Saturday, April 30, 2011

Turning 39...

Peanut -

I was always an "old" Momma because I had you after I turned 35.  But, once we got pregnant with you, and successfully had this wonderful, perfect little man, I thought we were in the safe zone.  Especially after you passed the 12-month mark.  Never, ever, did I think I would face my 39th birthday without you.  It's tomorrow.

Last year we celebrated my birthday with Grandma and Grandpa at Cafe Napoli.  It was a sunny, warm weekend and I was so sunburned!  I still have the lovely Lilly Pulitzer scarf and overnight bag Grandpa and Grandpa gave me, and I remember the ivory shirt I wore with the silk bow.  You sat right between me and Grandpa and tried a little pasta, even though you were only 9-months old.  Pasta was deeeeeeeeelicious!  And messy.  But watching the delight on your face with each bite was totally worth the mess.

It makes me think of the day I was asked - would you do it all again if you knew you would lose him?  And, here is my answer, in the form of Garth Brooks (thanks to our doctor):

Looking back on the memory of 
The dance we shared beneath the stars above 
For a moment all the world was right 
How could I have known you'd ever say goodbye 
And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I'd of had to miss the dance 
Holding you I held everything 
For a moment wasn't I the king 
But if I'd only known how the king would fall 
Hey who's to say you know I might have changed it all 
And now I'm glad I didn't know 
The way it all would end the way it all would go 
Our lives are better left to chance I could have missed the pain 
But I'd of had to miss the dance 
Yes my life is better left to chance 
I could have missed the pain but I'd of had to miss the dance 


I wouldn't trade the dance for anything in this world or the next.  Peanut, thank you for giving some of the best moments of my life so far.  I love you, to the moon and back.

- Momma

  

Friday, April 29, 2011

Monkey Toes!

Peanut -

Today has been a roller-coaster of emotions.  Too much to share, and almost too much for Momma to process and fully experience.  So, instead, I'm thinking back and hanging on to a piece of you that always brought me laughter...and connected you so tightly to your sweet, loving Dadda.

Your toes.

Monkey toes, to be specific.

I swear, you and Dadda could grip, pull, carry, and bruise just about anything with your toes, once you set your minds to it.  I knew the day you were born - you had Dadda's crazy toes that almost resembled hands.  And you instantly knew how to use them!  You wrestled out of your swaddle using those toes.  You would grip my thumbs with your big toes.  Later, I'd find you grabbing Cheerios between those same, dexterous baby toes.  Monkey toes!

Last summer I took several pictures of you in your swing, and unintentionally got two perfect shots of Mr. Monkey Toe.   This is what I share today.  This is what I hang on to with a smile through the heartbreak.  I miss you.  I miss our life.  But, I would never trade the experience or the memories.

To the moon and back, Peanut.
- Momma


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Rainbow Slides for Peanut

Peanut -

Today was a day filled with joyful, positive signs from you.  Everything from special songs, to unexpected butterflies, to brilliant double rainbows emerging from the clouds.  And, in the midst of it all, I felt a sense of hope about the future.

There is still the overwhelming sense of loss and emptiness over everything we won't get to experience with you - everything YOU won't get to do - but a new map of the future is emerging...and I know you will still be very much a part of it, watching us and touching us with your signs of love.

I've included images of the rainbows from this evening, but the pictures don't even begin to do justice to their beauty.  I felt the glow of your Peanut smile in them, and imagined you sliding down side full of laughter just like you used to do on your special Little Tykes play-set slide.  That slide was your favorite place to sit, climb, watch TV and just hang out.  We never realized how brave it made you until Grandma and Grandpa took you to buy your super cool Stride Rite shoes at Laurie's Shoes.  They have a "big kid" slide in the store that runs from the children's area to the main floor.  Before they could stop you, Grandma and Grandpa watched you dart across the platform to the slide and ZOOM! down you went.  Ta da!  They went from horror and fear to peals of laughter in an instant.  I'm so glad they have that very special memory of you.  A memory they shared and I had almost forgotten until I saw your rainbows tonight.

I love you my sweet, awesome, brilliant Peanut.  To the moon and back.
- Momma



Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hey Vanna!

Peanut -

One of your favorite parts of our weeknight routine was...WHEEL...OF...FORTUNE!!!!  Much to Momma's dismay.  I didn't love having you watch TV to start with, then...well....there's The Wheel.  It's like toddler crack.  Bright lights, a spinning wheel, people cheering and clapping, and <sigh> Vanna White.  Momma's competition.

Vanna would enter the picture and the world would fade away for you.  No matter what toy or book you were playing with, she would emerge on the screen and you would drop everything.  Dadda would pipe up, in his best Peanut voice, "Heeeh-eeey...wassup girl?  Hey Vanna!  Peanut here!"  And you would clap and cackle, bouncing up and down full of excitement.  It definitely helped when she was wearing a nice, bright, sparkly outfit.  (Note: Often)

Now, when I hear the opening credits for The Wheel I look around for my Peanut.  I know you're still watching Dadda solve the puzzles (and making fun of Pat with Momma) and letting Vanna know you still think she's the coolest, prettiest, most sparkly lady in the whole world.  It's the little things - like Wheel of Fortune - that mean the most.  These are the things I don't want to forget.  Remind me, Nutter Butter.

I love and miss so much.  You snuck up on me a few times today, both in laughter and tears.  I welcome it all and embrace it.  I love you in ways I never knew my heart could love.  To the moon and back, Peanut.

-Momma

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Marking Time

Peanut -

It's funny how differently we all track the passage of time.  For me, last Wednesday held incredible significance as it marked 12 weeks.  For others, it is marked by today's date - the 26th since we lost you on January 26.  And, for others it is a particular day of the week or month when they last experienced you.  Like our grief, it is intensely personal and it is always "right."  What's important is feeling it.  Acknowledging it.

In the days after we lost you, I was tormented by thoughts of what happened.  How does a healthy little boy just not wake up?  Did I miss something?  Did you suffer?  The guilt was like a tidal wave, and Momma was drowning in it.  But then, beginning one week after you passed, I started getting a Peanut wake-up call at 4:34 am EVERY morning.  I think it was your way of telling me, "Momma, it's OK.  I'm OK."  It's been months since I've gotten that 4:34 am wake-up call.  But, I got it today.  The 26th.  Peanut, maybe you have your own special way of marking time too.

We now know you did not suffer.  But, we have also come to realize we might not ever get an explanation.  SUDC.  Sudden Unexplained Death in Childhood.  I've added a link to this wonderful organization to the right margin for those who want to know more.  This organization has provided our family with a network of support, information and advocacy.  And, guess what Peanut - you are now enrolled in their very important research study.  Yet another square in the quilt of your legacy.

Sweet, sweet Peanut.  I'm thinking of you, and the way you would sit on my lap facing me, touching my eyelashes with a long, soul-embracing gaze.  Then you'd toss your head back with a giant Peanut giggle.  This perfect goofiness was always followed by you throwing your arms around my neck and whispering into my ear, "Momma."  I love you bunches of noodles - and to the moon and back and back and back again.

- Momma

Monday, April 25, 2011

Oh, Oobee Doo, I Wanna Be Like You!

Peanut -

After missing you so much yesterday, I needed to get "unstuck."  Grief, sorrow is like a fast moving drain. Easy to get sucked down, further and further until there's no pulling out.  I owe your smiling, shining memory much better than that, because your legacy is love.  Today I saw our wonderful therapist who has become like family to me, and she gave me the hand I needed to pull up.  And, to smile.

As I was driving home from her office, I had a powerful, happy memory of our last Saturday together.  I had you all to myself for the day, and we rocked the house watching The Jungle Book!  You loved the entire movie, but squealed with additional delight as King Louie started singing with his motley tribe of orangutans.  In the middle of the family room, you clapped, bounced and kept checking back to make sure Momma was dancing too.  We must have watched that song 10 times before you would let the movie continue.  Music sang in your soul, Monkey Toe.

I laughed out loud recalling that moment in time.  An actual head-thrown-back, hand-clapping laugh.  And in that moment you were there, surrounding me.  Hello, Peanut!

So, for today, I include the You Tube link to this awesome song that touched your spirit in life and lifted my heart today.  Readers - get up and dance for Peanut!

And to my Peanut, thank you for visiting today.  I love you - to the moooooooon and back!

- Momma



Sunday, April 24, 2011

Hoppity Easter, Peanut

Peanut -

As I'm sure you saw, today was just as hard as Momma anticipated.  But, it's almost over.  On this chilly, rainy, late April Easter Sunday I was overwhelmed by the unfairness and emptiness of the holiday without you.  You should have been here to run around, chasing eggs, discovering chocolate bunnies and baskets.  You should have been wearing a special outfit while we snapped tons of pictures.  Instead...it's just a day.  A sad day.  I had to suck the air out of the meaning of the day to survive.  It's a Sunday.  A day.  Just a day.

I think back to last Easter with joy, peace, appreciation.  It was a warm, balmy Easter and we got to visit in the sunshine with our families...sharing our special Peanut.  You were all smiles for most of the day, but refused to take a nap.  Stubborn 'Nut, just like your Momma!  I was so concerned that you'd be a tired, cranky boy by the time we got to Gram and Pop's house.  But we got there, changed you into a comfy outfit and you charmed everyone - Gram especially - with smiles and hugs.  I've included some of my most favorite Peanut pics from that very day.  Peanut in his Froggy Jammies.  Deeeeeelightful.  I can almost feel the sunshine, smell the warm breeze of that day as I gaze at your glow.

Sweet Peanut.  You are the sunshine in my heart and tears on my face this evening.  Love, love, love.  To the moon and back.

- Momma


Saturday, April 23, 2011

Tell Me Now...Are. We. RICH?!?

Peanut -

Dadda and I are grilling steaks and asparagus tonight.  We haven't done this since we lost you.  Actually, the last time we made this dinner was New Year's Eve, celebrating what we thought would be a wonderful 2011.  How wrong we were, we never could have guessed.

After you turned one we started introducing you to all kinds of new foods that you thought were just amazing.  PB&J sandwiches.  Turkey meatballs.  Grilled cheese and ham.  Every time we gave you something new, you would give me your one-eyebrow-rasied look, as if you were asking, "Is this for ME? Seriously?!"  That look created a funny voice and question Dadda would ask, as if he were reading your mind.  "Somebody!  Tell me now.  ARE. WE. RICH?!?"  It always cracked us up, which made you burst into hysterical laughter.

When we gave you your own little bit of filet mignon and asparagus on New Year's Eve, your eyes got sooooo wide and we both blurted out the Connor-voice/question.  All three of us sat at the table laughing, and life was perfect.

Defying all reason, my broken heart continues to beat.  The absence of you was sharp today.  Tomorrow - Easter - is looming large.  I'm holding you close...to the moon and back.  Love you, 'Nut.

Momma


Friday, April 22, 2011

Present Time vs. Peanut Time

Peanut -

Like a bolt of lightning, I realized today...I have no idea what I missed.  You were my first and only child.  (For now...?)  I can read books, newsletters and other publications explaining your next milestones, but nothing can help me experience them.  Every new gesture, laugh, word, expression was life changing for me.  And, for you.  What was next???  Gosh, we'll never know.

I am simply heartbroken as a I make this connection.  While I had the gift of a day off - a Friday - from work today, I kept picturing what we would have done 3 months ago instead of what we should be doing in present time.  With you being close to 20 months, how would you have changed?  And, how do I know what I don't know?

Included in this post is a video that exemplifies the joy - zest - for life I found in you, my Peanut.  It was taken almost a year ago. You came so far in that following year, but there was always the same smile, laughter and determination in your spirit.  Reasons you were so transformational.  Why you were my everything.

I long for the Peanut I miss and the Peanut I never got to know.  <sigh...>  I cherish you.  Hoping to see you in my dreams.  To the moooooooooon and back.

Love -
Momma

video




Thursday, April 21, 2011

The Peanut Effect

Peanut -

Over the years I've heard a lot of references to "the butterfly effect"...it even spawned a not very good movie.  Basic concept - a small action in one space of time creates a larger reaction in another space of time.  A butterfly flaps its wings and creates a tidal wave half a world away.  Well,  I've decided to tag what I think of as the "Peanut Effect."  From the perspective of your Momma, it's the opposite of the butterfly concept.  A massive, tragic event in our immediate family has created thousands of small, wonderful changes in countless other lives.  I think the Peanut Effect is part of your eternal legacy.

Every day I receive beautiful e-mails, posts, voice mails and other messages relaying how your very special story has resulted in a new appreciation for life, for parenthood, for family, for love.   I've been told amazing stories about people who have never met, never known each other, connecting in unexpected places over a shared knowledge of you and your story.  Familiar strangers with the same comment, uttered in awe..."You know Peanut?!?"

Your loss has given so much back to other people.  Mommas who have found a new level of patience and understanding with their children.  Daddas who have re-evaluated their life balance and decided to recommit time to family.  Siblings who are consciously saying "I love you" rather than fighting.  And so many people remembering the loved ones they've lost over the years...with joy, peace, smiles and stories.

A friend/co-worker shared a special story with me today.  He is someone who doesn't share much, but has been particularly impacted by your loss.  The day after your service, which he attended, he was sitting next to a perfect stranger in a public place who was holding the Sunday edition of the St. Louis Post Dispatch newspaper...the one from January 30 that published your obituary.  This total stranger had torn out your obituary to save and share.  As the two strangers talked, they discovered a connection beyond the impact of your obituary.  The stranger worked at the hospital the ambulance took you to on that awful day.  The doctors, nurses and staff at that hospital were so impacted by the loss of our beautiful Peanut that they were still honoring and remembering you.  And my co-workers were grieving for you in a different - yet similar - way.  These two people made a heartfelt connection that has stayed with my co-worker for the last three months.  Familiar strangers.

My Peanut.  My darling little boy with his old, wise soul.  You continue to live on in so many unexpected ways.  I love you...to the moon and back.  (And, hoping for another sleep-hug one of these nights.)

- Momma

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Twelve Weeks

Peanuckle!

Twelve weeks.  It seems incomprehensible that we're without you to start with, much less for an entire season.  But, that's what I had to face today.  I now look around and see all these little boys growing into men, and realize that will never be you.  My Peanut, forever frozen at 16.5 months of age, with his vocabulary of 10 words and wonderful, unsure penguin walk.

I miss cutting your fingernails.  That was something I did once a week, when I felt you were in a particularly still place.  I would sit you between my legs, embrace you and together we would trim nail-by-nail.  Hardly ever any drama.  But, that was you.  Healthy, happy, content.

It's awful to think you won't be with us for Easter this year.  The time of celebration of life and renewal...and all I can think about is loss.  It's one of the many "firsts" we have to face this year, and I'm dreading it.  Today was one of those firsts for me, personally, and there was so much love and support that I (we) got through it.  Every day there are more and more people who avoid me, but there are also those who seek out opportunities to surround me with love.  Thank goodness.  I'm not contagious.  Just sad.  But I need people, support and the grace to talk about you.  Folks, I promise, the first conversation is the hardest...I know there are no words.  I'll make it as easy as possible.

Peanut, I love you.  I miss you. I ache for your smell, touch, breath, grasp, hugs and love.  I cherish you and the memories.  To the mooooooon and back, baby boy.

- Momma

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Tuesday night love

Peanut -

Three months.  It's been that many Tuesday nights since I felt your last hug.  Your last "Momma...."  Your last grasp of my hair and breath in my ear.  My brain had difficulty processing the reality of our situation today.  Surely this isn't really happening to us.  You aren't really gone.  I will wake up and this nightmare will be just that - a nightmare.  But...then it sets in...just breathe.  Keep breathing.  Survive.

Nature has been so in tune with my soul since we lost you.  Storms, pounding hail, 20 degree temperature changes, all in one evening.  But, around the bend I know there is sunshine and warmth.  No, maybe I don't know...I believe.

I'm choosing to remember you tonight via a picture taken the day we brought you home from the hospital.  You were so little bitty.  But, you were MY Peanut.  The child I had dreamed about for years, and worked so hard to have.  I looked at you and saw the future.  You changed everything.  I will not let that go.

Sweet, sweet Peanut.  I love you to the moon and back.
- Momma

Monday, April 18, 2011

Hi. Hi. Hi. Hi!

Peanut -

"Hi" was one of your first, and most favorite words.  Never said just once, but multiple times with varying emphasis.  I never grew tired of it, because it was always accompanied by your sunshine smile.  Lately I've caught myself mimicking your little "hellos" and, while it reminds me I will never hear you say it again, it does always make me grin.

Driving home from work this evening I was sitting in traffic with the sun attempting to stream through raindrops and clouds.  How appropriate.  Every song that came on the radio seemed to be speaking to me, helping me keep my chin up and remember you with love and joy.  And some tears.  My commute time has become my designated cry-time...the other drivers must think I'm nuts but it's a good time and space to welcome the sorrow.

I also did a quick self-check around how much I've changed and all the emotions I navigate on a minute-by-minute basis.  The innocence is gone.  My belief in a world that makes sense has disappeared.  Because in that kind of world, you would still be here.  Fright over the fragility of life.  No matter how much you try to protect, nurture, love...it can all evaporate in a split second.  And, a new toughness.  Or, maybe it's strength.  We've almost survived the first three months without you.  Or, as I've heard it referred to, the first trimester of grief.  We mark that day on Wednesday...and I vow to somehow celebrate your life on that day, and every other day.

Peanut.  Hi.  Hi.  Hi.  Hi!  Guess how much I love you.  To the moon and back.  Times infinity.

Love you,
Momma

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Love and Hugs for Dadda

Peanut -

Today is Sunday.  When you were still with us, this was your day with Dadda.  You guys watched all the games together, lounged on the couch and ate loads of Goldfish on Sundays.  These days meant so much to Dadda, and I know this day is harder for him than most.  Send him some love, sweet boy.  Show him you are still very present, even though we can't hold you, touch you, kiss you...feel your tight Peanut hugs or smell the sweetness of you.

Dadda has been so strong for all of us.  Readers, please send my wonderful husband your hugs and love tonight.  I see the pain in his eyes, and I'm not sure I'm strong enough to support him right now.

Peanut, I miss you.  So much.  The hole in my heart is so large, but the sharp edges are softening....maybe that is the gift of time.  Not sure.  Just know, I love you....to the moon and back.

- Momma

Planting Hope

Peanut -

It's late on Saturday night, but I couldn't go to bed without letting you know about the tree we planted for you today.  It's a Scarlet Maple that was given in your memory by a wonderful group of women Momma works with, and it is now planted outside your favorite bedroom window.  While Dadda and I know we won't stay in this house/location, we decided it was important to plant a memorial to you here...the only home you ever knew.

I've included a picture of your tree in this post.  I look forward to watching it grow.  I know you do too.

Oh, my baby, we love and miss you.  To the moon (and an almost full one tonight) and back.

- Momma

Friday, April 15, 2011

Up and down and up and down...

Peanut -

Last week your older sister shared one of her last memories of you...and it was one I had honestly forgotten.  I loved hearing how she remembered it, and realized that no matter how much I try to preserve and share, there are thousands of stories of you that live in other's hearts and minds.  To those out there who knew Peanut, I hope you reach out and share.  Share with me.  Your family.  Friends.  Just know, I would love to hear about how you experienced Peanut, how you saw his smile, felt his hugs, remember his laugh.

The story your sister shared was about the Saturday morning before we lost you.  She came by the house and found me and Dadda at the bottom of the stairs calling, "Peeeeeeaaaanut!"  She could hear you clomping around on the stairs, giggles, then rapid-fire movement on the second floor.  When you finally appeared on the second floor landing, she realized - you were walking!  She hadn't seen you in your full on "I can walk" mode with all your pride and bravado.  I love that it's her last memory of you.  Peanut the Walker.  And Stair-Climber.

You learned to go up and down stairs at grandma and grandpa's house.  Grandpa taught you how to back down the stairs, even with your hands full of toys.  From that day on, whenever you saw stairs, we had to turn you loose.  HOURS of entertainment!  I've included a picture of you enjoying your "starter stairs."  While you were one of the most cautious kids I've ever encountered, you also had no fear.  And you were determined to figure it out.  Once you conquered the stairs, nothing could stop you.  I saw so much of me in you, especially in those moments.

Hey Peanut.  Guess how much I love you.
To the moooooooon and back!
Miss you, my sweet boy.
Love,
Momma

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Eyelash Love

Peanut -

I'm struggling with words tonight.  A lot of emotions and memories have bubbled up today and I'm waiting for my brain and heart to sort through it all.

As I put my head on my pillow this evening for a good cry, I had a powerful memory of you gazing back at me, staring straight into my eyes with your beautiful baby-blues.  You had amazing blue eyes.  Dadda and I waited for those blue eyes to turn hazel or green over the first 12-months, but instead the blue just intensified.

You and I used to have the best staring contests.  I always "won" because you got distracted by my long eyelashes and your urge to first grab them, then try to bump foreheads together.  The contests would take place in any given location - sitting face-to-face on the couch, sprawled out on the TV room floor - and always ended in peals of Peanut laughter.  I love those memories.  And, my eyelashes miss you.

Peanut, I am sending you so much love...I miss you.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider

Peanut -

Momma is feeling a little frayed around the edges tonight, after a long, crazy-busy day at work.  Just trying to get back into the old work routine, trying to give it as much effort and focus as I can muster, is grueling.  And that's on the quiet days.  I have to give myself permission to slow down and allow the time and space to remember you, grieve for your loss, relish in the joy of your memories.

My priority list, which already dramatically shifted after having you, has experienced another major shift.  The self-imposed drama, deadlines, materialism and stress are no longer even ON the list...and I find myself much more motivated by family, love, life, reflection, giving back and honoring you.  Not all that unusual in the midst of this type of grief, I'm sure, but still a change in the fiber of me that I welcome.  Just like the internal transformation I felt when I became "Momma."

I think back on one of the first times I saw you smile.  It was...magic.  You weren't even three months old, I was was singing "Itsy Bitsy Spider" to you along with the hand movements.  You were completely transfixed, and broke into a giant smile when my hand spider started climbing up the water spout again.  As you got older that song brought laughter, hand claps, and eventually your own Peanut-version of the hand movements...you had a pretty good spider!  And, oh...how I miss that smile.

Every day you make me stronger, Peanut.  I love you - to the moon and back.
- Momma

(Picture below - first documented Peanut smile!)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Blue Skies and Sunshine - From Peanut, With Love

Peanut -

Today was a beautiful, sunny, spring day.  Tuesday again.  And it's the 12th.  You would have been 19-months old today.  While the last two days have been desperately sad, this morning I saw the sun, felt the warm breeze, took a deep breath and realized...today is a good day.  And I smiled while looking at a picture of you from 1-year ago (included in the post).  This day has been filled with happy memories of you, and I've seen/experienced signs of you everywhere.  I asked - prayed - for a very specific sign from you yesterday, and I got it today.  Oh, my baby, you have filled my heart today.

Yesterday, a very wise, kind co-worker of mine came by my office to visit while in town from Charlotte, NC.  He has a counseling background, and just happened to be in St. Louis the day we lost you.  He supported my team through their grief and then helped them navigate mine.  This was his first time seeing me, and rather than try to be full of advice and counsel, he simply gave me a hug and said, "Just keep breathing.  That's all.  Just breathe."  And then he left for the meeting that brought him to St. Louis.  What a perfect thing to say.  It seems so simple, but really, on the hard days that's what it's about.

Tonight I am thankful for the good days.  I just gave you and your froggies a kiss goodnight, with a little whisper to your crib, "I love you sweetie - to the moon and back..."  And here is one giant air kiss to heaven - MWAAAHHHH!

Love,
Momma

Monday, April 11, 2011

TEETH!

Peanut -

This evening Dadda and I were marveling at Henry The Puppy's shiny, white teeth.  For a dog, he has one pretty set of teeth.  Everyone who meets him comments on his choppers, and we've received a lot of advice about how to polish them, keep them white and how to get Henry into a regular brushing routine.  I laughed about it and told Dadda, "Good luck with that.  Remember, I was the primary Peanut tooth-brusher!"

That led to lots of laughter - and some tears - as we recalled your amazing, precise morning routine.  We had shower mornings, which started at 5:30 am with breakfast time followed by you getting in the shower with Dadda.  That was always an exciting morning.  Between breakfast, diaper issues, and actual shower time I was always squeezing the tooth-brushing in while you were stark naked and full of Peanut sass.  Sometimes you would "present" your teeth to me via big, toothy grin.  Other times, you would seal off your mouth and flip your head around as I went in for the approach.  We always managed to get them brushed while Dadda watched and laughed from the shower.

The non-shower mornings, which generally started at 6:00 am, were less hectic but still filled with the toothbrush game.  Your favorite part of tooth-brushing time was when I gave you the clean, cold water to clean the infant toothpaste off your teeth.  The last few weeks we had you that was especially true, since you were cutting your last two teeth.  My Peanut and his full mouth of teeth!  In celebration of all those teeth, we actually gave you a little bit of filet mignon around New Year's Eve.  You were DEEEEEEEE-lighted!  (And, that will lead to another post, down the road...)

Peanut, the last day has been a big step back for me.  If you've been watching, just know I'm OK.  I'm pushing through it with the help of Dadda, family, and lots of angels on earth who have been helping...many of whom are old friends, and several brand new friends, bonded to our family through grief.  I love and thank them all.  And I thank everyone who reads this blog with love, tears, laughter, and support.

To the moon and back, my sweet 'Nut.
- Momma

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Seasons of Love

Peanut -

I looked at your closet full of clothes this unseasonably warm weekend and discovered...the seasons have moved on without you.  Everything in your closet is from the winter season.  Your navy down parka.  Your checked flannel shirt with matching pants.  And your green thermal henley.  The one from your 1-year photo session with Heidi.  And everything is sized 12-18 months.  Hmmmm...you are supposed to be 19 months this week.  On the 12th, to be exact.  It is this marching on of time that has been so painful.  Why hasn't the world stopped with you?

The tumultuous weather this late winter/early spring has felt like a reflection of my emotions.  From thunderstorms one day, to blue skies and sunshine the next, to 7+ inches of snow all in one week.  Today has been warm and blustery, with a promise of severe thunderstorms tonight.  How appropriate.

The threat of severe weather reminds me of New Year's Eve 2010/2011.  I was home with you that day, and we watched The Today Show as we anticipated tornadoes and bad storms.  James Blunt was on the show, singing "Stay the Night."  You loved, loved, loved that song.  Every time he got to the chorus you would look back at me, smile and bounce up and down with your big laugh.  Even after he performed, we had to listen to it at EVERY commercial break.

For the first three weeks after we lost you that was the song playing when I started my car.  No matter when or where.  And if it wasn't playing immediately, it would come on within the first few minutes.  This is one of the many signs I believe you've sent to tell me, "Hi Momma.  I'm OK.  I'm still with you.  And I love you."  I've included a link to the video below...the song will always remind me of you.

Peanut, it's been a hard day.  Deep sorrow but also treasured memories.  I love you, to the moon and back.

- Momma

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Hello, from Aunt Dru

Dear Peanut -

Tonight we have a guest blogger who is helping me write tonight's post.  Your Aunt Dru is hanging with Momma, keeping her company while Dadda is out camping.  She has lots of heartfelt words for you, and I'm going to help her express them...

Peanut, you will never be forgotten and I will always be your godmother.  Loving you snuck up on me and it was so transforming to be your aunt.  I loved watching my sister be your Momma...to see how she grew, and to see Mom and Dad become grandparents.  They were so well suited to it.  Also, seeing another wonderful side to Shaun (Dadda) - it made me love him in a different, amazing way.  I went into your room tonight and held your tennis shoes.  You should still be wearing them.  We miss you so much it makes our hearts ache.  Crying for you tonight, but also loving you with all my heart.  - Aunt Dru

My darling boy, I miss you so much.  But, I'm going to let Aunt Dru's words stand on their own tonight.  To the moooooooon and back, sweetie.
Love,
Momma

Friday, April 8, 2011

Would You Know My Name?

Peanut -

I stumbled across Eric Clapton's song, "Tears in Heaven" today and it stopped me in my tracks.  Even though I've heard the song hundreds of times, it was always in a different context, a different frame of mind.  The lyrics so resonated with me, but I really didn't know the story behind the song.  Only after hitting up Google did I discover he wrote the song during his own grieving process for his 4 1/2 year-old son - Conor.  Apparently his son died in a freak accident, falling out of a high rise condo window over 40 stories to his death.  Clapton had just spent the night before with him at the circus - their first ever outing just the two of them.

It's interesting because I have wondered his same question myself...will you know me when we meet up again?  What if I'm old and changed and not the Momma you knew on earth?  Hmmmm...I think you are still with me every day, though.  You see every new day, every change, every smile and tear and I'm pretty sure you will know me in an instant.

I worked from home today, just like I used to every Friday with you.  Nothing feels "right" on Friday anymore.  I've tried going in to the office, I've tried taking the day off.  But, I've had to come to terms with the fact that this change in routine, more than any other, is the most difficult.  Because these were OUR days, just you and me.  A huge portion of the pictures I took of you were snapped on Friday afternoons while we were hanging out and mostly while you were sitting in your high chair having a snack.  You grew to know and love the camera, and would totally ham it up for me.  I've included two of those hilarious pictures with today's post because...well...they just make me smile.


And, to quote the very wise Mr. Clapton:

I must be strong
And carry on
'Cause I know I don't belong
Here in heaven


Thanks for the big, toothy grins, my Peanut.  I love you to the moon and back

- Momma

Thursday, April 7, 2011

The Peanut Touch

Peanut -

When I got into work this morning, I was greeted by an e-mail that brought a smile to my heart.  It was from someone who recently suffered her own personal loss, and has come across this blog.  She's been following it, and has found a measure of comfort through sharing in our stories, memories and pictures.

Later in the day I received a message from someone else who has found support through this forum and wanted to offer some support back to our family.  These e-mails and notes are so appreciated, welcomed and meaningful because they help me feel like we are honoring your very special, but far too short, life.  It is my hope that you will touch lives on a daily basis and these stories will keep you alive in our minds and hearts.

At work today someone commented on how long my hair has gotten, and I realized I've been letting it grow for you.  You loved to sit on my lap, facing me, and cover your face with my hair.  It absolutely delighted you, and I suspect you thought I couldn't see you.  Peek-a-boo was pretty much the BEST game, and is actually what you're doing in the banner photo for this blog.  You also really liked to chew on my hair.  So, most days I walked around with "crunchy" hair...oh, I miss that.  Sometimes I imagine you visiting me while I sleep, grasping my hair with your little fists, covering your face and laughing your ginormous Peanut-laugh.  That thought brings me a lot of joy.

I've included a photo from Christmas 2009, right after you received a fuzzy puppy dog from Grandma and Grandpa.  It played music, but that was really secondary to you.  It went straight into your mouth, and there it went every day for weeks.  These early photos of you are so touching to look back on because I can already see your little personality emerging.

I love and miss you soooo much it makes my heart hurt.  To the moon and back, Peanut.
- Momma

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Gentle Reminder

Peanut -

I got to hold a little boy again tonight.  He's almost exactly one year younger than you, and a happy, funny, spirited little guy.  Very much reminds me of you.  Seeing him, holding him, laughing with him - how wonderful.  It warmed my heart.  We also got to spend an evening with his very special parents, who were already amazing and have been transformed by their role as parents.  Again, it reminded me a lot of us.

Today started as a horrible reminder of how much we have lost, but throughout the day I was buffered and supported by so many loving friends.  By the end of the day I found myself feeling...thankful?  I'm not sure if that's the word I'm searching for, but it will do for now.  In your time on earth and now without us you have made me rethink my priorities and consider what it is I truly need, value and at the very core, what kind of person I want to be.  What a legacy, my Peanut.

It's late, and I want to go to sleep with these warm thoughts.  As I think back to our time together and the time I got to spend with that little boy tonight, I remember this more than anything.  Every time I held you, all you wanted to do was touch foreheads.  So, we would bump our heads together, then we'd stare up at each other.  Then you would break into a giant, head-thrown-back laugh.  In the split seconds that our eyes met, I swear our souls touched.  Which is why I miss you so much now.

To the moon and back, Peanut.  I love you.
- Momma

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Little (Pea)Nutbrown Hare

Peanut -

I picked up the dress I wore to your memorial service from the dry-cleaner today.  A task I've been putting off for weeks, as the receipt burned a hole in my wallet.  It's only been worn once.  And now I'm not sure what to do with it.  Do I hang it in my closet?  Put it with your special things?  This is terrain I'm unfamiliar with and find myself at a total loss.

It's Tuesday night again.  Will this night always bring the memory of our last hug, our last kiss, our last storytime together?  I don't know...I hope so.  While these memories still carry the hollow ache of missing you, the uncontrollable tears, and the painful stab that time is marching on, they also bring me so much joy.  A constant reminder of how much I loved you and being YOUR Momma.

My Little Nutbrown Hare, I simply cannot let this evening pass without sharing my most favorite, Momma-only memory of you.  Our special book was "Guess How Much I Love You" written by Sam McBratney and illustrated by Anita Jeram.  I was the only person "allowed" to read this book to you at bedtime.  We would get you changed into your jammies, stand you in your crib, turn on the humidifier and then I'd pull out the book.  Oh, you KNEW that book so well and would bounce up and down in anticipation.  I had different voices for Big Nutbrown Hare and Little Nutbrown Hare, including expressions and gestures for each part of the book.  You were a captive audience, and would cheer and clap me on.  As we got to the end of the book, you knew exactly when to lean over, pucker up and get your giant Momma-kiss.  Then you would grab Froggy and get settled in your crib as I turned on the nightlight and said, "Nighty-night Peanut.  I love you to the moooooooon and back!"

Here is that very special passage from the book:


He was almost too sleepy to think anymore,
Then he looked out beyond the thorn bushes, out into the big, dark night.
Nothing could be farther than the sky.
“I love you right up to the moon,” he said, and closed his eyes.
“Oh that’s far,” said Big Nutbrown Hare.  “That is very, very far.”  
Big Nutbrown Hare settled Little Nutbrown Hare into his bed of leaves.  He leaned over and kissed him good night. Then he lay down close by and whispered with a smile,
“I love you right up to the moon – and back.” 


Well, that just about sums it all up.  Peanut, I hope you never had to, or ever have to, "guess how much I love you."  Because, to the moon and back is just the tip of the iceberg.  With love.
- Momma

Monday, April 4, 2011

Pants On the Ground!

Peanut -

I find so much happiness in sharing funny stories about you and laughing while I picture your terrific smile and hear your giggles in my head.  It helps to keep you present in my mind and heart.  Hopefully, it does the same for others.

This weekend Dadda and I visited grandma and grandpa, who have been just devastated by your loss.  But we were able to share a huge laugh over how, in the last few weeks of your life, changing your diaper and getting you dressed had become a two-man job, requiring skill and speed!  (And much Peanut distraction.)  The diaper change itself wasn't the issue.  It was getting you 1) back into your clothes and 2) keeping them on you.  You'd already pretty much figured out how to whip off your socks and shoes...usually before we could get them both on your wiggly little feet.  But the pants.  Well, I was unprepared for that.  I would no sooner get one leg into your pants than you'd have them off and thrown halfway across the room!  And you would give me this look like, "How in the heck did THAT happen?!"  Then there was the afternoon that Dadda went in to wake you from a nap and he found you in your crib, diaper and shirt on, pants and socks GONE.  You were fully dressed when I put you in there!

Several people have shared a poem with me titled, "God's Lent Child."  I've been unable to read and appreciate it until recently.  I've shared it below as it has provided a strange sense of peace and hope for me this week.

Until then, my darling, wonderful Little Man, I love you and know you're still watching us.  To the moon and back.  And some air kisses - Mwah! Mwah!

- Momma

GOD'S LENT CHILD
I'll lend you for a little while, a child of mine, God said
for you to love while he lives and mourn for when he's dead,
He may be six or seven years or thirty two or three,
but will you till I call him back, take care of him for me?
He'll bring his charms to gladden you and should his stay be brief,
You'll always have his memories as a solace in your grief.
I cannot promise he will stay, for all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught below, I want this child to learn
I've looked this whole world over in my search for teachers true
And from the folk that crowd life's lane, I have chosen you
Now will you give him all your love and not think the labour vain
Nor hate me when I come to take, this lent child back again
I fancy that I heard them say 'Dear God, Thy will be done'
For all the joys this child will bring the risk of grief we'll run
We will shield him with tenderness and love him while we may
and for all happiness we've known will ever grateful stay
But should the angels call him much sooner than we'd planned
We'll brave the bitter grief that comes and try to understand.


Sunday, April 3, 2011

The Peanut That Built Me...

Peanut -

Dadda and I have been watching the Academy of Country Music Awards tonight.  Out of character for us, somewhat.  But, I've been rooting for a particular song all night - The House That Built Me.

thought if I could touch this place or feel it
This brokenness inside me might start healing
Out here it’s like I’m someone else
I thought that maybe I could find myself
If I could just come in I swear I’ll leave
Won’t take nothing but a memory
From the house that built me

That song is my anthem for my relationship with you and the person - the Momma - you made me.  I'm so glad it's done well tonight.

We were out running errands today in this freak, 90+ degree April weather, and had a 911 EMT crew blow by us at Manchester and 141.  As we sat there in silence, tears started running down my face, and Dadda asked, "Do sirens always bring up a response for you?  Because, they sure do for me, and I'm not sure why." I gave him a long stare and he finally asked, "What was it like to be in the ambulance that morning?"

Argh...god.  We've never talked about it.  We spent the rest of the afternoon recounting our (thankfully) blurred memories of that morning.  January 26, 2011.  The day that will forever change us.  Shock and grief has a wonderful way of numbing and protecting the mind in the most awful moments.  But now, as time has passed, it allows small, heart-stopping moments of remembrance.  For those who want to read on, I'll share a few:

- Looking out of the shower Wednesday morning.  I thought you and Dadda were playing your usual game of peek-a-boo.  Until I realized he was standing out there sobbing.  Holding your lifeless body.

- Jumping out of the shower and touching you.  Oh god, you were still warm, even though your eyes were glazed and hands were clenched.  I thought we could save you.  Maybe it was a seizure???

- Calling 911 and giving you CPR on the bedroom floor.

- How hard the Metro-West EMT team worked on you, and took control of the situation and me.

- How beautiful you were...but you didn't look like you.  Why weren't you moving, laughing?

- The hope I had as I watched the EMT team, then the St. Luke's team, work on you.  They wouldn't work so hard if they thought you couldn't be saved, right?

- The grace shown by the doctors at St. Luke's as they eased us - me - into the realization you couldn't be saved.

- Once you were pronounced at 7:02 am, the reality. Having to call the office.  Deal with the police detectives.  People.

- Getting home that afternoon to find all your bedding and toys gone.  Taken by the detectives.  Returned at the mercy of the final ME report.

- The awful, horrific treatment we received from start to finish from the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's Office.  Let me highlight this.  I don't and won't name people in this blog.  But I WILL call out Dr. Mary Case and her office.  Their lack of compassion has been shocking.  And, I vow another family will never suffer the same ordeal as long as I live and breathe.

- Finally.  SUDC.  Sudden. Unexplained. Death.  In Children.  My baby boy, in particular.  Scary and not publicized.  Nothing to look for.  No warning signs.  www.sudc.org.  Get informed, get involved.  More information and more research is needed.

Peanut, you deserve better than what you got from the ME's office.  Your life gave too many people love and joy for it to be acceptable for them to refer to you as "another case they don't have the resources to call" and for us to receive your death certificate with our funeral home bill.

Wow, I've shared a lot tonight.  But, it was time to shine the flashlight on this piece of your life and legacy.  I love you to the moon and back.  And beyond.
- Momma


Saturday, April 2, 2011

Henry, let me tell you about Peanut...

Peanut -

I sat in our side yard this afternoon with Henry The Puppy, soaking in the sunshine and warm breeze.  While we lounged and snuggled, I told him all about you.  I explained you were supposed to be Henry's best friend and that you were supposed to grow up together.  That on days like today, you were supposed to be the one throwing baseballs for him to fetch.  You should be the one loving on him and enjoying his puppy kisses.  And, even though there might be other kids in our future, Henry will always be your dog.  He understood and nuzzled my tears with his wet nose.  Puppy love.

I also found out one of my very good friends is pregnant today.  Her due date is September 13...just one day after your birthday.  I know it was so hard for her to share her wonderful, happy news with me but I couldn't be more thrilled.  What would make it even better? If she had her baby on your birthday.  What a wonderful, Peanut honor!  It makes me hope all my friends understand that while I've lost you - my soul and heart - I still adore their children and want...need...to hear about their progress.  Something I probably need to be better about communicating.

Last spring Dadda took some pictures with you and Spencer, our old golden retriever.  We lost him a few weeks later, and fully planned to share these pictures with you when you got older.  We couldn't have imagined you would be gone too come this spring.  What's interesting is how much Henry The Puppy looks like Spencer.  I look back at these pictures and can imagine you playing with Henry.  You learned how to say "hi kittah kahhhh" before we lost you, but I'm not sure what you would say to Henry.  I imagine it would sound something like "hi PUH-piii!" with a giant smile, hand clap and laugh.  Hopefully you come visit him and share some of your Peanut love.  Henry needs to know you.

I miss reading to you.  Maybe I'll read "Guess How Much I Love You" to your empty crib tonight.  In the meantime, I love you....to the moon and back.

- Momma






Friday, April 1, 2011

Sanibel...without you

Peanut -

I have decided I can't spend Mother's Day in St. Louis this year.  I can't stomach the event and all the reminders it will surface around the loss of you.  So, Dadda and I have booked a week in Sanibel.  The vacation we were supposed to take with you.  I'm not sure if that's going to be worse.  We will see.  I do know that getting away is the right thing.

We went to dinner tonight and saw a darling 18-month old girl.  She so wanted to interact with us, and I struggled.  Do we tell her we have a little boy who should be her age?  Who we lost?  Do we even say anything?  Instead, I chose to say nothing to her at all.  Ugh, I hate that.

I spent some time in your room today.  Mr. Snuffles misses you and sits so lonely on your couch, so I held him for a while and shared some tears into his fur.  The absence of you has become so large, so real, I can hardly breathe.  How, oh how, can I learn to live without you?  Life "Before Peanut" and "After Peanut" seems meaningless.  I want life "With Peanut."

This weekend I will attempt to write more about the whole What Happened.  For those who read this, please send me love, prayers and loving thoughts.  Much needed.

Until then, please enjoy this memory.  My wonderful little boy was just learning to crawl and hold his head up when these pictures were taken.  He spent so many wonderful days with my parents, and learned to love the camera.

To the moon and back, Peanut.
- Momma