Saturday, December 29, 2012

You Remembered.

Holidays are hard.
Especially for those who have lost someone in the last year...
The parties. The gatherings. The laughter.
Sometimes you wonder if they remember.

The Christmases have gone by for me.  10 of them now.
I have gone to the parties. The gatherings. The laughter has been mine.
Still sometimes I wonder if they remember.

My birthday is on Christmas Eve.
A day where I know I will sing, Silent Night and think about the greatest gift, and the gifts He gave me.
And I will think about that silent night when he was born.
The silent delivery room.
The silence when he arrived.
I will sing, as silent tears fall.
Every year.

Like Mother's Day, I have mixed feelings every Christmas Eve.
This year, my mom handed me a bag with two boxes in it.
I opened the first and saw a beautiful necklace.
A family of birds sitting on a branch.
2 big birds.
4 little birds.

I couldn't really look at it.  Are those two things on the end of the branch butterflies?
My mom shook her head no.
"They are just leaves."

"I think they're butterflies."
"They're not."

My heart hurt a little and I choked back tears.  Ten years but certainly she remembered.  My mom who has listened to my journey~ walked it with me.  My mom who once answered that questions "How many grandchildren do you have?" with, "My son has two and my daughter has four 'at home'."
Yes.  I heard.  I hear it all.
We all do.

How could she forget.
I wanted to cry.

And then I opened the next box.

A pair of earrings.
Two birds.
Two birds that left the branch.
And flew away.
Too soon.

I love them more than you know.
I love more that you remembered.

Thank you!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Broken Road

I know broken.
I know numb.
I know empty.
I know sad.
I know despair.
I know guilt.
I know anger.
I know release.

It has been nine years since we last laid eyes on our son and still it was a moment that will forever be frozen in time for me.  I remember my husband.  How he lost his voice.  He couldn't talk for two days.  He just sat. And stared. As tears rolled down his face.
Broken. Numb. 
I remember going through motions as the time passed.  I heard people's laughter, but couldn't find my own. I couldn't smile.  It hurt too much.
Empty. Sad.
I walked along quietly. Often not knowing how I got from one place to another.  Wondering how I would get out of bed.  I would cry in the shower. Scream into my pillow. Sink to the floor.
I went back in time.  Looked at my calendar. Replayed the days.  Was there a change in movement I didn't feel?  Why didn't I ask to be induced earlier.  Why hadn't I let her strip my membranes to get things going.  Why did I wait?
He shook his fist at God.  Went toe to toe with him.  How could He take our son? He went through the motions, went to church to appease me, but he wasn't really there.  He turned his back for two years.
And then one day it came. I didn't cry.  And I cried because of it.
He went to the garden.  I heard his guitar sing. 

Friday's events brought back many of those feelings for us as I am sure they did many in this community.  That night as we drove to a Christmas party, we hardly felt like celebrating.
"How could God let this happen?  Where IS He?"
He was angry.  Furious. Broken.
I reminded him of the release.  Of our road.  Of the God that got me through.  Got US through!
He yelled at me (at Him), "Where is He now?"
We stopped talking.  Went through the motions of the evening.  Put on our smiles.

Where is He?

He's with them.  He's next to them in the silence, as the tears roll down. He walks with them in their haze as they cry in their showers, scream into their pillows, sink to the floor.  He's beside them as they wonder why they sent them that day.  He's facing them as they scream and curse His name screaming WHY?  WHY DID YOU LET THIS HAPPEN?

And one day it will happen.
They will feel His presence.
They will have that sweet release.
A feeling of peace that covers you when you're ready.
Falls down over you like a flood.
That knowledge that they are OK and so too will you be.
You are not alone, they've left you with something you didn't think you'd ever find again.

On Saturday he apologized.  He held me.
On Sunday he stood before our church and before he strummed his guitar he pointed out a lyric.
One that I had sung many times, but had never resonated with me like it did in that moment.

He spoke,
"And I will walk by faith, even when I cannot see.
Because this broken road, prepares Your will for me."

We have certainly walked a broken road.  A road that at times I crawled.
But that road has helped me.  It's shaped me. Prepared me.  And I am so proud that I can call myself Andrew and E's mom.  I can call myself blessed.

They won't get over this, but they will get through it.

These lives will not be in vain.  They have shaped a parent. a sibling. a neighbor. a teacher. a town. a state. a country. the world.
And we will be blessed.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Heart Sick

My Dear Children,

I wanted to write you about today but like I have shielded you from some of the details of the pain I went through when I lost Andrew and E, I know you aren't ready (nor should you be) to know about the horrific details of today.  Still I know that today is a day that will go down in history and so I wanted to share with you my thoughts on it not on our family blog that you sometimes read but on the blog I imagine you will learn about one day, when you're ready.

On Sunday, we will sit you down and tell you that some very sad things happened in a school in another state.  That some children died.  We will pray for their families and I will tell you that I know that there may be some children that will talk about it in school but that some of them may not know the whole story and that sometimes they say things that aren't true.  We will also tell you not to believe what you hear but to ask us and talk to us about it if you ever want to.  And I hope you will.  I also hope that you will not talk to others about it.  That this can be scary or sad and that it is something children should talk about with their parents.

You have all (especially you, Jonasen) been very forthcoming with questions about sadness and sorrow and death. I pray that I can follow your lead as I have in the past.  That God will give me the words I should tell you in a way that is appropriate for what your young hearts can handle.  This has always been a fine line for me as I often wonder what my poor old heart can handle.

The sad truth is there is sadness in this world.  As a teacher, I have heard some things that have made my heart sick.  Losing your brother and sister made my heart sick and learning that there are so many more families grieving their children tonight makes me heartsick.

It makes me sad.

A coworker first asked me if I had heard the news.  She told me there had been a school shooting and I assumed it was a high school somewhere.  Then I learned of the number dead.  Then I learned of the ages.
Zach.  You are in kindergarten.

When I came home you wrapped your arms around me and told me you loved me and you'd never let go.  I told you that you could stay that way forever.  Today I felt that you could.  Knowing that someone in this world would never have those five year old arms they felt just that morning wrap around their neck again, nearly broke me, but I didn't let it.  The odd thing about sorrow is you are given just as much strength as you need to get you through a moment. Just enough to breathe in and out.

I haven't seen any pictures from today.  I haven't heard any news stories.  I'm not sure that I want to.

I also want you to know how fearful I am of guns. How the idea of having them in my school scares me.  How having them in your school PETRIFIES me.  I often wonder what is happening to our state, our country, the world... I sometimes wonder what God wants us to do with this. I hold my hands out and am still.  I am used to having questions go unanswered.  But still it makes my heart sick.

Last night we painted ornaments for Andrew.  We painted ornaments for E.  We painted ornaments for two other babies you and I had hoped would stay but left too soon.  Life has some tremendous sadness and if you aren't careful, it can swallow you up.

That is what I am afraid of.  I am afraid of the sadness and the anger that swallows you up.  Because when it does, you are lost.  I don't know, but I imagine those who commit such horror have been swallowed up.  Lost.

So be kind to others.  Smile often.  Hug.  Don't underestimate the power of a loving touch on someone's shoulder or asking someone how they are~ if you see someone getting swallowed up, hold out your hand.  Rescue them.  Just like there are tragedies in this world, there are also miracles. You were all a miracle to me.  You can be a miracle to others.

Just like one lost soul can change the world, so can one brave soul. You can change the world by reaching out and saving someone.  By being an ear.

The children are OK.  They are in heaven and whole.  Their families are not.  They are in a lot of pain and will be for years and years to come and for that I am heartsick.  

I love you,

Monday, October 15, 2012

October 15th (and lantern release)

Oh Lord that ache.
Those days when I wondered how I would live to see another day, let alone another year.
And here I am.
October 15th.
Nine years later.
On a day set aside for people like me, to remember.
September 15th is mine.
October 15th is ours.

I have never experienced anything quite like this community that I have come to belong to.  I  never knew that I could forge lifelong friendships in the matter of moments.  Baring your soul, your brokenness~ will do that to you.  Some live states and even oceans away.  The broken have come to create something unbreakable.

Today I looked on facebook to see picture after picture of candles. Lit candles all remembering someone's precious hope.  I watched as my candle burned for the babies I loved and lost and as the flame danced I thought of the others... so many others that I knew from just the words on their mothers' and fathers' blogs, those I met within the walls of the hospital and those I met over emails.  I thought of them all, and I thought about how truly thankful I am for each of them~ Each of them have shared their stories with me and in doing so, changed me.

Losing someone by definition leaves you alone~ and yet alone is the furthest thing from what I feel right now. I feel blessed and honored and loved.  Loved because I was Andrew's mother.  I was E's mother.  Loved because I was your friend/ am your friend.  Blessed to be a blessing.

Last night my beautiful and talented friend Jessica (who keeps a popular and beautifully written blog HERE) and I met with others for our first annual lantern release.  It had been a rainy day and I prayed and prayed for the clouds to part.  When I arrived at our location my prayers had been answered.  The skies were blue and I felt such peace.  It would be perfect.

As people arrived, so did the dark clouds and soon the heaven's opened and the water fell.  I was so disappointed and yet it seemed somehow to fit us... Standing in the rain.  Standing together.

The wind picked up as the rain died down and we made our way to a dock overlooking a beautiful lake. We opened up our lanterns and learned that just like our own thoughts, the winds would try to keep us down~ but we've done this before.  We've weathered harder storms and soon, one by one with the help of others who have walked this road, our lanterns went to the heavens... drifting silently to those we still love.  Those we never forget.

Andrew's love was a turning page for me.  I often think of my life in two sections... before Andrew and after Andrew.  Not so much because of him... but because of me.  His life changed who I am and the way I look at life.  Every day I can pause and reflect and remember what I'm doing here. Who I want to be~ and Andrew and E's lives have given me continued strength to be that person.

I put some pictures together from our lantern release in a video you can view below or click HERE to see.  My talented friend Nan (whose amazing work you can see HERE), came to shoot our first annual release.  I am already looking forward to next year as we grow in our friendships and our community.

The song I chose for the pictures had some lines that are resonating with me tonight and I'd like to leave you with those lines and wish you well this night and all the nights to come~ stormy and clear.  You're not alone... you just need look to the heaven's to know that.


I surrender who I've been for who you are,for nothing makes me stronger than your fragile heart.if I had only felt how it feels to be yours,well,I would have known what I've been living for all along.what I've been living for.
though we're tethered to the story we must tell,when i saw you, well, i knew we'd tell it well.with a whisper, we will tame the vicious a feather bringing kingdoms to their knees.

Saturday, September 15, 2012


9. 9. 9. 9. 9. 9. 9. 9. 9.
How is that possible?

I thought the days leading up would be the worst. That perhaps nine would be a year where the anticipation was worse than the sting of the day.  I was wrong.

The screams of Christmas woke me from my slumber on September 15th and I realized that Jonasen had discovered the 50 balloons I blew up for him the night before.  On a night where I could say, "Nine years ago tonight I didn't know..." He ran upstairs to my bed and threw his nine year old arms around me and said, "Thank you mom!" I held him tight(er) though he probably didn't notice~ He was off in moments to rejoin the laughter of his younger siblings and I was alone with my thoughts.

Jeff joined me soon.  He was tired.  He had woke early to get donuts for our 9 year old Joe, and to sit and remember Andrew.  Something that he needed to do alone.  Something that I too needed to do alone but this year being a Saturday, it was a luxury I didn't have. Jeff reminded me I should get going to the garden... We had soccer games later.

I felt the water with my hand and stepped in.  My eyes closed and I felt I was in our old shower.  The one in the house he should have come home to.  The shower I sunk to my knees in praying I could wash the bad dream of losing him from my being.  My hands went to my face and my body shook. This wasn't happening.  Why was this happening? I had done this before.  Nine times.  9.

But then I realized, I had never grieved a nine year old before.


An age I remember. An age of opinions and thoughts. An age of wonderings of the world. The year before a decade.

I sunk and cried and like those days of long ago can't recall how I got up, toweled off and readied myself to face the living.

No make-up today.  The sun was shining and I was thankful I would be wearing my sunglasses to hide my tired, sad eyes.  For how could I be sad? Nine years ago today I became a mother and he became a father.

I met him in the hallway and he took me in his arms.  Again I sank and he lifted me.  We stayed there for a while until he whispered, "Go. Don't let them see you like this."

I scooped my keys, the candles, the marker, his journal and the fire and I was off to buy his balloons.

I got to the garden and walked the path I had walked so many times. On this day.  September 15th. With balloons in hand, I walked to her brick, I wrote her I loved her and thanked her for coming to my dreams.  I kissed her balloon and sent it to the sky.

And then I went there.
To his brick.
With his balloons.
And I sat.
And I sunk.
And I sobbed.

I wrote him I loved him. I told him it all. I kissed each of his nine balloons for the nine years he's been away and I watched until they were gone. Faded into the blue.  Faded from sight~ and soon from memory.

I closed my eyes and I didn't see him at 9.  I imagined our reunion.  Him a young man, stepping out to see me when I got home.  Taking me into his arms and saying, "Welcome home, mom.  I got all of your kisses, all of your tears, all of those many, many balloons. Welcome home.  Welcome home."

The game was starting and I knew I had to go. Unlike years past I had to stay strong. I was meant to be here. Meant to stay.  The reunion will have to wait. But one day it will happen.

And I am 9 years closer.


Sunday, September 9, 2012

Remembering E

It was four years ago tonight that I lost my little E.
My little spark.
Four years ago today I didn't know it yet.  I didn't know she was gone.  I still had hope.

It was four years ago tomorrow that my hope died. I couldn't believe it had happened again. Again. I sat with the same doctor. Saw the same absence on the ultrasound. Stared into the same tear stained eyes of my husband. Hope was gone. I was gone. I was empty.

Four years later I still remember her.  I still remember that day like it was yesterday.  Her days.  Seeing the test for the first time.  Feeling great. Certain it would be a girl. Dreaming. Seeing that heartbeat again and again.  But still, I remember the spotting, the bleeding, the cramping, the praying, the pleading to stay. stay. stay.

It was "just a miscarriage".  That's what they said then~ and four years ago yesterday I may have agreed with them.  But then it happened to me.  It happened to her and it was not 'just' anything. It was a soul that lived in me.  A soul that left. A soul that I had no idea at the time would touch me like she did.  Like she does.

You can't control feelings but you can choose the way you want to live.  I chose to remember her.  Her life albeit so small and so short (even compared to the brother she joined) was real.  She waits for me.

Today she filled me up.  Today I thought of her as I watched another sweet girl be born into the family of God through the waters of baptism.  I thought of amazing, saving grace.  I thought of her.

I thought of her.
And I smiled.

Remembering E today, on her fourth year with her brother.  One year closer to meeting me~
Though I think she may know me already.

Friday, August 31, 2012

On the Eve of September

I've been waiting for September.  When I changed my calendar to August, I suddenly became keenly aware of time.  Much like I felt nine years ago.  No babies in August? That must mean they'll have a September birthday.

Is it because its been nearly a decade? Is it because yet again I have twins (now boys) in my classroom?
I don't know.

But for whatever reason I have been anticipating September and dreading its arrival.

And for that I feel torn.  I should welcome the month I became a mother.  I should be celebrating my sweet Jonasen and all that he is, but I always feel the heaviness of September and perhaps it is something he can now see.

Today we found Joe by himself, sitting in the corner.  This is not like him and for us we felt it was some sort of attention seeking thing.  When we tried to pry out of him what it was he was sulking about he said, "I just don't feel special."

It was almost laughable.
My husband and I looked at each other wondering what in the world he could possibly be talking about. Whether serious or not we started listing all the things that make him special but because we were in 'teasing' mode we said, "Well it's not because... and would say a reason he was special." We followed this up with tickles and hugs and kisses.  We got him back.

He got his smile back.
That felt good.

Joe ran errands with me and I felt that all was well.
That is until he got in trouble (not picking something up) and suddenly he brought me a note asking me who he was special to... why he was special...
Is this normal?
Did I do something wrong?

I told him I think it's ridiculous that he EVER doubt that he is special~
But... because it's nice to get a nice note, I decided to write him.

Dear Joey,

My heart hurts that you would ever for a moment doubt that you are special.  Perhaps I am not a good mom to you and I am not doing my job. The fact that you would ever doubt how special you are or not feel my love, tells me that I am doing something wrong.
I don’t think that I could ever fit into one letter all the ways that you are special but I will write some down because for some reason that is what you feel you need.
  1. You are special because you were born and because you lived. That in itself is a miracle and makes you crazy special!
  2. You are special because you were named after the Jonasens who were amazing people and changed my life.
  3. You are special because you made me a better person.
  4. You are special because you have an amazing love of books and you remember things that you read (I do not).
  5. You are special because I don’t know many kids that can eat an entire can of ravioli and still have more if their mom would let them.
  6. You are special because you make other people feel special and cheer them on.
  7. You are special because you have a laugh that can make other people laugh with you.
  8. You are special because you have rhythm (and trust me, not everyone has that... You will score points with the ladies one day).
  9. You are special because you are the only boy in this family with brown eyes (and I’m the only girl).
  10. You are special because people around the world know your name and your story and think you are amazing even though they’ve never talked to you.
  11. You are special because you don’t see skin color.
  12. You are special because you can recognize when someone is making a bad choice and try to make it better.
  13. You are special because you love to draw and read books (which most kids don’t like so much... sadly).
  14. You are special because you would rather have water (some days) than pop.
  15. You are special because you can drop your fishing line in the water and fish seem to jump out of the water to get to you.
  16. You are special because your brothers and sister adore you and always want to be around you... probably the reason for the nightly sleepovers all summer long.
  17. You are special because you talk to God, and He hears you.
  18. You are special because you have a creative mind and soul.  You are always making things and creating things and not everyone can do that.
  19. You are special because you saved me.  It was YOU that got me out of bed those mornings when I didn’t think I could. You taught me love can exist where pain is and that there is nothing in this world that is better than being your mom.  You were the rainbow I saw through the storm and you will NEVER know how much I love you.
  20. You are special because your dad and the rest of your family and friends could write a list just as long (and longer) about the reasons you are special and they could all be totally different and entirely true!

I am running out of room on this paper but please don’t ever tell me you’re not special again.  If you want to hear the reasons I love you, ask. But NEVER tell me you’re not special again. It hurts me. God doesn't make mistakes.  He made you for a reason and those reasons are many.

~All my love,

And then I started to pause (as I often do) and wondered all the ways he would have been special... That boy that was born first, a minute before Joe.  I wondered what I would have written him.  I wonder what would have been on his list.  I wonder what his smile would have looked like as his dad and I teased and tickled HIM
And I was reminded, I'll never have that list.  Just a dream. Sometimes if I close my eyes, I can still see two.

***I should now add that Joe gave me a big hug, and promised me that if he ever wants to hear the reasons I love him, he will ask... but he will NEVER tell me he's not special again (we'll see...).

Saturday, August 25, 2012


Sometimes it's like you're hiding behind your glasses.  You go through the motions of  your day, you smile at the correct times but inside you're a mess and the days go by and the calendar moves and you are stuck.  I used to feel like I was in slow motion watching as everyone whizzed around me, not even noticing I was there. I could blend. Disappear.

I'm a good chameleon.
I always have been.

I can put a smile on my face and you would never know the hurt underneath.  You'd never know that I still wince inside when I see twins or even hear the word, catch my breath when someone calls out, "Andrew!" or stop and stare when I see blond pigtails in the distance that could have been her's.

It' doesn't really matter that it's been almost nine years. I still pause~ it's always right there, right below the surface and it's hard. Talking with a friend whose scars are a little more fresh and have not had the time to scab over, I gave her permission. Permission to still be sad.  Still be hurt. Still be mad. Sometimes you need to take off the glasses and just cry.

Those things don't go away.  They can soften but that scab can be ripped off in a moment and you find there on your knees wondering... why???????

There is a song I love called Pills. It reminds me of so many days when I wasn't Okay. I wasn't okay but no one really knew. I would look around at all the people and wonder what's there? What's right there underneath the skin that is keeping them up at night? I used to feel so alone and then I realized that we're all here, walking around with a brokenness about us, just trying to pick up the pieces and put them back into their jagged places. But sometimes once they've broken they just won't fit the way they used to~

Thinking of you and wishing you peace.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

The Butterflies~ September

The butterflies are out.
The bush is hideous! It looks like an overgrown weed and yet I look forward to its growing each year because I know they'll come~ and they always do.  Is it the butterflies?

My children run in the yard, they ride their bikes, they laugh, but I note the butterflies that dance around them.  My eyes stay on them and try to will them to stay.  To stick around. To dance with them just a little longer.

The butterflies.

It's the time of year when I look up and at him, or catch his laugh and I pause and wonder... what if? Why does it hit me like this?  There is no rhyme or reason?  Is it the butterflies?

Or is it the knowledge that September is coming... A flip of the calendar and it will be here again.  Another September 15th will come and it will be another year since I held his little body in my arms, kissed him goodbye. Another year.


My friend.

My Enemy.

Time gave me ways~ ways to deal with missing him~ ways to feel my tears coming and understanding that they would stop. Time was my friend.  It gave me moments to pause and think of him.  All the good he's done.  All the lives he's changed.  Time.  Time to say his name.  Andrew.

Oh but time... Another day is another day away from you.  Away from that day that I held you in my arms and smelled you.  That I felt your body next to mine, felt your hand grab on to me.  Time passes and so do those memories of you kicking me, kicking your brother. Oh, how I loved to watch you move.

Time is not my friend.  I forget.  And that makes me sad, but yet they remember... somehow they always remember to come.

The butterflies.

It's almost another September and I know that it too will be here and gone... too soon.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

That dream I had...

I've been quiet here lately.
That doesn't mean I haven't been thinking, writing, composing thoughts swirling in my mind.

I have gone on walks where I felt an 8 year old was walking by my side. I felt my head go up, thankful for him there.
I have stopped at their garden, not to shed tears, but to lift up thanks.  Just because I was glad that they were there~
In my life.

Recently I wrote of how one of my very dear friends lost her baby. How it set ME back. How I felt that  all those I love should be immune to my sadness.  I hear from people who have lost their children and my heart breaks, but this one ripped into my soul and I found myself in that raw place, sobbing, unable to make it stop because I knew what she was going through and I knew that nothing I could say or do could take away that horrible pain.

I wanted to give an update of sorts on my friend.  It hasn't gotten easier really... as those who have gone this road know, there is a moment where that fog settles and you find yourself standing there.  Alone. Not knowing how it is that your knees are managing to hold you up.  She's there now.  She wants nothing more than to have a baby in her arms.  I remember that pain.  That urgency.  That desperation.


Something good has happened... or at least, I think it is good.

A while back I wrote about a dream I had.  How odd it was.  There was a dead baby in it.  The baby was alive but somehow, I knew that that particular baby had died. It wasn't Andrew and I knew that. I was a bit angry at first for I had prayed to see Andrew in my dreams for years and have yet to have seen him (or at least remember my dream if he has visited).  I did turn and see a girl.  A beautiful little blond girl who looked to be about three and I knew in an instant it was my daughter.

I couldn't keep my eyes off her. It filled me up and like that peace I had while on my walk, and visiting the garden I felt full.  I didn't want her to leave but she had to.  I watched her go.  She was happy as she turned and smiled at me one last time. And it was good.

Still, I wondered about the baby.

Soon after I learned my friend had lost her baby.
I thought perhaps that baby was someone that I wanted to know, longed to hold, dreamed of calling me "Auntie Laura"

I told her about my dream.

I haven't written in a while.
But I wanted you to know.

Her baby...
Was a boy.

He's there.
Watching her and praying that his mom would know he's OK and that there is someone else she's meant to hold (first).

One day you'll walk like me and feel them at your side and smile.
One day you'll see their name and kiss your lips to their stone~ not because it makes you sad, but because it fills you up.

You are their mother.
You won't forget.
And neither will they.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Dear Jonasen,

Last night I couldn't sleep.
For the next day I knew that I would be presenting Joe with a bible.  Though I knew about this for some time, I didn't know quite what to say.  How do you share your faith with an 8 year old?  How do you share experiences that have shaped your faith?  When I think about my faith much of it was carved out of pain... when I was in the trenches going toe to toe with God... wondering Why?

But in the end I knew he was real and I wanted nothing more than to share that knowledge with those I love, especially my children.

And so last night I sat down and began to write.  I wrote in Joe's bible all the things I wanted him to know.  I know that like all of us his walk in faith will have twists and turns and detours.  I do hope and pray though that he'll always remember this path that I am trying so hard to carve for him.

Here is my letter to Joe:

And if you'd like to see the actual presentation of Joe's Bible and my reading of the letter, you can click HERE.  My daughter video taped it for us.  There are many shots of our feet, but I am glad she captured the moment.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

I'll never forget that first Mother's Day.  How bittersweet it was.  I had a beautiful baby in my arms but a huge hole in my heart.  I had a flower on my wrist and I remember those around me in church looking at me and smiling at me.  A sweet young mother.

What many of them didn't know was that whole story. That my motherhood didn't begin with the baby in my arms, but with his brother who was born one minute before him that September before.

They didn't know that I felt God that September night. Felt a presence that is indescribable.  One that I will never forget. I grew up that day.  I had a purpose.  I was a mother. But that first night being a mother, I looked at my first born one last time, kissed his forehead and whispered to him how much I was going to miss him.  And God knows I miss him still.

I am not alone.

Only after losing my Andrew and sharing his story with others did I realize that the pain that I had was not unique.  Friends who had had a stillborn baby, or miscarriage came to me~  Shared their stories~ Cried their tears~ Carried me.

I didn't know.

And you probably don't either. There is something about us. We have an amazing strength to smile again, to get up, to live life, to laugh... and still right there, just below the surface we have them there... with us.  Be it a child we held in our arms, a heartbeat we saw on a screen or a dream we had when we saw those two lines on a pregnancy test.  We remember.  We never forget.  We never will.  We are their mothers.  The one who loved them first and we will love them still until we take our last breaths and join them once again.

I'm sad that I am part of this group, but I am proud.  For no where in this world have I found the love and support and undying kindness like that of a bereaved mother.  One who walked my shoes. One who would carry me when I could not walk it alone.

Thank you.

Thinking of all of you on this International Bereaved Mother's Day.
You inspire me with your stories.  With your strength.  With your love.

Wishing you peace~

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The things we can't change

I was just thinking of that puppy.  The one you saw when you were in third grade that you KNEW you had to have.  The one you had already named and whispered to saying, "You are just going to love your home.  We are going to have so much fun together!"

I was just thinking about the job interview.  The one that you nailed!  The one that you knew would be yours and you started thinking about the commute and how you would set up your classroom when your 5th grade students arrived in the fall.

I was just thinking of that boy... the one you fell in LOVE with when you were 12.  The one that had the last named that you were sure would be your own and practiced writing over and over.  The one that made you cry heavy sobs when you learned it was never going to be.

Well... mom and dad said that puppy would get too big.  And that job... mom and dad said that would be a long commute.  And that boy... your folks said you'd be over him soon... Sometimes mom and dad are right.

The thing is Laura, you have learned that there are things that we can't change in this life even though you wish you could.  I wish your hair was thicker and that horrible twin skin that Andrew and Joe left you would go away (without the heavy price tag that a tummy tuck would bring).

But I want you to think about this...
Had you gotten that dog, there would have been no Jenny Puddles.  Could you imagine your life without that sweet dog?  ~The one you told all your secrets to- the one who you held, tears rolling down your face as she took her last breath...

Had you gotten that job there would have been none of them... All those children that you were meant to teach- those children that were meant to teach you.  You know their names... the students who you think of still and wonder if they remember you too... (They do!)

And that boy.  The one you cried for days over.  Look at your life, your amazing husband- the one whose kiss can still make you weak in the knees, those beautiful children that create the laughter in your home.  Let's face it.  It was a good thing that God never answered those prayers or perhaps more importantly, He answered them, NO!

But what about him?  What about that little boy that you loved and prayed for.  The one that you dreamed about.  The one that you dream about still?

What about her?  The girl you had thought would be a perfect little sister to your Ali Jane?

I have seen your tears.  Been with you on those nights that you screamed in the shower hoping no one would hear you (though they probably did).  I have watched you as you sat.  Silent.  Wondering.  Wishing. Missing them.  No one knew your mind, but I did.  And I was there.  I know you wondered where God was.  Did he hear your prayers?  Of course he did.  But why did he say "No?".

All of these answers you wanted now.  You wanted them yesterday and let's face it... you have had a pretty blessed life.  Not much struggle.  Not much pain (though I would never minimize your dog, your job, that boy...) But what about them.  Your CHILDREN.  That's when things seemed to change.  They were bigger.

Why them?

Laura, there are things that you can't change.

You didn't get that dog, but you fell in love with another.
You didn't get that job, but you had one that turned out to be perfect for you.
You didn't marry that boy, but the one you married is more amazing than any other boy you know (or will know!).
You didn't have those babies... you didn't get to look in their eyes... hear their laughter... feel their arms around your neck... hear them call you,


And you can't change that.

Laura, you know they are safe and that unlike that dog, job or boy you know they will see you again.  That you will see them again.  You know they are waiting.

God said, "No."
And in time you figured out there were others meant to be in your life.
Ali Jane.
Lives you were meant to touch.  Lives meant to touch yours.
And you do.  And they have.
But they were meant to be in your life.  You were meant to keep their memories alive.  You were meant to write this, share them, show others...

There are things we can't change,
but hang in there- endure the painful wait.
Something is in store for you.
Someone, somehow is in store for you.
The next chapter is always better than the last.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Dream I Had

I used to pray that he'd visit me in my dreams.
I'd heard of that.

Days went by.
He didn't.
Weeks went by.
He didn't.
Years went by.
He didn't.

And then last week I had a dream. I thought it was him. It was a little baby and I wondered if it was him~ And then the strangest thing happened. I looked to my right and I saw a little girl about three years old. I couldn't take my eyes off of her. She had short blond hair and the most beautiful smile on her face. She was dancing. I saw her face. I knew in an instant it was her.


And she was smiling.

I felt such a love and peace that I wanted to stay there in that moment forever and just watch her. Smile at her. I know she saw me too and that filled me up in ways that I didn't think a simple dream could.

I saw her smiling and her hair spun around as she turned to go. First she waved as if to say, "I'll see you again mom." I wasn't sad to see her go. She was happy and I saw that and I knew that. I was happy she came to me.

Yes my love, I'll see you again.

I prayed to be visited in a dream but what I didn't know was it wasn't Andrew I needed to see, it was her. I didn't quite know what the dream meant. I wondered about it but just kept that warm feeling with me all day. I didn't share it. I kept it to myself. A little secret just between me and her.

But I wondered who that baby was... I didn't give it much thought until now...

I got some very sad news today. A very dear friend found out that she had lost her baby. When I first found out, I sat in disbelief. I couldn't wrap my mind around it. I thought there must be some mistake... but no. I know (all too well) that the absence of a beating heart is not something that is mistaken.

I cried for my friend and memories came flooding back that day. To E.
I couldn't talk. I sent out a text that simply said, "Baby's gone." I wonder if others sat and felt the same way I did today. Shock. Disbelief and then sadness. Sadness for my dear friend.

And I, the one who seems to have words coming out of her pores has no words. I have no idea what to say. How to make it better. I wish I could make it better. You know I wish I could make it better.

As I sat and thought, and cried, and sat some more my thoughts went back to my dream. To that little blond girl that I knew without a doubt was my sweet E and I thought that perhaps that baby was your's, my friend. I wonder if somehow they came to me to let me know that it is OK. They are both there. They are both safe. I know it is hardly a comfort right now as the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens take you prisoner. But this I know~ they will eventually loosen their grip on you. And I do pray that one day you will feel that peace and perhaps be visited in a dream by a sweet babe that smiles and waves and lets you know from the depths of your soul that it is OK. They are OK. All will be well. I pray that that feeling will one day fill you up to overflowing.

Until that day I am thinking of you my friend and praying so very much.
You know I am here to talk (tonight, tomorrow, next, month, or next year). I am here to talk or listen or simply to sit in silence. Cry.
I love you.
(And others who you don't even know are praying for you too. Hopefully anyone who has read these words will also keep you in prayer. Even though you may not believe, I do hope you find that to be a comfort.)

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Don't Should on Me!

Don't Should on Me

There is a tremendous value to talking to someone... talking with someone... someone who has been in your shoes, walked your walk.

I remember in early months looking to those women who had been attending group meetings for months, even years... watching them. They may have given me the same words as someone who had never walked my path, but their words I heard... Why? Because they knew. They understood what simply isn't understandable... unless you've walked that walk.

I could write pages on what not to say to someone who has lost a child. In short, my best advice would be "be slow to speak and quick to listen". We live in the days of Dr. Phil and reality television where problems seem to be wrapped up in 30 minutes. Solved. Better.

People want that for you. They want you to be better and when their calendar thinks you 'should' be better, they will start handing out their advice to you. Giving you their 'shoulds'.

You should be over this by now.
You should be able to go to that baby shower.
You should be thankful you can get pregnant.
You should...

Those shoulds may or may not be great advice but unless you have worn those shoes, your 'shoulds' may fall on deaf ears, on angry ears, on defensive ears. Ears that will take your shoulds, file them away and bring them out in a blog, meeting or coffee with those of this 'secret society'.

I heard some wonderful words from a friend at one of those recent meetings and she was sharing the words of another. Words that were great advice whether the speaker had walked our shoes or not...

The thing is the people that you think 'should' be feeling better want to feel better, but they are not ready or they just can't and your shoulds will just push them further from discovering their own truth and finding their own peace.

Don't should on me!
Great advice! For everyone everywhere but particularly for those who don't need to hear your "should" anymore. So be a friend, be an ear, be a shoulder. But don't be a should-er.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

A walk of faith (different shoes)

I've been thinking.

I've cried the last two Sundays in church while singing. Because I've been thinking of him... missing him...

When I hear from readers of this blog, it is usually for questions of faith. I know that those questions and emails are because people want to believe. They want it to be OK, but they just don't know how. The pain is too binding. The grief is too great.

I realize that my walk in faith has been in different shoes than most~ shoes I would have rather not put on. A nurse friend commented on it just last month. She would never forget meeting me. How she recalled me saying how blessed we were on those days that September... And knowing that I meant it. Different shoes.

The one thing I have always been certain of is that when I have talked, God has listened. That sounds incredibly self centered and perhaps it is. He heard me when I told all those that came into that room that we were blessed (and I meant it). He heard me as I screamed at him in the shower, cursing Him as the water washed away my tears (and I meant it). He heard me as I begged him for release. He heard me when I was silent. He has heard it all.

He hears me still.

He hears me share the story of Andrew. The boy that He gave me once upon a time that lives in the heavens. He hears me share the story of Andrew and how Andrew brought me closer to Him~ to a God that I thought I was close with... but it wasn't until I stripped down the wall and let Him in to see the entire me~ the broken me~ that I actually got it. Oh yes my babies are safe. Oh yes they are in heaven. Oh YES! And yes. One day I will join them.

Andrew has opened doors for me to share my faith. To let people know that I have felt hell. I have felt that absence and brokenness~ a physical pain~ a suffocating pain. But I too have felt the exhale. I have sat still, eyes closed~ and felt it cover me. Embrace me. A love like no other. A peace like no other. Once upon a time I prayed that my children would "Populate Heaven" now I thank God for answering that prayer with a "Yes!".

You've done that.
You've given me reason to share the story of God each time I say your name. To let them know that it can happen. They can find peace again. They can find peace again and then they too can share it. Share it with the world.

There are days it seems too big for me. Too enormous for words. And that is when I am still and let Him shine. For without Him I am nothing.

Like every woman who has a child I knew what a miracle it was. Ah~ when I became a mom. When I looked at him. When I looked at that beautiful baby and knew somehow in my soul that it was going to be OK.
I would be OK.
It was OK.
He was OK.

But still I think of him so often. I wonder if he thinks of me. I wonder if he knows how I share his story. I wonder if it makes him smile, like he makes me smile~ even through my tears.

But still I think of Him so often. I know He thinks of me. I know He hears me share His story. I think it makes Him smile~ perhaps through His own tears.

Thank you for the gift.
May it find you.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

A Song for You

I remember in those early days finding songs that spoke to me. Made me think of him. And even now, I will hear those familiar notes and they will bring me back to that time and place~ those days where it was so raw and I wondered if I'd make it through another day.

But I did.

And when I think of those days and what got me through, I think of those mothers that went before me. The ones that gently told me to breathe in and breathe out. The mothers who took my hand, cried with me and told me I was not alone.

Today I was driving and I heard a song that made me think of those days, those people and those of you who may need it.

Wishing you peace,

To view this on YouTube click HERE.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Not to be.

After you have lost a child, it is so hard to be pregnant again.

We celebrated my daughter's seventh birthday last month and I was reminded of that. I was looking through some old pictures and I remembered it all...
I had lost Andrew in my first pregnancy and while the pregnancy itself was very uneventful, clearly the delivery was something that I would never have imagined. I desperately wanted to be pregnant again after Andrew~ Perhaps it was because that was the last time I was 'whole' and happy. I still look at that last picture that was taken of me pregnant and think, "She has NO idea how her life is going to change in just an hour..."

While I wanted desperately to feel a baby inside of me again, I was also terrified by the thought. I learned I was pregnant again on the day we buried my sweet Great Aunt, whom I was very close with. Even then~ every moment~ pregnancy was on my mind, but I would not let myself celebrate like I had when I saw that first pregnancy test~ would not let myself dream.

The disconnect continued. I remember thinking that this was wrong... I shouldn't be pregnant so soon... I should have Andrew. Joey should have Andrew. We should have Andrew~ not this other person.

It wasn't until I was in the garden writing Andrew that (that I wanted him back), that I felt a kick and knew. This was a new life that would teach me just like he had (and he would). I made the decision to love and to sing to this child just as I had Andrew and maybe even dream... albeit just a little.

I wouldn't buy a single thing when I was pregnant. When I spoke of the new baby I would say "IF" the baby comes home, you can get diapers and bring up clothes to be washed. Nothing was to be bought because nothing would be returned... I couldn't do that again.

So on the morning of the delivery (which would be three weeks early via c-section because of my growing anxiety of cord accidents and general fear), I didn't know what to expect. I got into the car and started sobbing. I wasn't quite sure then why I was crying and I am still not quite sure now. I could feel the baby kicking inside of me just as I had that first pregnancy though this time I knew it was from the one and only baby growing inside of me.

Once in the delivery room I was fine. It was brighter than I remember (though I am sure the room was just as light for that first emergency c-section). There was talk and laughter (something certainly absent from that first delivery). And there was hope. I knew that first delivery that the hope I was trying to hold on to was slowly falling through my fingers. This time there was hope and for the first time, lying on that delivery table, I knew... this was going to happen. I was finally going to be able to say that I had 'babies' at home.

After you lose a child it is so hard to be pregnant again, but it is more hard not to be.

Anytime I saw a pregnant person, I wanted to be her. In the back of my head there were always the thoughts, "Does she know how lucky she is?" "Does she know how fragile she is?" "Does she know how things can change in just a moment?" While I wanted to tell her, I also wanted to run from her. I hated being around pregnant people (unless I was one of them~ or it was someone from the Secret Society).

After delivering my daughter and experiencing what a delivery COULD be (pure happiness, the baby you came to deliver coming home with you), I wanted to do it again and again and again. I wanted to be those girls talking about pregnancy and pumps, complaining about aches and frequent potty breaks. I wanted to be "her" the pregnant girl. And it didn't matter if it was a few days after I delivered... I wanted to be "her" again. But even though I "was" her again (pregnant) I still wasn't. I was different. Changed.

What others didn't understand about me is that I somehow wanted them to know that I was a mom. I had done this. I had had twins. I think that somehow I felt Andrew's death was my fault. I had failed him. I had gone in too late, but I wouldn't do it again. I wanted to be pregnant again. I wanted to prove I could do it. For him. For me. For a baby that I would love more than anything.

I am someone though, who didn't have a hard time becoming pregnant, but I think that I had a similar desperation as those who did. I think that I had the same uneasy feeling around pregnant people. The same feeling that I wanted to run from the room when they came around. The same eyes that scanned the room and could find them. They were everywhere. And THAT was hard.

At the time for me baby showers were so very hard, because I knew what it felt like to have to return things~ things you had thought would be for your baby. Showers are still hard for me as I just find myself praying ~ please let these gifts not need to ever be returned... Like Andrew these things are always in the back of my mind. No one thinks they will lose a baby, until they do.

It is so hard to be pregnant, but it is more hard not to be.
Wishing you peace.