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.

Let us not lose ourselves.

As the holidays approach, the stress level of every individual increases. Questions arise such as, “Where are we going for dinner?” “Should we travel?” “What should we cook?”  Everyone says they “love” the holidays, but hate the “attributes” that accompany them. This includes everything from seeing people you really don’t care to see, sitting in hours of traffic, or planning the dinner menu. Yet, after you reach your “destination,” doesn’t everything turn out…okay? On the ride home, you reflect, “Gosh, that wasn’t that bad.”

For those of us missing a loved one on a holiday, or any day for that matter, it doesn’t have to be “bad.” Do we shed a tear on Christmas for baby B? Of course. However, we believe he is spending that day in heaven, protected, safe, and warm. We shed tears because we miss him. Plain and simple. We do not need a holiday for that. So, we have to ask ourselves the question, “How will we handle those special days?” We wonder what our loved one would want us to do. Well, who were you when they were alive? That was the person they loved. Let us not lose what made us special to them.

It has been a long road for us, and will continue to be, as expected. However, we have others around us who are fighting their own battles. We are finding ways to support them; reciprocate what was given to us. It is the cycle of friendship. So, we realize that others have “bad” days as well. How can we teach them what we have learned, even if the circumstances are completely different? When a “bad” day is approaching, or arrived, find a memento that will remind you of the good, like baby B’s blue musical chair. T wants it visible in our home because of the memories it serves. Memories make us smile. Really, after thinking about such good times, you’ll say to yourself, “Gosh, that wasn’t that bad.” In fact, you will feel quite good…

How often do you play?

   “Play with me, Mom.” Such a simple request, and yet we sometimes respond, “In a minute,” or “Maybe later,” or “I’m tired,” or “I just got in from work.” Excuses could be endless, but really, why not just stop and play? What if you never heard that plea, that voice again? What if you denied them such a simple request? This pertains to not only our children, but what about our parent, best friend, or sibling? I have learned from T that everything else can wait… the dusty table, the dirty dishes, the laundry, the phone ringing. Spending time with those we love, the intimate “turn off the t.v. and get off Facebook” time, is crucial.  As we get older,  it is easy to lose sight of the simple things. On his road to recovery, as we call it, T has reminded us about the important aspects of life and has taught me some new lessons along the way. I have come to appreciate everything more because of how precious time has become for us. “Let’s read a book, Mom.” “Can we go for a bike ride, Dad?” “Can we watch videos of B together?” Spend your time in a way that will be meaningful, a way that makes you smile. When it comes to children, they look to us for everything-it is all they know and want. So, when T wants to color a picture with me, or run with me to get my coffee, I smile and take a mental photograph of that moment. I don’t want to miss a thing. Ask yourself, “How often do you play?”



The storm.

 It was like the floodgates had opened, and I was lost. It reminded me of this photo I took over the winter during our horrific snowstorm. One doesn’t know how much snow is there until you actually open the door and see it. It took over a year, but our son’s storm hit.

Some friends had questioned why the blog has not had any updates. Well, truth be told, it has been very difficult these past few weeks. It seems as though my husband, T, and I have had a storm brewing for so long that it has now reached a boiling point. The anger, sadness, depression, frustration, impatience….

What do you do with such a wave of emotions? It came pouring out of T one afternoon following school. A simple, outdoor Halloween decoration set the stage for two hours of hell. Everything from “I hate you” to “I am moving to a new home” was shouted on the front lawn, then from inside the living room. What does one do? Shout back? Cry? Scream? I stood in horror. It was just T and myself. So, I let him scream. Then, I let him scream more. Finally, he screamed some more. I held back the tears; I knew why he was acting this way and it wasn’t because of a decoration. I gave him the two hours he needed to yell, even hit, as I stood there in silence. I know you think more should have been done, but dear friends, what came out of this child was the rage built up since losing B.

Two whole hours, tears galore, a red nose, some thrown toys…the chaos ended with a hug so tight that I felt suffocated! “I’m sorry mom; I just miss B.” The words came out of his mouth very plain and simple. My instincts were correct, for once. This child needed that release. He got just that (and I am sure the neighbors did as well!) A conversation ensued about anything and everything to do with feelings, memories, reactions, and how we can’t control everything that happens. Was I still up all night reading my grief books with a cup of coffee? Of course. I had to know that I was not alone with a grieving child. The stages of grief vary, the length varies. Hell, everyone’s lives vary. Welcome to the new normal for us. What we must learn now is patience. Using it on one another, well, may be a challenge.

If a picture could tell a story.

   Almost two years ago, I asked T to put away all of our sandals. We were notorious for throwing them off of our feet, and letting them lie wherever they landed! T thought it would be cute to line them up, and I snapped a photo of it. When I printed it, T absolutely loved this snapshot (as did we!). He asked us to enlarge it and we obliged. It has been hanging in our hallway ever since and he seems to be attracted to it more and more lately. I know I can recall the day he set the sandals up for the picture, so I am sure he recalls it as well.  It brings back the memory of B wearing his sandals, even though he couldn’t walk yet! T has a tendency of asking the notorious, “Why did B have to …” question whenever he is finished looking at photos. So, the honest response always is, “Well, we don’t know why. But, ….” It upsets me even as I write this post. A conversation like this should not exist in a normal child’s world, but, it exists in my world, and I still consider us normal. Sometimes our conversations end in tears, other times laughter. Regardless, I think we shouldn’t be afraid of these types of discussions with children. He has learned it is okay to cry, be angry, or laugh about B. Emotions are a true part of one’s soul, and young ones should be encouraged to express them. So, do we stop looking at pictures of B because we are afraid of the hurt or questions that may follow? Absolutely not. Hardships are the opportunities for one to become courageous.