Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Gift of Appreciation

Peanut -

As we prepare to turn the page on another year, Momma can't help but be reflective.  To think back on this same time in 2010 and early 2011.  The memories of that holiday season are warm and beautiful.  You were growing into this funny, musical, spirited little man and had finally mastered the art of walking - yay!

Momma thought we were on top of the world.  Invincible.  In a bout of optimism I even sent out New Year's cards with a picture of you and your big, toothy smile.  How could I have ever guessed we were going to be contacting the recipients of those cards, our friends and family, just three weeks later to inform them of your sudden, unexplained death?  That the next cards Momma would send out with your picture would be our grief stricken thank you notes for all the flowers, letters and cards we received in the wake of your passing.

Yes, in late 2010 the first weeks of 2011 Momma was riding high.  A little too high.  Because I can remember well how terribly unappreciative I was for all our blessings.  How even as I looked around and marveled at our good fortune, I still wanted more.  Rather than bask in the small moments - you enjoying my turkey meatballs and caramelized french toast sticks, patting Zeke the cat on his head and exclaiming, "Hiiiiii kitten-kah!"when he entered the room, or sitting on the couch next to me and leaning in to give butterfly kisses - I was busy working too much, giving Dadda a hard time about stupid, trivial things, going out with friends, and simply not being present.  In the moment.

In these almost three years we've been without you physically on earth, Momma's scarred heart has embraced the gift we suffered so terribly to realize - the gift of appreciation.  While at times it can be hard to live in the moment, to keep the small stuff in perspective, whenever I catch my brain going down a negative path I feel a little tug at my heart.  I feel you.  While it's getting harder and harder to remember your scent, the feel of your tight Peanut hugs, the softness of your blonde curls, it is still so easy to tap into the love you brought to my heart.  Because, it's still there and growing each and every day.

Peanut, as we enter 2014 Momma resolves to continue to appreciate the small moments.  And to hopefully give and share the gift of appreciation with others.  Because that is how we honor you and make you proud.

I love you Peanut.  I miss you so very much.  How much?  Silly boy, to the moon - and back!

- Momma

The picture of Peanut we used on the New Year's cards.
I took this the day we went to visit Santa.  Look at all those teeth!

This year's Peanut Tree - we almost need a bigger tree!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Sock Monkey Pajamas

Peanut -

In the past Momma has written about the sock monkey footie pajamas that got labeled as "the saddest happy-jammies ever" after you passed away.  These were the pajamas Momma put on after your Memorial Service and lived in off-and-on for days during the subsequent snow/ice storm that hit St. Louis.  These sweet, bright red pajamas almost found their way into your memory trunk but at the last minute I said, "No."

Momma has been working to break her belief in curses and an imagined connection between the unrelated events that occurred around the day of your death.  These ridiculous pajamas have become quite symbolic in this effort.  Somehow they have taken the blame for for the grief and heartbreak - for the days when survival just didn't seem to be an option.  Momma buried them in her closet, under a pile of clothes.  But due to their color and sheer size - these are adult footie pajamas, after all - the sock monkey jammies were impossible to fully ignore.

And then the day came last week.  A frigid day filled with snow, rain and ice.  Despite bundling up throughout the afternoon, Momma was still chilled to the bone.  That evening, Momma made a decision.  Time to pull them out.  Hold them against my frame, shoulder to shoulder and challenge my beliefs.  To finally open my heart and remember why the grief was so raw when I last wore them.  To feel the Peanut love and still very fresh loss, even after three years.

At first it felt like a betrayal, to be wearing the pajamas that bring warmth and comfort, when you are no longer here.  But then I realized - the warmth and comfort are not only from their fleecy fabric but from the wonderful memories of you and your musical laughter when you saw sock monkeys.  That's why Momma bought these silly things, after all.

In some ways these pajamas are a bridge in time.  Not a bridge back to a time of intense grief, but more a bridge between my boys.  Pickle also loves sock monkeys, and now I can't wait to see his reaction when Momma shows up in this ridiculous outfit.  The anticipated giggles and need to touch the monkey faces on my feet - so similar to you, but different.

Peanut, Momma has been thinking about you a lot in the last few days.  It's almost Christmas.  This would be your 5th Christmas…Santa and his elves would be the only thing on your mind, and the anticipation of Christmas eve and Santa's eight tiny reindeer.  This season is terribly bittersweet since I can't help but wonder what it would be like with you here - which brings pangs of sadness - but I am also so thankful to have your little brother with his spunky personality and wonder over the Christmas tree.

We also have your 3rd Angel Day looming before us.  Honestly, Momma just wants to get through the next month.  Just make it to February.  It's strange how this year seems harder than previous years.  Is it the passing of time?  The fact that you should be getting so much older but never will?  I'm not sure.

What Momma knows is this.  As I type this letter I am wearing your red sock monkey jammies and I am smiling.  And crying.  Tears of love and appreciation.  A smile that is tinged with grief.  But all of it is rooted in deep, fierce Momma love.  A love I never would have known if it hadn't been for you, my precious Peanut.  I love you sweet boy, to the moon - and back.

- Momma

A soulful, serious Peanut with Santa in 2010.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Love of the Ordinary

Peanut -

Last night Momma got exactly ZERO hours of sleep.  I watched the clock tick, tick, tick - 11pm, midnight, 1 am, 2 am, <groan> oh 4:00 am please bring some hope of rest.  Nope!

Why the insomnia?  Because The Pickle hasn't reached that magical age when sleep feels safe for Momma.  And St. Louis is back in a freezing cold snap that feels a bit too familiar.  A bit too much like January of 2011.  So Momma's brain stayed up all night, waiting.  Watching.  Staying vigilant.  For what?  Death to arrive at our doorstep again.  He found us once...

What is that magical safe age for Momma when sleep will no longer be terrifying?  Maybe three.  Four?    I don't know.  The data surrounding SUDC is so limited it's hard to say - when are we safe?  Are we ever safe?  We thought we were safe with you when you reached one year of age.

In the midst of this fear, I am trying to soak in the ordinary moments as I contemplate these questions - these horrible questions.  Savor the love of everything "normal" with The Pickle.  His love of trucks, stomping to music with a strong beat, chicken and steak but NOT bread or rice, and his very Peanut-like desire to give big hugs and kisses.

The ordinary is today, tomorrow and the next day - whatever they may bring.  When and if they arrive.

The normal is what makes our memories with you so amazingly wonderful.   Like reading your favorite bedtime story every night.  Momma loves you to the moon - and back!

- Momma