Friday, February 27, 2009

The Chair- Days Before

It was just a chair.
And yet seeing it made me draw my hand to my mouth- made me lose my breath- made me hurt-
But it was just a chair.

Days before I had left- 39 weeks pregnant with two babies- ready to meet them- ready to bring them back to this room.
Days before.

It was just a chair.
And yet seeing it there made me pause- made my eyes begin to swell- made me wonder what it would have been like to hold him in it, rock him in it, sing to him in it-
But it was just a chair.

Days before I wasn't so old, wasn't so tired, wasn't so wise, wasn't so broken.
Days before.

It was just a chair.
And yet seeing it there made me angry! I felt my shoulders begin to tremble and wondered why had God forsaken me? Why had He taken my baby? Why had He needed him so much more than I?
But it was just a chair.

Days before that chair was in a different corner- a place where I had sat and rocked- rubbed my growing belly and dreamed- saw a future with two- two babies in my arms- Days before that chair was where it should have been- in a room with two cribs- not one- a home for two babies- not one.
Just days before.

It was just a chair.
Yet seeing it there where his crib used to be broke my heart. I had no idea how much seeing it would hurt me, would remind me of how good it felt just days before-
But it was just a chair.

It was just a chair-
in a room that he never slept in-
yet somehow felt so empty in his absence.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

For Sarah.

"Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but words will never hurt me!"

Words can do damage.
There have been many insensitive things spoken to me in the last five years. Some words I allowed to haunt me for longer than I should have. Others I was able to let roll off my back knowing that the speaker had not meant to hurt me- They were simply too naive to know better.

The well-meaning words that bothered me more than most were, "One day you will feel better, it will just take time."

I have pondered this phrase often. I'm sure before I lost Andrew I even spoke it to others who had lost. But now, this was the phrase that haunted me. It came in different forms but it all meant the same to me. They were telling me that one day I would be better. The problem was, I didn't want to be better, not really. Not then.

I cried every day for months and months and months. I saw no light at the end of my tunnel. This grief was mine. No one could possibly know what I was feeling. Not even my dear husband. No one knew what it felt like to be Andrew's mom. No one knew the physical pain that I lived with knowing he was gone. That my dreams of knowing him- of being his mom were gone. Somehow grieving him made him close, made him important and I didn't want to let that go. The lives of others had gone on, and that made me angry. How could the world still spin when mine had stopped? I didn't want to be better. Somehow by not grieving it felt like I was letting go. Letting go of the grief meant letting go of him.

One day I didn't cry. I remember that evening sitting in my living room chair and realizing that I hadn't cried that day. And that made me cry. Somehow by letting go of my grief and my sadness (albeit just for a day) I felt like I was being a bad mother. By not aching and hurting from his absence, I was o.k. with it... and I wasn't!

Perhaps that is why "time" made me so angry. There aren't enough days in all of eternity that could possibly heal my heart. There aren't enough days for me to one day forget or to not miss him. When someone suggested that time would heal me it made me angry. Time doesn't heal. The heart of a mom who has lost a child does not heal.

Not fully.

Not ever.

What time does do is give you moments. Moments where you can breathe a little better. Moments where you suddenly find your laughter again. Time gives you pause. Reflection. Lessons. Moments. But it will not heal you. Nothing will.

When I meet moms who have recently lost a child, I never tell them that in time they will feel better (even though I know now that there is a certain truth to that statement). I know the odd sense of comfort that grief can bring, and I understand not wanting to let it go. What I tell them is that they will never forget their child, there will always be someone they will be missing, and time will allow them to find their own way, time will give them the tools, time will help them find their smile again- when they're ready. Yes time will be there, and so will I- I will be there for as much time as you need me, and then some.

You will find your smile again. Perhaps it will be your angel that sends it to you- knowing that you have someone waiting for you- Knowing that you have someone- Someone that you loved more than anyone else- Someone that slept to the sound of your heartbeat- Someone that you kept safe as long as you could. They know it. I know it. And sometimes it is time that will give you that. Moments.

Think of what you say... think before you say it... No one knows the mind of a grieving mom, not even this grieving mom. These were my words. What were yours?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

He's Five

"I don't remember if I saw him."

We were driving to school and my daughter was singing when he just said it. It came out of nowhere. It was a simple statement, but in an instant I knew what he was talking about. Somehow I didn't need to ask who 'him' was, but I did anyway. For in that moment, hidden behind my daughter's voice, my thoughts were with him too.



I remember early on not knowing what to do. I had so many questions. My grief was tangled. It was an enormous web and as much as I would try to struggle to free myself from it, I found myself more and more entwined. My grief was for me- having carried them for so long and dreaming about who they were, it was for my husband who would have loved to have had two boys. And it was for him- how special to have a brother. I often wondered how it would be to live, knowing someone whom you shared so much with did not.

And so came my questions... How do I do this? What do I say? What do we do?

I remember seeking the advice of a woman who had lost a twin. Her story paralleled mine in so many ways. Her survivor was nearing the end of his teens. What did she do?

"Don't put your angel on a pedestal."

And though it seems odd, I knew exactly what she was talking about. That is where he was. He was the topic of my conversations, my meaning, my purpose and somewhere in there I was beginning to lose sight of what really mattered. Our life- not his death. Her words could not have come at a better time. I needed them. It changed my course, it made me a better mom to both my angels, living and dead.

I remember thinking about how fragile that balance was. I did not want Andrew's existence to be the center of who we were, and yet I did not want him to be absent from us either. He is part of us, part of our story but he is not all we are.

Look at his birth certificate.

His twin was something I couldn't hide from him, not that I would ever try.

And so it began. Very early. Before he could talk. I spoke his name. When we would pray and ask God to watch over the mouse in Goodnight Moon, we would always end, "and God bless my brother Andrew in heaven". It was part of the routine. His name was spoken but it was not our center.

I wondered when he would talk about him- or when he would ask.

And so the years have passed and he has asked questions. He's shared his thoughts. And still at times I find myself at a loss for words. The moment I learned they were two boys I had them on the ball fields together, double dating at prom, standing side by side- best men at each others' weddings. And again in that moment I was lost. Lost for words.

Those dreams died. As soon as they entered my head they were gone. Like him. Gone.

And so I have cried. Not just for us. I cried for my son and the loss of his brother. My mind sometimes goes to what could have been. I will never know what we are missing but I do know what we've gained. Over the years I have been able to imagine with open eyes what Andrew would look like, now five, what he would be doing. I only wish I could see his eyes, hear his laughter next to his brothers' and sister's.

But one day I will- when we're all home. But until that day, the questions will come, the wonderings will flow and I have the amazing opportunity to listen and to share what my heart tells me. I have the opportunity to listen. I have the amazing opportunity to travel this journey with him and to share it with you. I am the one who has gained. God is good.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

There are no words.

There are no words.
Over 40 people visited us in those first few days at the hospital. Later more came. I know they all sought them, prayed for them, but they just couldn't find them. They don't exist.
There are no words.

What does one say to a family who has lost a child? Words cannot possibly convey the message that the heart feels. Words cannot encompass what one hopes- to take away some of the pain. Words cannot begin to do what one wishes- to make you better, to give you your smile back, to make it like before.

I loved my father-in-law. He was an amazing man who never failed to make me laugh and while he is in heaven now, I think of him so often and still can hear his voice so clearly. I remember when he came to the hospital that first time to meet the first grandchild from his 'baby'. He came in telling us that the nurse had directed him to the room of the woman who had twins and that he had corrected her by saying, "No. She had ONE baby."
While my heart swelled because I knew his intentions were so good, I also knew that I did have twins. The nurse had spoken the truth and anyone who had said otherwise was wrong.

There are no words.

I didn't hear from some for a while. Days and weeks went by because they couldn't find the words. It wasn't that they didn't try, they just couldn't find them. They couldn't find those perfect words because they don't exist.

There are no words.

Some thought that by speaking his name they would somehow bring about pain- that perhaps I was happy and that by speaking his name they would make me sad. I remember saying, 'Say his name. I may cry, but the more I say it, the easier it gets.' The more you say it, the easier it gets.

I've been so blessed in my life to have people who remembered.
Sending congratulations with sympathies- Remembering with thoughtful gifts- the shoes, the heart, the angel, his name. Remembering brought me peace. Seeing them write his name- or say it- brought me peace.

There are no words.

But she remembers- each year she sends a card. Amidst the birthday cards for his twin is one for us- one for him- remembering.

There are no words.
If I had them I would tell you. If they existed I would have found them. I would have shared them with my dear friends. I would have spoken them to Ethan & Owen's mom when Parker joined them in heaven. If they existed I would have spoken them. If they existed, I would share them here with you now. If only there were words that could make it all better-If only they existed... if only...

There are no words.
Just remember.
Just be.
There are no words and it's o.k.
We know.