Letters to the moon

Dear moon,

I am in awe of you. We awoke early yesterday to see you in your super, blue and eclipsed state. But you were hiding behind the clouds. We spoke of you at dinner and my sweet little one described in his four-year-old way, how Earth would move and the Sun would stay still, and we would see your light change. But still, last night, you were hiding. And we didn’t get to see you.

So tonight, I write to you, a letter of thanks. Although you hid yesterday, twice, as we tried to look at the wonderment of your light at its brightest, in the past few years, you have been one constant in a stream of tumultuous change.

I look to you when I need a glimpse of my angel in Heaven. You are so close to him, I know, and in a clear, dark night, where your light shines so brightly and you are so round and seemingly glad, I look to you, and feel him. You have brought me comfort on many a lonely night.

When you are at your roundest, and brightest, and I cannot help but look up and notice you, I know my angel, at that very moment, is also thinking of his mommy on Earth. You bring us together, somehow, though he is so far away. You make him closer. Just looking up at you, in your greatness, makes me feel like a little piece of him is still within reach.

So tonight, dear moon, whether it’s cloudy or clear, through a window or in the crisp evening air, I will look to you. Because I know, like my angel, whether I see you or not, you are always there.

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Dreaming

I have been having the most vivid dreams over the last couple nights and I think my slumbering self is trying to tell my conscious self something.

Some of these dreams have been easy for me to interpret – like the one where I was sent to Dubai for work with my child in tow, and had no idea how to handle both tasks. No kidding. I never have any idea how to handle a full time job, a four year old, and surviving as a grieving mother. It’s impossible. Of course, I have nightmares.

But these other dreams, they have been filled with babies. It’s like a nocturnal nursery in my subconscious, and I awake to all these conflicting feelings about my sweet boy in Heaven, my sweet man on Earth, and all the if, ands and what-have-yous of what could have been or what maybe should be.

The first of the series, I was in a van, and I was holding a very tiny infant. It was clearly just born, and I was speaking to its caregivers as we rode in the back of the van, on a very bumpy road.

‘This child needs a carseat!’ I exclaimed as I held tight to the tiny bundle, wrapped snugly in a blanket, as close to my chest as I could hold him. ‘I have one at my house, a baby bucket seat, we are not using. I will give it to you. You need to keep him safe.’

Ok, so maybe that one is fairly easily explained. I am no psychotherapist, nor dream interpreter, but of course I have feelings of guilt that I could not save my own baby. He went to Heaven, and I couldn’t stop it. So maybe this dream was placed carefully into my thoughts to help me save another child. Even if only in my head and heart.

Then more dreams followed, each with different children, all infants or babies, some tiny and fragile, some bouncing and crawling. But all in my care in some way, and each felt as though they were mine to comfort, care for, and console.

I had many experiences in my lifetime where I ‘predicted’ or knew a friend was expecting before even they knew, or made the announcement. I don’t claim to be psychic in any way, and cannot predict the future, but in the case of pregnancies, I often have an intuition that has been right more often than wrong.

Theses dreams have made me wonder about those close to me and if and when they may announce pregnancy news and if I am getting a ‘signal’ of what to expect. Or maybe my grief is beginning to heal just a little by giving me small tastes of experiences missed, and moments I long for since my baby has gone.

I’m now the mother of a four-year-old angel on Earth and a sweet baby in Heaven. And those boys bring me more joy than anything else. But there’s something about dreaming, the if, ands, and what-have-yous, that fulfill a little piece of longing, but cause a little yearning all at the same time.

Just a little thing

We finally, after many months of debate, decided to cancel our cable. It seemed like it was becoming an extravagance, a monthly expense we didn’t need, and it was time to do without.

I made the call early last week and I have to say, we have not missed it. We’re spending a little extra quality time as a family, I’m learning to accept the beauty of silence just a bit more, and I cannot wait to get that first invoice with only the internet charge.

I had to drop off the cable boxes to be shipped back to the provider this morning to ensure we wouldn’t be charged seven million dollars for keeping them. I stuck them in a reusable shopping bag and threw them in the front seat of my car as we left the house for preschool.

I dropped off the little man then headed over to UPS. The man behind the counter offered me a smile and a ‘good morning’ and I told him I was there to return the boxes. I set my bag on the table and he said, ‘Well that’s about the most adorable bag I have ever seen!’

The bag was a Christmas themed sack, featuring a bashful little minion holding mistletoe. It is an adorable bag. It was given to me by my very good friend, along with several others, when we participated in our first ‘Minion Run,’ as we lovingly refer to the charity 5K event that helps families like ours with kids battling cancer. That charity sponsored us the Christmas our little angel was sick. They have since donated a wagon at the children’s hospital in his honor. We love them, and love being a part of everything they do.

That bag helped me distribute the team T-shirts that first year after his loss, and I’ve used those bags for groceries, diapers, toys – you name it. They are my ‘catch all’ bags. And every time I use one, I think of my angel, as well as my friends and family who are with me every step of my journey.

I thanked the man and agreed, it is a cute bag. ‘We love the minions at my house,’ I said. He proceeded to tell me he had a daughter who loves everything ‘minion.’ They are her favorite.

He printed my receipt and told me to have a nice day.

‘Would you like to keep the bag?’ I asked. ‘For you daughter?’

‘That is so nice of you!’ He exclaimed as he took the bag off the counter and started carefully folding it. ‘Thank you so much. She will be so happy.’

‘I have plenty more,’ I said as I waved and walked out the door.

Once again, my angel at work, spreading happiness.

Please visit Nellie’s Champions for Kids to learn how you can support pediatric cancer families in central Ohio.

 

The joyous quarter

I am embarking on my ‘joyous quarter’ according to my best friend, as stated over a few (too many) drinks, a soak in a hot tub at a super swag Air BNB, and possibly some other influences. We were gushing over each other at our third ‘annual’ girls’ weekend with my ‘minions’ – the beautiful, amazing, supportive girls who have been with me before-during-and-after the life and loss of my angel. Those, who through it all, still choose to love me.

‘After all you have been through, and survived,’ she said, ‘I think it’s about time for your joyous quarter.’

A few of my other girls laughed a little at the term ‘quarter’ and said, if I’m only 37 and I’m entering my 4th, does that mean it’s my last, and I’m gonna die by 50?! Well, no. That’s not the point.

The point she was trying to make, was me, who at 37 – has survived a kidney transplant at 26, with multiple rejections and frequent health scares afterward, the birth of a 24-week, one pound, one-ounce infant, who spent ten months fighting in NICU, only to be diagnosed with simultaneous kidney failure and liver cancer at age 2 1/2, then sent to Heaven at age three – about due a carefree, enjoyable slice of life?

It sounds nice, doesn’t it?

I feel like, maybe, I deserve it.

But at the same time, I thank God every day I had that kidney transplant and subsequent challenges. It gave me an appreciation for life I would not have had otherwise. It made me understand medicine in a way that equipped me for the life and challenges my son would face. It created a bond between my husband and I, that no matter how many dirty dishes he leaves in the sink, and no matter how often I forget to move clothes from the washer to the dryer, cannot be severed.

And that beautiful baby of mine. I may not have had him for long. And those brief three years may have been tough, and trying and tumultuous. But there is no way I would trade them for the most joyous quarter, or life, or ten thousand lives, anyone could promise.

But still, if I have not yet paid my penance for whatever wrong I may have done, or am not yet living to my fullest potential, or have not yet fulfilled whatever Karma that is due, then that is ok. I would love, more than anything, for it to be easy, just easy, from here on out. I’d love to not feel the pain and heartache of anymore tragedy, and know that my health and the loss of my baby, are the hardest feats I will face in this lifetime.

But the truth is, there are no guarantees. And, even though I feel I have suffered a pain worse than any other – the loss of my baby – it could still get worse. This life could still be full of heartbreak. I have a son and a husband who I love more than anything. And they could, at any point, be taken from me. And I will, forever, worry about that every single minute of every single day.

But, I would like to have faith that my joyous quarter is upon me. And to acknowledge that I have faced the worst with the best I can give. And maybe there’s some hope in that. Maybe, just maybe, with my sweet angel in Heaven, and with my faith that I am here to make everything just a little bit better for someone, anyone, maybe I will have my joyous quarter.

My path

On days where I’m tired, and I feel the pressure of life, the stress of work – the difficulties of the tangible – creeping up my spine like an ache I cannot shake, I think of you.

I think of you and the beautiful, meaningful, brief life you had here with us. You never knew stress or pressure or even heartache. You led a life of joy. A life that, to any other soul may have been hard, or painful, or difficult. But a life that you greeted each day with smiles, and laughter, and joy.

Even days that were so hard for mommy, watching you sick, and tired, and worn from months of chemotherapy. You were still smiling. Still loving every minute of your beautiful, fragile, delicate life. You were – and are – a beautiful soul.

And I wonder, on days like today, when silly, meaningless stuff is just getting me down, what is my soul’s path?

Yours was so clear. You were meant to be an angel. My angel. And I was meant to be your mommy. I know that much with my whole heart. And I am meant to parent your brother.

But do I have any chance of being as wonderful as you were? You touched so many lives in such a short time and made such a positive impact on this world. And I know that, and remember that, and remind myself of that every day.

And I’ll take a small piece of credit, because I am your mom, but then these feelings of inadequacy, and doubt, and fear, and grief – they all just take over.

And I need to know, to understand, that I too, am on a path for the greater good. That this beautiful, wonderful life is not just about me. It’s not just about you. It’s about how we fit into the greater puzzle that makes everything better.

You made everything better. Your smile, your beautiful blue eyes, your voice, made everything better. And days like today, when I wonder, what is my path, what is my greater purpose? The truth is, it’s no different than any other day. I’m just missing you.

Six years

Hi, Baby.

Six years ago, I carried you safely in my belly. You were tiny, and so was I. I had no idea that in a few short weeks, I would welcome you into the world. I planned for that homecoming to be months away. At that moment, six years ago, I just waited patiently for you to move, so I could feel you. But I never did.

The first time I saw you, I placed my finger inside the tiny, plastic door, into your miniature hand. Your head was smaller than my fist, your entire body shorter than my foot. But you were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. Through the wires and tubes, I saw my nose on your face, and daddy’s brow above your eyes. At just over one pound, you were the perfect combination of our perfect love.

Six years ago, I wore maternity clothes, though my weight was all water. A sign of preeclampsia I did not yet know would strike. I celebrated the new year, photographing my sweet family toasting at midnight, while I happily abstained from the champagne. This year would be our best year. The year we welcomed our first, beautiful son to our world.

And Baby, though it was a tough year, with ten months in NICU, and constant worry and fear, it was the best year. It was a year we had with you. A year I would not trade for the moon. A year I’d give just about anything to have back. That beautiful, perfect, unforgettable year. With you.

And as we embark on the sixth year since you graced this Earth, and the third since you’ve made your journey to Heaven – Baby, I want you to know – you are still so much a part of who I am.

I am a mother because of you. I am a survivor because of you. I am who I am, because of you. And I am far from perfect. I am terribly flawed and I am horribly heartbroken. But I have a capacity to love and succeed and be better, because of you. Every moment of every day I think of you and if you are proud of who I am today, without you on this Earth. And every day I ask myself, is this good enough for him? Am I good enough for him?

I don’t know. But I will keep trying. Because I know you are watching, and you are hearing, and you are knowing all that goes on. And I just want to be good enough for you.

Six years ago, I carried you in my belly. Today, I carry you in my heart. I love you, Baby.

So this is Christmas

This Christmas, we awoke in our own home, to the sound of our sweet angel on Earth exclaiming, “Santa came, Mommy” and walked out of our bedroom to his bouncing and clapping with an innocent energy I’ve only dreamed existed.

Christmas last year he had joined our family only days before and was still so timid, and so young, and so frightened. And so were we.

This new little addition to our fractured world, our beautiful Christmas blessing, was still so fresh and so new. We were all still navigating our new normal with one another and just announcing to the world that we were officially a family.

The Christmas before, that may have been the hardest. Our childless Christmas. To be honest, I don’t even remember what we did. I only remember our sweet angel wasn’t there. I know we hung his stocking and we sent Christmas cards with his picture. We debated over those cards. My husband said don’t do it, it’s too sad, it will be too hard for everyone to see his sweet face. I said it’s the last time I can put his photo on a Christmas card. It’s the last year he was part of this world. I can’t not include him. And so we did. And still I’m glad we did.

The last two years I’ve thought about including him. Every family photo still feels like something is missing. Something will always be missing.

And the Christmas before that, it wasn’t much easier. The hospital was amazing. The nurses in HemOnc, those saints that they were, fought over the Christmas Eve and Christmas Day shifts. Not to have them off, but to be there. To be there for their kids, for their families, who were fighting for their lives during the time of year when the rest of the world was celebrating.

The volunteers brought gifts, wonderful gifts, and the doctors, though our poor sick baby was struggling, fought so hard to keep him from going to PICU where we couldn’t snuggle and cuddle and have visitors, so we could have some kind of normalcy on one day of the scariest year of our lives.

So this is Christmas. A day where our little man wakes up to gifts and cookies and the magic of Santa. And Mommy wakes to the memory of her angel in Heaven while somehow creating unforgettable memories for her angel on Earth.

So this is Christmas. Bitter and sweet. Breathless and breathtaking. Joyful and painful.

No different than any other day.

Thankful and grieving

My husband, sweet angel, and I spent three beautiful Thanksgiving Days together. Each bittersweet, as we had to make tough decisions about the health of our sweet, fragile baby, that alienated the very people who offered us love and support throughout his short life.

But we did what we thought was best, and as I look back, I am thankful for each of those three Thanksgiving Days, but I grieve so much as this third one without him approaches.

Every day without him on this Earth is a challenge. Every moment I consciously take a breath, remembering that he is in Heaven, and I am here on Earth, struggling to find the purpose in continuing on, and grasping at the memory of the mother I used to be while striving to be the mother I know I am destined to become, I can’t help but gasp in awe at this life.

My beautiful baby boy, who only had three brief Thanksgiving Days with us, will witness his third Thanksgiving Day from Heaven. His mommy and daddy’s first Thanksgiving with his little brother he never met on Earth.

And as his daddy and I prepare the turkey and talk to this new little man about all that we have to be giving thanks, there is nothing on this Earth that I am more grateful for than my own damn sanity.

Grief, and parenting, and marriage, and working, and life are so G-D hard! And right now, I am thankful that I am not in some sort of institution, in a padded room, tied up in a straight-jacket.

Ok, maybe that’s a little extreme, but there were points soon after his loss that I did not know if life would continue.

But it has. And I am ok. And every day sucks, just a little bit. Some days more than others. Especially days before holidays, or days after big celebrations, or days when others seem extraordinarily selfish, or days where another’s grief makes me feel worse. Every day sucks just a little bit.

But I am still looking forward to giving thanks. I don’t care about the turkey. I don’t even really eat it. But I am thankful that I wake up every day remembering the greatest little man that ever entered Heaven then get to go say ‘good morning’ to the greatest little man on Earth.

This post started after I read the following article, which I thought had a lot of great suggestions on ‘surviving the holidays’ but I ended up on a tangent. It’s a good read, anyway.

A psychologist explains the best ways to cope with conflict over the holidays

A hello from the Heavens

I picked my little angel on Earth up from daycare this afternoon and asked him if he wanted to go to the store with me. I had several errands to run as we are having a little belated birthday celebration for him tomorrow.

He happily said yes and we drove to the local supermarket. As we walked in, he insisted on a ‘race car’ cart, which I saw nowhere. I asked him to look at the row of carts and tell me if he saw any that looked like race cars. He replied no, and I explained that I thought those carts were only at the other grocery store.

As I loaded him into a plain old metal shopping cart, he pointed out the automatic sliding doors to a dad unloading his little girl from a red race car cart. “A race car, Mommy!”

I helped him out of our boring cart and we walked outside to grab the cool cart that was conveniently left on the sidewalk outside.

As he climbed in, he promptly scooted to one side, buckled the seatbelt and said, “This seat is for Jonathan!”

I thought it interesting since he has no friends I’m aware of named Jonathan, and no classmates with that name.

I immediately texted my aunt, whose son – a precious angel my son never knew – was lost two years ago.

I explained in a text what he said and envisioned dear Jonathan sitting next to him in their race car cart.

She texted back, “Tomorrow is his birthday.”

I hadn’t even realized it when I sent her the message.

All I had to do was ask

Yesterday, I asked my sweet angel in Heaven if he could hear me.

I get signs from him all the time. Things I see, hear, experience in my every day life that let me know my sweet boy is still with me.

Just last week I’d gone for an ‘energy’ healing. It was something new I’d never done, and I figured anything that could take away my stress and anxiety, or has the potential to, couldn’t hurt.

After the session, the Reiki healer had several messages for me that I knew could only be from my son. But still, I wanted my own proof.

So last night, before going to bed, I talked to him, as I often do. I told him I wanted a clear sign that he was listening, that he could hear me. That he is still, and will always be, with me.

The first thing that popped in my mind was a ‘purple diamond.’ I don’t know why. Or how. But I said. “Buddy, if you can hear me, please send me a purple diamond.”

Today, as I ran errands, I looked all over, hoping I would see anything that resembled a purple diamond. In my head, it was like a construction paper cutout of a diamond shape in a bright, crayon kind of purple.

I, of course, told no one of my request. This was between my angel and me. Like so many of our days together on Earth, and all my conversations with him now, it was just him and me.

All day, nothing. I told myself to be patient, while at the same time rolling my eyes over the ridiculousness that I would somehow, sometime soon, see a purple diamond.

Then, as I was getting my angel on Earth ready to leave the house for our Saturday adventure, I received a text from a friend.

There it was – our purple diamond – sent directly to me in a message. Not a faint cloud of smoke that I may have imagined. A bright, purple, diamond.

From him. To me. Just him and me. 😇