Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Peanut Effect Pete


Today is Christmas Eve.  Another holiday season filled with memories of the two Christmas days we were blessed to spend with you, while watching The Pickle discover the mysteries and joy of Santa.  Your absence looms large for Momma during these family celebrations, and I so desperately wish you were here with us. 

Once again, we decorated a special tree in your honor - your Peanut Tree - during a holiday party for family and friends.  It is one of my favorite ways to remember you, and keep you very much alive and present.  And your little brother is now old enough to discuss you, hear stories about your antics and to realize that this tree and its ornaments are  unique to you.  

Dadda also presented Momma - and the entire family - with a fabulous surprise during our Peanut Tree party.  Back in 2010, when you were still with us on earth, Momma and Dadda discovered a delightful character named Pete the Cat while on vacation.  We came very close to purchasing an original painting of him, but second-guessed ourselves and walked away from the art gallery.  Apparently, in the years since your death, Dadda has been in touch with the gallery about commissioning a Pete the Cat painting in your memory.  And this year - close to four years later - the gallery agreed to contact the artist, James Dean, and share our story.  The painting below is the result...and, frankly, I am speechless.  Delighted.  Amazed.

Your Peanut Effect has once again touched someone else's heart, and this painting will grace our home and watch over our family for years to come.  

Merry Christmas in heaven, my sweet Peanut.  Momma is sending you hugs, butterfly kisses and lots of memory-filled tears today and every day.  

I love you, to the moon - and back!

- Momma


Monday, November 3, 2014

Sharing Your Favorite Things

Peanut -

Momma feels terribly guilty.  The month of October slipped by without a public blog letter, even though there was a constant question that tugged at my heart the entire month.

As Momma and Dadda attempted to navigate the conflicting Halloween costume wants of your little brother (Fireman? Ghost? Spiderman? Broom riding witch/warlock? We landed on Superman for the second year in a row.)  I couldn't help but realize...I have no idea what costume you would have chosen at the big boy age of five.  What sports would you be playing?  What movie would be your favorite?  Is there a particular book that win favor over all the others on your bookshelf?  These are the choices that would normally dictate the costume dreams of a little boy.

It's hard to acknowledge that your favorite things at 16.5 months of age - your Froggy, The Backyardigans - would no longer even be on your radar screen at this point.  It's only as I watch your little brother grow, mature and move through the infant to baby to toddler to independent boy stages that I've had to face this stark reality.  (That and the fact that Nick Jr. seems to have totally discontinued The Backyardigans?!)

Tonight, as I put your little brother to bed, he chose one of your Backyardigan books.  At the end of the book he asked me to repeat the name each character, with a big grin.  I explained that this was your favorite show, sang a bit of the theme song, and talked about each of the characters: Tyrone, Austin, Pablo and Uniqua.  The Pickle just giggled and said, "I know Momma.  I'm going to see him in a few minutes."

I managed to calmly ask, "You're going to see Connor???"

And he just looked up at me and stated, "Yep!  I do lots!  Nighty night.  Thanks.  I love you."

Well, huh.  I've always believed you are here with us, on my shoulder, in the butterflies that visit us, sitting at the kitchen table as we laugh and share stories.  And now there is this.  You're getting to know your brother within the limitations of this earth through dreams.  Yes, Peanut, I believe.

The week before Halloween your brother ran into a table and gave himself one heck of a black eye.  Just like you did in 2010.  The feeling of history repeating itself is nagging at my brain and heart.  Is this merely a coincidence?  Gosh...I have trouble believing in coincidences at this point.  Maybe it is simply bad timing.  I don't know.  What I do know - Momma's vigilance is on steroids for the next several months.

Peanut, I miss your sweet eyelashes, gentle touch, head-thrown-back laugh, blonde curls and deep blue eyes. I miss hearing you exclaim, "Hiiiiiii, kitteah kaaaahhhh!" and whispering, "Mommmaaaaa."  I. Miss. You.

Momma loves you so very much. To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Peanut Froggy - Halloween 2010 (Can you see the shiner over his left eye?)

Friday, September 12, 2014

Your 5th Birthday

Peanut -

Happy 5th birthday.  I'm sure there should be an exclamation point after that, but Momma just can't muster that level of enthusiasm today.  Just uttering or typing that phrase brings tears to my eyes, thinking about everything we are missing.  And how much I miss you.

Peanut.  My first born son.  The child who opened my heart and eyes to selfless love.  Momma love.  The child who, even (or maybe especially?) in death, has taught me to live with joy, grace and forgiveness even when anger and despair felt like the easier, more justified options.  My child.

Five years ago it was a hot September Saturday.  Summer was enjoying its finally hurrah for the year, and Momma wasn't expecting you to arrive until September 25 so a pedicure and late lunch were on the agenda.  But early morning cramps had me wondering...could these be contractions?  And by early afternoon Momma and Dadda were rushing to the hospital, praying we made it in time as we hit every single red light.  We did, and you were born just a few hours later.  As the delivery nurse so appropriately said, just a tiny little Peanut.

Peanut, I wish I could see the 5 year-old version of you, blowing out five candles on a giant chocolate cake, tossing a football with your friends in the backyard and wrestling with the dog.  While I can picture this image in my mind, my heart and hands long to reach out an touch your long, graceful fingers.  To gaze into those deep blue eyes again, and give you Eskimo kisses.

Happy birthday in Heaven, Peanut.  Here on Earth we will celebrate your birthday, your life, your Peanut Effect, your love  My amazing son.  I love you so very, very much.  How much?  Come on, silly, you know!  To the moon - and back.

- Momma


Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Almost 5

Peanut -

Your birthday is coming up on Friday of this week.  This has proven to be a particularly difficult birthday for Momma for a number of reasons.

First, Momma simply cannot envision what you should be doing at age 5.  The things - activities, words, phrases, opinions - I thought would wait until 5 have emerged at 2.5 with your little brother, so I am clearly way out of my depth.

Second, an extremely close family member seemingly forgot your birthday was this week.  When I was asked "what do you have going on this weekend?" Momma responded, "Peanut's birthday is Friday so we're pausing, remembering, and celebrating."  The response?  "Ohhhhh....yes.....that's this week....<big sigh>"  Should Momma be upset?  Maybe.  But this is the shape of the future.  Momma and Dadda will always remember but can we expect others to do the same?

To that end, last night Momma and Dadda made a pledge.  We will always talk about you.  We will share our story and help others realize that grief isn't so scary when shared with joy.  That I love talking about you, my amazing, adorable first son.

Coincidentally (I think not), the Zac Brown Band is playing in St. Louis on Friday night, September 12.  Your birthday.  The guys responsible for "Chicken Fried" - which you learned and loved at school - are playing on your birthday.  Thanks to Dadda we have tickets!  So, Momma and Dadda will be bopping up and down to your music as we celebrate the life, love, smiles, hugs, grins, and butterfly kisses that are you.

Peanut, I'm sure there will be more posts this week than usual (lately).  The grief is heavy in my heart and this blog helps Momma lift that weight.

Peanut, I love you so very much.  I know you are with us, every moment of every day.  And, I hope you are proud.  I love you sweet, darling boy with the deep, blue eyes and feather-long eyelashes.  Mmmmmmmwwwwwwaaaahhhhh!

- Momma

Monday, September 1, 2014


Peanut -

Here it is again.  September.  Your birth month.  In just a few days (9/12) we should be celebrating your birthday with a cake lit up by 5 candles.  Instead Momma is watching your classmates enter school, play sports and grow up.  Meanwhile, you are forever 16.5 months old.  I know in my heart and brain you are an amazing athlete, comedian, scholar, and citizen of this world.  I just wish everyone else had gotten the opportunity to feel your warmth and potential.  Maybe, in some small way, this blog has helped spread the word about your amazingness (made up word by Momma).  To expand your Peanut Effect.

We just retuned from our annual family vacation at Big Cedar and - once again - felt an incredible connection to you.  Momma and Dadda spent several hours sharing photos and videos of you with The Pickle, and explaining who you are and where you've gone.  This might be the most challenging part of being a bereaved parent with subsequent kiddos.  How do you explain death?  Especially when it's sudden, unexpected and without explanation?

Momma took a picture of your brother while on vacation that tells me he might just see you...I'm not sure but I choose to believe.  It is included below.

This fall is going to be full of fun, exciting and bittersweet moments.  As time churns forward, the fact that you are forever frozen in time becomes more starkly apparent.  Momma chooses to love, be joyful, and to find the wonderful happiness you opened in my heart.  But still...I reserve a corner of sadness and grief for you.

I love you soooooooooooooo very much.   How much?  Well, to the moon - and back, silly!

- Momma

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

First Day of School Pictures

Peanut -

I need to acknowledge something.  Momma's posts are fewer and fewer.  This doesn't mean my love, grief and living for you have subsided.  It's more that these emotions have become integrated into Momma's day-to-day activities.  I talk about you all the time, you surround me in my office, and you are a topic of daily conversations with The Pickle.  But, like today, there is still a need for this forum to share the odd moments bereaved parents grapple with in unexpected ways.

Friends, I adore, love and cherish the "first day of school" pictures I see on Facebook.  I can feel your pride and adoration.  And, I can't wait until we hit these milestones.  What's so hard is that we were supposed to hit a very important milestone this year.  Kindergarten.

Peanut, you should be starting Kindergarten along with all of your friends from The Elegant Child as well as all our our friends who had children in 2009.  This year I've had to watch them start playing soccer and baseball.  Softball and hockey.  Guitar lessons.  Camp.  And

Pictures, pictures everywhere.  They have bombarded Momma this week.  Wherever I turn I see "First Day" pics and realize - this will be a reality every year.  I can choose to embrace it or let it shut me down.  So, embrace it is the choice.

The loss of you feels so new and fresh thanks to these milestones.  Yet we are now over three years since your few people remember and understand.  Momma is reminded that this is a forever journey.  

Peanut, you know what forever means?  I love you, to the moon - and back.  For eternity.

- Momma

Monday, June 30, 2014

The Shockingly Awful Bereaved

Peanut -

How can it be?  A month has passed without a letter.  My heart feels terrible but also hopeful.  Because, this blog has been the outlet for Momma's intense grief.  A place where I had to force my brain to balance the pain of missing you with some measure of joy.  But, over the last few months, joy has been more accessible and present.  More constant.

While there is guilt associated with that, there is more a sense of settledness.  A sense that this is what it feels like to allow grief and joy and love and pain to become the norm.  There is a strange new ability to ride the yellow sunshine highs of wonderful moments while also embracing the need to indulge fits of chest-heaving sobs...all in the same day.  I acknowledge this is not normal.  At least, not for normal people.  But, we are not normal.  We are the Shockingly Awful Bereaved.

Yes.  That is a new Momma phrase.  As we travel this path of loss, and time plays a more predominant role, it seems humans feel more comfortable uttering words and phrases they danced around during the early days.  The times of, "I can't imagine...I am so sorry." have passed.  We've entered into the zone of, "OH MY GOD.  That is the worst thing I have ever heard.  How are you still alive?"  Yes, this is a Momma over-generalized dramatization.  But, not all that far off.

Today I had a woman inform me that, outside of her husband cheating on her and the pain of their divorce and loss of her house and country club membership, she can't imagine anything worse than the death of a child.  <Deep breath in and out.>  My response, "I am so sorry for everything you are unexpectedly dealing with - it must be awful."

Thanks to you I have become more patient and kind.  I believe in the inherent good of people and humanity.  When I hear people (above) say things that seem idiotic I give the benefit of the doubt.  I give grace.

Your Peanut Effect.  Stronger than ever.

I write tonight to honor you and to keep this blog active and alive.  For you.

Peanut, I miss you.  Every day.  I love you sooooo much.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Peanut's Butterfly Stone, flanked by beautiful flowers.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Summoning Butterflies

Peanut -

This afternoon Momma was enjoying a warm summer day, browsing Facebook on the porch during a brief thunderstorm, when life without you hit me over the head.  Several friends posted pictures of their kids who are the same age you would be - children playing baseball this summer, participating on swim teams and riding bicycles.  All things you would - should - be doing.

The reality that your classmates will be starting kindergarten in the fall also sunk in today.  A major milestone you will never realize.  A reality that will only loom larger as the new school year creeps up on us.

And in the midst of these terrifying moments, a lovely white butterfly emerged.  It flitted across our yard, over trees and winding around bird feeders.  Every time I thought of you, it landed on the bird feeder next to my chair.

I hear you.  I see you.  I know...we will get through these milestones, these ongoing heartaches.

How?  Because you are still with us, watching over us.

Earlier this week Momma was asked to share the one question I ask myself every day.  That would have been a tough question a few years ago.  But not now.

What is the question?

How do I live a life that honors you every moment of every day?

Peanut, thank you for sending butterflies to greet Momma today.  I love and miss you so very much.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Would You Know My Name?

Peanut -

It's been several weeks - too many - since Momma's written a letter.  There has been so much going on...but there is no excuse <sigh>.  Just lots of emotion that Momma hasn't known how to channel because so much of what is happening has been misdirected towards your death due to a situation with one family member.  A family member who is taking your death and making it the root of many personal issues.  

And I'm just not "OK" with someone else (or many someone else's) trying to take ownership of this grief journey.  Of assuming that Momma can continue to be the strong shoulders.  Of bastardizing the amazing impact of your Peanut Effect.  And the decision Dadda and Momma made to honor you though joy, love, light, laughter and beauty.

I am angry.

There.  I said it.  

It's been close to 3.5 years since you died.  I am now being forced to relive the raw emotion of the first months after your death due to this situation. much has changed.  We have the ever growing Pickle, and he is amazing, hilarious and challenging.  We've opened a restaurant.  We have moved once and are now about to move into our "dream home."  A home you never set foot in, but I know you will inhabit in spirit.  

With all these changes, I worry sometimes.  Would you know me today?  

Momma listened to Eric Clapton's "Tears In Heaven" this evening and came to this conclusion:
I think - no, I know - you are by my side, on my should and in every fiber of my being every step, every moment, every day.  You are my heart and my inner-voice.  You are why I have the strong shoulders.

Peanut, you are my touchstone.  I love you, sweet boy with the ocean deep blue the moon - and back!

- Momma

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Boiling the Ocean, One Cup At A Time.

Peanut -

Momma ran into a co-worker today she hasn't seen since she was pregnant with The Pickle.  A wonderful, kind young man who was simply devastated after your passing, since he has a son just a few months older than you.  We actually became friends after sharing exhausted-parent infant/toddler stories as we were both navigating first-time parenthood.  After you died, our milestone-sharing bond was severed.  His joy upon learning 2 years ago that we were pregnant again was cautious, tempered.

And then there was today.  It has been so long since we've seen each other, and he is a new dad again.  A beaming smile greeted me - one without the fear of "what do I say?"  We talked freely about our kids, until it came to his son...the one who is just a few months older than you.  The one who just turned five.  It hit me like a sledgehammer between the eyes.  Five.  Holy cow, it's turned 4 1/2 in March so we would be in the "almost five" zone.

Something about that fact is horribly difficult, sad, and paralyzing.

I share this because I've realized that trying to manage and anticipate what grief has on the menu for the day is like thinking you can boil the ocean.

First, why would you want to?  Boiling the ocean means you would miss out on the mystery of its dangers.  You would kill and devastate all the beauty those dangers have to offer before you have the change to realize what seems dangerous at first is actually beneficial.  Healing and restorative.  Just like grief.

Second, it just isn't practical.  The ocean is turbulent, vast and dictated by forces larger than this earth.  You could try to boil it one cup, gallon, or any other measurement but, at the end of the day, you will be lucky if you get a nice warm bathtub.  But, sometimes isn't that enough?  Or even more than enough?  Why try for more?

Third, the ocean has its own rhythm.  At times she is calm, peaceful.  But a storm can rage from seemingly nowhere and calm just as quickly.  Momma relates to this in so many ways.  A good day can turn dark in a flash - the mere mention of a boy who just turned five can apparently send me into a tailspin.

More than anything, the notion of thinking humans can boil the ocean is our way of trying to be in control.  That's human nature, right?  But there are some forces more powerful and wise than we can ever imagine.  Forces that understand what the earth, heart, brain need to experience to heal, restore, thrive.  At times that process is painful and wounds get re-opened.  But the scar tissue that re-forms is tougher and more resilient.

Anyway, at the end of Momma's interaction with her co-worker there was a genuine request - I asked to see pictures of the kids.  And, that request brought a smile.  A glowing, appreciative smile.

Peanut, days like to today remind me just how much you have changed this Momma's heart and soul. I am a better person throughout because of you.

<sigh>  I miss you, your strong neck hugs, and sense of connection.  Those long blue-eyed gazes and butterfly kisses.  I love you so very much.  How much?  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Peanut's 6-month photos from March 2010.  Our little Irishman.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Small Victories

Peanut -

Momma got on a plane last week.  Yep.  That's right.  Momma flew...without fear.  For the first time since December of 2010.  That was the last time Momma took a work-related trip, just weeks before you passed away.  Momma was speaking at a conference and felt obligated to make the trip, one of many I took for work in 2010.  <sigh>  I wish I could get back all the days and nights I lost when you were alive for the sake of my career...

After you passed away, Momma was physically unable to board a plane, which Momma and Dadda learned the hard way when we tried to escape to Sanibel Island for Mother's Day.  It was 4 months after your death, we were trying to conceive The Pickle, and Momma simply couldn't face the holiday in the house where you died.  But I also couldn't get on a plane.  After two failed attempts and related panic attacks, Momma and Dadda said, "Enough."

Since then we have resigned ourselves to a life tethered in St. Louis, MO.  Dreams of flying to Disney World and various beach get-aways have tickled the edges of Momma's mind, but fear has prevailed for the last 3 years.  Until last week.  A small but powerful victory.  Momma got on a plane.

There was so much guilt in my heart, but also a sense of responsibility.  While I didn't want to leave The Pickle, this was also something that needed to happen to free our family.  To allow us to continue to embrace life.  To stop cheating Dadda and The Pickle from enjoying vacations surrounded by powdery sand, sea shells, and Mickey Mouse.

Momma didn't do it alone.  You were there, encouraging me every step of the way.  And a little bit of Xanax, too.  Yes, I'm not too proud to admit it.  There are some battles where we need to admit we need assistance, and this was one of those for Momma.  And with the powerful tools of Peanut-love, Momma-belief and minor medication, we won this one.

Peanut, something else has been tugging at Momma's heart these last few months and it feels like the right time to address it head-on.  Many friends and readers of this blog have commented how our journey has made them more patient as parents, forced them to re-evaluate priorities and to be thankful for their blessings.  But, I have to be very honest...parenting is hard.  I wish I could be a "perfect" parent.  That I never got frustrated or felt a need to have "Momma time."  But that just isn't reality.  As much as Momma is always and forever grateful for her Peanut and her Pickle, I am human.  I am imperfect.  And I am the best Momma I know how to be.  I love my family with every ounce of my heart.  And that is - that has to be - good enough.

Momma read "Guess How Much I Love You" the other night.  I refuse to read it to The is your book.  He has "Goodnight Moon" among other books.  But this one is yours.  When I read it I can feel your neck hugs.  Your fingers tickling my eyelashes. I can hear your soft sighs, and whispers of "Momma..."  I can smell your wonderful, soft scent...a little bit of Dreft mixed with Downy...a little bit of lavender.  I can feel the feather touch of your blond curls. are still so present in my mind, my heart.

Dear Peanut, I love you so very much.  How much?  Come on silly boy - you know!  To the moon - and back.

- Momma

Pure joy...

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Rabbit Hole

Peanut -

Momma watched a movie with you last night.  We didn't share a bowl of popcorn or snuggle under a blanket together but we definitely shared the experience.  I felt you on my shoulder, in my head and heart the entire time.  Momma surrendered to a full body cry session...that hasn't happened in a while.  And it felt wonderful.

In the months right after you passed away, Momma heard about a (fictional) movie called Rabbit Hole.  A movie, based on a play, that chronicles the first few years of a married couple's life after their 4 year old son dies unexpectedly.  (Spoiler Alert: car + dog = son's death)  The Universe protected me from this movie for 3 years and waited until I was ready to truly watch and absorb the story in its entirety.  So, it snuck up and caught me while randomly flipping channels last night.  In less than 60 seconds I was riveted.  While the circumstances in our stories differ, the emotions and impacts are all too familiar.  However, this is how Momma sees all grief journeys...different, but the same.

When this movie was released there were interviews with the cast and crew that revealed how difficult this movie was to shoot.  Grief support groups wouldn't allow them in to observe - that would violate the fundamental purpose of the group.  And if you aren't a part of "the club" no one will truly confide in you. do you shoot a realistic movie?

I will simply say this.  They did.  Peanut, this movie was so hard, so wonderful, so impactful to watch.  It reopened wounds I thought my heart had patched with scars.  It reawakened my need to get in touch with this grief journey.  It reconnected me to you and this life-long journey I will take with you in my heart.

Peanut, I miss the way you would look at me with your ice blue peepers and try to absorb my eyes, thoughts and emotions while you cupped my face in your palms.  I miss your expressive hands and the way you would lace our fingers together.  I miss our eyelash butterfly kisses and nose nuggles.  I miss the whisper softness of your blonde curls.  I miss your warm breath and the smell of lavender nighttime bath lotion on your skin.

I miss you.

Peanut, I love you so very much.  You are still very much here and alive in Momma's heart.  I love you, to the moon - and back!

- Momma


Monday, February 17, 2014

The Birth of Your Blog

Peanut -

Three years ago, over Valentine's weekend, Momma started documenting her grief in a personal journal. The depth of my grief was swallowing me whole, and I had lost the ability to verbalize the pain, the hopelessness, the despair. That journal reawakened Momma's ability to express her thoughts and emotions much more eloquently via the written word than she ever could verbally. At the same time, it became a very dangerous, private, hidden outlet for Momma to share the demons hidden within her grief.

Just a few weeks in to the journal exercise Momma decided to instead share her experiences and emotions in a much more public space - this blog. This was Momma's way of not only sharing the journey, but forcing some accountability onto herself. Accountability to survive. To live and thrive.

The Momma from three years ago could never picture being where we are today. Momma laughs every day. Not just a half-hearted laugh but a head-thrown-back belly laugh. We talk freely with The Pickle about his Angel Brother, noting the absence of good literature to discuss situations like ours with subsequent children. We pledge to help others by sharing our story.

Peanut, we aren't just surviving. We are living. Living full of love. Full of pride that we have you in our lives and hearts. That we have you watching over us.

Tonight Momma has decided to share a chunk of her heart. A journal entry from this day three years ago. This is painful to read and revisit. For anyone reading this who is early in their heartbreak, just know...I'm here today living full of love, grace and joy:

Peanut - I wish I could see you, sitting on my lap facing me, covering your face with my hair. Bouncing up and down, trying to head bump me - all the while with a giant grin and your funny laugh. While I was watching TV tonight I felt a giant, empty hole next to me. It was so wonderful to have you next to me - you would lean right into my side, rest your head on me, and I would wrap my arms around you. It was so fun watching you turn into the sweet, funny little boy you had become...I was so looking forward to watching you grow up. It is so unfair: why did the Universe take you, my heart and my soul? You are all I ever wanted - all I had hoped for, and everything I dreamed. I want to continue on to make you proud, but life is so empty without you. I know you're still present...I feel you every morning at 4:34 am. I think you're still talking to me in that moment. Oh, my sweet's been three weeks and I miss you more than ever. How can my heart still be beating when it is so broken? You brought so much joy that I want to hang on to that - but I can't help but be sad, hopeless and angry. I just want you back. I hope time helps me understand. Please know, I love you. - Momma

Peanut, I hope you feel me thinking about you every day. That you hear me talking to you every moment. That you see my dreams where we are reunited. I believe you do...I believe.

More than anything, I love you sweet 'Nut. How much? To the moon - and back again!

- Momma

Oh, how I wish we'd had more of these...

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Early Days of Grief

Peanut -

I don't know how to refer to January 26, 2011.  Many bereaved parents use the term "Angel Day" but that feels wrong, like it's glorifying your death.  Almost as if it's an event to be celebrated.  Maybe in some religions and cultures it is, but not for this Momma.  In the absence of an alternative, I have bounced between Angel Day and simply The Day You Died.  While the latter is more raw and course, it aligns more closely with what's in my heart.

This three year milestone in our journey of grief and living has been surprisingly significant.  Possibly because three years ago Momma couldn't imagine life feeling at all hopeful or happy or anywhere close to normal a few years down the road.  Or maybe it's because Momma remembers enjoying the winter 2010 Olympics with a tiny four month-old Peanut, projecting how much fun we would have watching these winter games again in 2014 as we looked for sports that would interest you down the road (Momma always thought you would be an ice hockey star).  Or, it could be watching your little brother blossom into his two year-old self, with new words, expressions, humor and personality every day.  So far beyond what we were lucky enough to experience with you.

No matter what the underlying reason is, this year has been particularly difficult.  Momma has been reliving day-by-day exactly what decisions we made, actions we took, in the moments, hours and days after your passing.

- On January 27 we wrote your obituary.  Picked an urn from an understandably limited array of child-appropriate options.  Planned the day and time of your service.  Had lunch with my parents where I ordered white chicken chili and wanted to throw it against the wall just to watch the bowl shatter.

- On January 28 we met with the minister who came to the hospital the morning you died.  He didn't know you but was so touched, so saddened.  He presided over your service but was very respectful of Momma and Dadda's wishes to focus less on scripture and more on what you loved most - your books and school and toys and family - and people's remembrances.

Without asking, our best friends were at the house at all hours.  Ensuring Momma and Dadda were fed.  Had water, soda or a drink, when needed.  They gave us space to cry and to laugh - even when it felt so wrong.

Tomorrow, January 29 is the day Momma bought a dress for your service and had to face cheerful, friendly salespeople - and I had to be nice rather than shouting, "I'm buying a dress for my son's funeral!!!!."  The day I printed the handouts and made sure we had your favorite music ready to play and realized your brothers, sister and aunts had created beautiful, extensive photo memory boards to display.

And January 30th marks the day of your service.  January 31st is the day when life shifted gears again and we moved into "how to face the future" mode.

But for today/tonight Momma is focused on these days.  The days we were numb.  Much like people who have lost an arm or limb have phantom pain where the absence of the lost limb is excruciating, these are the days when the absence of your hugs and laughter were debilitating.  The absence caused pain where the presence had only provided love and warmth.

I choose to focus on these days as a way to remember what is most important. To fully, truly appreciate how blessed I am to have the love of my Peanut, The Pickle, my step kids...that Motherhood takes many different forms but all of them are a gift.  A gift we must earn and appreciate every day.

Peanut, I believe you can feel what Momma is sorting through this week.  Please know it is all rooted in a deep love you you.  To the moon - and back!

- Momma

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Three Years

Peanut -

Three years ago tonight I hugged you - and you hugged me back - for the last time.  I read you your favorite book and felt your arms around my neck as I told you just how much I loved you. Three years ago the world Momma lived in said you would wake up the next day.  But.  You didn't.

Without explanation, you left us far too early and life - the world - changed in an instant.  Just after 6:00 am on January 26, 2011 Dadda found you unresponsive in your crib.  Momma and Dadda tried CPR, calling 911 and holding you close to our hearts hoping these acts would bring you back to this earth.  I'll never forget the EMT who ordered me to go change out of my shower-robe into clothes so I could function in the ambulance and ER.  "MOM - go change into clothes NOW!"

By 6:30 am Momma was riding in the passenger seat of the ambulance as we tried to push through early rush hour traffic to St. Luke's hospital.  Dadda was trailing us in his car, frantically calling family and friends - something I didn't have the presence of mind to do - as we sped to the hospital.  I prayed the whole ride to St. Luke's.  Please let my little boy be OK, please bring him back to us, I will do anything to keep him here, I will be a better person, please, oh please, oh please.

Just after 7:00 am the ER doctors prepared us for the news.  They knew you had left to fly with the angels.  Momma just couldn't face that reality.  And by 7:30 am you were pronounced dead.

The next few days are a blur.  Somewhere in there we planned your Memorial Service.  We picked your urn, wrote your obituary and decided on the passages to be read at your service.  We got dressed and showered despite how pointless it all seemed.  And I promised Dadda I would live.

Three years.

Three years.

Three years.

I crave and miss you so very much.  I want to feel your soft curly hair and long eyelashes.  Your expressive fingers and wiggly monkey toes.  I just want you back in my arms.

I miss you desperately.

Peanut, I love you.  How much?  Well, silly, you know - to the moon and back!

- Momma

Monday, January 20, 2014

History Repeating Itself

Peanut -

Your little brother is sick - just like you were right before you died.  He has the same cough and red-rimmed eyes.  The same desire to hug Mommy tightly around the neck while asking for nose wipes.  As I write this I can hear him coughing and wonder...what will this night bring?

Is history repeating itself?  Is the universe truly that cruel?

I was already dreading this week and now this.  After 3 years of holding it together am I being tested?  

These weeks of milestones are hard.  Your brother's birthday.  The anniversary of when I confirmed I was pregnant with you.  The day you passed away.  These are all bundled into a 2-week timeframe.  

Every day the world moves on in "normal" time.  But this week Momma's world moves at a glacial pace - exacerbated by this coughing sickness.  I will stay up all night, if needed.

More often than not, I strive for positive, uplifting posts.  But tonight I have to be real and raw.  This journey is hard, awful, frightening, and constant.  The looming 3rd anniversary makes it all the more stark.

Momma is going to bed full of prayers.  Please let the Pickle weather this cough.  Allow us to navigate these next days with grace.  With strength.

Sending you love, love and more love.  To the moon - and back.  I love you my sweet Peanut.

-  Momma

Taken January 20, 2011.  Six days before you died.  You are so spirited and happy!

Friday, January 10, 2014


Peanut -

Your 3rd Angel Day is pounding on the door of Momma's brain this year - much more so than the last few years.  What is it about this three year milestone?  Is it that your brother's 2nd birthday precedes it by just a few days?  A birthday you never got to celebrate?

Every day Momma is remembering exactly what we were doing three years ago.  The food you ate, the programs we watched, the places we visited, the snowfall and temperatures.  Everything.  It's as if I'm reliving those final weeks with you all over again.  I'll never forget that Friday when I picked you up from G'ma and G'pa's, stopped and got you french fries, then fed them to you one-by-one while we drove home.  A rare Friday when Momma went into the office thanks to snow the day before.  An anomaly I don't want to repeat.

At the same time, your little brother is blossoming into this pre-schooler who wants to talk and run and climb and give love/hugs/kisses - and is just plain fun.  He's been asking about you, and I've been telling him stories about his big brother which has led to lots of "Connor" references out of The Pickle's mouth.  Momma isn't sure how to navigate these waters but I think think this is the right course of action.

It feels like we are at a significant crossroads on this journey.  Time to pick up our bags and look to the future instead of looking back and comparing.  Time to stop confusing the time with you and the time with The Pickle.  Time to realize we've ventured into new territory with a 2 year old.  Time to stop believing that trying keep everything "the same" will keep The Pickle alive.

Because it didn't keep you alive.

I wish we knew how and why you died.  Maybe, just maybe, there will be an answer someday.  But for now, Momma has to live with "we have no idea."

Keeping things exactly the same has been a Momma-thing.  A way to honor you.  To tell you how much we loved - I loved - what we had with you.  And still love so very much.  Peanut, I am asking for a sign from you to let me know it's OK to break from these patterns.  That when we stray from what you knew, it will be OK.

This has been a tough, but necessary post.

Peanut, I still talk to you every night and you know my heart.  I love you, my sweet boy, to the moon - and back!

- Momma