Friday, May 19, 2017

A Moment of Pause


Sometimes you just need to write.
Slow the train down.
Even when you're a teacher with less than 20 days left in the school year and a million things on your plate left to do.

I don't know if it was because I went to our monthly HUGS meeting tonight.
(Healing and Understanding Grief Support)

I don't know if it's because I learned of another sweet baby who has gone to heaven (unrelated to HUGS).

I don't know if it's because I shared Andrew's story and in doing that~ and talking~ things just pour out and your mind starts to wander and you just feel like you want to share him.

So I did there.
And now I'm doing it here.

A couple weeks ago I was angry with Andrew again. There have been two boys that were picking on his brother. Jonasen of course shrugged it off but I know him. His sensitive heart. His quiet. He wanted to shrug it off but I couldn't. I wanted someone to do something. Andrew should have been there. But he wasn't and it made me angry.

After this had been going on for some time, I finally told someone at the school what was going on. I got Joe's permission of course and we came up with some solutions... maybe moving seats- working on a schedule without them in his classes for next year. Though I asked that person not to talk to the boys, they did because they said they couldn't just let it go (they have a fondness for our quiet Joe too~ as have most who have gotten to know him).  I wanted someone to talk to the boys but I also worried about the repercussions.  I know how cruel 13 year olds can be~ and Joe is an easy target. He's comfortable blending~ being invisible~ he still walks with his shoulders bent and eyes down. Being an artist, musician and runner also make him somewhat of a target with the rowdy, athletic, middle school boy.

When this person spoke to the boys, one of them was in tears. When I heard this I was (not) secretly happy. When Joe was asked if he wanted to know which person was in tears, he told the school person (and later he told me) that he didn't. "Well, I want them to stop but I don't want them to feel bad. I don't want to know that someone else is feeling bad about this. I just wish it would stop."

And in that moment I learned that my 13 year old is much more kind and full of grace than his dear old mom ever has been or ever will be.

Wow.

I thought to myself~ who is like that?? And as I was telling this story at our meeting I felt like my question was answered. That light bulb went on and I knew.

Jonasen.

My Grandpa Jonasen~ whose only son was killed in a car accident at age 27. Who was an incredible musician~ A quiet and sensitive soul~ Who (though an incredibly talented jazz musician) told me once he stopped playing in the bars because he worried that someone would come to see him play and perhaps have too much to drink and he didn't want to be the reason for someone else's pain.

I remember telling THAT story for years and thinking, "Who thinks like that?"
No one.
But my Grandpa Jonasen.
And now my son, Jonasen.

And as I spoke and uncovered what I was feeling and what I was thinking I had to give the back-story to the group and I'll do that again now here (for anyone who may be curious...).

When I was pregnant, we had to come up with 8 names~ firsts and middles for 2 boys or 2 girls. Truth be told the boy names were easy to us. Our first born would always be Jonasen. To carry on the name of my Papa and one of my best friends. It was a last name but I didn't care- we could call him Jonah or Jonas or Joey. My husband had chosen the name Andrew. He LOVED the name Andrew and imagined them talking about "Drew" over the speaker at sporting games. It sounded so good with our last name.

And so when our boys were born~ we had a problem...

Our firstborn was supposed to be Jonasen.
Our firstborn was dead.
Jonasen was supposed to carry on the name.

And so I remember saying to my husband... What do we do? Jonasen is dead. He looked at me, tears streaking his face and said pointing to our second son, "That's Jonasen." Pointing to our first son he said, "That's Andrew." I was heartbroken~ the name he wanted. I pleaded with him... we could name him something else!!!! But even though I said it, I knew his name. "That's Andrew."
Those were the last words my husband spoke for a long, long time- Too suffocated with grief- unable to speak anything beyond his boys' names.


My sweet sensitive soul. My precious, musical Jonasen had a rough go lately and all I kept thinking was~ if ONLY he had someone to stand up to those little punks! If only HE would stand up to those little punks! But that's not how a musical, artistic, old-soul works. That's not how a Jonasen works. They reflect. They ponder. They wait...

I was angry. Andrew could have stood up for his brother. He WOULD have.

And that's when I got to thinking... perhaps we never chose their name at all. Perhaps their names chose them. My sweet sensitive soul is meant to be in this world making it a kinder and nicer place. Andrew (who would have kicked those kids' asses... perhaps) was meant to cheer on his brother from another place. Perhaps he moved the pieces in his own way... played the game.

Perhaps he was the play maker who got to heaven and said, "God. My little brother- he needs to stay. I'm going to take this one for the team. Get him out!" Maybe that's the reason God "put me in her head" that day she called me to be induced just hours after he went to heaven (though none of us were aware at the time). Perhaps he knew (like the doctors did when they were delivered) that HAD we waited that extra week as planned, Jonasen wouldn't have made it either.

Perhaps he was the play maker who told the person at school. You need to stand up for my brother because I can't do it from here but you can. Make them know. Have his back. Do what needs to be done. And he did.

Those boys have been quiet.
They've left Jonasen alone without so much as a sideways glance.

I don't know if any of this is actual truth.
But it's my truth.

Bullies suck.
But having a twin brother whose got your back (no matter where they are) is a pretty kick-ass thing.

I'm not mad anymore, Drew. I love you! Your brother is one pretty amazing 13 year old!
And so are you!

~ Mom

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Hug

My Joey on the right with my best friend's rainbow.

It still happens.
There are still moments when I hold my breath-
close my eyes-
and can't believe I've come this far.

Jonasen is now 13. He's taller than I am and his voice has deepened.
He's still soft-spoken.
Reflective.
Thoughtful.
He's still a child that seems to find me when I need him~
Just like his brother.

I remember that moment when he was not even a year old~
Andrew's ashes had arrived and when I got them I crumbled.
Sank to the floor.
So deep in my grief and cries that I didn't think I could get out~
But there he was-
He had heard me- 
Crawled over to me- 
His head on me as I cried.
I remember gathering him in my arms-
my lifeline.

Tonight I was thinking of Andrew as I often do.
No longer in that deep grief but a quiet wondering.
I was thinking of him.
And also of his brother Joe-
My twins.
Thinking of how proud I am of Joe and I have to think his brother must be too.
I was just standing there in the kitchen.
Thinking.
Joe came to me (as he sometimes does)
with that single word, (he sometimes says)
"Hug."
And took me in his arms~
my head now resting on his shoulder.

There are still moments when I hold my breath-
Close my eyes-
and can't believe I've come this far.

But I have.
We have.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Because of Andrew


September.
I have lived 13 years without Andrew.
But I have lived 13 years WITH Andrew.

I've yelled at him.
I've screamed at him.
I'm whispered for him.
I've talked to him.
I've loved him.
I've held him here~ just below the skin~ where no one can see 
but I can't forget.


The odd thing about losing a child is- you don't really lose them- they are there~ always~
13 years and I don't talk about Andrew as much as I used to.
Sure~ he comes up occasionally in our house (more than you'd think).
I still attend monthly support group meetings.
I still think of him EVERY day
though I don't always tell everyone about him (like I used to).


But today marks the first day of September.
It's a time I remember him and celebrate him and the friendships he's brought me~
The COUNTLESS lessons he's taught me.
I have lived 13 years without him AND with him. 
I am me
Because of Andrew.

Because of Andrew, I am kinder.
Because of Andrew, I am more patient.
Because of Andrew, I am more forgiving.
Because of Andrew, I am more empathetic.
Because of Andrew, I am more loving.
Because of Andrew, I am more faithful.
Because of Andrew, I am happy.
Happy??
Happy!!
Because Andrew is part of my story. 
He is my first born son. 
He is the one I find myself talking to in the night. 
The one I have sometimes yelled at, screamed at, whispered to but
Always
loved.
And I always will. 

We are all changed by people who come into our lives.
Our family. Our teachers. Our friends.
But what you may not know is you can be changed by someone who never lived.
Maybe today you can be changed by MY son and HIS story.
Maybe today you can think about those little blessings in life that we so often take for granted~
A smile. A compliment. A kind act.
Pause and think about them because of Andrew.

When I didn't think I could make it through the day~ those moments where Andrew was right there under every. single. thought~ it was often those little blessings that gave me pause. Allowed me to exhale and get through.

So today I would like to ask you a favor~
Because of Andrew.

On September 15th, his 13th birthday, can you thank those people who did those small acts for me? Those people who changed my day with a small act of kindness.
Something little that suddenly made me think...
Maybe today isn't going to be so bad after all~

Do it Because of Andrew.
You could bring diapers to a shelter, a toy for a child in the hospital, coffee for a coworker or maybe even a stranger. Leave flowers on someones car. Write a letter to someone you're thinking about. Pick up someone else's tab. Let someone merge into traffic. Smile at as many people as you can!
Because of Andrew.

I think Andrew's biggest gift to the world has been how he grew my heart and let me share that love.
What a gift it would be to him (and to me) to share his gift with someone else.
Because of Andrew.

Thursday, October 22, 2015

What I wish I could tell you...


My Sweet C,

I wish I could tell you that I miss your smile.  
That every time I wake up in the morning, I tiptoe by your room and whisper a silent prayer that today will be the day.  Today you will see your value and find your strength.

I wish I could tell you that it hurts me.
Hearing that you feel sad and that I can't take that away pains me.  To see tears roll down your face and hear you apologize for worrying me hurts me because I can't make it better but I would give anything to be able to.

I wish I could tell you feelings aren't right or wrong, they simply are.
Please don't ever mask your feelings for me because I want to know.  Sharing the weight on your shoulders helps (you AND me).

I wish I could tell you I know this is BIG.
Friendships are important.  They are important through life and learning that someone is not your friend or is not the person you thought they were is hard at any age.  Clarity can hurt but it can also help you see better things ahead.

I wish I could tell you I'm sorry.
Searching my brain for words that will somehow help you is exhausting and frustrating because I am failing miserably.  I sometimes say things I don't want to and I wish I could take back.   To be better is something I'll keep striving for.  I feel like I'm failing miserably and I'm sorry for that.

I wish I could tell you that it will be OK.
Because I know it will.  There have been times when I was 8, 10, 12, 16, 20, 24 and 27 when I thought I would die.  I didn't think I'd make it through and somehow I took a breath in... and out... and in... and time gifted me wisdom. I know it will you too.

I wish I could tell you how beautiful you are.
I love your kind heart, the way you can weave a beautiful story with your words.  I love watching you dance and being able to feel your emotion by just watching you.  I love seeing how effortless you make soccer look and noticing you try to suppress a smile when you score.  I love your quiet observations and your loud laugh.  Everything sweet and flawed about you is perfection to me. It makes you, YOU!

I wish I could tell you it's important to fail.
Not scoring well on a test, forgetting a dance step or falling down in front of everyone will not break you.  It will grow you.  You will be smarter, dance stronger and walk taller than you ever would have imagined.

I wish I could tell you that failing does hurt.
But being able to pick yourself up off the floor will help you see the world from a different view and an important one.  You will see others through an empathetic lens.  A lens I wish the world could look through.

I wish I could tell you I love you more than you will ever know and that you'd understand.
I don't know that this will ever be possible but I'll keep telling you anyway.

I wish I could lead you down every right road and safe path...
But then I would be doing you a great disservice.  For I know that it is in times like these that we truly discover WHO we are and how amazingly strong we are.
You will get through this and I will be here waiting.

Oh how I wish I could tell you how I miss your smile.  Your laugh. Your care-free ways.
But I know that life is a complicated place and you're finding your way.  

I wish I could tell you I'm always with you, because I am.  Part of me is always in you and part of you is always in me.  We are linked forever.

I won't be able to tell you these things until you're back.  Until I see that sparkle again and we can look back on this time, smile through shared tears, and know we made it.

And then I will brace myself for the next time and pray (like I am now) that you'll come out of it a strong and even more amazing person!

Life is hard. Life is beautiful.

Your flawed but trying,
~Mom

Sunday, October 4, 2015

It's not easy...



A little warning that this post is about one of my rainbows and if your loss is fresh, please don't read this post.  I know after you lose a child the last thing you may want to read is about how someone WITH a child is having a difficult time.  I also know though that sometimes we (the Secret Society) give a little leeway when it comes to a Rainbow or a mom who gets loss because she's walked these shoes.

My first Rainbow has been having a tough time lately.  It (what she's going through) has been running through my mind so often that it has been difficult to sleep or focus on other things that need my attention.  I've been looking back at my parenting to see what it is I could have done to have this happen.  Reminds me of when Andrew and E died... how could I have done this... What could I have done differently.

My daughter has been suffering from some pretty major anxiety.  I'm not quite sure where it has come from or why, but what I am now certain of is that she's going to be OK.  I don't know when, but I'm certain of it.  I have that hope.  I have that truth.

My daughter loves to write (imagine that) and I feel has been so strong because she's perhaps learned a lesson that takes most of us (me included) a lot longer to figure out.  When you ask for help or tell someone what you're going through a little of the weight you're carrying gets shared and the journey become bearable.  She has been able to write about her feelings and while I don't like hearing how she feels that she will be "swept away in a hurricane of tears," I am glad that she did share that with me. I have felt that way.  None of these feelings is unique to one person... in fact, when you start talking, you realize that we're more the same than we are different.

Taking her lead of sharing, I have sought out my own weight carriers.  The members of the Secret Society who walked with me ~carried me even sometimes~ when I couldn't go it alone.  I shared and realized that I am not alone in this... my child is not alone in this... There are many who are sitting alone wondering where. how. when. why.

I feel like that happened today.  I shared our story and my friends shared theirs and somehow this weight we've been carrying just got lighter.  My time is now.  Her time is now.  It's not easy but nothing worth having ever has been.  I'm getting up.  We're putting one foot in front of the other. We'll get there.

Together.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

I Can Only Imagine


Andrew~

As we get closer to that day, I can feel it coming.
That aching, paralyzing pain that comes with the knowledge that you're not here.
And I wish you were.

It would have been a big year for you, starting middle school and I can't help but wonder what you would have wanted to do?  Band? Sports? Drama? Art?

A week ago, Joe started middle school.  
The night before he was up in the night because he felt sick.  After some talking, he admitted that perhaps it was just a little nerves not knowing what to expect.  I wrapped him in my arms (which felt so good) and told him he'd be just fine and I wanted to believe it, but I was so angry with you.
I was so angry you died.  How nice it would have been for him to have someone to go with. Someone who felt his same nerves~ Someone who could reassure him (other than mom) that it was going to be just fine.  I tried to imagine how it would have been...  How it could have been...
Eventually he felt better and drifted off to sleep,
but my mind was all over the place with worry... Could he get his locker open again? Would he find his classes?  Would he make friends?
I felt sick.
And angry.

And then I took a moment to pause.  A moment to breathe.  I always think about you but especially in September.  I remember that day when you were born and somehow I knew you were there and I felt that perfect indescribable peace. You and God.  It was so real.  So right there I still feel like I can reach out and touch it.  I did all I could to close my eyes and imagine. To be back there.  In that room.  Almost 12 years ago.
Somehow I knew it would be OK.
And it was.

I have a feeling you were with him.
He had an amazing day.
Thank you my sweet, sweet, boy
& happy (almost) 12th Birthday.
I sure miss you more than you will ever, ever know.

All my love,
Mom

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Truth about MY C-Section

Photo credit to Andrew's twin

So there has been this post that I have seen popping up on my facebook page, The 3 truths about C-Sections.  I've been so busy (gosh, I haven't written here since forever) but it got me to thinking.
And thinking.
And thinking...
About mine.

Well I finally read the post.  It was very nice.
1. C-Section mamas are brave
2. C-Section mamas are strong
3. C-Section mamas are beautiful

Ok.  I'm lying right now.  I read the three bolded numbered headlines that I listed for you above but I skipped the nice writing in between.  I assume it is nice (and promise to go back to read it) but again- those three points got me thinking.
And thinking...
And thinking...
About me.

1. C-Section mamas are brave.
Well, my truth be told, I didn't have a choice. I was just going in to be induced when suddenly I was being poked and prodded~ my limbs moving violently (without me commanding them to). I was taken to a room without my husband where I hugged someone I had never met, felt a poke in my back and my entire body went numb. Was I brave really? Did I have some sort of choice?

2. C-Section mamas are strong.
Well, my truth be told, I felt very weak.  A failure really. Sure I had carried my babies to 39 weeks but I couldn't deliver (excuse the pun). I didn't get the opportunity to even feel what a contraction was and whenever I say that part of my story I hear, "Oh, you're not missing anything, trust me!" I really hate that. Because I DID/do feel like I missed something. I didn't feel strong.  I felt like my body had failed me.  That I certainly had failed my boys. And when they told me to get out of bed that first time after surgery, I really thought I would die. Maybe 20 steps is all I took but I felt each and every one of them was going to be my last. Was I strong really? 

3. C-Section mamas are beautiful.
Beautiful is not a word I would have used to describe myself after having had my first c-section, though I certainly wouldn't have known it because I don't recall really looking in a mirror much and when I did, I didn't know who was looking back at me.  She was someone new and foreign and I wasn't sure if I was going to like her much.  I was VERY angry with her. She killed my son. She should have known better.
She failed! Beautiful??? Hardly...

Sigh.

But now I'm a dozen years out (almost anyway- wow)
And maybe I can see it the author's way...
These things take time, but time I have had~

1. C-Sections mamas are brave.
When I went into that hospital to deliver two babies, they/he told me they had both died. I am not someone to question a doctor or any authority (ok~ so I don't like to rock boats), but I did. I questioned that (a-hem) man and because of it, he found out that one of my babies WAS alive. Had I not been brave enough to tell him, would I have labored?  Would my Jonasen had died during delivery because like his brother, he too was wrapped up in cord? MY doctor had said herself had we gone that extra week he wouldn't have been here.
Hell yes, I was brave!

2. C-Section mamas are strong.
Those 20 steps?  I made them. And I took many, many more in new shoes. Shoes I HATED that I had to wear! Shoes that took me to places I didn't know existed- other people's places and stories and sorrow. I still walk those shoes to meet new people each month.  To learn of their strength. To let them know that while they may not feel it yet, they are strong~ I'm comfortable now in my new shoes.
Hell yes, I am strong!

3. C-Section mamas are beautiful.
I've looked in that mirror so much since that first September when I was born (the new me).
I went from hating the woman who killed my son, to thanking her.  
Thanking her for being so damn brave~ being the strongest person I know. 
And yes... maybe even beautiful... scar and all!

As usual with this blog, I turn on my computer, sip some wine and never know where my therapy writing will take me.  I think that for me, my c-sections weren't JUST a way of delivering new babies, they were a way of delivering a new me.
Brave. Strong. Beautiful

And now I'm off to go and read that article!
Hugs,
L