A Father’s Day Card

We picked it out in the store, the girls and I. It was a funny Father’s day card about doing work around the house. Very appropriate given all of the projects my husband takes on at my request.

We were running around after kids, trying to get dinner into their bellies and their sunscreened bodies into the shower. We knew tomorrow would be hectic so we celebrated our Father’s day today. The kids gave their dad the presents that they made. We gave him the card from the kids that we had hurriedly signed in the back of the car.

We rushed through tubs and bed and got everyone tucked in. I scrambled to get everything packed so that we could head out early in the morning to see my dad for Father’s day.

I brushed my teeth and got into bed when my husband thanked me for the gifts. That’s when it dawned on me that there were only 3 names on his card. How on Earth could I have screwed up so bad?

He smiled and said it was ok. But it wasn’t. Not to me. Tomorrow I will add Benny’s name to that card. And then take a deep breath. I am not okay with this.

 

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Happy 6th Birthday Buddy

Benny Bear,

Wow. I cannot believe you would have been 6! A whole hand and 1 finger! You would have been nearing the end of Kindergarten. That just blows me away. You were so young when we lost you.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

Of course I’m nearly a month late in writing to you. This year has been HARD. But you probably already know that. I’m just sitting here for the first time digesting the whole idea of a 6 year old you. I’m at a loss.

It used to be so easy to picture you older. I used to be able to paint the picture in my mind of who you would be and what you would look like. But you have so many siblings now. You are all so different and so similar. And seem to change from day to day.

Perry seems most like you. Super laid back and ready for the next adventure. She needs constant stimulation, good thing she has Fletch and Darcy to keep her entertained. I’m scared she will be like you as a toddler. I’m exhausted just thinking about it. And maybe a bit excited, you sure kept things interesting!

I love watching Darcy and Per as sister’s, but it makes me miss you that much more. I imagine you and Fletch would make me a bit crazy together. We were at a friend’s house recently where he was playing with another boy and oh the laughter! The crazy boy energy and rough and tumble time we spent made me long for you that much more. Fletch doesn’t even know what he’s missing, but it kills me.

We drive by the cemetery regularly now and Fletch always says hi to you and blows you a kiss. His heart is so big and if he can’t grow up knowing you, at least he will grow up with the idea of you.

The more time that passes, the further you get from me. The more my time with you felt like a dream. Or another life. I suppose it was. So much has changed. I’ve changed.

We did our yearly celebration for you. Darcy wrote a story all about you and read it to all of her friends. I was so proud of her. She’s struggling still, but we’re working on it. Day by day.

All of the kids painted kindness rocks to leave around for someone else to find some day.

Maker:S,Date:2017-1-29,Ver:6,Lens:Kan03,Act:Lar02,E-Y

You’re still spreading smiles even though you’re not here.

Happy 6th Birthday buddy. Miss you like crazy.

Love,

Mommy

Rainbow Baby Woes

I hate that feeling that something bad is going to happen. Because the unthinkable has already happened to us, it shouldn’t again, right? Or is it because it has happened to us that I know how quickly things can fall apart?

A sniffle, a bump, a fall. I panic. Instantly. I Google everything to make sure I watch for symptoms of what ‘could happen.’ There’s always this little niggling voice in my head saying something can go wrong. They can get sick. They can get hurt. They are not invincible. Your children can die.

Maybe it’s because the baby is so young still, I now worry the most about her. Maybe it will get better once she crosses the 18 month mark. There are three of them to worry about and it’s exhausting sometimes.

I can’t sit here and say, ‘oh, that will never happen to us,’ I no longer have that naivety. I miss it. The pure ignorant bliss of thinking my children will always be ok.

I wish I didn’t over think the way I tend to. I wish that my family didn’t have to know tragedy. I wish that Benny was still alive.

 

Self Care

‘Oxygen and the air pressure are always being monitored. In the event of a decompression, anĀ oxygen maskĀ will automatically appear in front of you. To start the flow of oxygen, pull the mask towards you. Place it firmly over your nose and mouth, secure the elastic band behind your head, and breathe normally. Although the bag does not inflate, oxygen is flowing to the mask. If you are travelling with a child or someone who requires assistance, secure your mask on first, and then assist the other person. Keep your mask on until a uniformed crew member advises you to remove it.’

This airline safety speech was read to us at the first grief group we attended with The Compassionate Friends. Their point in reading this was to push us to remember that in order for us to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves first.

Self Care is tough, especially when dealing with grief. The last person that I cared about after Benny died was myself. I was so concerned with how Darcy was doing and how Parker was coping. And I was devastated.

I didn’t have time to think about me. It was easier to focus on everyone else’s wants and needs so that I could ignore the impending emotions. As a mom, I was used to putting myself last. I fell into old habits.

I grew up in a house where we didn’t show much emotion. We would get into trouble for crying. I began to see tears as weakness. At first I didn’t care about crying, I didn’t care about much of anything. But as the weeks passed I started to turn internally.

I was lucky to have a lot of people looking out for me though. People checking in constantly, taking me out, calling, and sending me to therapy. It took me awhile, but I started to realize that my grief matters too.

A month after Benny’s death we started seeing a therapist. It felt so good to just get everything out to an impartial party. It felt so good for me to offload everything that I had started to hold in.

I started writing. A lot. I couldn’t keep it all inside anymore. I never intended to share this blog with anyone. I was using it as a tool to help myself. It ended up as so much more. Through sharing my blog I have met so many other amazing people. I have gleamed so much hope.

I started yoga. I had done yoga before to get in shape, but this time was different. I wasn’t interested in just getting physically fit, but I also wanted to work on healing my mind and soul. Well, as best as I could.

Joining a grief group at first was hard. I was so overwhelmed at the idea. Benny’s death had been so public. I hated the idea of people looking at me, knowing who I was. The first group I went to wasn’t for me and that’s ok. I found my tribe at a different meeting. I look forward to my time with these ladies who also know my pain. It’s easier to be amongst those that understand my heart.

Those are all big self care items that worked for me, but how about some basic ones too? Like showering, getting sleep, getting your body moving, etc. I was reading an article recently that talked about ways to help steer you in a positive direction. It was a check list for you to use if you started to feel like you were headed for the ‘upside down’ if you will. It said things like ‘did you shower today? Did you go for a walk? Did you hug someone?’ All very simple things. But I realized that when I stop doing these things is when I feel at my worst. Such simple advice. I need to carve time out for myself so that I can be there for when my husband and kids need me.

Keeping all of this stuff going is HARD! Four years later and I still often slide backwards into sloth ways every once in awhile when things get truly overwhelming. I just have to gently remind myself that I know how to fix it and get myself headed back in the right direction. I have to remember that in order to be the mom and wife that my family deserves, sometimes I have to deal with my own stuff too.

 

Growth

instead-of-asking-why-did-this-happen-to-me-learn-12413341

A friend posted this quote to their FB wall and it’s had me thinking since. Since Benny’s death I’m not a big fan of platitudes. The last thing that you want to hear in your moment of grief is someone spouting off a canned phrase that makes them feel better and you feel even more alone.

This one got me though. It made me think. It made me wonder what, if anything have I learned in the 4 years since Benny’s death? Is this something that I even want to admit to or explore? Should I consider Benny’s death as a learning experience or is that too vulgar? God, grief is complicated.

Maybe instead of asking myself ‘what I learned from Benny’s death?’ I should ask myself ‘how have I grown/shrank in my grief?’ It’s just semantics, but I’m definitely more comfortable with these terms.

Four years seems like a long time to evaluate. It’s longer than my son’s lifetime. I could spend days going back and reading all of my posts to look at where I was then relative to where I am now. But let’s be real here, I have a baby that doesn’t sleep, a toddler pushing the limits, a 9 year old on school vacation and a mountain of moving boxes to still unpack. So off the top of my head…

Embracing My Crazy

I’m not really sure that admitting that you take on too many things while knowing fully well that you shouldn’t is growth here. This last year has been beyond anything imaginable. My God there have been so many moments when I just wanted to quit. I wanted to get in my car and start driving and leave everything behind. I have never had so many days (months) in a row where things just kept piling up.

Overwhelming does not even begin to describe what has been going on. Some of it was our doing, other things were out of our control. This is the first time since we lost Benny that I have had to dig so deep to try and hold it all together. This is not to compare this year to 2013 or the accident. This was a whole different type of stress coming at me from every direction. It was time to embrace it or lose my mind trying.

Now I don’t know if I can even pinpoint coping mechanisms here. A lot of it was changing my mind set to just accept that this was how things were and to go with it. I had to stop trying to fight the circumstances and try to figure out how to make them work instead. Obviosuly much easier than accepting the loss of my child. It still sucked.

Saying No

Saying no came first. Telling people I just couldn’t continue to be a part of things was hard for me. Taking a break from some of the fundraising and charity work was absolutely heartbreaking. I’m a people pleaser and I hate to think that I’m letting someone down or that I’m not doing my part to give back. I just keep reminding myself that just because I said no today, doesn’t mean that I can’t say yes tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be an end, just a hiatus.

Asking For Help

There’s nothing more that I hate more than asking for help. I am fiercely independent and to me asking for help is a sign of weakness. It’s me it’s admitting that I cannot do it all on my own. It literally kills me.

After Benny died it was so easy. I didn’t have to ask for help, it was just offered (thank goodness because of my afforementioned issues with help). There are times that I miss that. Especially with the craziness of last year.

Sometimes you just have to suck it up though. Find those people that you know that you can depend on, and hope they still take your calls when you ask them for help moving. For the fourth time. In less than a year.

Knowing when to seek help for yourself and your family is also a big deal. Grief never ends. It’s shifts and it changes, but it never fully disappears. You may be feeling great and then the world comes crashing down. Sometimes it’s more than you can handle on your own and you need help from a professional. Knowing when to call them back and check in is key. We are working through that with Darcy right now. Growing up grieving is tricky.

Apologizing

If I’m being brutally honest here, the only thing I hate more than asking for help is apologizing. Then I would be admitting I did something wrong, which no one wants to do.

I have my father’s temper and my mother’s remorse, a tough genetic cocktail. It’s exhausting being in my head. But I’ve found it’s easier for me to live with myself if I let people know that I’m sorry for my actions.

I could write a whole blog about the many ways that I’ve shrank since Benny’s death. I wanted to keep tonight’s positive though. Another ponder for another day.

'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'