Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Enjoying the little things.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, October 26, 2012

An unexpected God Nod

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 22, 2012

If I could turn back the clock...

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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

I will carry you

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

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

I will carry you ~ Selah 

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Precious Child

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In my heart you live on

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

Precious Child by Karen Taylor 

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Dragonfly Story

October 15th, National Pregnancy and
Infant Loss Remembrance day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Monday, October 8, 2012

Small Acts MATTER

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

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

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

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

The gift of living...

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