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You will always have a seat.

The green and brown plaid high chair stood very confidently in our kitchen. One could see it from any direction of the house, and it was usually cluttered with small toys. Then, sadly, the time came when the chair sat empty. The toys remained still.

After several months, this confident high chair found a new home: seated at our dining room table. We thought, “B, you will always have a seat at our table.” T checks the high chair all the time, to make sure that the toys remained. Sometimes, this high chair is difficult to glance at. However, most days, it puts a smile on our faces. Good memories, good times. For now, it will remain there, to be celebrated, not forgotten.

As for celebrations, what would be B’s third birthday is drawing near in the next couple of weeks. Thus, we are planning our weekend getaway. We find that being alone, just the three of us, helps with our sorrow most of all. No phones ringing, no work, no reality television, no video games. Simple bonding, relaxation and reminiscing about B. For his birthday, we will do our usual of visiting him in the early morning as the cemetery opens, just so we can be there “first,” as T puts it. We will do our private traditions, then disappear for three days. We come back refreshed and ready to resume our video games and reality television, or as we say, “Life as we know it!”

Sending birthday hugs and kisses to you, Angel B.

 

 

 

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Remember me and smile.

“Mom, remember when B used to take my cars.”

“Yes, I do. B loved all of your toys and wanted to make them his own! He would grab a car and just run from you!”

“Yeah, that was funny. I miss B.”

Time gets ahead of us so fast. We used to think time stood still, like we were trapped in a glass box with everyone staring in. Now, time has simply…passed. With a blink of an eye, months, almost years, have gone by us. Our oldest, T, is becoming a young boy, no longer a tiny toddler. He used to love kisses and hugs; he would much rather have his game system or Lego’s at this point!

And B, well, B would have been huge, just huge! He was born a big baby and always measured off the charts. It was really amusing because we would say to him, “Who is SO big?” He would chuckle. His chubby cheeks and thick thighs made him a beast, compared to his tall, skinny brother! T is our sensitive soul, while B would have been the rough and tumble tough guy.

We now see other kids his age and just imagine he is there with them, playing, laughing, skipping. We wonder what he would be eating, or watching on television, or what is favorite story would be. We wonder because it is all we can do. However, we know he is playing among others in heaven. We know he is among other children and they are dancing and singing. We know he is among our family and friends; we know he is safe. It is just difficult because we miss his touch, his warmth. The way his brother would laugh when he did steal his cars. The way he slept on Daddy’s chest on the couch, while T and I played puzzles.

We have so many memories, and we are thankful. Yet, we always just struggle with the “why” aspect. Whether we lose someone so young or someone so old, I think that question comes and goes; it has been awhile for us. Now that it is back, we recall that we shouldn’t question the “why” or live in grief that holds the shoulders down so tight that you want to hide from the world. We accept that it happened, that such tragedy happens to others we know as well. We choose to live life the way B would be proud, and that is to keep each other happy and healthy. When we think of B, we think of the memories we created, even if time was too short. We know he sends us messages from heaven, like “Remember me and smile.” When life gets ahead of us, we all need to stop and smile once in a while.

Do you think life has a pause button?

We have learned to express our emotions quite well in our home. However, when T sees me upset, he tells me he gets upset. Of course, I will avoid hurting him at all costs. Yet, today has been difficult; we have heard of another loss of someone dear to us. Thus, the bathroom has been my refuge for most of my emotions, like all of the other bad days. I never know what to say to those during their grief, still. Even after our experience, even while we still grieve, we find we are at a loss for words. Strange, but true…

We want to comfort, but how? We know that feeling of isolation, the sense of being overwhelmed, the thought of “For goodness sake, just leave me be!” Privacy can sometimes yield no respect. So, here we are on New Year’s Eve, wondering what the next year will bring. Wondering what my friends are feeling in their loss. Wondering about our loss…

We are together here, after several months. This is good. We could have simply fallen apart. Yet, one step forward is always accompanied by three steps back. The advice I have always given is “Just breathe.” Somehow, I get through the day with that racing through my mind. I see, hear, or read something and just when I am about to explode, I have to remind myself, “Just breathe.” If my little T can be so brave and strong, then I can too.

Therapy taught us that we will learn to put our emotions and tears on hold. We will learn to speak to our inner selves and ask, “Can you come back later?” I remember chuckling at the counselor as others glared at me. I thought, “If I want to cry or shout, then I will allow myself to do just that!” As time went on, however, I was wrong. Honestly, this method of “on hold” has worked for us. T and I both tell our emotions to come back later. He will say, “Stay up on the shelf! I have to get to sleep!” I could, and always have anyway, cried at the drop of a hat, the stupidest commercial, anything…Now, it is more controlled. I try not to make T or anyone else around me uncomfortable, but more importantly, we have realized acceptance: life goes on. Sometimes, you do have to tell your emotions, “Please come back at 10, when all are asleep,” or “Can you hold off until I make it into my car?” This is because life goes on. Life will not hit the pause button.

To accept life moving forward, my husband often speaks of famous quotes or movie scenes to help us “deal.” One of our favorite inspirational scenes is from “Rocky Balboa.”

As Rocky is speaking with his son, he says, “The world isn’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody will hit as hard as life. But, it isn’t about how hard you hit; it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.”

To all of us missing someone special, I send you comfort and peace in the New Year. No matter where they are, our love will find them.

What are your memories?

“Really Mom? This is horrible.”

Well, for the first and last time, we attempted to create a special family moment this holiday by assembling a gingerbread house. How difficult could it be? You see these things everywhere you look, and of course, T notices it and wants one. I thought it would be a great opportunity to discuss B as well, since the holidays can be challenging. So, for the low, low price of $9.99, I figured, “Why not?!” Bringing it through the doorway, my husband just chuckled. He knew the outcome, he knew…

T and I worked on this “thing,” using soup cans to hold up the sides, licking the white, strange, but oh so tasty goo off of our fingers for quite some time. We mentioned a funny memory of B every lick or two (B was a beast; he would have not been a gentle giant with the candy!) Needless to say, my husband gave up his work of sticking on gummies after 20 minutes; T gave up his jellybean job after 10 minutes. There I was trying to pull it all together for the team! In return, T walks over to it the next morning and tells me, “It is horrible. I mean, Mom, look at this thing.” He was right. It was horrible! Yet, in my mind, I was happy. We made a memory, together.  A memory so that each year when we see that perfect gingerbread house display, we can walk by it and simply say to ourselves, “No thanks!” I hope all of you make memories this holiday season.

Always will.

“Loved you then, love you still. Always have, always will.”

This saying is written on an ornament in our bedroom. T noticed it and said, “Is this about me, Mom?” I replied, “Of course!” Then came, “Well, it must be about B too because he is in heaven, but we still love him.” I replied, “Of course.”  He continues to draw and write, and his behavior has greatly improved (although Santa is approaching!) I admire him for his strength. We swear, and hope, that B visits him in his dreams. Children don’t know they possess such strength. Adults often question their own strength.

In times of struggles, in a year of illnesses, deaths, and separations, how do we find that strength? More importantly, how do we provide it for others? It is a season of merry, yet some cannot crack that smile. I am often asked, “How do you do it?” Well, none of us have an answer. We just “do.” What I can say is this: Speak with your angel. Find your strength.

Do we close the blinds? Do we ignore the holiday cards? What life would that be for us, or for those around us? Certainly not one our angel would wish for us. Just as I watch T color a picture, you should take the time to do something to make you smile. What makes you strong? How do you demonstrate strength?

I admire the courage you have to face the day. Do not waste a moment. Our angels loved us then and they love us still.