Year Two – Mother’s Day

Yes, I am behind on my 17 Days of Benny blogging, but there is just so much going on right now.  We are ‘attempting’ to finish up some lingering projects around the house so that we have some options in the future.  I have been busy with Parker and the business.  I am now officially the treasurer for the North Atlantic Packards Club as well.  Let the chaos begin.

Then comes Mother’s Day.  Right in the middle of it all.  Or perhaps just May in general.  Last year sucked.  I was in a terrible mood all day, staining countertops and just trying my damndest to ignore the whole awful thing.  It was bad.  I didn’t know how to handle missing my mom and my son.

This year I decided to try something different.  We started the day with a yummy brunch with Parkers mom and then headed to the cemetary.  It was completely packed!  There were tons of people there, we couldn’t believe it.  Darcy had brought Benny two pinwheels, so we cleaned up his toys a bit, visited and then walked around.  We noticed that there was a new headstone in the baby garden, which killed me.  They were twins that passed on Darcy’s birthday last year.  It broke my heart.

Parker and I sat down on a bench as Darcy walked around.  We were the only ones in the baby garden until another couple walked over and sat down by the twins.  It broke my heart again.  I watched this newly grieving couple cry for their children.  I wanted to go over and hug the momma.  I just sat there silently crying for them and everything they lost.

I sometimes forget that it’s ok to cry for us too.  It did happen to us too and we’re allowed to be upset.  I can’t use housework to cloak my grief forever.  I sat there watching that couple, seeing us.  I cried for all of us and it felt damn good.

We left shortly after to work in the yard, play in the sprinkler and pool, burn the Christmas tree and just spend the day together.  It felt good.  I felt like I honored Benny.  The day wasn’t nearly as bad as last year.

My heart still misses Benny and my Mom terribly though.  At the cemetary I was wishing that she was buried closer so that I could visit and Darcy could sense some physical connection.  I hate that they’re not here, hate it everyday, but especially today.  It’s comforting to know that they are together at least and that is something that I know with absolute certainty.

Loving and Missing my Mom and Benny always…CAM00166

Simple Man

We went to our first wedding since the accident in August.  Weddings in general make me emotional, I’m a happy cryer.  You get to witness two people pledging their life and love for one another surrounded by the support of friends and family, it doesn’t get much better.  

It was a close friend’s wedding, Parker was the best man and I was doing the reading during the ceremony, so unfortunately I had to hold it together.  It had been so long since I had felt so much love and happiness that I had forgotten what it felt like.  It seemed like the perfect day.

Then it happened.  I didn’t see it coming and I was completely taken aback, I felt as if someone had slapped me in the face.  They did the mother son dance to ‘Simple Man.’  I tried very hard to hold it together, but I had to walk out of the reception.  I tried to go to the bathroom to breathe, but ended up outside on a park bench sobbing.  I don’t think that I’ve heard that song since the accident.  It was heartbreaking.  Here I was facing everything that I lost.  Thank goodness for good friends that come find you when you fall apart on park benches and cry with you.

I try very hard not to dwell on what never will be.  I’m afraid that if I do it will destroy me.  I already feel that I’ve been robbed of my graduation, wedding, birth of my children without my mom.  Rationally I know that Bennett will never grow up, but until that moment I hadn’t thought about the fact that he will never get married, he’ll never know that happiness.  I’ll never get that mother son dance.  Pieces of a life never lived.

 

 

Waiting

Today we saw Darcy’s therapist for the first time in over a month.  She has been doing so well, so we had agreed on spacing out her appointments a bit.  There is a great deal of solace in the fact that we found ‘the one,’ this perfect woman who has spent so many hours with Darcy and I bonding over our shared loss.  She has saved me in so many ways and truly helped me to become a more patient mother.

We often color, or play with legos, cars or a dollhouse.  In the beginning, Darcy would play act with cars and create accidents, police, ambulances, everything that her little mind witnessed the day of the accident.  Darcy wasn’t there when it happened, a reason for which I am eternally grateful.  She came home to the aftermath, the helicopters, police tape and onlookers, she saw my car across the street and she knew that something really bad had happened.  

We’ve worked hard with Darcy to help her identify her emotions instead of acting out and she has made incredible strides in opening up to her therapist and my husband and I.  It’s hard to watch your child go through the loss of a sibling at any age, but at 5, death is still a foreign concept.  She acts so mature sometimes, that I forget that she really still doesn’t understand.

Her therapist asked her today if she was scared that something would happen to me or Parker.  Unsurprisingly, her answer was yes.  She knows that I lost my mom to breast cancer and often asks me when I’m going to die, or if I’m going to get sick.  She doesn’t get it and I’m mad that she has to.

Her therapist asked her tonight if she wonders if Parker and I will have more children.  At first I was a little taken aback by this question because I really didn’t want to discuss my family plans with my 5 year old.  What she said, shocked me.  She wanted to know if I was going to have another little boy.  She said we would call him Benny, Captain Crazy.  She thought that we could make another Bennett.  It broke my heart to explain to her that there was only 1 Benny.  I told her that there was only 1 Darcy too, but she had just met a woman named Darcy on the walk, so naturally she corrected me.  I tried to explain that every child is different, they look different and have different personalities.  I reminded her of how different she and Benny were.  I think she got it, but I don’t know.  The fact that she thought that we could have ‘another Benny’ surprised me.

I love that she believes in magic and fairies and santa clause.  I love her innocence.  I wish we could all hold on to those beliefs as adults.  At the same time, I wish she were older, it’s such a fine line to walk.  I wish I could talk to her like an adult and know that she understands what I’m saying.  I wish she were old enough to read this blog, I honestly cannot wait until she is.  I want her to understand so badly.  She’s my best friend, now I just have to wait for her to grow up.

I’ll be here future Darcy, waiting…

9 Months ‘AA’

I look at the date on the calendar and it reads 8/8. It’s been 9 months since the accident, the same amount of time that it took me to grow him inside of me. 9 long months of pain. 9 months to physically heal from the accident.

I’m exhausted, I’m sad, I’m hurt and I’m alone. How I hate it when Parker is not in bed next to me, reminding me that we’re in this together. Holding my hand when I need him to and kissing me to remind me that he’s here.

Last night was a doozy. We hit some pretty bad weather outside of Colorado and I was terrified. Parker did his best in his exhausted state to try to keep me calm, but I panicked. I held onto Darcy tightly and cried, so scared that I would lose Parker or her, that something would go wrong again. Parker kept saying it would be ok, Benny would take care of us. I have to wonder though, why wasn’t my mom taking care of Benny and me during the accident? Why were we forgotten?

We’ve been driving through the Denver area and I feel so exposed. There are no trees, no hills, no curves, just flat land and mountains. When it storms, you see the lightening touch down. So much open space.

I’m tired down to my bones. I ache to have something that I will never have again. I look at this new version of myself and I’m not happy with what I see. I’ve never felt so beaten down by life.

I want to return to the living, but I don’t know how. I cringe at meeting new people, to have to answer the question about how many children I have. I despise driving. The furthest I’ve driven myself was 40 minutes. I cannot handle much more than 20 minutes by myself in the car.

I am angry at people that cannot understand. I have met strangers that have been truly amazing, loving and kind, yet some of the people closest to us are disappointing. I don’t know how to handle this, I don’t know what to do with this anger. Is it misplaced, no doubt, but it still exists and I still hurt.

I’m tired of the purple elephant in the room. Yes my son died, but please don’t forget that he lived. That he was loved. Please don’t feel weird talking about him. I’m so tired of hearing ‘I don’t want to upset you.’ I’m sad all the time over losing Benny, if I cry that is my way of working through it. Please don’t make me feel bad about it.

Most of all, I miss my son.

8 Months ‘AA’

I’m angry. I’m angry and I’m sad. We sat down to update our pictures in our picture frames. We will never have pictures of Benny past 17 months old, he will forever be frozen in time. I will never know what he would have looked like because he will never grow up. When he was born I remember the nurse holding him and asking him if he would be the one to cure cancer or create world peace. We will never know what amazing things he could have done with his life. I look at Darcy and she just seems so damn grown up. I miss having my little guy around. Like Parker said the other night, I just want to blow raspberries on his tummy.

It’s been 8 months. I don’t know how this happened. When we hit 17 months we will have lived without him the same length of time that we lived with him. We’re almost halfway there. It kills me inside. I don’t know why this happened to us. I don’t know why it was him and not me. I don’t know why I’m here again. My grandparents, my aunt, my uncle, my God parents, my mom and my son. Maybe I’m cursed. Maybe this is hell and I don’t even know it. Sure feels like it some days.

8 months. There’s that number again. November 8th, the day he died; May 8th, the day we buried him; June 18th, the day the water main broke; 88, Parker’s car number on the Great Race. I’m not sure yet the significance of 8. I know that turned on it’s side it symbolizes infinity. How ironic a sign of infinity in this case.

I look at my physical scars, mostly healed now and I’m frustrated. How do I look the same 8 months later on the outside? There are a few scars, but nothing that really tells the story of the accident on my body. How is that possible? Why am I spared? There are days when I feel that I should carry the scarlet letter A on myself, for accident.

I’m scared to meet new people because I don’t want to answer the question about how many children I have. It feels wrong to not mention Benny. It’s easier when people just know, although if I have to listen to another person ask me how I’m doing, I might scream. How do you think I’m doing 8 months after watching my son die? I know they mean well, it just gets tiring. I’m tired. Of all of this.

8 months and I’m still numb. 8 months and I still don’t understand.

Heavy Heart

This year I’m going to do the Breast Cancer 3 Day – again. Over a decade ago I started this journey for my mother as I tried to wrap my head around why I had to say good-bye to her so early. I signed up by myself and took a deep breath. I wasn’t the type to take on something new by myself, so this was a huge step for me, but I was committed.

The most amazing thing happened during that first walk, I met some of the most amazing women. This feels like an understatement. I have spent the last 10 years walking, sharing, crying and laughing with these ladies. We created our own little family in which we raised our kids and continued to grow closer. These ladies and their husbands sat by our sides, held our hands while we cried in November and helped to take over arrangements. I cannot explain the type of bond we have formed. I am forever thankful for my BFF family.

After the accident, I debated not walking this year. My heart wasn’t really in it at first, I wasn’t sure if I could commit to the fundraising or training. I was so focused on what I had lost, yet again. It felt like so much in my life had changed, I wasn’t sure if I could do this walk again.

I know now that I NEED this walk. I need something to work towards. I NEED to not give up. I switched cities so that I wouldn’t have to face my fellow 3 Day walkers that are familiar with my kids and so that Tara could walk with me. It will be weird, to not be surrounded by my Boston 3 Day friends, but I’ve accepted it. It will be awful to not see Benny cheering me on in pink alongside his sister.

My kids are such a big part of this walk. As much as I do it in my mom’s memory, I always got involved because I was so scared that my kids might one day lose me to cancer, I never in a million years thought that I might lose one of them. I need to find a purpose again, to remember what I started all those years ago and why it’s still important to me.

It’s with a heavy heart that I walk this year. Will it be hard, yes, it will truly suck. I feel robbed again by life. This walk is such a symbol for my life now though, putting one foot in front of the other. http://www.the3day.org/goto/sheri2014

Life Goes On

So Proud of the Girls!!
So Proud of the Girls!!

It’s getting in the way again.  I’m too focused on bills, mortgages, insurance, I’ve buried myself in this pile of paperwork.  Maybe it’s my escape, some place that I know I will be safe from the hurt.  I don’t know.  Maybe it’s just because we had a busy weekend and it’s a busy week.

Darcy had her dance recital on Sunday.  She blew us away, she was amazing, not only as a dancer, but her stage presence was unreal.  She has such poise and grace for such a small person.  It made me cry to watch and wish that my mom and Bennett were here too.  I wish that they could also watch her in awe and be as proud of her as we are.  It’s so hard going to these things without them.  I miss chasing Benny around everywhere we go.  I ache for my daughter to be able to know her grandmother’s love. It’s so hard for me because I know how much Darcy is missing it out on.

We had several birthday parties.  It’s weird going with only 1 child, singing happy birthday, watching all of the other children in your life growing older.  We sang happy birthday and released balloons for Benny, but there were no candles, he didn’t get to make any wishes.  I try to picture what he would be doing, what he would be saying.  How tired I would be at the end of the day, but so content, because he was so full of life.

It keeps happening, days pass, weeks, months.  He’s still gone and it’s still so unbelievable.  Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and they still happen even though he’s gone.  It all just feels so hollow, so sad.  I miss him.

Present

‘When a parent dies, you lose your past.   When a child dies, you lose your future.’. Anonymous

I just saw this on someone else’s blog.  I don’t know what to say.  I guess this leaves me with the present.  I’d rather be anywhere than here right now, this purgatory.

I’ve never been able to live in the present.  I’m a planner by nature.  Loosing my mom, my past haunted me.  It was always easier to look forward, predict, plan and prepare.  I always knew that things could change at any given moment and I learned to roll with it, take the obstacles as they came.  I remember being told I was ‘flexible.’

This present thing sucks, but the future is too scary, too unknown.  I know that we have some tough decisions to make, but I don’t want to do it.  What if we make the wrong ones?  What if we just make things worse?

I don’t want to plan anymore.  There are no guarantees, so why bother?  I don’t want deadlines and I don’t want to make any more decisions.  We already had to decide what to do with Benny, where to bury him, how to do it, etc.  Shouldn’t we get a break?  I’m just so tired…

My Sunflower Story

The weather today makes me feel like writing something positive.  After Benny passed there were so many incredible signs from him, signs that he’s ok, that he’s moved on and that he’s being taken care of.  I want to share just one of the many stories, but probably the strongest sign that that little guy wants us to know that he’s still with us.

The accident happened on a Friday.  Suffice it to say that the first 24 hours were pure hell.  I probably could have endured physical torture better than the realization that Bennett was gone.  In the chaos that ensued at our house following the news of Benny’s passing, Pastor Aaron came over  on Saturday to talk to us and offer his services.  He asked me how I was dealing with what I saw.  If I had a lifetime, I don’t think that I could describe it, but the flashbacks were intense and brutal.  My mind was trying to wrap itself around what had happened.  Pastor Aaron gave me a visualization technique to try to make it easier on me in the days ahead.  He had me visualize myself sitting in the theater and watching the accident happen on the big screen in the front row.  Then he had me move back a row and watch myself watching it, and then back a row, all the way to the back of the theater.  Once there, he told me to change the picture to something comforting like a field, or a beach.  I chose daisies, they were my mom’s favorite flowers and made the most sense.  I did this technique several times throughout the day on Saturday, but something was always weird about the daisies, they kept taking on the look of sunflowers.  I kept seeing the brown furry sunflower centers with the sunny yellow petals.  I had no connection to sunflowers, but this whole technique seemed to be working, so I went with it.  It was amazing how I was able to begin controlling what was torturing me.  I told Parker that I kept seeing sunflowers late in the day on Saturday, and thought nothing else of it.

Beginning on Friday night, the community of Worcester began to leave stuffed animals across the street at the church and created a makeshift memorial.  It was a lot for me to take in, but we watched as people walked down Chester Street with their children in the cold to leave notes, pictures and stuffed animals.  Parker went to check it out Saturday night and came home with a funny look on his face.  He said that someone had left a bunch of sunflowers.  This was my first sign from Benny.  Why sunflowers?  That took a little longer to figure out, but I was sure it was my little dude connecting the dots somehow.  The night of the memorial the Tuesday after the accident Parker and I were sitting in bed.  I suddenly saw a field of sunflowers in my head, Benny was walking holding my moms hand and our dog Mason was trotting alongside.  This was not a dream, I was awake.  I described what I saw to Parker in detail, how my mother looked (like in one of her school pictures).  A week later my aunt (my mom’s sister) called to tell me that she had a dream about Benny and my mom walking through a field holding hands.  In that dream my aunt said that my mom looked just like her school picture, the same one that I had said to Parker.

In the first 48 hours we were trying desperately to connect with the folks that had been present during the accident.  There were so many people that gave Benny CPR or were in the street with me.  I remember screaming to them to save him, it seemed as if forever passed before the EMT’s arrived.  I remember the first girl to give Benny CPR, how she cried, how I thanked her and we hugged.  She seemed so young, I felt so awful that she had to be involved in our tragedy.  At the hospital, we were given a bag with Bennett’s clothing, inside there were ear buds.  This confused us at first and we weren’t really thinking too clearly.  After the fact we realized that ‘the girl’ must have been jogging by when everything happened.  We had been talking to the police and were trying to get in touch with ‘the jogger,’ but no one had her contact information.  It was so important to me to see her, to know that she was ok.  I don’t remember much from that day, but I remembered her.

Exactly 2 weeks after the accident my next door neighbor came over and told us that she knew who ‘the jogger’ was.  She lived less than a mile away and was an aquaintence of her daughter’s.  We were ecstatic.  My neighbor told me that ‘the jogger’ had lost her teenage brother in a car accident a few miles away about 8 years ago.

Before I had the chance to, the joggers mother reached out to me.  Sue sent me a beautiful card, memory light and grieving resources.  She explained about losing her son and what she has done to get through it.  I e-mailed her instantly.  We connected and soon discovered that our boys were sending us some strong signs.

I told her about the sunflowers and she was a bit shocked, her daughter was the one who put them at the memorial after the accident.  When her son passed they had sunflowers at the service, and she and her daughter had always connected with sunflowers.  Sue said that her daughter definitely felt her brother’s presence in the road during the accident.  She had been home from school on a Friday because she skipped class, which she never did.  She had just started jogging her normal route down Chester Street when the accident happened.  People were screaming, cars were stopped and someone was yelling if anyone knew CPR, that was when she came jogging over and said ‘I do!’  All I could think was that this was Benny’s way of connecting with me, connecting with this other family that had also lost so much.

Sue became an amazing resource for me.  She stayed in touch, did yoga with Parker, Sandy and I try to alleviate some of the anxiety and stress that had become so present in our everyday lives.  As Sue’s daughter tried to save our son, Sue started to save us.  She was over one day and pointed out to me and Parker that there is a huge sunflower poster in our living room.  I never gave it much thought, it had been there for 10 years or so.  What Sue pointed out was that Benny would have seen that poster every day, would have looked it while nursing, playing, etc.  It brought home to me why he chose a sunflower to communicate with us, it was something that he saw every day of his life, something so obvious.

About 3 months after the accident I received a gift basket from the church across the street, it was decorated with daisies and sunflowers, my mom and my son, how appropriate.  In it was a book titled ‘Heaven is for real,’ the cover was a picture of a field of sunflowers and a little boy.  On Mother’s Day we went to the cemetery to visit with Bennett.  There was a mason jar filled with daisies and sunflowers there.  We weren’t sure if they were for Benny or his neighbor, but it was clearly a sign for us, Mason, Benny and mom all represented.

A month after the accident my sister Deb talked to her friend Deanne about doing a painting of my vision.  Deanne had been painting for years, mostly portraits, and most took 6 months to a year to complete.  This would be her first ever landscape.  She received photos from my sister and aunt to complete the project and turned it around in under 3 months.  I never knew that this was even happening, but when I got it, I was floored, it was exactly what I saw, down the position of Benny, my mom and Mason, the height of the sunflowers (they were small in my vision).  I cannot explain how peaceful it made me feel.  I knew that Benny was ok, that he wasn’t scared and that my mom would take care of him.

This has made it so much easier, knowing that my boy is ok, knowing that he is being loved very much by some very special people.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny put people in our lives who have gone through the same thing and were there to help us.  It’s been easier knowing that Benny is still there for us and that he always will be.Image

May

When they first told me my due date with Benny, I was terrified that he would be born on the day that my mom died those 15 years earlier.  His due date was May 18th and my mom died on May 25th.  It just all seemed so wrong.

As luck would have it, he was born on May 17, exactly 1 day before his due date, just like his sister.  The question is, how do I navigate May now?  With all of these awful reminders about the people that I love that are gone?  Over the last few years I have finally made it through May in ok spirits, what the hell do I do now?  I feel as if I’m navigating through a minefield.

As luck would have it too, several family and friends celebrate birthdays in May.  What do I have left to celebrate?  Everything that has been taken from me?

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