Every day that I’m at the shop, I’m reminded of our little guy. Benny was a tinkerer and wanted to be in the cars and around the cars. He once went into our office and grabbed a random set of keys and asked to go into one of the cars, where he tried said keys in the ignition. Clearly it didn’t work, but we were taken aback by this one year old child who understood how to start a vehicle.
He was always listening. Even when you thought he wasn’t paying attention, he was. It blew me away. He picked up on everything. He also had a big sister he was always trying to keep up with. I miss watching his little brain process things.
2020 is really hard. Grief in 2020 is really hard. Parenting in 2020 is really hard. Parenting a dead child in 2020 is really hard.
So I decided to do 12 Days of Memories leading up to Christmas. Maybe it will make this final stretch into the holidays easier. Maybe it will make it harder. I have no idea. I just know that my grief needs some acknowledgement this year.
Day 1-Tonight was Compassionate Friends Candlighting for all of the Children lost too soon. What a perfect place to start. We lit our candles for Benny and all the other children I know whose parents miss them.
A wave of light seems like the perfect way to kick this off. Benny only celebrated one birthday. When I think of all of the candles that he missed blowing out over the years, it’s like a punch to the gut. We still still sing to him every year and celebrate his life. But it’s so damn hard. It’s hard to celebrate the life that you carried for nine months and all of the hopes and dreams that you had for them. It’s hard to realize that you only have the past and the memories to hold onto. A flame that shone so bright and was burnt out too soon.
April 10th is Siblings Day. Everyone posts pictures on social media of their siblings or children. I took a picture of my 3 while we waited in the car at the vet for the dog and all I saw was the missing piece. Another day that is just so hard after losing a child.
I came across this article and after reading it, felt a little lighter. Because just like Mother’s Day, Siblings Day was actually started from loss. A woman that lost her sister created the day on her sister’s birthday to memorialize her. My heart breaks for those have lost their siblings, their first friends.
I’ve been lucky in that sibling loss is about the only loss that I haven’t had to face. I’ve been lucky because I have my older sister. We have different mom’s, but you would never know, because we have more in common with each other than most would with an 11 year age gap.
She’s my person. She’s my go to for most things in life. Not only because she’s my sister, but also because she stepped up when my mom died when I was 16. She was the one who took me to visit colleges when I was a senior. She was the one that gave me my first credit card (and I’m sure promptly regretted it). My sister was the one who helped me to plan my wedding and spent countless hours with me when I had questions about my babies as a new mom. My sister was at the hospital when my son died and helped to plan his Memorial. She was there when my babies were born to help out at home with the other littles.
She didn’t have to do any of those things. We didn’t grow up together, we actually lived in different states. We didn’t get close until I was older, mostly due to the age gap. I am lucky. And I don’t think I have ever thanked her for everything that she has done. Because when I write it all out, it’s a lot. So thank you Deb. You are amazing. And I love you.
So it’s a new year and I’m scrolling through my Facebook feed loving all of the great New Year ‘intentions’ when a memory pops up. Hit me square in the gut. Or more likely, the heart.
I cannot believe that this was 8 years ago. How happy and carefree we were. How excited we were!
I can start a new year, a new decade, hell I could change my name and move to a new country and this would still be my reality. I would still have lost such a huge part of my heart the day my Benny died. Two steps forward and five steps back. Such is grief.
I just know now to roll with these sucker punches when they happen now. I smile and try to think of my little guy. I hug my babies a little tighter, smile at a stranger, make sure that the ones I love know it. There’s a calm in being able to control the few things that I can.
I don’t like the word ‘resolutions’ so, I will talk about intentions. This one about sums it up for me.
Happy New Year to my fellow loss friends. May this year be a good one for remembering our children.
I’m not sure anyone actually enjoys getting older. Tomorrow marks the beginning of another decade and on January 24th I will be entering my 40th year. I was born in 1980, so my birthday always coincides with the year. Each new decade, I am a decade older.
I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been dreading this until recently. How the hell am I that old?? It doesn’t seem possible. I look in the mirror confused by the same eyes that have looked back at me since I was a young girl. Sometimes it feels weird to be in my body. And then I look back at pictures and memories and I’m floored by how much I have done. And how much time has passed.
I always dreaded getting older. My mom died young at 49. The thought of losing everything scared me. Then my son died at 18 months and the term of dying young seemed relative. None of it makes sense.
About a year ago a fellow loss mama shared with me that she loves getting older. And I didn’t know what to say. I hadn’t ever thought of that attitude as an option. But now as I look back on the last decade, not only am I happy to be getting older, because of every day is a gift, I cannot wait until midnight.
Everything is numbers for me. And these last 10 years have SUCKED. I continue to feel like my 30’s weren’t so great, ok, they were awful. I am convinced that if I go into my 40’s with an open heart and mind, I may have a fighting chance.
No, there are no promises this decade won’t suck too. That’s ok. It just feels like I grew up. A lot. And maybe I can be better prepared for my 40’s to suck because I’m not only taking the sorrow with me, but the growth as well. And that’s something.
So Happy New Year. In this moment, I welcome my 40’s. We’ll see how I feel about it in 24 days.
A month and a half after Benny died it was Christmas. Instead of sending Christmas cards, I was sending thank you cards to amazingly generous people that had helped us out. The second year, I decided there was no way that I could ever send a Christmas card again. It felt weird without my entire family being involved. five years later, not much has changed for me.
My sister sent this to me today and man does this author speak to me. Maybe some day I will be ready to send out cards again, maybe not. That’s the funny thing about grief, everyone’s path is different.
Send the cards. Or dont. Just do whatever makes this season survivable. Sending love.