Life Goes On

So Proud of the Girls!!
So Proud of the Girls!!

It’s getting in the way again.  I’m too focused on bills, mortgages, insurance, I’ve buried myself in this pile of paperwork.  Maybe it’s my escape, some place that I know I will be safe from the hurt.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just because we had a busy weekend and it’s a busy week.

Darcy had her dance recital on Sunday.  She blew us away, she was amazing, not only as a dancer, but her stage presence was unreal.  She has such poise and grace for such a small person.  It made me cry to watch and wish that my mom and Bennett were here too.  I wish that they could also watch her in awe and be as proud of her as we are.  It’s so hard going to these things without them.  I miss chasing Benny around everywhere we go.  I ache for my daughter to be able to know her grandmother’s love. It’s so hard for me because I know how much Darcy is missing it out on.

We had several birthday parties.  It’s weird going with only 1 child, singing happy birthday, watching all of the other children in your life growing older.  We sang happy birthday and released balloons for Benny, but there were no candles, he didn’t get to make any wishes.  I try to picture what he would be doing, what he would be saying.  How tired I would be at the end of the day, but so content, because he was so full of life.

It keeps happening, days pass, weeks, months.  He’s still gone and it’s still so unbelievable.  Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and they still happen even though he’s gone.  It all just feels so hollow, so sad.  I miss him.

7 Months ‘AA’

How has another whole month crept by?  Is it possible that we are into the second half of the year surrounding Benny’s death?  I’m not quite sure how this happened.

We’ve been attending The Compassionate Friends meetings in Westminster going on our 3rd time now.  The first time was so hard, I was so tensed up and stressed out about going that I ended up with a massive migraine for days afterwards.  It gets easier once you get to know everyone and their stories.  Parker and I actually talked this past week and it felt good to actually chime in a bit.  It’s hard being amongst the youngest there.  Most other folks children are older, they had more time with them.  One of the mother’s actually said she felt sorry for us and another couple because we had such a small window with our boys.

When my mom died, it wasn’t like this.  It hurt, believe me, it hurt like hell, but it didn’t knock me on my ass.  It didn’t make it painful to breathe some days.  I was back in school a week later, studying for finals.  Maybe it was because I was younger.  Maybe it was because I needed to get out of my house.  Maybe it was because I watched her suffer and it was time.  Maybe.

I’m functioning.  I get up, most days after 10 because I just can’t sleep at night no matter how tired I am.  I usually wake up to do Darcy’s hair, then fall back asleep.  Parker gets her on the bus probably 4 days out of 5 a week.  I’m hoping to get out of this habit this summer when she’s in camp.  She’ll only be there for 4 weeks and it’s half days.

I have days when I want to conquer the world, pay my bills, deal with insurance, etc.   I get so frustrated because it feels like there’s so much to do and so little time.  Then the idea of that knocks me on my ass again.  Reminds me to not get overbooked, overwhelmed.  So I end up taking a day or two to breathe, then I stress because nothing has gotten done.  This whole cycle starts again.  It’s all so tiring.

My therapist tells me to not let my life ‘get small’ but I don’t really want to make it big.  I’m not ready to deal with that yet.  I enjoy the simplicity of my life now.  The idea of stress sends me on edge.

7 months, can’t believe it.  Darcy had a dance recital today and it was a really great day.  Seems so wrong that we continue to live our lives with such a huge piece missing.  Sigh.

Our Cemetery Story

It’s time to share another story of weird ‘coincidences,’ of hope, which is quite interesting given the tile of this post.  How I ever found hope in a cemetery is very strange indeed.

I never liked cemeteries, the eerie graves, the gates that scream ‘keep out!’  Maybe it’s too many Halloween stories, but I never felt comfortable in one.  Even when my mom died, I didn’t find peace visiting her there.  It was weird and uncomfortable.  Maybe it was just all too real.  It just wasn’t me, I didn’t feel her presence there, because I knew that she wasn’t.

Right after the accident happened and we were scrambling to pull together arrangements, our friends Sandy and Mike offered a burial plot for Benny.  We hadn’t even wrapped our heads around what we wanted to do yet and the medical examiner hadn’t released Bennett yet.  God it sounds so awful to say that, but it’s the truth.  About a week or two after the accident we finally had to make a decision and we decided to cremate Benny.  I’d never really given much thought to what I would want done with my body when I passed, never mind my 17 month old baby.  It was just one more way to draw out having to make a decision, having to bury him, having to deal with the horror of it all.  So he became dust and sat at the funeral home for several months.

I knew that I wanted to have him blown into glass, Parker wanted to take him on the Great Race down the East coast, but we had all the time in the world to figure that out now.  It was a good breather from the chaos of the first few weeks.  I was sitting with the therapist over the winter and talking about the cremation.  We had no idea what to do with his remains and for the first time I realized I wanted to bury him.  Sure we could scatter him, but where?  ‘If I don’t bury him, it will be like he never existed, there will be no headstone, no place where he is physically.’ As I said this, my therapist teared up.  I realized how sad that would truly be and that we needed to do something.

We talked about burying him on his birthday and quickly nixed that idea as I realized that we couldn’t explain to Darcy and friends that Benny was in a tiny box.  We were having a hard enough time explaining the whole body/soul connection.  Tara came over one Sunday to help me paint and we began planning and looking into cemeteries.  I felt strongly that Benny was buried in the same place as Sandy and Mike, that they had some claim to him too.  They are such a part of our lives, our children’s lives.  They are family.  So we figured we would start with Worcester County Memorial Park.  That’s when Benny started to intervene again.

We started talking about this on Sunday, unbeknownst to Sandy who was meeting with Marie from WCMP on Monday.  She had seen her at a home show and had made an appointment.  On Monday, I received a text from Sandy saying that Marie would be contacting us.  Great, I thought, one less thing to do.  We met with Marie on Thursday and sat down to listen to our choices.  Marie didn’t know our story, all that she knew was that we lost our son.  They have a section at WCMP set aside for babies under 1.  She said that they would make an exception and that Benny could be buried there if we wished.  To be honest, the thought of even being confronted with a baby cemetery was too much.  I was horrified.  Given my feeling on cemeteries in general, this wasn’t a good start.  We reviewed our options and headed over to the cemetery to take a look.  I had it in my head that none of this mattered, I would never go, I hated these places.

On the ride out to Paxton, Parker’s landlord from the shop called.  She and I talked for a moment, and then we lost service.  I figured we would see her when we got back to the shop.  We talked about the idea of the baby cemetery and what we wanted to do.  It was an uncomfortable car ride as we both tried to keep it together.

To call WCMP a cemetery is unfair.  It is a park as it’s name states.  It is separated into gardens and there are no headstones, only monuments, so all that you see are the rolling hills surrounding you.  It was absolutely breathtaking and peaceful.  There is no fence, you can visit whenever you wish.  We drove around, taking it all in and ended up at the office, right in front of the ‘Garden of Angels.’  I was surprised at how peaceful it all felt, how right.  I mean it was sad, but not as depressing as I had anticipated.  The monuments were decorated with flowers and toys and we looked at this space as something good for Darcy as well.  Somewhere she could bring trucks and balls for her lost brother.  We knew this was where we belonged in the future, but we left there still needing to think about Benny.

We got back to the shop and stopped in to chat with the landlord.  To call her that seems silly, she is one of the nicest, caring people and we have always been friendly.  She asked what we were doing in Paxton, because there’s really nothing out that way.  Parker said we had some errands to run.  Our landlord stopped, thought for a second and looked at us, ‘you were at the cemetery,’ she said, ‘my son is buried in the Garden of Angels.’  She too had lost a baby years ago, but we had no idea that he was there.  We looked at each other and decided to take it as a sign that this is where Benny should go.

We bought our future plots and signed all of the paperwork.  Part of it felt good to know that it’s all taken care of, that our family won’t have to deal with any of this when the time comes.  We hemmed and hawed about Benny’s monument, but WCMP came through and was able to get ‘Captain Crazy’ added above his name.  It was very appropriate for our little man.  We also had a bear added, our ‘Benny Bear.’  They were putting a rush on the order and were miraculously able to get it in in very short order.  We had expected it for May 17th, but were surprised when it was there on May 8th when we buried him.

I was talking to my new friend Sue one day after yoga.  I had told her how we had started pulling together arrangements and that we would be burying Benny at WCMP.  Sue got the same look as when I told her about the sunflowers.  Her son that had passed was buried at WCMP too.  This just felt so much like our boys were giving us a sign again.  That was without a doubt when I knew that this was where Benny belonged.  He wouldn’t be alone, not by a long shot.

When I look back at my post from May 17, this where we started about 6 weeks before.  Things just came together and it was if Benny was orchestrating it all for us.  I know in my heart of hearts that he has been there guiding us through it all.  I would be a fool to take these signs for granted, so I’ll take them for what they are.  We’re lucky, blessed that our little man is trying to help us tie up loose ends.  I love you little guy.

 

Some Benny Memories from the 17th

Below are memories shared by family and friends on May 17.  We are so blessed to have these people as a part of our lives.

“…the day you and Benny came over to meet Natalie after she was born.  I remember Benny jumping on my couch with his socks on and talking about his chubby little feet and laughing about it.  You had been telling me how much of a handful he was being that day but at my house he was being perfectly fine and I was teasing you that you made it all up!  He was beautiful that day, playing with Nathan’s toys and being silly, a completely adorable little boy and its the memory I always think of when I think of him.  We miss him every day but I love thinking of him and remembering that fresh little smile.”   Michele

“…when Parker and I were driving around for the breast cancer walk and timed everything so the kids could nap, but Benny was the only one not to nap in the car… he waited till we were out of the car to try and nap… This coming from the kid who tried to sleep on cement with scores of people around at Parker’s open house!”   Uncle Chris

“My last memory of Benny was right before Halloween. I brought a large  pumpkin to carve, but he didn’t seem interested in that, but was with the Halloween sponge pieces I brought over to make pumpkin designs on paper. He then sat on the organ bench and showed Nana what a rock star he was, bobbing his head up and down with the music until he bumped his head on the keys! He cried a little, but he was brave and then headed outside with Darcy. I pulled him and Darcy around the yard in the wagon. I was the engineer (woo, woo) and made stops around the yard. He decided to get off at the swing station. He jumped on the swing on his belly (as nana was saying to be careful, no one listened) He swung so high and was laughing so loud. He was fearless!! It was a great day and a day I will always remember.”  Nana

“…being mesmerized by a slinkie, shoving Cheerios into his mouth, bouncing in Kassidy’s chair and trying to climb up our stairs, chasing our cats on Halloween!”  Jessika

 

Present

‘When a parent dies, you lose your past.   When a child dies, you lose your future.’. Anonymous

I just saw this on someone else’s blog.  I don’t know what to say.  I guess this leaves me with the present.  I’d rather be anywhere than here right now, this purgatory.

I’ve never been able to live in the present.  I’m a planner by nature.  Loosing my mom, my past haunted me.  It was always easier to look forward, predict, plan and prepare.  I always knew that things could change at any given moment and I learned to roll with it, take the obstacles as they came.  I remember being told I was ‘flexible.’

This present thing sucks, but the future is too scary, too unknown.  I know that we have some tough decisions to make, but I don’t want to do it.  What if we make the wrong ones?  What if we just make things worse?

I don’t want to plan anymore.  There are no guarantees, so why bother?  I don’t want deadlines and I don’t want to make any more decisions.  We already had to decide what to do with Benny, where to bury him, how to do it, etc.  Shouldn’t we get a break?  I’m just so tired…

Reading

I read other blogs about baby loss or parents who have lost children and it’s just so hard to relate.  Bennett didn’t have a medical condition, he didn’t die of SIDS.  The guilt equation would be different, but the end result would be the same I suppose.

Today just wasn’t a good day.  I don’t know why, don’t know what triggered it, perhaps a lack of sleep, too much excitement on Saturday, but for whatever reason it just sucked.  And now it’s late and I’m tired and I’m reading others blogs about baby loss and rainbow babies and it’s just a lot to take in.  It’s still hard to remember sometimes that it actually happened to us, that Benny isn’t just asleep in the next room.

I remember once I had kids that I wasn’t able to read books about kids that got hurt or killed.  My sister would laugh at me, but something about it always just seemed too close to home.  If only I knew that I would be living it one day, that I would be the one writing about it, except it wouldn’t be fiction.

I feel as if I’m holding my breath again, waiting for the other shoe to drop.  I was nervous about Parker taking Darcy some place alone, imagining the worst when they were just running some errands.  I don’t know why this started up again.  Perhaps I shouldn’t read about what other people have gone through, it lends itself to my imagination.  Driving has started to cause anxiety again out of nowhere.

I wonder if it is because some of the focus is off of Darcy.  She seems happier now, not as stressed out.  The night terrors have lessened as well as the emotional outbursts.  We’ve been so focused on her pain since February that there has been little time to even think about ours.

I don’t want to go back though, to feel that awful all of the time.  I mean, it was awful always being worried about Darcy, but that was something that I could work to help to change, I at least had some control.  I need someone to come in and control this, take over and just make it right.  It’s easier when the focus is on helping others rather than trying to help myself and deal with my own stuff.