Benny’s Bunch

14 - 1

What started out last year as a ‘last minute 5k’ for the Greg Hill Foundation has grown into something else.  To quote my friend Erin, “Amazing how less than two years old and he has the power to gather the masses. An incredible day to honor and cherish Benny.”

This year we had over 50 people walking/running last Saturday, it was incredible!  We were easily the largest team to participate in the event.  Watching the sea of Benny shirts on the route was inspiring.  To know that this many people turned out to support our little guy and our family.  We had folks traveling from CT and NH just to walk with us.  There was so much love in that crowd.

Santa was there as well as cookies, candy and carolers to keep us moving.  This year it was a balmy 35 out, so we didn’t freeze!  Afterwards we went over to 29 Sudbury to carb up great food and free beer while we listened to the live entertainment and watched the kiddos run around.

People sent in donations for us to drop off as well and we were able to turn over an additional $120 to the foundation.  It was an incredible day and an incredible feeling to be surrounded by that much love.  Thank you once again Benny’s Bunchers!!  Thank you GHF for all that do to support local families and bring us some hope during our darkest hours!!

14 - 1 (1) 14 - 1 (2)

Day 30 – Intention

After the accident happened, I knew that I needed to do something, anything, in Benny’s name. While I’m still trying to vet exactly what that is, I intend to give of myself in honor of Benny’s life. He lived and even though it was short, he was here and he was mine. My intention is to try to better other grieving parents/childrens lives, be it though a non-profit or just simply reaching out. No one should have to bury a child alone.

I’ve been toying with the idea of starting up ‘Benny’s Bunnch’ as a parent/child grief resource. I know that there are groups out there such as Compassionate Friends, but I’m looking at something more than a grief group. I think back to the hospital sending us home with tons of paperwork with terrifying statistics. There was no follow up whatsoever and no guidance. We are just lucky that we have social workers in our family that were able to push us in the right direction. We got help almost immediately. I have met several other people on this journey that haven’t had this type of support and perhaps would have benefited from it. I haven’t yet figured out what form this should take or a time frame. I just know that I want to help others. This process is much easier when you don’t feel alone. I’ve been surrounded by other moms that have helped to guide me. It’s time to return the favor.
IMG_4282

Day 17 – Explore

Today we are supposed to be exploring our grief journey, to try to figure where we are and where we’re headed. These are some very difficult questions to answer.

Am I stuck? Some days more than others. There are times that I feel like I’m in the same place that I was a year ago. At my worst moments it truly feels that no time has passed. It feels as awful as it was the moment the car hit us, hit Benny. That feeling like I’m watching a movie, because this truly couldn’t have happened to us doesn’t happen as often now though. It’s a little more real, now that we’ve lived almost an entire year with the little guy.

I haven’t really thought about the last year until recently. It struck me one day that I hadn’t actually worked in a year. This was a tough pill to swallow as we normally had reviews in November and let’s face it, most of us measure our ‘worth’ by how we’re doing at work, how much money we are being paid. If we were being reviewed by our children or our spouses, how differently would you live your life? How little would that salary matter?

So I took a close look at where we all are today as opposed to 11 months ago. This is now how I measure my ‘worth.’ Were we healing? Were we dealing?

We are all still in therapy. Parker goes bi-weekly and I still go weekly and now have another therapist to the list as mandated by my disability insurance, but that’s a story for another time. I was told that Darcy is doing great, and is well adjusted. She now sees her therapist monthly. I wish that adults were as resilient as children.

Parker and I try to attend a grief group monthly. It’s a way to check in with ourselves and other parents in our situation.

Parker is back at work full time, even hiring new employees. He’s busier than he’s ever been with guaranteed work for years to come. He’s happy there, he’s more focused than he’s been in awhile. He has his moments, probably more than I do.

I do all sorts of things with my time on the good days. I walk, do yoga, garden, started canning and of course the house projects. I still find that it feels best when we are giving back to others or connecting with others in our situation.

But these are all external ways that we are healing. Honestly, I’m angry a lot of the time, over stupid things. I understand that Benny’s gone, but I will never accept it. I’m hopeful that there are great things in our future, I have to be. I saw what amazing things came into my life after my mom died. I truly believe that there is hope, even after all we’ve been through. I no longer believe that ‘everything happens for a reason,’ because if I did, then that would mean there is a reason that Benny died and that can’t be true.

I don’t where we’re at really. I do know that we’re in a much better place than we were 11 months ago. We laugh, we enjoy doing things as a family and we love each other unconditionally. I think it’s a good first step.

IMG_7269

Day 8 – Resource

Today I’m to focus on resource, what has helped me along the way in my grief journey.  Goodness, where to even begin with this one…

People.  Many, many people have done amazing things for us.  I can write lists and lists of names, we would be here forever.

My friends, I do not know what I would do without your love and support (TARA!!!!).  Those of you that have stood by us and put us first, there are no words besides thank you.  After the accident it was like they swept in and took control of everything.  They took care of us.  You, that still read everything that I write, you’re the ones.  You amaze me with your patience with us and your love.

My family, there are some members that have just gone above and beyond.  You were there when I lost my mom and you have been there for me again.  I know this hasn’t been an easy journey, so thank you.

My co workers came in out in droves and spoiled the crap out of Darcy after the accident.  I really work with an incredible crew of people that truly care.  It’s a large, dysfunctional family.

Strangers, these people that are neighbors, or live across the state.  We didn’t know you before November 8th and now I cannot imagine my life without you.  You have stood by us, while others have walked away.  You have taken a stranger’s little boy into your heart.  Your love is so healing to us.

My fellow grieving moms, where would I be without them?  My Donna’s and my Sue’s that were strategically placed into our lives because of the accident.  How amazing is it that our sons brought us together when I needed it most.  Thank you Brian and Ryan.

Blogging has been a major resource for me.  What started as a very personal journal turned into something so much more.  I’m now part of a community of grieving mothers.  I’m connected with people that ‘get it,’ that speak the words that I often cannot.  There is so much kindness in this community, so much love, so much understanding and NO judgement.  I have met the strongest group of women.  I’m so thankful for their love and support.  I don’t know what else I would be doing at 1 AM without them.

The Greg Hill Foundation has had a major impact on our healing.  They may not be a grief resource necessarily, but being involved in an organization that gives so much back to the local community has helped us tremendously.

Our counselors, Kate and Annie.  Kate has worked with both Parker and I over the last 11 months.  She gets us, she’s our cheerleader.  She’s helped us to hold it together and work through our grief together (as much as we can).  She helps to be my voice of reason and is always quick to point out my accomplishments.  Annie has worked with Darcy since January and has been so instrumental at helping her to deal with her grief and be able to move forward.  She has worked closely with me and now Darcy is to a point where we see her only once a month!  This is a huge deal (not that Darcy is happy to lose her ‘Annie time.’).

We’ve been blessed in so many ways.  I do get very angry at the Universe, I feel that it’s taken a lot from my life.  When I’m able to take a step back though, it’s brought a lot of wonderful things into my life too.  This isn’t tit for tat, by any means, but it truly helps to be able to look at the positive every once in awhile and appreciate just a little all of the beautiful people that are a part of our lives.

DSC_0130

Consequently, I just noticed that my bib number for the Benny’s Bunch walk contained his birthday, out of order…5-17

Giving Thanks

Parker and I were asked to be interviewed for the Greg Hill Foundation’s upcoming thank you party on October 24th.  In it’s 4 years, the foundation has given back over $1 million to it’s beneficiaries.  It fills my heart that we are able to be a part of a group that is so involved in supporting the local community.

We went into Boston early this morning, not really knowing what to expect.  When we got there, it was somewhat of a reunion.  James, a fellow beneficiary, was there, who had donated money to us back in February and completely blown our minds.  We got to see Lindsay who helped give me the confidence to deliver my speech at the 1,350 days celebration.  Of course, we got to see Erin and Adam, who work so tirelessly for GHF.

This was the real deal.  We had hair and make-up (Parker LOVED that part), and then sat on camera with an interviewer answering questions about the foundation.  It’s nerve racking sitting in a silent studio with half a dozen other people, everyone staring at you.

We talked about the foundation, what it’s meant to us.  We thanked our donors and the foundation.  Of course, now I’ve come up with at least a million other things that I want to say, but I hope that our message came across – this foundation gave us hope when there was little in our lives.  These people reached into their wallets and their hearts and gave of themselves.  They have helped us to manage through the last awful year of our lives.  We lost our son, but we’ve gained a family.

Camera Ready!
Camera Ready!

Day 6 – Books

I have not been able to read any books on grieving or grief, or child loss.  The thought of reading an edited version of peoples feelings just doesn’t appeal to me.  Perhaps it makes it too real, puts my loss into a category that I’m not yet prepared to face.

I read blogs, lot’s of them.  I’ve connected with many other moms that have walked in my shoes.  I could spend days reading through how they have dealt with different situations.  I have ‘met’ many other moms in my journey, women that bear the same scars as I.  I have entered a community of women that have held my hand and understand what I am going through.

When I began blogging, it was a way for me to let things out, I had never intended to actually share any of it.  When I finally did, it felt freeing.  In those first days, I started to receive comments and likes from other moms.  This opened my eyes to this whole group of women and men who were going through what we’ve been through.  All of a sudden, I wasn’t alone in my anger, my sorrow.  It was ‘ok’ to feel how I was feeling.  It was amazing reading how eloquently others could put my feelings into words.

So, in the wake of Benny’s death, books are out.  I’ve tried reading some novels just for fun, but I have a hard time focusing and most of the time I’m not able to finish them.  Instead I spend hours reading through grief blogs, soaking up other’s experiences and advice.  The connection that I feel to these people has helped me in so many ways.  I honestly feel lucky to have this in my life, which is ironic, because if you asked me, I would say that luck left our lives a long time ago.  Thank you to my fellow bloggers.

Kindness

I haven’t written a lot.  I’ve been in a weird place.  Things have happened that I’m not ready to talk about yet.  Let’s just say that I’m done with the Universe…for the moment.  We’re no longer friends.

But I digress, because today is a good day.

images (1)

We have been blown away by the continued love and support of our friends and family.  They have grieved alongside us and helped us to heal.  They are missing Bennett as much as we are, yet they have continued to put us first.  These people show up, hold our hands and hearts as we continue to muddle through this year.  There has been so much love.

Today my heart is so filled with the love of people that were mere strangers before November 8th last year.  These people stepped forward and made it their mission to put a smile back on our faces.  They donated their time and resources to make our lives better in whatever way they could.  We’re overwhelmed by their love.

Today is a good one, in a sea of loss.  Today I am able to look at our lives and appreciate all that we have and smile.  Thank you for that, all of you that made today possible.

Benny’s Garden

After the accident, Parker had these grand ideas about creating a garden/zen like space somewhere in our yard. If you don’t know my yard, it’s the kind where wild things grow, where nature takes over and landscaping is a battle. When we bought our house some ten years ago, the yard was so overgrown you could barely see the front of the house. I remember walking through the backyard and feeling like I was in the book ‘The Secret Garden.’

For years we’ve tried our best to tame our wild things. For years we’ve also tried our hand at a vegetable garden to no avail. We tried to grow them in pots from seeds, than seedlings with no success. This year I figured that if my soil could produce such beautiful flowers and an abundance of weeds, logically it would be the best place to grow our vegetables.

Parker borrowed a rototiller and built raised beds. Darcy and I had planted seeds back in March and some of those we were able to transplant, but most of them didn’t make it. We had tried sunflowers, but they also were sun fried and wilted. So while Parker was on the Great Race we planted cucumbers, peppers, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, strawberries, squash, corn, pumpkin and beans from seedlings. I really had no clue if this would work or what would grow, so Darcy and I planted a little bit of everything. We put up some netting, watered nightly and sat back and watched the garden bloom! It finally worked!

Darcy and I began calling this our ‘Benny Garden.’ I hung my wind chimes out on a tree nearby and bought a large metal sunflower and hung it on the fence. We moved our ‘Benny light’ that was given to us by a stranger from the roadside memorial and put a little picket fence complete with pinwheels, Benny’s favorite.

At the same time we bought the seedlings, we bought more sunflowers and tried again to grow them in pots. I eventually moved the pots over to the vegetable garden and was excited when the sunflowers actually began to grow! What was even more exciting were the sunflowers that were mysteriously growing in both raised beds. The only ones that we had planted were in the pots and now 10+ sunflowers have started to sprout up everywhere in the beds inexplicably. Perhaps inexplicably isn’t the right word. Once again, my little man’s work.

Just when I feel like I haven’t gotten a sign in awhile, something so concrete happens. People say that it’s happening because we are open to it, but I would say it would be hard to miss what’s happened in the last 9 months.