missing you immensely with a confused, sad heart.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, October 24, 2011

Dragon Momma Love

Peanut -

If someone - an alien, perhaps - visited this planet and asked me to define, describe "love" I would point them to two items.  First, a picture of you with your clear, blue eyes, knowing little grin, expressive eyebrows and sunshine aura.  Second, this Op Ed from the New York Times titled, "Notes From a Dragon Mom."

Sometimes the words of others are just too perfect.  Too beautiful.  I have nothing to add, nothing to contribute.  Just awe, appreciation, and the overwhelming desire to tell this Dragon Mom, "Thank you."

This is pure love captured in the written form.  An almost impossible task, but so well done.  I read this and am incredibly thankful for the love lessons I learned from you, Peanut.  I am thankful for 500 joyful, perfect days.  I am thankful for all the blessings I was lucky enough to receive as your Momma.  I am thankful for you.

Sending you Dragon Momma Love - powerful, fierce, relentless - to the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Peanut In A Pumpkin Patch

Peanut -

Two years ago, Momma joyfully posted a series of photos on Facebook titled, "But Peanuts Don't Belong In A Pumpkin Patch!"  The series featured a VERY unhappy Connor, dressed in a Halloween onesie and pumpkin hat, sitting on bales of hay, surrounded by pumpkins.  You are not smiling, or even frowning, in any of the pictures.  You are flat out crying.  I remember the owner of this pumpkin display laughing with us as we tried to snap even one "good" photo.  Eventually we gave up, resigned to the fact that the hay + pumpkins + hat = one unhappy Peanut.  Later, as I looked at the pictures I cracked up, thinking about sharing these pictures with future girlfriends and friends...maybe even showing them at your wedding and to your own future children.

See, Peanut?  That's what make this loss, this grief, so incredibly complicated.  My arms ache for the presence of you every moment of every day.  I long to touch your hair, feel your hands, give you a kiss.  But, there is so much more.  I want to know what you would be doing TODAY.  And tomorrow.  And 10 years from now.  I want to see you get on a school bus.  I want to watch you play sports.  I want to know what kind of music you would like, and friends you would surround yourself with, and what subjects in school would interest you.  I want to watch you grow up.  I want to see the mark you would have made in this world.  Because, it would have been amazing.

I look at the pictures of you crying in that silly pumpkin hat and I remember...all I saw that day was the future.  Now, I look at those same pictures and all I see is what we lost.  Present and future.  It's so big.  So messy.  So indescribable.  So overwhelming when I try to put a box around it.  I believe, if allowed, it could drown Momma.

Peanut, I wish we were taking you to a pumpkin patch today, in this beautiful 70+ degree weather.  I imagine watching you run around the pumpkins, picking the perfect ones to carry home to carve and decorate.  We would take a ton of pictures that once again I would share with our friends on Facebook.  And life would be perfect.

I guess my imagination will simply have to do.

Missing you desperately.  Loving you immensely.  To the moon and back.

- Momma


Friday, October 21, 2011

Momma Muscle Memory

Peanut -

Sometimes I forget what a little boy, rather than a "baby," you had grown into last fall and winter.  I quickly remember your hugs, laughter and smiles, but I don't always as easily recall your little boy-isms.  Your intense focus, fascination with figuring out all buttons and knobs, ability to discover patterns between colors and sounds, and your amazing fine motor skills.

All those memories came flooding back today, thanks to an adorable, sweet, smiling little 15-month old girl named Claire.  She was in the waiting room at Momma's doctor's office, and became an instant playmate to Momma.  Within 5 minutes of taking a seat, I had a little blonde friend at my knee wanting to play peek-a-boo.  One of your favorite games.  She then pointed out her bright orange Halloween shirt, covered in cute black spiders.  Momma sang your favorite hand-motion song - Itsy Bitsy Spider - and little Claire watched in fascination, trying to mimic the hand motions.  She toddled off periodically, with her own version of your penguin walk, always to bring a new toy or item over to Momma.  She sat down with a telephone toy and quickly taught herself that each button had a purpose, a pattern, a sound.  Totally something you would have done with that same toy.  And then...she laughed.  It was musical.  Magical.  It was you.

And Momma's heart sang.  No tears.  No sadness  No bitterness.  Just delight.

Peanut, I swear I felt you in that waiting room today.  On occasion, it seemed Claire was looking over me, beyond me - almost as if she were seeing you.  It wouldn't surprise Momma.  I do believe children have a special connection, a sense, an openness, that allows a stronger connection with feelings, emotion, spirituality, than we skeptical adults allow ourselves.

This little, sweet girl brought so many "everyday" memories back to Momma today, it felt like a tidal wave.  She allowed me to re-tap into all I loved about you.  All I loved about being a Momma.  All I look forward to with The Bean.

Loving and remembering the little things tonight.  And sending you our own special version of "Itsy Bitsy Spider."  To the moon and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, October 19, 2011


Peanut -

I'm sorry.  I am so, so, so very sorry.  From the moment I woke up today, I've been consumed by feelings of guilt.  Guilt over not being a good enough Momma.  Guilt over not saving you.  Guilt over continuing to live in a world that doesn't include you.  Guilt over being pregnant again, and already loving this little Bean.

I can't stop thinking about my two deepest regrets.  Two things that will haunt me for the rest of my life.

First, the weekend before you passed away, Momma took your absolute favorite toy away from you.  A toy I actually gave you for Christmas just weeks earlier.  It was a hard, plastic Handy Manny toolbox.  A button on the front played all the popular songs from the show, and caused all the tools in the box to dance.  Pretty nifty.  But, you were enamored with one of the tools, in particular - Philippe the Phillips head screwdriver.  Bright yellow, with expressive eyes, he captured your heart and went everywhere with you. Unfortunately, you also wielded him as a weapon, regularly beating Zeke the Cat over the head with his sunny yellow head.  After almost taking out an eye, I decided to put that toy up for a while for the safety of everyone in the household.  You never got to play with your toolbox again...never got to hold Philippe before you died.

Second, the night of January 25.  The last night I saw you alive.  The last night I got to hold and hug you. I went to dinner that night with Aunt Dru, and you were already in bed when I got home.  But, just before 10:00 pm I heard you fussing in your crib on the monitor.  I went in, refilled your humidifier, picked you up, sang to you and danced, read your favorite book, and eventually put you back to bed.  But the whole time I had this feeling...this thought.  I came sooooo close to bringing you back to the bedroom with me.  Just letting you sleep next to Momma.  Just this once.  But, no.  Instead, I put you back in your crib since it was the safest place for you, right?  Wrong.  I slept peacefully with your monitor next to me all night, never suspecting a thing.  The next time I saw you was at 6:00 am the next morning, lifeless in Dadda's arms.  How could I not have known?  Not felt it in my bones?  Not heard a thing?

Peanut, a better Momma would have let you play with your favorite toy.  A better Momma would have taken you to bed with her.  A better Momma would have saved you.  A better Momma would still have her Peanut.

I wish I had been a better Momma.  You deserved it.

Loving you so very much it hurts.  To the moon and back, sweet Angel.

- Momma

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Peanut -

Tonight we honor Joey.  Today is his birthday.  He would be 2 years old.  If he were here, I'm sure would be running in "full tilt" mode, laughing, playing, giving his mom and dad big hugs, and just being a spirited, mischievous little boy.

But, he isn't here.

I believe in my heart, though, he is with you.  And I am so thankful for that.

I know Joey's mom because we have grown to be good friends and support networks for each other through the worst loss imaginable.  The loss of our beautiful, beloved, amazing little boys.  You and Joey were born just a month apart.  And, you passed away within days of each other.

A terrible, cruel twist of fate brought me together with Joey's mom.  I believe she is an angel on earth, and will forever be a treasured part of Momma's life.  She is my sanity.  She is the brain behind Project Pinwheel.  She is going to be a new mom just weeks before we have Baby Bean.  And, I know she will make a giant, amazing, wonderful impact on this world - as a mom, as a doctor and as a genuinely great person - in honor of Joey.

So, tonight we honor Joey.  Joey, who loved his monkey.  Joey, who loved to watch the Rams with his dad.  Joey, who loved to swim and play on slides and visit pumpkin patches.  Joey, who should be dressing up as Superman for Halloween this year.  Joey, who should be celebrating his 2nd birthday today.  Joey.

Peanut, Momma is sending a giant batch of love to you and Joey tonight...and to Joey's family.  To the moon and back - times infinity.

- Momma

Monday, October 17, 2011

Fisher-Price Meltdown

Peanut -

Momma has been trying to get mentally prepared to survive the upcoming holiday season...beginning with Halloween.  So far, the prep work has been going extraordinarily well.  So well, in fact, that I've been giving myself some premature "momma props."  That is, until tonight when I came face-to-face with a stack of catalogs innocently waiting for me at the foot of our bed.

The standard-issue baby, holiday, costume catalogs are no big deal.  I've been negotiating those since January.  With the expected arrival of Baby Bean, I've actually started enjoying those catalogs again.  I'm able to focus on the newborn/infant sections and remove the painful emphasis from the items that would be suited to you.

But tonight...a new catalog arrived.  One I never asked for, subscribed to, shopped with before, or visited.

(Cue the shower scene music from Psycho.)

And I couldn't tear myself away from it.  All 52 pages of it.  Only four of which are geared towards infants (and you owned most of the toys on those pages).  The majority of the items in this mailer are designed for children ages 1 1/2 - 3 years old.  Exactly where my Peanut should be.  I should be seeing you play with these items.  I should be ordering them for you, for Christmas.  The little boys in the catalog photos should be YOU.

The Grow-With-Me Workshop.  Dough Activity Center.  Cars Shake 'N Go Grand Prix.  Play My Way Customizable Play Center.  I would give my life 100 times over to see you play with one of these items, just once.

Damn you, Fisher-Price marketing executives.  Damn you!

File this under "Stuff You Can't Anticipate."  These are the items, the moments, that shut everything down.  That shut Momma down.  And make me miss you in a way that feels like January 26, all over again.

Missing your smile, your joy, your light, your energy, your love.  More than ever.  To the moon and back, sweet Peanut.

- Momma

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Do I Have...Poop On My Face???

Peanut -

Dadda and I had an all-out laughfest this afternoon.  Yep, it happened in the middle of sharing memories about you while driving home from Sam's Club.  Diaper blowout stories!  While you didn't have too many, the ones you had were truly epic.

As we were heading home with a car stuffed full of dog food, peanut butter, Kleenex and other stuff, Dadda noticed a little smile on my face.  "What are you thinking about?"  He knew it had to be good, funny, and probably about you.

"Oh.....nothing.  <pause>  Well, actually, I was thinking about our last trip to Sam's with Peanut.  The trip that ended at Fortel's Pizza Den when Peanut had that GIANT blowout.  Remember?!"

Dadda cracked up and rubbed my tummy.  "You know, if we take The Bean to a pizza place and he has a diaper blowout, we'll know it's genetic!"  We both laughed.  Peanut, for some reason pizza joints always invoked the blowout for you.  Was it the delicious smell?  The anticipation of cheesy goodness?  Who knows.

What we both remember is Dadda running into the family restroom with you in a desperate attempt to clean you up before the blowout had soaked through your clothes.  And those poor restrooms were never properly equipped with good ventilation, or big enough changing stations!

This memory led to a giant laugh from Dadda.  He then said to me, with his mouth half-closed, " I have...POOP on my face?!"  Momma started laughing so hard, it made The Bean kick.  In an instant, we were both remembering a quiet afternoon at home with you that was interrupted by a bizarre WHOOSH sound.  A sound that came from the general direction  For some reason, Dadda's first reaction was to pick you up for a smell check.  In retrospect, a terrible idea.  He lifted your back to his nose, gagged a bit and turned to Momma.  As he was uttering that (now hilarious) question through closed lips, I noticed the whole left side of his face was...glistening.  Oh. My. God.

"You have poop ALL OVER your face!"  Rather than help, Momma just laughed.  And, Peanut, you followed suit.  The look on your face said it all.  "WOO!  Do I feel better!"  We both laughed and clapped while Dadda tried to figure out what to do.  Eventually, we got everyone cleaned up.  But, to this day, it is one of our funniest, most favorite Peanut memories.

Today has been a good day.  We have talked about you.  Laughed about you.  Remembered you.  As a result, you have been very present all day.  And, while my arms feel pitifully empty, my heart and soul are full of Peanut Love.  A Peanut Love that stretches to the moon and back.

- Momma

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Best. Question. Ever.

Peanut -

Earlier this week Momma had an interaction that knocked her off her feet.  In a good way.  It was a conversation that showed me that while there are no "right" or "wrong" ways to navigate the treacherous waters of grief, there are paths that are more gentle, kind and insightful than others.

I had a meeting with someone I've known at work for several years on a work/acquaintance level.  And, while I've been in other meetings with this person over the past several months, this was our first one-on-one meeting since January.  Since we lost you.

For Momma, behavior at work is very controlled.  I try very hard to stay focused on work-related topics, and to make sure others aren't too terribly uncomfortable around me.  There is an awareness that a dark cloud seems to hover over me, or possibly a brand on my forehead, a shadow on my face...something that reminds people, "She is broken.  She has suffered a loss no one recovers from.  Her son died.  And no one knows how or why..."

Before I could even launch into my work-mode spiel for this meeting, I was interrupted.  My co-worker launched a pre-emptive strike!  He first congratulated me on our pregnancy with The Bean.  Then, he acknowledged he knew I had lost a child - my son - in January.  But, after that, confessed he didn't know much else.  With a nervous intake of breath he asked, "Would you mind telling me about your son?  About...Connor?"

Pause.  Silence.  And, a giant smile from Momma.  He spoke your name.  And, in doing so, gave me permission to talk about my favorite subject.  YOU.

I asked, " you want to know what happened?  Or...are you asking to learn more about him?"

The glorious response?  "I'd love to hear about him.  The pictures on the card you sent after the Memorial Service were amazing.  You can tell me as much - or as little - as you want."

Peanut, we had a wonderful, brief conversation about you and your amazing personality, smile, presence, light. And, at the end of the conversation I heard this, "It seems the universe or some larger presence is really sending you a message in this pregnancy.  It definitely seems like Connor has a hand in this all.  Doesn't it?"

Why, yes.  Yes, it does.

Peanut, I learned a lesson in human kindness this week from a very unexpected source.  There is something to be said for asking "the question."  Because, to my broken heart and wounded mind, it sounds like The Best Question Ever.

Missing you with a heavy heart this evening.  With Momma love and the moon and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


Peanut -

I catch glimpses of you everywhere.  Everywhere I am.  Everywhere I look.  I see you peeking from around a corner, popping your head up over a desk, always with that amazing, sunshine smile on your face.  Sometimes I imagine I can even hear your laugh.  No matter what, you are always looking at me, just me, and there is an implied, "Hi Momma!" in your presence.

I'm sure this sounds odd.  Maybe even a little delusional.  But, what I know is it's comforting to me.  Every time I see you, I smile.  It's almost as if you're checking in, checking on us and letting us know you're still very present in our hearts and minds.  And, maybe just maybe, that is keeping a piece of you here with Momma.

I first truly noticed your presence this week, during a very long meeting at work.  Momma was terribly uncomfortable, stuck in a folding chair for four hours, with almost no breaks and way too much water.  Bad combination for a woman almost 7 months pregnant.  The speaker lost my attention, and I was shifting restlessly in my chair when I looked over and...there you were!  I saw your smiling face off to my right, poking out from behind a large planter.  It made my heart tingle.  It made me feel like I was recapturing the memories and images of you.

What's bittersweet about these brief images is that you're trapped in time.  My little, Peanut.  Forever just over 1-year old.  Forever beautiful, sweet, smiling.  Forever an angel.

Peanut, you are everywhere.  You are a part of everything I do, everything I feel, every decision I make and every moment of my day and night.  Missing you has become my constant state.  But, it is now bearable because I can think of you, see you, and smile.  Loving you with all my heart.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, October 10, 2011


Peanut -

Momma is shamelessly borrowing a phrase she saw on Facebook last week:

You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.

The minute I saw this, it resonated with me.  I've had a lot of very personal reactions to people telling me they can't believe how "strong" I've been through the loss of you, then the loss of the Baby Bean, and now finding a way to survive and rebuild a life and family.

My primary reaction has been, "What's the alternative?"

My secondary reaction, "The alternative is not an option."

Whether I've been strong or not is up for debate.  What is true and pure and non-negotiable - there have been no alternatives that are palatable to me.  That would honor you and every lesson you taught me  So, the phrase above captures it perfectly.  If what I've done these last months is strength, so be it.  It was the only choice I gave myself for you.

Peanut, I cry because I love.  I survive because I love.  I try to imagine a future - a future different than what I ever wanted or imagined - because I love, and that love has given me hope.  The root, the source, of my love?  You.  My Peanut.  My Little Nutbrown Hare.  I love you, to the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Appearances Can Be Deceptive

Peanut -

Today was a beautiful, perfect day in St. Louis.  Blue skies, 80 degrees, a slight breeze.  Summer's last gasp before fall truly settles in and the first frost arrives, probably later this week.  Dadda and I decided to get out and enjoy the weather by having lunch on one of our favorite outdoor patios.

The outdoor plaza was bustling, packed with friends, families, church-goers and children.  I imagine Dadda and I looked like a couple out relishing our final weeks of non-parenthood, in particular to the harried families juggling multiple children.  A couple with two young boys claimed the table next to us, which was particularly hard for Momma to watch...their youngest was approximately your age.  Dadda caught the way I was watching them - with sadness and longing - and he squeezed my knee, "Try not to be sad."  I just nodded and fought back tears.

Despite that, we had a nice lunch.  Dadda is my refuge, my best friend and my favorite person to spend time with...I feel safe laughing with him.  We can shift gears effortlessly, from moments of intense sadness, to all-out belly laughs.  We can talk about you with joy and tears, and acknowledge the hope we feel thanks to The Bean.  Again, I'm sure to any onlooker, we seem to be a joyful, happy couple expecting a new addition to our family.

As we wrapped up lunch and prepared to leave, the family next to us caught our attention.  "Hey!  Do you guys want to take our boys for some practice?!"  Dadda and I both laughed nervously.  How do we respond?  How do we explain to this well-menaing couple that we would give both our lives to have you back?  That "practice" is what we miss more than we can express.  That we will never again take our parenting moments for granted?  That we are parents missing and grieving for their little boy, struggling to rebuild our family chain?

I chose to simply give them a smile, "Thanks, but I think we're good for now!"  And Dadda put his arm around me with a reassuring hug.  Because, without having to say a word, we both completely understood each other's hearts.  Our broken, but healing hearts.  Our hearts that burst with love for you, our wonderful Peanut.   Love that circles the earth, moon, stars and sun.  And back again.

- Momma

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Celebrate, Remember, and Grieve

Peanut -

Momma's been beating herself up quite a bit these last few days.  For a lot of different, but related reasons.

First, there has been The Baby Shower Question.  We're just about to start our third trimester, and The Bean will be here before we know it.  According to traditional "Emily Post" etiquette, one simply doesn't have a baby shower after your first child.  But, with all due respect to Ms. Post, she has failed to address situations like ours.  There is no etiquette guide, no "right way" to welcome this new baby into the world.  This tiny, active little Bean who kicks Momma with such regularity and force I can't help but rub my tummy and talk to him as if he's already here.  This Bean who is providing our family with a sense of hope, of a future that holds happiness.  This Bean who deserves celebration.  This Bean, who will have his own baby shower, despite the critics, the skeptics and those who choose to judge.

Which brings me to the second issue.  With the decision to have a baby shower, comes the need to create a registry.  Which means the requisite trip to Babies 'R' Us.  Momma hasn't stepped foot in that store since before you died.  My last trip in there was to buy a few Christmas gifts for you.  My last visit to their website, captured in my "items recently viewed" area, includes all the toys I was considering as gifts for you.  I assumed this trip would be unbearable.  That the thought of creating a new baby registry would bring me to my knees.  Peanut, we gave so much of your "baby stuff" away to charity since Dadda and I didn't plan on more children.  And now...we need to replace it.  But, surprisingly enough, the trip turned out to be an almost joyful event.  Dadda came with me, and we revisited many old, happy memories.  We picked out items for The Bean based on what you did or didn't like.  We chose items similar to, but not duplicates of, what you loved most.  We remembered the joy and anxiety of anticipating your arrival.  And, for the first time, I allowed myself to truly embrace the love and excitement I already feel towards The Bean.  And, I felt guilty...almost as if I were betraying you.

And this brings me to my final issue.  Peanut, I've forgotten something.  Try as I might, I simply cannot remember the last morning I took you to daycare.  I can't remember what you were wearing.  If it was an "easy" drop off day, or one where you cried as I walked out the door.  I can't remember hugging you or kissing you good-bye.  Did I sit in the parking lot and watch you through the classroom window, like I did some mornings?  I so desperately want to remember. just isn't there.  How can that be???

Peanut, I've had to comes to terms with the fact that I cannot and will not be able to remember every single detail of every day we had with you.  But, I've also learned to be surprised and overjoyed by the memories that pop up when I least expect them.  There is no rule book for grieving over you, or celebrating your little brother.  There is simply the guiding principle of doing what feels right in the spirit of love.  Love for you, love for The Bean, love for our families and friends, love for all who support us through prayers and kind words.  And that, my Peanut, is the core - the foundation - of your Peanut Effect.

I love you.  I miss you.  I miss you.  I miss you.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Froggy In Peanut's Clothing

Peanut -

Dadda brought home a wonderful surprise last night.  A gift for Momma that brought tears of remembrance, emptiness, happiness, loss, and love.  What was this amazing present?

In short, it was a froggy.  But not just any froggy.  A froggy made out of some of your favorite clothes.  Clothes that still seem to carry some of your magic.  I held this froggy and somehow it felt like holding you again.  I hugged him, and almost felt you hugging me back.  I breathed him in, and swear I could hear a faint whisper of "Momma..."  I slept with him by my side last night and I dreamed of you.

Seeing this earnest, smiling little green frog outfitted in your old clothes has been heart and mind-stopping.  To see your old Gap crawler shorts now repurposed as froggy hands and a froggy face, and your favorite little sleeper serving as his body has really driven home a powerful point.  I will never again see you in those clothes.  Despite all my hopes and dreams, all the wonderful, happy memories, these clothes now have a second, different, non-Peanut life.  Instead, they now live on as a reminder of you.  In honor of you.

Peanut, I guess we could leave all your special outfits in a bin, or a drawer or a cedar chest for the rest of our lives.  But, I would rather look at this froggy every day and think of you.  Some days I am sure he will bring tears, other days smiles and laughter.  But, no matter what, every day he will bring me a little piece of you.

And that, my sweet Peanut, is priceless.  Sending you love, hugs and kisses - to the moon and back.

- Momma

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

When Happiness Makes Me Sad

Peanut -

In the months after you died, Momma found particular comfort in your pictures.  I would immerse myself in the thousands of pictures and videos we took over your short life, remembering every detail of every moment.  The smells, the sounds, the decision process behind your outfits, what made you laugh, what other silly things we did that day...these reminders of our joyful life, the normalcy, your happiness all brought me a sense of peace.

Lately, I've found myself drawn to certain pictures of you, day after day after day.  They tend to be the pictures that captured some of your biggest smiles, funniest expressions...many of them reveal what a huge personality you had, my little Nugget.  I stare at those giant smiles, all those teeth, that effervescence, and I look for answers.  How can the universe create such an amazing, perfect, joyous little spirit only to steal his life away so quickly?  So early?  Too early.  I look for signs in those pictures.  Did we miss something?  Did you somehow know you were only going to be here for a short visit?

Seeing you so happy in these pictures makes Momma incredibly happy, yet terribly sad.  Happy that you had such a wonderful 16.5 months on this earth.  Happy that we have these pictures, these tangible reminders of the light you spread everywhere you went, with everyone you touched.  And that bleeds into what makes me so very sad.  How can that light be extinguished?  How can it be that we won't get to see all the good, the joy, you would have created as you grew older?

I know, I know...Momma makes herself crazy, right?  Peanut, I don't know how to turn it off.  I don't know if this is "normal."  Do other grieving parents walk this same long, twisted mental path?  <sigh>  I just miss you so very much.  So far, this week has been worse than most.  Momma's heart feels like it might be full of lead, it is so heavy.

With a deep sigh and a pool of tears, I send you giant Momma hugs and kisses.  Just know, I'm sad because I love you so much.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, October 2, 2011

But, We Didn't Want To Join THIS Club

Peanut -

It feels like Momma and Dadda are surrounded by constant, surprising reminders that we are not alone on this journey.  Often, the grief of a bereaved parent feels incredibly lonely - isolating.  Especially in the first days, weeks, months of the journey.  And, if you aren't looking for the signs, I believe it can continue to be a solitary path.  But, Momma has discovered it doesn't need to be so lonely...this is a shockingly large club.  This club of parents who have lost children.  We, the bereaved parents of the world.

We didn't seek out a membership to this club.  No one wants to join this particular club.  You can't cancel your membership.  You're in it for life.  But, once you accept and embrace it, you are surrounded by resources, shoulders to lean on, and an understanding that membership will take many forms over the progressing years.

Friends, co-workers, acquaintances - the people we interact with on a daily basis - all have their own, very complicated stories.  It's easy to forget how much we carry on our shoulders, often in silence.  I'm not sure if Dadda and I now have a special brand or a mark on our foreheads, but we've both discovered more and more people sharing their personal stories with us.  So many of them have lost children.  So very many of them, and we never knew.  And here they are, surviving, living, inspiring us.

Somehow, it helps to know we are not alone.  While our journey is ours, and there aren't any shortcuts or free passes, it is a journey others have survived.  Their grief has become integrated into the fiber of their being, is a part of their larger life story.  It shapes their decisions, informs their actions.  It defines who they have become, but is not used as an excuse.

These parents strive to honor their children - living and deceased - just as I hope to honor you and The Bean each and every day.  I am stunned by our numbers, awed by the strength I have witnessed, and inspired to give more grace and understanding to all I encounter on a daily basis.  For you.  For Peanut.

Ohhhhhh Peanut, I miss you so very, very much.  I hope you can see, hear and know my heart.  I hope you are proud.  But, most of all, I hope you can feel my love.  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Happy Birthday, Grandpa

Peanut -

Today is Grandpa's birthday.  Momma is so sad to think about our dinner celebration tonight, without you.  Two years ago, right after you were born, I gave Grandpa a special, engraved picture frame from you for his birthday.  Last year, you were right there celebrating with us.  And this year...there will be a terrible void at the table.

You and Grandpa...well, you were like peas and carrots.  Grandpa never had a son, and you were his first and only grandchild.  There was an instant bond between you two, that just grew stronger week by week.  When you heard Grandpa's voice, you would spin around wildly, looking for him, clapping and grinning.  And, he would light up like the sunrise around you.  It was so touching, so beautiful to watch.  The way Grandpa loved you was true, honest and pure...I simply don't possess the words to describe it accurately.  So, having to experience and observe his grief - over the loss of you, worry for Momma - these last months has been heart-wrenching.

One of my most favorite memories of Grandpa and you is from the Monday before you died.  You spent every Monday at Grandma and Grandpa's house, and had pretty free reign to wander around as you pleased.  I showed up after work that day, and you took Momma's hand to give me a complete tour of the house.  Bedroom by bedroom, through the bathrooms, around the kitchen, and back out to the family room.  You even showed me your favorite spots in each room, opening cabinets, closet doors, and slamming all the doors when we had finished the tour of that room.  Once we got back out to the family room, you joined Grandpa behind bar to "help" him mix a martini.  You were like an old pro!  I could tell this was your routine with him - you two knew exactly where to move, what to take off the shelves, and when it was time to move back out to the sitting area to play.

These are the memories that help Momma smile through her tears.  I hope they do the same for Grandpa.  Because, quite simply he was and always will be the Best Grandpa In The World.  He has been Momma's shoulder to cry on, confidant and friend, sharer of sorrow, and a simply amazing dad.  Peanut, I know you're in heaven today sending Grandpa all sorts of love, kisses, smiles, laughs and maybe you're even behind the bar helping him mix a martini.  You will be missed tremendously tonight.

We love you sweet Peanut.  To the moon and back!

- Momma