Saturday, June 30, 2012

How'd Ya Get Those Peepers?!

Peanut -

Last night Dadda and I were marveling over your little brother's eyes.  The evening sun was streaming through the windows and we noticed how sharp, vibrant, and intensely blue they have turned in the last month.  They have morphed from a deep navy to electric, tropical ocean blue.  The kind of blue you want to dive into.  The kind of blue that dances.  The kind of blue that reminds Momma of you.

Peanut, your eyes were the most true, honest shade of blue I've ever experienced.  When I would gaze into your eyes I saw the future.  Endless possibilities.  I saw your spark, your humor, your intelligence all shine through those eyes.

I never could have imagined that flame being extinguished so soon.  I never could have imagined looking into those eyes after you went to heaven and just knowing.  Feeling in my heart what my brain couldn't process.  You were gone.

As I watch your brother grow into his own funny little person, I can't help but replay these same moments and milestones with you.  In that moment of evening sunshine, looking into his bottomless blue eyes, the loss of you crushed my heart.  Every ounce of love and grief crashed down on Momma's shoulders and echoed in my brain, my soul.  How can you be gone?  How could my amazing, alive, razor-sharp Peanut be gone?

We have children because we believe in the future.  We have children because we want to share our love, our lives.  We have children always believing they will outlive us.  We have children because we hope.

To lose a child is unthinkable.  To have lost my Peanut is truly unbelievable...unimaginable.  I hear myself wondering, "Did this really happen?"

I look back over the last 17 months and am shocked to realize...we survived.  We are still here.  We have welcomed The Pickle and are blessed to have his joy, his smile.  Through him we have been able to relive and rediscover the joy of you, our Peanut.

Sometimes the parallel experiences are confusing, jarring.  More often, though, they are truly delightful.    Because, I feel you in those moments.

Peanut, with every day that passes I miss you more.  And, I love you more.  How much?  To the mooooooooooooooon and back!

- Momma

Peanut's 6-month photos.  Oh...those blue peepers!

Pickle's 5-month photo.  Turning bluer by the day.

Monday, June 25, 2012


Peanut -

It's been almost a week since Momma's last letter.  There has been so much going through my brain it's been hard to put words to "paper."  It seems everywhere I look there is a reminder of you, of the lack of you, of what you're missing.  Of what I'm missing.

The second year without you is hard.

This should be your third summer.  You should be right on the cusp of turning 3 years old.

You should be riding that awesome tricycle Dadda bought for your first birthday.  You wouldn't need us to use the push-handle anymore since you would be powering around all on your own.

You should be learning to swim this summer.  Not just basic floating and survival skills, but truly learning some of the strokes, and how to paddle around the pool on your own.

You should be getting yourself dressed in the morning, with very little assistance from Momma and Dadda.

You should be holding funny, little conversations with us and using adjectives like a pro.

You should be blowing bubbles in the side yard for Henry the Dog to chase.

You should be chasing fireflies in the orange glow of dusk, and watching the deer in our yard with wonder and delight.

As Momma sat by the side of our pool on Sunday afternoon, the image of you running across our pool deck to cannonball into the pool played endlessly in my head.  The Pickle was upstairs sleeping, and Henry decided to come out to take a dip with me.  He must have sensed the sadness surrounding Momma - he must have gotten a little nudge from you, Peanut.  In the near 100-degree heat, Henry exited the pool to come rest by Momma's side, with his head on my knee.  I placed my left hand on his head, and cried a long, soft cry for you.

The second year without you is hard.

I'm pretty sure every year without you is going to be hard.

Peanut, my heart isn't sure how to lift this heavy load.  It is sad, ragged.  But also hopeful and filled with love for you and The Pickle.  It is attempting to heal, even though the scars keep getting torn off just when I think true healing has started.

I love and miss you every second.  I love you, I love you, I love you.  How much?  To the MOON and back!

- Momma

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Tempting Fate or Defying Fear?

Peanut -

The last several days have been filled with an odd anxiety.  The kind of anxiety I suspect is only felt by those who have lost someone particular parents who have found their children the way we found you.  The most innocent moments become reminders.  Reminders that become signs, symbols, harbingers of death.  And we are faced with a decision point - do you avoid those actions, those reminders?  Do you scurry around them, hoping not to tempt fate?  Or, do you stare them directly in the eye and defy your fear not knowing what outcome you might cause?

On Saturday Momma took a bold, painful step forward.  I changed the picture on my MacBook's desktop.  <sigh>  The black/white picture of me holding you from your 1-year photos has been replaced by a Crayola-colorful picture of The Pickle.  A picture that brings a grin to my face every time I open my laptop.  A photo that reminds me how beautiful life still is, and how you are still very present in this new, amazing little boy.  Still, the guilt was - is - overwhelming.

On Father's Day we hosted a large gathering of friends and family at the house.  Your house.  A house that has been shrouded in sadness and tears for so many months.  A house that has stood silent in remembrance.  A house that on Sunday shook with laughter, running children, shouting teenagers, and adults telling stories over sangria and cocktails.

Then, last night, Momma decided to outfit The Pickle in the green, froggy sleepsack that has been waiting, alone and unused in his jammie drawer for the last five months.  You see, Peanut, froggies are YOUR thing.  We've been careful to avoid frogs with The Pickle.  To help him find HIS thing, his animal, his lovie.  But last night I decided to "break the spell."  After he went to bed, I looked out our kitchen window only to see two froggies staring right back at me.  Terror filled my heart...TWO froggies?  What could that mean?!  Has Pickle joined his brother in heaven????  But then a sense of calm covered Momma like a blanket of peace.  Letting me know, "Momma, it's OK.  I'm watching and it's OK.  I know you have to keep on living.  I know.  I hear you.  It's OK."

Still, I didn't sleep a wink all night.  And, was relieved when The Pickle was fine this morning.

Peanut, every moment of every day is filled with you.  Every action is for you.  Every thought and word is influenced by you.  I talk to you constantly, and look for your guidance, approval, blessing.  And I love you more than I ever thought possible.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

Love you, Peanut -

The former desktop picture that still resides next to our bed, and in the kitchen, and in my profile photos...

and the new desktop picture of...The Pickle!


Saturday, June 16, 2012

Children's Heaven

Peanut -

As Momma has struggled to make sense of life - of a world - without you, I have stumbled across a whole belief system I wasn't aware I possessed.  The instant, unexpected, still unexplained loss of you, loss of my planned future, has forced me to ask a lot of introspective questions.  The quick, steady sureness of the answers has surprised me.

I am positive you are still with us, watching and smiling over us from heaven.  And not just any heaven. I now know I believe in a very special heaven for children.  A place where you can run and tumble without fear of broken bones or scary strangers.  A place where everyone laughs and holds hands and plays together regardless of race or religion.  A place of sunshine and comfort.  A place where you can wait for us.

You have been there for over 500 days.  And, I know you, Peanut.  You are probably the designated Greeter.  With your love of hugs, I'm sure every child who arrives receives a giant Peanut-style hug, a glowing, toothy smile and the assurance that this is Children's Heaven.

Someone asked me last week what I think you and I will look like when we meet again.  Without hesitation I answered, "Exactly the way we looked at Peanut's 1-year photo shoot."  You with your blonde curls and grass green shirt that emphasized your electric blue eyes.  Me wearing a pair of sunglasses and jeans, and those shoes with the metal buttons that made you laugh.  Sunshine and a warm breeze blowing through our hair.  And a smile only love can create.

That's what I believe.

I miss you terribly today.  The warm summer weather brings back every wonderful moment of the summer of 2010.  You grew into a toddler that summer.  You found your voice, learned to say "Up!"and discovered the power of laughter.  This summer should have been your third.  You should be learning to swim, and playing with lighting bugs.  Instead, I am left with my memories, imagination, and still healing broken heart.  And the knowledge that I believe in heaven.

I love you, Peanut.  To the moooooooooooooon and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

A Stone Takes Flight

Peanut -

You officially have a butterfly with your name on it.  Well, sort of.  This butterfly is a rather heavy stone, and your name happens to be carved on it.  But, it is perfect.  Its existence, its presence, gives Momma's heart wings.

This memorial is one more way you will live on across time.  It is situated outside the St. Louis Butterfly House, close to a giant carousel and playground.  Momma imagines thousands of children over the years running, skipping, laughing as they dance across your stone.  Some may stop, pause, read.  They might notice the hearts surrounding your name.  Maybe they will think to themselves, "What a pretty stone."  Or, "Look at those hearts - those mean LOVE!"  Or, maybe the older children will do the math and wonder, "Why - how - did he die so young?"

Your name will pass the lips of people who never got to know you and your spirit, your smile.  But they will read your name and know you created a legacy of love.  That a very, very special little boy inspired this stone.

I have to mention in the midst of unveiling of this stone, Momma encountered a tremendous, unthinking act of hurt.  One of the event organizers - who knows about our grief - took one look at Momma last night and asked, "Oh!  Do you know what you're having?"  And she touched my stomach.  The tummy that gave birth to Pickle close to 5 months ago.  Momma's 40 year old tummy.  The tummy I've been trying to work off by running and lifting weights for the last month.  Never mind I was pushing a stroller holding The Pickle.  Never mind I told her about Pickle's birth.  Never mind we were at an event paying tribute to you, your absence, your death.  What a thoughtless, cruel few words she uttered.  One sentence and Momma shut down for the night.  The next day.  Maybe even the next week.

I am now trying to focus on the beauty of the tribute.  The joy of you and your smile.  The hope brought to us by The Pickle.  In short, Momma's heart is trying to fly on the wings of this lovely stone.

Peanut, I wish I weren't so fragile.  I have to remind myself, though, that I cry because I love and miss you so much.  How much?  To the mooooooon and back.

- Momma

Your stone - through the eyes of Instagram.

The Pickle smiling as he sees your stone!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

500 Days...Without Peanut

Peanut -

As the song from Rent asks, "How do you measure a life?"

In years, weeks, days, hours, minutes and seconds?  In meals, naps, baths, milestones?  Maybe.  But I tend to agree with the song.  Measure in love.

Today marks 500 days of life without you and your physical presence on this earth.  Tomorrow we will wake up and have to face day 501.  The beginning of a new chapter.  Of officially surviving life longer than the time we were blessed to hug, kiss and hold you.

But to summarize you and your life in days, in the number 500, isn't sufficient.  It doesn't even begin to scratch the surface of the impact you made on this world.  This family.  This Momma.  Your Peanut Effect.

The love you gave so freely, the love you opened in my heart, the new brand of love you created in our family, and the eternal love we have discovered in your loss - a love that transcends the bounds of this world.  That love is a much more accurate measurement of your life.  Because it continues to exist.  YOU continue to exist even though we can't see you.  Can't hug you.  But we can feel you.

Peanut, I feel your presence every day.  You are in everything I do, every decision I make, every smile I give, every laugh, every hug.  When I'm faced with a moment of frustration, sadness, or a flash of anger, I feel you enter my heart.  I feel your warmth and sunshine and I

Today is one of those milestones I marked on the calendar and have been anticipating.  Dreading.  As we've discovered over and over again throughout these 500 days, the anticipation is worse than facing the actual moment, the actual day.  Today will come and today will pass.  Tomorrow the sun will rise.  We will still exist in a world without you, our Peanut.  But, we have you in our hearts, minds.  Your Peanut Effect envelopes us in love.

I spent part of this morning looking back through all your photos, through all your antics and goofiness.  Your giant, toothy smiles and head-thrown-back laughter.  My heart remembers your overwhelming energy and zest for life.  And I smile through my tears.

Peanut, I love you sooooooo much.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

A giant, perfectly Peanut smile.  

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Yep, I'm Crazy

Peanut -

Momma had a face-to-face meeting with her own irrational craziness today.  It snuck up in the most innocent way, without drama, fussiness or tears.  It just...was.

So, Momma was making plans with Aunt D to meet up after work.  Just a glass of wine and some catch-up time.  As we batted around locations to meet, we mentioned one of our favorite wine bars...but noticed we had both avoided bringing it up.  Why?  Because it is right next door to the restaurant where we had dinner on January 25, 2011.  A Tuesday night.  The last night I got to hug you and hear you whisper, "Momma."

Peanut, I've always been a little superstitious.  A little too focused on patterns and coincidence.  The mere thought of meeting Aunt D after work (not a Tuesday, mind you) at a location close to that restaurant was...well...unthinkable.  Not even a consideration.  I didn't even bat an eye when I said, "No way."

Irrational?  Yes.
Crazy? Yes.
Part of what now feels normal and right? Yes.

We wound up meeting at a location in a totally different part of town, and in many ways made sure it was a VERY different evening from that January night.  But I type this post my brain is worried.  What if Momma has set a series of events in motion?  What if my lack of presence at home tonight will somehow cause The Pickle to not wake up tomorrow?

I made sure I got home in plenty of time to hold him, love on him, let him fall asleep in my arms tonight.  I kissed him and told him over and over again, "I love you."  Just in case.

That is life now.  That is normal.  This need to always say "I love you."  To always live like this is our last moment, our last night, our last "goodnight."  Just in case.

Am I irrational?  Yes.
Am I crazy? Yes.
Is this the "new" normal? Yes.

Peanut, I am forever thankful for my out-of-character actions the night before you died.  My need to go into your room when I heard you fussing, rather than let you "cry it out."  Singing to you and giving you those final kisses.  Those Peanut hugs and the final, "Momma" you whispered in my ear.  The fact that I did get to tell you how much I loved you.  How could I have known it would be our last night?  But...I believe you fell asleep knowing how much your Momma loves you.

Oh, how I wish you were still here with your adorable laugh, toothy grin and expressive little eyebrows.  How I wish I could talk to you.  Hug you.  Read you a book.  I can't wait to see you in heaven...I can't wait to scoop you up and say to you in person:

"Peanut!  Guess how much I love you?  To the moooooooooooooon - and back!"

And you will whisper in my ear, "Momma...I love you too..."

- Momma

Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Perfect Swinging Tree

Peanut -

Today The Pickle got to experience one of your favorite summer treats.  The tree swing!  YOUR tree swing!  Deeeeeeeeelightful!

Long before Dadda and Momma got married, we spotted the tree in our yard that would house that swing. Dadda declared it "a great swinging' tree" and we imagined our kids swinging from the branches.  That first spring with you - your only spring - we ran out on the first warm, sunny day and found your Little Tikes swing.  Electric blue, fire engine red with sunflower yellow straps...just the sight of it made us smile.  Dadda promptly headed to the side yard to that magic tree, secured it on a chain, and plopped you in the seat for an afternoon of swinging...that led to a full summer of swinging.  Even on the hottest summer afternoons, The Perfect Swinging Tree provided shade, cover and the right amount of cool breeze.  You would grin, laugh and kick your feet in delight while the swing rocked you back and forth and back and forth.

Last summer The Perfect Swinging Tree sat alone, empty in the yard.  The chain from your swing hung limp, barren, waiting for someone to attach a swing and the little boy who went with it.  Momma couldn't bear to even walk under the tree since it had lost its purpose.  Its joy.  Its raison d'ĂȘtre.  The memories were simply too sharp.

The swing was transported to Grandma and Grandpa's house, along with your pool float, high chair, stroller and many other items.  And there it sat in the basement, covered with a large, translucent plastic tarp.  Until yesterday.

Little by little we've been bringing your items back home to share with The Pickle.  Rather than sadness, we now see joy returning to these items.  We feel you sharing with your little brother, touching his life in ways only an Angel Brother can.  And this morning, while The Pickle got his first taste of The Perfect Swinging Tree in your Crayola colored swing, I watched a giant orange butterfly wing across the side yard, through the branches and over Momma's head.

"Hi Peanut!"

You are here, swinging right along with us.  All the time.

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

Peanut, June 2010

The Pickle, June 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Pressure of Flowers

Peanut -

Today has been a hard, hard day.  Why?  Hmmmm....The Pickle has decided Dadda is MUCH better than Momma in terms of hugs, kisses and general affection.  In addition, Momma has witnessed some disappointing behavior at the office.  On top of everything else, I still don't feel well.

Add to that the pressure of....what to do with all the flowers.  The dried, pressed versions of the beautiful flowers we received after you passed away.  After all this time, why do I feel pressure now?  We hit 500 Days Without You on June 9, 2012 that's why.  How can that be?  How can it be that 500 days will have passed and I still have a basket full of pressed flowers?  I had so many ideas, so many plans.  A shadow box.  A series of framed scenes.  Black and white photos.  Yet, they are still in the basket.

[Readers, I am asking for ideas.  Suggestions.  Does anyone have thoughts around how I can create a beautiful tribute with these dried flowers?  I've scoured Pinterest and have some vague ideas, but nothing compelling.]

Peanut, I cried for you tonight in a way I haven't experienced in weeks.  I have now realized it isn't going to get easier.  It is only going to become more a part of integrating the sorrow into everyday life.  Along with the joy brought by The Pickle.

I love and miss you terribly, sweet Peanut.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma