Got To Go Through It

It’s been a week. A week of stress. A week of unknowns. A week of chaos. I’m Type A so naturally I hate this lack of control.

My oldest daughter is on a field trip to Maine with her classmates. I have not seen nor spoken to her in nearly 4 days. I am losing my mind missing her face, her voice, her eyerolls and her attitude.

Yes she goes on sleepovers to her friends, but I have never spent this much time apart from her. As much as I would love to sometimes hop in the car and head West until I run into water, I know I never could. I’m losing my mind without her over just 4 days!

The worst part of it was that I thought she was going to home to very bad news. She always seems to be away when tragedy strikes in our family, something I’m grateful for. My dad is sick and in the ICU. He rallied a bit today and I have no idea what’s ahead for him, but I really thought she was going to come home to another death.

I’ve spent years researching the best and safest products for my children. I looked into carseats, organic foods, read parenting books. I tried to limit screen time, used sunblock outdoors and tried so hard to keep her healthy. I thought I had this parenting gig down. I was armed with band aids for boo boos and hugs and kisses for owies.

Here’s the problem though, even though I felt prepared, even though I read the books and did the research, I was not prepared for when someone she loved died. I couldn’t prevent that from scarring her so deeply. I couldn’t kiss that pain away.

Five years later I feel that we are headed back in that direction. I’m sad as I realize that there is literally nothing that we can do to prepare our little ones for one of life’s most horrible fates. I can’t make death any easier or better for her and it kills me.

Grieving is hard work. Grieving with little kids sucks. Suddenly you have to learn to balance your grief. Are you crying too much? Are you crying too little? How much emotion do you share with your littles?

The hardest part is making the space to grieve yourself while you watch them go through it. You cannot take their pain away, which is heartbreaking.

Here’s what I learned along the way though, you have to take the time for you in order for you to be able to be there for them. You cannot bury that emotion inside. It’s a tough dance that’s not easy to choreograph. It takes time. It takes love. Love for yourself and love for your child. It’s composed of failure and lessons to figure out what works best for you.

There is no magic wand or simple solution. Grief is like the children’s song Going on a Bear Hunt.

‘Can’t go over it, can’t go under it, cant go around it, got to go through it.’

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Hard

I cannot sleep. I cannot get comfortable. I still have pain in my right shoulder from the accident and can’t quite find a good way to lay tonight. My mind won’t calm.

My father is in the ICU. I’m going down to see him first thing in the morning. I have no idea what to expect. I have no idea how to feel right now. Expect the worst, hope for the best? I’m headed back to same hospital where I uttered the words ‘I love you’ to my mom for the last time some 22 years ago.

I just keep thinking this can’t be it. He will rally, he always does. I hope I’m right. But then I begin to wonder, what if he doesn’t? It wouldn’t be the biggest surprise, he hasn’t taken care of himself for years. And then selfishly I just keep thinking, please not now, so close to Benny’s anniversary. Please pull through. I’m not sure how much more I have in me.

Say His Name!

I’ve heard over and over that the worst thing for a bereaved parent is thinking that their child has been forgotten. I will agree to this, but now that I’m nearly five years out from Benny’s death I’m finding not necessarily that people have forgotten, but rather that they don’t want to remember.

This story says it all. In a nutshell.

Scary Mommy

I too felt uncomfortable talking about grief, hell I still do. Me, the grief warrior that has dealt with sudden and drawn out death. Words still evade me. Probably because I know how ineffective they are. Words cannot make it better.

I have babies. I tend to compare their milestones to their siblings. My youngest Perry has the exact same temperament as her big brother Benny. She is completely unaffected by the whining and screaming of her older siblings. When she falls, she gets right back up and keeps on going. She scales chairs and tables and couches, nothing can stop this child. She is exhausting. She is fearless.

When I talk about her I often bring up how much she reminds me of Benny. People react in one of two ways, either by acknowledging Benny or looking stricken at the fact that I would mention him. I’m finding the further that I get from his death, the more uncomfortable people become when I talk about him. Maybe 5 years is the magic number when I’m supposed to suddenly ‘let it go.’ Sure.

I know remembering him is tough because it’s real. I am your worst nightmare. My life is what you cannot imagine and don’t want to fathom. You think that you wouldn’t survive the death of your child. I’ve heard it all before. And trust me, I get it. I had 2 other babies after Benny died. I don’t like the reality of it either

Just like the author of this blog states, if someone brings up my late child, please don’t ignore it. Ask me about him! I miss him with every fiber of my being and talking about him makes me feel closer to him. Let me compare him to his sister. Let me glimpse an alternate universe where the two of them would get into loads of trouble together. Just for a minute. Just let me talk about him.

 

Five Birthdays

We have spent five Birthdays without our son. We were only actually able to celebrate one with him, his first. I will never regret his party. So many people wonder why we had a big party. I will never regret people being able to celebrate our little boy with us.

We have spent five Birthdays celebrating at a cemetery. What started out as something that we needed to do has turned into something that we love to do. I love every balloon release, every painted rock, every walk in his memory. I love sharing crazy stories about his short 18 months on Earth. I like remembering. I like that it is all about him for a little while, even though he is no longer here. My family needs that space to wrap our minds around the fact that he was here and he needs to be celebrated.

We always have a lot of people show up to support us and remember our Benny. We are thankful for the love. We are thankful that they were a part of his life. Some never even knew him but show up just to support us. Year after year. It amazes me. These people are the ones that hold us up. They keep us going.

This year, what was notably absent at my son’s birthday celebration was any family. Parker and I realized after we left the cemetery that not one person related to us had made it there. Out of the 30+ people that came to be with us some five years later, not one was blood related.

Now, we don’t have much family close by and I get it that people are busy. Maybe some think after five years we shouldn’t still be celebrating his birthday. Maybe it was just bad timing this year. Who knows?

It brings me back to when I started having babies and first really noticed the lack of family in our lives. It felt so very lonely. I grew up with my grandma less than a mile away. She watched me after school. She watched me when I was sick. The smell of her fresh baked cookies or butter cake filled my house growing up. All of the freshly ironed clothes that she hung in our closets were lost on me until I was an adult. We had family around, constantly.

My own life is so different. My kids don’t even know what they’re missing because their reality has been so dissimilar. This whole grief process brings it all back though. I feel like I’m right back there with a screaming newborn thinking how am I supposed to navigate this? What if I do it wrong? It’s so very lonely again.

This is the point at which Parker says to me, ‘this is because our friends are our family.’ And he’s right. But he’s away, so I’m going to stew in this a bit. Maybe I’m just missing my mom. Saying I invisioned my life a little differently would be an understatement. Maybe it’s as simple as feeling like people are forgetting our Benny.