Sunday, September 9, 2018

#Because


Our fifteen year old is a runner!

Words can't describe how incredibly proud we are of who he is~ who he is becoming.
We've been busy living life~ following our kids and yesterday we were following him around at a race. There were about a dozen high school teams from all over. We watched as parents wandered looking to see where they could get a good glimpse of the runner they were there too see.

It was a beautiful day in the park and my husband and I had joined all those parents, looking for the perfect place to watch OUR runner. We were following a pack of parents when I looked up and the back of the shirt in front of us said, "Joey's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that!

Later on we saw another similar shirt only this one said, "Andrew's Mom" and I thought, I could use a shirt like that too.

How odd that with the hundreds of people who were there we saw two shirts mentioning their sons by name and they happened to be MY boys' names.

Maybe not odd at all.

It's September.

On the fifteenth it will be 15 years!
I will not be able to start my morning as I have the last 15 years~ at the hospital. I'll be watching my runner and wondering if his brother would have been a runner too. 

Joey and I were talking about his upcoming birthday~ about how we've been trying to get people to do kind acts to help heal my heart on the fifteenth.

He said, "Mom. I hate that my birthday is your hardest day. I hate that you hurt and that you're sad. It kind of sucks."

And yes, Joey. It does suck. 
It did suck 
and it will always suck.
But what you don't understand is there was one thing that made THE worst day of my entire life 
THE BEST day of my entire life.

YOU!

My sweet boy, how will I ever tell you that YOU are my reason. YOU were the one that got me out of bed. YOU were the one that began to heal my shattered heart.
YOU!

So yes~ I will always wonder. I'll wonder what kind of son Andrew would have been. I'll wonder if he would have been as fast as you, as musical as you, as funny as you. I'll wonder if he'd be as incredibly sweet as you are with your siblings and others. I'll wonder if he'd be quiet and reflective.
I'll wonder and I'll wonder and I'll wonder.

But one thing I do know is that though I will wonder, I will KNOW that this world MY world is so much better because of YOU!

So maybe I was wrong... Maybe having people do kind acts #BecauseOfAndrew should also be #BecauseOfJoey 
because if it weren't for you, I wouldn't be.

So thank you my sweet boy.
I love you more than you will EVER know.

HAPPY Birthday.
And know that my tears are not all tears of sadness. Just like they were fifteen years ago they are also tears of tremendous joy!

I love you,
Mom

And... May it not be overlooked that today~ September 9th~ TEN YEARS AGO my heart was shattered when my sweet spark's heartbeat was no longer. 
Remembering E and so incredibly thankful for my tribe who remembered. You were there THEN and you continue to be here NOW. 
Ten years later. 
Fifteen years later.
I'm thankful.
#BecauseOfYou

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Close Your Eyes and Imagine


Think of~

Your daughter.
Your spouse.
Your sister.
Your brother.
Your best friend.
Your father.
Your mother.
Your son.

What would you do for them?
Anything.

What if what they needed was beyond your reach, but was within the reach of someone else.
Meet Jackson Pype.

Jackson has been battling medical issues since he was a baby.
He's proven to be an amazing fighter but now at age 16, he is in desperate need of your help.
His parents are in desperate need of your help.
His brothers.
His friends.
His family.
His community.
Needs YOU!

Jackson is in desperate need of a bone marrow transplant and YOU could be the one to save him.
His match is out there. 
It could be YOU. 
YOU could be the one who saves this amazing young man!

To "Be the Match" click HERE.
It is painless and costs nothing~
but what it could give is priceless!

LIFE.

So please.

Think of~
A daughter.
A spouse.
A sister.
A brother.
A best friend.
A father.
A mother.
A son.

Jackson.
Please share this!
It could save Jackson's life~ and the lives of others!

I know many of the readers (like I) know the pain of losing a child.
Think of these parents.
We don't want anyone else to lose a child.
Thank you!

Monday, February 5, 2018

This Is Us.


So here I am firing up my computer because I just got done watching "the" episode.
You know.
This Is Us.
If you're reading this blog there's a good chance you watched that first episode and either turned it off because it was too hard~ or got sucked in for more because well... This is us. People like us.

I remember someone telling me I MUST check out the show and I'm not a huge TV watcher but I thought, OK. And right away there we are- I am watching my life- my story- unfold on the screen.

Mom goes in to deliver babies.
One baby doesn't make it.

This is me.

Recently my teenage daughter (my rainbow) started watching the show with me. With a snow-day after the Super Bowl (yay), we both got to stay up to see the infamous #Crockpot episode.

Of course we bawled like babies~ which probably isn't unique to people like us.

And then came the teaser for next week.

I saw the doctor and I put my hand to my mouth and started crying.

My rainbow didn't watch it from the beginning and she looked at me with questioning eyes. I looked at her~ with tears streaming down my face (and I'll admit a few ugly moments where I was catching my breath) and said... "They lost one of their babies. That's how the series started and that doctor knew. He knew just what to say and it brings back so many, many memories of that night with Joe and Andrew." And she cried and understood because just like this is MY story~ it's also her story. It's OUR story.

I am convinced that this show has a writer that has experienced loss. I wonder if we all (who have lost a child) had a moment with a doctor like that. I remember my doctor calling me and checking in and I remember asking her, "What made you call me to come in that day?" (I was scheduled to be induced two weeks after my due date- not one) and she said to me, "God put you in my head that day." I still think back and can remember those words like they were yesterday. They stuck with me. I was (and am) convinced that Andrew had gotten to heaven and told God, "You've got to get that doctor in so she can save my brother! So she can save my mom!!" and He did it. God put me in her head and got Andrew out when he still looked like a pink sleeping baby and got Joe out~ also wrapped in cord but alive and healthy. My doctor saved him. He saved him. That was MY doctor scene.

For those of you not familiar with the show, that first episode the doctor said:

"I like to think that one day you'll be an old man like me talkin' a young man's ear off explainin' to him how you took the sourest lemon that life has to offer and turned it into something resembling lemonade. If you can do that, then maybe you will still be taking three babies home from this hospital, just maybe not the way you planned."

And that spoke to me.
Early on I remember finding it so hard that I couldn't say I had "babies" (plural).
But eventually I did~ just not the way I had planned.

But those babies have helped me to take the sourest lemon life had to offer and turn it into so much more than anything I could have ever dreamt possible.

Andrew and E are still so much a part of me. So close to every thought.
I know that isn't everyone's story. But this is our story.

This. Is. Us.

*** And a note on that picture~ My beautiful friend snapped it years ago and last November sent it to me again. I was curious at first why she would send me that picture again and then I looked more closely. There were two "new" people in the picture (not new to ME but new to others who didn't always see "us" the way we do).

THIS is us.
How I see us.
And she even got E's pigtails the way I saw them in my dreams.

Us.

Friday, September 15, 2017

#BecauseOfThem


It's September 15th.

For a week I've found myself regularly thinking... "At this time 14 years ago.."
FOURTEEN!
I am amazed at where I've been.
How far I've come.
And I often say it's #BecauseOfAndrew
And it is~partly.

It's funny~ September 15th.
It was the worst day of my life. It was the best day of my life.

Today I have already been moved by friends who have and are doing acts of kindness #BecauseOfAndrew 
~ But like that day I am reminded of the number 2.
There were two very extreme emotions that day.
Two reasons for streaming tears.
Two amazing little boys that changed me.

So while I remember the boy who broke my heart,
Today I also think of the boy who began healing it.
My reason.

The reason I could find my breath after crying so hard I couldn't breathe.
The reason I could get up after my knees would buckle when it was too hard to stand.
The reason I COULD live.

It was all~ #BecauseOfJonasen

And so begins another September 15th where 
I will remember.
I will grieve.
I will celebrate.
I will cry.
I will smile.
I will try my best to give to others an ounce of what I have been given~
#BecauseOfThem

Happy Birthday my Sweet Andrew & Jonasen!
Love you both more than you know!

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.