Monday, February 17, 2014

Living through yet another angelversary….

Once again we lived through another angelversary and came out on the other side feeling like we had made a difference… feeling like we had honored Declan's memory and all of the people who fought so hard for his life.   We spent the morning running around, delivering donuts to the St. Peter Police station and Rivers Edge hospital… trying to make sure the staff knew how much their actions on that dreaded day continue to mean to us!!  It was nice to connect with them and express our appreciation.  We also volunteered to do a "Cooks for Kids" supper at the Ronald McDonald House (RMH) in Minneapolis.   If you are not familiar with this program, don't feel bad… neither were we, until we benefited from it during our brief stay at the RMH.  It is a program where a group of volunteers prepare a supper for the families who are living at the RMH in attempts to lighten their load so they do not have to worry about spending time preparing meals when they could be by their child's side.  The typical stay at a RMH is 10 days.  At this particular Ronald McDonalds House (on Oak street) families have a longer stay than that and can be there anywhere from 3 months to 3 years.  These families primarily come from the midwest, however, because of the amazing hospitals in Minnesota, families have come from around the world to this particular RMH.  It was an amazing experience for us and I think I can speak for all of us who were there on Friday, when I say we would do it again in a heart beat!

When the families went through the line, they were able to see why we were there.

Our group…. my brother Lance, my dad Court, my bestie Jen, my mom Gayle, Nate's aunt Heidi, Nate's uncle Brian, me, my mother-n-law Lynn, my father-n-law Jeff and Nate.  Not pictured are my aunt and uncle Keith and Jean, along with those who were watching our kids, Aileen, Jenn, Anna and Brock. 

Working hard or hardly working… 

To make sure people knew who we were there for… our aprons. Although I didn't have enough for everyone :(

The kids were there for a little while, but technically were not suppose to be since there are children who are living at the RMH who are medically fragile.  We were able to get a family photo.

If you ever have an opportunity to do a Cooks for Kids, please consider doing it!  The families who are living there appreciate it so much!!  Check out there link for details on how you can volunteer:

Guest Post: A year of Tears

I am calling this my first ever guest post… although I didn't ask if I could 'borrow' her work, it's my sister-n-law so she just has to deal with it.  I wanted to share her post she created a year ago.  I often only talk about my grief because it is what I know.  I understand my pain and I can speak without worrying that I am putting words into peoples mouths…. so when I read her blog post about the last time she was with Declan prior to the 14th, I was very moved by it and wanted to share it.    So… thank you Jenn for posting this and sharing your memories with us!!

A Year of Tears

REMEMBERING... There are so many things I remember about the day you left us. First hearing about you being flown to the hospital; rushing home and trying to pack - only to realize you were't going to Sioux Falls, but were coming to Minneapolis. Grandma meeting me in the hall at the hospital, preparing me for the terrible reality; seeing you hooked up to the machines; watching you take your last breath and your mommy giving you your last bath. 

Those images of the day you died will never leave my mind - I'm sure of that. But, there is another memory I have of you - one that is so special, I hold on to it with every piece of my heart. 

On the morning of your baptism...
As our family sat in the front row of the church, listening to the pastor's sermon, (he showed a Veggie Tales video - it was so cute! Noah and Courtlynn loved it and I remember thinking, "We should get some of those videos for Noela"). 

You were laying casually across your mommy's lap. You had on a beautiful baptismal gown - I think it was your great-grandpa's. You were sleeping. You were such a good sleeper. You could sleep anywhere (I was jealous. My baby didn't do that). 

As you lay there, asleep, I watched you and your mommy as the rest of the congregation listened to the sermon and watched the video. Your mommy was touching you - trailing her finger across every tiny feature of your beautiful little face - from the bridge of your nose down to the tip of that cute little button. Then, tracing the outline of your pink lips. Her fingers stopped at your chin, feeling the groove in the center (you got that from your daddy). I watched as she traced your jawline up to your perfect ear, following every ridge and crevice. She ran her hands along your neck, rubbed the back of your head and pet your hair. 

 As I watched this seemingly ordinary moment between you and your mommy, it touched me as something more - something extraordinary. I though to myself, "She knows every inch of him. Every nook, cranny, bulge and roll of that beautiful little boy" Did I know Noela that way? I had spent countless hours staring at her, marveling at her beauty and in awe of how something so perfect had come from me, but had I ever really touched her like that? Investigating, not only with my eyes, but with my fingers? Your mommy touched you with such casual familiarity that I couldn't help but be in awe of the bond you two had and the confidence she had about being your mom. 

 I had no way of knowing that this would be the last time I would see you alive - the last opportunity I would have to hold you - no way of knowing how important that memory would be to me. I saw your mommy touch you like that again as she held you in the hospital. Her fingers knew you already, but were ever so carefully taking these last moments to feel you and to absorb you. To remember you. 

Remembering you... Most often it brings me to tears, but as I remember that morning of your baptism, it brings me joy and even a smile. I remember you Baby Declan - I always will. 

You are forever in my heart. 
Love, Aunt Jenn 
Declan and his mommy on the day of his baptism.

Jenn is a fellow blogger and you can follow her over at  She is one crafty lady and I love her!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

When life isn't fair…

I am missing Declan so much today… I can't stop thinking about all we have lost.  Not just who he was, but everything he would have been.   We should have a 2 year old.  We should be watching the kids play with Declan and get frustrated when he steals their toys. We should be hearing belly laughs and whinny cries… we should be watching fat fingers turn pages of a tractor book and getting wet kisses.  We should have more, we should be more… this isn't the life I envisioned and frankly, it sucks.  Death has robbed us of the future we deserve.   There are still times I ask myself, "why us?"  Why not someone else? What did we do wrong?  I read horrific stories of child abuse and neglect and I stop and ask "Seriously!?!?  Those sick people have living children, but Declan had to die?!  Where is the fairness is that?"  Then I remember the line I have said too many times to count, "Life isn't fair and rarely does it make sense."  Life is not fair.  Life is NOT FAIR!  The very fact that it is not fair, is SO NOT FAIR!!  Unfairness is a hard lesson to learn. 

I find myself in a place again of discontentment… wanting to somehow make our future what it was supposed to be.  Wanting to fill the hole that is left and to feel like all is right again.  Here is where I am confronted with the "Great Divide" that I have talked about in the past…The heart vs the brain. My heart is wanting something, someONE, so badly right now that it is winning the battle of logic with my brain! My brain knows nothing will fill that hole.  My brain knows that bad things happen to good people and that's just a fact of life… but my heart is hurting so much that it is tricking my common sense into believing something I do or change will make life right again… And life won't ever be what I believed it would be.  I had the life I wanted.  Now, I have to learn to want (and be ok with) the life I have… the one without my baby.  

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Hey, who stole my sunshine?

It's been a gloomy month… I suppose I anticipated the 2nd anniversary of his passing to be easier, but that hasn't been the case for me.  In fact, since his birthday back in November, life has felt blah and sad.  I feel down, I feel exhausted, I feel anxious… I hadn't really thought about it and I was trying to describe to a friend the other day how I was feeling and I said, "It's like someone stole my sunshine."  I didn't even know the words were going to come out of my mouth, but than I thought about it and it was a pretty good description of how I have been feeling.  Almost like I have been walking around with a cloud above my head, waiting for it to rain on my parade.  It's this gloomy feeling that make me quick to anger, quick to tears, quick to frustration and quick to want to have a pity party.   I know the weather hasn't helped any either! A lack of fresh air and constantly having frozen toes is enough to turn anyones good mood sour, but add in grief and its like the 'polar vortex' of YUCK!

Under my cloud, however, there are moments that are unexpected and so moving I don't know how to respond other than with a soft whispered 'thank you'.  Here is what I received the other day, from one of the officers that responded to Declan's 911 call (I hope he doesn't mind my sharing!):

"As the 2-year anniversary of Declan’s passing approaches, I want you to know that I still think of him.  As I have told you before, I have been to many heartbreaking calls in my career as a Police Officer, but Declan continues to stand out to me. Officer ***** and I both wear our “Declan bracelets” proudly in honor of his bravery and I know that I pull strength from it.  I should tell you that our bracelets are showing extreme wear and I am hoping you have another one for us.  never take mine off as I find Declan a source of motivation for many things, including my job."

My heart swelled with such a mix of emotions while I was reading his email… pride in my son, hope in humanity, sadness at the reality of his death and an overwhelming urge to find this officer, hug him and again tell him how much his service means to us!! I actually haven't responded to his email yet.  I have formulated multiple responses, but my words seem insignificant to how he made me feel!  How do you say thank you to someone who fought so hard for your child's life?!  Maybe it's not as complicated as I am making it.  Maybe it's simply saying, "thank you" and hoping the look in our eyes can speak louder than our words! 

As we begin this week… in attempts to 'pump' myself up for the emotional journey this week will prove to be, I am going to start by saying: I am thankful to be Declan's mom.  I am thankful to have Nate by my side walking through this with me.  I am thankful for GOD's ever present hand in my life.  I am thankful for the mothers I have met along this journey who hold me up with words of encouragement when I want to give up.  I am thankful for the life God gave me, even when it hurts like hell!  I am thankful that I am who I am.  AND lastly… go ahead and try Devil… you might break my heart at times but you will never break my spirit! 

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Here we go again…

Here we go again… gearing up to survive another anniversary of our sons passing.  Another February to walk through the stores and see all the hearts and pink and mushy love junk.  I actually find myself trying to avoid looking at it.  I will walk out of my way to miss it, however, in most stores it's front and center… cuz this holiday is a big deal I guess, but it makes me hurt.  For Nathan and I, this holiday will never be about our love for each other, but will always be about our love for our sweet Declan.  It will always be about how we can honor his memory and the memory of that dreadful day.  It will be about saying Thank You to so many people…. it will be about remembering the selfless act of our daycare provider, the St. Peter police officers, the doctors and nurses at Rivers Edge hospital, the helicopter flight crew, and the staff at Children's hospital.   It will forever be about what I can do for someone else… how I can show my gratitude for those who FOUGHT for my sons life!  I think of the people, from our daycare provider to the doctor who pronounced his death… each one of those people looked at our son and decided he was worth giving it their all.  This might sound crazy, but I look at those people… and I feel so lucky that they were on duty that day.  I feel almost in awe of their will to fight, when I am sure it often seemed hopeless.  I think of our daycare provider and her quick actions, giving Declan CPR… I don't know how she found it in her to do it and than to go through the police investigation, when I am sure all she wanted to do was curl up in her bed and cry.   "Lucky"… not the word I would have thought I'd describe myself as in reference to that dreaded day, but it's true.  That is how I feel.  We had the best people on our team and we still didn't win, but the game was fought hard and the loss was felt by everyone!

My heart is still heavy and I'm still very broken… the past two years have been difficult, a living hell to be specific.  I am still finding myself learning about my grief.  I still lose  my breath thinking about our beloved boy.  I still want to punch the wall at times and shout obscenities at the time of my lungs.  Two years has done little to change my sadness, but I have learned how to 'control' it and frankly, avoid it when it's not the right time.  I can say that he doesn't fill my every thought anymore, but there is not a day that he doesn't enter my thoughts at some point.   I don't cry everyday anymore, but there is no telling what will send me into hysterics and uncontrollable sobs.  At times I feel like I am a shell of who I was…not the confident, out going, almost fearless, YOUNG lady I was.  Now there are a lot of days I feel OLD, with the weight of responsibility laying heavily on my shoulders.   I live with a level of anxiety I have never experienced. I struggle when life gets difficult with putting things into perspective and not freaking out. What I can confidentially say is that I have more purpose in this life now.  I have a better understanding of how important the 'little' things are.  I am more empathetic and kinder than I used to be and I am able to love deeper than before.  I can't imagine going back to who I use to be…  I am different and I am learning what it means to be the 'new' me.  It's a challenge, but it's not going to break me!  As we approach the dreaded day… I am going to let my heart feel what it wants.  I am not going to hide any tears, I am not going to apologize for not living up to any expectations,  I am going to go with the flow and be OK with it.