Saturday, January 26, 2013

Two Years of Lessons...and Hope

Oh Peanut -

How can it be?  How is it that today marks two years since we last held you?  It doesn't seem possible that we are marking more anniversaries without you than birthdays we got to celebrate with you.

This morning as I thanked the universe for not stealing The Pickle from us on this fateful date, Momma started reflecting on lessons I have learned, realities that have changed, and new truths that have revealed themselves to Momma thanks to you and your magical Peanut Effect.  A few that stand out:

  • The world is not fair.  No one truly "gets what they deserve."  Terrible things happen to good people, bad people, all people.  It's how you choose to rise from the ashes that shapes the kind of person you are, or can be.
  • There is no greater, more powerful, fierce love than Momma love.
  • If you choose to love, do so unconditionally, with reckless abandon.
  • Give hugs freely.
  • Forgive.
  • Stare your demons, your grief, your troubles squarely in the eye.  Don't back down.  Walk through the fire.  You will emerge - scarred but stronger.
  • Give yourself and others grace.  Allow for the bad days.  Don't apologize for them, but also don't let them become the norm or an excuse.
  • Remember - everyone has a story.  You have no idea what the person in front of you in the "20 Items Or Less" line, who happens to be holding 30 items, might have going on personally.  A sick parent, child, spouse.  An unexpected job loss.  Death of a loved one.  
  • Your heart has room to love more than you can image.  It also has the capacity to feel millions of conflicting yet compatible emotions.  Sorrow, joy, hope, grief, anger can all exist side by side.
  • Embrace hope.  According to Wikipedia, "Hope is the emotional state which promotes the belief in a positive outcome related to events and circumstances in one's life."  Further, "Despair is the opposite of hope."  Choose the road that leads to hope.

Peanut, today Momma and Pickle will watch "The Jungle Book" and we will dance to King Louie's Swingdance (  I will read your books, view all your photos, read the hundreds of cards we received after news spread of your loss.  But this day does not define you and the mark you left on this earth.  Your legacy is found in the love and joy you spread across our family, friends and countless others you have touched - and continue to touch.  The Peanut Effect.  YOUR Peanut Effect.

Today Momma recommits to living a better, kinder, more purposeful life.  A life that honors you.  A life that makes you proud to say "That's MY Momma."  A life that, when we meet again in heaven, will inspire you to run to me, throw your arms around my neck in a giant Peanut Hug, and give me butterfly kisses.

Today it breaks my heart to sign this letter.  I wish I could smell you, touch you, feel the warmth of your breath on my cheek.  Hear you whisper, "Momma..." in my ear.  Instead, I send you my heart, my love and my tears to heaven.  I love you, Peanut.  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

The Fourth Wednesday In January

Peanut -

Time takes on a whole new meaning, an entirely different rhythm, when you are a bereaved parent.  At least, when you are this particular bereaved Momma.  Days of the week, particular dates, and certain number counts become mile markers of loss...some of them joyful, others morbid, and some just too hard to think about.  There are the obvious ones - your birthdays and Angel Days.  And then the ones only a bereaved parent would tick off...when we hit 500 days without you, when your brother will officially pass you in earth days.  And there is this week.

Right on the heels of The Pickle's first birthday we are faced with this week.  The week leading up to your two year anniversary.  January 26.  But last night and today have been heart-wrenching because they represent the fourth week, the fourth Tuesday and Wednesday, of January.  That was the week you passed away in 2011.  On this Wednesday night two years ago Momma was in shock - a shell of herself.  Contemplating life without you, ending her own life, the thought that maybe this was all a dream - a nightmare - that I needed to wake from with a hard pinch.  But, it was all too real and somehow we have survived two years.  How can that be?

Last night Momma purposely changed her routine so nothing would look or feel the same as 2011...maybe this act would spare your brother from the Reaper who found our home, our beloved Peanut, so appealing.  Relief flooded Momma's heart when she heard The Pickle babbling away this morning.  But all day Momma marked the clock, remembering what we were doing at the same time two years ago.

Momma has also been home battling the flu that has swept across the US this year, a dark reminder that I was sick with a sinus infection the weekend before you died.  What if I pass this flu on to your brother?  What if, what if, what if...?

Tomorrow and the next day will simply be reminders of how blissfully unaware Momma was during these same days in 2011.  No clue how quickly all we love, cherish, hold important can be ripped away without explanation.

How we will we honor you this year?  Your Angel Day is not a day we choose to "celebrate" but instead something we acknowledge by remembering you through thoughts and actions.  Maybe Momma will organize your special trunk.  Maybe I will go back and look at the guest book from your Memorial Service.  Or, read all the beautiful, heart-felt cards we received offering love and support.  I am still not sure.

One thing Momma will do?  Read to you, from your favorite bedtime story.  The last book I ever got to read to you in life, and the book that was read at your service - Guess How Much I Love You.  And we will dance with reckless abandon as we watch The Jungle Book.  And I know I will feel you smiling down on us, and I might even feel a Peanut hug.

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

- Momma

Peanut hamming it up during what would turn out to be our last high chair photo session - January 20, 2011.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

The Pickle Turns One!

Peanut -

Today is your brother's 1st birthday.  His arrival at 9:04 am on January 17, 2012 marked the beginning of a new stage in Momma's grief process - the entrance of daily joy and laughter alongside sorrow.  It marked the beginning of Momma's true understanding of hope.

Momma will never forget driving to the hospital in the middle of the night for The Pickle's scheduled induction time of 12:30 am.  The weather was freakishly warm for January in St. Louis - close to 80 degrees and humid.  A violent, swift moving cold front swept into the area at 3:00 am, bringing with it thunder, lightning, tornado sirens.  A perfect end to a year of turbulent grief mirrored by roller-coaster weather.  Just as the front passed by the hospital Momma's water broke and, what was supposed to be a full day of labor turned into a fast moving train.  After pushing for just over an hour, The Pickle said, "Hello!" with a little cry, a firm grip onto Momma's index finger, and an instant nuzzle and snuggle into Momma's neck...he re-awakend Momma's smile and countless memories of you.  My Momma-love exploded.

For most parents the 1st birthday means it's time to breathe a sigh of relief.  The risk of SIDS drops significantly, and parents feel they have the green light to freely plan for the future.  I know we did with you.  We felt the future was limitless, that there were no real danger zones we couldn't protect you from at that point.  We hadn't ever heard of SUDC and couldn't imagine what we would face just 4 1/2 months later.  This birthday for The Pickle almost signals a more frightening time for Momma.  A time when Momma prays each morning he wakes up, and that we aren't struck with tragedy again just as we are seeing our infant transform into a toddler, a little boy.  These next few months mark a time when your little brother will surpass you in age, milestones.

Will there ever be a morning that isn't filled with fear?  Will there come a time when it feels we have entered a "safe zone"?  I don't honestly know.  But, I choose to celebrate each day, each moment.  This birthday will be full of celebration, laughter, Tigger!  And each day beyond this one will be faced with an eye towards a limitless future for The Pickle, balanced by the knowledge that tragedy can strike at any moment.

Peanut, today we celebrate the little brother we gave birth to thanks to your signs and intervention.  We celebrate your hand in his life, we remember you and your birthday parties, and we steel ourselves for your Angel Day next week.  Sending you thoughts of Elmo cakes, butterfly kisses and Momma love.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Peanut's 1st birthday party.

The Pickle's first photo shoot the day after he was born.

Saturday, January 12, 2013


Peanut -

This week needs to have its own name: The Power of Forgiveness Week (or, Lack Thereof).  Time and time again this week Momma has witnessed close friends and family re-opening wounds that are 2 years old and refusing to find forgiveness in their hearts.

Wounds caused by circumstances no human being knows how to handle - the death of a wonderful, amazing little boy named Connor.  Peanut.  You.  Wounds so raw and personal they defy reason, argument, defense.  Wounds that should be left to heal.  Not picked at, re-opened to pour salt on, challenging them to try to heal.

It all has Momma I the one in denial?  Should I be angry?  At someone or something?  Is there something wrong with me that I can't understand or relate to the anger of others?  That I simply want them to leave me out of their squabbles and petty, self-focused bullshit?  Honestly, how dare they try to bring me into it.  Haven't we faced enough?  Have't we survived enough?

Peanut, your death taught me - in an instant - that life is short, precious and unpredictable.  That I should look at every person I interact with as a gift.  I've learned some of my best lessons from my worst experiences.  Did I realize it immediately?  No.  But, eventually, yes.

More than anything Momma has realized these last two years that hatred, guilt and grudges are...exhausting.  Why carry that burden, day in and day out?  Is it productive?  Does it create any greater good for the universe?  Does it set a good example for our children and friends and family?  No, I don't think so.  

In the end, forgiveness isn't about the other person.  It isn't about excusing bad behavior.  It is about you.  It is about finding peace in your heart and extending it to the universe.  Without finding forgiveness you will always live with a burning, living parasite slowing hollowing you out.

And really, what fun is that?

Peanut, I can't believe January 26 is around the corner...lurking.  How can that be?  I watch your brother with an ever-vigilant eye.  I will not allow January to steal him too.  I know you are protecting him from heaven...I feel it.  

Sending you love, as always...but more now than ever.  I miss you so desperately.  I want to take you to Yo-Gabba-Gabba would be the perfect age.  Would.  <sigh>  I love you, sweet the moon - and back.

- Momma

Best smile ever.  December 2010.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

January, I Love You. I Hate You.

Peanut -

Momma's had a hard time bracing herself against the tidal wave of emotions that slammed against the sandy shores of her brain beginning the morning of January 1, 2013.  It has been constant, hard driving,  unrelenting.  Exhausting.

You see, Peanut, January brings with it multiple layers of milestones, each one unique and complicated, yet all inextricably linked together.  First, we ushered out 2012.  A year that never knew you on this earth.  This was one of those "firsts" that completely blind-sided Momma.  Yep.  Didn't see it coming from a million miles away.

Add to that the welcoming of a new year, the next of a lifetime of new years that will not include you.  A daunting thought, put in very stark terms as you see the numbers of a new year staring you in the face.

Pile on top of that the turn of the calendar page from happy, glowing December to the month that stole you from us in 2011.  With each day that passes we march closer and closer to the 26th.  What do we do on that day?  Hold our breath and hope to muscle through it?  Pretend it's just another day?  Your Angel Day is a complex beast we have yet to conquer.

The cherry on top of all of this?  January 17th marks your little brother's first birthday.  A wonderful, joyous, amazing occasion that Momma cannot wait to celebrate.  Day by day he is growing to be a little boy, full of spunk and moxie.  Fearless and strong-willled.  So much like you yet so different in many, many ways.  Momma watches him discover toys that were yours.  Books you loved.  Colors that made you giggle.  These moments reawaken countless memories, and sometimes re-open partially healed scars.  But, Momma wouldn't change one moment because it feels like a rare, special gift.  The gift of a few select month where I'll almost get to feel my two boys, playing side-by-side.

Peanut, Momma promises to be better about writing letters in 2013.  To intentionally carve out this special time when I truly reconnect with you, your spirit, your sunshine smile and musical laugh.  As we look towards the 2-year milestone of life without you on this earth, Momma realizes she misses you more than ever.  And probably will for a lifetime.

Sending you bunches of noodles of Momma hugs and butterfly kisses.  I love you, Peanut.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Picture taken right after Peanut's 1st birthday.