Saturday, December 29, 2012

Lunch with My Boys

Peanut -

Today was a big day.  A day that merged past and present, in a heart-warming, heart-breaking, delightful and sorrowful moment.  Today your brother ate his first grilled cheese sandwich.  Actually, he shared a sandwich with Momma.  Just like you and I used to do on Friday afternoons together.

As Momma sliced up bite-sized bits of the sandwich for your brother, your presence was overwhelmingly strong.  You were on my shoulder whispering words of encouragement in my ear.  You were in the ray of sunshine that chose that instant to break through our grey, overcast day.  You were in the peals of laughter that escaped from your brother's lips and rang through the house.  You were in the slow, unsure grin that spread across his face as he discovered the wonder of grilled cheese.

Momma is going to savor this moment.  A moment that didn't evoke tears, but, rather, a giant Momma smile, burst of laughter and a wistful sigh.  This moment drove home for my heart and brain that you are here.  You are always here.  With us, around us, inside us...surrounding us.

I just had to share this moment to say, "Thank you, my Peanut."  With bunches and noodles of love.  How much love is that?  To the moon - and back, of course!

- Momma

Peanut, October 23, 2010...almost 14 months old.  

The Pickle, December 29, 2012...getting close to his first birthday.

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Happy Holidays?

Peanut -

This holiday season has been both wonderful and terrible.  Momma's heart doesn't know how to process the joy of The Pickle's first Christmas against the heart-wrenching fact that you aren't here for what should be your fourth Christmas.  Add to that the horrific events in Connecticut and it just leaves Momma do we celebrate authentically without bitterness in our hearts?

For our family, I believe hosting a separate celebration for you - for your Peanut Tree - has been essential.  It allows us to honor you during this season, show our grief and share memories on a day that is not Christmas.  It also opens the door to talk about you.  So by Christmas day our friends and family aren't so worried about uttering your beautiful name.  Connor. Peanut. To share their funny memories of you.  To remember an outfit, a toy, an expression...and to recognize something similar in your brother.

I know it scares all of us to think about the next few weeks.  In 2010 and 2011 these were the weeks leading up to your death...little did we know.  Everyone is now watching The Pickle with hyper-sensitie eyes.  What is that cough?  That runny nose?  But, here's what I know.  The Pickle has a guardian angel who got him through a bout with RSV last week with flying colors.  An angel named Peanut, his big brother.

Momma wonders if the families in Newtown, CT are feeling the presence of their angels.  Are they seeing the signs that were so important to Momma and Dadda in the months after you passed away?

I wonder how this holiday season has felt for those families.  Are presents still wrapped, waiting patiently for tiny hands to open them?  Will those same presents remain wrapped for days, weeks...years?  Will future gifts be purchased by grief-striken parents who just want their children back home in their arms?  <sigh>  Momma still buys little gifts for you, items I think you would enjoy or that remind me of you.  Sometimes they wind up in your special Peanut trunk, sometimes they get donated to charity.  But they always soothe Momma's heart.

Today I choose to remember your sunshine smile, your musical laughter, and the joy and love you opened in my heart.  Today I send that love to the families torn apart by tragedy and loss...I send them the strength to walk through the fire of their grief, to stare it in the face, and to wake up each day and put one foot in front of the other.

Today - like every day - I send you my fierce Momma love.  How much love?  To the moon, Peanut - and back.

- Momma

Peanut and Dadda, the week before Christmas 2009.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Hanging On To Hope

Peanut -

Momma has been simply unable to post any letters since Friday, December 14...a day that never should have happened.  A day when the unthinkable became reality.  The day 20 new angels joined you in Children's Heaven in a horrific, violent, tragic series of events.  The day that re-opened wounds in the hearts of other bereaved parents across the world.  Parents who thought they were healing. Parents like your Momma.

In a moment Momma was brought back to January 26, 2011.  The beginning of our journey.  The utter un-reality of your loss.  The required motions of memorial service plans and questions - how should the obituary read, flowers or charitable donations, bury or cremate, sermon or none, songs or prayers, ask people to speak or just the minister?  All while coming home to a house that was empty.  Hollow.  Too quiet.  Life had lost all meaning and Momma was answering questions that seemed senseless.  Pointless.

It's hard to imagine what the families in Connecticut are experiencing.  Their loss is so violent.  So public.  And it involves whole groups of families...Momma can only hope they are able to support each other over the upcoming days, months and years.  But, well, they are probably sill in the place of surviving minute by minute, hour by hour.

After drying our tears last weekend, Momma and Dadda hosted the 2nd Annual Peanut Tree Open House.  We had over 40 family and friends join us to decorate your special tree with ornaments and stories about you....remembrances we will relive each year and share with your brother.  These are the events that help keep your spirit alive and now make Momma smile.  Peanut, your tree is...beautiful.  Breathtaking.  Perfect.

Yet just when we think we're feeling better - wait!  There's more!

Yesterday, while Momma was goofing around with the Pickle after a full day at daycare he was overcome by a terrifying 2-minute coughing fit.  At one point he looked at Momma with "panic eyes" which triggered the need to get him in to the doctor today.  And now?  He has a confirmed case of RSV.



Peanut, you were very sick over the Christmas holiday of 2010.  Are we reliving history?  Is there some obscure lesson buried within these events?

Peanut, despite all of this Momma is hopeful.  Looking for - and finding - joy in each day.  I will not give in, I will not give up.  I will live each day for you.

Tonight I share a picture of your 2012 Peanut Tree as a beacon of light for those who need it...I hope they might find strength and love within it.  I hope they can feel the love contained within your tree.  How much love? the moon - and back silly!

- Momma

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Over the Rainbow

Peanut -

It has been way too long since Momma has posted a letter.  Five whole days.  You know I talk to you every day, and I can see and hear you and Pickle having funny little conversations constantly.  But, still...these letters mean so much because the time I spend writing them is special time carved out to think about you, to talk with you, to focus on what we would be doing if you were still here, to focus on how the grief is settling in at the moment.  These letters have also proved to be terribly important to Momma for reflection.  Going back and reading entries  from March 2011 vs. March 2012 vs. today helps Momma understand the nature of this very confusing, and never-ending road.

A lot has been going on in Momma's head over the last week.  It started with a sweater cape.  This particular cape was ordered in December of 2010, when you were still alive and we were preparing an exciting Christmas and future with you.  I still remember ordering the cape, full of joy and optimism, because I was also creating and ordering our "Happy 2011" cards that afternoon.  The cape was on backorder, to be delivered sometime in January.  And then it slipped out of my mind.  The holidays flew by, suddenly we were into 2011 and then January 26 happened.  And, two weeks later, as the true impact and isolation of our grief was revealing itself, a package arrived.  Clearly not a grief or sympathy gift.  It was that stupid, silly, goddamn sweater cape.  How dare it fling itself in my face, taunting me, reminding me of all we had and lost.

Despite the irrational anger I felt towards the sweater, Momma found herself wearing it everywhere.  Our first dinner out with family.  My first day attempting to return to work.  First lunch with friends.  It became a symbol of all the "firsts."  And then, it hung in Momma's closet, pushed to the back, out of sight and mind.

Last week Momma brought it out, shook it off and wore it.  No special reason.  No first.  Just because.  And I discovered something.  There is a new happiness surrounding it, centered around remembrance of the joy I felt the day it was purchased.  No longer taunting me, it now has a special connection to my time on earth with my Peanut.

Which leads to the next mind-bending event.  Decorating for the holidays.  For some reason Momma didn't see this one coming, but probably should have.  We didn't - couldn't - decorate or celebrate last year.  We were simply too sad.  But this year we decided it's time to dive back in, for your little brother, for our families.  It feels good to have the stockings hung, including yours.  And to have the Christmas tree glowing with while lights.  But hanging the ornaments - all except yours which will go on your Peanut Tree - was heart-breaking.  Why?  Because the last time they were hung was Christmas 2010, over a weekend Momma got to spend with you, just the two of us, while Dadda was out of town.  We went to see Santa, had friends over to visit, and we decorated the tree all weekend.  The tree delighted you, and Momma explained the different ornaments, much to your delight.  It was, quite simply, one of the best weekends of my life.

It's hard, Peanut, when the wonderful memories also evoke such strong emotions of loss and sadness.  I want to remember, to celebrate those moments, but I'm not as good at grieving as I was a year ago.  It's scarier to face now.  Not the familiar bedfellow it was for so many months, it now feels more like a looming stranger in a dark alley.  It's always waiting around the corner...Momma just hasn't faced it head-on in a while.

Maybe that's a part of why five days have passed since my last letter.  This is the time when I address my fears and grief without cushioning or avoidance.  It's when I'm honest with you and my heart.

Peanut, as your brother grows older the memories of you are re-awakening.  He has adopted so many of your mannerisms, without ever meeting you on earth.  It is a little scary, constantly delightful, painful and wonderful.  I expect the next several months are going to be one heck of a roller-coaster ride.  But, I know you will be here with us.

Missing you with all my heart.  I heard, "Over the Rainbow" today and released myself to a flood of tears for you...but there was still a small smile.  Why?  Because I know someday I will see you over the rainbow.  Until then, I love you to the moon - and back!

Peanut and Santa - December 2010

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Like A Snowflake

Peanut -

Your kitteh-kah is still missing.  Momma has left his bowl and water bottle system sitting "as is."  Every day I come home and check the kitchen window where he used to wait to come has never occurred to Momma that he might not be there.  Hope abounds.  For now.

Loss is so unique.  So situational.  Thus, the title of today's letter.  It is like a snowflake with its own special one loss is like the other.  The loss of a pet, a parent, a sibling, a son.  The way we grieve, the way we mourn, the way we work through our process is ours to own.

With Zeke I have no sense of closure. No sense of what might have happened or if he could possibly come back home some day.

With you I was a witness.  An unwilling participant.  I knew from the moment I saw your eyes that morning that you were gone.  Yet, I still had hope until the ER doctors pronounced your death.

But with both of you I struggle with the reality of my own failure.  Failure to protect you from pain or fear or whatever unknown force took you from us.  SUDC stole you...I have no idea what took Zeke.  A hawk?  Coyote?  A stranger in the neighborhood?

I am sure it seems silly to compare the loss of Zeke - a cat - to your loss, but they are very closely related in Momma's heart.  You both looked to me for protection.  You both saw me as a Momma.  And now you are both gone.

Tonight, while I picture you hanging Christmas lights in heaven, I also envision your kitteh-kah batting those same lights delighting you and your angel friends.

Peanut, I love you - to the mooooooon and back!

- Momma