Sunday, June 30, 2013

Music To Momma's Ears

Peanut -

Your little brother has been fighting a summer cold over the last few days.  His runny nose, rattling cough and red-rimmed eyes have been an eerie reminder of the days leading up to your death.  My brain says, "It can't happen again" but my heart is doubtful.

Saturday morning your brother slept in.  A very quiet sleep.  A much needed bout of sleep, I'm sure, but it caused the hairs on the back of Momma's neck to stand on end.  Flat on my back, gripping our sheets in my fists, I stood firm.  I will not assume the worst.  I will not walk into his room expecting an unresponsive little boy.

And then, after what felt like years...

A giant sigh and giggle.  From Pickle.

Music to Momma's ears.

These days any breath, sigh, laugh, cry Momma hears over the monitor is a gift.  A gift we didn't receive with you the morning of January 26, 2011.

Momma wonders, will it ever go away? That sense of "he could die in his sleep at any time"?  Perhaps, but I don't think so.  My view of the world is altered, more fatalistic.  I am afraid to hope for more.

For now I am beside myself with joy every time I hear a breath, a snore, a giggle, a cry, a grunt while The Pickle sleeps.  Momma wishes she had heard the same from you after 3:30 am the morning you died.  The last time I checked on you.

Oh Peanut, I miss you.  Love and butterfly the moon- and back!

- Momma

An under-the-weather but very happy Peanut days before he died.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Who Inspires You?

Peanut -

Momma was interviewed this week for a work-related article and one of the questions asked was, "Who inspires you?"

Great question.

After much marination I realized how much my answer to that question has changed over the last 2 1/2 years.  Once upon a time the answer would be high profile world leaders or female CEOs - the Sheryl Sandbergs' of this world.  But, no.  Not today.

I am inspired by people who have not only survived and thrived through great personal tragedy, but those who have taken the lessons learned from their tragedy to make this a better world.  Momma felt somewhat ashamed when her best example was John Walsh, but he really is the case study for the type of change Momma would like to influence.  Thanks to him, there is now fingerprinting in US schools, an "Adam Alert" related to public child abductions, and he has transformed national legislation.

While our situation is dramatically different, it does give Momma pause.  How can I effect great change in honor of you?  Project Pinwheel is just the tip of the iceberg.

I am energized.  There is new Momma energy to re-engage with the St. Louis County Coroner's office to push them to acknowledge SUDC.  Every week I receive an e-mail informing me that a new family somewhere in the world has been heartbreakingly struck by this mysterious cause of death.

It is time for more visibility.

For more research funding.

For recognition.

Peanut, you know your Momma.  I am like a bulldog with a bone when I get my mind set on something.

We - I - can make a difference.  It is time.  For you.

Oh sweet boy, I miss you terribly.  I love you so very much.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Spunky Peanut at almost 9 months.

Thursday, June 20, 2013


Peanut -

A tragic event occurred this week that brought Momma back to January 2011 in an instant.  And not just Momma - a whole host of friends who surrounded our family in the days, weeks and months after you passed away.  The proverbial scab was ripped off the wound.  Emotions I haven't experienced in a long time were revisited, in some ways like long lost friends.  Or, at least, acquaintances.

Momma is raw and ragged, fraying at the seams a bit tonight.

Deep, paralyzing grief has returned to my soul like a boomerang.  I am remembering that sense of shock.  The blurring of days - or in some cases, actually losing the memory of an entire day.  Finding comfort in the details of planning anything - your memorial service, your teddy bear urn, what to do with your room and clothes, what to do about work.  Of hosting large gatherings at our home.  Of shopping for food, soda, alcohol to let our guests understand they were welcome.  Of dreading the day it all went quiet.  Which, eventually, it did.

Then there was the silence.

How do I help prepare another family for the silence?  For the idiotic comments and questions they will undoubtably receive When people actually start talking to them again?  For the journey they are unwilling beginning?  How do I share the lessons learned without making about our own story?

When do I simply tell them to sing the Dory song and, "Just keep breathing. breathing, breathing"?

Peanut, you are so close tonight.  I see you.  I feel you just out of my reach, like a word on the tip of my tongue.  You are present.

I love and miss you so very much.  More every day.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

2 days after you were born...every Momma glows with love and thoughts of the future.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Mr. Frog's Journey Home

Peanut -

After months of wondering if I would ever get another sign from you, today I received a giant Peanut hug via the dysfunctional US Postal Service.  Let me explain.

Momma receives a monthly box of toddler appropriate goodies via  Last month I checked to make sure they had our new address and was told repeatedly the new address was recorded.  However, when the May box shipped it decided to head our old house - your house - not once but twice despite all the forwarding instructions.

The box finally made its way to our new house today after Dadda hunted it down at a Post Office branch.  We joked that it "better be worth the $6.00 forwarding fee."

And then, Momma opened the box.



Yes.  The theme of the box was Cuddle Time, and the box included an Angel Dear lovie - YOUR lovie - and of all the ones we could have received, we got the frog.  Your frog.  In an instant your brother saw that frog and wanted to snuggle with it.

So now a few questions: Do I hide the frog?  Do I let The Pickle have his own frog despite my efforts to push a puppy his way?  Can my heart handle watching The Pickle hold Mr. Frog?

Peanut, I believe that box wound up at our old address multiple times because that is the home you remember.  I hope you understand you have moved with are here.

Please send my heart a sign.  What should I do with the shiny, new frog?

Oh, sweet boy, I miss you.  Sending you love to the moon - and back.

- Momma

Connor's Mr. Frog....doesn't his smile just melt your heart?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Is It A Lie If It's True 99% of the Time?

Peanut -

How will I ever begin to explain your death to your brother?  How can I not begin to discuss it that he is forming words and sentences?  Now that he understands who that blonde-haired, blue-eyed boy is in pictures who looks so much like him?

And, how do I not scare the hell out of him?

Tonight we were snuggling on the couch watching "The Pajanimals" just like we do every night before bedtime.  The Pickle dances, bounces, sings and laughs throughout the episodes, but is always ready for sleep time by the end of the 15-minute show.  Momma loves the messages reinforced by this show that is the creation of Jim Henson's kids (creator of The Muppets).  They use singing, dancing and harmony to help kids understand they don't need to be afraid of new activities like baseball tryouts, first day of school, or looking for a lost toy under the bed.  They also address issues like bed-wetting and bullying.  More than anything, these four little Pajanimals never go to sleep with unresolved issues - they help each other cope.  They "Bundle up, snuggle up, huggle up, and goooo!"

So, back to tonight.  The episode dealt with fear of bad things happening while they slept and their wishes that Mom and Dad could be with them, or that they could sleep in Mom and Dad's bed.  The message in the show was that bad things don't happen when you are safe in your bed, because The Moon is watching over you.  And, Mom and Dad are not far away.  Bed is safe.

Yep.  That's what Momma always thought.

I felt like a liar, a fraud, watching that episode while holding your little brother and encouraging him to fall asleep.  How can I let him think that I believe that, when I know it's not true?  At least, not true for us...the 1 reported instance out of 100,000 children across the United States on an annual basis (which we know is under-reported thanks to jurisdictions like St. Louis County who refuse to acknowledge SUDC).  Bedtime - nighttime - is the most frightening time of all for Momma.

Which leads to a larger question: How do I begin to explain you and your death to him?  How do I help him understand the beauty and magic of your life?  And how you live on in everything I do, every kindness I extend, every smile, every laugh...everything.  And that lightning hopefully won't strike twice?

I want to tell your brother that bedtime is his safe time.  That his bed should be the warmest, most comforting place he knows outside of my arms.  Because I want to believe that.  Maybe if I say it enough times, it will be true, right?

Peanut, I am struggling with this one.  I know an answer will come, and I know I will feel your hand in it.

Until then, I gaze at a picture of you and wonder what you would be like today.  My brain has an image, a vision, that will continue to grow as you should be growing up here on earth.  But my heart continues to remember you just as you were in January of 2011.  It hears your bellowing laugh, sees your mouth crowded full of new teeth, feels those precise fingers pressing at my eyelashes, and smells the scent of your blonde curls washed in lavender bath time bubble bath.  I still feel your breath in my ear as you whisper, "Momma..."  I still feel your tight grip around my neck as you offer a famous Peanut hug.  In short, I still feel you in every fiber of my being.  Thank goodness.

My arms ache for you.  So does my heart.  Missing and loving you more than I can ever express.  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Peanut sleeping at just 5 days old.  When sleep was still safe.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Into the Great Big (and Still Very Scary) Unknown

Peanut -

Well, we made it.  Day 501 with The Pickle has now come and gone without event.  There was no trumpeting of angels, or a booming voice from the heavens declaring, "Welcome!  You survived 500 days!  Congratulations!"  (Well, there were some pretty intense thunderstorms and tornadoes - do they count since weather has been a constant mirror to Momma's emotions since you died?)

So, how do I feel standing here, staring at a world of unknowns with The Pickle?  <sigh>  Quite frankly, I am relieved.  And still scared as hell.  Maybe scared isn't the appropriate word.  It's more that I don't take anything for granted.  I don't assume anything.  I am prepared to lose everything I love in the blink of an eye.  Is that cynicism?  Perhaps.

However, I don't think that is unusual for a bereaved parent.  When your child dies, the world as you know it doesn't make sense anymore.  All sense of right and wrong, fair and unfair, the natural order things, and the circle of life and family - it is broken.  Your child is supposed to outsurvive you.  To be the fingerprint of you on this earth once you pass.  As a Momma, I never imagined I would have to plan your funeral, choose a "child appropriate" urn for your ashes, and find a place to discretely display your beloved froggies in remembrance of you...all while having the memory of your birth and the joy of watching you discover words, new tastes and smells, our kitty cat (Hiiiii kitteh kah!) fresh in my mind.

Peanut, you continue to make me a better, kinder, more patient Momma.  When I hear an edge of irritation creep into my voice as The Pickle tugs on Henry's tail for the 100th time, or when I find myself overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a full-time working Momma, your sunshine smile enters my heart and I feel a Peanut hug around my neck.  In an instant, I am thankful for the blessing of your little brother and grateful for this second chance to be a Momma.  To experience happiness once again.

Grief. Joy. Love. Guilt. Terror. Happiness. Relief. Hope.  These are the emotions that fill Momma's heart every day.

My sweet Peanut, I miss you.  Sending you air kisses, bunches and noodles of love and nose nuggles, and praying for a butterfly or froggie sighting today.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Love that sunshine smile.