Friday, November 30, 2012

Losing Another Piece of My Peanut

Peanut -

Zeke is missing.  He has been gone for 3 days, and there has been no sign of him.  Your sweet, rough & tumble kitteh kah...gone.  With no warning.  No good-bye.  This loss has torn Momma's heart to pieces.  It feels so familiar.  Too familiar.

This was YOUR cat.  As long as we had him here, I felt like we had a bridge between time, eras, children.  Zeke knew you.  And he knows your little brother.  Momma could tell he saw the similarities...he sought to interact with The Pickle just like he was constantly drawn in by your gravitational pull.

This loss of Zeke has taken Momma to a strange place.  I find myself wondering, "Are we cursed?  Is it this house?  Has loss just decided to dig in and own us?"

Despite all that, I still have hope.  Flyers were created and printed act that reminded Momma of creating the handout for your memorial service.  Then there were phones calls to all the local Humane Societies and registration with St. Louis Lost Pets.  Oddly, that brought up memories of dealing with the organ donation people in the aw moments after you were pronounced dead.

In the midst of this funk, a quote landed on Momma's radar screen that made me stop and realize...this is life now.  Life is that ridiculous "new normal."  The losses and pain will continue.  My challenge: To continue to strive to seek strength, grace and the potential positive outcomes.  Oh, and the quote:

"She was no longer wrestling with the grief, but could sit down with it as a lasting companion and make it a sharer in her thoughts." 

- George Eliot

Perfect, right?

Peanut, please send a beacon of light to guide Zeke home if he is still out there, wandering.  Please give him a heavenly hug if he has joined you in that special heaven reserved for children and pets.  Those special beings who love us unconditionally.

I miss and love you bunches of noodles.  How much is that?  Well, it is to the moon - and back.

- Momma

The Zekester

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Three Balloons

Peanut -

I am picturing you sitting on a cloud in heaven, holding 3 blue balloons.  Balloons we sent to you yesterday, after taking the family pictures we never got around to scheduling when you were here.  Yesterday we gathered Momma, Dadda, your sister and all your brothers and braved a 28 degree St. Louis morning along with the phenomenal photographer Heidi Drexler.  And you were there too.  In the form of a blue balloon.

Why THREE balloons?  Well, because Momma is an idiot.  We did have one solitary balloon but Momma opened her car window without anchoring it down.  And, it was so excited to visit you it simply zoomed up and out, straight to heaven.  So your oldest brother quickly ran to get another, and wisely purchased two so we would have a backup balloon.

In photo after photo your balloon bounced and danced in the wind.  Pictures with your siblings, the whole family, Dadda and all his kids, and finally sitting around your special butterfly paver stone.  The Pickle was fascinated by your balloons, so at the end of the shoot we gave him the strings while we all looked to the sky.  "Hi Peanut!"  Then we helped him release the balloons as we waved and called after them, "Bye Peanut!  Bye balloons!"

And Momma hid her tears with a pair of sunglasses.

This on the heels of another Thanksgiving without you.  In anticipation of another Christmas without you.  Momma started Christmas and birthday gift shopping for your brother yesterday.  Such an odd sensation to be shopping for gifts for a first birthday again.  For a 12 month old.  To not be shopping for TWO little boys.  I can't help but pretend to shop for you...for a 3 year old boy.  Let me tell ya, Peanut, you would be into some pretty cool toys and gadgets.  It is so tempting to just give in and buys gifts for you.  To suspend reality for a few moments.

But no...that would be more painful in the end when reality comes crashing down with all its brutal weight.  

Instead I choose to keep your spirit alive.  Momma talks about you a lot.  While it may be uncomfortable for some people, Momma has come to realize that is THEIR issue.  Not mine.  People need to know you.  To understand what a beautiful impact you had - and still have - on this earth.  Thanks to The Compassionate Friends, Momma now wears a blue wristband in your memory that states, "Forever in my heart."  It prompts questions, and Momma is happy to share.

Peanut, I hope you feel the love I'm sending you.  I hope you hear my words, and can touch my tears.  Tears of love, tears of remembrance, tears of thanks, tears of sorrow, tears of hope.  Guess how much I love you, Peanut.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Despite All We Have Lost, Life Is Good

Peanut -

The title of today's letter represents a thought that has been swirling around in Momma's head for the last few days.  It's a thought that brings equal amounts of guilt and happiness.  Guilt in that I shouldn't even begin to think "life is good" when we don't have you in our arms, growing older day by day.  Happiness in that we/I live each day to honor you, to surround The Pickle with love, and to be better people.

Here in the United States of America we are preparing to kick off the holiday season with Thanksgiving.  Last year Momma truly couldn't face the holiday season and spent most of these weeks merely gritting her teeth and surviving.  My only goal was to get to the birth of The Pickle.  That was my beacon of light.  This year is different.  We have your brother who is fascinated by the early Christmas lights and decorations which has, in turn, gotten us excited to decorate and celebrate.  We have a new family-owned business.  We seem to have more stability...a new sense of being grounded.  Maybe it's because we are also approaching the two year mark of your passing...two years...unimaginable.

This November Thanksgiving holiday also carries with it the obvious question: What are you thankful for this year?  To be perfectly frank, I couldn't answer that question last year.  While I was excited for The Pickle's arrival, I wasn't sure I was truly thankful for, well, anything.  And this year I am thankful to have that perspective.  It gives Momma a whole new sense of the word "thankful."  I am fortunate to be here, alive and healthy and surrounded by friends, family, a great husband, a wonderful Pickle and the spirit of my amazing Peanut.  Quite simply, I am thankful to be thankful.

I am thankful for you.  You made me a Momma.  You taught me the meaning of Momma Love.  You taught me to laugh and dance and be crazy - even when people are watching.  You taught me to want nothing for myself and everything for someone else.  You taught me how to grieve and survive.  You taught me how to display grace even in my darkest moments.  You gave me a new world.

When people look at me and think, "Oh, she's so strong" or "Wow, she much be over the loss of her child" or "She must be medicated" I simply want to say - "No.  I am simply Peanut's Momma."

I've been reading "Guess How Much I Love You" to your brother.   When we get to the end I point to your picture and to the sky.  I'm pretty sure he gets it.  I'm pretty sure you feel the love we send your way each and every night.  How much love?  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

A photo fron right before Thanksgiving 2010.  See Peanut's "shiner?"  He got that right before Halloween trying to walk around our coffee table.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Building New Memories...

Peanut -

This last week has been full of highs and lows.  Moments where I've caught myself laughing without reserve, and moments where I've surprised myself by bursting into tears while shopping.  Times where I have caught myself confusing The Pickle with you, times where I have envisioned you are still here and times when I have berated myself for seeming so "fine."

There are three moments Momma is going to focus on in this letter:
1) shopping at Baby Gap on Friday
2) opening the mail Friday afternoon
3) Saturday morning at home with The Pickle

On Friday afternoon Momma and Pickle wound up at THE MALL to return a few items and shop for some small gifts.  Your brother was captivated by all the holiday lights and decorations, and THE MALL itself wasn't too crowded.  So, Momma decided to duck into Baby Gap.  Just to look.  For Dadda's birthday we are taking a family photo after Thanksgiving and we need something for The Pickle to wear, right?  That was the thought.  But, Momma found herself standing there with a sweater in her hands meant for a 3 year-old.  And then another.  And then a pair of jeans.  And then...wham!  It hit me.  You will always be in our spirit.  As a balloon.  A baseball cap.  Hopefully a ray of light that finds his way into the frame.  But...there won't be a Peanut sweater or shirt or "picture outfit."

This moment was interrupted by a timid hand and shaking voice, "'am?  Are you OK?"  Oh jeez.  I'm still in the store. And she just called me ma'am.  Damn, on so many levels.

Later on Friday afternoon The Pickle and I returned home and fetched the mail.  Oh look - a card!  Personal mail is very exciting for Momma.  I opened the mail and...exhale...a special card.  I cannot even express or describe this amazing gift, this tribute,  so a picture is included.  What I will say to my friend and to everyone who reads this this...THANK YOU.  Thank you for remembering.

Which brings us to Saturday morning.  Dadda left to do work at his newly opened restaurant (big news!) so the day was unplanned and open for me and The Pickle.  He took an awesome nap, woke up, ate lunch and had a phenomenal diaper blowout.  Momma thought this would be the perfect time for a bleach bath...even though we were expecting a FedEx package (note: this is foreshadowing, folks).  Off came the diaper, into the sink went The Pickle, diaper safely placed to the side.  Until...

WHOA!  Here comes Henry the Dog!  Up on the counter!  Diaper in his mouth, off and running!  Poop everywhere!  Knock, knock, knock.  Are you kidding me?  The FedEx guy is here now?  Pull The Pickle out of the sink, wet and naked.  Football carry.  Chase the dog.  Give the FedEx guy the "thumbs up."  He gestures back...and throws the package at the door and runs for his life.  Grab the dog and diaper.  Crate the dog.  Bag the diaper.  Get The Pickle back in the bath and wait for some sort of "protective service" to arrive at the front door...or counseling for that poor FedEx kid.  And, realize...we are making new, funny memories.  Memories we will share forever.  Just like all the memories we have with you.

I'm not sure how I feel about that.

Peanut, there is so much to say.  So much to process every day.  But my message to you tonight is this - you have taught me to find joy and tears in remembrance.  And to embrace the future actions that will build tomorrow's memories.  Yesterday, today and tomorrow...they are all one.

I love you sweet, funny, loving Peanut.  I love that I see more and more of you in The Pickle.  I love that I see you protecting him.  I miss you...and love you.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Slaying Dragons

Peanut -

Momma has been offline for the last week.  Partially due to the terrible US election coverage and related hatred which I found truly distasteful, but primarily thanks to a major Momma Life Decision.  Momma had LASIK surgery and the recovery period required no computer time due to eye strain.  I know...holy cannoli...Momma did it!

Peanut, in the months after you were born Momma complained constantly about the inconvenience of contacts and glasses.  My eyesight is (was) bad enough that I couldn't function without some type of correction but contacts were drying and uncomfortable, and glasses were a source of fun and fascination for you.  Yes, you loved to gnaw on my frames!  I talked constantly about overcoming my fear of laser eye surgery.  I talked incessantly about "getting around to it."  But, well, I never did.  And was too late.  You were gone.

Fast forward to the summer of 2012.  Once again, Momma was complaining - like a broken record - about glasses and contacts and discomfort.  Promising - once again - to get her eyes fixed.  Someday...

Here's the thing.  We don't know what tomorrow will bring.  And if your death has taught Momma ONE thing it is to seize the day.  Overcome the fear.  Commit and make a decision.  Slay the dragon!

And now I can wake up in the morning or from a nap and I can see your brother, the rise and fall of his chest, confirmation that he is alive and glasses.  No contacts.  And it brings a new, odd sense of relief.

And then today Momma battled another demon.  Speaking in front of large audiences.  For the last 22 months crowds have been the enemy.  Frightening, really.  They have reminded me of your Memorial Service and the unwelcome spotlight brought by your passing.  So when I was asked to emcee an event at work for 1500 people the first response was NO WAY.  But then I realized...I have a Guardian Angel.  A Peanut Angel sitting on my shoulder, cheering me on, soothing my heart and calming my nerves.  Today was the day. felt OK.  Almost good.  Why?  Because I felt you there with me.

Peanut, you continue to make me a better person, a better Momma, a kinder more gentle soul.

How is it that I think I miss you more now than I even have before?  <sigh>  Thank you for being in my heart, soul and mind every moment of every day.  I love you sweet boy.  How much?  To the mooooooooooon - and back!

- Momma