Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Preparing for the holiday season

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

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Traveling the grief highway...

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

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

His first birthday

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

Here is some of the group sending off their lantern.

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

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

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

Friday, November 16, 2012

You left a trail of beauty

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

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

No more tomorrows

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

Tuesday, November 13, 2012


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

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Out of the mouths of babes...

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

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

Noah getting the cross in the right spot.

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

The Finished Product... it looks great!