Monday, July 30, 2012

If only dreams came true

I had a dream about Declan last night.  It was the first one I have had.  In the beginning I would pray to dream of him, but after going so long without having one I realized there was other things more important to pray for... it was kind of funny because I didn't wake up remembering the dream.  I sat through three hours of work before something tripped the memory in my mind and I remembered! My mom was holding him in a different room and she said my name, as I turned to her I saw him in her arms and his eyes were open... he was looking right at me.  I ran over to him and couldn't believe his eyes were open and he was looking at me and smiling at me.  In my dream I knew I only had a short time because his body was going to give out at any minute.  I took him from my mom and I couldn't believe that he was going to die because he seemed so healthy and fine, I kept thinking he was going to prove the doctors wrong... I remember talking to him and telling him how much I love him and holding him as close as possible to me ... thats all I can remember but it was awesome... and I wish it were true.  I hope I dream of him soon... till then I will hold him tight in my heart and wait for the moment when I get to see him again. 

Jealous of the Angels 
~ Jenn Bostic

Friday, July 27, 2012

What is important in life?

Today at work I decided to start working on a training presentation that I am working on and that I was going to do back in the winter until Declan's passing... anyway, I have been gathering data and was ready to start putting the information into a presentation... so I opened up the online site that I was using to design the session and I couldn't believe my eyes... it was already started and the day I had last worked on it was February 14th, 2012.  I just stared at it... I had no recollection of already having started it, but I knew I was the only one who has access to that account and it was like a flood gate was opened and I remembered that I had been working on that presentation when I got the call from my day care provider.  I had left work with that presentation still pulled up on my screen. What I sat down to work on today was exactly the same thing I was working on when Declan stopped breathing.  While I was busy putting together a presentation on personalities in the work environment, my son took his last breath... my day care provider was doing CPR on my baby and I was sitting at work, putting together a presentation that no one probably would have cared about.  It makes me stop and re-evaluate everything... what is important in life?! Not working isn't an option, but I can't help but think I should have been there.  I should have taken a longer maternity leave.  I should have been home on that Monday night earlier so I could have spent more time with him.  I should have brought him to daycare that day like I usually did... I should've, I should've, I should' mind gets crazy with "I should've"....  in reality, he should've not died and I should not have to go through this terrible journey. I haven't yet grasped that life is so painfully unfair and that I am where I am now... I was doing what I was doing the day he died... no amount of wishful thinking or "I should'ves" will change that.

I guess I can answer the question 'what is important in life?' but there is no way it will fit on one blog post... I know my kids and my family are important and when I stop to think about my career (education) I also feel passionately that it is also important and although I wish I was with Declan the moments leading up to his last breath, I know he forgives me for not being there.... now I just have to forgive myself.

Have we been forsaken?

I have struggled with understanding our situation. I have felt abandon and rejected by the world and, I guess I should be honest, God.  There are moments of anger and days when I shake my fist at Him. How could he allow this to happen?  How could he 'forsake' me like this? I don't get it and it makes me mad that he would do this to one of His believers.... but then the anger fades, which is good because being angry is exhausting, and I know that this was not God's plan... that he didn't do this to us and we certainly are not being forsaken.  The very definition of the word forsake is to be abandon and renounced and left to your own... and that isn't us.  God has not abandon us, we still are abundantly blessed with what He has given us. I still have many things to be thankful for when I lay my head down at night.  I would even go as far as to say that through our tragedy, we see the world differently than most people do... our vision is not clouded by rose colored sunglasses, or the illusion that bad things don't really happen, or that I am in control of my life... our perspectives have changed and I would say for the better.  Which isn't to say I still don't get mad or sad or darn right infuriated over losing Declan... I still can feel the burning sensation in the pit of my stomach that makes me want to punch my steering wheel (lots of drive time to think... not always a good idea) or my side window.... there are times when I think it would actually feel good to punch something really hard, to yell really loud, to release those angry feelings, but I know they would never be fully gone.  I know that they would come back.... because screaming and yelling and punching things won't bring Declan back and that is really all I want.  I am not mad often enough to dwell on those desires... I'm sad more often than mad... and being sad is different than being mad.  When I am sad I just want to cry a good cry and hold my kids as much as they will let me.  When I am sad, I can look at Declan's photos and go between moments of laughter at a memory and moments of sadness about how much I wish he were here.  I know over the past 22 weeks, God has been ever present in my life.  He has held me in His arms and comforted me when no one or nothing else could.  He has provided us with a network of support and He continues to bless with opportunities to meet new people.  He has helped me deal with the anger that comes in short burst of emotions, He has helped me forgive people who are insensitive, He has guided me through this journey so far and I know he will not forsake me now... or ever.  I have Hebrews 13:5 to remind me of that....  So yes, I get mad, I get angry... I get darn right pissed off at times at the UNFAIRNESS of losing my baby, but I get through it.  I look at my husband and my living children and I realize they need more than a crabby momma in their lives... all of us need to remember that there are still blessings worth living for... even when living is the last thing you want to do.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

A piece of YOU in my heart

Yesterday it was 22 weeks... the good sign, I had to stop and do some quick counting in my head to figure out what week we were at.... maybe that means 'healing' is happening.  However, I still have these feelings that getting better means forgetting and 'moving on' and I thats not what I want.  I don't want to forget, I don't want to move on.  Declan was my son, a part of my flesh... not a boyfriend you get over and forget... he wasn't a passing part of my life... he IS my life. I am healing and I am moving forward (not on), trying to figure out how to keep him as much a part of our family as he can be.... still trying to figure out how to parent a baby who is no longer here.... still trying to figure out what my life will look like... all while settling into this new life.  I have heard the first two years are the hardest, I have heard the pain doesn't go away, but it gets manageable... I have heard after one year, the amount of support you once received from your friends and family drops significantly... it makes me realize that we have a long road ahead of us, that knowing what this journey will bring for us is uncertain.  In reality I can't control anything except myself and at some point in life, I have to be ok with that.  What I do know is that as time passes, the pain does become more bearable... but there are moments when it would feel better to stick a knife in your eye rather than live in the pain of the loss.... it's those moments when the world hurts that much that I have to remind myself that although Dex is gone from this earth physically, he is here.  He is in my heart, now and forever.  From the moment he was born he took up permeant residency inside me and through his death, it has been intensified. What I do now I do for him, because he can't.  I won't let his life be forgotten.  I miss him.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Grief, Loss and Trauma?

Grief, Loss and Trauma? Trauma? We haven't gone through trauma... yes, we lost our child, but there was no trauma. Right?!  Maybe? OH I don't know... Nate and I were fortunate to have an opportunity to sit through a group yesterday with other bereaved parents and psychologist, Linda Lehmann.  Linda talked to us about the very real effects of psychological trauma and how she believes loosing a child in such an unexpected manner creates emotions and reactions that are often associated with trauma and sometimes PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder).  She talked about how we all, until the day we learned differently, expected to be parents of our children until we died.  She explained that living through the experience of first finding out something was wrong, to the moment our child passed away was a traumatic event.... meaning not only are we grieving but we are dealing with the side effects of trauma.  Both Nate and I laid in bed last night and talked about that... the word 'trauma' was not something we associated with our situation... it is something we think about more with soldiers and people who have lived through some sort of catastrophe.... but not with our situation... yet, the more Linda talked about trauma, the more we realized the day Declan died was a catastrophe to us... it was a traumatic event that truly has changed our lives forever.  She also talked about how people who have experienced trauma often re-expereince that trauma on a daily basis... alone and in our own heads.  People have who haven't lost a child typically can't understand this and can't relate.  For me personally, I learned my reactions to the trauma of losing Dex has left me in a state of increased arousal... which for me is displayed by having a hard time staying a sleep, being real jumpy, being short fused, an inability to recall certain parts of the day Declan died, and most noticeably my inability to concentrate... which finally makes me realize that I am not going crazy and I am fairly normal (relatively speaking) in my grieving process.  She talked about the importance of understanding and being ok with our styles of grieving.   So yeah, we've experienced trauma and even how our trauma is effecting us and now all we can do is figure out how to live with it and heal from that too.

We have been spending this past week at Faith's Lodge in northern WI... a resort for families with terminally ill or deceased children.  There are 5 other families here who have lost their precious little one(s).  It has been a wonderful week, full of healing, crying and bonding with others who actually know what we have been through.   I am sad that tomorrow is the end of this part of our journey, but know that we will forever be friends with the families we have met and we will forever be part of the Faith's Lodge family.  Both Nate and I know we will be back and have already started talking about ways we can volunteer to help here.  It is truly a place where HOPE GROWS!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Celebrating LIFE

Walking the long, rough path to healing for me often feels very lonely and like I'm a zombie. Death steals part of you, making you feel less than alive and nothing like 'living'.  I have needed to feel alive lately.  I have needed to remember what it is to live and to be part of the human race.  I've have wanted to do something... anything to show Declan that I haven't given up.  That I can still live and still find beauty in this life that is cruel and painful.  After we ran the Walk to Remember in June, I have felt ready for something... ready to prove to the world, to Declan and to myself that I didn't die too. That I still live to tell HIS story and to ensure his short life is NOT forgotten.  

What better way to scream "I'm ALIVE!" to the world than pushing your body to the limits of all it can handle.... trying to run in 95 degree heat, with your heart pounding out of your chest, with your lungs burning and your body aching...  What more can I do for Declan than do what he can't.... it just feels right.  Running for him.  Running because he can't and because I feel that it helps me remember I'm alive.

The day, besides the heat, was awesome.  The run was fun and the energy of the 20,000 other people running was so motivating. 

I would rather have Declan here. I would rather not be trying to run 5ks.  I would rather never have gone through the tragedy of losing our son, but am excited to run for him.  I am excited to do something  I have never done because he motivates me to do more.... more for myself and more for him. Life is worth celebrating. 

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Another one bites the dust

We are coming upon the 5 month anniversary of Declan's passing... it will be this Saturday, the day after my 35th birthday and his upcoming 8 month birthday (July 18th).  It seems many of our anniversary's we've had with our sweet Dex have fallen on difficult days... making it continue to feel like such a cruel joke.  We haven't had a major holiday since his passing, so I can't really speak to it, but so far, birthdays have been SO hard.  Noah's birthday was beyond difficult to get through and I found myself sitting in the dark, rocking with Dex's blanket and crying my eyes out...but not for my birthday, instead of being alone tomorrow night, I am excited to be surrounded by my dear friends who love me unconditionally and will not only let me cry, but will probably grab a blanket and cry with me!  Another 'biggy' that we have to face, but as I am learning, we have to face everyday and every holiday... even the most mundane days can sometimes feel like a 'biggy'!  However, with some pre jitters and anxiety and preparations, we will get through this and on Sunday when both my birthday and his five month angel date has passed, we will boldly say "ANOTHER ONE BITES THE DUST!" and we survived!

Nate, the kids, myself and some other dear friends are running in the Color Run this Sunday.  I really wanted to do this 5k... for me its like I am standing up to death and looking him in the eye and shouting "SEE, you didn't kill my spirit! You tried, but I am still standing, still running!"  It think it will feel liberating and very 'alive'! With everything that is going on I find myself excited and nervous for this weekend... but I am holding all my anxiety up in prayer and I know it will be ok and when all is said and done... we will continue to be stronger and healthier than we were.  I think about where I was five months ago and where I am today... sometimes I feel as lonely and in as much despair as I did in the weeks after Dex passed away and other times I can believe I will make it through this.  What a totally wild and sucky journey this has been... I am not who I was before and I still don't think I am who I will become, but I feel like I am at least walking in the right direction!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Redefining everything...including US

When you lose a child, you are forced to redefine who you are.  You have no choice but to self reflect... I've questioned everything about myself over the past 20 weeks... my faith, my beliefs, my friends, my career choice, who I am, everything.  Through that process, I realized I will never be who I was... and I am slowly accepting it and trying to tell myself the 'me' who I will become is going to be ok too and the thing is, I am on this journey alone.  No one can do it for me, no one can tell me who I should be, no one can say what is right or wrong for me and one of the hardest transitions of grief is learning how to be the 'new me' in my old relationships... including my marriage.  I feel like I hardly know myself, let alone who my husband is becoming.  Everyday we work on figuring out who the other one is for that moment.  There are so many aspects to who we are and after losing Dex, things changed... what I use to find funny no longer makes me laugh, activities I use to enjoy no longer hold the same entertainment...even things like the music I listen to is different as are the books I enjoy and movies I choose to see... and all those things can change in second with no warning.  It has been a journey for us... there are literally days when I look at Nate and think, 'who are you?' and I feel certain that I can say he has looked at me and wondered the same thing.   We've even had moments when I felt like we didn't even know what to say to each other... "soooooooo.... how was work today?" and times it was just easier to be in a different room.  There have been moments when I've told myself, 'this would be easier to do if it was just me'.... days when I just wanted to scream, "I'm done! This is over..." which has brought me to my knees in tears because that is not what I want.  Nothing could be further from the truth, but it is so hard at times.  I truly feel like we have had to redefine 'us' and what 'we' are... losing Declan has been LIFE CHANGING and life changing includes a changing relationship with your spouse.  It has taken a conscious effort to make 'us' work.  We both have had to work on apologizing more, being more accepting of mood swings and holding each others broken hearts with tender care. We know we want each other.  We know "us" is important.  We both are willing to make our relationship work and know we can do it.   Declan passed away 20 weeks ago this upcoming Tuesday... and for 20 weeks we have been redefining everything, including us.  What I know is we will come out stronger and better than we were before.  I love you Nathan, yesterday, today and for always.... IN GOOD TIMES AND IN BAD.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Everything gets broken

I've never experienced a broken bone... I don't know the pain that comes with that and I don't know what is worse...a real break or an emotional break?!  Over the course of the past 20 weeks I have begun to learn to live with my broken heart.  I have started adapting to a new life... I have started the journey to my new normal... this happens while the heart is still broken, when you realize the situation isn't changing and you either let it destroy you or you decide to face each day head on and you decide to let his death mean something....  But over the course of the past few weeks, when I see other mothers and their babies I can't help but feel like something else is broken... and maybe this will sounds odd... it actually took me a while to put a description to the feelings I was having, but here it is... losing a baby creates broken arms.  I look at my arms and I KNOW what they should be holding, I know what they are missing.  My arms ache to hold Declan.  My cradling arms are shattered and they feel empty and naked.... sometimes it feels like other mothers can actually tell I have lost my baby... like I have invisible cast on my arms that only mothers of babies can see.  Some times life seems like a cruel joke...what I have to remind myself is that no one can tell by looking at me that my child passed away, that is just me allowing anger and insecurity to creep into my life... but seeing those mothers with their babies makes my arms physically hurt.  I have to look away because, even though I am not mad at them per say, I get upset by my loss... I get upset that my arms are unable to do what they should be doing... I have broken arms and I suppose I always will... I will forever feel like we missed out on snuggles and hugs and piggy back rides... Even though my arms have been cheated and it is what I have been dwelling on lately, I also realize my very being has been cheated... the reality of losing a child is everything gets broken.  Today it is my arms that ache... tomorrow it will be something else.