Wednesday, February 29, 2012


Peanut -

Tonight Momma and The Bean had a special moment, a little dance with you.  The Bean was feeling a bit restless and Momma was missing you terribly.  As I held him, I noticed he was gazing intently over my shoulder, at the collage of pictures over our bed.  Pictures of you.

I started telling him about each picture, each photo shoot and he smiled.  So I decided, "What the heck?  Let's watch the "500 Days" movie."  The instant the music started this little 6-week old brother of yours settled down and rested his head on my shoulder.  I danced around the room, singing your music, and he held my thumb while he stared at your pictures.


I felt my boys talking to each other.  A connection.  I am sure I will witness these moments for years to come, but tonight it was powerful.  Wonderful.  Delightful.

I believe.

Peanut, nights like tonight help me understand that you will know my name when I see you in heaven.  I don't belong there yet, but someday...

To the moon and back, Peanut.  That is how much I love you.  Times infinity.

- Momma

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Editing My User Accounts. Or, Not.

Peanut -

Earlier this week Momma placed an order with for some little items we've been needing for The Bean.  In the back of my mind, I knew I hadn't ordered with them in over a year, but I really hadn't processed what that meant.  Until, of course, I went to the site and realized waaaaaaaay back in the day I created a user account - and it remembered me.

In its overly cheerful, customer-service friendly way, their home page instantly asked if I wanted to use "My Lists" to re-order items from the past.  You know, items like your Jungle Frog Halloween costume.  And, the bright green froggy bath tub mats we bought after your slip-n-slide incident in the whirlpool tub. Agh...what a dagger in my heart.  This innocent tool, meant to make my shopping experience easier, was just cruel.

To add insult to injury, the site remembered YOU as well.  Apparently, when Momma set-up her user account, she entered your name and age.  Well, was more than happy to give me recommendations for my 29-month old son.  It seems I should be looking to buy you a potty training seat, and all kinds of helpful potty training tools.  Funny, because I always figured we would have done that months ago, around the time you turned two.

Later, as I was completing my purchase, the site asked me if I wanted to update my user account - then it took me to my profile page.  There it was.  A box labeled, "My Family."  And one little boy, Connor, listed as 29 months old.  The box asked if I wanted to add a child.  Of course I do.  So The Bean is now added to our family list.  The box also asked if I wanted to remove or edit any of my children.

No.  I do not.

Maybe it's denial.  Maybe it's a little white lie Momma chooses to tell her heart.  But, I have two sons.  I will always have two sons.  Peanut, maybe I can't buy you any more Jungle Frog costumes.  Maybe you don't need those froggy bath mats any longer.  But, you are still my son, very much alive in my mind and heart.  I will always enjoy thinking about what you should be wearing, reading, playing with at each stage of your life.  You will always be listed as part of My Family on those accounts.

To my oldest son.  My Peanut.  My Connor.  I miss you, and I love you sooooooooo much.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, February 26, 2012

A, B. A, B. A, B, C, D, E, F....G

Peanut -

Last night Momma got a full dose of missing you.  While looking for items to entertain a young guest at our house, I found myself bringing out a number of your favorite toys.  Not just any toys, but the toys you played with in the last weeks of your life.  Toys I hadn't touched, played with or activated in over a year.  Oh boy.

For Christmas 2010 Momma bought you loads and loads of toys.  Many of them were meant for you to grow into, since I thought we had forever in front of us.  Since you adored books, I purchased a Leap Frog story book that ran through the entire alphabet and was probably a little advanced for your your age.  Each page included buttons for every letter of the alphabet, and it also told a sweet story.  The last page of the book featured a button that sang the entire alphabet song.  That particular button was like Peanut crack.  You found it within hours of receiving the book, and its Siren Song forced you to always turn to the last page the minute we brought the book out.

Peanut, I'm not sure if you ever let that poor button sing you the full song.  I'm pretty sure we never got past the first half of the alphabet, because you would always hit the button over and over and over and over and over.  A.  A, B.  A.  A, B, C.  A.  A, B, C, D, E.  A.  A, B.

Momma had forgotten about that book, and its sweet, warbling song, until last night.  Even when I brought the book our for our guest, I didn't think about the song.  The button.  The memories.  And then I heard it.  It felt like a towering brick wall collapsing around me, allowing the pain and grief to rush in like a tidal wave.  I had no warning.  I was totally unprepared.  The sadness lumbered into the room and sat on my chest like an elephant, and is still there today.

Peanut, someday your brother will play with that book and I know I will feel joy.  Until then, I feel sadness, loss, heaviness.  For now, I can only think, "Peanut should be playing with that...doing new things, discovering the world."

I know you're in heaven singing the alphabet song, playing with your favorite toys, and reading loads of books.  It's just...I want you to be doing all those things here.  On earth.  With me.  <sigh>  Oh, how I miss you.  It's just indescribable.  So, I will simply say I love you, Peanut.  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oberweis (aka The "Good" Milk)

Peanut -

First, let me confirm - YES, something looks different.  Momma reverted back to an old template for the blog.  After months of test driving Google Blogger's "Dynamic Views" format, I am responding to reader feedback.  While the Dynamic View was pretty, and allowed readers to see more photos, it really crippled the usability of the blog.  Readers (including Dadda) were no longer able to follow the blog, sign up for e-mail delivery, easily post comments, or view the blog from many mobile devices.  I hope the change in format is more reader-friendly!

Earlier this week Dadda and I were out running errands and we passed the Oberweis store.  For those who aren't from the St. Louis area, Oberweis produces some of the most amazing ice cream, milk and lemonade in the WORLD.  Bold statement, I know, but I'll stand by it.  They also have a phenomenal delivery service, and only sell their products in reusable, glass containers.  This quality comes at a price, which means you only invest if you're a serious milk consumer.

When it came time to transition you over to milk, beginning at 1-year, Dadda and I decided to make the Oberweis investment.  While it was more money, more work, more effort, it was beyond worth it for our Peanut.  Not only did you adore their super-rich, creamy whole milk, it also gave us an excuse to buy their chocolate milk!

I know this sounds odd, but I find an overwhelming sense of comfort in the memory of these decisions.  Peanut, you were and are SO LOVED.  There wouldn't be any old, run-of-the-mill milk for my Peanut.  No way.  We're buying the "good"milk.  Silly, right?  Maybe.

These are the kinds of decisions that make me reflect on the insanity of this world.  Dadda and I worked so hard to make sure you wanted for nothing.  That you were showered with love, adoration, education, family, friends.  We would have given our lives one hundred million times over to allow you to live, grow, prosper.  As an older Momma, I recognized every single day just how lucky I was to have you.  Despite all of that, you were still ripped away from us at just 16 1/2 months of age.

Early in our grief I kept asking, "Why us?"  I was so confused, so angry.  With all the people who abuse, neglect, mistreat their children, why were WE targeted?  What kind of universe, what kind of higher power, thinks this is right?

Then, another bereaved parent, one much further down the path, turned the question around on Momma.  He looked at me and said, "Why NOT you?  Would you honestly wish this on anyone else?"


The short answer is, "No."  Not long after that conversation, Momma started this blog.  Because, Peanut, I believe we must do something good, positive with your life...and, sadly, your death.  Your life was too special, too precious, too beautiful, too full of sunshine and love for us to do anything different.

Peanut, as I review postings from last spring and summer and compare them to today, I see the change in Momma and her grief.  The progress.  It's hard not to feel guilty.  Not only am I still here, but I'm living with hope and happiness again.  Is that a betrayal of you?  No.  It is a tribute to you.  It is because of you. It is the inner circle of your Peanut Effect - your Momma, getting the chance to be a Momma to your little brother, sharing stories about you, and bridging the two worlds.

When the time comes next winter for us to make the milk decision again, I know Dadda and I won't have any decision to make at all.  We'll go for the "good" milk.

Peanut, sending you a giant forehead bump and a Momma-style neck nuzzle tonight.  (You know what I mean.)  I love you soooooo much.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ambulance Ride

Peanut -

Over the last year I have intentionally avoided talking about one specific topic.  The ambulance ride the morning you died.  Honestly, Momma breaks into a panicked, cold sweat every time she hears or sees an ambulance. It's even worse if I'm driving, when all I can do is pull over, close my eyes and white-knuckle the steering wheel.

It's interesting, because other people who have experienced a situation similar to ours have the same reaction.  We all have a physical response to the sound, the visual, the lights, the uniforms.  These life-saving crusaders represent death to us.  Hopelessness.  The beginning of the end.

That morning, January 26, the EMTs were the first responders.  They arrived within 4 minutes of us placing the 911 call.  And, they were amazing.  I can't even imagine the scene from their perspective.  The snowy, ice-covered front walk leading up to our house.  They entered the front hallway and ran to our bedroom, led by my screams.  There is Momma, in her bathrobe trying to talk to the 911 operator while Dadda administered CPR.  Peanut, you were on the hardwood floor since it was the best, flat surface for CPR.

The EMTs took over immediately.  They ordered Momma to get dressed - with shoes and an overcoat  - since we were leaving ASAP.  Before I knew it we were running across the snow covered front lawn and entering the ambulance, while Dadda was following behind in one of our cars.  We had no idea which hospital, which ER.  Just getting on the road.  We live so far away from "everything" - the closest hospital is 20 minutes away.  This is one reason we are planning to move to a new house, a new area.  Closer to hospitals.

It was just after 6:10 in the morning.  The rush hour traffic was beginning to build.  But, the ambulance driver took charge, and Dadda followed right on our bumper.  The driver kept Momma informed, minute by minute.  What they were doing to save you.  Where we were turning.  And I prayed.  Cried.  Felt numb.  More than anything, I believed in my heart they could save you even though my brain knew you were gone.

When we got to the hospital, the ambulance driver was deliberate about not letting Momma out of the ambulance.  He wanted to make sure I didn't try to stand until there was someone to catch me when or if I fell or fainted.  But, once we were all inside the ER, once you were pronounced dead, it was a different story.  The EMTs, nurses and doctors who worked on you were all destroyed that day.  This beautiful, loved little boy with his short, blonde hair and deep blue eyes.  And his devastated parents.

I don't ever want to ride in an ambulance again.  Never want to watch the traffic pull aside to let us pass.  I don't want to smell the antiseptic scents, or hear the sirens directly above my head.  Every time I hear that noise my mind's eye sees me in that passenger seat, turning around in desperation, to see if her Peanut is breathing, moving, laughing.  Watching her future slip away.

No matter how many years pass, the sound of an ambulance will probably always make Momma tremble.  It will always catapult me back to that day.  That morning.  That feeling of panic and desperation.

Peanut, I share this tonight because it has been weighing on my mind.  It was time to share.  Time to remember those stark, terrifying minutes.  Time to acknowledge them, name them, and strip them of their power.

What happened that morning is just that.  What happened that morning.  Your life, your love, your light represent so much more. More love, growth, joy than I can ever express in words.  So tonight, I simply sum it up as I do every night....I love you, Peanut.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Monday, February 20, 2012

Waterproof Mascara

Peanut -

Today Momma threw away her last tube of waterproof mascara.  A tiny action that represents something indescribably painful, yet hopeful.  Bittersweet.  As that bright yellow tube hit the wastebasket with a dull thud, I heard a door close in my heart.  It didn't slam.  Just a simple "click."  And Momma let out a sigh that could've blown out 10,000 candles.

You see, Peanut, that tube was one of the last symbols of Momma's time of intense grief.  The time of uncontrolled tears, bone shattering sobs, unpredictable panic attacks, and bleak, dark despair.  The only thing that made Momma feel somewhat human during the early days of grief and loss was that tube of waterproof mascara.  In a world I could no longer manipulate, predict or fix, I could control my mascara.  Stupid, huh?

The day after you died, after wiping mascara all over kleenex, t-shirts, sleeves, sheets, and pillows, I realized there was a better answer.  That tube was one of the first items I let anyone purchase for of the first, hard cries for help I allowed to escape in my state of shock.  It didn't even occur to me I had no good way to remove that junk from my lashes - just that it was one thing I no longer had to worry about as we navigated a house full of shocked friends, a memorial service packed with hundreds of mourners, a department crowded with concerned co-workers.  Momma had the illusion of looking/feeling somewhat normal during a time that was anything but normal.

Now, here we are in February 2012.  This was Momma's third tube of the gunky waterproof stuff.  Barely touched, but there for a sense of security.  A tiny, bright yellow security blanket.  But, as I started the annual spring clean-out of my make-up drawer I knew in my brain it was time.  My brain and heart negotiated for a few hours, and eventually...thud.

Momma's grief sessions are no less intense, just more controlled.  More predictable.  I now reserve special times to cry with reckless abandon, and give myself the space and permission to have bad - and good - moments.  Peanut, life will never be the same.  I will never "get better" or be over you.  But, I can smile again.  And, today I bid farewell to the intense, overwhelming sadness in a symbolic way.  Via a canary yellow and disco purple plastic tube.

Oh my sweet baby boy.  I hope you understand.  I love, love, love you so much.   Missing the moon and back...

- Momma

Saturday, February 18, 2012

What's Gonna Work? TEAMwork!

Peanut -

Earlier today Momma had a "life is good" moment.  One of the first ones since your death.  And, much to my surprise, I wasn't overwhelmed with guilt.  Maybe because I felt your hand, your presence in the moment.  It was the kind of loud, noisy, family moment that might drive other people nuts.  Henry and Zeke were chasing each other around the dining room and knocked a chair over, a home improvement show was blaring on TV, and The Bean was working up to a full volume cry while Dadda tried to clear mucus from one of his tiny nostrils with the "booger sucker."  The house felt full of life, energy.  Family.  I looked around the room with a grin and focused on a picture of you.  There you were, gazing out from the frame with your funny little smile.  I felt you whispering to me, "See Momma?  I've got this covered."

In addition, I got a very subtle, wonderful sign from you tonight.

Background: I've been dreading some of the "second firsts."  Basically, getting back into our old routines.  Routines we established with you, that we will naturally fall back into with your little brother.  One of those routines includes some of your favorite shows on Nick Jr.  While we never watched a ton of television with you, there were particular shows Dadda and I endorsed.  Some fell into our Favorites category because of their emphasis on music, singing and dancing. Yo Gabba Gabba.  The Backyardigans.  Jack's Big Music Show.  Other shows simply had a good learning aspect or taught valuable lessons about being a good person, a friend.  Wonder Pets is the main example in that category.

But, Momma has avoided turning on Nick Jr. over the last year.  I can't bear to watch or even hear the shows, since they bring me right back to the week of your death.  But, Dadda turned the TV in our bedroom to Nick Jr. this morning while he was hanging out with The Bean.  I was in the shower, so I managed to avoid exposure to the shows...until tonight.  I swear, I KNOW I changed the channel.  Yet, somehow it was still on Nick Jr.  And, Wonder Pets happened to be airing.  Before I could change the channel I saw the episode was about an inchworm and his caterpillar best friend.  The caterpillar had disappeared into a cocoon, much to the dismay of her inchworm friend.  The Wonder Pets counseled him to be patient, that his friend would re-emerge, but might be different.  Sure enough, the cocoon started to move, opened up and and TA-DAAAA!  A beautiful butterfly appeared.  Without even thinking, I heard myself say, "Well, hello Peanut.  I get the message...loud and clear."

Maybe you are seeing and feeling just how much I miss you.  That my low periods are less and less frequent, but also more powerful.  That every delightful moment with The Bean reminds me of you - the joy but also the loss.  Loss of time.  Of future.  Of you.

Just know, I see you.  I feel you.  I hear you.  I sense you.  You are everywhere.  In the noise and chaos, the butterflies, the wind chimes, the sighs and smiles of your brother.  But, none of this makes me miss you any less.  I love you, Peanut.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Baby, You're A Star

Peanut -

Since your death I have constantly felt your presence with us through signs, feelings, sounds, memories.  There have been many quotes, poems, personal connections, images - and all carry the same themes.  Butterflies.  Frogs.  Music.  Stars and constellations.  You have appeared to us in all these forms, and you have also been beautifully, delightfully commemorated through frog statues, butterfly wind chimes and dedicated/named stars.

So cool.  Eternal, in their very earthbound way.

In the last few days Momma has connected with a new friend.  A friend who is also grieving her own very sharp, personal loss.  In our correspondence, she reminded me of an Eskimo proverb that brings all these signs, all these remembrances full circle:

"Perhaps they are not stars, but rather openings in heaven where the love of our lost ones pours through and shines down upon us to let us know they are with us."

Peanut, when I gaze at the stars, am visited by a frog image, hear the music of our wind chimes, or see a beeeeyoutiful butterfly I truly believe it is an extension of you.  Your larger than life spirit, sent to earth for such a short time, cannot be contained by the bounds of heaven.

Of course you are reaching out, letting Momma know you're still here.  Still laughing and dancing.  Still embracing your froggies.  Still listening for Momma to read your favorite bedtime stories.  Of course.

I now read your favorite stories to your little brother, and have added some new ones.  I know you're listening.  I am reading to both of you.

To the moon and back, Peanut.  My Peanut.  I love you.  I miss you...desperately.

- Momma

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Love Lessons From My Sons

Peanut -

Today is Valentine's Day.  A day Momma never really paid attention to before the miracle of you.  But then, I became a Momma.  And this day that celebrates love took on a whole new meaning.  It came to symbolize the fierce, selfless, unconditional love I felt for you the moment I felt the first flutter, the first kick, felt your tiny fist for the first time, and gazed into your blue, blue eyes.

We only got to spend one Valentine's Day with you, in 2010.  It was such a sweet day, capped off with a wonderful heart you created at school (OK, at 5 months old I'm sure your teachers did a LOT of the heavy lifting!) that was framed around your little footprints.  That laminated heart became the sign for your bedroom door at home, announcing the door was the entry point to CONNOR'S ROOM!  It was also one of the last, hardest and most heart-breaking items we removed after you died.  I so wanted to keep it posted on your door forever.

Today, Valentine's Day, I reflect on the love lessons I have learned from you, my Peanut.  And from your new little brohter, The Bean

Peanut, from you I learned how to become a Momma.  To love another person, my child, above all else.  I learned that grief is boundless, but love is stronger.  More eternal.  And, I have learned that both can live side by side in your heart.

From your brother I have learned how to hope and feel happiness again.  I have felt the rhythm of motherhood return to my blood and bones.  I have felt my heart, brain and soul heal and form lovely, durable scars.

From both of you I have learned there is no right or perfect way to love and be a Momma.  I have learned that the picture window of my soul, while shattered into thousands of razor sharp pieces, has been reconstructed into something fragile, yet beautiful.  A mosaic that in the eyes of heaven looks like a giant, beautiful butterfly.  That, much like the Hungry Caterpillar, I have been transformed by my two boys.  My sons.

It is truly remarkable what we can learn when our heart is open...

Crying tears of boundless love for you tonight.  I love you, Peanut.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Go Ahead and Grieve...Just Don't Tell Anyone. And, Smile!

Peanut -

Tonight's letter might seem a little scattered.  Momma has a lot of different, but related, things on her mind.  The common theme?  The almost invisible, silken thread that ties all these thoughts together into one complex spiderweb?  How, when, where people grieve.

As your Momma, I was given a lot of space to grieve.  And, an overwhelming amount of support.  I also sought out all the available books, blogs, support groups, therapy, and anything I could find about surviving the loss of a child.  Early on, I made a conscious decision to face my grief head-on.  To walk through the fire and immerse myself in it.  To hit rock bottom, so there was no other direction to go but up.

I was also blessed to have Dadda.  While our grief processes and timelines differed, we have been able to support and understand each other over this past year.  Dadda has been my safe zone, my partner, my best friend.  He understands this loss more than anyone else ever can or will...he's your Dadda.

It struck me recently that we were lucky, in many unexpected ways.  We were expected to grieve.  We were the "bereaved parents."  But, what about the forgotten mourners?  What about all the people who knew and loved you, but were expected to soldier on, as if life and the world were normal and still made sense?

What about your amazing, special teachers?  These ladies spent 3 days each week with you, and I viewed them as your second mothers.  Did they get all the counseling and support I got, or even 10% of those resources?  I doubt it.

What about our friends and co-workers who were a part of your life from before you were even born?  These wonderful friends who shared pictures and stories of you for 16.5 months.  Your light was snuffed out for them like the flip of a light switch.  In addition, they lost a giant part of us, their friends who suffered this loss.  What kind of support was available for them?

Another conversation that has surfaced several times in recent weeks - how grieving has changed over the years.  How older generations simply didn't talk about loss, didn't speak of what happened, how they were feeling.  The name of the child who died was rarely ever uttered, and the bereaved parents buried their grief.  The long term consequences were devastating for the entire family - divorce, substance abuse, suicide, just to name a few.

Many of my older friends and acquaintances have been a little amazed by how openly I speak of you, Peanut.  How Dadda and I are very free with our tears, and our laughter.  That telling your stories makes us light up, smile, cry, pause, laugh.  That speaking to others about how you died, our lack of answers, and the poor treatment by the M.E.'s office has become a mission for us.  That we will work to prevent other parents from having to experience our nightmare.

While I acknowledge that everyone grieves differently, I also need to acknowledge that many aren't given the space to grieve at all.  Peanut, Momma has a new awareness of this universal oversight.  As a result, Momma has a new mission.  To help remember and support all the forgotten mourners.  To offer them love.  An ear.  And a shoulder to lean on.

Peanut, this is yet one more miraculous wave in the ripple of your Peanut Effect.  My amazing little boy who continues to shine brightly - through your sunshine smile, your musical laugh, your effervescent spirit.  I love and miss you soooooo very much - to the moon and back.

- Momma

Friday, February 10, 2012

Punxsutawney Phil, Sock Monkeys and Subway Jingles

Peanut -

At this time last year, Momma was angry.  But, not a normal kind of angry.  This was the type of anger born out of deep, ragged sorrow.  Anger that has no focus, no direction.  Anger looking for a target.  It was also an anger I wanted to keep hidden.  I didn't want people to view me as the grief-stricken Momma who was mad at the world.  Even though, in retrospect, that is exactly what I was.

Dadda and I were grappling with the early, hard truth that we were never going to get any answers about how and why you died.  In addition, we were being stonewalled by the St. Louis County Medical Examiner's office with no returned calls, no communication, no timeline.  Our house had become unbearably silent, and your bedroom was eerily dark and quiet...and beginning to gather dust.  The crib was still stripped bare thanks to the police detectives - a daily reminder of the horrific scene we faced on the morning of January 26.  In short, our world had lost all meaning, void of hope, happiness, or even a reason to get out of bed.

It was too difficult, too vague, to be angry at the universe for taking you away.  That was exhausting and felt fruitless.  So, instead, I chose to direct my anger at anything that struck me as trivial.  Anything that proved to me how unaware the general population was of our loss.  Anything that represented the world moving forward, as if nothing had happened.

So, pretty much everything.

Two of the earliest targets of my rage were 1) Punxsutawney Phil, and all the mindless media coverage of Groundhog Day and 2) Subway and their goofy "Febru-ANY Five Dollar Footlong" commercials.  The television was always on during the early days of our grief, in an attempt to fill the silence of our house.  But, what was worse?  Echoing silence, or the Subway jingle?  It's a miracle our television survived those first weeks without getting a large, lead crystal vase thrown through the screen.

I also had to hide all things related to sock monkeys.  Harmless, happy sock monkeys.  Peanut, I loved to dress you in sock monkey outfits, like the Small Paul line at Target.  And, the brightly colored monkeys always brought a giant smile to your face.  But, the night after your memorial service, Momma made the mistake of putting on her own sock monkey pajamas while she and Dadda sat in front of the fireplace sobbing for hours.  Since that evening, sock monkeys have represented tears, emptiness.

But, the healing snuck up and tapped me on the shoulder this month.  This year I saw the Groundhog Day coverage only briefly, but was too busy with your new brother to pay it any mind.  The Subway commercials are back in heavy rotation, but I've either learned to ignore them or just have too much else going on.  And, last week your little brother received a sock monkey outfit as a gift, and I was delighted.  The goofy smile, the vivid red color - it brought nothing but joy and happy memories.

Tomorrow I will take my old sock monkey pajamas and add them to our Peanut Box.  The box of treasured keepsakes never to be used with your brother, too precious to let go of, too painful to display.  Those pajamas will forever represent happy winter evenings spent with you playing on the TV room floor.  They will also represent the most tragic, difficult "farewell" I've ever had to say.  They are an integral thread in my Peanut fabric.

Peanut, I hope you are proud of us - of me.  I hope you see our healing process and new sense of hope with a smile on your face and a little cheer.  I hope that you understand that you are the motivation, the inspiration, for everything good we are trying to accomplish.  And, more than anything else, I hope you know how much I love you.  To the moon and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Who's In Charge of the BBQ In Heaven?

Peanut -

Since your death, I have had an unshakeable belief that you are in heaven, surrounded by love.  Even in the earliest days of raw, overwhelming grief, I found comfort in that belief, that firm knowledge.  Several people have asked where that belief comes from - in particular, friends who have suffered their own losses over these last months.  In short, it comes from you, Peanut.  From a dream I am convinced you and our family sent in the days after your memorial service.

In this dream I was at a picnic on a sunny, blue-skied afternoon, surrounded by hundreds of people seated at long tables with benches. As I looked around, I realized I knew EVERYONE in attendance. It was my entire family, spanning generations and generations. While I didn't know all the names or faces, my heart understood.  

At the table closest to me, on the left, I saw all my grandparents, with you perched on my grandma's lap. Next to the table was my funny, talented musician uncle, jamming away at the piano while the crowd listened, sang, clapped and laughed. Everyone's attention was focused on you - on welcoming you, giving you hugs, watching you with delight.  And there you were, in the spotlight, glowing with joy, a full wattage smile beaming on your face.  Glorious.

My time at this picnic wasn't nearly long enough.  I only got to stay for a short bit...the family wouldn't let me linger.  It wasn't my time.  They allowed me visit to let me know you were OK.  Cared for and surrounded by family.  And I cried and cried because I wanted to stay in that happy, joyful place with my Peanut. 

When I woke up, my face wet with tears, I knew more firmly than I have ever known or believed anything before, that you are not alone. That you are surrounded by love.  That you will al be there waiting for me to join the music, the party, someday.  Until that day, I am sending you Momma love and the moon and back.  

I miss you, Peanut.

- Momma

Monday, February 6, 2012

The Nape of Your Neck

Peanut -

I miss the soft skin and fuzzy hair at the nape of your neck.  From the time you were born until the last days you were with us, that was your magic soothing spot.  You could be restless, fussy, overly tired, and a little massage of that area would calm you instantly.  As you got older I would combine the neck rub with a shoulder massage, and would give you my best "professional masseuse" voice.  Momma's hands, which are quite small, felt like giant bear paws on your delicate toddler shoulders.  Despite the giggles inspired by my fake accent, your whole body would relax when Momma started the neck/shoulder rub.

Earlier today I was trying to get your little brother ready for a nap.  We were walking around the house, me talking and singing to him, but he was WIDE awake.  Without even thinking about it, I started gently rubbing the nape of his neck, right where his baby soft skin meets the hairline.  He closed his eyes and gave me a contented little coo.

The past and present collided.  I literally stopped in my tracks and had to remind myself what day, what year, it was.  The whole event, which lasted just a few seconds, made Momma's head spin.

These little moments, these reminders, are beautiful and painful.  And they are constant.  I'm learning to expect these triggers, and to appreciate and process them.  They aren't like the awful, unexpected triggers from 12 months ago.  These are kinder, and bring on gentle waves of memories, smells, touch, texture, sounds, emotion.

This is our reality.  This is the reality I need to come to terms with to ensure your brother never feels like a replacement or substitute.  Never feels we love him less.  Never feels overshadowed.  I owe it to him to give him his own rituals, reminders and special moments.  But also recognize he will share many events and routines with his big brother, Peanut.  The neck/shoulder rub is going to be one of those shared experiences.

Peanut, the presence of your brother is so healing.  But, in so many ways, holding him makes me miss you more than ever before.  Still, I know you're here, present in every moment.  Tonight, I go to bed with vivid memories of your tiny shoulders, the downy soft nape of your neck, and those wonderful, peaceful moments.  I miss you.  I love you.  To the moon and back.

- Momma

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Someday We Will All Fly Together

Peanut -

Last night Dadda gave me the most wonderful, special gift.  A necklace.  A Momma necklace with two silver hand-stamped discs and a large mother-of-pearl disc.  The messages Dadda chose for the two stamped discs are so meaningful, so thoughtful, so perfect.  I'm not sure I'll ever take the necklace off.  Ever.

You see, Peanut, this necklace is the first item that represents our little family.  It names you, your baby brother, Dadda and Momma.  But, more than that, it symbolizes the fact that we will be together for eternity.  That this time on earth, this time when we are physically separated, is just temporary.

The inscription on the larger disc is the title of tonight's posting: Someday we will all fly together.  Dadda wrote that message while talking to The Bean one night about his big brother.  He explained that in heaven we will all fly together, a family of butterflies.  I love that thought, that image.  And, I believe it.

Peanut, this necklace is so much more than just something I will wear around my neck.  It speaks for my heart, and our future.  In just one short day it has brought me thousands of tears - tears of joy, remembrance, loss, hope.

As I cradled your little brother in my arms this afternoon, I discovered he was fast asleep on my chest, fiercely gripping the necklace in his little fist.  In that moment, the broken circle of our little family came together in flawed perfection.

Missing your smiles, your funny little grunts, your electric blue eyes, your expressive little hands, your amazing blonde hair, your furrowed brows, and everything else that is so perfectly Peanut.  With Momma love, to the moon and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Remembering All The "Little" Moments

Peanut -

I knew your little brother would bring happiness back into our lives, our hearts.  I knew bringing him into our house would make it feel like a home again.  I knew he would teach me to once again embrace hope - to not fear the future.  But, I never could have guessed how much closer he would make me feel to you.  How every tiny moment with him brings all the memories of our first weeks with you rushing back with powerful, sharp clarity.

And, it is wonderful.

As I sit up feeding him a bottle in the quiet 3:00 am darkness of our house, I remember those same predawn mornings with you.  We would cuddle on the couch, me trying in vain to get a little burp from you while "Cold Case Files" played on TV.  Your brother, just like you, finds comfort snuggling on my chest with his face buried in my neck.  Like you, refusing to burp!

Last week I found myself unconsciously massaging his teeny toes and feet while he napped in my arms.  With each caress, The Bean's toes curled around my fingers then stretched in comforted delight.  Oh Peanut, you and your little feet used to do exactly the same thing.  How could I have forgotten that delightful detail?

And, while The Bean bears an uncanny resemblance to you - in appearance and mannerisms - he is also so totally unique.  At two weeks old, he is already eating almost 4 ounces per feeding.  FOUR ounces!  He is already holding his head up with very little support from Momma.  And, the other night I watched him get himself flipped onto his side, despite the constraints of his Halo Sleep Sack.  Like you, he gets this determined little furrow in his brow until he accomplishes whatever mission he has set his mind to...I fear you both inherited that from Momma!

Peanut, I desperately wish I could watch you with your brother.  I suspect you would be fascinated by this new little life.  I can picture you gripping his tiny hand, stroking his fuzzy little head, and rubbing his toes.  However, I suspect you are doing all those things from heaven.  And, I suspect you come here to visit every chance you get.  Already, there are times when I see your brother gazing over my shoulder with a knowing little smile on his face...I'm pretty sure he's looking at you.  He stares at the pictures of you with such an intense gaze that I'm convinced he already knows you well.

More than anything, I now know in my heart that you aren't mad or jealous of this new presence, this new brother.  That you had a big hand in him being here.  That you are more present thanks to his arrival.  That he is bringing you back to us in ways I didn't even realize we had forgotten.  For all these things, I am intensely grateful.

Peanut, you continue to teach me how to be a better Momma and a better person every single day.  Sending you love and thanks across the universe and the the moon and back.

- Momma