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.

 

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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.

 

Good Things

I remember thinking (rather naively) as a child that it seemed whatever my parents wanted to happen, would happen. I thought that they somehow ‘willed’ whatever they wanted and the ‘Universe’ took care of them. As a girl of 8 years of age, I thought this was how the world worked. I was priveleged. I felt deserving. Life was good.

My mom died when I was 16. It wasn’t an accident or unexpected, but cancer. She was sick, then there was surgery and chemo and radiation. Then remission. Then months of uncertainty that led to me being in a hospital room seeing the words ‘DNR’ and knowing exactly what they meant. The cancer came back and we were given months.

I was so many things during that time that it’s hard to even write about it all. I was relieved that her suffering would end. I was terriffied of losing her. I was scared of what life without her would be like. I was sad beyond anything I ever imagined possible. I was lost. I did not know what happened. What had we done to deserve this?

When Benny and I were struck by my car, I remember thinking it couldn’t be real. It was like watching something happen to someone else. Saying good bye to him and telling his sister was beyond awful. Imagining our lives without him was heartbreaking. Planning his memorial was surreal. Living the last 5 years without my son have been HARD. Again, what had we done to deserve this?

This past year has been tough. No, that’s false, this past year has been shit. Not losing-a-loved-one-shit, but shit just the same. My¬† patience has been tested time and again and Murphy’s Law seems to befall us more than most. WHY? What did we do to deserve this?

When the bad things pile up it gets harder to see the good things behind them. I know that they are there, but man I am having a hell of time finding them right now. When I go dark and really sit around and think about it, maybe I only deserve bad things. Otherwise, why would they keep happening?

I am in my new house surrounded by all of my stuff again (finally) and this is what I see. I think the road to get here has finally taken it’s toll on me. All of my attempts to brush off the last year as part of ‘the journey’ is crap. I’m tired of making lemonade, please pass the grapes so that I can make some wine instead.

I just want good things to happen. I want to be 8 again and believe that what I ‘will’ will happen. I want to feel worthy of good things again. I probably need to change my way of thinking, but for right now, pity party, table of 1 please.

 

Sounds of Silence

It has been nearly 5 years since my son’s death. Five long years filled with a flurry of activity. Five years full of hope, sorrow and gratitude. We have been constantly in motion.

After Benny’s death we felt like we needed to live life to the fullest. Nothing makes you think long and hard about life than the death of someone young. I mean, my God, I’m going to die some day. It’s inevitable. And that day can be tomorrow or 50 years from tomorrow, but it’s going to happen.

We did a lot in that first year. We renovated our home, we traveled. We went to Disney World, we went cross country. It was important for us to be able to spend time with Darcy and try to figure out our family as just the three of us. As soon as we were close to even glimpsing what that was I was pregnant.

It was a boy. Another little blonde haired, blue eyed baby to remind us of what we lost. At the same time, he was a little reminder of hope that not all was lost. Besides sleep, we lost lots of sleep. And patience and probably a bit of sanity over this very demanding and loud little person.

And by the time he was old enough, there was the hint of another baby. And we decided to take over another business, oh and sell our home. My daughter’s birth was the quiet before the storm that brewed over the last year that turned our family’s life into complete chaos.

Four moves later, a year into a new business and the baby finally sleeps (a little anyway). We are finally home for good in the middle of the woods and the silence is deafening. Things seem slower, calmer for the first time in years.

We made the choices that guided us through our grief over the last 5 years. Some would say that we’re running from it. Possibly. Maybe it’s just our process. Maybe the keeping busy is our way of living life to it’s fullest.

Right now I’m going to enjoy the quiet. I’m going to savor every chance to sit on my deck and listen to peepers. I’m going to enjoy my opportunity to shower more than a few times a week because my kids are growing older. I’m going to spend some time looking at my grief from the lens of a now veteraned bereaved woman and try to figure out what it all means.

Things finally seem to be settling down. It might be time to take that for what it is and let it be.

Sounds of Silence

 

Don’t Look

I’m scrolling through social media, just trying to unwind or kill a couple minutes. I love the pictures of my friends baby, or the cute animal videos. It’s nice to just lose myself for a few minutes amongst the chaos.

And then there it is. A video, a picture someone posted without thinking. It’s a picture of an awful car accident that they took as they were driving by, or a video of a lifeless baby. It’s been shared by countless others and I can’t blame them for sharing it to.

It still makes me cringe. I cannot look. I do not want to view someone else’s worst moment. I have enough vivid memories of my own.

I don’t know why we feel it’s ok to share these images? Have we become that apathetic? I would be horiffied if any one of the people that were there with us in the street whipped out their phone and took pictures or started filming. To my knowledge that didn’t happen, but what if it did? What if it was shared? Would it humanize it a bit more?

I’m sad that we feel so little for others that we feel it is ok to do this. Please think before you post. That is someone’s child, mother, brother, friend.

Sometimes

Sometimes you find yourself amongst friends where selfies don’t happen and phones are lost. Time ceases to exist. You are in the moment and you are happy.

Sometimes you laugh so hard your face hurts. You feel so connected your soul is at peace. You cry over shared pain.

Sometimes the stories are outrageous and the memories are even crazier. The ability to come together after so much time apart and just pick up where we left off is uncanny.

Sometimes doesn’t happen often for me, but it does with my ladies. Thirteen years ago we were all strangers. Now there’s nothing that we wouldn’t do for each other. We come from all walks of life and our age difference spans 30+ years.

I am a little happier and more at peace than I have been in so long. Just because I was able to spend some time with them tonight.