What’s Important

Tomorrow evening I will take the kids over to the senior center to vote for our next president.  It is important to me that my daughter sees that she has rights that should never be taken for granted.  She needs to understand that she should be educated on the issues at hand and look at the candidates from every angle, not just how the media spins them.

I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t been caught up in all of the hoopla that came along with this election cycle.  It was hard to ignore on social media, even after I ‘unfollowed’ some folks for their ridiculous posts or comments.  It was everywhere!  It’s been all that we have talked about, fought about for months.  Tomorrow is a very important day for this country.  I’m so happy to be able to execute this right as a woman.

As a mother, tomorrow is a far more important day.  It marks the the third year anniversary of the last time that we held our son.  Three years ago we last saw him smile, stroked his hair and heard his voice.  Three years ago we said good bye.

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It was the worst thing imaginable.  It was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to deal with.  Mother’s aren’t supposed to outlive their children.  Pain like that doesn’t ever end.  It changes you for life.  You are never the same.

For three years I have lived without my son.  Every single day I think of him.  Every single day I ache for him.  I would give everything and anything to just hold him one more time, run my hand through his hair and smell his little boy scent.

Tomorrow we will go to the cemetery and bring him his Halloween pumpkin.  My daughter will be uncomfortable and running around and my other son will sit and play with the toys at the gravestone for a brother that he never knew.  We will talk, maybe read a book and say good bye again.

My husband and I will be drained because we will be reminded of the horror that surrounds this day.  For a moment I will catch myself off guard and I will remember holding my sons lifeless body and sobbing.  We’ll tuck the kids into bed and hold on a little longer than we should, because we know all too well how quickly things can change.  There are no guarantees.

We will probably stay awake as late as possible to see who is elected.  And we will either breathe a sigh of relief or be completely devastated that another November 8th has ended in tragedy.

Here’s the thing though, I will still go to sleep tomorrow night and wake up the next morning.  I will still be able to kiss my babies and go to work on Wednesday.  I will be able to turn off the ‘unfollow’ button on the Facebook machine and get back to my life.

I’ve already lived through the worst thing that could ever happen to me.  I’m here today because some pretty incredible people have stood beside us and showed us so much love and kindness in the face of loss.

Yes, this election is a big deal.  Is it the biggest deal to me?  I often find myself asking now in tough situations, ‘is this life or death?’  The answer is always no.  It makes it a little easier to stomach in that moment.

Maybe it’s a coping mechanism I’ve developed.  I’d like to think it’s clarity. Either way it works for me.

Tomorrow isn’t just about our next president to me.  It’s about my family and what’s missing.  It’s about loss and heartache, but it’s mostly about love.  One little boy and his love for life.

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Disney

Friends of ours offered us 4 tickets to see Disney on Ice this afternoon.  I somewhat chuckled to myself as I pictured the shitshow that would ensue if we brought Fletch.  I texted said friend and she told me to have Darcy invite a friend instead.

So off we went to enjoy the show.  I was a little worried that the third grade girls might be ‘too cool’ for this whole thing, but soon enough we were all belting out Let it Go with Elsa!  I was so happy!

Then I started thinking.  This was probably it, the last time I would go to Disney on Ice because Darcy wanted to go.  She’s growing up too fast and I can’t stomach it, but at the same time I love it.

We watched the little boys in front of us rocking out and going wild for Buzz Lightyear and it hit me that that fourth ticket could have been for Benny.  He would have been 4.5, such a great age for the show.  He would have loved it.  He should have been there.  He should be here.

Nearly 3 years.  So much time gone, so much he missed.  He would be so old now, already in Pre K.  He would be a big brother.  He would be a middle child.  Lot’s of ‘would.’

I don’t give in to feeling sorry for us very often, but this sucks.  Today’s realization sucked.  He’s been gone nearly double the time that he was here and I can’t stand it.  I shouldn’t have to.

Lot’s of ‘-un’s’ come to mind; unfair, unreal, unbelievable.  The worst is undeniable because try as I might I cannot pretend that he isn’t gone or that he never existed.  Because he was here and he was our Benny Bear.  And I was so damn lucky that he was mine.

10 Years

‘Parker, when I first met you, I knew that you would be a good friend, but I never dreamed that we would be standing here together 7 years later.  I know that I’m the lucky one in all of this because I get to spend the rest of my life with you.  You, who have become my very best friend and the one person that I know I can always trust in.  You, my little Packard freak, that I’m so proud of.

I have never felt the way that I do today, a mixture of hope, excitement, love and happiness.  Today is really about making new memories and reminiscing in the old.  You are my future, my heart and my life and I have never been happier than I am at this moment right now.  I love you and know that this is an amazing new beginning for both of us.  I’m so lucky to have found my one true love.’

‘Sheryl, who ever thought that when I met you 8 years ago that we would be standing here today.  You are the most generous, loving, caring, unselfish person I know.  I promise to love you, respect you, laugh with you and cry with you.  You are my best friend, my better half and from this day on we spend the rest of our lives together making memories of us.’

-Our Wedding Vows

9-30-06 3652 (2)Ten years ago Parker and I made promises to one another and shared our love with our friends and our family.  We vowed to always be there for one another.  We promised to love one another.

One of the last songs we played at our wedding was ‘Better Life’ by Keith Urban.  When you get married you have these preconceived notions about how your life is going to be.  Hell, as a child, I dreamed about this.  Everything is always so perfect in your visions for the future.  Sure you talk about ‘sickness and health’ and ‘better or worse,’ but on your wedding day you only expect positive things to happen in your future.

I never expected my future title to be ‘grieving mom’ when I wrote those words and made those promises.  No parent does.  I never expected the last 3 years of my marriage to be filled with PTSD, counseling and grief.

Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would have to call Parker sobbing uncontrollably and tell him to get home right away, that something horrible had happened.  I didn’t expect that we would say good-bye to our little blue eyed angel just as his life was getting started.

We were numb for so long.  Both of us just absolutely terriffied, looking to each other to make it better.  Both suffering with PTSD, flashbacks and nightmares.  Clinging to one another trying to figure it all out.

Parker would cry in the morning and I would cry at night.  It worked for us for awhile.  He wanted to be surrounded by Benny’s stuff while I needed it shut away, with a few minor exceptions.  No two people grieve the same way.

With a ton of love and support, we survived that first year.  Then the second.  Then the birth of our second son.

Now it’s getting tough again as Fletcher creeps ever closer to eighteen months.  How did time pass so quickly?  How are we here again?  How come he looks so damn much like his brother?

We are struggling.  Parker handles things very differently that I’m comfortable with.  We’re working on it.  I guess that’s all we can do.  That and hold our breath until we cross that eighteen month threshold.  That’s marriage though, working through the tough times.

I read these vows now and I’m trying to remember those two people that wrote them.  They had so much hope for this amazing life together filled with happiness.  I miss them. I miss their innocence.  More days are happy than not, but there are just some days that are tough.  When just existing feels hard.

On September 1st, we celebrate 10 years as a married couple.  I had no idea what the future held when we made those promises all those years ago.  I don’t know what tomorrow brings for us and our family.  I do know that I love that man more today than when I wrote those words.  I’m lucky to still call him my best friend.

Anxiety

Living With High Anxiety

A friend shared this on FB.  So much of it rang true for me and so mich of it used to be because I was ‘too busy.’

Now anxiety is different.  It changes once you’ve lost a child.  Now it centers on my children’s well being and less on me.  Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I care a little too much what people think.  It’s just different now.

It’s the anxiety I used to have over the kids x 1,000.  Mass shootings, bacterial infections, accidents, etc.  My brain can come up with any set of circumstances.

It’mothering to exhaustion.

Please Stop the Judgments – From a Grieving Mom

Copied from my Huffington Post article:

Our 18 month old son died when my car hit him and myself in my driveway. The easiest way to explain to people is ‘car accident’ even though he was outside of the car upon his death. As a family we just refer to it as ‘The Accident.’

     It was a very public story in New England when it happened. Family and friends alike saw pictures of our house, my car and heard my address through the news and social media before we even had a chance to contact them. Almost all of the information that they portrayed was incorrect and conflicting, but the fact remained the same – our son had died.
     People showed up in droves. Neighbors we didn’t know wanted to hold a candle light vigil. More food than we could eat in 6 months showed up at our doorstep. Cards, books on grief, very personal letters began to pore in from around the region and even across the country. People donated money, meals and their time to us.
     There was a theme here. In the darkest moment in our life, humankind was beautiful. Strangers banded together to support us. It was like what you saw in the aftermath of 911, except it was happening to us.
     As a grieving mother who was frantically trying to figure out what exactly happened, this was healing. I suffered with ‘what if’ scenarios where I convinced myself that if I had just done something differently, reacted quicker, etc. my son would still be alive. Truth be told, I still do over two years later.  I harbor so much guilt over what happened, even though it was an accident.  Knowing that we had the support of so many people behind us made it a little easier to breathe those first days. And not a single person blamed me.
     No one asked why I wasn’t holding my son tighter, or why I didn’t run faster or why I left the car on? Not even my husband, who I thought was more entitled than anyone to understand what occurred. These are all questions that I asked myself anyway. I didn’t need anyone pointing a finger at me. Condolences came in from all over and showed up in various places on the internet, all saying the same thing, ‘I’m so sorry. You’re family is in our thoughts and prayers.’
     It’s taken me and my family a long time through therapy to get to where we are now. We’ve worked very hard on ourselves and coming to terms with what happened to our Benny. I think that one of the reasons that we have done so well with the hand we’ve been dealt is because we have had the continued support of so many people. So much love was sent our way when we needed it most.
     I don’t know what I would have done if I had been blamed. I don’t know if I could have handled it if the internet turned on me and demanded to understand why my child wasn’t alive, why I wasn’t being charged. It sickens me to think about because we as a family have come so far, most in part due to all of the love from strangers, what if it had been hate instead?  How would we have coped?  How could my daughter get through that on top of the loss of her only sibling?
     I’ve watched in horror the last few weeks as parents that are suffering tragedy have been viciously scolded by an unfeeling mass of internet users.  Going so far as to form petitions for DCF involvement and ask over and over why they weren’t watching their children. I’m here to tell you that what you are doing is causing more harm to these families that have already been through so much. How can you cast judgment on a situation that you weren’t involved in? I can also tell you firsthand that the information that the media provides isn’t always accurate. They are working so fast to get a story out that they don’t always have their facts straight when they hit the air.
     Please stop the blame. I’m begging you to open up your eyes and realize that these are human people that you are hurting. They are hurting enough and don’t need your opinions or judgment.  Unless you have stood where they stood, you do not have the right to sit behind your keyboard and judge. I beg of you to find your humanity and try to realize what these families are going through.  Accidents happen, they’re called that because there’s no one to blame!  This is how I explain the word to my seven year old child, how come grown adults cannot grasp this?
     During an accident, the police are always involved.  If there is someone to blame they will in fact be charged. The lynch mob that sits behind their computers and condemns these families need to leave that work to the investigators involved. When a tragedy occurs, we should always lead with love. You never know how that words that you type might affect someone that’s already gone through the worst. I can only imagine how these poor families are coping given the judgment placed upon them.
    Please think before you type. Make a point to ask yourself if you would be willing to say what you type to the persons face.  Don’t jump to conclusions and depend on the media for your information. As someone that has been in this situation, I’m begging you to please stop the judgments!
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Overwhelmed

Ever have one of those days where your support system bails for whatever reason?  Maybe they’re sick, perhaps busy.  Whatever the case is, they’re not there.  And you’re all alone.  Overwhelmed.  Slowly going crazy.  Maybe they’re right next to you and just completely clueless.

I’m in one of my moods where I just want to hop in my car and drive.  I don’t necessarily have a destination in mind, but just want to get away by myself.  Feel the wind in my hair and sing along with the radio.

I want to feel connected to something.  I want to be able to feel something beyond crazed and harried.  I would love to take a deep breath and feel silence around me.  I want to step off the perpetual roller coaster that has become my life.

I want to sit down and think.  I want to wrap my mind around Benny and his life and marinate in that for awhile.  I want to pay him some much deserved attention and spend some time with him.

I want to hold my daughter like she hasn’t been held in what seems like too long.  I want to snuggle her and breathe in her scent and memorize every detail of her smile.

It would be so nice to have all the time to just sit and play with Fletch.  I wish that I could devote hours to reading and ball and floor play.  I wish I had more patience when he pushes me just over the edge like he does so well.

What I wouldn’t give for some sleep.  In a bed.  By myself.   I’m not greedy, a four hour stretch will do.  To be asleep before 3 AM would be a dream.

I know it’s just a moment in time right now.  This too shall pass and things will calm down.  But just for a moment to dream…

 

You’re Here

Even though you’re gone, I can feel you.

You were a part of me for nine months, and I watched you grow for seventeen, that doesn’t just end.

I feel your happiness in the sunflowers that now fill my home.  I didn’t intentionally add them, they just started showing up as gifts through others, probably your doing.

I see your face, from baby to toddler smiling back at me from our walls.  It’s as if you are watching over us with those bright blue eyes.

I touch your blanket and surround myself in its warmth.  It reminds me of your snuggles.

I see your name, just about everywhere, from tv credits to magazines.  It is still in block letters in your room and now your brother’s name has also been added to your wall.

I see your likeness in your brother and sister.  Both physically and emotionally, they have little pieces of you that they will carry on.

I hear your crazy laughter still in my memories.  I’ve never met a happier boy.

As much as I miss you, I know you’re still here, all around us.  That doesn’t end.