Missing our baby boy

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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.