Missing our baby boy

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

A poem

This poem was something that I connected with from day one. Re-reading it again, it still speaks to me. This is a sister post to my last one, since I think this poem says it better than I ever could.

As I look up to the skies above,
The stars stretch endlessly--
But somehow all those rays of light
Seem dimmer now to me.
As I watch the morning sun appear,
The shadows still don't fade—
As if the brightest light of all
Was somehow swept away.

Though I see the branches swaying,
And watch their dancing leaves--
The echoes carried on the wind
Don't sound the same to me.
As I listen to the morning birds
Sing softly from afar--
It seems to be a mournful tune
That echoes in my heart.

Another day has come again,
As time moves surely on--
But nothing now seems quite the same,
To know that he is gone.
The days and weeks and months ahead
Will never be the same--
Because a treasure beyond words
Can never be replaced.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Old joy, new joy

A fellow blogger brought up a good question today:

Should I still feel so numb to things that used to bring me so much joy?

I think I’m safe in saying we all have a degree of numbness still with us, actively effecting at least one part of our lives. All of us. For her, the question regarded the holidays, which she (prior to her loss) had always loved.

I have always loved Christmas time as well. It’s always been my favorite holiday. I shop months in advance and put up my tree the day after turkey day. I love the lights, the sounds, the smells and the fact that everyone seems in an all-around nicer mood.

That first Christmas after our loss was the worst, of course. My nerves were shot. I took the tree down the day after Christmas and felt huge relief at not having to look at it for one more second. Last year was better and, so far, so is this year. I'd say my holiday spirit is back. I’m so relieved to say that. Some of my joy has come back, and it’s joy I can share with my family.

However, everyone is different.

What I haven't gotten back is my appreciation for everyday beauty. I used to stop and look at sunsets, admire the mountains and be constantly humbled and in awe at how tiny it all made me feel.

There is a place less than 30 minutes from here where we pick berries every fall. There is literally nothing there but a valley rimmed with mountains and beautiful land that stretches farther than you can see. I used to go every year to pick berries, enjoy the beauty and sunshine, let my mind be free and to quietly absorb my surroundings.

Now it’s not like that for me anymore. I go there and the silence grates on my nerves. I don’t see stretches of valley coated in grass, flowers and low bushes of all colors. I see flat land filled with plant life that will turn brown and die soon. The mountains aren’t majestic, they’re just mountains and really not all that impressive.

It’s not just my favorite haunts that have been tainted. Beautiful skies, rain streaming down a window and quiet winter mornings do nothing for me anymore. All of those little moments I used to fill up with beautiful things suddenly mean nothing to me because they don't seem beautiful anymore.

I hoped it would come back. I told myself the joy I had before would come back. Two years later, it has not. And just tonight I am realizing something.

I think that part of me may have died. Forever.

Somehow my heart knows that it’s gone. Just gone. Not even a shadow of that part of who I was remains inside me. And that’s really sad to me. Here I sat telling myself I will heal eventually and get some of my old self back…and it’s not gonna happen. I feel that deep down to my bones to be the truth

So that caused me to ask myself, How could this happen?

We all know that we aren’t the same people after we’ve experienced the kind of loss that we have. We’re changed and have to get to know ourselves again (imagine my surprise to still be learning things about myself two years later!). It makes sense to me that what brought us happiness before just might not do the trick now. I’m not sure if it’s targeted by what means the most to us, what we found the most comfort in, our happy place or what. But I think we can all expect our joys in life to be affected. We’re seeing everything through new eyes.

Here's what I've learned - the new part of me appreciates a good cup of coffee, early mornings to myself and short lines at the grocery store. Literal things. I’m grateful for the things I have in my hands, not the whimsical I see in my mind. I don’t see Brayden as an angel over me, I don’t see fluffy clouds and think of Heaven and I don’t always think of him when I see butterflies. The old me absolutely would have. It’s a little sad, but that’s just the way it is. I guess it’s a good thing my empathy is also pretty much gone, otherwise I’d feel a little sorry for myself because I know how all that sounds.

Maybe, with more time, I’ll regain some of this back. Maybe I won’t. If not, I’ll focus on what does bring me happiness and hold on tight. The truth is, there’s no better time to be happy than right now, at this very moment.

Nature’s beauty doesn’t work for me anymore. Fine. I’ll work with what does. I’ll find what does and explore that more. I'm going to let go of what I think or expect will bring me joy and open myself to new avenues of happiness.

For my friend, and anyone else who is struggling to find joy this holiday, my heart goes out to you. I wish I could be more insightful. I wish I could share some of the Christmas excitement I have with you. I wish we weren’t in this club…but at the same time, I’m glad I have friends like you in my life.

Work like you don't need money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
And dance like no one's watching.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Screw the title...I gots nuthin'

I’ve grieved so hard for so long, I can’t remember what life was like without it by my side. To stay up late, like I am now, and just cry because the hurt you feel (and hide) takes over. It’s my companion, my crutch and my only connection to my little man who isn’t with me. How bittersweet, to have a connection that slowly sucks the life out of you like that.

Forgetting someone you love is like trying to remember someone you’ve never met. The pain associated with those memories is a small price to pay to have them close in your thoughts. Sometimes I welcome the pain, because it’s better to feel something than nothing at all.

I won’t ever have a day where I think of Brayden and don’t cry. I won’t look back and smile at what we had. We had one tragic day. One horrible, inconceivable, wish-it-didn’t-happen day. It sucks. And I know that no matter how hard I cry or how drained I feel after, I will have more days like this. More time between days, but still more days.

I had a son, and he died. I can’t get through that sentence out loud. Sometimes I can’t say his name without breaking down. Usually I can’t say his name without breaking down.

I’m not sure what’s wrong with me at this point. I’m missing my little man so much right now. This time of year is when everyone states what they’re grateful for, and I, selfishly, don’t feel very grateful. Resentful, painful, awful, remorseful…a lot of ‘ful’, but grateful isn’t there. It should be. But, it’s not. I’m angry and have nowhere for it to go.

I feel like kicking something small and fuzzy and adorable. Too bad we’re short on mystical woodland creatures up here.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Here we go again...

I don’t have many coherent thoughts other than I’m grieving again. It’s almost inconceivable at this point in my thinking, but I am. I don’t know what’s brought it on. We passed our two-year angelversary and I feel so, incredibly, unbelievably sad.

Two years was better than one. Three years will be better than two. As the years pass, this grief should get easier to bear. It will get easier, but the grieving itself is getting harder. Make sense? Didn’t think so. Most days I’m fine, but these last few weeks my mind has turned to Brayden more and more. I can’t quite think of the words to use to describe it. Regret? Not exactly. Sadness? Definitely. Longing? That’s it. I feel longing. Longing so deep that it hurts sometimes.

Where is this coming from? Why am I not past this? Even as I justify that grieving is a lifetime deal, I secretly wonder myself why I’m not past certain things. How can this still hit me out of the blue, knock me down and break my heart again?

I was rocking my rainbow to sleep the other night and suddenly wondered what it would be like to have rocked Brayden. To run my finger down his cheek, smell his hair and have his little fist hold my finger while he slept. The tears were instant, my heart clenched up and I had to bite my lip to keep the sobs in. Just like that, we’re grieving again. For just an instant, my thoughts felt right. Like that missing piece in my heart was back for just a second, Brayden was in my arms and the world was as it should be. It felt good, really good, to think that I was holding him, and that only made me cry harder.

I’ll never get over missing him. Ever. It just surprises me sometimes how it can hit out of nowhere and I’m back where I was two years ago. I wish I didn't feel so alone in my missing and grieving today. My heart just hurts, and there's nothing I can do but let it hurt.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Luxury of Grieving

Yes, I said it. Grieving has become a luxury for me. Not in a good way, of course. Nothing about grieving is a luxury, save one thing; the time to do it. I don’t have it. With two active children at home, Mommy can’t have a breakdown when she feels grief taking over. Mommy can’t sob uncontrollably while hidden away in her room, in the shower or in the car. Her living children need Mommy to be okay and take care of them.

So, grief gets put on hold.

That’s how today is going. That’s how every day goes. I can’t remember the last time I sat down and just let go and cried it out. I need to, but I can’t. I’m the mother of a lost baby, but a mother first and foremost. Mother to living children with no time to grieve for the one who isn’t here with us.

Today would have been Brayden’s two-year birthday. In this house, I’m the only one who remembered and I’m okay with that. Well, mostly okay with that. I thought a lot about what I wanted to do on this day. A balloon release? Buy that engraved memory stone I’ve had my eye on? Finally do something with his ashes? In the end, I’m not doing anything. To watch my family, happy and thriving, I just can’t bring myself to remind them what this day is.

That first year was the worst, when I didn’t so much as choose to embrace life but went along with the ride that was life. I went through the motions, put one foot in front of the other and pulled myself together just enough to impersonate a functioning human being. This year, I walk with life willingly and breathe a little easier because of it. Life isn’t going along without me…although, I’ll always be going through life without a son.

So, silent and alone, I’ll think about him as I go about my day. In my heart, that’s enough. In fact, in this weird way I feel like I’m honoring him by taking care of his brothers. It reminds me that life has moved on and if I stand still too long, I’ll miss it. I’ll miss the now by being stuck in the past with regret and sadness. So, today I choose to honor Brayden’s memory by embracing the life he didn’t get to live. I’ll hug his brothers a little bit tighter and linger over the welcome home kiss I’ll give my husband tonight.

Brayden, you’ll always be missed. I love you more than words can say. I wish you could be playing with your brothers on the living room floor right now. In my heart, you are. <3

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Rants and rambles

Usually my thoughts are more together before I write a blog, but that’s just not happening tonight. I’ve had a hundred thoughts running through my head these last weeks and I haven’t been able to grab a single one of them long enough to sort out something coherent. So, here I go in the hopes that something will make sense at one point in this ramble.

I’m feeling sad. That much I know. Not debilitating sad, but background sad. Not sad enough to cry, but sad enough to not be completely happy. The feeling is getting stronger, so the crying will be kicking in sometime soon (probably by the end of this blog).

Exploring why I’m feeling this way and blogging about it has always helped to make it better and get me through it. The trouble is, I still don’t know what’s going on. I haven’t run into any triggers. We aren’t close enough to Brayden’s birthday to where I’m feeling down. Although, now that I’ve written his name, I’m realizing how long it’s been since anyone said it out loud. Okay, now I’m crying :-(

He’s not been forgotten, but he’s not first anymore. My grief isn’t first and hasn’t been in some time. It hurts that our lives have moved on…it almost feels like it happened too fast and Brayden didn’t get his time with us that he should have. Even if that time was just for us to grieve his loss.

The last few times I had “down days” where I cried (or just wanted to) I realized something: I’m not really crying for Brayden anymore. I don’t know how to explain it, but I think I’m crying for just me. Sometimes I feel so alone and it has nothing to do with my family, friends or other BLM’s. It’s between me and Brayden and he isn’t here, so I cry because I’m sad for me. I cry because the connection a mother feels with her child is severed forever and I’ve never felt so alone – I think not even in those early months after our loss. It’s not stabbing pain, but it is steady...I feel like I’m reaching out into the dark and there’s nothing, just vast empty space.

The weird thing is, is that it doesn’t feel selfish to grieve for myself. I can only assume that it’s a new development in the grieving phase and I’ll get back to the normal routine of grieving later. Time will tell.

Something that has been on my mind, randomly, over and over, were a few things that were said to me after Brayden passed. I’m going to go ahead and throw out there that I’ve always tried to give “outsiders” the benefit of the doubt when listening to what they say to a grieving parent. Honestly, most don’t know that there’s nothing to say to make it better.

That being said, I’m really hating the “You can have more children” and “Be grateful you have other children” comments. I guess it’s having our rainbow baby that makes me see those for the crap that I think they are. I didn’t take comfort with those words at the time, but now they just piss me off.

Nobody would say to an amputee “Be grateful you have another arm” or “You can always get a prosthetic leg in the future”. Why? For obvious reasons. Why aren’t the reasons so obvious after losing a child? I don’t know. For some things, there just are no replacements…and there is no comfort in the pretense of otherwise.

Okay, feeling a little better now. Confessional and vent over. Hopefully I’ll have more coherent or insightful things to say the next chance I get to sit down and blog. For now, I’m content with getting some of it out…regardless of how random it is. ;-)

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

When a baby dies (video)

This video was shared by Every Life Has A Story.

The people who made the video got the feelings - especially the first part - exactly right.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Grief through art

I didn’t sit down at my computer tonight to blog. Mainly, I’m hiding from the pile of dinner dishes awaiting me in the kitchen.

I wish I was artsy. I'm not. I'm about as far from talented in the arts as a person can get. I greatly appreciate art, however, and I have something that I would dearly love to share. I hope it speaks to you as it did to me.

We all read blogs, poetry, quotes and stories that we can connect with. It’s not very often we find art that speaks to us in the grief world. If sometimes there are no words, how could there be art? Well, there is. I've found quite a few artists online who express themselves and their grief dynamically through art, but these pieces in particular grabbed my attention. I received permission from the artist to post her artwork on my blog in the hopes that it can connect with others as it did me. You can read her blog and see her artwork here.

This first piece was the one that caught my eye. Feeling everything weighing on you and not having words to express that heavy burden, her art said it all.

This second piece means the most to me, the one that captured everything I was feeling those first few months. Being left behind. It encompasses those early stages of grief, and some of the later. No one stays behind with you when you grieve; eventually, they all move on with their lives. But not us. We watch, hurting and unable to move forward as our lives should have. I can't express in words what she did with one painting.

This one represents to me what my husband and I went through about six months after our loss. Our grief took us different places and before we knew it, this huge chasm had opened up between us. For a while we couldn’t reach each other and were alone in our grieving. At this point in time, I wasn’t sure our marriage would survive.

Thankfully, we found the strength to bridge that gap, and it did.

No matter how far away we are from our loss, this is what we all are doing deep inside. Still grieving.

Rachel, thank you so much for allowing me to share your work with the world. I know it was a personal journey for you, and your artwork helps others to find a connection when sometimes words just can't. You are truly talented.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

18 months


Unfortunately, I don’t have the time required tonight to write all that I would like to. For now, I’m remembering Brayden 18 months after we said goodbye.

Some days, it’s so easy to forget that this happened to us, really happened. Some days, it’s like it was all a bad dream that has faded with the early morning light, leaving behind faint feelings of sadness and regret. I can look at our rainbow baby and almost forget he had a big brother that he never new and has now outlived.

Other days, I remember how it felt to come home from the hospital. How I felt nothing and everything at the same time. How it felt to walk by the nursery door, knowing what was in there but having nowhere near the courage to open it and walk in. The endless hours I spent on the floor of the nursery, hugging the blankets that were meant for him and crying until I was sick. I would hold the packets containing the precious few pictures we have of him, run my fingers over the envelope, but not open them. My arms hurt so very badly because they were empty.

And the last time I saw him. When the nurse carried him out for the last time, the last glimpse I had of the back of his head as she was leaving and how perfect he looked. It’s burned in my memory, along with the urge to chase her down screaming and take him away from her and never let him go.

I’m not ashamed to say those days are moving farther into my past and I’m glad of it. Missing Brayden will never change, but the fading of those memories can’t come fast enough.

I miss my little man today, and every day. Our family will grow and move on, but never be the same.

I love you, Brayden.

Gone yet not forgotten,
Although we are apart,
Your spirit lives within me,
Forever in my heart.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Time to let go

Even though I experience time between my down days, it doesn’t make them any easier to deal with. It doesn’t make the pain less, and it doesn’t make the hurt stop. But, I do experience a measure of peace in these times between and that is new and precious to me. Peace that I took for granted before Brayden left us.

This has been a down week. I guess I was due for one, although I was hoping I wouldn’t have to go through another one.

It’s different now. A year ago, I was torn apart on the inside and not much of a functioning human being. I can remember every detail of what that stage of grief felt like, and I’m grateful to not be there now.

Back then, the haunting questions were still with me. I would cry and silently ask why? Why couldn’t he be with us? Was it something I did? Why did this happen? I would cry and silently hate everything and everyone around me for what I was going through, for not understanding the depths of my pain, for not mourning as I did. I wanted to die with my son. I wanted my pain to end. I wanted to turn back the clock. I wanted him back.

Now when I feel the down days upon me, there are no questions or accusations or unending pain directed at everywhere and nowhere. I cry and the voices in my head are silent. I cry and it just hurts. I feel like there’s a big cavernous black hole of pain surrounding me. Surrounding me, but not consuming me…if that makes sense.

I’d be lying if I said having a rainbow baby didn’t make a difference. It did. My subsequent pregnancy after loss and the birth of our living, breathing son has helped heal me like nothing else ever could. I didn’t think it would be like that.

I hated every second of being pregnant with him, I was terrified beyond measure and stressed to the max. It was the longest pregnancy in history…at least, in my mind. I knew the worries wouldn’t end there – I saw far ahead. There was still SIDS, choking, car accidents, suffocation…you name it, in every day life I saw one more thing that could potentially take our precious baby away if he survived the pregnancy.

He’s here, and I still worry like crazy…but it’s one day at a time. That’s the only way I can breathe. One day at a time.

And as much as having him healed a great deal of my heart, there will always be a place that can’t ever be healed. I feel it every day, because it still hurts.

I never thought Brayden would be replaced. I never wanted him to be. I’m just surprised that what wasn’t meant to be can still hurt so badly.

Summer is coming fast, and I can’t ignore the fact that my precious lost son’s remains have yet to be dealt with. My husband has brought up a few conversations regarding where and when to spread his ashes. I always manage to turn the conversation pretty easily. I know I need to do something, but the thought of letting him go hurts more than I can express. I feel panicked, I can’t breathe and my mind screams NO! I can’t let him go. I just can’t. His ashes are all I have left. I’m afraid I’ll grieve all over again. In fact, I know I will. That’s what I feel when it’s brought up, like I’m losing him all over again. I can’t lose him again. I’m not ready.

But, like when we were at the hospital saying goodbye to our little man…life doesn’t give a crap if you’re ready. And it’s past time I said a true goodbye to Brayden. I know this. My heart just crushes at the thought of laying him to rest somewhere. I think it’s because I know as long as he’s here with me, I get to put off grieving again that much longer. And I’m not ready to let him go.

But, what mother is? How much time is enough time, really?

I don’t want to go through this again. But, it’s time. As a good friend of mine says, it’s time to put on my big girl panties. I owe it to my family. I survived losing him, I can survive saying goodbye.

I just don’t want to.

Friday, March 4, 2011

Where the Sidewalk Ends

I haven’t blogged in a while, mostly from lack of time. I’ve been taking each day as it comes, remembering to breathe in and out slowly and be content for just today.

That being said, I ran across something today that made me pause.

I’ve always been an avid reader of anything I could get my hands on. When I was young, one of the first things I remember owning was a book by Shel Silverstein. For those of you unfamiliar with his works, he wrote several excellent books of childrens poetry. I loved reading those books, and thought the other day how great it would be to travel down memory lane and read some fun verses to my 10-year-old son.

The book Where the Sidewalk Ends was the one I remember reading the most. I remember how worn the spine was and how careful I had to be with it towards the end…the pages were quite worn. To this day, I can still recite quite a few limericks and poems from that very book.

The actual poem Where the Sidewalk Ends (hence the title of the book) stopped me short when I read it again for the first time today. I don’t know if this is a difference in my perception. I don’t know if it was meant to speak to me now, as it did today, in the way that it did. I just don’t know.

What I do know is that it’s been almost 18 months since we’ve lost Brayden, and in the last year and a half I’ve read some very moving stories and poems that have helped me through my journey of grief. Most I could connect with, some I just thought were beautiful. I saved all of my favorites, and I’m happy to say my favorite childhood book will now contribute to my collection.

Where the Sidewalk Ends

There is a place where the sidewalk ends
And before the street begins,
And there the grass grows soft and white,
And there the sun burns crimson bright,
And there the moon-bird rests from his flight
To cool in the peppermint wind.

Let us leave this place where the smoke blows black
And the dark street winds and bends.
Past the pits where the asphalt flowers grow
We shall walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And watch where the chalk-white arrows go
To the place where the sidewalk ends.

Yes we'll walk with a walk that is measured and slow,
And we'll go where the chalk-white arrows go,
For the children, they mark, and the children, they know
The place where the sidewalk ends.

When reading this, I was struck by how much these words hit home. It’s about unhappy circumstances. It’s about getting through horrible things. It’s about hope, and how beautiful it can be to look ahead with the knowledge that life isn’t always what it is now, that it will get better if we just keep moving forward.

And best of all, it was written with the innocence and understanding of that of a child, which makes it whimsical and precious to me.

Our walk isn’t easy; that’s why we take it “measured and slow” (one day at a time). It’s not so easy to get to the place where the sidewalk ends…and for us, there’s no real end. But that’s a literal interpretation, and there’s no place for that in poetry. No one expects our grief to end, not really. And that’s the point of the poem; not an ending to our grief, but an ending to each hard period of grief we pass. That’s where the sidewalk ends. And that’s where hope begins.

For those of us who repeatedly find ourselves searching for where the sidewalk ends…take the poet’s advice and “watch where the chalk-white arrows go”. It’s a road we’ve been through many times and will travel many times again, but we know this road. We’re the children who mark. We’re the children who know. We know it ends in hope.

And, probably most important, we know we don’t walk it alone.