A month and a half after Benny died it was Christmas. Instead of sending Christmas cards, I was sending thank you cards to amazingly generous people that had helped us out. The second year, I decided there was no way that I could ever send a Christmas card again. It felt weird without my entire family being involved. five years later, not much has changed for me.
My sister sent this to me today and man does this author speak to me. Maybe some day I will be ready to send out cards again, maybe not. That’s the funny thing about grief, everyone’s path is different.
Send the cards. Or dont. Just do whatever makes this season survivable. Sending love.
I just the other day said to a friend that I was waiting for Benny to show up. I hadn’t really felt him since we moved. Over the past year it’s felt like it’s taken some time for the little guy to find us as we lived our gypsy lifestyle.
Well, after the day we had, I’m feeling like I was heard, in a BIG way! We had Darcy’s 10th birthday party at a local bakery/restaurant. She’s huge into baking this year and on a whim I booked a cupcake decorating party for her and her friends.
At one point in the party Darcy walked back from the bathroom with someone behind her. One of Darcy’s girlfriend’s had a sweatshirt with her school name on it and someone asked her if she knew Darcy Roaf. Darcy looked at her and said ‘that’s me.’ The woman asked Darcy for her parents and came over to us. It was Benny’s nurse. From the hospital. From the night he died. The first person to give us a glimpse of hope that losing a child is survivable.
We hadn’t seen her in years and caught up after the party with lots of hugs. It was totally random that she had stopped at the restaurant this afternoon. Totally random that we happened to be there having Darcy’s party. Even more random that today is 11/17. Benny’s half birthday. He would be 6.5 today.
We got home tonight and were trying to pick a movie to watch with Darcy and decided on the Sandlot. I haven’t watched this movie in years and I was shocked to discover that Parker had never EVER seen it! Five minutes in, we all look at each other when one of the main characters names is Benny. He’s the hero of the storyline. This characters initials happen to be the exact same as Benny’s, BFR.
Benny has a dream in which Babe Ruth (again initials BR) gives Benny a speech…’Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.’ In the next scene Benny puts on some PF Flyers (Perry, Fletcher?) to try to save the day.
Bah, maybe I’m reaching here. But I FEEL it!! Today certainly feels a little like kismet. Thanks Buddy. I don’t know why I ever doubt you. XOXO
I woke up this morning like any other morning. A flurry of activity trying to get everyone ready. Just another day.
Just like it was just another day 5 years ago. Except it wasn’t. November 8th changed us forever. I look back on that day now and I hardly recognize myself. Things have changed. I have changed.
I’m not entirely certain I could ever imagine the path my life has taken since we lost Benny. I’m not sure I really thought much into the future during those first bleak days. Hope seemed like something reserved for someone else.
So here I am 5 years out and I can tell you that my life is almost unrecognizable. I never imagined feeling fulfilled again. I never thought that I would be able to laugh again or allow myself to feel vulnerable.
My heart will always ache. Even in my most joyous of times a part of me will be sad. I will never hold my son again. My children will never all be together in one place. I never thought this would be my story.
I certainly didn’t think that I would be waking up to try and organize the post move chaos that is my life while nursing two sick kiddos. This was not my plan for the day. I wanted to breathe, soak it all in. But my plans are as steadfast as they were on this day 5 years ago. I must remember how little control I actually have.
There are times when I look in the mirror and I wonder how different I must look. Older, sadder, perhaps wiser. Definitely content.
I’m reminded of the Velveteen Rabbit in these moments. We read a passage from the book at Benny’s Memorial and my goodness is it fitting for today.
‘You become, it takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in your joints and very shabby. But those things don’t matter at all because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’
Maybe in all of this grief and this heartache, I’ve ”become.’ I don’t think this is a final step or the end of anything. I think this is just where I am today.
I love you, my Benny bear. Thank you for every laugh, every snuggle and every smile that you brought into our lives. I love and miss you every single day.
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.
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.
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.
I find so much therapy in music. I love when a song just speaks to me. I struggled after Benny died to listen to the radio, it just made it hurt more. Now some 4+ years later I find it soothes me. There’s just something so poetic about putting emotion into music.
I love me a good U2 song to jam out to in the car with the windows down. There’s something so soothing about Bono’s voice, it’s like a balm for what ails you.
Their new song is just amazing. It reminds me how we got through our grief. It reminds me how we are able to get out of bed every morning. It reminds me that love can light the way. It certainly did for us. Grief is hard. Love was bigger.