Monday, April 30, 2012
Grief creates a circle around you... makes you stand out from the non-griving crowd. There are a few of us who are in my new circle...Nate, Declan's grandparents, our siblings, cousins, aunts and uncles. We are isolated together in our grief, but our grief is different. Like every things else, we don't see eye to eye on everything, not every feelings we have is the same.... on days when my hurt is strong, others maybe are fine. In a book called Lament for a Son, there is a statement the author makes that is so very true and until you go through a loss of such magnitude with your family, you would not know how true it is, "As each death has its own character, so too each grief over a death has its own character - its own inscape." Each death is different... each death holds its own story... just as each of us grieves in a manner that suits us, that matches our needs. It is pointless to try and make others mourn like me... I mourn in my own way, unique to me. There are times when it is a blessing to be around our circle of grievers, but there are moments when it magnifies my pain, amplifies my heartache. I heard an analogy the other day that compares grief to making your way through an unknown landscape.... finding yourself in the middle of a forest, surrounded by fog... you need to cross a river, but your unable to see clearly. There are stepping stones, a path, to get across the ragging river, but you have to be careful to stay on the right path because one wrong step could lead to trouble...slowly you make your way, hands out in front, feeling for resistance, your toes tapping each rock to check for sturdiness... then you finally make it and when you turn around, you can clearly see the side in which you came and there on the banks of the river is another mother, trying to cross the river of death and she is struggling just like you did.... it is then that you go back to try and help her across the stepping stones of healing. I believe as I continue to heal I will be able to help other mothers who are grieving the loss of their child... I do believe I can make that trip back across the river and hold someone else's hand as they fumble their way through, but I don't know if I have the ability to help other people heal from my sons death...I don't think I am able to do that for my circle or anyone for that matter. I believe as my family goes through this journey, all we can do for each other, for the people we love the most, is support them... is be there for them when they need a shoulder to cry on. Our circle, although we grieve so very differently, is here, they are present in our lives. They are there when we need them. Nate and I could never fully express our gratitude to our parents.... they have been so wonderful... they can't take our pain away, but I know they would if they could. We are isolated in our grief, but slowly I create new circles. I find myself breaking free from that isolation and as I continue to fumble through the dark, trying to get a step on solid ground, I slowly reach out to those who are there to listen... to those who hold their hands out from the other side of the bank, even though they themselves are still grieving a loss of their own... I stand now with my arms around other woman, other mothers whose hearts will always be broken.... although my grief is my own, I find I am not alone after all.
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Tick Tock Tick Tock... oh the hands of the wicked clock.... on and on they go. Time just keeps moving when all I really want it to do it stop. I want the world to grieve with us. I want time to stand still, I don't want another day to widen the gap between life and death. I can't imagine how life will be when Declan will have been gone longer than he was here. It's a concept that turns my stomach. It's a thought that scares me... I fear for the time when I no longer ache for Declan, I am frightened for the day when Declan is not the first thought I have when I wake up and the last thought I have before I drift off. Although the past 10 weeks have been unrelenting heart ache, the pain reminds me that he was real... that he was here and was a part of our lives so completely. Everyday that passes, I am one day further away from the last time I was able to touch him... one day more removed from his smell.... one day more away from his beautiful smile. I know it is to think I will forget... but I also know how busy life can get, how quickly people can get caught up in work. I know there will come a time when we will be busy running Courty and Noah around to their various after school activities and there won't be enough hours in the day to breath, let alone continue to grieve. There will come a day when people no longer think of us as the family whose baby died....there will come a time when we meet people who won't know we are a family of five.... there will come a time when his name is no longer brought up... there will come a time when life goes on and is normal. Right now, I don't want that. I want to remain right here in this moment... as close to Declan's life as I can be. I want to still be able to close my eyes and see him playing in the tub, I want to close out the world and hear his voice. I am scared those are memories I will lose.... as the clocks hands slowly make their way around, I am a second, a minute, an hour, a day further away from my son's life than I just was... and memories fade... It's a terrible, scary, heartbreaking thought.
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thursday, April 19, 2012
I still weep at the knowledge that there will be no more pictures, no more smiles, no more anything... I miss Declan beyond expression. The 12 weeks and 3 days he was here with us were filled with the most extreme love we were able to give... not one day, not one moment was he not surround by our love. I can not wait until we meet again Declan! I love you!
I take no credit for the following poem... I didn't write it, I didn't think it up... I only found it. Being a mother has been the best part of who I am, I only can hope that someday my children will look back and be as thankful for me as I am for my mother.
A baby asked God, "They tell me you are sending me to earth tomorrow, but how am I going to live there being so small and helpless?" "Your angel will be waiting for you and will take care of you." The child further inquired, "But tell me, here in heaven I don't have to do anything but sing and smile to be happy." God said, "Your angel will sing for you and will also smile for you. And you will feel your angel's love and be very happy." Again the child asked, "And how am I going to be able to understand when people talk to me if I don't know the language?" God said, "Your angel will tell you the most beautiful and sweet words you will ever hear, and with much patience and care, your angel will teach you how to speak." "And what am I going to do when I want to talk to you?" God said, "Your angel will place your hands together and will teach you how to pray." "Who will protect me?" God said, "Your angel will defend you even if it means risking it's own life." "But I will always be sad because I will not see you anymore." God said, "Your angel will always talk to you about Me and will teach you the way to come back to Me, even though I will always be next to you." At that moment there was much peace in Heaven, but voices from Earth could be heard and the child hurriedly asked, "God, if I am to leave now, please tell me my angel's name." "You will simply call her 'Mom.'"
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
Since Dex passed away, I have been left wondering, 'what defines a person?' What makes me, me? I once felt very secure in who I was... there was a time when I felt certain I understood my place in this world. Now I am left wondering where that place is. Where do I go from here? Is my identity now associated with my son's death? Is that who I am... the girl whose child died. A fear I had, even prior to leaving the hospital, was that Nate and I would forever be labeled the 'couple whose baby died'. I was nervous that people would stop talking and start whispering, looking over their shoulders at us when we walked into a room...like a scarlet letter upon our chest. I've been able to spend sometime recently among old friends, people I haven't seen in a while and the funny thing was, the treated me very normal... they seem to treat me like they always had, there was no mention of Delcan's passing... but their silence about his death was like salt to my wounds. It is such an opposite response to what I expected. It's hard to explain the conflicting emotions. I don't want people to associate us with Declan's death, but at the same time I want people to acknowledge it... I am still trying to figure out how to feel, what to think, how to go on with my life as 'me'... It is my identity right now... I struggle with wanting to blurt it out to people, strangers even... "My son died... oh and my name is Holle." I hope, as I continue to heal and recover from Declan's death, I will figure out how to fit his passing into my story, into 'me', without it needing to be the first thing I tell people. I don't believe you can go through the loss of your child and not be different... not come out on the other side with a new perspective on life. I am trying to regroup and refigure out where I belong in our world... I want Declan's life and passing to be part of me, but yet I don't want it to be all of me... so who am I now... I'm still a mother, still a wife, still an educator... and now the survivor of my child's death, but I will never completely be the same as I was prior to losing my sweet Dex. Who am I now.... its a question I don't have an answer for yet.
Monday, April 16, 2012
The evening Declan passed away we were faced with the daunting decision to donate his organs or not. I wanted to put off the discussion, I wanted to pretend I didn't have to make that decision. I wanted someone to donate something to save my son's life... but of course, Declan's organs were perfectly healthy, not one thing wrong with them... a donation wouldn't have saved him. The representative from LifeSource was nice enough. I remember sitting with her and Nate in Dex's room. She was talking on and on and all I could think about was how tired she looked and wondering if she knew she looked exhausted.... thinking a little bit of concealer might make her look more alert.... I wonder if that is how the mind tries to protect your heart... or if that is how the mind tries to keep the situation real, as 'normal' as it can be? She was very informative and filled with lots of insight we wouldn't have thought of on our own. The big surprise to us was that if we wanted to donate Declan's heart, kidneys, liver ect... he would have to be on a ventilator for 72 hours... and that time didn't start until there was an official declaration of brain death... which for whatever reason, could not be made until he had been on the ventilator for 48 hours. I told the representative that I wasn't comfortable with that... I thought it would be hard to have him on the ventilator for that long and it would be stressful to be in the hospital that long... she then made some comment, and I am thankful I don't remember it verbatim, but the effect was 'once he is declared brain dead, you wouldn't need to be here.... it's the same as if he passed away.' I remember looking at her, wondering if I was totally understanding her.... she wants me to leave after the declaration of brain death, but Declan's heart will still be beating? He will still be breathing? He will be all alone... I really couldn't believe it. There was no way! I finally mustered up the courage to say, "as long as his heart is beating I will not leave his side. Ever!" We all kind of looked awkwardly at the floor, finally Nate says 'is there anything else we can do?' and yes, there was. We could donate his heart valves and his knee cartilage. We agreed. After the decision was made, the representative from LifeSource and Nate and I had to fill out 'some' paperwork... it took an hour!! Question after question... for both Declan's medically history and mine since I was still breastfeeding. It was arduous to say the least, but something Nate and I felt was important. The hope that a different set of parents would not have to endure losing their child seemed worth it. It has been a roller coaster of emotions since we agreed to donate. There are times when I think about it and I get mad.... Somewhere some parent is rejoicing, thanking God for answered prayers... while I sit here in my grief, crushed and broken because my child died. Upset with God for not answering my prayers.... those parents have a future, where we no longer have one... they get to hear giggles and receive hugs, they get to see their child grow up... we do NOT. I was darn right pissed for awhile... then Nate, my ever present support and voice of reason, talked me out of that anger, made me see that those parents didn't pray for a child to die, but that if a child were to pass away, God would grant that child's parents the ability to chose donation. I still struggle with the idea that there is some family somewhere rejoicing at their new gift, their new lease on life, while our family will never again be the same... I KNOW with time I will come to terms with that. I think of the day when I will meet the receiver of Declan's heart valves... I can only imagine wanting to hold him or her. I can't imagine how it will be to know part of my son is living within them. How strange, yet I know when that day comes God will help me accept the complexity of it.
Saturday, April 14, 2012
The Agony of Grief
What is there to say about grief?
Grief is a tidal wave that overtakes you,
smashes down upon you with unimaginable force,
sweeps you up into its darkness,
where you tumble and crash against unidentifiable surfaces,
only to be thrown out on an unknown beach, bruised, reshaped.
Grief means not being able to read more than two sentences at a time.
It is walking into rooms with intention that suddenly vanishes.
Grief is three o'clock in the morning sweats that won't stop.
It is dreadful Sundays, Mondays that are no better.
It makes you look for a face in the crowd,
knowing full well the face we want cannot be found in that crowd.
Grief is utter aloneness that razes the rational mind
and makes room for the phantasmagoric.
It makes you suddenly get up and leave in the middle of a meeting,
without saying a word.
Grief makes what others think of you moot.
It shears away the masks of normal life
and forces brutal honesty out of your mouth
before propriety can stop you.
It shoves away friends,
scares away so-called friends,
and rewrites address books for you.
Grief makes you laugh at people who cry over spilled milk,
right to their faces.
It tells the world that you are untouchable
at the very moment when touch
is the only contact that might reach you.
It makes lepers out of upstanding citizens.
Grief discriminates against no one.
It kills. Maims. And cripples.
It is the ashes from which the phoenix rises,
and the mettle of rebirth.
It returns life to the living dead.
It teaches that there is nothing absolutely true or untrue.
It assures the living that we know nothing for certain.
It humbles. It shrouds. It blackens. It enlightens.
Grief will make a new person out of you,
if it doesn't kill you in the making.
Friday, April 13, 2012
Tomorrow's the 14th. This may mean nothing to most people.... but to me it means everything. Two months ago Declan passed away. Two months ago our hearts were ripped out and stomped on. Two months ago we prayed for a miracle. Two months ago.... I can hardly believe that. Saying "two months ago" seems like the time has just flown by.... but then I think to the actual day, the funeral, the aftermath of that first week and it all seems like forever ago. Time is so funny because in the moment, time drags on. There are days when I can't believe how slow the hands on the clock are moving, but then before I know it, another week has passed by and we are once again upon a Tuesday, I get my morning "thinking about you today" text from a dear friend and I spend the rest of the day thinking about Declan....thinking about his life and his death. Wondering what the future holds... wondering what my family will be like in a year, two years.... the future is so uncertain and is no longer something I count on having. I continue to be amazed at the uncertainty of life... no one is promised tomorrow. As I get ready for bed, I have to remind myself to be thankful for the day I was given... thankful that, although two months ago Declan passed away, he continues to live in my heart and thankful of the promise that I will see him again.... maybe not today or even tomorrow, but someday.
Very few of us are able to say we have experienced a true 'life-saving' moment in our existence. We throw around the phrase often enough, but many of us have truly never experienced another human being saving or sustaining our life. I have been thinking a lot about the people who were called in to 'save' Declan's life. I think of the police officers who arrived first, walking into the house and seeing a baby, unresponsive... I've learned that both men were fathers... I know they are trained to be able to separate their emotions from their work, but I can't imagine they didn't instantly think of their own children. I am sure they were even more aware of what was at risk... not only the loss of a child, but also the heartbreak of his parents. I think of the men and women on the emergency response team... how thankful I am for them.... they gave me the gift of time, precious hours to spend with my angel. I remember walking into the ER and seeing them performing CPR on my baby... it wasn't crazy, it wasn't hectic and chaotic, it was almost, in a sense, peaceful. One person held the breathing tube in place, while other men took turns doing chest compressions....their fingers wrapped around Dex's body, tucked under his chest and only their thumbs moving up and down. Their hands kept my son's heart beating. He was alive simply because other people, with their own hands, were manually beating his heart for him. I want to touch those hands... I want to have those hands cradle my face, I want to pull those hands into my chest, close to my heart... I want to hold the hands that in essence held my son's heart. I also want to know why they did CPR for two hours. Is that typical? I was sitting there holding Declan's hand, sitting on the edge of my seat, preparing myself to hear the declaration of his death at any moment, but it never came... they didn't stop.... I don't know why, but am SO thankful they didn't. They will never know what they did for us... for my son. In all this thought about hands, I can't help but think of my own... nothing significant about them. They are getting older and showing signs of their age... a few sun spots, a few scars, but nothing special... I never stopped to think about all they have held, or done... I look at them now and am overwhelmed with emotion. When my children were born, the doctors gave my children right to me...I was able to feel life from the very first moment. My hands trembled with exhaustion and the anticipation of feeling my babies for the first time... I stroked their little faces, I touched their little feet... I delighted in exploring the precious little body sleeping in my arms. As my babies grew, my hands continued to touch wonderfulness, they experienced life at its fullest... from hugs, baths, and blowing noses to dancing and playing army and barbies! Now I look at my hands and see not only the new beginnings I was so lucky to experience, but also endings. Declan died in my arms, my hands stroking every inch of him. I held death with my hands. What once was a scary thought... touching death... no longer was a concern. I would have had it no other way, my hands needed to be there, both for him and for myself. Declan and I... from beginning to end, from 'once upon a time' to 'the end'. How lucky was I? I was the first person that held him when he entered this world and I was the last person to hold him as he left it... My hands did that. I did that.
Jewel ~ Hands
Fitting song for my thoughts as of late....
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
|Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass,|
it's about learning to dance in the rain.
Monday, April 9, 2012
When someone you love very deeply passes away... you are left wondering what to do with their stuff.... there are less 'things' to determine what to do with when your loved one is only 12 weeks old, but perhaps that is what makes it even harder. When do you decided to take down the crib? How do you decide when to put away his bouncy chair? What do you do with his toys? I know, because I've read a lot about grief, there will come a time when I will "just know" when the time is right... similar to when you "just know" the one you are dating is the one. Thank goodness we are built with a "just know" feature because, at this point, I'm not seeing that I will ever want to put his stuff away. I've got the big stuff packed up, the swing, the rocker, the floor mat.... but his little crib is still in our room, so is his bouncy chair. They sit there, a reminder of what we had and of course, what we no longer have. There are times when they hurt my heart, but there are other times when they make me smile. When I look at his little crib, I remember the mornings when I would get out of the shower and peer over the edge of his bed, thinking he was sleeping, only to find him smiling up at me! How my heart would swell with love at the sight of that smile.... most days however, they neither make me sad or make me happy, they are just there. They are just a part of our every day lives... Something I don't think about it, but know I would as soon as they were no longer there. I am noticing though as time continues to slip away, some of his possessions are becoming almost idol-like. I hear myself saying "Don't touch that, it was Declan's." "Put that away, it's special, it was your brothers." I have caught myself of the verge of screaming "How dare you! That belongs to Declan!" As if his stuff is off limits to everyone but me. As if preserving my memories are more important than helping my children remember their brother. It is the ugly side of grief... often thinking no one else's pain is more important than yours. I have to remind myself that Declan's things are just that.... things. When I find Courty playing with something of his, I take a few deep breaths and wait until she is done and then I quickly pick it up and place it in the hope chest. His things are precious to me. We will get no more new 'things' of his.... what we have is all we get. So yes, I want to keep his stuff special...but I know I have to be flexible and patient... yelling won't help, screaming only brings tears to both my kids and myself. Turing my sweet Declan's possessions into idols is not healthy... I know that. It is however, a knee jerk reaction to my attempts at preserving his memory. Something I have to try hard to not do.... There will come a time, I have no doubt, that I will "just know" what to do with Declan's stuff... when my mind will lead me down the road of healing, to a place where Declan resides more in my heart than in his possessions.
When Declan passed away, it left a hole in our lives. That is obvious. No one would be surprised to hear that. The questions that have been haunting me are these: Where was Dex's place in this world? What was his purpose? How will the world know how amazing my son would have been? Did Declan's death leave a hole in the world, not just our heart? I want to think it did. I want to think that somewhere out there a little girls heart was heavy with 'something' on that valentines day because her future husband left this earth. I want to think there are little boys who would have been Declan's buddies aching just a little for the friend they will not have. Of course, they would never know that someone they could have loved dearly isn't here anymore. I want to think the impact he would have made on people would have been special. I toy with the idea that maybe, just maybe Declan would have changed the world for the better and that the devil was so scared of his impact that he took his tiny life while had the chance... when Declan was young and helpless. The unknown answers, the curiosity as to who he would have become is what dances across my mind and heart now. How can we know? How can we guess? Like so many questions I have in my life... there are NO answers. I imagine there will come a time when I stop questioning all together because I can't handle not having answers. There is some silly country song called Who you'd be today that I have been listening to.... I actually really like it, even though country is not my music of choice. I know there will forever be those questions "who would Dex be today"... what would he be doing right now? What would he have named his children? What would he do for work? Would he share in his mothers passion for education and for helping those who have no voices OR would he have his dad's intellect and passion for shaping and designing the earth around us? Would he always have looked like his daddy or would he have started to take on some of my traits? I feel in my heart he would have been a funny little guy.... making us laugh and lifting our spirits when we were down. Now all I have are those questions... and memories... now all I have is the knowledge that my son would have been someone, somebody in our world and I like to think that when any one of us leaves, we do leave a hole in this world. I believe our world... this life of mine and yours, is better because Declan was a part of it!
Kenny Chesney ~ Who You'd Be Today
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Gone yet not forgetten, although we are apart, your spirit lives within me, forever in my heart.
"Can you be a Mother when your baby is not with you? I thought of you and closed my eyes and prayed to God today. I asked “What makes a mother?” and I know I heard Him say, “A mother has a baby”. This we know is true. “But God, can you be a mother when your baby’s not with you?” “Yes you can,” He replied with confidence in His voice. “I give many women babies, when they leave is not their choice. Some I send for a lifetime, and others for the day and some I send to feel your womb, but there’s no need to stay.” “I just don’t understand this God I want my baby to be here.” He took a deep breath and cleared His throat, and then I saw the tear. “I wish I could show you, what your child is doing today. If you could see your child’s smile, with all the other children and say…” “We go to earth to learn our lessons of love and life and fear. My mommy loved me oh so much, I got to come straight here. I feel so lucky to have a mom who had so much love for me. I learned my lessons very quickly, my mommy set me free. I miss my mommy oh so much but I visit her everyday. When she goes to sleep on her pillows where I lay. I stroke her hair and kiss her cheek, and whisper in her ear, “mommy don’t be sad today, I’m your baby and I’m here.” “So you see my dear sweet ones, your children are okay. Your babies are born here in my home and this is where they’ll stay. They’ll wait for you with me until your lessons through. And on the day that you come home they’ll be at the gates for you. So now you see what makes a mother, It’s the feeling in your heart. It’s the love you had so much of right from the very start. Though some on earth may not realize you are a mother until their time is done. They’ll be up here with me one day and know that you are the best one.”
I stumbled across this little story today and it touched my heart. There is some truth to wondering how to be a mom when your child has passed away. How do I keep Declan a part of our life and how to juggle Noah and Courty with my desire to somehow keep Declan ever present in our home... Yes he passed away, but that isn't the point... the point is HE LIVED and I was lucky enough to be his mom and I want to do the best I can to preserve that relationship and those feelings.
|Ours for a little while, with Jesus forever|