Monday, December 31, 2012

Wrapping up the worst year ever

Over the holiday season, we got a few Christmas letters from some dear friends and family members... talking about how their year went and all the wonderful things that happened to them.  I thought about what our letter would say if we created one.  How would we talk about the worst year of our lives?  What words could be said that would do 2012 justice?  I feel like a good ol' "F*** YOU" would be the easiest way to sum up my feelings.  However, then I think about the year... the first 6 weeks of 2012 were truly wonderful.  Every day was filled with laughter, smiles, love and happiness.  As a family, we got along better than we ever had.  The kids loved having Declan in our family.  Both Noah and Courty were great siblings to him... and were SUCH big helpers for me.  For 6 weeks we were the family I had envisioned growing up... I had my hearts desire, life was good.   Then that day happened to us....the day our lives changed FOREVER! The day life slapped me in the face, sucked all the breath out of me and ripped out my heart.  The day my family was torn apart and my kids learned about death and the unfairness of life the hard way.  The day Declan died.  The day our son's heart stopped beating in our arms.   February 14th, 2012....  I feel like saying, "what else matters?!" Life at our house stopped that day... every day since then has been about survival... it has been about overcoming fear, anger, extreme sadness and disappointment.  It has been about making a decision to let his death sink us or make us stronger.  It has been about discovery and healing, it has been about finding ways to make his memory live on and making an impact on this world that is as meaningful as he is.   Every day has been about accepting our fate and what has happened to us... it has been about piecing together Noah and Courtlynn's hearts and letting them know that we still love them and that we are going to be ok.  It has been about coming to terms with our situation... about leaning on each other in ways we had never done before.  SO... yes, 2012 sucked. 2012 hurt terribly.  2012 will never be forgotten... but overtime, what I hope I remember are the 6 weeks Declan was here with us and the incredible way Nathan, Noah, Courlynn and myself pulled together to get through this... Thanks to those three, I can say confidently that I was able to laugh, I was able to smile and I was able to see my blessings amidst the rain even during the worst year of my life. 


It's tough to be happy when your child has died... but day by day, we are coming to a place were we are starting to find a new happiness.  The only new years resolution I will be making for 2013 is to make the most of what I have, give thanks and praise for Declan daily and to move in a direction that sustains his memory and strengthens the bond my family has.  

Happy New Year to all... may God's blessing pour out on you. 

Friday, December 28, 2012

Reflecting on Christmas

Christmas has come and it has passed... I was curious to see how the holidays would shape up for us.  I had lots of anxiety about seeing the kids open their gifts, knowing we should have a squealing little toddler trying to steal everyone else's presents and who enjoyed playing with the wrapping paper more than the toy itself.  I think overall we did ok.  Christmas Eve was hard for me... the music at church brought me to tears at every song and when I got home I took a moment to have a good cry in our room, but then it was back to the hustle and bustle of getting ready for supper and getting the kids settled down enough to enjoy the moment.  I found myself to be extremely sleepy over most of the holiday. I think that was stress and emotions weighing heavy on my shoulders.   I don't know what I expected, but sometimes I am overwhelmed at how I think people don't want to make me sad (or themselves sad) so they don't bring up Declan... I think that is one of the worst ways to deal with grief... I want someone, other than myself, to bring him up, to let me know that they too are missing him over this holiday season.  I don't know what I would want someone to say... I am not sure how people should act, but I anticipated an acknowledgment of our first Christmas without our son and we didn't really get that... or maybe we did in the form of extra hugs, arm squeezes, and longer gazes, but hardly anyone said his name... in fact maybe only one, my brother.  I understand it is hard and I am not upset or trying to call anyone out, it's just more an observation I made and am sharing.   I guess overall, Nate was my rock,  the two of us spoke about  him, cried about his passing and visited his grave... the two of us together dealt with the pain and the sorrow the only way we have learned to - by leaning on each other and helping each other when the other one is struggling... how lucky I am to have someone to travel this journey with... a person who 'gets' it at my side... As I sit here, looking at the Christmas tree, knowing the season is almost over, I can't help but think about what Christmas really means... the gift of a baby, meant to save the world by giving up His life for us... to ensure that I will get to see Declan again.  I have much to be thankful for... and I can take comfort in knowing that GOD himself, knows what it is like to lose a child.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

The places grief takes you

After Declan passed away, I wanted to be surrounded in my grief... I wanted the hurt because it meant that I was still alive and that he had been real.  I wanted to 'feel' what I could of him and for those few months after his passing, all I had of him was grief, it was the most tangible thing I could find.  So I held on tightly.  I remember saying, I don't ever want to feel better, I want to feel this sadness in my heart forever.  Not because I enjoyed feeling broken hearted, but because I was afraid if I didn't, it would mean that I had forgotten or that I had "moved on"... the last thing I ever wanted was to move on, like the life and passing of my son was some sort of terrible thing I should forget.  As I have taken the steps of this journey, I have come to a new place... a place I don't really like and am working on moving through... now it feels almost like the opposite of before, when I start to think about Declan, really think about him.... envision his birth, his smile, his voice, his laugh... really move to a place where he is all I am thinking about,  I can be happy and thankful for his life, but only for a few moments before a deep deep sadness take my heart over....and then I say to myself, "I can't think about that right now"... because I don't have the energy or the desire to be consumed with grief.  I'm in a place where my reality is starting to sink it... it's starting to become real and I am understanding he isn't coming back... which I knew in my head along, but my heart couldn't go there.  It's slowly catching on and the pain from that is 'harder' than in the beginning.  The pain now can be crippling... it can also just be silent tears flowing... I just never know which direction my grief will choose to take.  I think in those few months after Dex's passing, I needed to be a crying mess... I needed to take those moments, with my eyes shutting out the world, to just be sad and to have what I called "Declan" time... I don't feel like I need my 'Declan' time to look like that anymore.  On occasion I am perfectly content with shutting out the world and running wild in my dreams with my sweet son, but I don't have to anymore... my body doesn't require it of me.  I am at least at a point where he can be in my thoughts and I am not breaking down... where he can come up in conversation and I can get through it with only a minor lip tremble, where he fleets in and out of my mind, like a game of hide and seek, and I can smile at his memory.  I am presuming, as my grief continues to take me down this journey, I will come to a place where I can allow myself to think deeply about Declan without crippling pain... a place and time where I can sit and watch my memories playing like a movie in my head and instead of being overwhelmed with sadness, enjoy the moment.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

When hate happens


Friday’s tragic events obviously have been unimaginable… many, many people are sad and unable to understand how someone could do this, including me.  I am sad. My heart is breaking for the 20 empty beds that those parents now have in their home.  My heart is weeping at the Christmas trees full of presents for children whose squeals of delight will not be heard.   I know everyone is ‘imagining’ how terrible it is to lose a child… we know.  Nate and I do not have to imagine how those parents feel.  We can relate to their pain, to their immense suffering…. I’m sure funeral plans are being made and we can personally tell you that planning your child’s funeral sucks.  I truly believe that once you have experienced your own loss, you grieve harder and you relive your own loss every time you hear of something similar.  Of course, it doesn’t help that this is the holidays and we are suffering through our own sadness and still healing from losing Declan…  but I can’t imagine it changing.   

Friday, to begin with started off terrible, to start with it was the 14th… the 10-month anniversary of our own loss…. I have struggled with that date of the month for 10 months.  Around 9 am, I found out my former band teacher, music director and someone I looked up to was killed in a car accident… then the awful news of the school shootings… Nate and I laid in bed on Friday night and talked about how terrible the day was from the beginning to the end.  Sadness surrounded us.

As I have digested the events at SHES, the teacher in me can’t help but think of what it was like to be there as an adult…  how hearing those shots surely sent them into a mode they didn’t believe they would ever be in – PRORECTION mode.  I can only imagine the very first thought was ‘oh my God… this is real’ and from there, ‘how can I protect these children?’  I think back to my days in the classroom and you know, I didn’t like every one of my students and there were a few I couldn’t stand, but I know I would have protected everyone of them with my own life.   I have heard the stories of heroism from the teachers and I am proud, but not one bit surprised.  As Noah and I talked about the terrible events, I confidently told him that his teacher would protect him and the other children with her life.  I just know she would.  When you become a teacher you are so much more than just a teacher…. You are a substitute mom (or dad)… you are a nurse…. You are a leader and role model… you are a friend… you are a protector of those little ones in your care.  It’s a big job.   

My heart goes out to the teachers who lost their friends on Friday.... my heart aches for the police and rescue people who had to witness such a terrible act and see such hate...my heart weeps for the students whose friends died and who will suffer with this for a very long time and I think it goes without saying that my heart hurts for the parents who lost their babies and to the kiddos who lost their brother/sister...  Friday, the devil reared his ugly head.  Today and always is the time to trust in God... to allow him to help us through our pain and our disbelief... it's time to remember that HE will hold us up in his victorious right hand. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Discontent

I have been feeling very discontent lately.... I can't seem to shake it and on top of that feeling, I am angry.  I don't know where the anger is coming from, maybe it's always been there, lurking beneath the surface and I am not even aware of it.  But I think more accurately it stems from the great discontentedness I am wallowing in these days.  I want more... more time with Declan... to have one more Christmas with him... to have more soft baby face to kiss.   I want this to have not happened.  I want to wake up tomorrow and have life back the way it was meant to be.  That is what my heart wants, my mind knows that isn't a reality.   I can't even begin to explain how quickly my mind moves and changes... I want things that sound like a good idea at the time and then after thinking about it, change my mind.  I want a dog... I don't want a dog... I want to adopt a 16 year old kiddo named Jack (long story) and then I don't... I want to have another baby... and I still want another baby. That desire weighs heavy on my mind because it's not likely to happen very easily... extra, expensive steps would have to be taken to have one of our own or adopting would have to be considered as a real option.  And I am mad about that.  I hear about Rainbow Babies and how excited those families are and I want us to be those parents... getting another chance.  I am afraid though that what I really want is Declan and what I really want is more time with him.... so I find myself talking myself out of wanting another child.... it's a bit of a vicious cycle.  I think that going through the holidays and having the 1 year anniversary of his passing coming up has also contributed to my discontentedness and my anger.  It's kind of exhausting feeling like this.

Tonight at supper, those crazy feelings came to a head.  Nate was being silly and joking around with me and I started to laugh and it instantly turned into tears... not just a few silent gliders, but shoulders bouncing, tears streaming, can't catch my breath kind of crying... and to top it off we were at Pizza Ranch! I was embarrassed and wanted to stop, but every time I thought I was getting it under control the bawling continued.  Noah and Co-Co Bean were not sure what to think... I didn't even know what to think.  It was kind of scary because it felt like I had no control over it... and I had a really hard time catching my breath. It was icky and I felt bad for putting my family through it....

I guess what I need to remind myself is that I need to put it back in our Heavenly Fathers hands and trust that He has a plan bigger than I can imagine at the moment.


Wednesday, December 5, 2012

knocked down...

I got knocked down... but I got up again. 

Struggling with IT

I find that when I am tired or not feeling the best or just plain in a bummed out mood, 'it' really weighs on me.   'It' being grief... 'it' being the loss of Dex... 'it' being everything and anything.  People use the word "it" often....  It's time to get over 'it'.  How do you handle 'it'?  How has 'it' changed you?  "It" reminds me of one of those words that people use to talk about some elusive entity... some secret thing that no one can fully describe because they don't really know what 'it' is, but they know that it is something...  today the word 'it' means my disbelief that my son died.  I look at his photos and I just can NOT believe it.  I don't understand how this happened to us!  How did death so quickly sneak into our lives and steal what was most important?  How do you recover from that?!  How do you not let 'it' ruin your life? Why do we have to have that kind of 'it' in our lives?   It did happen though... it is real.  It has tripped us up, but we continue to try to figure 'it' out... we continue to work on moving forward.

A Grieving Parents wish list

I saw this on Grieving Mothers Facebook page.... I did not write it, but I like it and wanted to share with you.

A Grieving Parents Wish list

1. I wish you would not be afraid to speak my child's name. My child lived and was important and I need to hear his/her name.


2. If I cry or get emotional if we talk about ... my child, I wish you knew that is 
isn't because you have hurt me. The fact that my child has died has caused my tears. You have allowed me to cry and I thank you. Crying and sometimes unexpected emotions are healing.


3. I wish you wouldn't ignore or act like my child never existed by removing from your home his pictures, artwork or other reminders of this very special person who lived and made a contribution to all of our lives.


4. I will have emotional highs and lows, ups and downs. I wish you wouldn't think that if I have a good day my grief is all over, or that if I have a bad day I need psychiatric counseling. My erratic and unpredictable mood swings, from exhilaration to hopelessness, are as unpredictable by me, as they are by you. This is part of my new "normal" life.


5. I wish you knew that the death of a child is different from other losses and must be viewed separate. It is the ultimate tragedy in a persons life. I wish you wouldn't compare it to your loss of a parent, a friend, a spouse or a pet.


6. Being a bereaved parent is not contagious, so I wish you would not shy away from me. I need you and you need me.


7. I wish you knew of all the "crazy" grief reactions that I have are, in fact, are very normal. Depression, anger, frustration, hopelessness, and the questioning of values and beliefs are to be expected following the death of a child.


8. I wish you wouldn't expect my grief to be over in six months. Please do not think because my "time period" is over that I am a "former bereaved parent" but I'll forever more be a "recovering bereaved parent". Please don't tell me how I should "cope" or that "it is time to move on" or "someday there will be closure". The word "closure" is a convenient, faddish media term that is absolute and complete non sense and meaningless.


9. I wish you understood the physical reactions to grief. I may gain weight or lose weight, sleep all the time or not at all, develop a host of illnesses, be accident prone or forgetful, all of which may be related to my grief. I may become isolated and withdrawn for periods of time. I may not even be able to talk on the phone or return phone calls.


10. Our child's birthday, the anniversary of their death and holidays are terrible times for us. I wish you would tell us that you are thinking of our child on these days. and if we get quiet and withdrawn, just know that we are thinking of our child and don't try to coerce us into being cheerful. If nothing else, I wish you would call once in a while and say "hi, I was thinking about you" Or just a friendly note or word, '"just wanted to let you know i was thinking of you today and hope things are OK"


11. It is normal and good that most of us re-examine our faith, values and beliefs after losing a child. We will question things we have been taught all our lives and hopefully, come to some new understanding with my God. I wish you would let me tangle with my religion without making me feel guilty.


12. I wish you would understand that grief changes people. I am not the same person I was before my child died and I will never be that person again. If you keep waiting and encouraging me to "get back to my old self" you will be disappointed, discouraged and frustrated. I am a new creature, not by choice, but by circumstances, with new thoughts, new dreams, aspirations, goals, priorities, values and beliefs. Please try to get to know the new me...maybe you will still like me.

~Unknown

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preparing for the holiday season


As Christmas approaches I am a ball of mixed emotions.  The holiday season is my most favorite time of the year.  I LOVE Christmas lights and Christmas trees.... Christmas songs and the spirit that seems to surround most people... it's been difficult to ready myself for this season.  I know it will be tough, I am preparing myself for that.  We've been praying for the ability to be gracious and thankful in the midst of our pain and sorrow.  We have been making a purposeful effort to give thanks for what we have been given... Noah... Courtlynn... Declan... and each other.  We have more than a lot of people do and even though my sweet Dex is not with us and we have a huge whole in our hearts from his passing, we are both SO thankful for the time we were able to spend with him.  So... we are trying.  I have been listening to Christmas music (a LONG time favorite of mine) and find myself recollecting back to Christmas Eve services when I was little and family gatherings... but yet, I can't help but shed some tears as I think about what we are missing this holiday season.   We decorated our tree on Sunday... all I could do was remember last years tree decorating event... with my little man content to watch his brother and sister.  When we were done, Nate and I just sat on the stairs and looked at the tree and silently cried.  I wasn't even sure I wanted to put our tree up this year, but I am trying to remember that my kids need to have our holiday traditions firmly in place.  They need to know that just because Declan died, doesn't mean they aren't worthy of a great Christmas. They are so excited about it... and as usual, Noah started his Christmas list a few weeks ago... using a Walmart ad to circle all the toys he wants.  He passed on the tradition to Co-Co Bean this year and taught her how to carefully go through the ads, she has been busy circling toys in her very own ad.  Noah did write out his list at Sunday school the other day and has since told me several times that he would like a brother for Christmas.  We've explained to him that he has a brother and he says, "I know, but I want another one." I know all he wants is to have a brother to play with... a brother who is here on earth with us.  I know he isn't thinking about having a brother in heaven and what that means for him.  It really makes me sad when he tells me that.  There are times when his pain and his longing for a brother weighs on me more than my own sorrow.  As the holiday approaches, I am stuck between my own expectations of how I want the season to go, making the holiday as special as I can for my kiddos and dealing with the overwhelming feeling of longing, heartache and sadness.... all while trying to be thankful and appreciative for all that God has given us.  UGH.... that is a lot to juggle.

* He would also like a four wheeler... a tough kid to satisfy! 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traveling the grief highway...

I've noticed some changes in my life and my grief.  The other day, while I was getting ready I cried and cried...  As I sobbed, upset about losing Declan and having to be in the situation of trying to figure out how to honor my son's life,  I continued getting ready.  I went through all the motions of getting myself set for the day - all while crying.  I thought about that how odd it was that my tears didn't slow me down or change up my day.  It actually kind of shocked me that I wasn't momentarily 'crippled' by my wave of sadness... right after losing Dex, the grief and pain were so intense that when I was crying I had to stop what I was doing or be sitting down because I could think of nothing else, let alone be productive.  Now, after 9 months the pain is still there, still close to the surface, but I have figured out that my time doesn't stop.... that I still have to get through a day...I still have to work... I still have to parent... I still have to get supper on the table... but the hurt is still there, the pain doesn't go away just because I have obligations.... so I cry while I go about getting on with the day.   Leave it to a woman to multitask grief!  Tears are such a natural part of my life lately that it only seems normal that I would just continue to go about my business while I have my moment.  After I pull myself together... No, I wouldn't even say 'pulled myself together' because, although I have break downs like that, most of the time there is nothing to pull together. The tears just stop, I clean up my face and continue on with whatever is happening.   It's kind of like going down a highway, with so much to see... your head swivels from side to side as you take in the sights... your so busy looking that you have to slow down and allow cars to pass you as you continue to crawl along... but as you become use to the surroundings and you get your bearings to this strange new place, you can start to speed up and continue down the highway, still checking it out, occasionally needing to pull over for a break, but pretty much your like  on auto  pilot... going through the motions.  That is what I feel like.... I have got my bearings to my grief, I am done looking around for answers and for something to change, I am on auto pilot... getting through and getting by.... yet there are still moments when I asked myself "why us?!"

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

His first birthday

Well it came and it went...  one of the days I was dreading the most.  Declan's birthday.  I was dreading the day probably for obvious reasons, but also because it meant that we were down to the last few months of our 'first year'... I feel like people are forgiving of grief or expect grief during that first year after losing a loved one, but after that year, people start to expect you to move on and to be ok.  I know I have talked about time moving so fast for me before, but please bear with me... because this is probably the main thing I struggle with... time.  The amount of time that has passed since I last saw my baby increases every day... the distance between the time in our life when we were 'normal' to whatever we are now continues to grow daily.... Soon Declan's death won't just be 'so many months ago', it will be '1 year and so many months ago'.  I was dreading his birthday because it put a time table in place for the end of our first year.  Starting on Sunday we only have 12 weeks and 4 days (2 days now) of time left until it's February 14th, 2013.... until we mark the one year 'anniversary' of his passing. That sucks.  It just stinks so bad and I still randomly think that somehow this will change, that this isn't how his story is going to end... I don't know what I am hoping for.  I do know, but I also know there is no possible way of what I want actually happening.... Anyway, how did the day go?  How did we manage to keep the sorrow from overwhelming us? We did the only thing we knew how to do... threw a party and asked people to join us in celebrating the life he did have... the memories we made... and the legacy he is leaving behind.   We had close to 80 people join us in remembering him and celebrating his short life.  We wrote messages to Declan on floating lanterns and then sent them off at his gravesite.  Afterwards, we had a 'celebration of life' gathering... soup, cake, a hot chocolate bar, appetizers and drinks... and we hugged and we cried and Nate and I marveled at the friends and family that came to our gathering to support us.  We both felt humbled and honored to have so many people there.  It was the perfect way to celebrate his birthday!

Here is some of the group sending off their lantern.


You can see the trail of lanterns as they started their journey... I think we had about 10 or 11 that made it up.  Several had to be 'stomped' out when they caught on fire. 

On Sunday, his actual birthday we went down to my parents lake house and spent the day surround by my family.  Sometimes there is no greater 'therapy' for our pain than just being surrounded by prayers, love and laughter.   I spent some time on the beach (It wasn't freezing, actually it was really nice out) and decided to start writing his name in the sand. I don't know why...  I think in all, I wrote his name about 6 times... in different styles and in different places.  It just felt good to see his name spelled out.  Knowing that it should have been spelled out on a birthday cake instead... When we returned home, the kids, Nate and myself watched his video tribute from the funeral.  Noah, Nate and myself cried harder than we had in a long time.  CoCo Bean didn't know what to think... She just kind of looked at us and kept giving us hugs and would say "I miss Declan." We snuggled together and held each other close as we watched his sweet smile looking back at us.  When it was over I said, 'lets do a group hug guys', we wrapped our arms around each other and from in the middle of the circle Noah says, "we will never have a complete group hug"  So true big guy...  

Happy Birthday dear Declan! You have no idea how much I wish this day had been different... 



Friday, November 16, 2012

You left a trail of beauty

Dear little man... you came into my life, filled it with beautifulness and left shortly afterwards.  As we travel this journey, slowly the splendor you left while you were here is becoming clear again... slowly we are able to smile at what we had... slowly we are rebuilding our lives.  It looks different than it did a year ago, but it continues to hold the beauty that you showered upon us.  We  wish that our story ended differently and that you could still be here with us. Not a day goes by that you don't cross my mind and fill my heart with love.  I am sad that you left this world, but slowly I am accepting it and coming to terms with your loss. We love you and miss you daily!


Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No more tomorrows

9 months ago today.... the day started like most other days, kind of.  Declan woke up around 5 like he had been doing for weeks.  I fed him, cuddled with him and put him back down when I needed to start getting ready.  He slept until around 6:15-ish.  The kids woke up and got dressed in their valentines day best. Nate stayed home that morning because we had decided to put our precious puppy down. (actually she was 10 year olds... nowhere near a puppy, but that is what we called her)  She was an anxious mess and starting to get snappy with the kids, not to mention she had ruined every shade we had in our previous house and in our rental town home here.  Anyway, because we knew that this would be the last day with Emma, we lined the kids up on the bed and tried to get a photo with Emma... she wasn't having any of it.  Got two photos of the kids with a flash of white on the side as Emma quickly slithered away... little did I know those would be the last photos we would take of our complete family.  We had given the kids their valentines day presents in the morning, so they were busy checking out their new toys. Declan received three 'chunky' books of animals and Noah was so excited to watch his new "Reel Steal" movie as SOON as he got home from school.  He even asked if he could watch it with Declan. I can't remember what we gave miss Co-Co Bean.  Afterwards, I was busy getting Noah's valentines day cards into his backpack. Then I got Declan into his car seat, kissed his fat cheeks and sent them on their way... that was the last time I saw him awake.  The last time I saw his eyes... the last time I heard his voice.  What would I have done differently had I known?!  How would I change that day if I knew there would be no more tomorrows?

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Disbelief

I can not believe that Sunday is Declan's birthday.  I can't stop thinking about where we were a year ago... or where we should be now.   I can't stop feeling sorry for myself.  I can't stop wishing it was different... and a completely irrational voice in my heart continues to think this will somehow change and he will somehow come back to me.  I am still in disbelief at the finality of it... of death.   I am trying to accept his passing as truth, but my heart is continuing to say "STOP... don't believe it!"  I find there are times now when I start to think about his passing and I find myself shaking my head and thinking, 'I don't want to think about that right now.'  Not in a manner that I am trying to forget, but like thinking about it makes it real again... like I have to re-expereince the pain, the hurt, and the numbness all over.  For the first few months, I lived with half of my head constantly lost in thoughts about him and his passing and reliving that day over and over again... and I was ok with it!  I wanted it that way. Now I don't know where I am at... I like to think about my sweet little man often, but sometimes the thoughts about his death are too much...they hurt more than I want to hurt...  I am trying to come to terms with the idea that fairy tales don't always have happy endings, but that doesn't mean the story wasn't worth hearing or in my case, living.   I am trying to cope and figure out what tomorrow will bring.  I am trying to identify who the new me is... I am figuring out how to walk this path, travel this journey and come out a better person because of him... I am trying "to learn to dance in the rain" as that sayings goes.... I just really hate being wet.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

The other day, Courty and I stopped out to the cemetery to visit Dex's grave.  It is always hard for me to be there, but I like being there... if that makes any sense.  On our way back into town, I was crying and here is the conversation that ensued: Courty, "Why are you sad?" I said, "I miss your brother Declan." Courty "Well he's gone now mom." Me, "I know Courty." Courty "Declan died mom." Me, "Yes, I know that."   Her tone indicated she clearly thought I should not be sad anymore.  It was as if she was trying to say 'Get over it'.   She has always been rather blunt about his death and it has caused me to giggle on a few occasion as it usually shocks the heck out of the person she is talking to... but most of the time she is simply stating that this terrible happened to us and that she is sad about it.   This felt different to me, it wasn't her processing the situation or anything like that... it really felt like she thought I should be done being sad, that I should get over it.  Bless her little heart... I know she wasn't trying to be hurtful or mean, she just thinks its time for mom to be done being sad.  If it only it were that easy, I guess I could say it's different...  the pain has changed over the past 9 months.  Nate and I rarely cry in each others arms at night any more... I can make it the whole way home after work without crying the entire way... I can get through a church service without having silent tears run down my cheeks.  I can look at babies around Declan's age without choking up, although I sometimes still get jealous and I sometimes still wonder why not someone else? Slowly Nate and I are figuring out what this life of ours will look like since Declan's passing... slowly we are learning how to pick ourselves up, dust off the dirt and move forward.  Later on the same day as my conversation with Courty, she sat down looking very defeated and she said, "I miss Delcan."  Even at three years of age, she struggles with holding on and letting go... being sad, yet not letting it get the best of her.  Grief affects all... not always in the same way, but it affects us all.  Together, the four of us are getting the pieces to this puzzle figured out. It just takes time.

About the same time as this conversation was happening with Courty, Noah decided he wanted to create a new cross for Declan's grave... he and Papa worked hard at getting a new one to look as cool as the one he made back in May.  The two of them set out to find the perfect size sticks, they drilled a hole in one stick and whaa-laaa they had made a pretty great cross.  We went out to his grave together, in the rain and mist and put it in its place.


Noah getting the cross in the right spot.


Noah and Papa hammering in the cross so it can withstand the long winter.


The Finished Product... it looks great! 



Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Enjoying the little things.

Its that time of year when all I hear from Noah is "when are we going to carve our pumpkins?"  I have a love/hate relationship with pumpkin carving... I enjoy doing it with the kids, but almost always, I end up being the one to finish it up... also I hate doing them to early in the season because they get so ugly and gross after a week or so and I like them to look their best on Halloween night... that's just one of my quirks.   But this year... I just didn't have the desire to do it at all.  I can remember carving pumpkins last year and talking about 'next year' we will have a baby with us.  'Next year the baby will have a pumpkin'... next year is here, and as you know, our baby is not.  There is a lot of pain and sadness around those 'first' that happen during the first year of loss... this was suppose to be his first Halloween. I have seen some cute little outfits and have said to myself, 'that's what I would have gotten Declan.'  We wish he was here with us so badly... even in the midst of my pain and my desire to do away with the holidays, I have to remember that these are memories my kids will have forever.  These are traditions that they deserve.  I am not selfish enough to deny them the pleasure of carving pumpkins and 'celebrating' Halloween... there are more important things in this life than me.  Tell that to my grief...

We did carve our pumpkins tonight.  I am glad we did, because it was a fun experience for all of us.  A great memory that I will hold with me for a long time....


CoCo Bean and Daddy getting her pumpkin ready.  She cleaned the pumpkin out all by herself... with a little help from mom. 


 Noah chose to carve a difficult 'mummy' face on his pumpkin.  I drew it on the pumpkin and he literally carved the whole thing by himself.  He did an amazing job!  He stuck at it for two hours!


Here are the kids finished products.  Nate clearly did all of CoCo Beans, but she takes full credit.  :) Doesn't Noah's mummy face look great!? 


I even felt moved enough to do a pumpkin for Declan.  I think that is how I have to approach these events... figure out how I can incorporate him into everything we do.  How can we enjoy ourselves and  still remember him?  It's a daily battle! 


Our finished products.  I think they turned out pretty cool.

How I wish things were different... how I wish Declan was with us.  I will wish this until I take my last breath, but while I am here, I must figure out how to take pleasure in the small things and give myself permission to smile, to laugh and to live.    


Friday, October 26, 2012

An unexpected God Nod

Nate from Starbucks in Brainerd, MN!  Thanks for your
random act of kindness... it meant more than you realized!
I had a unexpected God Nod the other day on my way to a conference.  I had ordered a coffee and when I went to pay for it, I couldn't find my check card.  I quickly told the cashier to stop making my coffee because I didn't have a way to pay for it.   Without hesitation, I was told not to worry about it.  At first I wasn't sure I was being understood... I repeated that I had no way to pay for it and I was told, "Don't worry about it.  It's on us. I hope you find your card."  I was a bit taken aback. I went out to my car and found my card in my suitcase... I went back in and told them I could now pay for it and I was told again "No seriously, it's no big deal.  I am glad you found your card."  It was pretty cool.  I couldn't help but think that this was a sign... a GOD NOD from God and Declan that they too are excited for our "little things with BIG love" campaign.  Without having any idea that Nate and I were about to embark on our first ever Random Acts of Kindness project, Starbucks beat me to my first act and I ended being on the receiving side!  I thought about that free cup of coffee all week at my conference and continued to get chills thinking about it... I felt so good getting that coffee... I am  SO excited to make other people feel as good as I did!  The whole situation was reaffirming to me that our 'little things with BIG love' campaign is the right way to honor our son's life at this moment...

I also learned of a co-worker of Nate's who was out to eat with his daughter in St. Paul... he saw a homeless man and began talking to him.  He said as they were speaking, he remembered 'little things with BIG love' and decided to buy the man his supper.  I can only imagine how the man with no home felt,  as he sat with a full tummy and pondering why a stranger was so kind.  I am positive that Declan was smiling down from heaven, knowing that this man's battle was a little easier for the evening!  Thank you Dennis for sharing your story with us and for extending your kindness in honor of Declan!

My friend Stacy also felt the need to show her love and she purchased ice cream treats at DQ for the couple behind her in the drive thru... I am sure it was the highlight of their night!  Thanks Stacy!!

I'm pretty excited to start our campaign, we have three weeks until the kick off, but if the opportunity presents itself to show your kindness in honor of Declan, please do!

Monday, October 22, 2012

If I could turn back the clock...

I am heading up to a conference tomorrow... I went to the same one last year and I was 9 months pregnant and ready to burst I was so fat.  I was a tank walking around that convention center.  I was uncomfortable and my ankles were the size of grapefruits... and what I wouldn't give to be back to where I was a year ago.  I can't imagine that anything would be different if we could go back and re-do, but to be able to give birth to Declan again and to see his beautiful little face looking at me with his little red face and his bright eyes... to be able to hold his little body so close to mine again would be amazing.    To be with him again as he discovers his toes and find his voice would be breathtaking.  To hear his laugh would be music to my heart... to see him in the bath one more time, laughing at Noah... to see our dog Emma walk up and give him a big lick... to find Co-Co Bean stealing his nookie... would be answers to my prayers! If only I could turn back the hands of time to relive those 12 weeks and 3 days. It would be one of the greatest pleasure I could ask for... I could skip the final day of his life... that one wasn't fun, but in retrospect I was able to say good bye to him, I was able to kiss his face and tell him that he was loved and that every second of his life he was a blessing and a gift that both Nathan and I thanked God for! My parents and Nate's were able to say their good-byes... he passed away surround by love.  Would I re-do that day? Yes.  If the outcome of his life would always end on that day, then yes I would want it to be the same way.  I would want those moments to smother him in my love again, to caress every inch of him and feel his hair lightly against my face... yes.  I would want that.  But BACK to reality, I know that isn't possible.  The clock only moves forward and as I have said time and time again, it continues to amaze me how fast our time has gone.  I remember posting on Facebook that it had been two weeks since he passed and now it has been almost 8 months and we are approaching what would have been his first birthday.   We are approaching a day that should be filled with birthday cake and balloons and a big HAPPY BIRTHDAY banner... it should be filled with laughter, joy and happiness as Nate and I look at each other, teary eyed, knowing this is the last first birthday we would be celebrating for our children.  Instead, we are busy planning 'a celebration of life' gathering.  We are trying to figure out how to honor his memory and how to make his life have a legacy... we are trying to keep his memory alive as much as we can.  We are excited about our "little things with BIG love" campaign and we think we will have a pretty heartfelt moment on the weekend of his birthday... but clearly I wish it were different.  I wish I could turn back the hands of time and see him again...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I will carry you

"I will praise the One who's chosen me to carry YOU."  

Sometimes music has a way of saying exactly what I want to say... sharing feelings I've felt, but wasn't sure how to express them.  Music has been an important factor in my healing since losing Declan.  I heard this song,"I will carry you" at Monday nights memorial service.  The words rang  true to me... there were photographs I had wanted to take of my three kids... there were traditions I wanted to show him... there were so many plans that I had... to be a family of 5... to have two sons... to be able to say to Nate "have fun with the boys" as they left to go hunting...   I have been living in a world of pain I didn't know could exist. I have tried to put on a brave face, I try to remind myself that life is full of wonder and beauty and even though my world has been turned upside down there are still good things here.  Life continues... that is what I often times can't believe.  Death doesn't end anything for the living... in fact, it is just a beginning... it is the start of a long road to hell and back.... it is the beginning of discovering your inner strength... it is the firsts of 'before he passed' and 'after he passed' comments.... it is the beginning of a self-discovery process you didn't realize you would ever go through.   I think about him daily... I think about the fact that he isn't here... I see other people with their babies and I get momentarily jealous... I just want to pick those little ones up and tell their mommy's to hold on tight... to savor EVERY moment...to never take for granted their presence in your life. If only I could carry my baby one more time.   I wish... but I know I will carry him again... in heaven and in reality I do carry him here on earth...in my heart.  He will always be a part of me and I will give praise to the ONE who chose me to be his mommy! I can't imagine anyone else doing that job for him... I can't imagine saying it would have been easier to never have had him - the hurt would have not happened, but the love and joy that he brought us and continues to bring us far outweigh the pain... I am so blessed to be the one chosen to be Declan's mom.  I wish I could have had him longer, but am I so blessed to have had three months with him.


I will carry you ~ Selah 

There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies, wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?People say that I am brave but i'm not
Truth is i'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because He loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the One who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know
That the silence
Has brought me to His voice
And He says

i've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies, no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the One who's chosen Me
To carry you

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Precious Child

Last night, Nate and I and the kids went to a Pregnancy and Infant loss remembrance day service in Mankato.  It was a really well done tribute, but we were the only family there... which kind of gave me the giggles.  There were moments when I was biting my lip, trying to hold in laughter and then the next moment I had tears running down my face.  I was a mess...  but I kind of think that is how this whole grief thing goes.  I am a mess one moment and literally not the next.  Laughter and tears... such a odd mix of emotions to experience so close together.   When I am able to laugh and be happy, I often feel guilty.  Like feeling joy and experiencing happiness means I have forgotten or that I didn't love Declan as much as I should have.  It's a internal battle that someone else's words of wisdom will not help me understand.  It is something I have to figure out for myself... it is my journey that only I can figure out how to navigate.  Anyway, they played this song that I had never heard of and I liked it.  I wanted to share because it touched me. 

In my dreams, you are alive and well
Precious child, precious child
In my mind, I see you clear as a bell
Precious child, precious child
In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart, there is hope
'Cause you are with me still

In my heart, you live on
Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart

In my plans, I was the first to leave
Precious child, precious child
But in this world, I was left here to grieve
Precious child, my precious child

In my soul, there is a hole
That can never be filled
But in my heart there is hope
And you are with me still

In my heart you live on
Always there, never gone
Precious child, you left too soon,
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart

God knows I want to hold you,
See you, touch you
And maybe there's a heaven
And someday I will again
Please know you are not forgotten until then

In my heart you live on

Always there never gone
Precious child, you left too soon
Tho' it may be true that we're apart
You will live forever... in my heart



Precious Child by Karen Taylor 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Dragonfly Story

October 15th, National Pregnancy and
Infant Loss Remembrance day

The Dragonfly Story 
STICKNEY, D. (1997). Water Bugs and Dragonflies

Down below the surface of a quiet pond lived a little colony of water bugs. They were a happy colony, living far away from the sun. For many months they were very busy, scurrying over the soft mud on the bottom of the pond. They did notice that every once in awhile one of their colony seemed to lose interest in going about. Clinging to the stem of a pond lily it gradually moved out of sight and was seen no more.

"Look!" said one of the water bugs to another. "one of our colony is climbing up the lily stalk. Where do you think she is going?" Up, up, up it slowly went....Even as they watched, the water bug disappeared from sight. Its friends waited and waited but it didn't return... "That's funny!" said one water bug to another. "Wasn't she happy here?" asked a second... "Where do you suppose she went?" wondered a third. No one had an answer. They were greatly puzzled. Finally one of the water bugs, a leader in the colony, gathered its friends together. "I have an idea". "The next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk must promise to come back and tell us where he or she went and why." "We promise", they said solemnly.

One spring day, not long after, the very water bug who had suggested the plan found himself climbing up the lily stalk. Up, up, up, he went. Before he knew what was happening, he had broke through the surface of the water and fallen onto the broad, green lily pad above.

When he awoke, he looked about with surprise. He couldn't believe what he saw. A startling change had come to his old body. His movement revealed four silver wings and a long tail. Even as he struggled, he felt an impulse to move his wings...The warmth of the sun soon dried the moisture from the new body. He moved his wings again and suddenly found himself up above the water. He had become a dragonfly!! Swooping and dipping in great curves, he flew through the air. He felt exhilarated in the new atmosphere. By and by the new dragonfly lighted happily on a lily pad to rest. 

Then it was that he chanced to look below to the bottom of the pond. Why, he was right above his old friends, the water bugs! There they were scurrying around, just as he had been doing some time before. The dragonfly remembered the promise: "the next one of us who climbs up the lily stalk will come back and tell where he or she went and why." Without thinking, the dragonfly darted down. Suddenly he hit the surface of the water and bounced away. Now that he was a dragonfly, he could no longer go into the water... "I can't return!" he said in dismay. "At least, I tried. But I can't keep my promise. Even if I could go back, not one of the water bugs would know me in my new body. I guess I'll just have to wait until they become dragonflies too. Then they'll understand what has happened to me, and where I went." And the dragonfly winged off happily into its wonderful new world of sun and air.

Noah and CoCo Bean lighting a candle in honor of Declan.
Please remember Declan who left the pond we live in way too early...and remember us...

Monday, October 8, 2012

Small Acts MATTER

As I prepare for our "little things with BIG love" campaign, I wanted to share a blog post that I had read a while back and is the inspiration for our campaign!  The author's name is Leah and if you look through her blog, you will see she is simply an amazing mother! I read her blog often and have used several of her fun ideas that she does with her two adorable little girls!  She is inspirational! Please take a moment to see how her family did 'little things with BIG love' for their daddy's 30th birthday... you.are.my.sunshine

I am hoping people are starting to gear for "little things with BIG love" and have started to think about what types of random acts of kindness they can do, either alone or with their family!   Remember, small acts can transform the world...


If you are needing ideas, I have started a pinterest board called "little things with BIG love"... check it out and start thinking :)  

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The gift of living...

Yesterday, we were in the car on the way to Noah's football practice.  We were discussing the upcoming arrival of our newest baby cousin, due this Thursday.  We do not know whether the baby is a girl or a boy so we were talking about what we all wanted... Co-co bean (Courty) would REALLY love it if the baby was a girl and Noah at first said he wanted it to be a boy... to which Courty replied "NO Noah, it's a girl."  Then Noah said, "I guess I don't care what it is as long as it doesn't die.   All that matters is that it lives." Talk about a heart stopper... children shouldn't have to think that way.  It should not be a part of their thought process to hope that babies don't die.  It again reminded me that Declan's death has impacted him (and Courty) forever.  This tragic event will not be something he forgets about as he gets older and 'moves on' but this will affect him for the rest of his life... just as it will Nate and myself.  I think because he often seems to be beyond the pain of losing Declan that he is not thinking about it or not living in sadness because of it. I struggle with remembering that this happened to all of us, not just me.  Even at Noah's young age of 7, Declan's death has started to change his perception on life and what is important.  I pray that as we continue down this path, the impact on his life, as well as Courty's, ends up creating positive changes in their outlook on life instead of negative ones.... I hope that as we continue to grieve as a family Nate and I provide good examples of sadness and hope... I wish for my kids that Declan's death's leaves them with an appreciation for the beauty of life and the wonders of our existence... I pray that as they travel their own journey they come to a point where they are not angry, not holding rage in their hearts, not questioning God as to 'why' this happened, but that they try to live a God-filled life with a servants heart....and that they never take for granted the gift of living...

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Hope Rocks


Nate and I sneaking a trip on the red carpet :) 
Nathan and I spent this past Friday evening volunteering at Hope Rocks... a benefit for Faith's Lodge.  Faith's Lodge is an AMAZING place for families who are grieving the loss of a child. Families can go, free of charge, and be surrounded by other families who have lost children, the beauty of northern Wisconsin and have almost their every whim provided for them.  My family went this past July and LOVED it.  It was one of the only places we've been in the past 8 months that we didn't have to have our guards up... that we could talk about Declan whenever, wherever and however we wanted AND the families there knew what we were talking about... they had been in our shoes and could understand and add their own perspective to our stories.  It was so wonderful to be able to have gone there.  Nate and I have felt so strongly moved by this wonderful place that we really wanted to do something to give back to them... so we volunteered at this super fun concert called HOPE ROCKS.  It was a really great time.  The wonderful people of Faith's Lodge who spent countless hours setting it up, organizing the auctions and planning an evening of entertainment did a phenomenal job!   One of the best parts about being there was reconnecting with some friends we made at the Lodge, meeting up with other families that we have had the pleasure of meeting along this journey and getting to know new families who have traveled the same road we do.  It was such a moving evening for us... several people asked us if we had volunteered there before... It made me think of how much has changed over the past 8 months for us... a year ago at this time I was pregnant, waiting and anticipating the arrival of our baby.  I was under the false impression that bad things don't happen to good people... I was living with rose colored glasses on... in a bliss of happiness at the life I was living.  Prior to our loss, I didn't know such an amazing organization existed nor do I think I would have understood the importance of Faith's Lodge...    although I wish I didn't have a reason to care about Faith's Lodge as much as I do, I am glad it has been a part of my life... I am glad it is there for other families...I am glad I was able to give back! 

The volunteers... good group of people! 

Eric Hutchinson... first musician to perform!  He was really good!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Back where I come from...

This weekend we are back in our home town...a small town and a farming community.  Being here, surrounded by familiar sights, smells and sounds is comforting. Tractors are busy and the men are working from dawn to dusk... the sounds of wagons bouncing along the road fills my parents house as my sweet Courty yells, "theres a tractor!" Harvest season is in full swing and Noah couldn't be more excited!  HE LOVES FARMING!  He has been a true farmer since he was able to walk! Two years ago, Noah would ride around my with dad and my uncles and enjoy a full afternoon of combining... last year, Noah stayed out from morning until 11pm, refusing to eat supper because it would take away from the farming.  He loves it...  I remember when Declan was just born and Noah was so excited that he had a little brother, he asked me "Do you think Dex will love farming as much as I do?"  Noah and I talked about how Noah would have to show him the ropes and teach him all about the different types of tractors and how to combine.  Noah was SO excited for Declan to start farming!  The day after Declan passed away, when Noah and I had a moment to talk about what had just happened to Declan and to us, he started crying and all he could say was, "I wanted to teach him how to farm."  It broke my heart.... he was so excited to have a brother and to be a big brother to a little boy who would eventually want to be just like him.  Often I get stuck in thinking about all I have loss, but I need to remember it wasn't just me whose dreams were taken from me...

Here are some photos of our farming weekend.  As usual, it was a blast and I was reminded of why Noah loves to farm so much... there is a certain calmness and peace that comes from the sound of the combine, the drum of the tractors... the night sky as the sun is setting, sending orange and purple hues dancing across the earth... the dust from the field leaves the sky a foggy haze... the chill in the air is just enough that you need to pull your arms in tight to keep warm... it's harvest and unless I am back home, I forget about the serenity that comes from being caught up in the middle of this wonderful season.


 
The old barn... looking a little weathered, but still holds a beauty all it's own.


 
As the corn empties out of the wagon, it makes a neat sound as the kernels hit the metal of the auger.

 
The old house that my father grew up in... also the house that I grew up in until high school.  Lots and LOTS of memories here. 

 
The crew, busy unloading the corn and getting ready to go fill it up again!

 
Emptying the new combine! This is Noah's FAVORITE tractor!!  He likes John Deere, but his heart belongs to Case IH!

 
Papa Court waiting for the corn to unload... all smiles now, but farming can have its own set of troubles... hopefully no more this season!

 
The view from our rope swing... our community has been over taken with windmills (Wind turbines is the P.C. name) which makes sense because it is almost always windy down in this corner of MN.

 
Our beloved rope swing... began its life many moons ago as a "bag swing" and was the life of many many gatherings!  A great time had then and continues to be... Courty is enjoying the swing all 'by herself'! My little big girl!  So independent!

 
Noah takes a turn on the swing and he also enjoyed it... but he wants a little more action!  Maybe next time we will get out one of our tractors with a loader and jump from that!  :)