Tuesday, December 10, 2013

John


I haven't written in a while.
It's not that I haven't thought of Andrew~ or his sister.
Haven't come here and looked at an empty screen and wanted to say something.  Anything.
But I felt quiet.

Much has happened in the last couple months.
We went to the Walk to Remember.
Joe asked where Andrew's body was...

We decorated our Christmas tree,
our kids showing us Andrew's (many) ornaments before placing them on the tree...

But still I came, looked at a blinking cursor and just~
paused.

I come here today not to write about my own losses~ my own grief~
But someone else's.
Someone whom I've never met, yet has danced around my thoughts and moments
much as my own children have these last months.

His name was John Schmidt.
Even as I type that sentence, the word 'was' pains me.

Someone from my church had asked for prayers for him.  He was young~ turning only 21 years old and spending his birthday fighting cancer.

I thought back to the days when I watched my father-in-law in his own battle.  How I used to draw pictures of rainbows and happy things because I thought a little color would make things just a little brighter.  And it did. For a moment.

I thought of John.  Celebrating his 21st birthday and I wondered about his walls.
I looked around where I spent most of my time (the first grade classroom where I teach) and how the colored pictures and love notes from my students just seemed to lift my days.

Together with my students, we made cards for John.  We wished him well and my students asked him important questions (like what his favorite sport was or the color of the shirt he was wearing...).  The cards made me smile and I hoped that (for a moment) they'd make him smile.

The summer went by and 
I wondered about John and even asked how he was doing.
The answer: Not well.

Again we took to more letter writing and the last batch of letters went out a month or two ago.

Last week, we made another batch of letters.
This time to the Schmidt Family.
I told my students that they were having a hard time and could use some color to brighten their days.
I didn't tell them, what I told their parents.
John lost his battle with cancer.

I felt so Sad. Deflated. Empty. Quiet.
My first thoughts were of prayer.
Of how sometimes the way our prayers are answered are not in the way WE would like them answered.
I had prayed for John to be healed.
For his pain to stop.
For him to feel whole.
But wasn't that prayer answered?  Is he now healed? Has his pain stopped?  Does he now feel more whole than any of us (here) could imagine?

I'm sure that I've spent more time (than most) thinking of death. of heaven. of what happens next.
Mostly in those times where I have no words.
But I pause.
And I can feel it.
I know.

I like to think that as John is now dancing. healed. free of pain.
That he has floated into our first grade classroom.
Just for a moment.
That perhaps he watched as we wrote letters that would bring just a small smile to his family.
To make them happy.
And he was happy.

I don't know John.
I don't know his family.
But I have spent much of this year thinking of them.

I remember how big the absence of Andrew was in our house.
Even though he had never lived there.
I remember how strange my in-laws house felt, when my father-in-law had died.
Even though I had not seen him in that house in some time
(he had spent much of the year in the hospital).
I wonder about John's home.
And it makes me sad.

It is the absence that we mourn.
The memories that could have been made.
The laughter that we wish we could hear.

Please join me in praying for the Schmidt Family~ Not just today but in the days ahead.
Pause.
And remember.
I know I will.
Hugs~
L





To view this video on YouTube, you can click HERE.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

A Decade in Pictures


I remember when I first posted this picture on facebook a friend wrote, 
"You've made a lot of beautiful people, Laura.  PS. I can see the others in the sky."

Wow.
She saw them.

I was recently going through pictures to make a video for Joey (Andrew's surviving twin) and these pictures stood out to me.
I made this for my first son.
Do you see him?



Sunday, September 15, 2013

Today


How my Today went~
My Journal Entry from the Garden

9-15-13

Dearest Andrew,

Ten years!  A decade since I've spoken your name.  I'm here in your garden.  I'd wondered how today would go as your garden has changed and of course (also) because we have now been separated a decade...

Or have we been separated?

I know you hear these words as plainly as those that leave my lips or grace my heart.  I have always had an intense closeness to you... the boy who grew me.  The one who was above every moment as we laughed and cried.  Last night was so peaceful for me.  As was this morning.
Joey actually came to me this morning and climbed into my arms.

A decade.

How I love your brother.  I know he doesn't know my thoughts and feelings like you do, but that little boy... He's been my reason~ for a decade.

Your dad woke me today.  He brushed my lips and said, "Thank you for my babies... For all of them." It's hard for him too~ missing you, but so happy for our Joe.  He says he'll be with him now and with you later.

When I got to your garden, I first looked at the Mother Tree.  The trinkets are all on it again but are so faded.  I have no idea which are yours.  I had placed them all together in that same familiar spot.  How it pained me so.

And then I saw it...
Charms!

Riley's mom had made them and hung them.  "Andrew" and "E" Charms that will hang for many more years- that won't fade.  That's when my tears first fell.  I thought of them~ All your friends.  Their mothers.  I have been given such a gift of their friendship.  I wonder if they know what they all mean to me.

Then I went to E's brick.  5!?!  Can you believe it?  Gosh, I miss my spark.  I wrote her a message and watched as it sailed to the heavens on its pink balloon.  Tears Andrew.  So many.  I'm sometimes surprised my body is still able to make them after the countless amount that have fallen.

And then you.  I crawled to your brick and wrote some wishes to you.  I was crying so full~ lying there flat on my stomach.  Head on your name.  Kissing your brick and wishing that for a moment I could see you.  Just for a moment and take you in my arms, properly.  

I lit your candles and watched.  My voice didn't come this year~ but I know you hear my thoughts.

Next I visited Brooke.  Peek in on Lynn and the family~ They're going through so much.  I talked with her.  Wrote her and sent her an early birthday greeting.  I know her mom will be sharing these feelings next week.  I've been so blessed to have her on this journey.

Then I came back to you and your ten balloons.  I wrote a number on each one and watched as I cut them (one at a time) and released them to the grey skies.
With each cut~ I remembered...
1- Your memorial at U of M.  Ali in my belly.
2- So much harder than I thought it would be.
3-The age E was when she visited my dreams.
4- Sean's age.  I could picture you so easily at 4.
5- You would have gone to kindergarten.
6- You would have
7- You would have
8- You would have
9- You would have

I didn't write on that last balloon like I had wanted to.  I watched as it broke free from where it was tied.  "NO!" I said aloud. 
And then quietly, a mere whisper, "It left too soon."

And as I sat back all those years fell away from me and around me and went up.  A sweet release.  

It was too soon.

But I guess I really was ready.

You've prepared me.  Putting this pen in my hand.  These thoughts on my heart and this assurance in my bones that you will always BE.

Waiting for me.

I love you sweet boy.  Happy 10th in heaven.

See you next year.  Same place.  Same time.

Love Always & Forever,
Mom





Saturday, September 14, 2013

Tomorrow


Tomorrow.
Wow.
Tomorrow will be my 10th September 15th.
MY tenth birthday.

I say that because I was born that day.
The me I am today.
It was the day the life I knew ended forever and 
My new life began.
A richer life.
A fuller life.
A blessed life.

A life with deeper cuts.
but purer joy.
A life with harder roads
but richer colors.

I know this.

I was just spending time with the night sky.
That sky I have spent so many hours talking to.
He's out there.
He sees me.
He's watched my transformation.

Tomorrow the boys I made will be ten.
And so will the mom they made.
Praying the peace I feel now, will last through tonight.
Follow me.
Goodnight, My Love.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

The Spark


Who would have thought I'd remember that spark?
Do others?
"Everyone" has them...
Or so they say.

"You'll forget," they said.
But how could I?

She was the only one who visited me in my dreams.  Was she 3? 4?  I remember seeing those blond pigtails as she bounced away~ wishing somehow I could will her to come closer. Turn around again.  Just a few more moments. I can close my eyes and see her outline.

We didn't have any moments.  
It wasn't like Andrew where I held him and waited and chose when I needed to say goodbye.
That "forever" goodbye.

I remember 5 years ago like it was yesterday.
I knew it was going to be a girl.  
Absolutely certain.  Just like I was with her sister.
She had come so easily.

But she didn't stay.
Five years ago I was at school.
Teaching third graders who hardly knew what was happening to their teacher.
How did I make it that day?
A blur.
A fuzzy, hazy blur.

I didn't even make it home.
Stopped at my parents' house because it was closer.
I remember the pain.
The physical, horrible, indescribable pain.
The blood.
Just writing that word steals my breath.
Blood.
There was just so much.

Looking back, I think I knew she was gone 
but still I held on.
Isn't that what we do sometimes?
When our life becomes a nightmare... 
We just close our eyes and tell ourselves to wake up.
Just a dream.
It will be OK.
But it wasn't.

And Jeff.
The look on his face.
Watching him collapse.
He wanted her too.
We both wanted her.

But she was just a spark and 13 months later we had him.
That funny little (almost 4 year old) boy sleeping dreamily in his bed.

Is that what happens?
We remember those sparks but when someone new is there, they go out?

No.
I can't.

Five years baby girl. 
Come see me again.
I haven't forgotten.
I never will.

~E~

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

His Story~ Again


I realize I haven't written on this blog in a while.  Not because I haven't been thinking~ but I have had my nose so deep in books that I haven't kept up with my writing.

I was asked to help someone with a book she is working on about loss.  She wanted personal stories for different sections~ Still birth, miscarriage, loss of a multiple... (How sad that I could have written on all three of those topics.)

She asked me to write about Stillbirth and so I opened my computer and my memory and traveled back to September 15, 2003.  I was a bit nervous.  It had been a while since I thought back to that specific night and yet do you ever really forget something like that?

Here is my first draft.  Please excuse my overuse of ellipses (...) and parenthesis ( ).  I know I need to go to a support group to get rid of such things~ my style I suppose.  I will be editing this further- Please let me know what you think. I am a bit over the length she wanted but not sure what to cut.  You don't realize the layers your story has until you start sitting down and putting it on paper (or in my case- screen).  

Thanks,
L

I was 27 and my bags were packed.  They had actually been packed~ for weeks.  I had heard that twins come early but as my husband Jeff had said, “Those babies don’t want to leave club med until they’re good and ready.”

My doctor had said we would go until 40 weeks (which she said was considered two weeks overdue with twins).  My calendar had September 22nd circled (in red).  I was sure it would have been my babies’ birthday.  My husband was right, these babies weren’t going anywhere.

I remember where I was sitting (a reclining chair that had also become my bed since I couldn’t lay flat without the babies crushing my lungs) and what I was wearing (khaki shorts and the only white T-shirt I had that would fit over my huge stomach).  At 5’2” I carried all out front.  I measured 40 weeks at 6 months and when I look back at pictures of that girl prior to delivery, I feel like it must have hurt~ but it didn’t.  I was someone who LOVED being pregnant.  My pregnancy had been very uneventful~ I did have club med in my body after all...

The phone rang.

It was my doctor.  It was only the 15th, but she called and said, “I think it’s time.  Let’s just have you come up and get the ball rolling.” Later I would ask her why she called me in early and she would tell me, “God just put you in my head”.  I was to go in, get some creams and pitocin (or something like that) and hopefully have these babies the following morning.  I say “something like that” because I never got that far.

When we went to the hospital, I practically ran.  The entrance was under construction, but I insisted on walking (making the very old man who wanted to push me in a wheel chair very nervous).  Jeff and I got to our room and my mom joined us (they were to be my labor coaches).  We were met by a nurse who gave me a gown to change into so we could get started.

I was so excited!  I couldn’t wait to see the babies who had been living and moving inside of me.  I had sang to them every night, read to them, and now here we were FINALLY.  We didn’t even know if they were boys or girls so we had four names picked out.  My mom took those last “pregnancy” pictures of me and I was ready.  Little did I know that that girl in the picture would be gone in just a matter of hours~ never to return~ changed.

I got in the bed and they put some belts around me.  The nurse was having a hard time getting heart tones on the babies.  I wasn’t worried.  By now they were big and cramped in there.  At my most recent ultrasound (a few days prior) they were all over each other and it was hard to get good pictures.  She apologized (as did another nurse who tried with no success) and got the house doctor.  He too couldn’t get any tones so he brought in an ultrasound machine.

I felt the familiar cool of the gel and watched the picture on the screen along with him.  I saw my baby, only there was something different.  That familiar flutter~ that light that steals the breath of every parent who sees it, was gone.  Black.  I didn’t have to hear the words or see the doctor’s face to know what it meant.  He slid to the other side of my stomach and same thing...
“It appears your fetuses are dead.”

Those were his exact words.  My eyes scanned the faces of my mom and husband.  I think in that moment I was more concerned that he called my babies fetuses than the message he was trying to deliver.  My babies were dead.

“But I feel them moving!”

And this I will never forget.  He put his hand on my left arm and moved it gently, “That’s you breathing.”
I took his hand from my arm and put it to the side of my stomach.
He felt it.  I saw it in his face.

He got an ultrasound tech and I had hope.  Hope was inside me as I prayed, and prayed and prayed.  I prayed like I had never prayed before.

The ultrasound specialist came in.  He was a short man.  He looked uncomfortable.  He took out the gel and spread it across my stomach.  He saw the first baby.  Silence.  But then he moved the wand and there it was.  That flicker.

“It appears that one of your babies is dead, but the other is here.  I’m so sorry.”

At that time my doctor had reached my side.  She looked worried.  There would be no pitocin- no creams.  I was getting poked and prodded and prepped.  They needed to get these babies out of me and fast.  They didn’t know what was happening.

It happened so fast.  I looked at my limbs which were bouncing out of my control.  Fluids going into my body so fast that it was making movements that were foreign to me.  They wheeled me into a room.  An operating room that felt dark to me (though I’m sure it was very bright).  It was silent in that room and there were eyes everywhere that I didn’t know.  They all wore blue masks.  I hugged one of them as she whispered in my ear, “God is in this room.”

“I know.”

My body went slack and they laid me back gently and then I saw his eyes.  My husband’s.  They were streaked and red and I know he’d been crying.  I know he was scared.  My hands were strapped at my sides but he held one and squeezed.  Our silent “I love you” to one another.

At 10:35 I felt this enormous pull and I knew.  It was silent and yet I felt as if this strange rain were pouring down on me. A peace was covering me~ Every inch of me.

“It’s a boy.”

It was a statement.  A fact.  All this time and now I knew.  I had a strange sense of peace.  That God really was in the room.  That he was OK.  I looked at my baby and he was pink and beautiful and I wondered why they weren’t working on him.
A minute later I felt that same pull only this time it was accompanied by the most beautiful sound a parent can ever hear~ though they don’t know it unless they’ve experienced its absence.  Cries!
“It’s a boy.”

Two boys.

And in that moment while they were cleaning them up, I smiled at my husband.  They would have been best friends. Played on ball fields together. Ridden bikes. Double dates.  They would have been best men at each other’s weddings...

Would have.

They put baby A on my left and baby B at my right.  Both were the most beautiful thing I had ever seen.  I slipped my pinky finger into my first son’s curled hand and I swore I felt him hold on... Oh please God, let him hold on.

But he didn’t.

We named him Andrew Daniel.  He was six pounds 11 ounces and to this day he is the largest of all his siblings.  There has not been a single day that has passed where I haven’t thought of him~ where he hasn’t wandered into a thought or fluttered past my daydreams.  I like it that way.

I began writing him.  I got a journal and I filled it with letters to him.  Letters I knew he would never read but somehow I knew he felt every word.  I look back at those letters now and I can see how far I’ve come~ my anger, my fear~ my sadness.  Pages where I can still make out the remnants of my tears.  How far “we’ve” come and while there were many days following that September night that I didn’t feel it, I can now say~ with certainty, “I am blessed.”

I left for the hospital that September night with my bag slung over my shoulder.  I remember looking at my house that last time and thinking, “The next time I step into this room I will be different.  I will be changed.  I will be a mom.”  I had no idea how changed I would be.  That the words “still birth” would be part of my story.  But they were.  They are.

Andrew lives in me still.  He lives in all of us.  His twin who (as I write these words) is now almost ten, his sister born 15 months after him who would probably not have been here had he lived (we would have been more careful...), and his two youngest brothers. My family is so much more than the four children you see in our family picture.  It is something big and beautiful and blessed.

He grew me.  He grew us.

I thank him for that and I look forward to the day where I won’t write it in his journal or whisper it on the breeze but I will say it.  I will look into his eyes and say, “Oh Andrew. I have missed you.  I have loved you so...” and he can stop me.  Put a finger to my lips and say, “I know, mom.”  Because he does.

Written by Laura Drapal Doran
Mom to (Andrew), Jonasen, Ali Jane, Zachary, (E) & Sean

Thursday, May 23, 2013

What happens today~



So recently I stumbled upon THIS story.  A life of a boy named Zach that I never would have heard of, had it not shown up on my computer one day~ had he not been sick~ had he not chosen to share his story.

I remember when my father-in-law passed away after a horrible year-long battle with cancer.  We found out just a month after we lost Andrew and at that time we were also told that we had only about a year left with him.

Speechless.

I still feel that way when I look back on it.  A man that was so full of life~ Someone whose voice and laughter I can still hear in my mind.  A man that most of my children never met, and Jonasen has no memory of.

In that year, Jeff and I had many talks about life and death and God.  We cried more that year than we smiled~ despite being first time parents.  We often talked about it~ how one was taken so suddenly, without warning, while the other we waited on... Wondering when?  Perhaps the only gift from cancer is that it forces you to say what you need to say today because you know tomorrow may not be here.  We were able to say EVERYTHING we needed to say.  Everything we needed Jeff's dad to say to our son.  We were able to tell him what he meant to us, what we learned from him, how much we loved him!

Do you ever wonder what it would be like if we all lived that way?  If those thoughts we have about others throughout the day (I'm talking the nice thoughts) didn't just stay in our heads, but we let them out?  Instead of thinking, "Wow, I sure am blessed to have ____ in my life!"  We actually SAID it?  That's what "knowing" does and watching Zach's story reminded me that I have gotten out of practice with that.  Out of thanking others for what they did for me today, yesterday, last year.  Because what happens Today certainly shapes my Tomorrows.

This last week, I read a post on facebook from a friend who was asking for birthday cards for her friend's son who has been sick in the hospital for over a year with cancer.  It was one of those moments where at first I thought, I should do that, but my goodness... my plate is so full, how can I even GET to the post office this week let alone find time to pen a card?!

And then I took a moment and paused~

I remembered all those pictures I colored for my father-in-law that year.  How when I went and visited him in the hospital one day, I looked around and saw them on the walls... flowers and rainbows and hearts.  What a difference they made on those sterile brick walls.  And then I thought about the tomorrows and how sometimes today is more important.

I talked to my first graders and we took a break from the year-end assessment mess and we all got out our crayons and wrote John Birthday and Get-Well wishes.  The letters made me cry because I imagined how that might feel... to get an envelope full of pictures and notes from strangers who thought of you... TODAY.  And how that could affect your TOMORROW.

Of course with all these thoughts of Zach, my father-in-law, John~ all swimming in my head, I got to thinking of that first boy that made me Pause.  Made me think about Today.  Because you may not have Tomorrow.  I was thinking about that when I got a note from a very old friend who Today wrote me to tell me how Andrew and I have made an "everlasting impact" on her.

Wow.

I'm glad she told me that Today.  Because sometimes what you do Today, can get you through Tomorrow.

Wishing you peace Today that will last you through your Tomorrows!

Hugs,
L

PS. To see what my students did for John, click HERE.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

On becoming a mother.


They are always there.
Part of my story.
Mother's Day is not just the joy of having four beautiful children around me.
It's the pain of having two of them not.

It is hard for me not to think of those who hurt on Mother's Day~
Be it from
 Missing their own mother~
Missing the one who made them a mother~
Missing that chance of becoming a mother~

I think there are many more hurting, or with those mixed feelings, than those who are completely full.
That is my story.

At a recent meeting that topic of your friend saying "I'm expecting" came up.
And what is the right way to tell someone.
I've been on both sides... How to tell someone & How I prefer someone to tell me.

No matter how happy you may be for someone becoming a mother, 
there is so often that sting that comes with it.

I remember days after I lost E.
A college friend had told me that he and his girlfriend were expecting. 
The knife.
And can you believe it?  Twins?
The twist.
I congratulated him and held my stomach 
(and my tears).

A week later I got a phone call.
It was my own mother and there was a lot of commotion in the background.
I couldn't quite hear.
And then it came out, "You're going to be an Auntie!"
(And dare I admit it.)
That knife was back.
And I was so ashamed.
I congratulated my brother and held my stomach 
(and my tears).

Because in those moments (when the pieces of my broken heart were still so sharp) it became about me.
I didn't want it to be.
But my broken heart went there and made it that way.  
That's how I felt.
The thing about feelings is that they aren't right or wrong... they simply are.

Both of these announcements came over the phone.
And THAT was the greatest blessing for me.
Because those moments of "me"
Those moments of breaking
Holding my stomach
Hiding my tears
were alone.

And when I saw the expectant parents next, I could hug them and say how happy I was for them...
And I was.

I just needed time.
We all need time.

Our experiences shape us, make us who we are, grow us.
Those broken sharp edges of our heart will become more rounded
But they will always be~ broken.

I wanted to share this story because perhaps you know someone.
Someone like me who had recently lost a child (or perhaps EVER lost a child) and you're wrestling with how to tell them.  This is what I would have said in those days, weeks, months and perhaps even years following my losses.

I want you to know that it will hurt me a little.
But not telling me will hurt me a lot.

I want you to know that in that moment you tell me I may be a little sad for me.
But I am also so happy for you.

I want to thank you for telling me over the phone
Where I won't have my face give me away.

Though it may take a moment for the reality of 
"It's not me" to settle in...
It will.

Because you are my friend.
I am and will be so happy for you, on becoming a mother.
There is nothing quite like it.
It's all I've ever wanted.
And hopefully, one day soon, 
I'll be joining you.

Thought of you all on Mother's Day.
Those of you full of joy.
Those of you full of sadness.
Those of you with the rounded edges.
And those of you still dreaming
of becoming a mother.

Godspeed.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Being There.


Today is my wedding anniversary.

My husband and I went out to dinner.
We reminisced, laughed and talked about everything we could in the few hours we had with just the two of us... our spiritual beliefs, our kids, what we've gone through in our marriage and then we talked about him.

Andrew.

We talked about that night.
How I had such a strange peace about it.
That my baby was safe.
That it was the one time, I was absolutely sure.
God was there.

He didn't have that peace.
He had just sorrow.
Just sadness.
Just emptiness.

I wondered aloud why that was.  How two people so present in that moment could feel two totally different things.

He told me there will never be another moment in his life that will hurt like that did.  In his words, The first cut is the deepest.  He had that ache when E died, but it was just the opening or a scar that had already been there, one he'd come to know so very well.

I imagine that the waitress thought we were crazy, two people out for beer and nachos (nothing fancy for us), but with tears in our eyes.  On the verge of breaking, but we know how to hold it in. How to put on a smile and change our emotions in an instant.  We've been doing it for years... almost 10. 
We've been through this. 
together.

We've been together 12 years now.

He grabbed my hand and told me that he felt those years.
That he's grown in those years.
And he has.
And we have.

I know marriages that have not survived the loss of a child.
I know marriages that are never the same after the loss of a child.
Ours was one of the latter.

It was hard at first for me.
I am a talker by nature. A thinker. A writer. Someone who needs to GET IT OUT!

He is quiet. Reflective. One who needs time. Space.

I remember wanting more.  Wanting to hear how he ached.  Wanting to hear how he missed him. Wanting to hear how he thought of him every day.
But I didn't.

But what I did get were quiet signs.
Lyrics he had written for a song he had penned.
A mention that he had stopped by his garden, "as usual."
And today... "You know I was thinking of him today..."

That's all I need.
That's what changed our marriage.
That is what made me fall deeper in love with him than I ever thought I could.

He loves our son.
He loves our children.
He loves me.

I asked him what made him think of Andrew and he couldn't quite place it... He was "just there".  I didn't need him to go further.  I understood.  There are times I will be sitting there as he weaves his way into my thoughts, like a warm, familiar breeze. 
Living there. 
Walking in his brother's shadow. 
Sitting on his sister's laugh.
Present in that scar that is always there, but has become a reminder of what we are.
What we have.

I miss him.
We miss him.
But we thank him too.
For being there.
Always.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Just. Get. Better.


I have someone in my life right now who is hurting physically and they are on my mind constantly... Every word I say seems to be underlined with this person's name. My urgent prayers.  I keep thinking 
Just.
Get.
Better.

That's all we really want isn't it?  
To be better?  
No matter what it is...
Sure, there are times when you're stuck in your bed and there's no where you'd rather be than tucked deep into the comfort of your pillows and blankets, but there comes a time when you want to be well.

And others want that for us too.
While I was thinking of the person who is hurting physically, my mind also has drifted on and off to someone whose physical pain and scars have healed.
But isn't that the easy part?

The pain of childbirth~ my physical pain of what my body was forced to go through, was almost unbearable, but nothing, NOTHING compared to the emotional pain that followed.

The body has an incredible way of healing.
The heart is a different story.

I know there was a time when I worried my friends.
I worried my family.
They wanted me better.  They wanted me laughing.  They wanted me back.

But I died that day.  The "me" they knew.
I know it hurt them.
They wanted me to 
Just.
Get.
Better.

I said Andrew's name constantly, put his pictures and name around my house. I cried. I rocked. I wrote. I screamed. And I did it again.  And again. And again.
I talked to someone.
But it didn't do anything...
Not really.

Well meaning people will try to push you.  
To coax you. To plead with you. To threaten you.
Just. Get. Better.

But what they don't know, what they simply can't understand is that right now you need to be in your bed~ amongst the pillows and the sheets. As much as you want to be back, the "you" they knew died that day too. And you need to find out who is left.  Meet her. Embrace her.  And that takes time and you can't be there for those who want you back.  You need to take care of YOU.
And 
That.
Takes.
Time.

Give yourself that.  And to those people, there is no timeline... but there will come a day when you're buried in the comfort of your sheets that you'll open your eyes and see the sun.  You'll place one foot on the ground and then the other.  You'll find your footing and you'll stand.

It can be wobbly and scary, but you're not in this alone, and you never were.
There is a community out there who understands this road.  Who walks it with you.
And so tonight,
I want that person to know that she's not alone.
And while the world (and perhaps she too) wants her to 
Just. 
Get.
Better.

It's just 
Not. 
That. 
Easy.

So I will not pull you out of that bed.
Out of those sheets.
Through that fog.

Instead I'll meet  you. 
And walk with you through it.
(((hugs)))
L

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Two lives.


A thought popped into my mind recently (as they often do).
Ten years ago (right now) I was pregnant.
That feels a lifetime ago.

I imagine most women have some sort of 'thing' they do when they're pregnant~ They read a story to their baby, sing a certain song, eat a certain food~ and I'm sure that book, song or food will sometimes trigger that memory. Bring them back to that time.

I was getting out of the shower and as I looked at my stomach (a sad, sorry mess from the way Andrew and Joe left it), it occurred to me.  It's been ten years. Ten years since they grew and stretched and kicked and breathed inside me. Ten years.
How does that happen?

I looked out my bathroom window and there was snow on the ground.  I opened the window, closed my eyes and took a deep breath in.  I inhaled slowly and let that single breath go to every ounce of my body and I remembered.

When I was pregnant with them, my auntie (a doula) said to me, "Laura, remember that every breath you take is also a breath for them."

That was a lifetime ago.

For some reason that stuck with me.  I had a window in the shower of the house we lived in ten years ago and I would open that window while the water ran down my back and take the deepest, fullest breath and imagine it traveling to my babies.  Imagined them dancing and full inside of me from that extra crisp, cool breath from the morning air.  I did that nearly every morning.

I do it sometimes still.
More often than I thought I would.
And sometimes I feel he gets it.
Gets that breath from me and that it fills him up.
Still now.
Ten years later.
A lifetime ago.

We were watching a favorite family movie the other day (The Natural) and a line I had heard so many times before just sort of hung in the air for me.  
"I believe we have two lives.  The life we learn with and the one we live with after that."
I had my husband pause it and play it again.  
I told him that I really liked that line.
He told me he did too.
Our eyes met and I knew we were thinking the same thing.  We are living our second life.

So much has been given a new breath for me because he never took one.
But I will breathe it for him as I always have.
I will learn from it.
I will live with it.
I will be better for it.
And I will live this second life knowing it.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

A bird on a wire


Have you ever noticed a bird on a wire?

I never really noticed them.  I never took the time to look up, but my son did.  He'd point them out to me and up I'd look and sure enough, there they were~ birds perched up there looking down at all of us.

I look for them now.
They slow me down.
They remind me to look up.

I sometimes feel like that bird on the wire, watching things from afar. I'm not in the thick of it anymore. I don't wonder if my next breath will come.  
I simply breathe.

But there was that time that I was there. 
wondering.
wishing.
praying.
That somehow I'd find a way out of this.
Fly away.

And I did.
It took a long time, but I left it.
I left it behind.
Left the intense moment-to-moment pain.
My smile came back.
My laughter came back.
But that old me was never seen again.
She flew away.
I didn't know it, but she flew away with him.
On that September night.
I didn't even notice, but just like that
She was gone.

And that's OK.

The girl who was left behind is stronger.
She is braver.
She fuller.
She is you.

Give yourself permission to say no.
To not be strong.
To not be brave.
To not understand.
Give yourself permission to let her fly away.
And see who remains.

In time, you may find you like her more than you ever thought you could.
I do.
~Peace~