I want to write, I truly do.  I can’t seem to form the words lately.  To say it’s been hard is an understatement.

I want to feel that great sigh that I get from writing, when I’m able to let it all go.  I miss emptying my brain and letting the words, the emotions come out.

It’s self preservation mode now.  Too much has happened, too much is going on and too much is headed for us.  Dreaded May.  I try to ignore the calendar, but the days are flying by and soon we will be back to May 8th.

This date truly signifies in my mind that I have spent more time without Benny now than with him.  How is that even possible?  Was it truly a year ago that Parker and I drove out to the cemetery by ourselves and placed half of Benny’s ashes in the ground?

Sometimes it feels like a dream, or something awful that happened to something else.  After a year and a half you get used to living with the hole in your soul and the feeling that something is missing.  You almost become numb to it.  We’ve gotten through all of the firsts, holidays, birthdays, anniversaries.  We’ve cried enough tears for several lifetimes.  Yet here we are still, 18 months later.  Stuck.  Scared to move forward and terrified to look back.  Still broken, but in a different way.

Two Years Ago

Just two years ago I was outside with the kids on a sunny Patriots Day trying to get Bennett to pose for a picture to put on his first birthday invitation. Of course he wasn’t cooperating and I figured I would try again after nap. The kids went to sleep and the world changed. I spent the afternoon alternating between playing with the kids, talking to Parker and trying to reach clients on Boylston Street. The whole thing was so surreal.

I was sickened to return to the city a week later to see the damage, closed streets and memorials. I couldn’t believe that something like this had happened in our own backyard. I cried for the people that were hurt and had died. I couldn’t imagine what horror they had gone through.

When you watch something like that happen on TV it just seems so surreal and you cannot relate. You could never imagine living through a tragedy like that. Less than a year later I was up on a stage at our first Greg Hill Foundation Days event with Boston Marathon survivors. They have become some of the most inspiring people to Parker and I. Their courage and strength to go on is so evident. They have lived their lives to the fullest. I feel fortunate to know them and be a part of the GHF family.

Year Two Reflections – Seasons

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A year ago I was dreading Spring.  I was quite happy to hibernate indoors.  I didn’t want to be reminded of rebirth and growth and new life.  I suppose that I still don’t.

Although, this year I’m excited to get outdoors.  I want to breathe in fresh cut grass and dig in the Earth.  Maybe it was the endless snow, maybe it’s the new street out front of our house, perhaps it’s looking forward to gardening that has me so excited.

Last fall I was told to plant garlic in my garden and it would bloom in the spring. (Thanks for the tip Katie!)  I was so depressed after gardening season that this seemed like a great idea.  Darcy started back at school and life happened and well, I never got around to it and I regretted it.  About a month ago, I noticed the garlic cloves that I had purchased were growing on their own in my pantry.  I’ve since potted them and now they’re thriving!

A sign of my little man taking care of things for me once again.  A sign he’s never gone, never will be gone.  I can’t wait to plant these in his garden.

Sibling Addition & Subtraction

When Darcy was three and a half (almost to the day) we welcomed Benny into the world.  Darcy was so excited to have a sibling, not sure about the brother part, but nonetheless a little person to call her own.  At three and a half she was super helpful, getting me diapers, wipes, grabbing me stuff while he was nursing and fending more for herself.  She truly doted on Bennett and was a loving and caring older sister.

But she was still only three and a half.  She was still too young to voice her emotions and how this new baby had affected her place in our family.  Because I was the youngest child in my family, I never went through this transition.  The night terrors that had disappeared started up again, so Parker was up with Darcy while I was up with Benny.  She started giving me a very hard time because I was home on maternity leave with her and Benny throughout the summer.  She became physical a few times, hitting, biting, which is not like her at all.  She was a frustrated and jealous three and a half year old and expressed it in the only ways she knew how at the time.  She very rarely took anything out on Benny, mostly on me or Parker.  I think most kids go though an emotional time when a new sibling is born.  It’s normal.

We finally got into a groove and she was able to adapt.  As Bennett grew older, they played together all of the time.  She was the most patient big sister and he rewarded her with his antics that she laughed at.  They rarely fought and got along extremely well for siblings.  Yes, she tried to control him, mother him, smother him sometimes with affection and rules, but their relationship was one to be envious of.  I rarely had to break up a fight.  She was happy to share her toys with him and play with him all of the time.  She would distract him when I needed to pull something out of the oven.  She was an incredible big sister, she was born to nurture others.  I’ve never seen two closer siblings.

I now have an almost six and a half year old that has known the emotions that come with accepting a new sibling into their lives and then losing them.  I’ve written previously about Darcy’s behavior issues, night terrors and therapy and what an incredible turn around this little girl has made.  She is incredibly strong to have made it where she is today as a child.  I am so proud to call this little lady my daughter.  She is bright, out-going, kind, nurturing and able to own her emotions.  It’s been a long road with a lot of work over the past year and a half, but we’ve all grown as a family.

Fast forward to present time.  The night terrors have started.  The behaviors are ramping up at school (a little) and at home.  She is beginning to display her emotions through her behaviors again and not her words.  This was easy to watch when she was younger, but she’s going into second grade next year.  We just started back to monthly therapy.  The first session we went to she was over the top, interrupting, asking tons of questions, trying to run the appointment so that she wouldn’t have to talk about her feelings.  Her therapist even said at one point, ‘sheesh I haven’t seen you in a few months and I think you’ve forgotten how to talk about your feelings.’  I can feel the regression going on.

I don’t know if it’s the time of year, because this happened last May before Benny’s birthday too.  I have a feeling that she’s struggling big time with the whole new baby, but can’t quite figure out yet how it’s affecting her.  I have a child that went from only child, to having and loving a sibling, to only child and now she’s going to have a sibling again.  I know that she’s older and the transition to sibling should be easier, but she doesn’t trust it.  She actually said to me the other day that she hopes that the new baby doesn’t die too.  I tried to explain that what happened to Benny was a freak accident and that it wouldn’t happen again, but I make no promises.  I told her that I was pretty sure her brother Fletcher would grow old with her.  She’s going through so much of the same feelings as I am.  I just want to bubble wrap this little guy to make sure that nothing EVER happens.  The difference is that I’m 35 and she’s 6.

It’s making me crazy that she’s going through this.  That she’s scared to love Fletcher because of what might happen.  That she can’t express herself because she’s too young to truly understand much of it anyway.  No child should have to go through this ever.  I’m angry.  I’m sad.  I want so much more for my daughter.  She will never just be Darcy again, she will always be the little girl who’s brother died.

Year Two Reflections – Life

Life is getting in my way. In some ways it was easier when I was in the thick of my grief. These little glimpses, these days that pass me by are fine until I look back and think, geez, where did the time go? How is it already April?

I’m dreading May. Not only because we have so much to do in such a short time, but because Benny will have been gone for 18 months, just as long as he was on this Earth. That just seems really unfair to me, a huge turning point. His life feels like a blip in time. How is that possible?

I said to Parker yesterday that I felt like this Easter was the first holiday where I wasn’t overwhelmed with sadness or trying to avoid the feelings. Then I said, well it was the second Easter without Benny, now we’ve had more without him than with him. Cue sadness.

I hate these milestones, this time that keeps marching by. Last year I felt like we were keeping busy. Now we are legit busy. Life happened when I wasn’t paying attention and I didn’t want it to. It swept us along and brought us to today.

I’m now working with Parker more than ever before because he’s so busy. I know that this is a good thing and I’m so happy that he’s able to seriously support us. There’s a sense of satisfaction in having a job again, albeit one on my own terms. I was giddy when our accountant said I did an excellent job with our tax prep this year and we actually got a return. I’m feeling somewhat useful again.

With that comes guilt. I’m busy, I’m not able to focus on all that I’ve lost now all of the time. No matter how silly it may seem, there’s guilt there. There’s also guilt when I’m not contributing, when I feel that the financial burdens are falling on Parker, so I’m trying to take stuff off his plate. Damned if I do, damned if I don’t I suppose. There’s no way to win in this situation.

Yeah, Year 2 sucks.

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