It will swallow you whole (if you let it).

Now that the weather has been warming up, everyone has come outside to socialize and catch up, since winter hibernation has ended! It is wonderful to see and hear the children laughing and playing. Sports season has come upon us, so we get to see families we haven’t seen in some time; it is quite enjoyable. With that, however, comes the dreaded question, “How are you doing? Are things better?”

Wow. Are “things” better? Hmm.

I get annoyed by such a simple question of, “How are you?” And for goodness sakes, what do you mean by “things”?! I never really thought about the meaning or interpretation, really, until we suffered our loss. Now, the question just annoys me. I never know how to respond, and I usually respond in a polite manner. Yet, I just want to casually say, “How do you think I should be?” or “What do you think?” Basically, “Hell no! But I think we are doing a pretty damn good job of keeping it together!” My husband and I just shake our heads and smirk at one another.

People ask other questions that make me reflect more on the process of grieving, like, “So, how have you been feeling, and how can I help?” Honest, upfront, and comforting. People that know me, really know me, understand how sensitive certain topics can be and know how easily I can speak about certain topics. I have come to have strong opinions lately! I do get annoyed, more now than ever, by lack of compassion or selfishness. I have learned to read people better, become a better listener. I have also become a great observer, seeing how people relate to each other. I think it is because we have become more compassionate; this journey has not made us an angry family. Nor has it made us a family that has fallen apart, which some may have thought.

I look at our journey, thus far, as this: Your sadness will swallow you whole, if you let it.

We are sad, will be sad, and accept that it is okay to be sad over this. Miss him with every second of every minute and every breath. Completely natural. Yet, I accept that I have laughed, been out with my girlfriends, had dates with my husband, attended family functions we all love to hate, taken up boxing, stayed up late to watch reality television…I accept living in the now.

We are living. We are not questioning why or how or when or who. We are grieving, yet we are living. Some people can’t, or choose not to, move beyond losses. Some cannot appreciate what wonderful happenings are occurring right now. Well, that can be very sad. We, however, will not let sadness make our lives miserable.

Advice to all: You certainly know life is too short. So, what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

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Do people “poop” in heaven?

As I sit in the living room, relaxing and indulging in some horrible reality television program, I hear someone shouting, “Mom, do people poop in heaven?” Of course, I start laughing. Out of any question, any thought, any inquiry my six-year-old child may have about heaven or the afterlife, he wants to know about poop!

I slowly make my way to the bathroom, and I arrive to see T  chuckling to himself as he sits on the throne! Our conversation continued like this:

“What did you ask?”

“If people poop in heaven. Like if B has to poop, does he poop in heaven? And where does the poop go?”

“Well, I am not quite sure.”

“What do you think, Mom? I mean where would the poop go? Like it doesn’t fall out of the sky.”

“Ummm…I guess it’s like a poof of air? It disappears? I don’t really know, but remember, we said that B is at the cemetery and his spirit is in heaven. Right?”

“I know that, Mom, but he is an angel and angels poop! They fly around and send us things and give us luck. Then, they poop!”

“T, are you finished on the throne?”

“Well I guess Mom’s don’t know everything, huh?!”

“Yep. I guess not!”

“Yep. But, hey Mom, can I ask just one more question?”

“What is your question now, T?”

“What if B has to pee?”

At that point, T ran out of the bathroom naked, laughing hysterically. I stood in awe, just shaking my head. Our usual household saying came to mind, “Good times, Good times.” I could just eat that boy up!

Celebrate!

“Mom, how could a flower be growing in the middle of our lawn? How come Zoey didn’t eat it?” T screams from the backyard.

It was beautiful, just beautiful! I said, “Wow! What a special gift!” T wanted to cut the flower right out of the grass, but I wanted to guard it with my dear life! How sweet to see such a pretty flower! (or, as the back of my mind was telling me, a lovely weed!) Regardless, it was pretty and captured our eyes.

When we all sat at dinner later, we discussed that it could be a gift from B. It is his birthday week and he may be telling us, “For goodness sake, I’m fine! Get out and play! Celebrate me!” We laughed and laughed. As six-year-old T says, “Good times, good times…”  (He can be such an old man sometimes!)

So, we are in good spirits right now. We are finding many little hints that B is visiting, or at least watching us! Thus, it has been fun. We hope it continues, both our laughter and B’s signs. Enjoy the signs you receive!

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.

 

 

 

We are not sick; we are sad.

A peer blog sparked the never-ending question of, “How long is long enough to grieve?” We chuckle when we hear it because we ask ourselves, “Are we on a step system or something? Should we cover our faces with a mask, like a child, and hide from the world?” It brought me back to the days of struggling with returning to work following the death of B. I specifically recall trying to get additional time home, in order to help my eldest child adjust to his first days back at school. I used some days owed to me from work.  However, I was then told that any additional time off would have to be prepared through paperwork, specifically the Family Medical and Leave Act. Well, of course, I was shocked to find, from FMLA, that I couldn’t take time off for the death of my child. Really? Really.

So, what does one do? I was told to see a doctor. The doctor then had to “label” me in order to agree with the FMLA terms. Thus, I put my family first, rather than pride. I marched into the doctor’s office and said, “My child died. I don’t know why. Now, work says you need to see me in order for me to stay home. Oh yeah, and you need to sign this paperwork.” I was embarrassed; I didn’t want any more people to know B’s death than necessary at the time. So here I am, telling the doctor that delivered B, that he died. I didn’t have answers. She said in order to get approved for FMLA, I had to claim I was “clinically depressed.” Really? Really. She said, “Here is some medication. Are you extremely depressed?” I took a step back. Was I? No. Did this label bother me? Yes.

It angered me. It embarrassed me. Why? I was not depressed. I was SAD. My child died; I was SAD. Plain and simple. I replied to the doctor, “Wouldn’t you feel sad? Is this something new in the world of medicine? I simply want time to be with my eldest son. I want time to be alone with “me.” What makes me “clinically” depressed?” She didn’t respond. Later that day, I faxed in my paperwork that read, “Cannot function with daily work habits. Must receive further treatment. Suffering from clinical depression…lost her child.” Done.

Granted, I understand some people are clinically depressed. People do need medication and/ or therapy.  Many of us have been there. Others do well without anything and God bless. Everyone is different. What bothers me most is that my child died, and the government felt it was not important enough to let me stay home. That I needed a “label” because of what had happened. Yet, if we give birth or adopt, we can stay home. Why not when we bury a child?

There are petitions now in place in which people are trying to make such changes to the FMLA. Thank goodness. I do not think we are sick. We do not need a label for losing a child. No one can tell anyone how long is long enough. What you should, or shouldn’t feel. What you need, or don’t need. Each story is different; each loss is a loss that is unique to the individual. What the government and some others around us may lack is compassion and empathy. Please do not tell us how to feel, act, speak, or move. Let us simply be and give us respect.

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.

His message in the bottle…

“Look Mom, B wrote you a letter.”

He reached for the sticker decorated bottle, stuck his little finger inside, and pulled out something wonderful: a short letter he said B had sent me from heaven. Of course, I could see that T wrote this message himself, with his uneven lines and curved letters falling off the page. Yet, it was a gift “from heaven.” Just to think that T could put together something so special, for me, truly amazes me.  Without revealing too much, the message simply stated something along the lines of, “….you are a good mom….from heaven…love B…” Lost it, right then, right there followed by a much-needed cry and a much-needed hug from T. After losing a child, one cannot help but wonder, “Was it me?” T helped me deal with that answer.

So powerful yet so simple, this glass bottle has become a special token in our home. Created by T, it is used to store anything he would like to say to B. It contains tiny pieces of paper, scraps of pictures….he has tried to put just about everything in this bottle! It is part of our healing process, which almost 17 months now, doesn’t seem to get all that easier. Sure, we smile and laugh, hug and cry, but the part of us that misses B just lingers.

So, we send him messages in the bottle. Everyone needs a way to communicate their feelings; this one seems to work for us. We have been through the rage and depression, there and back again, and more may come. We continue to struggle with the unknown. However, writing to B seems to bring us some peace. We hope others find their way to peace as well.