Connecting the Dots

Today I had a doctor’s appointment and I was talking to the nurse who taking my blood pressure, weight, etc.  She was talking about how she lived near me and how awful our hill is in the winter.  Of course at this point in the conversation I’m wondering if she knows ‘our story,’ but this is a fleeting thought as we continue to talk.

I have to admit that she looked familiar, but I figured that I had just seen here there before.  We’re chatting away when she stops and looks at me says that she doesn’t really know how to say this, but she was there, in the road with me the day of the accident.  She was one of the nurses that gave Bennett CPR.  I didn’t know what to say, I was completely caught off guard.  I had known that there were 3 people to do CPR on Benny, but it was all such a blur.  The police had no information for us on who was involved and we found the others on our own.

About a month after the accident, my sister found an article from the T&G that interviewed this nurse that had been on the scene of the accident.  Quite honestly, I had no idea that she had been involved at all until after the fact and I had contacted her to thank her.  She was the only person that I had still not met.  Until today.  I got to hug her and tell her how thankful we were that she stopped to help us, to help Bennett.  She said she would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

Just another amazing stranger.  A hero among many that showed up for us that day.  How amazing for her to cross my path over a year later.  I have to think that this is the work of a little blue eyed angel.

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You Deserve to Be Ok

“Perhaps most of all, though, you deserve to be okay. You deserve to know that a day in which you can just barely get out of bed because you are sad, or sick, or simply not ready to see the outside is not the end of the world. You deserve to know that moments of weakness do not make you fundamentally weak, only fundamentally human, and that sometimes we’re not going to be effusively happy, and that is okay. You deserve to be happy just existing and not constantly holding yourself up to a standard of fake smiles and forced cheerfulness.”  Chelsea Fagan

Couldn’t have said it better.  There are good days and bad ones, and just because you don’t see the bad ones, it doesn’t mean that they don’t exist.  Just because  I’m smiling on the outside, doesn’t mean that it’s all happiness and light on the inside.  People have moved on, have expected that we have done the same.  Some people have started calling again, wanting to spend time with us.  We have not moved on, we will NEVER move on.  We live everyday with the knowledge that we have a son that will forever be 17 months.

Grieving Siblings

I am by no means an expert on this topic. I naively thought that Darcy was doing extremely well, until it all fell apart last February. All it took was one night away from Parker and I and the bottom fell out. She was extra clingy, acting out and night terrors had begun again.

How on Earth does a 5 year old process the death of her brother? How does she process someone close to her picking her up from school, bringing her home to see my car surrounded by police, ambulance and fire and no family around? How does she process that individual falling apart on her when she needed him most? Not getting any answers, but knowing something is terribly wrong. Darcy asks me a lot of questions about that day, but really hasn’t talked too much about what she through beyond coming home and saying that the police were nice to her.

Darcy saw the adjustment counselor at school twice in the beginning, which Parker and I were thinking was enough. She seemed to be adjusting ok. My cousin was on my case to set her up with her own counselor and after the holidays we did do that, although I had no idea what to expect. The first meeting was awful, Darcy wanted no part of it. I think a part of her sensed something was off. The second meeting went well and she warmed up to her therapist Annie and very shortly became the loving, playful person that we know, singing, dancing and playing through her sessions.

At first, I thought, ok, there’s very little going on here. We played, I enjoyed seeing Darcy interact and I figured, at least we tried. Then I talked to Annie one on one. She noticed that Darcy was constantly playing with cars, reenacting car accidents, ambulances and police coming to the scene. I had’t really even noticed, she always played with cars with her brother, so to me it was no different. She was trying to make sense of it all.

Annie started to push Darcy to talk about Benny. At first she would remain tight lipped and wanted nothing to do with it. To Darcy it was easier to not talk about him at all. This was hard for Parker and I. Darcy started to ask us to stop crying, she was done with it all. Annie pushed her a little more each session and in about 8 months, she was bringing in pictures and drawing her family album including Benny. She had truly opened up and begun to share with Annie. I found that she looked forward to our meetings with Annie. Over the summer when she started doing really well, we had gone from seeing Annie from once a week to two times a month. Darcy was missing her time with Annie desperately. Annie worked for us, she worked for Darcy.

The other day she came home from school with a paper she wrote about her family. She talked about all of our pets that have passed and how she loves her baby brother. That wouldn’t have happened a year ago.

Before I was born, one of my cousins died, he was hit by a car coming off of the bus. His older brother was there when it happened. This happened 40+ years ago. I sat at the table with my Uncle who said that he regretted not getting help for my surviving cousin. I think about how long ago everything happened to them and how different therapy was conceived. Because I was so young and never knew my cousin or their situation, I was surprised by how similar our stories were. I am also so hopeful because here they are today, decades later, surviving.

There’s no right or wrong way to grieve, period. When it comes to kids, I don’t know the the right way to handle things, I just know what worked for us. I consider us lucky to have people in our lives that pushed us to get Darcy the help that she needed. I owe my cousin Annie, who pushed us to get Darcy into counseling my peace of mind.

I think I’ve talked about this, but I’ll say it again that a close friend gave us the book ‘The Invisible String’. We read it at Benny’s memorial services and it speaks about our connection with close friends and family without being overly sad for kids. Recently we had our neighbors over and Darcy chose to read this story to them. It made me feel really good that she felt comfortable reading this story that’s so closely intertwined with her brother’s services. There are a few additional books that I will also recommend below. I will add more as I find them.

For the Kids:
Invisible String

My Yellow Balloon

For the Adults:
The Boy on the Green Bicycle

Children Are Not Paper Dolls

Today I’m Grieving

I just did something that I’ve needed to for months. I didn’t want to do it, even though I knew that I had to. It was my last piece of holding onto the old me and I’m so sad.

Most days I’m OK with the new me. She enjoys cooking and playing with Darcy, doing projects around the house and helping out Parker at work. She goes to yoga and takes naps and time for herself, her life from the outside is simple. Of course I know there is nothing simple about me now, but things are certainly less hectic.

I miss the part of me that did it all and loved it. That got up every morning, drove Benny to daycare and sat in traffic for over an hour just to get to a job she loved. There was nothing lazy about that version of me. I was driven.

I know what I can and cannot handle. I know my limits. Some part of me hopes that I see that piece again, that girl that was so driven in life. Sometimes I miss her. I miss the before. I miss my little man and all of the chaos.

I used to be OK with change and be able to roll with it. Now it terrifies me. I can’t go back. I won’t ever be ‘her’ again. Another death, another goodbye. Today I’m grieving for who I was and will never be again. I’m so very sad to let it go.

Follow the Rainbow

Memories of Us

Parker proposed to me with this song nearly 9 years ago. While he’s always been musically inclined, he learned to play guitar to propose to me. To say he played it beautifully, perfectly would be far from the truth, but that’s not our style anyway. I laughed at every flub and curse word that came out of his mouth and the moment was so perfectly ours.

I love how the song is a promise of a life of love. The lyrics meant so much to me back then, ‘I wanna honor your mother, I want to learn from your pa’. It was like the song was written for us. It was our first dance at our wedding.

I heard the song the other day and was shocked to listen to the lyrics now and how much they have truly illustrated our life. I felt like Parker kept every one of those promises that he made those 9 years ago. He has truly stood by me at my worst and held me up. He has made my life as easy as he could over the last 14 months. I’m still home while he has worked so hard for our family. I haven’t known what it’s like to be taken care of since my mom became sick all those years ago. I never let Parker take care of me before, I was far too independent and felt I had something to prove. Grief and trauma have changed me, it’s changed our marriage.

Hearing the song made me smile and cry. This wasn’t what we planned when we started out, no one ever expects something like this. I was sad for who we used to be. So many bad things have happened and so much has changed. As I thought about it though, one thing has stayed constant – us. I know it’s only been 14 months and we still have a long road ahead, but I’m hopeful.

‘We’ll follow the rainbow, wherever the four winds blow; there’ll be a new day, coming your way’.

On prayer and the “randomness of the world”

For someone that doesn’t have a whole ton of religious faith, but believes in something greater, this speaks to me. I never stopped begging God, my mother, grandparents, aunts, uncles and friends in heaven to save Benny during the ambulance ride. Parker I didn’t speak, I just begged and begged over and over. Bennett wasn’t saved, there was no miracle. We were left to try to figure this out on our own. Randomness is 100% correct, that is the only way I can wrap my head around any of what happened. ‘I’ll pray for you’ is often said to us, and I do appreciate the thought, the sentiment behind it, but I know first hand that it cannot change what we’ve been through. What makes me truly angry are the ‘everything happens for a reason’ people. Screw you and your platitudes, if it were your child, I doubt that you could understand and accept that so easily.

I do try to remain positive and faith in something greater, but it’s a struggle. I’m able to look at the fact that I have Darcy and live for her. I am lucky to be married to the most amazing man, who never once placed any type of blame or regret on my shoulders and has done everything in his power to work with our family over the last year. These are great thing in my life, amazing things. They don’t change the fact that Bennett is gone and no amount of faith or prayer will ever bring him back. I miss him everyday.

baby boy blue

After yesterday’s post, I saw several others that led to a related tangent. Clearly, others saw it too, as Gretchen so astutely commented, noting:

“Recently, there was an airplane that nearly crashed into a couple’s suburban bedroom. The owners were talking to reporters, saying something like “there were angels watching over us today”, and I thought, but what about the pilot and passengers who died? Did God forget about assigning them angels? I know it’s different than what is described in your post, but it seems to be the same thinking. People are so self-preserving and so accustomed to owing positive outcomes to strength, perseverance or God, that they simply cannot see the randomness of the world. Until it happens to THEM.”

A friend then sent me a link to this article, which she thought would resonate with me. It’s one woman’s reaction as to how it feels to…

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