Thursday, November 28, 2013

Practicing Gratitude

Peanut -

As I write this letter to you, we are wrapping up Thanksgiving Day in the United States.  A day devoted to breaking bread with family and reflecting on all we give thanks for in our lives.  This is a day when it would seemingly be so easy to be anything but thankful - to instead be bitter about what we lost when you died.  But, no.  That wasn't the case, thanks to your Peanut Effect.

Today Momma and Dadda shared memories of you, your strong independent streak and your love of hugs.  We cuddled your little brother as he danced, stomped through the house, and dissolved into a puddle of toddler tears over absolutely nothing.  We observed that both of our little boys have voracious appetites but are both little string beans thanks to their boundless energy.

In short - today we reflected on our love of our two boys.  One here on earth.  One watching over us.

Today, Momma is practicing gratitude.  Gratitude that is found in the simple moments, the small things. Because those are the moments I miss the most with you.

I miss bath time with your froggy bath mats and fishing pole.  I miss the scent of your lavender bedtime lotion.  I miss giving you butterfly kisses and nose nuggles.  I miss making you caramelized fresh toast sticks.  I miss sitting on the floor with you between my legs while we practiced our Saturday nail-cutting routine.  I miss reading "Guess How Much I Love You" right before bedtime, and your signature Peanut neck-hug.  I miss watching you mimic my one-eyebrow gaze.

Conversely, these are all the things I am thankful for.  Because, I have these moments.  These memories.  And, I am fortunate enough to be building new, different ones with your little brother.

Momma's Thanksgiving Day message to herself and others is this - be thankful for the small gestures.  The tiny seconds that someday will mean so much.  Bask in them.  Soak them in.  Because those are the times you will miss the most, and will desperately want to relive over and over again.  It's not the "big" trip or the giant birthday party.  It's the constantly mispronounced word, the happily mis-matched outfits or the out-of-tune but enthusiastic singing voice that will haunt the void in your heart.

Love these moments and let them be your guideposts in life.  Remember what's important…and shed the rest of the baggage.  As I learned the hard way - life really is too short.

Happy Thanksgiving, Peanut.  Gosh…I miss you.  <sigh>  Sending you my love and my heart.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

A musician in the making...

Monday, November 11, 2013

Blue Dog Journal

Peanut -

For years, Momma has used journals to keep notes and records at work.  Before your death these were never plain old journals, they were always works of creativity and art.  Usually plastered with drawings inspired by favorite artists, songs, etc. and often with wide open pages, free of lines and boundaries.  In the years before you died my preferred journals were inspired by George Rodrigue, and came to be an inside joke with Momma's team.  Lately - meaning, since January 26, 2011 - Momma's journals have been plain black with lined paper.  Not out of thoughtful intention…maybe.

Earlier today Momma started cleaning out her bookshelf at the office.  Too many books + too much stuff escalated the need to purge.  As I came to my journal storage shelf there was a moment of unexpected joy - what is this?!  An empty journal?  And a Rodrigue Blue Dog journal, no less???

Then I turned to the first few pages.  While 98% of the journal was indeed empty, it turns out this was the one Momma purchased for 2011.  A forgotten journal, thanks to a stark, black journal labeled "2011" that sits on Momma's shelf.  But, that one wasn't started until April of 2011.  This sad, almost empty Blue Dog was started in the first weeks of January and is full of notes and plans for the year ahead.  The first six pages are jam-packed with ideas and enthusiasm.  Momma turned to page 6, and caught her breath.  There it was.  January 25, 2011.  Team meeting notes.  A to-do list for the next day.   For January 26.  A to-do list that never got done.

Every page after that is blank.  Somehow, so completely appropriate.  Life Before Connor.  Life After Connor.  A reminder that just like that, poof! in a moment, everything you know to be true in this world changes.

After a brief panic attack, followed by a brisk cross-campus walk, Momma made a decision.  End the day early.  Make no big decisions today.  And be unapologetic about it.  Go to the bookstore and surround yourself with the joys of reading.  And so I did.  The moment Momma walked into the bookstore what did I see?  A Rodrigue 2014 calendar.  It is now sitting in a bag on the kitchen table, patiently waiting for 2014 to arrive.

Today was a wake-up call.  A reminder the grief, like life, is a journey - not a destination.  It is neither long nor short.  It simply is what it is.

Today I chose joy in the midst of this wave of grief.  Somedays I choose joy thanks to the sun.  Somedays I choose joy because the alternative is just too painful.  Today is one of those days.

The almost empty Blue Dog journal came home with Momma today.  It will be placed in your special Peanut storage trunk - the place where all the happy reminders of you are stored.

Peanut, please know I think of you every moment of every day.  And I love you.  To the moon - and back!


Taken on January 20, 2011.