Friday, March 30, 2012

The disconnect

Living with the knowledge that you have a 'hole' in your heart is hard...I am always aware of the hurt. It doesn't leave.  There are times, thank God that I can laugh and take pleasure in simple things.  There are times when I can be upbeat, cheerful and energetic. There are other times, like right now, when I have 'butterflies' (for lack of a better word) in the pit of my stomach.  It is a similar feeling that I remember having in high school, when you suspected your relationship was in trouble and it just felt icky.... it is knowing you can't have something (in my case, someone) that you want...Knowing again, that you have no control over your situation.  I think that must take time to fully sink in.... cuz my head gets it.... my heart is lagging behind.  There is disconnect between my mind and my heart often!  I often find myself feeling one way - like my heart asking WHY?! - and my mind saying, "there is no why and even if there was, you would still miss him!"  I know.  The words are there, I repeat them over and over...I know these things to be true, BUT that doesn't stop the heart from aching... that doesn't stop the tears from falling... that doesn't do anything for me right now.  I think there will come day when what I know to be true... there is no why, there are no 'what-if's', we all have a set number of days on earth, Declan would have died even if I had held him every day of his life.... will actually bring comfort.  The very logical side of me is hoping that day comes sooner than later, but my emotional side is unable to go there yet.  When I am having a 'stuck day' like I am today, with the ickys living in pit of my tummy I try to remember that I'm not the only one who has heartache in their life, I'm not the only one who is sad... there are things in my life I am thankful for.  However, I also believe its ok to have sad days.  The hard part is having a sad day without letting it consume my thoughts and my actions...

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Play Therapy

Nothing lifts my spirits like hanging out with Noah and Courtlynn.  Their energy and excitement for life is contagious! They wear me out, but it feels good to play and be silly!! This past weekend we were able to spend some time engaged in some serious play therapy!

Here I go...
 There are many times when I will be in the middle of something and am hit with such an overwhelming feeling of sadness... it is hard to explain.  There are no triggers... just sorrow.  I couldn't help but allow myself to be overwhelmed with sadness at the idea that there will never be a day when Declan is able to play at the park.  There will never be a time where we can go exploring together.  There are so many 'things' in life that he will be missing out on.... I guess, in reality, Declan will never get to do anything... nothing....

Nana, Noah and Courty doing the train down the tornado slide
 I have to remind myself that Heaven is better than our world. Declan isn't missing out on anything.  His playground is WAY cooler than anything we have here.... there was a time when Noah would pray that God would give Dex a choice to come back....  Nate and I tried explaining that even if God gave Declan a choice, he wouldn't choose us because heaven is much more amazing than here!!

Lots of love for my kids

We are the ones missing out on being with him.... We are the ones wishing he was participating in fun activities with us.  We are the ones who wish he was here.  We are the ones missing our little Declan... but he is having the time of his life where he is... he is not missing out.

Exploring the lake, one stone at a time

 As a family we are busy trying to focus on the positive things life has to offer... evening walks, star gazing, sand castle building, family get togethers, parks, lakes and SO many other things...

Mommy and her sweet little girl
 We've learn to play harder, be sillier and to truly enjoy the time we have with our kids.  Life isn't like it once was, but I don't think it ever will be.  Death changes things.

One last time... hope I don't fall on my butt!
But change doesn't have to be bad.... just different.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

If only life was fair

Today I learned of a family who lost their baby to (suspected) SIDS this morning.  A 5 month old little boy.... its almost hard to explain how it felt to hear that news.  Like a punch in the gut... it took my breath away and I immediately wanted to go to this family.  I want to wrap my arms around that mother and sob with her! I want to cry for her loss, I want to cry for my loss... I know how hard life becomes after losing your child.  I'm scared for them.... it's such a painful experience and I pray they have a good support unit holding them up right now because I know that is how Nate and I have made it through so far.  Please pray for this family...  PRAY for a cure to end to SIDS... OR gosh, lets start with praying they figure out what the hell SIDS is! I'm sick to my stomach right now that someone else is going through what we did.  Life is SO WICKEDLY unfair!  My heart is heavy with anger and hurt right now... I just want to scream "THEY ARE ONLY BABIES...why them!?!"  It has become painfully obvious, upon hearing this news, that my broken heart is still terribly tender.

Hold My Heart ~ Tenth Ave. North 

I miss you Declan!! I love you SO SO SO much little man :( 

It's hard to believe

It is hard to believe I took these photos 6 weeks ago this morning, February 14th, 2012.  I was on my way to work.  I remember being in a 'funny' mood that day because we were going to put Emma down and I was sad about that, but was also in such a thankful mood. Thankful for my family... we had a "family date" planned for the evening... Red Lobster and Cold Stone and I was really looking forward to it and thankful for the beauty that was surrounding me. I recall thinking that the trees were SO pretty.  They were covered with a coating of ice and snow crystals.  Everywhere I looked I was in awe of God's wonders and His glorious creation.  I was running late that day and I still decided to stop on the road and snap a few photos.... I wish I could have a morning like that again.  A morning when I could get up and take joy in the day.  A time when I could be so carefree that I stopped to enjoy the beauty of life.  A time when I truly saw the world through rose colored glasses.  I can hardly remember what it used to feel like, before the sting of death crept into our lives.  It's hard to believe that 6 weeks ago today, only hours after taking these photos, my son took his last breath on his own.  It's hard to believe how cruel life can be.  It's hard to believe!

 “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die..." John 11:23-26

"The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble." Psalm 9:9

Monday, March 26, 2012

That what does not kill us...

Imagine waking up to someone telling you that you have to run a marathon today.  Your not a runner and you never planned on becoming one... you can't train, you can't avoid it, you just have to get up and do it.  At the end of the day, you are drained of all energy, you hurt in places you didn't know could hurt,  you feel like the weight of the world is sitting on your shoulders, you feel numb and out of sorts and you are just thankful that you made it through and are happy it's over... but when you wake up the next day, you are told you have to run the marathon again and will have to do it everyday for the rest of your life.  Again, you have no time to prepare yourself or train your body to endure the stress and pain of the upcoming day... BUT you have to do it, there is no choice.  There are days when running the marathon isn't as bad as the previous day and there are other days when it stinks... over time, you start to learn how to handle the pain of the race, you build up some endurance and you have a lot of time to think as you go about your run.  Even though you would rather stop running the race, you realize it isn't going to kill you. In fact, it just might make you stronger...That is how my grief feels.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Daydreams and 'Son'shine

I'm sitting at the lake today, listening to the geese and the ducks making a racket outside.  Everyone is taking a nap and I am left alone to my thoughts and to enter my mind's world... which I very rarely get to do.  I can't help but wonder what I would be doing with this amazing day if my precious little Dex was with me.  Would we have gone for a walk this morning?  Would we be getting ready to watch Courty and Noah play in the sand?  Would he be lying on the floor smiling at me and laughing?  Clearly, I will never get to know those answers... but I am left to dream and wonder...there are times when my eyes sting with tears, but there are other times I smile and am able to have enjoyment in my daydreams.  There was once a time when my mind's world was filled with dream houses and unlimited riches, but not anymore.  I don't care how much money we have... we can feed, clothe and shelter our children comfortably and thats all that matters now.  I've learned the important things in life aren't things at all, but are the people with whom we choose to share our time with.   There was a time when getting together with old friends was a chore, something we 'should' do, but we often found ourselves too busy.... now I want my kids to know our friends and I want to be with the people that have shared in our lives because they are special and looking back on my life, these are the people that helped shape who I am.   I am looking forward to spending time today with old friends... I know there will be laughs and tears and that is perfectly acceptable.   I may not be able to say what I would be doing today if my sweet little Dex was here with me physically, but he is in my heart, now and always... and today WE are going to enjoy the sand, take in the sun and spend time with good people who love us and are helping to hold our hearts to lessen our pain!

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Little Dreams and God Hugs

This morning, Noah told me about his nightmare that he had last night... "We were all on a ship and the ship was sinking.  Declan and I had to run to the front of the boat because there was too much water in the back.  It was really scary.  But then I jumped into the water and swam under the boat and patched the hole and saved everyone."   It hit me that in Noah's dreams we are still in the midst of a tragedy, but he is able to save us all... he is trying to wrap his little mind around what is going on and he just wants everything to be the way it was! He wants to save the day, its just so sweet.  Then the other night Noah and I were lying in bed before he went to sleep and there was a lull in the conversation and he grabs my head, pulls it close and whispers in my ear, "Declan loves you" and then turns over and falls asleep.  What a little honey.  I don't know where he came up with that, but I'd like to think maybe it was another "God Hug" letting me know Declan is thinking of us.

Courtlynn has also been trying to wrap her head around the events of Declan's passing.  She often wants to be covered up with a blanket and then held like a baby, then she'll say "I'm Declan. I didn't die." and she will fake cry.  She also likes to give me her little baby dolls and say, "Heres Declan mom" or her other famous line is "It's ok mom, we will see Declan tomorrow."  She melts my heart. Last night she was on her 'phone' and I could hear her talking loudly so I went to listen to what she was saying.  The conversation went something like this, 'You give him back.  You bring our baby back. You can't take our baby, he's ours!'  Then she hung her head and walked up to me and said, 'they not give Declan back'.  Then we sat on the floor in the kitchen, cried together and talked about Declan and how much we both miss him.  Then she whispered really softly, "Declan in Heaven with Jesus."  Another God Hug!

The healing process has been tough, but the kids have been so resilient and strong.  Not a day goes by that I am not amazed at how well they are holding up!

I'm so thankful for the two of them... they bring me so much joy and happiness! 

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

The 'Finishing Touches'

Lots of times we get caught up in the 'finishing touches' of life.   We want the Christmas tree to be perfect, so we add just a few finishing touches and just like that, it's done, beautiful and finished....Finishing touches complete the look, they symbolize the end, they mean its over... On Monday, Nate and I will be picking out the 'finishing touches' on our little boys headstone.  I'm dreading the day... no one should have to think about what they want to have on their child's headstone. It's not natural.  What I am struggling with is the idea that 'this is it'... when that is done, there will be no more loose ends to tie up, there will be no more planning, there will be no more anything, just memories.  It feels like the book is closing and instead of continuing to have a story to tell, all we can do is talk about what a great read it was while it lasted.   Nate and I have realized our children's stories are not ours to write, we've learned that our plans don't always lay out the way we would like, bad things happen to good people and no one is excused from the possibility of tragedy...  all we can do is guide our kids, encourage them, teach them right from wrong, keep Christ in the center of their lives and pray that someday their children will get to put the 'finishing touches' on their LONG life! 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Hurt and the Healer

A friend sent this song to me, The Hurt and the Healer by Mercy Me.  When I listened to it for the first time, I felt like it was written for me... like I wanted to say to them, "How did you know?! Who told you?"  There are some songs that I enjoy having on in the background to kill the silence and then there are songs that I listen to that I know the words will change me and help me heal.  This is one of those songs! Here is the song and a few of the first verses... 

The question that is never far away
The healing doesn’t come from the explained
Jesus please don’t let this go in vain
You’re all I have
All that remains

So here I am
What’s left of me
Where glory meets my suffering

I’m alive 
Even though a part of me has died
You take my heart and breathe it back to life
I’ve fallen into Your arms open wide
When the hurt and the healer collide

The Hurt and the Healer ~ Mercy Me

Monday, March 19, 2012

The lingering question

I was looking at the Baby Angel's website today... on there is a link called "our angels" and I clicked on it.  I should have know that looking at those precious babies would be tough on me, but I did it anyway.  Nothing breaks my heart more than looking at those beautiful children and knowing they've all passed away.  I look at those little faces and know Declan is now one of them... he's a beautiful, precious baby who is no longer here.  How unfair, how upsetting... how wrong!! Through all of those emotions I get brought back to 'Why Declan?'  'Why us?' 'Why is my child now a statistic?' I thought I had overcame that question.... I know this was not done to us. I know this was not God's doing. I know there is no answer to my questions. I know that... but the question fleets through my mind often, stinging me in the heart every chance it can.... My family was great.  We are good people.  We try to give of ourselves for the betterment of others.  We work hard to raise respectful, Christ-centered children.... WHY US!? I feel a little bit like Sally Field in the movie Steal Magnolia's...when she is at the cemetery with her girlfriends and she is screaming "WHY?!!" That is where I am at... Angry.  Hurting.  Feeling like my life is flipped upside down and inside out and wanting to know WHY.   I've been told 'day by day' and 'you'll have good days and bad days' many many times by people, I should know to expect these lows but they still rock me to my core every now and then.  A co-worker of mine told me this morning to have a "joyous Dex-filled day thinking of his beautiful smile and warm snuggles" and she is right... when I can pull myself away from the lingering question of 'why me' and focus on the wonderful memories I have with Declan, I can start seeing clearly through the dense fog of pain once again.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Life's worth celebrating

We celebrated Noah's 7th birthday this weekend.  It is hard to believe that he is that old already.  What a blessing to have had 7 birthdays to enjoy and to give thanks for!   We tried hard to make this birthday special.  We wanted him to know how wonderful he is to us.  We wanted him to know that even though we are going through this terrible experience, our love for him hasn't change in anyway except to be strengthened!  He said his day was great... but for me it was a very emotional day.  I just couldn't shake the feeling of sorrow that was ever present in the pit of my stomach! I couldn't help but feel overwhelmed with confusion, anger, frustration and sadness.  How could we be celebrating life when we are surrounded by death?! How could it be true that we will NEVER have a birthday to celebrate with Declan?! How could this really be our reality? Perhaps this was the first time I allowed it to sink in, perhaps it finally hit me... but I haven't felt so rotten since this happened.   I felt so sick with all my sadness that I drove down to Dex's grave today.  I just wanted to be near Declan... even though I KNOW he isn't there, I know he is in Heaven... I wanted to be by what was left of our sweet boy. I wanted to place my hands on his grave.... I wanted to know that his body was only a few feet from mine.  It's crazy, I know.  When you experience someone dying in your arms, you see how quickly life leaves our bodies and you are faced with the extremely real truth that our bodies are nothing more than shells of who we are... they are just the homes of our souls... but they are not 'us'.  So I know how silly it is to want to be at the cemetery, but I wanted to be close to him anyway I could.   We went as a family and while we were there, Noah had a great idea to make crosses on the dirt of Declan's grave... so we did.  After spending our time with Dex, we said our good-byes and left to enjoy the day in the sun at the lake.  I sat there in the sand, feeling the warmth of the sun on my back and started to remember that life is worth celebrating... even in the midst of death.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Fighting for a cause

Nate and I are stepping out of our comfort zone (especially me!!) to help support other families who have experienced a loss like ours.  We have both registered for the 3rd annual 5K Run/Walk to Remember in Coon Rapids on June 10th.  If you know me at all, you know running is not my thing... AT ALL!  But the cause is good and I can do this for Declan!! I need to do this.  I think the pain might feel good in a strange sort of way... a reminder that I'm still in the land of the living.  I'm deciding to let this tragedy strengthen me instead of destroy me!

All proceeds will go to Faith's Lodge (resort for bereaved parents), the Minnesota Sudden Infant Death Center (SIDS and SUID) and Children's Hospitals and Clinics of MN.  If your interesting in supporting the cause, please feel free to attend the event and run/walk along side of my family or feel free to be a "Spirit Walker" and just come and support us.  You can also make a donation to help the cause.

"You lose nothing when fighting for a cause ... In my mind the losers are those who don't have a cause they care about.” ~ Muhammad Ali

Baby Angels foundation

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Facing the facts

Yesterday, while I was getting my hair done, my stylist asked me about my kids.  "How are the kids doing?  Everyone doing good?" Such a simple, almost automatic question, yet it was so much more to me.... I wasn't going to lie and say the standard "their fine" statement people expect to hear, so I just sat there, looking at my hands in my lap, unable to look at her.  I was finally able to muster up the courage to shake my head and say, "no".  I couldn't hold back the tears, I couldn't find my voice.... Up until that point I had yet to have to say the words out loud to someone.  I told her, "my youngest child died."  Say that out loud five times.... it's painfully hard.  There is something to those words... once I said them out loud, any illusions of denial I was experiencing were gone. Time to face the facts.  I sat in her chair and cried.  She quickly tried to change the subject, of course she felt terrible, but it wasn't like she did anything wrong.  I just hadn't been around someone who didn't know yet.  Saying the words out loud hurt, like a punch in the gut.  It was nothing I could have prepared myself for.  I suppose it was just another slap in the face by reality and I will need to figure out how to deal with that, but it was hard. I don't want to do it again, but I know as life goes on, this is a story I will retell many times.  I am assuming I will eventually tell it without breaking down, but not right now... and that is ok! I miss my little Dex... I long for him.... I believe I always will and I know that someday I will tell our story in attempts to help other people with their journey.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Faith and Hope

So much easier said than done, but at this point in my life, the only thing I have left is faith!

Despair is my enemy... 

Loss of Control

"You saw me before I was born.  Everyday of my life was recorded in your book.  Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed."  ~ Psalm 139:16
"The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised."- Job 1:21

In our grief group, we talked about the verse from Psalms that talks about everyday of our life being laid out in God's book... that we all have a predestined life span and nothing, not one thing we do can extend our lives by a second.  It was humbling to say the least.  We, as parents especially, think that we are in control.  That we should have some say in the outcomes of our children's lives.  I believed that. I have felt cheated many times that God didn't answer my prayers for Declan's life to be spared.  After talking about it in our grief group, I realize we could have had the entire world praying for Dex to live, but truly his time on earth was up and nothing was going to change that.  I have experienced panic many times since he passed away at the realization that I am not in control.... that God isn't going to seek my permission just because they are MY kids.  They are mine... I don't want to release my control, but I am grudgingly coming to terms with it... knowing he is in better hands and in greater care than I can provide has helped guide me through my darkest days.   I'm trying not to be a crazy mourning mother who is desperately seeking control... it could be easy to not let my children out of my sight or running to check on them when they sleep longer than normal or by sheltering them from life's cruel and often times hurtful reality.  I'm trying to remember the beauty that life can be.  I'm trying to remember that just one month and one day ago I lived in blissfulness at the wonders of my life and all I had been given.  I want my kids to see the world in all its glory.  I want my children to take in a beautiful day and be able to truly enjoy it instead of being scared.  I'm trying to figure out how to parent without smothering and how to move forward without being scared every second of the day that my other two children will die.  I'm trying to remember that I am not in control.  I'm trying... 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Sweet Dreams little man

It's been tough to stay focused and impossible to keep myself from drifting back to the day Dex passed away.  Its been four weeks... I can hardly believe it.  I look at pictures of him and I trace the outline of his sweet face with my finger tips and try to remember what he felt like.   I try to think of him outside of February 14th, but those memories are so strong that I struggle with seeing him any other way.  I wish I could see him clearly in my head when he was lying on the bed by me or sitting in his baby chair.  I wish I had taken more photos, I wish I had taken a video of him...  There are many "I wish" moments in my life right now.... I look at those photos I have of him, both from before and the ones taken from the hospital and he looks like an angel to me.  He looks so beautiful and peaceful... I want to kiss his face and feel him against my lips.  I want to smell him again.  I want to hear his little voice again. I want to see his amazing smile again.... I want to wake up and find that this is nothing but a really bad dream.  I want a lot of things lately, things that most mothers can have anytime they want, but most of all I want my son back.

Today was bad... and tomorrow is a new day.

Sweet Dreams little man, I love you and miss you more than words could ever express! I send my love to you tonight on angels wings!

Godspeed (Sweet Dreams) ~ Dixie Chicks 

The Cord

We are connected,

My child and I, by
An invisible cord
Not seen by the eye.

It's not like the cord
That connects us 'til birth
This cord can't be seen
By any on Earth.

This cord does it's work
Right from the start.
It binds us together
Attached to my heart.

I know that it's there
Though no one can see
The invisible cord
From my child to me.

The strength of this cord
Is hard to describe.
It can't be destroyed
It can't be denied.

It's stronger than any cord
Man could create
It withstands the test
Can hold any weight.

And though you are gone,
Though you're not here with me,
The cord is still there
But no one can see.

It pulls at my heart
I am bruised...I am sore,
But this cord is my lifeline
As never before.

I am thankful that God
Connects us this way
A mother and child
Death can't take it away!

~author unknown

Monday, March 12, 2012

The hard part...

From an outsiders perspective, I imagine thinking the day of Declan's death would have been the hardest day ever and that everything else gets easier.  Receiving the news, witnessing doctors perform CPR on our baby,  flying to children's via helicopter, getting told that IF he survives it will be "disastrous", making the decision to refrain from resuscitating his heart, determining when to stop his ventilator.... hard day.  Worse day of my life.  But looking back through the past four weeks,  I would challenge the thinking that 'the hard part is over'.   Going through the day of Declan's death, both Nate and I were on autopilot... Going through the motions and trying to maintain some level of sanity for the kids.  Decisions had to be made and Nate and I were the ones who had to make them.  Even though the day sucked, we could not allow ourselves to breakdown.  I would have rather been pulling out my own finger nails than watching my child die, but that was not in the cards for day.  Autopilot kicked in and we got through it.  Leaning on each other, Nate and I survived our day from hell.  However... the hard part is just beginning.  Leaving the hospital without our precious Declan was the first step. Walking into our house and experiencing the tremendous burden of looking at his swing, his bouncy chair, his bed... step two.  Getting the courage up to start putting some of those things away... step three.  All those steps taken during the first two weeks after Declan's passing were starting the hard part.  Now, we are out four weeks tomorrow... the day has come when there are no more cards in the mail, people have returned to their lives (as we fully expect them too!), people are, without saying it, expecting some 'normalcy' to have developed in our household  and we are left to continue our grieving journey as a family of four...supporting each other the best we can.  Now the hard part is lying in bed and looking over at where he slept and knowing he isn't there... now the hard part is washing the dishes and listening to the kids playing knowing Dex will never run and play.... now the hard part is getting to a 'normal' that doesn't include our baby boy.   One day at a time... the show must go on... I'm trying to convince myself, but I believe "the hard part" is just beginning.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

IN the fire

Today at church, Pastor Dennis was recapping the highlights from the Big God Series and he was speaking about a sermon he performed 4 weeks ago today... which just happened to be Declan's baptism. Of course I remembered it, but today it held a new meaning for me.  Essentially, it was about several people who believed in God and were unwilling to 'go with the flow' and worship something they didn't believe in.  The king then threw then into a burning fire and God saved them IN the fire. (Daniel 3:17)  He didn't save them FROM the fire... he saved them IN the fire.  I couldn't help but think of Nate and I... He didn't save us from suffering the loss of our child, but we know He is saving us in our sorrow of losing him.   I sat there in church, listening to those words, wondering how I missed the meaning in them the first time. There was no way to know how true those words would become for us.  Our fire, the death of Declan, was completely unforeseeable.   "Knowing the Lord and knowing His comfort does not take away our ache; it supports us in the middle of it."  He is saving us while we are in the midst of our fire... even though our hearts are broken and we know we are forever changed, both Nate and I believe God has been comforting us and holding us in his hands.  He has sent SO many people to support us and hold us up through their prayers.   I wish He had saved us from the fire. I wish Declan was still here with us.  I would give anything to see him one more time.... all I can hold on to is that I will see him again someday. Until then, I know God is saving us IN our fire.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My Partner in Crime

Through my darkest days and my most trying moments Nathan has been my stronghold. He has comforted me, held me up when I was unable to stand, allowed me to sob on his chest, and let me be crazy with grief.  Without him by my side I would not be where I am in my healing process. I am once again able to say, "I am blessed!" Thank-you God for giving me a partner who loves me as I am.  I love you Nathan!

Not the 'verdict' I expected

I think I must feel a little like someone who has been wrongly convicted of a crime.  The judge calls out 'guilty', the gavel finalizes the verdict and the person is sitting there thinking, 'this is not how this should have ended!' and is carted away to deal with life from that point forward.

Declan's death was not the verdict I was expecting.  I have spent many an hour replaying the day of February 14th in my mind... wondering what in the hell happened?! How could this healthy baby just stop breathing? Why did his heart stop beating?   How did he end up dying and how do we move forward?! I am still struggling with accepting that this is how 'this' ends.   There are actually moments when I am reliving the 14th that I get so worked up that I can hardly breath.  The funny thing is, I am able to think about the day and much like a movie, I can see the events playing out in front of me but it is not attached to any emotions.  It is when my mind allows me to remember that it isn't a movie and that it really happened that I lose my breath and the pain is overwhelming.   I wonder how Nate and I got through the day at Children's hospital anyway... the whole day, we did what we needed to do... we made tough decisions, discussed unthinkable topics with a multitude of different doctors and stayed strong for our kids...  thinking of that day now, I see Declan's sweet little body with tubes all over and doctors pricking and sticking needles in him and I want someone else to be the decision maker, I want someone else to be the adult. I wish it hadn't have had to be me.  However, I am thankful that in the moment God gave me the ability to step up to the plate and think about Declan and the kids before worrying about me.   Now... I am hoping that He will help me accept the 'verdict' and be my guiding light as we figure out life from this point forward.

November 18th, 2011 - A beautiful life

I was so ready to be done being pregnant that I was ecstatic when my doctor called me and asked if I wanted to be induced.  Nate and I were told we could come in on the morning of the 18th to have our baby.  On the evening of the 17th we received a call that the hospital was full and we would probably not be able to be induced in the morning, but maybe the afternoon.  I remember sleeping terrible that evening, both from the tremendous amount of pressure the baby was putting on my body and because I was so anxious about whether or not I would be able to have my induction.  The morning of the 18th, we received a call saying we could come in.  Nate and I arrived at 8:30 and by 10:30 my induction was started and we were getting ready to find out if we were having a boy or a girl.  The morning and early afternoon passed without much craziness.  I was progressing at a good rate and the epidural had fully set in, so we just hung out and relaxed.  At 1:45, I told Nate something funny was going on 'down there' and he set out to find the nurse. She told me it felt funny because I was going to have a baby and fast.  The doctor arrived, prepared herself and at 2:04 she told me I could start pushing.  I took a deep breath, afraid for a brief moment that I wouldn't remember how to do it, and started pushing.  There were audible gasps from the nurses and from Nate and my mom and I was encouraged to push like that again.  Then at 2:06, I began my second push and there were more gasps and out came my beautiful Declan.  I remember wondering what all the gasping was about and I honestly could NOT believe that it was over, that my baby was here. "Its a boy!" the doctor yelled and she handed him to me.  He was adorable! Such a sweet little honey.  I snuggled with him for 40 minutes before he was weighed and bathed.  We sat and stared at each other and created a bond that would last forever.  Both Nate and I were surprised to find that he weighed 9.25 oz!  He didn't look that big, but he was hefty!

There had been a student nurse in the room with us and she was witnessing her first birth.  I told the lead nurse afterwards I was sorry that the student's first experience was so short and the nurse said, "Don't be sorry, this was a beautiful birth and both of us were privileged to be part of it."  Of course in my hormonal state, I broke down into tears of happiness.

This would set the tone for the rest of Declan's short life.   He was so easy going.  He hardly cried and when he did he was quickly comforted.  He slept through the night starting at about 6 weeks old. He ate well and took to both breastfeeding and the bottle like a champ.  I said multiple times he was the easiest baby we had had.   Easy and beautiful from the first day of his life until his last!  He was amazing... how lucky I was to have him be a part of my life.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A better place

'He's in a better place", I've heard a thousand times.... and I do rejoice for him because he IS in a better place, but I'm still sad for me and my family.  Since losing Declan, I have been able to see death differently...I've put a lot of thought into grieving and sorrow. I've come to the realization that my sadness is not for Declan.  It's for us... Nate, myself, Noah and Courty...the living he left behind.  It's for what we have lost.  It's for the emptiness we experience everyday. 

My heart aches thinking of living the rest of my life without Declan.  I know I will see him again, but its gut wrenching to think that could still be 50 years from now!  When I close my eyes, I see his smiling beautiful face and I'm scared that there will be a day when I don't see him.  When, after 50 years (or even 1 year), I can't remember! I know I will always remember having a son who passed away... I will probably always remember the events of February 14th vividly, I will always be able to recall the day of Dex's birth, November 18th.... BUT my fear is that I will not remember what he was like on all his other days.  The way he looked right before he would fall asleep.  How he would tighten his little lips up when he was in the bathtub.  The sound of his sweet voice.  I'm deathly scared for the day when my memories are only of his photos, instead of being of him.  When all you have left is memories its like grasping at straws to hold on to them.  

At least I know, whether I can remember or not, that I love him, that he resides in my heart.   When the day comes when memories fade, I know I will always have that... my heart will forever be intwined with his. His little fingers are intricately woven in mine for eternity.   He is flesh of my flesh and nothing can change that... not even death.   Yes, he is in a better place....and I will be holding on to Jesus with everything I have to see him there one day! 

Homesick ~ Mercy Me
Helping me cope right now... 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The dreaded "why me" question

There are times when I sit and ponder recent events and wonder 'why me?'.  Why not Joe Blow down the street... I've even seen families at Target and thought 'why not them?'  Sounds cruel, I know.  I'm not proud of those crazy thoughts and I truly wouldn't want this to happen to anyone.  But I think it is just human nature to wonder 'why me'.   As someone with a strong faith, 'why me' is a loaded question, it means more than just 'why me'... why did You allow this to happen...  why didn't You answer my prayers... what did I do to offend You... if You love me so much, why allow me to suffer like this...  It means I'm pissed off at YOU.  There is clearly an anger to my questions, almost like a challenge - "You're suppose to be so good, yet nothing about losing my son was good.  What's up with that God!?" Seriously... WHY ME!!?? Why Declan?!  You hear all sorts of well meaning people saying, "God needed another angel." "He is in a better place." ... I know that, but that doesn't mean it doesn't suck and I'm still left sitting here questioning 'why me.'  What if we had prayed harder and longer... would we have ended in your favor then?  What if... what if... what if... IF I could only convince my brain to stop asking me that question.

When Nate and I attended grief group on Monday night, we talked about the fact that sometimes as Christians we expect a 'free pass' at life's hardships.  We think (wrongly) that we are excused from suffering, pain and hardships.    We were reminded that nowhere in the Bible are we promised to be saved from living nightmares.  What we are promised is that when we are at our lowest and are questioning 'why me', we are being held in God's hands... Comforted through Him.  When I think about the question 'why me', I wonder if I knew the answer, would that be enough for me... would I even accept the answer? When someone ask "why me?" I don't believe they are actually seeking an explaination.  For me, 'why me' is more about trying to come to terms with what has happened to me.  Its my own way of validating to myself that I didn't deserve this.

At some point in our healing, I am hoping the question 'why me' will turn into 'how can I use this tragedy to help other people' 'how can I use this terrible experience to honor my son's short life?' 'how can I use this horrific event to make myself a better person?'   but right now, at this moment in time... I'm still stuck at 'why me'.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

I love you

Noah... I love the way you laugh... I love your sensitive heart and your caring soul...I love your awesome sense of humor... I love your passion for life.  You can melt my heart with the glance of your eye.  I see in you the best of your dad and the best of me.  The moment I met you, my life was forever changed for the better.  You have enriched my life and continue to make it better!!  Thank you for being my son! I love you.

Courtlynn... Your laugh is infectious, your smile contagious! You can make me laugh even when I am feeling at my lowest.  I love your sweetness, I love your courage, I love your "my way or the highway" attitude,  I love the way you love others.  You bring tears of happiness to my eyes when you run to my arms yelling, "mommy!"  God blessed me a 1000 times over when he chose me to be your mom.  I love you.

Declan Lloyd.... oh little man, my heart breaks, I miss you so much.  I've loved you since the moment I found out I was going to have you.  You came into our lives and blessed us with your presence.  I love you for bringing so much joy and completeness to my life.  I love you for that AMAZING smile you had. I love you for your sweet giggle, I love you for MANY MANY reasons, but most of all I love you because you are my child.  You belong to me... You may be gone from this world, but you left your mark on many people.  You will not be forgotten and I will love you every moment of everyday until my heart stops. I will not be afraid of dying because I know I will being wrapping my arms around you when that time comes.  I LOVE YOU!!!

Peanut... you came into our lives so very unexpectedly, but we were both so excited to have you be a part of our family.  When we found out you had passed away, we were both devastated.  I can only imagine how excited you were when you met Declan at heaven's door... welcoming him with arms wide open.  I can envision the two of you running, playing and laughing up there in heaven.  I can't wait to meet you!  I LOVE YOU!!


When will Tuesdays become just Tuesdays again instead of an another anniversary of the weeks since hes passed?  3 weeks today....I can hardly believe it.

Grieving stinks

I suppose people grieve differently... some people might want to live in the past, some people want to forget entirely, and then there are those in the middle.  Going through grief with other people can be challenging.  Even Nate and I often are experiencing our pain differently.... so I get it and understand that there are no "right" ways to grieve.  However, I'm struggling with the idea that people might be uncomfortable talking about Declan.  I know sometimes people think "I don't want to bring up Declan because it will make her sad." when in fact, the opposite is true.  Talking about Dex makes me happy, although there are typically tears associated with those happy memories, they are just that... HAPPY.  I like talking about him, I like looking at pictures of him, I like listening to music that reminds me of him, I like sleeping with his blanket, I like having him in my daily life as much as I can get him in there.   If that makes someone uncomfortable... that is on them.  I make no apologies for wanting to surround myself with memories of my beloved son.  We talked in grief group last night that our society often puts time frames on grieving and if your still sad after a certain length of time, you should just get over it.... they've forgotten, shouldn't you?! If other people think its easier to forget, then I feel sorry for them because that isn't grieving, it is unhealthy and only prolongs the inevitable.  Declan was one of the best things to happen to me and I thank God that I have his memories embedded into my life.  I will NEVER forget and I will ALWAYS love and miss him.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Reality Bites

There are days when I don't feel terrible... when I think Nate and I might get through this.  I can laugh easy and a smile seems to be resting on my face.   It feels good....but my tricky brain gets ahead of me.  It starts running on autopilot, but apparently it hasn't been reprogrammed, because there will literally be times when I think I am going to walk into my bedroom and Declan will be sleeping in his bassinet or that he is in the back seat with the other two... then my logical, reality based side kicks in and I know he isn't there.  For some reason, I still have to look, I still have to make sure and of course, he's not there.  I know that.  Its actually a pretty cruel trick, but I suppose that is part of the healing process.  Jumping from denial to reality.

Last night I was editing some photos and playing around with pictures of Declan.... and man oh man, reality slapped me in the face.  I will never have new photos of Dex to edit... to look at... to frame.   What I have is what I got.  It was harsh.  Many tears shed...  I hate reality sometimes.

Sunday, March 4, 2012


I had really wanted to create a photo with Declan's feet positioned in such a way that I could use them as the letter 'v' in the word love... I never had an opportunity to do that, but using a photo of Declan from Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep, I think I created a super awesome photo I will cherish for a life time. 

Tiny Angel

Tiny Angel rest your wings
sit with me for awhile.
How I long to hold your hand,
And see your tender smile.
Tiny Angel, look at me,
I want this image clear....
That I will forget your precious face
Is my biggest fear.
Tiny Angel can you tell me,
Why you have gone away?
You weren't here for very long....
Why is it, you couldn't stay?
Tiny Angel shook his head,
"These things I do not know....
But I do know that you love me,
And that I love you so".

~ Author Unknown

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Funerals are no fun...

Two weeks ago today was my son's funeral.  A day that I truly dreaded... dreaded for many reasons, but one being that once a funeral is over, people move on.  People's lives continue and somehow your expected to get back on your feet, pull up your big girl panties and move on.  Funerals feel like the end, like 'its done'.  It felt like the final chapter of Dex's book.  No more words will ever be written in his story.  I hate that.   I just HATE it.  I know his story would have been awesome.

As far as funerals go, Declan's was great.  Pastor Dennis stopped by on the 15th and Nate and I talked about what we wanted and how we envisioned the day going.  We talked music, Scripture, and sermon.  Pastor listened to everything we wanted and took notes.  We told him we wanted it to feel personal and somehow include Noah as much as possible.  I tell you, planning a funeral for your own child is hard.  Nate and I had only ever been to an adult funeral... and the majority of those were for grandparents and in a sense, a celebration of a life well lived.   Due to Dex's age, not many people had had a chance to meet Declan and I wanted people to leave feeling that they personally knew our son.  We wanted to celebrate his life, yet it's really hard to celebrate a life taken way to early. As I look back on the funeral I think Pastor Dennis fulfilled those wishes and then some.

When 11am came and it was time for the visitation, both Nate and I took a deep breath and said, 'here we go'.  The line of visitors was consistent... there was SO many people and both Nate and I were overwhelmed with the support we were receiving.   Somehow I imagined the visitation being unbearable, I actually wondered if I would even be able to make it through the whole thing, but bizarrely, I was fine.  Nate and I had cried so much and had gone through such an emotional few days that there were very few tears to be had at the visitation.  I told Nate I was worried people were going to think we were heartless and cold because we weren't puddles... but truly, even with our breaking hearts, there were no tears.

Walking down the aisle at the church was hard, I couldn't even bear to put my head up.  I had the blanket that Declan slept with in my arms... a little comfort for an unbearable event. Pastor Dennis had an amazing message and he did a great job personalizing his sermon to Declan and my family.  He talked directly to Noah about still being able to teach Dex to play the Wii in Heaven.  He told Noah, 'If you think the Wii is cool here on earth, imagine how great the Wii is in Heaven.... I think it will be extreme!'  Noah sat there and hung on every word Pastor was saying.   When Declan's slide show played, it was another tear-jerker.  Nate, Noah and myself all held hands and cried.   When we got up to follow Dex's casket out, I again couldn't even look up, I was overtaken by my sorrow.  I wish now that I would have looked up to see our family and friends... to see those who were walking beside us and holding us up. 

When we got to the cemetery, Pastor Dennis told us that Declan had the longest processional he had ever seen.  He also told us he had never had so many people at the internment ... as he started speaking, he asked the people to come in closer, as they did a circle was formed around us and Declan's burial site.   Pastor said, "Nate and Holle, take a look at your circle of support."  It was overwhelming... the feelings of support and love far exceeded our expectations!

There were over three hundred people there to show their support and love for our family.  We had over 50 flowers/plants sent to the church.  Everything was beautiful.  As a mother, I couldn't have ever truly imagined a funeral for one of my children, but the day turned out as good as I could have wished for.  

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Day by day

I think I have heard that I will need to take things "day by day" about a million times.  And really... it has proven to be true.  Today I was so sad, just going through the motions of my day.  I made it through work just fine, but the evening was once again difficult.  We had conferences for Noah and he is doing so well... I am so proud of him.  He made this little video for us and something about it brought brought tears to my eyes. I couldn't help but think that we will never get to go to a conference for Dex.  We will never have a teacher tell us how great he has been doing in school.  The world will not have the chance to know how wonderful he would have been.  My heart breaks for so many reasons and today it was for the little boy we won't get to watch grow up.... it was for the silly things that Noah does that makes me think, 'Declan would have LOVED doing that.'  It was breaking for the teenager that I will never fight with, it was for girlfriends we will never have to deal with, it was for never going to watch him play basketball with his friends, it was for snuggles and giggles and kisses and hugs that I won't get to have.  UGH...

Tomorrow is a new day... hopefully the kids will sleep well and tomorrow will bring a sense of peace to my sorrow.

Good night Declan... I love you to the moon and back!

Photos of Declan

As luck would have it...

 I keep telling myself this... over and over and over.  Like the Little Engine that Could.... "we will be ok, we will be ok, we will be ok!"  I think its like a 'fake it til you make it' mentality. 

There have been so many times that I find myself using the term 'lucky' associated with Nate and I.  Yet, I certainly don't consider ourselves lucky.  However, I have spoke to so many people and I continue to use the word 'lucky'.  For example, were very lucky that our day care provider found Declan when she did. We were very lucky she didn't panic and was level headed enough to call 911 and get CPR started.    We were lucky. 

We were lucky because most babies that die of SIDS (although cause of death has not been confirmed by the medical examiner yet) die before their loved ones have a chance to hold them and kiss them and say their good-byes. 

We were lucky because when I look through the photos on Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep's webpage, I realize we had three amazing months with Declan and most of those families had hours, minutes or only seconds with their babies.   I imagine that any one of those families would have given anything to have their children for three months. 

We were lucky because we had the BEST medical team in Minnesota working on Declan and helping my family cope with the situation. 

We were lucky because their wasn't two feet of snow on the ground and the weather was relatively warm on the day of Declan's funeral. 

We are lucky to have so many wonderful family and friends supporting us and praying for us. 

We are lucky... lucky?  John 14:18 says "I will not leave you comfortless; I will come to you" Maybe we weren't lucky, but blessed....