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