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.
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To the little man that stole my heart

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I never expected a boy, never even entertained the idea that I would have a son.  What was I going to do with a boy?  When Benny was born, Parker cried.  He didn’t cry when Darcy was born, then I got it.  That was what I was going to do with a boy, make a man.

He was so different from Darcy.  He was so rough, so crazy, 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.

I got it.  I understood how Darcy wound Parker around her finger.  Benny had me, I was lost.  It was hard to get angry at that smile or not loose yourself in those dimples.  I found myself letting him get away with things that Darcy never would have.  He was my baby and my boy.  I hate that I’ve lost that.  I don’t understand why I didn’t get to keep him.  Why him?  Why us?

He loosened me up as a parent, taught me to pick my battles.  He was so interested in figuring things out.  He was climbing up and sliding on his own at a little over a year.  He taught me to trust in him, to allow him to explore his world.  I’m so proud of who he was and how he changed me as a parent and a person.  I love you forever my little man.  XOXO

Mouse Ears

We went to Disney, our family vacation for 3. I remember a friend with 3 kids telling us that Disney rides favor even numbers. It rang in my head every time that Parker or I got onto a ride alone. ‘There’s someone missing!’ The little voice said, ‘where’s number 4?’

It was like we went back before he was born. The trip was busy, we were busy. There was no time for reflection or tears. By the end of the day we were all so tired we would just fall asleep. There was a happiness there. In those moments we were free from some of the suffering. It’s not like we forgot it happened or pretended it didn’t, it was more like we could breathe, and just be. No one there knew our story. No one asked us how we were doing, if we were OK. It was a vacation from our grief.

Coming home was OK for the first day. The second day it was if the accident had just happened all over again. It became so fresh, so raw. I missed ‘missing’ him. I missed my daily cry and fist shaking anger at the Universe. I missed my number 4.

We all have the mouse ears with our names on them. Park err had received some from as family friend years ago and Darcy got her Minnie ears during our last trip in 2011. I got a pair to match Darcy’s and we got Benny a pair of his very own. We have to keep doing the hot dog dance even if the ring leader isn’t here to do it with us. I’m sure he’s teaching my mom, uncle, aunt, grandmother and cousins.

Baby Steps

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Sunday became a major milestone for me.  For the first time since the accident, I stepped foot into Bennett’s room.  We’re going away and some friends and family are going to finish Benny’s closet.  I’m excited, don’t get me wrong.  For the first time I just realized it’s a change.  It’s an inevitable step in moving forward that needs to happen.

I just got out of the shower and it hit me that his room would change slightly.  That people would be in there.  Maybe his smell would disappear or something would be moved, even if ever so slightly.  I started to think about what Benny would want.  He was so happy and so brave, those are the best words to describe him.  Nothing scared him or held him back.  It was time for me to be the same.  Maybe not happy, but brave.

I cannot describe what it was like.  I don’t know what I expected.  He was gone and as hard as it was being in his room, his space, it didn’t make it any more final like I guess I expected it would.  His pajamas that he had worn the night before it happened were draped over the crib, his little shoes were sitting expectantly on the changing table.  It was heartbreaking.  To be among his stuff and know that he will never wear those shoes, or play with his toys.  To turn on the cat piano and listen to the ridiculous songs that he loved and know that he will never enjoy them again.  There’s a whole world of Bennett contained in that one little room.

There’s still dirty laundry.  Pacifiers keep showing up behind the crib, in the rocking chair.  Benny is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.  I think Darcy said it best when she said he was invisible.  His smell is gone, which kills me.  You don’t lose a person all at once, but in pieces over time.  I’m not ready for this.

We Made it

I’ve never been so happy to see 12:01 in my life.  It means that we made it, that we survived yet another heartbreaking milestone in Bennett’s death.  We should not be measuring time by survival.  I shouldn’t have to wail in pain to the Universe about how unfair this all is.  Our lives should not have to be defined by his death.

 

Most days it’s enough that he was here.  Most days I can smile and take joy from my daughters life and my husbands antics.  Not at this moment.  I welcome the numbness as a way to get through.  I welcome the day to day tasks that I use as a way to escape.  It still seems unreal, so awfully horrific.  Like watching a movie, or living someone else’s life.  Why did this happen?

Two Months ‘AA’

When Benny was born we counted his life in months.  I consider that my life ‘Before the accident’ or ‘BA’.  Now we count his death in months (‘After the accident’ or ‘AA’).  It’s like someone drew a line in the sand and we started counting backwards again. That’s how everything feels, backwards. It was 2 months ago today that I laid in bed in the morning like any other Friday while my kiddos ran and jumped around my room. 2 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. 2 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. 2 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. 2 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. 2 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. 2 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 2 months ago + 1 day. What I wouldn’t give to memorize every dimpled smile, every laugh, every pout and every fit. I’ve thought about that day a lot and what I could have done differently, how I should have reacted. I’ve wondered if I had just brought him right up to bed like I was going to, and then gone down to the car, If I had jumped into the car, if, if, if. I need an undo button. This wasn’t supposed to happen. I’m not supposed to be here again.IMG_5287