Thursday, September 1, 2016
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.
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
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
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,
Sunday, October 4, 2015
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.
Sunday, September 13, 2015
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 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,
Friday, April 24, 2015
|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.
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.
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...
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!
Tuesday, December 23, 2014
Such fond memories always.
My birthday is Christmas Eve and I remember each year on my birthday we would travel down to my Polish relatives in a suburb of Detroit. We'd sing on the way and admire all of the lights. We'd celebrate my birthday with my small (but huge-hearted) family. My brother, cousin and I would "tap-dance" on my Uncle Joe's linoleum bedroom floor and run throughout the small upstairs apartment that overlooked the world.
I'd get (what felt like) mountains of birthday presents (perhaps compensating because I had a birthday where all the other children would too be showered with gifts). Auntie would roll dollar bills for each birthday I had~ when I turned ten she didn't cheat by giving me a ten. She rolled up ten brand new crisp dollar bills.
They'd sing Sto Lat to me and we'd cut into a flowered cake from the bakery and then it would be "Christmas."
There's something about childhood Christmases.
They are so wrapped up in magic and warmth and family.
At least mine always were.
But so many years have passed since my early Christmas celebrations.
New traditions have started.
Most of the regular faces we saw each year are gone.
My Busia, My Great Uncle Joe, Great Auntie, Grandpa Jonasen~
But my Nana is still here.
What a survivor she has been!
Lived through the Great-Depression, her son's death in a car accident, the death of her first Great-Grandson and the death of her true love.
She doesn't know it, but I've watched her for so long. Admired everything about her! Her beautiful grace but mostly her ready smile and amazing laugh. Where most people my age are starting to see lines in the mirror and cringe, I remember from a young age smiling on purpose to get those lines like my Nana had... They showed she was happy. She laughed. They showed she walked with a big heart.
My Nan has dementia. Anyone who knows someone with that knows that it can be incredibly annoying, and sad, and at times... scary. Through that, she has kept that sense of humor, often telling us with a laugh, "I have a great memory... It's just short!"
Although her dementia at times has left me in tears like it did when I made THIS video, it seems the next day that smile is back and I find myself whispering 'thank you's' to heaven.
It's not her dementia that is changing this Christmas. It's her heart.
The big, beautiful heart.
My Nana has always been in amazing shape- though she's had heart problems before. We first figured this out when she was complaining of air quality on her walks and switching parks (I think she was in her 80s). A doctor's apt & major emergency surgery later... it was her heart.
Because of the marvels of modern medicine, that ticker of hers did not slow her down! She continued to walk and, for many years, even crawled on the floor with her Great-Grandchildren. We even shot nine holes of golf on her 90th birthday!
But 'running' down to the lake one day she landed awkwardly on a step and broke her hip- And while just a bone, something else seemed to break- though we didn't know it then. I feel like since that day, I've watched that strong, amazing woman change. Weaken.
But her heart was always so big. So strong.
Tonight she is spending her 8th consecutive night in the hospital.
It's her heart again.
She's sleeping a lot but has woken up to crack the occasional joke- and even answered my mom's cell phone when she was out of the room (I didn't know my Nan knew how to answer a cell phone- we both had a good laugh about that). But the last two days she's been really tired. Sleeping a lot.
Her big heart is working too hard.
It's my birthday tomorrow &
I just want her home.
Isn't that what we all want.
Those we love- those we miss-
As I sit here with my own heavy heart, I think of other friends who have lost children, parents, friends this year. Friends for whom, Christmas won't be like those Christmases past. Friends who would give anything to have them Home.
Thinking of you all this Christmas season and saying a little prayer. I know your Christmas is Changing. I pray that you find peace in it. That you find comfort that although they are not with you... perhaps they are~
Sunday, September 28, 2014
You may think that this post is about Andrew's recent birthday (ELEVEN!!), but it's not.
I chose to only write about that day in his journal- not here.
This post is about something that happened just last week- and when I heard the words "Unusual Peace" at church today, I couldn't help but be taken back to that moment. I realized it was time. To take a moment, pause and exhale (through my words).
You see, I am not someone without worry. In fact- I DO worry! I worry about things like money (although I don't really need to), my children's happiness, political changes that affect my job~
But when it comes to those serious things you think I SHOULD worry about~ I don't.
I have had an "Unusual Peace."
And I've had it twice now.
The first (obviously), I've mentioned many times before on here. The night I became a mother. The room was quiet. I knew he was gone and yet I had the strangest feeling of peace. That everything was going to be OK. I don't understand it now, I didn't really think about it then. But that's what it was.
An Unusual Peace.
So on to that second time~
Ironically, it started back on September 15th~ the eleventh birthday of my boys. As I do every year, I went to my OB and then I went for my first mammogram~ a baseline. It was no big deal and after I spent the afternoon in the garden, talking to Andrew, lighting his candles and watching his balloons soar as tears streamed down my face. But there was a peace. An understanding. When I look back at the entry in my journal, I wrote about the word "stay." I had heard it so many times on the radio that morning and it stuck with me. I had so wished him to stay but that afternoon I felt he had, he never really left me~ not really. An Unusual Peace.
But those moments surrounding Andrew have happened before. None like that first September 15th, but they have happened.
I got a call later in the week that I needed to come back for a second mammogram. While they told me the first time that they had gotten 'good' pictures and that I'd probably see them next year, they asked me to come back. I figured once they REALLY looked at the pictures perhaps they realized that something was blurry (or something). I have no history of breast cancer and I was checked a few years ago for something that turned out to be an inflamed milk duct.
When I went back, it was clear to me that their call was not about blurry pictures...
This time there were more pictures than my first time and when I was done (and the 'good' pictures were taken), instead of having me get dressed again, I was asked to sit back in the back waiting room in my gown. I watched as three other women who came after me, got dressed and left. I thumbed through magazines trying not to think about it~ but I was.
Another lady then came to get me and said they needed to do some ultrasounds.
I was right. This was certainly more than a 'blurry' picture.
I walked calmly to the dimmed room and watched the screen of blacks and grays emerge as she did my ultrasound. This was so different from ultrasounds I have had before- no blinking heartbeat or outline of a baby~ just an ocean of grey blotches-
At one point, she zoomed in and clicked a button on her machine that brought up a rectangle around a certain area. The screen lit up in color around where she had zoomed in and I piped up, "Is that showing blood flow? I seem to remember that from the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant." She let me know it was and that that was good. What she was looking at was a lymph node because the blood was present. I exhaled a bit and thought about that enlarged milk duct. How my breasts were amazing! They had fed four of my kids after all- kept them alive.
She did a similar thing to my left breast. I heard the click of the button but unlike the first time, the color was not present. I didn't really know what this meant. I had this feeling that this ultrasound was bad news, but I couldn't be sure. There was no denying the bad news when I saw Andrew or E- their chests silent~ but this... I didn't know what it was but I assumed it was bad.
She gave me some towels to wipe the gel and told me to lay back and take a little nap. She'd be back as soon as she spoke with the doctor. When I asked her if she would tell me if it was bad news, she said they absolutely would.
I watched her leave the room as I laid my head back on the table and let my eyes close. I tried to process everything that had just happened and what I felt was probably happening. They had found something.
Where I normally should have been crying or worried or scared~ I wasn't.
It had found me.
That Unusual Peace.
I remember lying in that same hospital. Staring at a ceiling and feeling it.
Laura, you're going to be OK. I got this.
I thought about Jeff, and the kids and that began to worry me, but then I heard it again. I felt it again.
That Unusual Peace.
I was quite calm as I thought about how I would tell my husband, my parents, my children.
I thought about who I would try to get to sub for me if I was too sick to teach.
I thought about what a strong lesson it would be for others.
Me~ I've already learned this lesson.
I talked to God.
I would think about my husband~ the kids~ and I still went back to that feeling. This was going to be OK. Bad things can have the happiest of endings. Andrew taught me that. These horrific things can grow you and change you and open your eyes to the most incredible of blessings.
I got this.
I sat and listened to the ticking of the clock and with each beat I felt it. Peace. I willed it to grow.
And it did.
The door opened and the ultrasound tech who had examined me said I was all set and could go.
She said she'd see me next year.
That was it?
That was it.
And then I worried. Something had to be wrong. They didn't call me back for more pictures and THEN ultrasound me if they didn't see something! But, I thanked her, wrapped my arms around me and headed back to get dressed.
So much like that night- the peace- and then the worry that following. The wonderings.
I plan to call my doctor and ask more about the results. What prompted more testing? Why had they ultimately decided to just let me go? SHOULD I be worried?
I try to go back there~ to find it~ that Unusual Peace, but it's gone again.
I know it will find me. It always does in those moments and places where and when I need it most.
And should you need it,
I pray it finds you too.
That it will let you know~
You got this.
Don't be afraid.
That Unusual Peace is there for the taking and I can tell you without a doubt.
There is nothing better.
I went back to Andrew's journal. The one word I kept hearing.
He never left.