Questions

IMG_4115Today Darcy asked me about the accident.  The first time that she asked came across as accusatory, she wanted to know if I was paying attention, if Benny was strapped in tightly.

She started off by asking how my mom died, and then why.  I knew what was coming, so I braced myself.  I tried to remember that she’s only 5 and not to tell her more than she’s asking for.

It started simple, ‘Mom, how did the accident happen?’. ‘We were outside of the car and it began to roll.’ ‘Oh, how did you get hurt?’ ‘The car hit us.’ ‘You should have been in the car.’ ‘We had just gotten home, we were getting out of the car.’ ‘Oh.  How did the car hit you, I don’t understand?’ ‘My door was open and it hit us.’  ‘Where was Benny?’ (Insert the sound of my heart breaking, if there’s anything left) ‘In my arms.’ ‘How did you get hurt?’ ‘The car door knocked us on the ground.’ ‘Did you cry?’ ‘Yes’ ‘Did Benny cry?’ ‘No…he was gone.’ ‘Gone where?’ ‘To heaven baby.’ ‘Oh, I didn’t know it can happen that quickly.’ ‘Sometimes it does.’ ‘OK, I thought the car had runned you over.  Maybe we should change the driveway, plant grass instead, that way if you fall, you won’t get hurt.’. Silence, don’t really know what to say to that.  Of course I’m driving, so I can’t completely break down.

After a few minutes I said,’sometimes things happen that don’t make sense, like my mom getting sick or the accident.  We’ll never know why it happened.’  ‘I think a spring in your car broke.’ ‘I think we live on a hill.’ ‘Oh, yeah.’. ‘Are you OK with what we talked about?’ ‘No, I’m not Mom.’ ‘Me either…’

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4 Months ‘AA’

0616131231a‘Life has some nerve going on like nothing happened, doesn’t it?’

Darcy shouldn’t be growing older.  Parker shouldn’t be back at work.  Time is supposed to stand still.  My life has, how is it that other people can still go about their daily activities?

It’s truly frustrating.  I try very hard to put on this mask and pretend that all is OK.  I’m pushing myself to do things that I’m just not ready for to prove that I’m OK.  Maybe that’s the problem, I’m not OK.  I don’t want to go to your child’s birthday party when my son doesn’t get to grow older.  I don’t want to drive a car because I miss him being in it with me.  It all feels like moving on and frankly, I don’t want to.

I ache to move backwards.  My arms ache to hold my son.  My lips ache to smile, and laugh, really laugh because something is funny, not to make someone feel comfortable.

I fucking hate this.  I hate that 4 months have gone by and every day we creep closer to his birthday in May.  I hate that people have disappeared, how easily they have seemed to move on.  I hate feeling stuck.  I’m trying so hard, but I really don’t want to anymore.  I’m so tired of being OK.

2:00 AM

I’ve always been a night owl.  For some reason I was always more productive after 9 PM, usually in bed by midnight.  Now I see 2 AM most nights. I’m exhausted and would love to shut my eyes and my brain, but I can’t.

I read endless books, troll the internet or just lay there.  I wish I could be one of those people that sleep through their grief, just lie there and soak it all up.  It would be a much needed break from this new reality.  I just want to close my eyes, close it all out and enjoy the blackness and the silence.

Instead I get out of bed and check on Darcy.  I need to just be sure of her, see the rise and fall of her chest, surround myself in her. I need to know that she’s OK and that she’s still mine.  I will never trust in her future, or any of ours.  It changes too quickly.

I write to no one, which helps.  I still can’t seem to make sense out of this.  I’m hoping that by writing I’m able to release some of the madness that has taken up residence in my psyche.

The irony is that Benny slept through the night at 6 weeks old.  Here I am still awake, exhausted, without my baby.

“I’m so tired, but I can’t sleep, standing on the edge of something much to deep.  It’s funny how we feel so much, but cannot say a word, we’re screaming inside but can’t be heard.”.  Sarah McLachlan

Signs

I love the signs.  They are everywhere if you’re open to them.  I picked up a book about a girl who lost her mom to breast cancer.  There’s a brother character named Bennett.

I’ve been feeling super guilty lately.  Have I been grieving enough?  Do I think about Benny enough?  Have I been a good mom to Darcy today, a good wife to Parker?  I’m trying so hard to be everything that my family needs, and pay bills, and fight insurance and do laundry, dishes and renovate the house.  I’m in the present, in survival mode.  Feeling like the worst mother because I’m not missing my son enough.  I can’t hold it together and miss him though.

My friend Mac called to chat.  I was telling him that Darcy was having a tough time and he can relate because his kids lost their mother.  He told me that he just had to keep moving forward for the kids, be in the moment.  It took him a few years for it to really hit him.  He told me not to feel guilty and just keep doing what I’m doing, that I’m a good mom.  He said he had a feeling that he needed to call me, that I needed to talk.

I don’t know how he knew what I was feeling, I hadn’t even said the words aloud to Parker.  It’s funny how the Universe has it’s way, although, I’m sure there was a little help from a beautiful curly headed blue eyed boy and his grandma.  My god, I miss you Benny.

Flexible

Am I grieving enough?  Am I truly feeling Benny’s loss every moment of every day?  I feel like people have these expectations about how I’m supposed to act or feel.  I don’t even know how I’m supposed to act or feel!

I don’t know if I’m actually dealing with this or I’m still numb.  Am I looking at Parker’s anguish and Darcy’s outbursts and once again deciding that I have to be the strength that this family needs to keep it together?  God, it gets truly exhausting.  I’m terrified that if I start to fall apart, I will not be able to stop.  It will be like the first 48 hours all over again, where I just sat and cried, over and over again.  I will loose myself to the pain and never find my way back out again.  It was easier then because I was physically broken too.  I reveled in the pain because it was something that I could accept and feel.

I’ve jumped into house projects with a  vengeance.  The laundry is all done and put away and the sink is empty of dishes.  Dinner is on the table every night.  Everything in the house is in order.  I’m keeping busy, it’s what I’m supposed to do, right?  I need a rule book for this!!

Am I overthinking all of this?  I don’t cry every day, am I supposed to?  I don’t think about Benny all day long, am I supposed to?  I still cannot even wrap my head around what happened, and I was there!  I’m numb to the accident and it’s aftermath.  I feel as if I’ve lost a leg and I’m just doing my best every day to learn to walk again.

I remember at work they always used to say that I was ‘flexible’.  Am I also flexible about my sons death?  I hate this.  I hate questioning my mind and wondering if I’m losing it.  I hate the fact that I have to make the best of EVERYTHING.  God, I wish that I could just give in and wallow a bit…

Three Months ‘AA’

I cannot begin to fathom how we have survived without Benny for 3 months now.  It isn’t easy and usually it sucks.  It’s hard looking at this picture everyday and missing that beautiful smile.  It’s hard not seeing him at Darcy’s side.  I miss their laughter as they would tear through the house together.

I don’t sleep at night.  I try really hard and even when I’m tired I just don’t sleep.  I read, watch TV, but mostly I just lay there and think.  Not about anything specific, I just can’t shut my brain down and relax.  I think it’s so that I don’t have to think about that day, my coping mechanism.

I miss the sound of the waves over the monitor and always having to be quiet at night so as not wake him up.  I miss how much noise he would make rolling around in that crib at night and I would hold my breath hoping that he wouldn’t wake up.  It was like listening to a pin ball machine.  What I wouldn’t give to just hold him in my arms one more night in the rocking chair.

Greg Hill Foundation Speech

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We had a son named Bennett.  Now I know that every parent says this, but Bennett was so smart and so beautiful.  You could get lost in his deep blue eyes, impish dimples or blond ringlets.  He had a mischevious smile that always kept you guessing what he was planning next.  Benny was very different from our daughter, Darcy.  Where as Darcy was more quiet and careful in new situations or around new people, Bennett would walk right up and try to shake a strangers hand.   He was so rough, so crazy, and so confident in everything he did.  He was all boy.  He challenged me as a parent in many different ways than Darcy did, instead of the theatrics, I was constantyly chasing him, pulling him off of things.  Benny was exhausting to parent, but I always had a smile on my face because he was so funny and engaging.  At 17.5 months he already had a vocabulary that would rival any 2 year olds and was capable of communicating his needs.  He was part of ‘our set’, Bennett and Darcy, from Pride and Predjudice.
 It was roughly 3 months ago today that I laid in bed on a Friday morning like any other  while my kiddos ran and jumped around my room. 3 months ago Benny and I went shopping for a coat and birthday presents for his big sister. He spent most of the time in line flirting with the younger girl behind me. 3 months ago we were running late (per usual) to meet up with a friend. We went to the bouncy house place and I had a blast! Benny kept taking drinks from the water fountain and asking to ‘wash’ his hands. 3 months ago today I called my husband and told him that yeah, things might be financially tight, but I loved being a mom and even though I never expected him, I loved having a son. 3 months ago today we went to Wendy’s and Benny got fries and chicken nuggets and I felt so guilty he didn’t have any fruits or vegetables. He fell off the chair at the restaurant and I thought that was as bad as my day was going to get. 3 months ago I was marveling at the late afternoon snow while Bennett slept in the back of my car, so tired from our busy day. 3 months ago that I was removing him from the car and our world ended and this horrible new reality took hold. What I wouldn’t give to go back to 3 months ago + 1 day. What I wouldn’t give to memorize every dimpled smile, every laugh, every pout and every fit.  But we cannot go backward, we can only go forward.
In the days after losing Benny, we watched people, mostly strangers, enter our lives and show their support.  People in droves started showing up with food, flowers and presents to help us get through this hard time.  We watched in awe as strangers began putting stuffed animals, drawings and flowers on Chester Street in Benny’s memory.  The amount of support was overwhelming and we have been blessed to make many new friends.
Our close friends contacted the Greg Hill Foundation the day after the accident.  They knew that we did not have life insurance for Bennett and that financially we were not prepared to pay for funeral expenses or any time missed from work.  Parker owns his own company and I was working part-time.  No one expects something like this to happen to them.
Greg and company held an online/on-air fundraiser for our family the Friday after Bennett’s Memorial.  It was weird waking up and hearing our name on the radio, weird to hear our tragic story.  What happened still hadn’t really sunk in yet, I don’t know if it ever will.  They were able to raise money from listeners and matched what was raised to help us out.  Again, we witnessed the kindness of strangers rushing to help us out in our time of need.  I cannot begin to explain how healing that was in our darkest hour.  It really brought hope to an otherwise desolate situation.
In December we chose to participate in the Jingle All the Way 5k in Parker’s hometown of Sudbury to benefit the Greg Hill Foundation.  We assembled a team of 50+ walkers and runners and joined the other crazy folks that braved the 8 degree temperatures.  The walk meant the world to us as our team donned ‘Benny’s Bunch’ shirts and we were able to see his smiling face all around us.  Once again the Greg Hill Foundation had provided a healing experience for our family to enable us to take a step forward in our grief.
The injuries that I sustained from the accident were minimal in comparison to losing my son, but I was not prepared to return to work mentally.  When something like this happens, it shifts your whole perspective on what is important.  While I have been out on disability, Parker has had to return to work because there’s no one there to cover for you when you’re the boss.  For Parker it was hard because Benny showed such an interest in what his daddy did.  It took awhile before he was able to get back into his shop and there are still tough days when the motivation just isn’t there.
The money that was raised by the Greg Hill Foundation has allowed us to breathe a little bit and figure out what we want to do next.  It has helped us to pay bills, health insurance and finish out some projects around the house in case we decide some day down the road that we can’t stay.  It has given us options in what is a really terrible situation.  It has allowed us to seek counseling and take the time off of work to grieve and heal as a family.
We are now part of the club no parent wants to be a part of.  I cannot begin to describe what it’s like to witness losing your child.  You can’t imagine the hole that it opens in your heart that only time can mend or the questions that you will never have answered, like why did this happen?
We will never know why Benny was only with us for 18 months.  We will never know why we will not be able to see him grow up with his big sister.  We will never know why he wasn’t ours to keep.
Here is what we do know, we were so blessed to have Bennett in our lives, even if it was for a short time.  The amount of love and happiness that he brought to Parker, Darcy and myself will never be forgotten.  We are lucky that there are people out there like Greg, Erin, Katelynn and Adam who are willing to take the time to make such a difference in peoples lives in their time of need.  We are so thankful to Greg and the Hill Foundation for what they have done for our family.
We want to leave you with a quote from Winnie the pooh-
 ‘If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together…there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you’
Thank you.

'How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.'