Slumberland

‘You have the dream you’re meant to have; we make sure of that. What happens next is up to you.’

Tonight we previewed Slumberland (spoiler alert). I had watched the trailer and thought it looked fantastic, albeit sad. It deals with death and grief. Seeing as how Fletch came to us tonight with his Dinosaur book in tears because the Dinosaurs all died, I figured this was something we should watch first. And I’m so glad that we did.

I bawled my eyes out through 40% of the movie. A PG childrens movie completely wrecked me. And I mean wrecked in the best way possible. It put into words how we deal with grief, how desperate we are to see our loved ones in dreams and how even when we are desperately sad, we can still find hope.

It touched on so many of my grief experiences. In the first few minutes of the movie, the main character dreams that her Dad died. I honestly believe that there’s a subconscious link between life and death. My Mom came to me in a dream to say good bye and moments later I awoke to our house phone ringing and I knew that she was gone.

The entire movie is based upon the main character wanting to find her dead father in a dream so that she can stay with him. My god, that is all that any of us grievers want. I sat there crying, begging for a good visitation dream. It’s been so damn long. And I miss my people. I want to find a pearl so that I can wish this dream into existence.

When that pivotal moment finally happens, when the main character can have her Dad back, she finds that she has to wish for something else. Something has become more important than her Dad. And it’s awful and beautiful all at once. Because she found hope. And in finding it she had to let go a bit. And that is really fucking hard.

I wish I could say that I thought this was a good idea for my kids, but it’s not. It’s too close to home. There are some scary parts too as well as a lot of drowning. We’re a little too sensitive over here and will have to wait a bit. But the overall theme of this movie is absolutely beautiful. Especially if you need a good cry.

‘Life is waiting for you, Nemo. It would be a shame if you missed that.’

9 Years ‘After the Accident’

It has almost been a decade since we lost our Benny. And so much in our lives has changed. And yet, somehow, things still seem the same sometimes. I can’t explain it, just like I can’t explain how surreal it feels to lose your child.

I gaze upon pictures of Benny’s face and it seems like it was just yesterday, and it also seems like a lifetime ago. There are moments when I wonder if any of it actually happened. And then I look at his picture and I remember what he smelled like, what the curves of his dimples looked like, what his little curlies felt like against my skin. His life may have been short but it was real.

I can’t explain what today is like. We used to have to leave town because I couldn’t deal with being in the house where he died. I used to want to crawl out of my skin because the reality of November 8th was just too much. The days and weeks leading up to this awful date used to send me into a complete tailspin. And I guess that’s not to say it still doesn’t, just in different ways.

It’s been 9 years of learning to live without my son. And I hate saying the word ‘learning’, because learning implies growth. No one should have to ‘learn’ how to live this way. So instead we move forward, slowly trying to figure out how to navigate what the hell this life looks like.

Now I usually find that I throw myself into projects leading up to November 8th and Benny’s birthday. Apparently I need some creative outlet, or some instant gratification to get through these feelings of grief. That’s how I’m built. I’m a doer and I need to get things done. If you look at the last 9 years of my life, my grief has physical evidence in the home renovation projects that I take on.

I’m not sure what today looks like just yet. We will go to the cemetery, maybe take the dog for a walk. Relax. Eat his favorite food, hot dogs, and just be. There’s a little less stress and angst surrounding today than there used to be. Sometimes I find that sad. Other times I think it means that maybe we have figured out this grief thing a little bit.

Missing my boy everyday, but today especially. Love you Benny ❤️🌻❤️

I’m Out

I took the summer off. From everything. I gathered my children and we had adventure after adventure. And it felt so right. And I felt really content for the first time in a long time.

I didn’t take a break from grief so much as she took a break from me. I spent a lot of time thinking about things and looking at them from a different perspective. I made peace with so many things I’ve carried for so long. But that’s another story.

The reason for writing is actually a story in itself. I’ve been reading again! Being able to let go of some things has really helped and for the past few months I’ve been devouring books. And loving it.

I was an avid reader before Benny died. It’s just another one of those secondary things that was also taken from me. I can’t explain it. I tried to get back into reading over and over again. I did read a few books here and there, but I either couldn’t focus, or I’d lose interest. So I gave up.

I’ve gotten big into Colleen Hoover. I love her writing style. I love the conflict that she builds as you sit there and question if the character is a good or bad person. Or are they just human and made a mistake?

So I started Verity.

I barely made it through the first sentence. Never mind the remainder of the page. I closed the book and took a breath. I decided to continue, against my better judgement. I didn’t get too far into the book before I found out that one character just lost her mother to cancer and another main character lost 2 children and his wife was in a car accident (this is all revealed in the first chapter, so I’m not spoiling much).

Nope. Nopity nope nope nope. I made it maybe a chapter and a half in and I had to Google. I had to know what I was getting myself into. So many triggers. Too many triggers for me. I’m out. I will have to pass on this one. Maybe this was why I stopped reading in the first place.

My Grief Superpower

Well, this certainly describes me. And seeing it written out like this almost makes me realize how pointless it is. Almost.

How am I doing? Some days are awesome. I can get through the day and just exist. I don’t feel like I have to weigh every decision in life or death. I can just be.

Other days I panic when my husband takes the kids in the car. What if they all die in a car accident? Or when the kids are wrestling, what if one of them hits a piece of furniture and had to go to the hospital? Or worse? Or what if they choke and I’m in another room? Seeing as how my two littles can’t seem to make any type of good decision lately, this is completely plausible.

I found that when we were out pre Covid that I would always be very aware of my surroundings. I made sure that I knew where an exit was ‘just in case.’ Now Covid has sent me into another spiral of worst case scenarios. Just 2 years ago I rang in the New Year in the PICU with my littlest on oxygen. I know what it’s like being scared my child couldn’t breathe and I know I don’t want to go back to that.

So maybe my hypervigilance is my super power. I don’t want a cape or bat signal to notify others of this, I have a hard enough time trying to keep my own family safe. However, if I’m around your kids, I will be watching them as if they are my own. It’s not because I don’t trust you as a parent, but rather some messed up part of my brain thinks I can save you from the same fate. Maybe I just don’t want anyone to have to go through what we’ve been through.

A huge part of doing this for me is knowing that I feel like I have done everything in my power to prevent something bad from happening. I think I’d like to be able to tell myself with confidence that it wasn’t my fault. Because child loss is so tangled in guilt and self doubt. This ridiculous anxiety is my way of trying to counteract that.

Rationally, I know all of this is crazy. But so is grief and death and trauma. I don’t think imagining worst case scenarios is a healthy use of my time, however it’s now a part of who I am, like PTSD is. And I have managed to learn how to live with it so it doesn’t totally consume who I am. Today. Tomorrow may be different. If I’ve learned anything on this journey, it’s to never expect to ever be perfectly ‘healed’ or ‘over it.’ That simply doesn’t exist when you’ve lost a child. It’s all in learning to live with it.

What’s Your Word?

I have decided that I need something to hold onto this year. Last year was a stunning disaster of epic proportions and this year hasn’t exactly started off so great. I’m tired of waiting for the world to get it’s shit together enough so that I can breathe.

Grace is the word that I will be taking with me on this journey into 2021. Grace is what I will be holding, for yours truly and others. I need to learn to forgive me and not be so hard on myself. I also need to learn to hold grace for others.

I’ve been home with my children since March. We’ve spent a considerable amount of time together. And I’ve begun to notice that my 12 year old daughter has more love and respect for herself than I do at 40. She is unwavering in her view of herself and I have never been more proud. It is easy for her to make a decision and she is guided so effortlessly by her moral compass. She has compassion for herself and others and almost always seems to make the right decision. I am jealous.

I would give anything to be as self possessed and confident as this child is. I come off as tough because I had very little choice in that department. And maybe tough is construed as confident, yet I feel anything but. I am constantly second guessing myself and how I interact with others. It is absolutely exhausting.

I feel like at 40 I am flailing. It has been a very hard year with heavy choices. I feel as if grief has consumed me for so long, that it’s hard to know who I am anymore. What is left?

I’m feeling very confused about who I am. I think that’s a part of growing up and maybe that’s what this is. It’s hard to look at yourself and not feel recognizable.

2020 showed me that it’s time to begin paying attention to what is going on in the world. I need to be aware of what’s happening and begin to strengthen my convictions. I have 3 little people that need to be able to be a part of the solution, not the problem. But, before I can do that, I need to work on me. I need to figure out exactly what I want and need from this life.

I’ve gone around and around this in my brain and I think I need to fall back in love with myself. I need to learn to love not only my good parts, but the parts that don’t make me whole. I will never be who I want to be while grieving the loss of my parents and my son. And I need to learn to love that person anyway.

I need a little grace this year. What’s your word?

Our ‘ Best’

I’m not even sure I’m doing my ‘mediumest’ right now. After Benny died, it was all I could do to breathe and exist. It has been so hard to feel like this again. I’m trying with all of my might to hold all of the pieces together tightly.

So I will take whatever I can get out of myself right now, day in and day out. This last week has all but gutted me. And I know that I am not alone in this. Sometimes there is just too much going on and all you can do is ‘try your best.’

I’m going to start by trying for my ‘lowest’ and hopefully work my way up from there.

2021

The 2010 decade sucked for me. I felt like the 2020’s were going to be my time! I’m a January baby and in 2020 I turned 40. I figured this was it! I was going to rule this decade!

So, we all know what happened there🙄. I don’t really want to claim anything in 2021. I’ll just be happy to put 2020 behind me and take a nice deep breath and hope that 2021 will surprise me. In a good way.

I am holding onto hope. I’m hoping that love wins out in 2021 and the world looks more like the world that we knew in 2013 when Benny died. When people were good and kind and caring.

I hope that the loss that happened in 2020 isn’t overshadowed by the political BS occurring daily. Remember when September 11th happened and we were shocked and horrified as a nation? We are seeing September 11th level death daily. It makes me so sad. To be complacent in others suffering instead of coming together to try to help is not ok. We need to get back to that mindset of holding space for each other and caring.

It has been a really, really tough year. I have been challenged as a mother, wife and business owner like no other time in my life. Maybe except for 2017 when we were homeless (because we sold our home and the housing market was nuts) with a 2 week old baby and just bought a business. But the challenges this year have been different. I’ve felt so out of control and anxious. I’m exhausted. I’m trying the best that I can to make the right decisions for my family (whatever those are) and trudge forward. But my god it is hard.

I’m working on self acceptance. I’m relearning to like myself and trying to show myself a little grace. 2020 has given me ample time to think and reconnect with me. It’s a process.

So there will be no big New Year celebration. I’d be surprised if we all make it to midnight. And that’s ok. I’ll be holding my breath for 2021 and hoping against hope that it’s a little bit kinder to us all. Because I can’t be the only one that needs a break.

12 Days of Memories: Day 12

I’m going to be honest here, I have no idea how to close this out. I am exhausted by Covid, the holidays, all of it. So I’m going to give myself a little grace.

I had all of these grand plans when I started this little holiday journey. But I’ve honestly forgotten half of what I planned and winged it. Sometimes that works better for me anyway, it allows me to be more honest to myself about what I’m truly feeling.

Right now I am tired. As far as Christmas Eves go, today was pretty stellar. My kids had fun, we ate a ton of food and we got to connect with family I haven’t spent time with in years (thank you Zoom). But I found myself tearing up all day. I missed my Mom. I missed my Dad. I missed my son.

I know this holiday season is tough. Even for those of us that are years out in our grief. Grieve however you need to right now. Do what feels right to you. Give yourself a little grace. ❤️

12 Days of Memories-Day 11

I miss my son. I’ve made that pretty clear. I miss everything about him. But I miss ‘me’ too.

I miss being able to parent without feeling like something is going to go wrong every second. I miss my ability to make decisions and not second guess myself. I miss not being paranoid over every little thing. I miss me.

12 Days of Memories-Day 10

It’s amazing to me how inanimate objects can hold memories. I can see something and it automatically sets off my grief without warning. It’s like a slap in the face.

I just spent the morning cleaning up and as I was vacuuming I was noticing all of the things that scream ‘Benny’ to me. Anyone coming into my house would have no idea, but I look at these items and I think of him. They weren’t his items, but something that I’ve connected to him since his death.

Peace Lilly from Benny’s Memorial
Spaceman Benny from the Lego movie
Any bus

Grief is weird. It changes how you see things. It’s like you have a permanent set of glasses glued to your face that can never come off. And if I’m being honest, I wouldn’t want them to come off. I’m able to see hope and love in the mundane.

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