I am just so heartbroken. I feel like this torment will never end, although I know it will lessen with time. I fill my time cleaning and planning productive things to do, but that all seems empty compared to what I was expecting to be doing as a mommy right now. I have three weeks left on maternity leave and my husband is going back to work tomorrow. Without him I am not sure I can get out of bed tomorrow. I know I have to get busy living and not get busy dying but part of me died with my little boy. I feel robbed. I am angry. There is a hole that fills me and nothing is filling it. I do have good days but they lead to REALLY bad days which lead to good days and the cycle continues. This roller coaster is madness. Enough venting for now. Thanks for your support. Sharon, John, and Trey
When I was pregnant, I began to acquire too much fluid in the womb. They were not able to locate all of his heart parts on ultrasound which concerned them that he might have a heart defect. My water ruptured prior to 34 weeks but fully broke at 34 weeks. When he was born he was gray and not breathing due to the CHARGE associated nasal problem. His heart also had a valve that was twisted. So we were expecting at least two surgeries. He had the small penis and malformed ear as well. These are all symptoms that are grouped under CHARGE Syndrome. We waited for over a week for a bed at the local children's specialized hospital and were very hopeful when he got moved. After getting his testing there they sat us down and inferred that we had not heard the entire story. When he was born, they tried to get him breathing on his own for 90 minutes which is unheard of. In that time his major organs were not getting any oxygen which lead to bleeding on the brain and kidney failure. He had a few more tests that did not turn out much better so that's when made our decision. He was on a million machines and not breathing on his own. There is not way we would want this kind of life for ourselves and multiply that by infinity, and that's how much we did not want it for our son. They think that one of his genes mutated in utero which has nothing to do with John or I, just a fluke. That is hard for us to swallow because we are both secretly blaming ourselves especially me, who was his primary care giver for 7 1/2 months. There is a 1% chance that this will happen again, but that is a HUGE percent for parents who have already gone through this. We are scared to put another kids through it. Hopefully our genetics testing will set our minds at ease and w hen/if we get pregnant again, there will be special maternity care in my case. We want our own children but not at the risk of this happening again.
BARRY MANILOW SAYS IT BEST
I could share all of the feelings that I am feeling today, but I feel that my emotions today are selfish. My son taught me NOT to be selfish. I do not mourn for him, he is healthy, happy, and safe. I mourn for what don't have, should have had, and may never have. I might share tomorrow, but until then, I will let Barry Manilow tell you how I am feeling...
You know I Can't Smile Without You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh
and I can't sing,
I'm findin' it hard to do anything.
You see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If You only knew what I'm go ing through,
I just Can't Smile Without You.
You came along just like a song
and brightened my day,
Who'd've believe that you were part of a dream
Now it all seems light years away.
And now you know I Can't Smile WIthout You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh and I can't sing,
I'm finding it hard to do anything.
You see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If you only knew what I"m going through,
I just can't smile.
Now some people sa y happiness takes so very long to find.
Well I'm finding it hard leaving your love behind me.
And you see,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I Can't Smile Without You,
I can't laugh
and I can't sing,
I'm findin' it hard to do anything.
Y ou see, I feel sad when you're sad,
I feel glad when you're glad,
If You only knew what I'm going through,
I just Can't Smile Without You
ON A POSITIVE NOTE
I had a bad morning, but followed it up with an afternoon wit ha friend. I swear, talking is the best medicine. I cried a little, talked a lot, and was able to let go a little more. My friend I went with has a son and she told me that when she was on vacation her son got a cold and normally she would gripe about the lack of sleep she would have. She thought of Trey and cuddled with her son on the couch instead. She told me about how everyone at work had a prayer session for us the day before Spring Break vacation. Usually all of the staff would be out the door as soon as the kids left (I am a teacher by the way). She told me about how everyone always asks about us and if anyone has heard from us. It feels nice to hear those stories. Having people care about us and thinking of us proves that angels are everyewhere. Trey has special angels around us to help us through this. Those angels hold us while we cry, scream, laugh, talk, etc. I am not trying to sound trite, but right now I am ok, and these thoughts are getting me through this moment. My husband and I were talking last night and he worried about me sinking into my sadness. I told him that if I don't let myself feel this, I will sink myself into the deepest pit of despair there ever could be. If that means crying, screaming, cleaning, tanning, reading, soaking in the tub, sleeping, whatever, we need to do it so we can get on with healing. Every time we allow ourselves to feel, we heal, if only a little. It's not bottled up inside, it's not masked, it's not eating ourselves up. I am starting today on a good note but I am sure I will have my moments. I am thankful for my positive thoughts and negative ones too. If I did not have both, I would not be really living this. Throughout all of this I have thought of Sally Fields in "Steel Magnolias" when she was having her meltdown at the cemetery and said "My head understands, I just wish someone would explain it to my heart". That's how I feel everyday.
AND THE LANDSLIDE BROUGHT ME DOWN
I had a break down yesterday afternoon and am still thinking about the same things now. I think about my other friends who are healthy and pregnant and/or have their babies at home and I wonder WHY WAS THAT NOT ME!!!!!!!! My baby should still be inside me, I should be miserable with swollen ankles and back aches. All of the misery I am supposed to be experiencing right now as a mommy or a pregnant mommy is replaced by loss. I hear those who complain about sleepless nights with their newborns. I would rather have those sleepless nights then the nightmare filled ones I have now. I hear the machines and the alarms that were on Trey in my dreams then it takes me forever to go back to sleep because by that time, my mind is racing. John and I were talking last night (as we always do, GOD I love that man!!!!) about all of the stuff that happened at the hospital and how we don't feel like the people at the first hospital were completely honest with us and it made us ANGRY!!! I mean ANGRY ANGRY!!!! We both agree that he still would have been born with CHARGE with a lesser quality of life than we would want and we would much rather him not ever have to deal with that. We have so many questions we need answers to before that anger subsides. But we're still ANGRY!!!! Why put our little boy through all of that?!?!?! I can imagine them sticking him with needles and he can't even cry out to let them know he was in pain! I never heard him cry, but now I hear myself cry all of the time...all I wanted to do was hold my baby while he was crying...
GUILTY AS CHARGED
I actually had a fun weekend. Life has not been fun in a while. I went to the race tracks to watch drag racing and hung out with my husband and our friends. The guilt of this fun still haunts me. It seems strange that in the wake or our son's death that I am laughing, smiling, and having fun. That's always been my personality but I am wondering why I am not balled up on the floor or staying bed all day with the shades drawn. I am a very emotional person, but sometimes the emotions won't come. I spend hours wanting to cry but the tears don't come. I have never mourned the death of someone really close to me. I used to be terrified that the first people I would have to mourn were my parents or grandmothers. I never expected this. I am not sure I know how to mourn. I am scared this really has not hit me yet and right when I go back to work in two weeks I will have a meltdown. Part of me wants a meltdown so that I can say that I've had one, have a release, and relieve some of my guilt for jumping right back into life. I LOST MY SON!! That is one of the most gut wrenching realities I have and will ever have to face. The sentence alone is horrific, insert daughter instead of son and it's just as bad, no matter who is saying it. At the same time, the words "my son" make me smile. He makes me smile, just knowing he's safe and healthy and still so beautiful and young in Heaven. Our grief and the grief of our family and friends puts me in a funk. Sometimes I get lost in it, can't cry, can't scream, I just stare and wish to cry. I don't understand that? Is that part of the mourning process? I feel so guilty about trying to feel good. But a little part of my thinks that Trey knows his mommy and daddy well and would want us to get back to life the way we knew it. My life feels a little more empty without him in it...I feel like I am missing something all of the time, how do you get back to life when something is missing everyday?
LESSONS FROM TEARS PAST
I can't bear to look at babies that I don't know or go down the baby aisle or even look at Trey's pictures. He looks so pitiful, I can't stand it. People who have lost a baby and have another one are the only hope I have right now of having a healthy child. I got my blood tested today and John is getting his tested soon to see if the CHARGE is in our genes or just a fluke. The geneticist I spoke to said all of the tests they ran points to a fluke in his chromosomal development. I really don't trust the medical field right now but I hope she's right. Every day I open up the nursery door and imagine what it will look like a year or two from now. I feel like their will be a baby in there soon but then again I can't trust my gut either because my gut said Trey would be ok. John and I are so glad that this happened to us and not the ones we love because we couldn't take watching our family and friends go through this. At the same time I am so angry it did happen to us. We wanted that baby SO BAD!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And he was taken from us. It's not right and it's not fair. The doctor I saw today said, "oh, you're young, you can have more". I looked at her and I said, " I WANTED HIM!!" She said some other stuff that was rather pointless to dwell on, but she is yet ANOTHER example of the horrible experiences I have had in the medical field all of my life. I hate going to doctor's offices, seeing ambulances, or watching WellStar commercials. But, I am rambling. I am trying to stay strong and positive which is not an easy thing to do in the wake of this. Until the next rant, I would like three things:
1. Hold your loved ones tight
2. Hold your children tighter
3. Pray for healthy children for us in the future
Thanks for listening...
ALWAYS SOMETHING THERE TO REMIND ME
the empty nursery
the baby gifts
my small tummy
putting on a smaller bra
the yard without a swing set
the baby aisle
my family's tears
my friend's tears
the pile of maternity clothes
not having my "family" car
baby balloons on someone's mailbox
people who have not seen us for a while and ask for pics of the baby
not waking up to a crying baby
being tired due to nightmares instead of a baby
seeing children that I don't know
all of our hospital things
any song you can imagine
vacation without him
Christmas without him
a future without him
the lack of baby things all over the house
washing my hands like we did in the NICU
running hot water in the sink like I did for my pumping equipment
a clean house
items that have not been put away and were forgotten up until this point
friends named Trey
sleeping on my stomach
beeps, bells, and whistles
the scar from my IV
anything I craved while pregnant
anything we ate at the hospital
wearing smaller sizes
no furniture in the nursery
weekly pregnancy emails and ads
his due date
Cinco de Mayo
AND THEN THERE ARE THE THINGS THAT REMIND ME TO SMILE
his hair cut
his hand and foot prints
his effect on the world
his gusts of wind he sends us
his angels around us
his health and happiness
his heavily surrounded environment
his stuffed animals
his personal things that say Trey
I AM SURE THERE IS MORE OF BOTH, BUT ENOUGH FOR NOW. LOVE YOU BABY BOY, SO SO SO MUCH!
WHERE THE SIDEWALK ENDS
This poem means a lot to me right now...I love you Trey!
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.
LOTS OF FIRSTS
Monday will be my first day back at work. This got me thinking about the last 6 weeks (like I haven't been thinking about it enough already. My mom and I are going to lunch today and we usually eat at this particular restaurant, but I want to stay clear of it because the last time we were there I was pregnant. I still should be to this day. Then I thought about:
Cinco de Mayo (about when he was due)
every 23rd of the month (date he was born)
every 4th of the month (date he passed)
every wedding anniversary (the day before he passed)
every 8:28 (birth time)
ever 6:26 (time of death)
All of these things will trigger this horrific event for the rest of my life. I never been the type to worry about things minute to minute, but now I live my life that way and it is sad. It is not my true character. I dread all of the above because those things and events should mean something better to us. Now they will forever burn in our memory as constant reminders of our loss. I feel we will never be free. There is no telling when John or I will have a "moment", as we call them, lesser things than the items listed above trigger us. We live our lives now trying to keep our chins up all the while trying to let the tears fall. That's quite ironic if you truly think about it. John told me the other night that he no longer feels sad and that the feeling he feels is SORROW! That hit the nail on the head. We have wonderful moments when we are all optimistic and proud, but they are also clouded with such despair I hope no one will ever have to know. Imagine the hardest you have ever cried or hurt before. Now imagine that feeling sinking through you, under you, around you, above you and reaching from heaven to hell. That's what this feels like. And wishing he were here healthy and happy does absolutely nothing sometimes. Neither does thinking that he is in a better place, which he is, but he was supposed to be with us. People say it gets better with time, well I hate time. I am up to my neck drowning while my feet are stuck in the mud with this. I do not see beyond today and so have no idea what this will feel like in a month, next week, next year...I only know what I am feeling now through a shattered heart. Thanks for listening.
HI HO HI HO, IT'S BACK TO WORK I GO
Last night I actually played a game for the first time that I played in the hospital when I was recovering from birth. It was weird but I knew I had to get through it. I wake up everyday with a knot in my stomach on the verge of tears. The scary thing is I don't think it has all hit me yet. Going back to work has triggered a whole new set of emotions and fears that I am not sure if I can handle. My husband and I talked about it last night and he thinks that the work will distract me and keep me busy. I am not sure if I should be distracted and kept busy. So me that sounds like avoidance. I guess how I would put it is that going back to work will give me a new focus. Sitting at home only gives me more time to feel sad and think about this tragedy. Going back to work in and of itself is a reminder, not to mention all of the attention I will receive when I return. It almost makes me not want to go back but I know I must or I will lose my sanity. Sitting at home and trying to keep busy is tedious and feels empty. I just want to get through that first day then I am sure it will be easier. I just never thought I would be returning to work under these circumstances. I was prepared to come back proudly showing pictures and bringing the baby in for everyone to see. I was not prepared for this. This has not happened to anyone I know that is close to me so I have never experienced it personally or through a loved one. Everyone else at my job got to come back worrying about their baby in child care not worrying how they were going to make it through the day without a child. I feel very alone in the fact that I am the first one to go through this at my job. There has been loss and every loss is hard, but not the loss of a child (which is no bigger or worse) but it is a different type of loss. I am probably making too much of this but I have never gone through loss so I don't know what to expect from myself or others. Everything new to me now is nerve racking. How will I handle it? What will I say? How will people react? Will I fall apart? Even though people say it gets easier, it's not easy now and that's what counts. Maybe in time I too will be able to say that it gets easier, but right now all I can say it it SUCKS!!!!
A week ago today we had the memorial for our son. The service was beautiful and largely attended. I am not sure if it brought any comfort to John and I. I guess I will not know that for some time. I read a book yesterday called "Empty Arms". It is a book about coping with the loss of a baby due to stillbirth, NICU death, SIDS, and miscarriage. I must admit it really affirmed my feelings and gave me a little peace, until I bgot home last night and had a meltdown. I went out with my staff on Friday and to a school function last night. My stomach hurt and my whole body was shaking at both events. But I made it over those humps, didn't fall apart (until I got home), and I honored my son by getting back out into the world and sharing him with the world. I showed my face to all that were there just to make Monday a lot easier for everyone when I go back to work. Nothing about this is easy, right, or fair. A month ago tomorrow our angel son went to heaven. I can't believe I have made it this long. It seems like this has been going on for eons, yet time is going so slowly. In the midst of all of the tragedy in our life, I see life all around us. My friends have healthy babies, Trey's tree and garden are growing strong, and I can tell John needs to cut the grass again. I try to focus on the life my son lived and the life that is all around me. It's not easy, and if you don't see me cry, it's not due to me not feeling sorrow. I smile for him, laugh for him, relax for him...keep on living...for him. I talk to him daily and ask him to talk to God about some healthy siblings for him to watch over here on Earth. I picture him sitting on top of the crib smiling down on his little brother or sister. I have to hope that these things will happen but at the same time, I had hope that Trey would be ok, that was smashed. I am almost afraid to hope because I can't stand being broken hearted again. I want to believe that this is not the end of our struggle for children, that we have reached the apex, and now can easily coast down this volcano. I know that Trey wants me to use this as an outlet to reach out and help others, sometimes that thought comforts me and gives me hope and pride. At other times, I wish he did not have to be the angel who had to go to heaven in order for us to make a difference to others.
I THOUGHT I WAS FEELING BETTER
Yesterday was my first day back at work and I cried most of the day. I got sick
to stomach due to the sorrow. I kept it together in front of my kids, but they
could tell I was not myself. I got really good at staying at home but now I
have to get used to a new situation which was my norm before all of this
happened. I did not realize how much I love my job and my kids before all of
this happened. I have another list of things that remind me about my harsh
reality. I do not want to post it because I do not want to offend the innocent.
I thought I was starting to feel better, yet I am reliving this pain worse now.
I know sometimes this process is take steps forward then back some days, but I
feel like I ran a marathon backwards. I have lost my spunk (hopefully just for
now), Trey took that with him. I am hoping he sends it back to to lighten my
heavy heart. I can't stand this pain, it rips at every cell in my body.
Everyone is so supportive but at the same time, they don't know what to say or
do. The awkwardnesss is deafening, but I understand their lack of
comprehension. Actually I don't fully understand it because I am just trying to
get through my own feelings about all of this while worrying about the people
around me. I can't shake the feeling of "This wasn't supposed to happen to us"
and "I wasn't supposed to come back to work under these cricumstances. At this
time I would have had my baby and been out for the rest of the school year,
instead I get to try to make it through the next 3 1/2 weeks then it's home
again for the summer. People tell me it gets easier, but I can't see the future
right now. I am having a hard enough time trying to cope with right now. I am
not the sort of person who lives minute to minute, day to day, hour to hour, and
sometimes second to second. I am a fly by the seat of my pants kind of girl who
is fun and cheerful. This life right now is not me at all. On top of mourning
for my son, I get to experience myself withered away heart and soul. I hate
this! I HATE this! I HATE THIS!!!!!.
AND NOW THE GOOD NEWS...
The geneticist called us yesterday to discuss the results of my DNA testing. It turns out that Trey had a heart defect from me which would not have been severe. This may or may not have lead to CHARGE symptoms, we are not sure. John is asking more questions today. They might be two isolated conditions. Since it is not an inherited trait in either of our families, the chance of this happening again are slim to none. John is confident about having more children and that takes a huge weight off of me, because I feared he would not want more children after this. I know healthy children will come in due time, but pray for due time to make haste. It took us a year and a half to get pregnant with Trey, hopefully it doesn't take that long again. Thank you all for your love and support. Now I truly feel brighter days are ahead. Much Love to you and yours! Sharon
THE TIES THAT BOND US
Today I was thinking about my bond with Trey. I feel extremely guilty that I did not have the bond with him that I expected. Maybe my heart knew he was not going to make it. Maybe it was my hormones. Maybe my worry and grief were more than my attention to him. Maybe I hoped to hard for him to be ok and didn't realize what I was losing. Maybe it is because I could not breast feed. Maybe it is because he was hooked up to God knows how many machines. Maybe it was exhaustion from our ordeal. I have felt far away from him, even when he was in the womb. I feel bad saying and thinking these things but it is true, and not what I expected. I thought I was going to not want to separated from him. I did not nearly spend as much time with him in the hospital as I should have. I should have held him more. I should have asked more questions. All of these "should haves" don't make a difference now, but I would feel better if they did. We only had 13 days with him and at times it felt like an eternity. Trey taught me to be selfless, but I feel that my new found selflessness did not serve him. Now I live with the regret of not being there more for him. As a result I feel that we did not bond the way most mothers bond with their kids. Then again I feel that I was not given the chance to bond with him. I am sure the full bond does not develop in less than two weeks. It takes a lifetime and that's all he had. But the initial bond with him was lacking. I apologize to him that I didn't bond with him the way I had hoped and I hope he is not disappointed in me. Everyone will say it's not true and I truly did bond with Trey. I can only convey my earnest feelings and thoughts. This is what I am going through in real time. In time I know I will feel differently, maybe even worse. But now, this is my anguish...
Going back to work has been a welcomed change but a challenge none the same. As
I expected, the staff is trying to give me my space. Some of them have reached
out, but most of them leave me alone. It is an awkard reminder of my
nightmare. No on wants to say/do the wrong thing, I understand. They want to
help but don't know what to do and I can't tell them, I have no idea myself. I
try to busy myself when my students are not with me but I am running out of
things to do. At lunch and planning, I close my door and cry. Sometimes I
can't try although I feel as though I am bursting. I call my husband at least
once a day in tears. All of the students, teachers, parents, and staff know
about our tragic situation, so that's over 1000 people who are affected by
Trey's death. I would like to think that these people would embrace their
children more often, offer them more patience, and spend more time with them. I
only see their weak smiles, sad faces, and attempts to avoid whether in front of
me or while passing me in the hall. I don't blame them, I am sure would do the
same. I try to fight jealousy of other parents, especially those with infants.
I know it doesn't serve myself or Trey to be envious. He would have been 7
weeks old today. Mother's Day was not so bad for me, we went out to mexican,
one of my favorite foods. We hung out at the house and spent time with a
friend. I was pretty stable all day until the night, I fell apart again. This
was supposed to be my first Mother's Day. I am still a mommy but with nothing
in my arms to mother. I have a son that I love, but can not care for in a
physical sense. I was telling my husband yesterday that music has always been a
coping mechanism, passion, and love. Over the past 7 weeks I have not been able
to listen to certain songs but other songs I could not appreciate mean something
to me now. The lyrics are still the same, the music sounds different. My
favorite is "Halo" by Beyonce. It says it all. The one I broke down to
yesterday was "Not As We" by Alanis Morissette. The lyric that broke me down
was "Eyes wet toward wide open fray. If God's taking bets, I pray he wants to
lose". I kept it together when I sang "To Make You Feel My Love" and "The First
Time Ever I saw Your face (which was played at Trey's memorial). I met with a
friend's mom for lunch whose daughter died tragically. Her grief is so heavy
still even though it's been four months. I don't know too much about grieving,
but what I have experienced so far, but I assured her that I felt her sorrow was
her own and she should not let anyone judge this process for her. Her personal
trainer told she should be a little more over this. I would have fired him on
the spot. I told her that everytime she says her daughter's name, she needs to
give a big smile toward heaven. Both of us have a lot to be proud of and
thankful for with our children. Yes, what we have gone through leave more scars
than olive branches, but the two of us are mothers to wonderful, brave, and
strong children. We love you Trey and we miss you so much!
LIST OF WHY'S
Why did this happen to Trey? Why did this happen to us? Why were we chosen?
Why were we made to try so hard for a baby just to have him taken away? Why do
we have to fight for everything we want in life only have the most important of
those taken away? Why did God do this to us? Why is this a aprt of God's plan?
Why didn't this happen to someone who doesn't need/ want/deserve children? Why
do we have to endure this torture? Why didn't they check my cervix to see if it
was dialated when I spent an entire morning with contractions? Why didn't they
c-section him if knew he was going to have health problems? Why did they make
me push for three hours? Why did they rececitate him for 90 minutes? Why
didn't they tell us that they rececitated him for that long? Why were we told
that all his tests were coming out good? Why were our hopes brought up? Why
were our hopes then smashed down when we got to the Children's Hospital? Why
did the first hospital lie to us? Why did we have to find out that our baby boy
was dying at the second hospital? Why weren't we given the choice to put a do
not rececitate the night he was born? Why did he have to go through all of this
pain? Why do people tell me he didn't go through any pain when I as his mommy
know he did? Why did he have to suffer? Why did he have to watch us suffer?
Why do people tell me that he did not suffer when he couldn't cry even if he
was? Why is CHARGE symdrome not better known? Why didn't we know about CHARGE?
Why wasn't the appointment made with the parinatal cardiologist when they first
discovered problems with his heart in the womb? Why did the children's hospital
representative who was giving the echo cardiogram before he was born say
everything looked ok? Why do we have to be left suffering when we are good
people? Why wouldn't God grant healthy children to deserving people like my
usband and me? Why can't I feel better and proud of the life my son lived? Why
did we have to be the ones who signed our son's death warrant? Why was I
expected to spend 6 weeks on marernity leave with no baby? Why dod we have to
endure this pain for the rest of our lives? Why did our family and friends have
to suffer? Why was he kept alive if he was dying? Why didn't God take him
earlier? Why din't God take him in utero? Why were we allowed to get get our
hopes up and dreams created only to have them taken away? Why is it OUR son is
in an urn? Why couldn't I have watched him grow up healthy the way he should
have been? Why is this considered just, fair, or right? Why do I have to be
the angry ones? Why do WE have to be the resentful ones? Why do WE have to be
the bitter ones? Why do WE have to be the sorrowful ones? Why do I havee to
wake up every morning just hoping to make it through the day? Why do I have to
go to bed at night dreading the next day? Why do I have to spend so much time
crying everyday? Why is he in Heaven and not with us? Why are we being
punished? Why was he punished? Why does he have to look down on us and not us
down at our healthy little boy? Why do we have to worry about having more
children? Why do I have to struggle to find a silver lining to all of this
daily? Why do I have to wait for time to show me why this happened? Why should
I have hope anymore? Why should I dream of a healthy family anymore? Why
should I have faith? Why did we have to mourn our own son instead of dying
before him like it is supposed to be? Why did we have to let him go? Why does
my head understand all of these things but I can't wrap my heart around any of
it? Why do I have to find things to busy me just to keep me from falling off
the edge? Why don't the tears come sometimes when I feel they should burst out
of me? Why do people not know what to say or do in regards to this? Why do I
not know what to tell them or ask them to do? Why do we all have to endure the
awkwardness of the situation? Why does a tragedy have to happen? Why does a
tragedy have to happen in order for people to come together? Why can a tragedy
pull people apart? Why did God take yet another grandchild away from my
parents? Why was the first grandbaby of John's parents taken? Why do I know of
the answers to these questions but still don't understand them?
I offended someone on a support site publishing this list. The truth is this is what people in my situation go through and think about day in and out. Those who TRULY know me have watched me deteriorate into a shell of who I once was. This list is a list of characteristics that do not mirror the way I live my life or my p[personality.
I don't mean to offend anyone or make anyone feel they need to back off but this is a list I'm tired of:
feeling this way
being this person
not being the person I used to be
being the example
being the teacher who lost her baby
being the friend who lost her baby
having a red face
not being focused at work
the pitiful looks that cocme my way
staring into space
not being able to cry when I feel like I am about to burst
going home to no children
the empty nursery
having dreams that I do have my baby with me healthy
being reminded of my tragedy
of having to write out my thoughts and feelings in order to release
of having to rely on others
living moment to moment
trying to keep busy
looking at babies trying not to cry
having to switch stations on the radio
having to turn the channels on TV
not being able to watch my favorite movies
being totally aware of the time I spent away from my students
the lack of appetite
just trying to make it through the day
wanting to sleep until this goes away
worrying about future babies
worrying that it will take forever to get pregnant like last time
watching my loved ones suffer
everyone having to worry about me
dreading going to bed at night for fear of the morning
dreading waking up in the morning
not having my normal spunk
not wanting to go to places that remind me
having to talk about this for a release
my nervous energy
feeling cut off
crying when I am alone
avoiding human contact
dreading going home alone
dreading the time it will take John to come home
this school year
not liking God too much right now
cloudy and rainy days making me sad
the 23rd of the month
the 3rd of the month
counting the weeks since his birth
counting the weeks since his death
thinking about this knowing this
trying to make my heart understand
my brain understanding this
losing time to this
thinking that I wasted 9 months only to be childless
wanting to be alone
wanting to be around people
wanting to talk
of losing my bond with my students
feeling sick to my stomach
my nervous habits
looking at my body
being the one who will make a difference
TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN
I am a grieving mother to an angel baby. It has not been long since my
> loss and the wound is still fresh. I am not sure what I need right now and
> what I want cannot be in my arms safe and healthy. I don't know what to tell
> you that I need because I do not know. My hopes and dreams for this baby are
> shattered as is my heart. The sorrow I feel permeates EVERY aspect of my
> life and cell in my body. I have an amazing husband who was not allowed to
> be the father to my son as he expected to. I have a beautiful house with a
> nursery that is not in use. I have a wonderful career that I had to leave
> only to lose my son. I have the best family and friends ever who have to
> watch me suffer and suffer with us. I can't escape it, block it out, or make
> it go away. Sometimes I want to talk about it and sometimes I don't. Just
> know when I do communicate about the situation and the pain, my words do not
> even scratch the surface or the misery I am dealing with. When I do I need a
> good listener. One who ask questions about how I feel and what I am thinking
> so that I can further delve into my misery therefore healing a little more.
> I don't need someone to give me advise based on their experience unless it
> is similar to mine or I ask for it. Sometimes I need to talk about something
> else as to keep my mind off of this sorrow and have a new focus. I need to
> be active but want to do nothing. I need to have hope and faith but I want
> to crawl in a hole. I need to keep my chin up but I want to feel all of
> this. My emotions and thoughts are on a constant roller coaster and there is
> no exit. I can't see past the present and don't feel or know that
> everything is going to be made right. I am living moment to moment hoping
> for peace. I know you are hurting with me and for me so sometimes its hard
> to socialize. Everyday is a struggle to get through and every night is
> filled with fear of trying to get through tomorrow. Every morning is filled
> with anxiety about making it through the day. I have a hole that nothing
> will ever fill. Although the words are meant to comfort, not much can be
> said to me that makes me feel better. I have a crass answer in my heart
> every time a comforting phrase is said. "This is God's plan" is met with "I
> hate God's plan right now". "God didn't do this to you?" is said in the same
> breath and dis met by "Well which one is it? God's plan or something he
> didn't do". "He is in a better place" is met with "He should be here with
> me". "He is no longer sick" is met with "He shouldn't have been sick in the
> first place". "God will give you more children" is met with "I don't know
> that and I wanted THIS baby". "It was for the best" is met with "Who's
> best?". I would never say those things to people but they are in my heart. I
> don't mean to sound ungrateful for those people who try to support and
> comfort me, I can only be honest about what I am feeling. My brain agrees with and understands all of their sentiments, but my heart does not. I know these
> feelings and thoughts will not last forever, but they are with me now and I
> hate it. I am not usually this way. I don't want people to be distant but I
> do not want the spotlight either. I just want to get through this in one
> piece and with peace in my heart. Thank you to everyone for their love and
> support. I would not make it through this without it.
> > Sincerely,
> > Sharon
THE SILVER LINING
I am in a funk today. I decided to try to think of the positive things that
happened due to our tragedy and make a list of them. Maybe this will cheer me
The silver lining:
being pregnant with Trey
getting to know Trey
the mothering instinct
family members brought together
friends brought together
a new kind of love
John and I are closer
making people aware of CHARGE syndrome
realizing good qulities in myself
donations to CHARGE
friends/family sharing their similar experiences
being a parent
every little part of his body
parents who know me getting closer to their own kids
finding out how much we are loved
Trey is not suffering
my old clothes fit
being encouraged to make my house a home before the next baby
the thought of another baby
our network of support
more open communication
knowledge of what's TRULY important in life
a full fridge
I am a mommy
John is a daddy
my mom got to hold him
some friends and family met him
he is my angel
THE LYRICS HAVE CHANGED...
Not As We by Alanis Morrisette
but the meaning has changed
Reborn and shivering
Spat out on new terrain
this faint and shaky hour
Day one, day one
Start over again
Step one, step one
I’m barely making sense
For now I’m faking it
‘Til I’m pseudo-making it
From scratch, begin again
But this time I as “I”
And not as “we”
Gun-shy and quivering
Timid without a hint
Feign brave with steel intent
Little and hardly here
Day one, day one
Start over again
Step one, step one
With not much making sense
Just yet I’m faking it
’til I’m pseudo-making it
From scratch, begin again
But this time I as “I”
And not as “we”
Toward wide open frayed
If God is taking bias,
I pray he wants to lose
Day one, day one
Start over again
Step one, step one
I’m barely making sense
Just yet I’m faking it
‘Til I’m pseudo-making it
From scratch, begin again
But this time I as “I”
And not as “we”
At this point in my life I have everything I have ever wanted in my life except a child. All I can do now is hope even though my hope was dashed before. Hope is an uncertain friend yet a wanted enemy. So here are the things and feelings I require of hope now:
My shattered heart mended
A family of our own
Time to go faster
Healthy pregnancy soon
Healing for my family
Healing for my friends
This never happens to anyone else
The healthy lives of my friend's and family's babies
Trey makes people appreciate their children more
Trey makes people put aside petty things
People educate others about CHARGE
People donate to CHARGE
I am an advocate for CHARGE and NICU families
One day I will feel as strong as Trey
I will be brave like Trey
My life is a testament to Trey's
Trey has touched you in some way
I never forget his smell or his touch
The sting of this will ease
My husband's heart will heal
I can sing without tears
More reasons to smile
Less reasons to cry
To be able to hope without doubt
THE WOMAN I AM NOW
Closer to my husband
Lost a child
Hoping for the future
Hope died with him
Loving her husband
Wishing I could take his pain away
Plagued with nightmares
Hopes of my son's future
Regrets of his past
Full of life
Dealing with life without him
Keeping chin up
Weathering the storm
Getting on with life
Questioning the past
Ready and waiting
In my own private hell
Proud of our son
Missing our son
Seeing the silver lining
Living the bitter truth
Part of me died with him
Getting through the day
Wanting to heal
Seeing no light at the end of the tunnel
Wanting to be pregnant
Loving my family and friends
Feeling their hurt
Trying to let go
Wanting to hold on
A shell of who I was
Never the same
TO MY DEAREST LOVE,
My love, I can't tell you enough how much I love you. This trial in our lives is the most heartbreaking, horrific thing that a couple can go through. You have been there for me every step of the way. When we found out we were pregnant, you slowly transitioned into a new man, not only better, but new. Your love for me has been evident for everyone around us, but most of all to me. We have always loved each other, but God gave us a gift that brought us closer together than we have ever been. Our closeness has held us together through this tragedy. We are discovering each other as parents and grieving partners. We have experienced a new, selfless kind of love that has changed us forever in so many positive ways.
It is hard for me to watch your pain and the pain of those who love us. I know you hurt the same. You and I share the the worst hurt that anyone can imagine, yet ours varies slightly. I am mourning the soul that I carried for 7 1/2 months then watched suffer and be rescued by Heaven. Yours is the grief of a strong father who had dreams for his namesake and the provider that feels he must be strong for his distraught wife. You might not feel like talking as much as I do. I am emotional and you are logical. We are both dealing with this anyway we know how so that we can put one foot in front of the other for our son. I need communication and you need time to think and reflect. We both don't want to hurt each other with our grief. My tears make you sad, your tears make me want to talk to you and comfort you. Coping with this together is the most useful thing we can do to get through this together and come out stronger.
Know that our grieving as mother and father, husband and wife, do not trump each other. We both feel the loss, lack of hope, anger, bitterness, questioning, guilt, sorrow, faithlessness, and everything else that eat through our minds, hearts, and souls daily. We both love our son and have loved him since he was created in our love. We are the only ones who know this pain right now, in the past few months, and in the time to come. People around us can sympathize and try to understand but they can only skim the surface of the anguish you and I have faced, are facing, and will face. Even people who have weathered this before cannot imagine our exact pain, although they try so hard in order to be there for us. We need each other more than ever now. We need to be each other's soft place to land. We need to go through this together, listen to each other, cry with each other, scream with each other, as long as we do it together. True, some of this grief needs to one our own, but most of it should be a process of healing together so that we can move through life uplifting each other.
We must believe that there are brighter days to come for us. We may not ever know all of the answers and may always have fear in ourselves that does not heal no matter how positive we remain and become. "The only way out of this is through, the only way we feel better, the only out is through ultimately" (Alanis Morrisette). I can't do this alone and neither can you. Time is a slow and painful master but we must continue to weather it together
Thank you for your unconditional love, your agape, your support, and your patience. Thank you most of all for our beautiful son. He is and has always been out little angel miracle. He needs us to be strong but lean on each other when we can't be. He knows us and has known us from the moment he was created. He has faith in us and our strength. We need to make him proud and show him that the love we have for him will reflect in our marriage.
Please know that I here for you no matter what and whenever you need me. You are my rock and my love to the end. I pray for the both of us daily. All we have is faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
Tonight I am going out with some girlfriends that I have not seen since all of this has happened. I mean, I saw them at the memorial but we haven't actually gotten the opportunity to sit down and spend quality girl time together. The ironic thing about tonight is that two of the ladies had healthy babies right before me and the other one has a healthy toddler. They have all suffered with us through this tragedy and I know they have kept their distance as to not hurt my feelings. I must admit it has been hard for me to stomach seeing their beautiful babies when my arms are empty. I feel guilty about not wanting to be closer to them and their children. I am not jealous, as that puts a negative connotation on my actual feelings and the word jealousy makes me think of hostile feelings. I do suffer from envy though, one of the seven deadly sins. I would give ANYTHING to be doing what they are doing right now in their lives. The feedings, changings, cleaning up spit-up, being awake all night, doctor's appointments, worrying, tantrums, teething, and everything else that comes along with it. Those things are nothing compared to the pain and sorrow I have now in my life. Of course there are MANY great things that come with being a parent watching their baby grow, but thinking about those things just makes me remember what I am missing out on. Those are all givens. Some parents complain about the trials and tribulations of caring for an infant. I would much prefer the trials and tribulations than the loss. My friends are wonderful mothers who care for their families and for me. So what is one to say when they have just had a healthy baby and are watching a friend lose hers? I am not sure, but I am sure they wrestle with it the same way I am wrestling with what to say to them. I know they worry about my husband and I, but they are afraid that their fortune might bring me down. It does in a way, but in a bigger way, I am glad this happened to us and not them, or anyone else we care about. I wouldn't know what to do or say if my loved ones went through this. I would feel guilty about holding my baby when my loved ones are burying theirs. Not to say that this is how everyone should feel, but that's how I would feel.
So what about tonight? If this night out causes me so much anxiety, why go? Simple, they are my friends. I have NEEDED to see them for so long. This might be just another one of those uncomfortable firsts I have to deal with in the wake of this tragedy, like going back to work, or seeing people who don't know the news. Maybe I am making Mt. Everest out of an ant hill, I don't know because I have never been in this situation before. I can only expect the worst and hope for the best. My stomach has been turning all day and at least once a day since we planned this night. I am going to try so hard to let it be a fun evening with the girls, but the pink elephant will be in our hearts, on our minds, and on our faces. The pink elephant being that they have the baby that they've always wanted and mine is gone. How do I separate my pain from our friendship when as friends, three of us were pregnant together? My heart feels so heavy and I don't want to unload on them. They have always been there for me and I cannot be there for them right now and I feel guilty about being selfish. I cannot enjoy the new members of their families the way I want to. I don't know how, my heart does not know how in its shattered state. There are a lot of things that my heart can't do or feel right now. My brain is busy turning over things over and over and over. I don't know what to say, feel, think, and ask for in the midst of their joy. Amongst all of this pain and sorrow I have for my situation and my life at present, I STILL have to get through so many things that used to be pleasant for me and now they are torture. Some people say that you have to make a choice to get back the positive things/people/thoughts/feelings/hopes/dreams/wishes back in your life. DOES ANYONE HONESTLY KNOW HOW HARD THAT IS?!?!?!? I hate that the things that once brought me so much joy in life are tainted and I hate it that certain experiences bring with them a cloud of fear that something might set me off. I hate all uncertainties of life, because the biggest one has happened to me.
I love all of my friends and family so very much. So if you see me and I am distant for awhile, or not seemingly myself, understand that I am trying to cope delicately with interacting with you as you are with me. The difference is, you see my pain, I see both yours and mine.
TREY'S RELEASE PARTY
Yesterday my parents and their dogs, John's dad and stepmom, my aunt and cousin, John and I gathered on Folly Beach to celebrate the third month birthday of our baby angel Trey. We brought with us his ashes in his urn, three balloons decorated with love messages for Trey, and champagne. When we got to the normally serene beach, it was crowded with people, mostly families getting their pictures taken by professionals, you know, the set up where everyone is wearing white tops and khaki bottoms. My favorite was the family that wore colored tops instead. To top off the crowd, there was a sunset wedding taking place. After our arrival at 7:15, we waited for the crowds to thin. At 7:45 John and I took our son and put him in the sea to set sail into a world that loves him so much. I had no tears, only smiles. We let the balloons go and watched them to travel to our son in heaven. We opened the champagne and toasted to our brave, strong son. We took pictures and enjoyed the evening. The whole event brought peace and it turned out better than I expected. We also bought a kite to fly while we are at the beach like we would have had he grown up. That's the sweet, now here's the bitter. If Trey would have been full term and healthy he would have been six weeks old. I was so worried about what would be going with him at the time of vacation that I told my mom we might not go. I was worried he would not be on a schedule and wake up the ten or so people that stay with us on any given year. She rented a smaller condo and limited the amount of vacationers to make us feel more at ease. Maybe it's best that the group still be small. After the release, John and I sat at the pool for about an hour with not a word between us, not for bad reasons, I guess we were simply processing the events of the last three months and how they culminated to this point. I mused about what it looked like when they cremated him. Where would he travel first? What will we do with the empty urn? What is John thinking about right now? Will he even tell me? Am I faking strength or is it real? Why didn't I cry when we let him go? How can I harness some more of the joy I felt letting him have his rite to the world? Will we ever have healthy children that we can take to that spot on the beach and tell them about his journey. Maybe in Trey's travels he will send us the answers. God speed son!
Yesterday evening I found myself getting very quiet, not sad, ok a little sad, but re3ally quiet. I am not a quiet person, I new I was a little blue, but I did not know how to express it, nor did I feel I wanted to. I spent the day doing productive things around the house, cleaning out closets, unpacking boxes that have collected dust, grocery shopping for healthy food. I have resolved to make this summer the summer of making our house a home. I wanted to paint rooms, but the truth is I am terrible at painting so I am focusing on getting into good cleaning, laundry, yard work, and cooking habits. I am really relaxed about the state of my home, not due to lack of pride, but I have felt that having a home that is starchy clean is not a home to me. I usually clean when company comes or when I can't find something or the mess is more than I can tolerate. Laundry usually waits until I have no clothes left, I am bored, or the amount gets ridiculous. Cooking, don't get me started, my husband is the culinary expert in my family. I know how to cook the basics but I also know that my husband probably gets tired of the usual meat and side item dinners I provide. Recently I have been experimenting with recipes and only because I want to surprise my husband and show him how much I love him. I nervously pick at weeds, trim trees, mow the lawn, rip out ivy (GREAT angst killer), water and fertilize plants, and fuss over the lack of growth of the grass. (NO, I will not come to your house and fill time, nice try though!!!) Cooking is a time filler. Laundry is a time filler. Lawn work fills time. Housework fills time. So, when I had a productive day yesterday followed by a night of unexplainable sorrow, I wondered if I am masking this pain. Am I filling the void? Am I really trying to fulfilled my goal of making my house a home? Why do people tell me I am doing so well? Do I really have that kind of strength? Am I faking it for the sake of my friends and family so they don't worry about me? Will I eventually have a breakdown? Is the reason why we were chosen for this is the amount of strength that we have? Where did this strength come from? Does Trey know the pain is still there and that we love him still even though we are getting on with life? Being someone who has never grieved, I only know how to be myself. Lighting his candle, letting him go into the world, planning a benefit, joining support groups online, tending his garden, planning for more kids, saving the baby stuff, visiting the nursery, and not ignoring his presence in our hearts and lives are positive ways to get through this. I am trying not to sink into my grief. I don't want to run from it, I want to make Trey proud. I hope he knows that sometimes Mommy can't be strong. I hope that my tears don't make his candle go out as he walks with God.
A DAY OF "CELEBRATION"
Today, we celebrate our nation's independence. What should be an exciting day is clouded with sorrow. Three months ago today, God took my baby to Heaven. I can't believe it's been so long, it feels like yesterday but eons ago. I have been especially emotional lately. Months of strength have reduced me to periods of sobbing, the likes of which my soul has never known and wishes to forget. I suppose this is the yin and yang of grief. I spend days with my chin held high and a smile on my face, proud of my angel son. Other days, my face is long, my shoulders slumped, my tears falling. People have told me that there will be times like this. I know this all to well. I am living it. No one has to tell me about what grief is like, it surrounds me, every molecule of my life is effected. I am relieved that I have had peace for so long, but the lows of grief wipe all of the happy days away and future happy days are hard to fathom. Yesterday I had a little ray of sunshine. My friend who lives in England was on vacation and saw Trey's name written in the sand. She took a picture of it and sent it to me via email and Facebook. She said that the name "Trey" is not very common over there. We released him a week and a half ago, he must be quite the pirate if he got to England so fast!!! I am so thankful I have friends like her who give me rays of sunshine through the stormy clouds. This morning, another good friend texted me to tell me she was thinking of John and I today, Trey's third month angel day. If I didn't have such love surrounding me, I would for sure wither away and surrender to my sadness. The love and support shown to me by all of our family and friends have lifted me up and inspired me to share my love with others. It has inspired me to be the support to others that my loved ones have been to me. I am forever changed and scarred with the love of our son. So on this day that we celebrate our Freedom, I thank John Thomas Chatham III, "Trey" for the freedom and peace he has given me. As we thank all of the brave men and women who fight for our country, I thank the Trouper for fighting to stay with us for as long as he did so we could be blessed with his presence. As we remember heroes who have shaped our nation, I think about my favorite one, a little dark haired, hazel eyed baby angel. As we try to promote peace throughout our country, I am hopeful that peace will once again find me and I can share it with others as Trey has shared it with me. As our country makes plans to secure our country's future, I will also take steps to secure my dreams of a healthy family that Trey will be proud of. I cannot say thank you enough to my loved ones, my husband, and to Trey. I cannot tell my baby angel boy how much I love him and miss him. There are no words for that love, there is only love. Enjoy the fireworks Trey, and I will celebrate with you when God sends me to you! I love you!
THE PINK ELEPHANT
I spent a good while last night talking with a dear friend who had an unfortunate "event" such as mine. It's amazing how much I did not know about before this tragedy happened. About a month after Trey's passing, people came out of the woodwork about their similar experiences. As much as I am vocal about my process in this situation, I knew nothing of most of the stories that were shared with me after the fact. Dear friends, in their kind gestures of comfort, listened to my story and caught my tears while wiping their own. I no longer felt that John and I were alone. It was bitter sweet to hear others tell of the nightmare they endured and the heartbreak that still has not vanished. So many people have told me to seek a therapist. Let me tell you what therapy is: connecting with someone else who knows this pain. I have loads of loved ones that will drop everything to be there for me and let me express my sorrow and I am grateful for it. The ultimate support is from Mommy's of baby angels who can commiserate, encourage, and inspire. My big question is WHY DOES NO ONE TALK ABOUT THIS!!!!!!! Maybe there are other living children to consider. Maybe the pain is too great to express. Maybe other Mommy's do not want to burden others with their pain. Maybe I am not close enough to be confided in. Maybe the words and/or tears just won't come. Maybe they were raised not to discuss such matters. Maybe they think it would be selfish to have attention brought to themselves. I guess I might be different than others, I a communication machine. Sometimes I do not know when to shut up! My husband is more private although he does talk to me. Still, I cannot fathom why this is not talked about. Us grieving mommies need to stick together. Where was I when these horrible things were happening to people I care about? I would have loved to be there for them in their time of need. I guess it was not in the stars, maybe I was meant to experience this in a more raw fashion. Maybe reaching out has been my therapy as well as therapy for others. The pain we are going through, in my opinion, can only be soothed by communicating with others, whether they have experienced it or not. Who are we to our family and friends if not compassionate and willing to move mountains to support and love our loved ones? Grieving mothers everywhere have a long list of things that people should not say to them, that are unknowingly insensitive and useless. If we talked about this more, maybe people would learn to listen more than they talk. I have learned to be a better listener through this process even though I have no prior experience in grieving. I have learned that people who grieve need a good listener, one who will ask questions to help them further communicate about their grief. I am not a grief expert, so maybe my musings on being more communicative about these tragedies is sophomoric. Maybe it was my job to be the loud mouth, and encourage people out of the wood work so that we can support each other. I am member of two support groups. One of them supports parents who have experienced any type of infant death. The worsts posts I get are the moderator introducing new members. It breaks my heart that more people are going through this. I wish I was the last new member. I communicate with a lot of Mommy's from around the world and every time we communicate with each other, we have to give virtual hugs. I want to meet all of them and give them real hugs. I want to embrace ANYONE who has had their heart shattered in this manner. I will not shut up. I will not cower. I will not stay alone with my grief. I will continue to reach out. I will continue to help others. I will continue to listen. Thank you Trey for your inspiration. Mommy is so proud that your life has helped so many, least of all myself. I love you son! Kisses!
THE RED HERRING
Throughout our journey through this tragedy, I have felt the love and support from 99% of the people around. I have expressed my thankfulness over and again and will continue for the rest of my life. As to the 1%, I don't expect for anyone to fall on their knees and wash my feet like Jesus. What I do expect is the EFFORT of respect. Using this tragedy as a platform for the reason why problems happen or things that were said insults my character and my son. Am I grieving? YES! Am I not quite not myself? YES! Am I trying the best I can to get through each day unscathed? YES YES and YES! Usually, I am the type to be sensitive to what is said and done in my regards. I do not care for conflict or your misguided judgment of me. I know not everyone likes me. I know I have not been perfect in my relationships with those who do not care for me. But for the love of GOD, OUR SON DIED!!!!!!!!! Muster up a little respect and sympathy. Keep your mouth shut if you cannot This 1% needs to realize that there are bigger things in life than themselves. Their apathy makes them small and adds insult to my injury. I do not need their judgment of how I am or am not grieving. I do not need their selfishness. I can handle your absence if you have the audacity to not be able to say/do positive things. And don't think for a second that your private words and actions are unnoticed. I have realized who my friends are and they are not hesitant to tell me things that a spoken of and done in my absence not because they are tattle tales, but they are as appalled and upset as I am to learn what is really happening. I will not take on your lack of compassion and your selfishness just so that you feel better about yourself. I have problems of my own, don't take your crap out on me. Just because you are miserable with yourself doesn't mean you have to bring others down with you, especially me. I am flabbergasted at persons who make themselves out to be heartless and soulless in the wake of heartache such as this. But,rest assured I hope this never happens to you, but if it does, I will bend over backwards to kill you with the same kindness I would for a true friend, and not with the kindness you have denied me. Just know that I continue to pray for the healing of your misery so that no one else has to endure your wrath. We may never be close, but you can rely on my respect however little. The Golden Rule has never meant so much to me. Thank goodness for hard lessons. I am the one who you are hurting, I am the only one who will benefit from your malice. God Bless you and yours!
THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL
Lately I have been plagued with feelings that I wish to keep to myself. The guilt over these feelings have leveled me. I have not gotten through them the way I have gotten through other feelings. I cannot even express it in a way that anyone could understand without judgment, much more that I can explain for myself. For the first time, my head cannot work its way through these feelings and my heart pays the price. I often wonder if this were not my son if I would have the same feelings. Is it my intuition as a mother that causes these thoughts and feelings? Will anyone else understand if I ever get the words to express it. That's why I have decided to keep this one to myself. I hope it doesn't eat me alive, it feels like it is. I feel like I am circling the fire that is these thoughts and I am scared to go through the fire, for fear of the singe that it will bring. So far, my heart has absorbed most of the suffering. My head has always been on straight, but now that my brain is perplexed, the sting is especially poignant for my heart. Some say that these realizations are yet another part of grief. Thus far, I have lost count of all of the steps it takes to grieve. This step is like a cliff and I am afraid of heights, or rather falling from them. For all of the support that we have been given, no one can take these thoughts and feelings away from me. No one had the right words or frame of mind to undertake such feelings. I wonder if other grieving mothers feel the same way but can't bring myself to ask. I am afraid of their perception of my state of mind and heart. I want to wash myself of this but the dirt is too great. I have leaned on others to help my healing and have been a soft place to land for many other mothers. But this is a solo journey. How am I going to get through these stage of my grief alone? I am worried that Trey will look down on me and be disappointed. My whole body hurts from the guilt, from the sorrow, from the grief, from the yearning, from the emptiness. I can now only rely on God to make these feelings clear to me and help me through them. I LOVE LOVE LOVE you son and I miss you.
THE LYRICS ARE THE SAME BUT THE SONG HAS CHANGED
The radio can be cruel and healing at the same time. Here is a list of songs that remind me of my Angel.
"Halo" by Beyonce
"In The Arms Of the Angel" by Sarah McLachlan
"The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" by Leona Lewis
"To Make You Feel My Love" by Adele
"Just Don't Think I Will Ever Get Over You" on the Garden State soundtrack
"Hero" by Bette Midler
"The Rose" by Bette Midler
"Not As We" by Alanis Morisette
"Thank You" by Alanis Morisette
"Dream" by Anna Nalick
"Tears Like Diamonds" by Rob Thomas
"I Will Always Love You" by Dolly Parton
"Beautiful Boy" by the Beatles
"The Two Of Us" by The Beatles
"Tears in Heaven" by Eric Clapton
"I Was Made For You" by Page Martin
"I'm Yours" by Jason Mraz
"Your Song" by Elton John
"No One" by Alicia Keys
"The Anchor Holds" by Lawrence Chewning and Ray Boltz
"Bleeding Love" by Leona Lewis
More to come
I have endured weeks of a landslide of emotions. For a while I had hit a plateau, now I am sinking back into a valley that is not as beautiful as some might imagine. It is lonely there and I am alone. I've heard a lot of people have told me that I will have healthy children one day. How do they know? If there's one thing I know, it is that nothing is ever guaranteed in this life. No one knows if we will have healthy children unless they can tell the future. Last I checked, none of my dear friends and loved ones are clairvoyant. I don't understand why, after all we have suffered, having trouble conceiving, an uncomfortable pregnancy, a traumatic birth, and the eventual death of our son, why do I still feel like we have been left here to suffer? I feel like we deserve the final element of our dream life. We have everything we have ever dreamed of except a healthy child. After all of this, why do we have to wait? Then to add insult to injury, there is still uncertainty of the possibility of healthy children. Our genetic counselor at our new OBGYN has asked for additional testing on our son's DNA. Who knows what those results will be. There results are going to dictate our future with children. My husband says we can't worry about it and we will take things as they happen. The possibility of never getting pregnant again due to the lack of insurance that our children will be healthy is a BIG deal to me. Carrying Trey was the most beautiful experience of my life and I would give ANYTHING to have the honor of being pregnant again. I am having trouble grasping my faith and hope. I have had so much hope and faith over the last ten and a half months and it has all been destroyed. All of my positive thoughts were for naught. It is hard to have faith and hope when it has been stolen from you. I feel like all along I have been naive in kidding myself. How can I do that again to myself? The lump in my throat has been growing these last few weeks. I white knuckle my life as I smile and try to have fun with others. But in my alone hours, my heart is shattered and hurting. I wish I could see into the future for a few minutes so that I am reassured of our future family. I wish my life would fast forward to a time when the pregnancy test is positive. The next nine months would be filled with anxiety, but at least there would be a probability of healthy children, and not just a possibility. These feelings have also introduced me to new guilt. I feel guilty planning and pining over yet to be born children when my little boy is still a freshman in Heaven. I have not forgotten my son, I just need to forge on for him and give him the gift of older siblings. I hope he forgives me for my weakness over the last few weeks. I have tried to be so strong but there are times when it is just not possible. Sometimes, I cannot pull myself up out of the slump, my heart is too heavy. Trey, Mommy and Daddy love you oh so very much and we hope to make you proud with our lives, including siblings for you. We have not forgotten you and we never will. Nothing or no one will replace you in our hearts, minds, souls, and memories. Until we see each other again in Heaven, keep sending your strength down for us. I love you and I miss you!
LES MOTS EXACTS POUR LE DIRE
French poem, author unknown, adapted for Trey
Please, do not ask me if I’m succeeded in surmounting Trey’s passing. I will never surmount it.
Please, do not tell me Trey is better where he is now. He’s not here with me and his dad.
Please, do not tell me Trey does not suffer anymore, I still do not accept he had to suffer.
Please, do not tell me you know how I feel unless you lost a child of your own.
Please, do not tell me to get well, mourning is not an illness one can get rid of.
Please, do not tell me “at least you had Trey for almost 13 days”. According to you, at which age should your child die?
Please, do not tell me God does not give people more hardship than they can handle.
Please, simply tell me you are sorry for my loss.
Please, simply tell me you remember Trey, if you do.
Please, simply let me speak of Trey.
Please, mention Trey’s name.
Please, simply let me cry Trey.
IT'S GETTING DARK IN HERE
There once was a light for all to see
It shone for you, your daddy, and me.
It turned on day you were created
Rays of light that had us elated.
But now there is no radiant cheer
It's getting dark in here.
Gone are the sparkles that were in your eyes
The used to dance like fireflies.
We will never be warmed by the glow
Of the flash forward memories we made long ago.
Now the future is dim I fear
It's getting dark in here.
The sun once shone on you
In my belly where you slept and grew.
My soul was illuminated with your presence
My heart expanding in your incandescence.
I need your beacon to draw me near
It's getting dark in here.
The shadows of your memory fade
The light your love has made.
Whenever you need t to find us in this world
The spark that is left will be unfurled.
My dear angel son have no fear
Though, it's getting dark in here.
The splendor of your life warmed your daddy and me
It won't fade altogether you see.
The space of light will grow
When the memories of you flow
Until then my dear,
It's getting dark in here.
- Sharon Chatham 7/20/09
THE ANCHOR HOLDS
The Anchor Holds
Words and music by Lawrence Chewning and Ray Boltz
I have journeyed
Through the long, dark night
Out on the open sea
By faith alone
And yet His eyes were watching me
The anchor holds
Though the ship is battered
The anchor holds
Though the sails are torn
I have fallen on my knees
As I faced the raging seas
The anchor holds
In spite of the storm
Ive had visions
Ive had dreams
Ive even held them in my hand
But I never knew
They would slip right through
Like they were only grains of sand
I have been young
But I am older now
And there has been beauty
That these eyes have seen
But it was in the night
Through the storms of my life
Oh, thats where God proved
His love to me
Thank you Randi...
I woke up this morning,
And you were not there,
I can't kiss your cheek,
Or brush back your hair.
The days of joy are over,
The pain and sowwors starts
Because when you went to Heaven
You also took my heart.
I have to live my nightmare,
Each morning when i wake;
I have to feel this pain,
With every breath i take.
With gut wrenching sorrow.
And mind numbing pain,
I daily live this nightmare,
Over and over again.
WRITTEN BY NATALIE CAMP 2007
THE NEXT TIME
The next time:
Your baby cries
Your child has a tantrum
Your kid talks back
Your kid has a cold
You change a diaper
You're child keeps you up at night
You feel overwhelmed by your parental duties
Your teen has a minor fender bender
Your kid is misbehaving
Your child says no
Your kid whines
You have to get up in the middle of the night
Your teen comes home late
Your child is defiant
Your child disappoints you
Your baby throws food all over the place
Your child gets hurt
Remember that you are blessed to be given the miracle that is your child!
The next time:
Your baby makes a milestone
Your child gets a good grade
Your kid's team wins
Your child wins an award
Your teen gets accepted into a college
Your child giggles
Your baby smiles
Your kid loses a tooth
Your child graduates from a grade
Your child tries something new
Your kid learns something new
Your child reads
Your kid gives you a present
Your child wants to play with you
Your teen wants to talk
Your teen gets their driver's licsense
You hug your child
You kiss your child
You tuck your kid in
You watch your baby sleep
Remember you are watching a miracle grow up.
TO THE BEST HUSBAND EVER
Thank you for being my rock and my soft place to land. Thank you for making me laugh. Thank you for letting me cry on your shoulder. Thank you for your patience. Thanks for your encouragement. Thanks for holding my hand. Thank you for letting me be me. Thank you for supporting me. Thank you for defending me. Thank you for taking care of me. Thank you for providing for me. Thank you for forgiving me. Thank you for holding me. Thanks for showing affection. Thank you for your thoughtfulness. Thank you for your funny and loving messages. Thanks for hanging out with me. Thanks for letting me have time with my friends during this hard time. Thank you for sharing with me. Thank you for talking with me. Thank you for walking with me. Thank you for sticking with me. Thank you for loving me unconditionally. Thank you for helping me commemorate Trey. Thank you for being an awesome husband. Thank you for letting me in. Thanks for kissing me good morning. Thanks you for kissing me good night. Thank you for holding me accountable. Thank you for your strength. Thank you for your courage. Thanks for helping me. Thanks for flirting with me. Thank you for complimenting me. Thanks for explaining all of the medical stuff I didn't understand, over and over again. Thanks for handling all of the medical stuff. Thank you for encouraging me to live better. Thank you for accepting me for who I am. Thank you treating me like a lady. Thank you for requiring me to live up to my potential. Thanks for letting me vent. Thanks for letting me cry. Thank you for not giving up. Thank you for drawing close to me during this hard time. Thank you for asking how I am. Thank you for letting me repeat myself and my feelings. Thank you for filling my heart with such love. Thank you for telling me I am beautiful, then treating me that way. Thanks for loving my family and friends. Thanks for your generosity. Thank you for our beautiful home. Thank you for helping around the house. Thank you for confiding in me. Thank you striving to better our lives. Thank you putting up with my crap. Thank you for every way you love me. Thank you for your warmth. Thank you for being so colorful. Thank you for loving our animals. Thank you for being there when I need you and even when I think I don't need you. Thank you for nine amazing years together. Thank you for growing with me. Thank you for our future, present, and past. Thank you for teaching me. Thank you for giving me the greatest gift ever, John Thomas Chatham III "Trey".
Love always, unconditionally,
Through this tragic experience, I have gained a new appreciation for my life and realized my own mortality. Life is too short for the little things that don't count. So I would like to make a new to do list to make my life more fullfilled. I encourage you to do the same.
Dive into a cold pool instead of inching in
Forgive more freely
Treat strangers with the same kindness I treat my loved ones
Ride more roller coasters
save more money
spend more time with my family
reach out to those in need
support more charities
be more patient with my students
allow myself to nap more often
lose bad habits
watch old movies
take more pride in my home and belongings
adopt healthier habits
get into a good cleaning routine
Work outside more often
jump through the sprinkler
go to more museums and exhibits
Take more road trips
watch more documentaries
make my house a home
try new recipes
standing up for myself
take up the violin again
take up the piano again
live clutter free
take more walks in different venues
take compliments with a smile and a thank you, no come backs
give more compliments
call my out of town friends
listen to my whole ipod instead of just my favorites
learn to ride a motorcycle
relax more often
be more green
learn more about politics
get my doctorate
show John how much I love him
have more date nights
walk my dogs
give myself more credit
be proactive instead of reactive
find shapes in the clouds
appreciate that the really good things in life are free
be more productive
get busy living
more to come...
You are my favorite big dog and I love you so much. Thanks you so much for licking my belly when I was pregnant and watching Trey kick my belly. Thank you for being near me that Saturday when you knew something was wrong, and I eventually went to the hospital. I missed you while I was in the hospital, but I know you were a good boy. Thank you for putting your head in my lap and sniffing my belly the moment I walked in the door and sat down. I know you knew something wasn't right. You know when mommy is sad and nuzzle up to me. Sometimes you are playful when I am sad because you want me to play with you instead of being sad. Thank you for being a good boy, it makes life easier to bare. Thank you for your wiggle when I walk in the door. Thank you for protecting our house, your daddy and me, and your little sister dog Savannah. I really appreciate how you make me laugh when you act silly. It's awesome how you keep me company when I was alone during those many days. Your smile melts my aching heart and your kisses are heavenly. You have been such a blessing in my life and you have done more than your part to make my grief a little easier. You were my first canine child and I am so glad God created you for us. I cannot thank you enough for the love, respect, and care you have given me. I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU! I LOVE YOU!
TO MY LOVED ONES:
First I would like to thank you for all of the love, support, care, and respect you have given us over the past four months and our entire lives for that matter. Lately it has become clear that we are not the only ones mourning. I know my family and close friends are, but it took some time to see outside my own grief to see the pain of the others. I can only imagine your thoughts and feelings during the whole ordeal. Only a few have shared with me their gut wrenching pain for us at that time. It is bitter sweet, that you would care for Trey, John, and I so much that your hearts would break like ours did. On the bitter side, I hate it that you had to hurt at all. Long have you suffered in silence out of respect for our grief. That too is bitter sweet. Not having to feel your grief on top of ours is comforting, but on the other hand, those of you who know us know that we never want you alone with your pain, even if it for us. John and I would bend over backwards to be there for your sorrows. It is abundantly clear that we are not not allowed the privilege of doing that with this situation. As someone who has never grieved before, I am not sure how to deal with this awkwardness. Some people avoid me like the plague, maybe out of respect for our space, or maybe because you want to express your grief, but don't know how. I hope my musings give you peace in knowing how I am doing. I have be privileged to inspire others to speak of their tragedies. I have had the joy of giving parents new vision of their kids and their trials. I have been bestowed the honor of promoting CHARGE. If that is the price I have to pay then so be it. There are not always times when I can think positive, but your love, encouragement and support make it easier sometimes. Many of you have said that you are proud of me for how I am dealing with this. Believe you me, it is a white knuckle accomplishment. I have no idea what or how I am doing in this process. People have told me I am doing well, but I feel that I am withering. But I must trust the ones who love us the most. I have to keep doing things the only way I know how, the only way that Trey would want me to. It would take me an eternity to express my gratitude to all off you. I am glad this happened to us instead of any of you. I know in time we will see our strength through this process. For now, please continue to pray for us and think of us, believe me, your prayers and thoughts are felt. What I need most is peace within my heart, soul, and mind. I am sorry for your grief over this situation. As you all say to me, I wish I could take it on myself. Anything so that my loved ones don't have to hurt. May God continue to bless you the way He has sent you to bless us. Much love to you an yours...John, Sharon, and Trey Chatham
I found myself thinking about milestones. I wondered what Trey would be able to do right now. I am sure he would already be singing to me and babbling away. How big would he be? Would he be on a good schedule? At this point I would be sending him to the sitter for the first time. I wonder if he would have been a fussy or happy baby. Would he be chunky? I would hope so, I love chunky babies. What would his hair look like? Hopefully curly as the day is long. At four months old, he would definitely still be nursing. Would he sleep through the night? All of these things plaque me. Instead of these milestones, I have more morbid ones. Getting through the minute, hour, day, week, and month are my focuses. Instead of celebrating his milestones, he only had one, death. That's no milestone at all. My milestones focus on healing and having strength. Other milestones include going a day without crying, having a benefit, being able to look at the hospital, being able to see a pregnant woman or a baby and not getting a knot in my stomach, writing a new note, squalling until I can't cry anymore, connecting with my husband, getting to a place where I want to try to have more kids, forgiving the doctors, forgiving myself, knowing there was nothing we could have done, putting one foot in front of the other, living a better life, learning, walking into the nursery, building the nursery, planting the garden, talking to Trey, reconnecting with God, and getting busy living and not dying. These are painful milestones that aren't ass easily come by as those of a child. A baby's milestones make a parent proud. My mourning mother's milestones are anguish. Both sets of milestones make you learn and appreciate the blessings of life. My milestones remind me of what was lost and the emptiness that loss has left. With a child, I am sure that parents pass the milestones waiting for the next one with great pride. There is no pride in my milestones, only relief that it is over and fear of the milestones to come. I ask you parents to cherish your child's milestones. One day I will find blessing in mine.
LIFE GOES ON
I am going to a bridal shower today and I am having trouble with the happiness that everyone else feels in the midst of my sorrow. Everyone else's life has gone on but we are still here. The daily routines continue while I suffer through mine. I don't want pity, I just don't know how to process all of this. It seems that time is making this harder, not easier like everyone says. I cry eveyday over the littlest things. The only people who seem to understand this pit stop in my life are those who have gone through it. If you haven't gone through this you don't know what it is to wonder when things will get back to normal or if they will be normal again ever. I know that I will never be the same person I used to be. I am stronger yet weaker. People say I am so strong but they don't see the tears of the clown when there's no one around. I feel lonely in the new me. I fight tears all day long then fight falling apart the rest of the night. Life its a constant fight right now and I hate confrontation. My husband is doing better than I am I think. He's a man and doesn't talk as much about it as I do. I can't tell if I am obsessing or following a natural process. I wish the cloud would lift and life would give me more things to be joyful about. I miss being joyful. I appreciate life more but not mine. I guess I appreciate all of my blessings but not the pain. Who could? Going back to work has raised my anxiety and present new reminders of my sorrow. I get through it, I guess that is saying something. But white knuckling it is not my idea of productivity. It's also not comforting to know it gets worse before it gets better. I thought the worst had already happened. What worse things can happen? I guess I don't want to know.
WE COULD HAVE HAD THE SUN, STILL WE'RE OVER HERE
I have had better days lately, happier days and I welcome them. Work has finally turned into a needed distraction, well, not a distraction, yet a purpose. We got good news from our new neo natal specialist on Tuesday. Everything points to this being a anomaly. There is still one test they are waiting for on Trey's DNA, that will be the deciding factor on whether or not I will ever be pregnant again. It has been easy lately to have hope, faith, and patience, yet hard too. It comes easier now, yet not. I am more able to live my life to make Trey proud, and in turn I feel better about myself. My loving husband and I have never been better, yet there is still some trepidation as to whether or not we wait to try again. Who knows what the future holds? Wish I did. If I could get a glimpse into the near future for just 60 seconds to put my mind at ease. This trial is the biggest test of patience I hope to ever have. I have hope that I will be a better person because of this. I have faith that I will appreciate the person I have become and the strength I do not see in myself, yet others do. Sometimes I wish for things to get back to normal. There never will be a normal in my life again. My old normal will never again be my reality. Recently, I came to the realization that this actually IS my normal. This is how my "old" self would have dealt with this. So maybe there is not difference between the "old" me and the "new" me. Maybe I am transitioning into the "me" I need to be at this point in my life. I like control in certain areas, especially this one. It is very uncomfortable for me not to be in control of this transition but I have no choice but to go with it and see where it leads me. I am praying that it leads me to a brighter place full of wisdom, peace, and happiness. I take these strong moments in my current life and embrace them as if they were a long lost relative coming to visit and not wanting them to return from where they came. I try to clear my head of the negative and consume myself with the feelings of peace, acceptance, and love. I know the road will dip again, but for now, I will smile for my boy, love on my husband, dive into my job, cherish my friends and family, and count my blessings. I know I have no right to ask, but please let my patience be followed by a long awaited and deserved reward. I have learned that nothing is ever guaranteed, and the Rolling Stones were right, "You can't always get what you want, you get what you need." Maybe I will understand what I REALLY need in time, because what I want is not working out so great. (SIGH) Life lessons, they are as unpredictable as death, so how do you know which is coming? You lget busy living, or you get busy dying. Thank you Trey, for teaching Mommy to live!
A friend and co-worker gave me a compliment the other day that I did not answer graciously. She told me how good I looked and how well I seemed to be doing. I told her that my father always told me that I was good actress. She commented that she was sure that I felt pretty bad inside, which is true. I should have thanked her for her compliment but I only defended it. I have never really taken compliments well, and it is one habit I want to break. I have known people who never said anything nice about themselves and I always complimented them so that they would have something to be proud of. The truth is y'all, is that my bones are the only strong thing about me. My bones hold me together and hold me up each day. Every other element of me is mush. It's hard for me to see my strength when I feel so weak. I am in the rainstorm, not enjoying the crops that benefit from it. I know that one day I will see my strength and appreciate the process that I am going through. I will never appreciate my son dying, but I will appreciate the person that comes out of this alive. I will appreciate surviving. So when compliments come to me, I am not sure how to take them. Now, I am not sure of myself, I have no idea who I am right now, let alone understanding who people perceive me to be. I am sure they have known the cruel master that is death, but I am a stranger, a new slave in the house of grief. So my ability to embrace the praise of others at this time is warped. I have always been one who like attention and praise. I guess that is another part of me I have yet to put the puzzle pieces together on. I say a lot that I don't know who I am right now, that there might be a new and old me. Sometimes I am sure that the old me is what's getting me through this. At other times, I feel new, exposed, vulnerable, unsure, lost. I crave the day when I feel the joy and peace that this sorrow will repay me with. Serenity is too far away, but at least I know it is coming. My son will make sure that I find it, he is my inspiration, my drive, my strength, and my best compliment. To my complimentary friend, thank you, you're helping me realize my strength, my true self.
WHAT FORGIVENESS IS NOT
What Forgiveness is NOT, by Stephen Arterburn
NOTE: As I was writing about the reconciliation that occurred recently in my friend’s family. It struck me how important it is that we truly understand what forgiveness is, and what it is not. It is so easy to get "stuck" in our misconceptions and foggy thinking, so that true peace is never really achieved. These essential points about forgiveness are taken from the book, Seven Keys to Spiritual Renewal, by Stephen Arterburn, co-founder of New Life Clinic and a well-known conference and radio speaker. In February I had the privilege of meeting with Stephen, and was impressed by his sincerity and insight. If you are faced with forgiving someone in your life, I hope you’ll take this excerpt to heart. Chip Ingram
Forgiveness is not:
It is not condoning the behavior. Once we understand that the act of forgiving does not compromise our moral standard by condoning the offense, we are in a position to forgive even the worst of sins. To forgive is not saying "What you did is OK." It is saying, "The consequences of your behavior belong to God, not to me." When we forgive, we transfer the person from our own system of justice to God’s. To forgive is to recognize that the wrong done against us is a debt of sin, and all sin is against God. Therefore, in forgiving, we transfer the debt from our ledger of accounts to God’s, leaving all recompense in His hands.
It is not forgetting what happened. It would be foolish to erase from mind some of the wrongs done to us. If we were to do so, we would never learn from our experiences and would walk right back into the same or similar situation, only to face the same disappointments. What can eventually be forgotten are the raw emotions associated with the event. When we forgive, the terrible memories and feelings gradually diminish.
It is not restoring trust in the person. Trust is earned. It is something we give to those who deserve it. To blindly trust someone who has hurt us is naïve and irresponsible. If a person is a thief, it is foolish to give her a key to your house. If he is a pedophile, you would be derelict to hire him as a baby-sitter. We can forgive people for the wrong they’ve done without extending to them an open invitation to do it again. It is foolish to trust an untrustworthy person.
It is not agreeing to reconcile. Forgiveness is a necessary step toward reconciliation, but reconciliation is not necessarily the goal of forgiveness. In fact, there are some situations when reconciliation is not a good idea. Reconciliation requires forgiveness, but forgiveness can be done without reconciling. If the other person is unwilling to reconcile due to bitterness or denial, we can still forgive. It is silly, if not dangerous, to press for reconciliation when the other person is unrepentant, unchanging or unwilling.
It is not doing the person a favor. In Judaism, forgiveness is not required unless repentance is demonstrated and pardon is sought. But Jesus raised the standard of forgiveness to a higher level. According to him, we are to forgive even those who remain unrepentant. Forgiveness benefits the giver at least as much as it does the receiver, so we extend it whether or not the person asks for it.
It is not easy. Forgiving is difficult enough when it involves a onetime transgression. It verges on the impossible when the offense is ongoing. Such circumstances require an attitude of forgiveness, not simply an act of forgiveness.
TOO MUCH TIME ON MY HANDS
Lately I have been feeling the gravity of 5 and 4. Maybe I am looking to much into it, but those of you who know me know I am rather cosmic. Check it out:
The Power of 5:
The number of animal and human children we had when I found out I was pregnant
23rd, the day he was born, 2+3=5
The number of years we were dating before we were married
My dream family, three kids two adults
The family I will have with two living children
At 32 weeks, we knew there was a heart problem, 3+2=5
My birthdate is on the 19, 1+9=10 (can be divided by 5)
John's birth month plus Brent's birth month, 2+3=5
The number of family members who were with Trey when he died
He spent 10 days in the NICU at Cobb Hospital, (can be divided by 4)
10 days I had ruptured before I was admitted into the hospital (can be divided by 5)
My cat Gemini was 10 years old when Trey was born (can be divided by 5)
Our family now, 2 humans, 3 pets
The number of grandparents Trey has
10 is the number of 2nd cousins Trey has (can be divided by 5)
The days I spent in the hospital
How many months since his birth
How many months since his angel date
The number of pets I originally had
I spent 15 days at work after maternity leave at work (can be divided by 5)
I spent 30 workdays on maternity leave (can be divided by 5)
45 days I was on maternity leave (can be divided by 5)
The number of scans that came back positive that turned out negative at the Children's Hospital
The number of days I have to fake it until I make it at work each week
I lost 55 pounds in the hospital (divisible by 5)
The additional 10 pounds I lost in the next two weeks (divisible by 5)
The number of piercings I have in each ear
The Power of four:
He was born 4 pounds 4 ounces and a quarter
the number of years we were married before we had our first baby
the number of children (animal and human) we had when Trey was born
Trey died on 4/4/09
He was born at 8:28, 8+28= 36 (can be divided by 4)
He died at 6:26, 6+26=32 (can be divided by 4)
The number of weeks that had passed before we figured out we were pregnant
The age Savannah, my Chihuhua, was when Trey was born
The number of strokes Trey had before he died
The number of friends who will give birth after me
The number of names Trey had (John Thomas Chatham III, "Trey")
The number of baby showers I had
The number of bedrooms in our home
The doc recommended that we wait until November to try, 8 months since Trey's birth (can be divided by 4)
The number of friends who gave birth right before me
The number of doctor's offices that should have known our situation, but we had to explain anyway
The number of tattoos I have
The times I have moved since John and I have been together
AM I RAINMAN OR WHAT!!!!!
TEARS OF A CLOWN
Lately many of my friends have had good news of wonderful things happening in their life. I have always shared the joy of my friends and family. I am so happy that good things are happening to the good people in my life. My mind body, and soul are elated. My heart is having a harder time, once again. It aches for better days and for our dreams to come true. As I have said before, I have EVERYTHING I have ever wanted but children. I am grateful to God for blessing my friends and family with their happiness and love. I yearn for the day I can thank him for mine. I would not say I am jealous or envious, just hurting for the same happiness in our life. My friends and family have or are expecting BEAUTIFUL babies and BEAUTIFUL wedding and marriages to look forward to. I don't want these blessed folks to hide their information. I need to hear their good news, it makes me believe that one day it will happen for me too. It brings me back to the closeness that wavered a bit over the last five months. I want to enjoy their happiness so that when all of my dreams have come to fruition, we can all live our happiness together. I don't want to burn bridges and sour relationships by letting my heart rule the way I handle the fortune of others. The first thoughts I always have in the midst of hearing good news is happiness for the person and thankfulness to God for their blessing. Then there's the dark side of the moon. As my husband told me, I try to focus on that first part. It is hard sometimes, but that is yet ANOTHER hurdle I have to get past in this grieving process. I feel guilty for not being the fully elated person I used to be but I recognized myself like this when we were having trouble getting pregnant. So I decided to take this skeleton out of my closet so that hopefully it can be put to rest. I don't want anyone to think that I take their good fortune selfishly, just understand I still have a lot of hurt. Please forgive my heart for yearning for the same happiness you are experiencing now in your lives. I have trouble hoping and having faith in my future happiness, I was overflowing with faith and hope with Trey. I am still having trouble finding it. I am praying to be where my blessed friends are now and to share my happiness with them.
EDUCATION IS LIFE, LIFE IS EDUCATION
I've noticed changes in myself that are quite encouraging. I thought at 32 I had learned most of my lessons in life. I discovered with Trey that I knew nothing. I floated through life on my own accord and was probably very selfish. Now, I will forever acknowledge my lessons in patience, humility, mortality, selflessness, pride, fairness, kindness, integrity, and love. I was like a teenager, thinking I was invincible and all knowing. I know now that my life journey is just beginning. My purpose has changed. My sights are set higher within myself and with my world. Trey has given me the drive to live a better life, to understand, to love more freely, to give more readily, to see not just with my eyes. As a kid I was fashioned to see life as our parents would want it for me: childhood, school, college, career, marriage then family. I lived my life thinking that it would all come to me, I deserved it. Little did we all know. I am not saying that I deserve all things, I am merely saying that life will present the situations and timeline that I need to live the most full life I can. I can admit that now, tomorrow I may curse it, but it's true. Most girls live their life expecting the fairy tale, but in fairy tales, babies don't die. So at this point I am letting go of the fairy tale in favor of the inspiring autobiography. I want my life to tell a story that inspires and challenges all and everyone that I know. I will never be perfect, and I don't want to be. All I want to do is keep learning, that will help me live the fullest life. I have mentioned before that I never knew death and its consequences. I have learned that nothing is guaranteed except birth, life, and death. I have learned that even though you have something, unless you love it unconditionally, it is not yours, and Trey will always be our son. Possessions are things that can be bought or sold, not something you can give your heart to. Passions live through the heart, mind, and soul, anything less given, is simply a following. A calling is a gift that no one can give to you, you have to give it to yourself. We spend so much time, why don't we invest in it? Dreams are not made of money, power, or gluttony, they are made of humility, hard work, and perseverance. Family is not just blood, it's whomever you invite into your heart that makes a permanent warm home there. Knowledge is not how much you know in your head, it is how much you're willing to learn and how you use the intelligence you have. IQ does not equal brilliance. Forgiveness is the hardest thing you can do unless you forgive for you, and no one else. You can't always get what you want because wants aren't needs at all. Houses are not home unless unconditional love takes up permanent residence. Mistakes can be opportunity for learning. Yes, we are only human, but we can still be the best humans we can be. Love is not a four letter word, it is a commitment. C.A.N.'T stands for Could've And Never Tried. Ironic can also mean serendipity. We only live once, but we can live 100%. The best thing I have learned is I want to keep learning. The lessons may be hard, but I am hoping for an A+ when my life comes to a close. Get busy living, or get busy dying.
TO OUR ANGELS,
Dear Trey, Ella, Joey, Nicholas, Corey, Lola, and Georgia,
Our dear angels, you are loved and missed on our physical earth. You have affected millions of people with your strength, bravery, life, and passing. Through you, our families have been able to reach out to each other in comfort, support, and love. Though we are all heart broken to not have you in our arms, we find strength holding each other up, sharing our stories, being a shoulder, having a shoulder, sharing our love for you, telling our stories, coping with life after our tragedies, rejoicing in our personal triumphs, and continue to celebrate your lives. Your memories, though they will never leave us, are relived with smiles and tears and kept alive through our unconditional love and devotion as mothers. You all have given us the greatest gifts, yourselves. But you never left us alone on this earth, you left us with human angels and you made sure we found them. You made sure that all of us found each other and had each other for the rest of our time on this planet. The hurt will never leave us, but it helps to lean on people who know what it's like to lose a child. We light our candles for all of you and your families on special days, anniversaries, and days that are not so good. Even though we are spread around the world, our warmth, love, support, and friendship spans oceans and warms us in our troubled times as well as in times of rejoice. You, our angels, gave this to us, in your infinite wisdom, which we never really realized was already fully developed though your bodies could not hold you. We look up to you for your fight for life, your grace in passing, and your continued presence in our lives, hearts, bodies, and souls. You gave us the gift of your life. The gifts you continue to give to us are a testament to your grace, love for us, love for the world, bravery, strength, and spirit. You have put us in charge of making your life beautiful. You have given us drive to reach out to others and educate them about your illnesses. You have given us the words to write, scream, yell, whisper, cry, sing, chant, and wail in order to let people know how precious life is. You have given us a new deepened appreciation of our blessings, You have given us the gift of listening to those in pain and being a comfort, as so many have done for us. We know that you would never want us to be sad or suffering, but understand, that our hearts are speaking when we are sad. We feel cheated out of watching your beauty grow. We wonder at the fortune at others who do not appreciate beings such as yourselves while our arms are empty. We feel that the bond that was created upon conception, and the dreams and hopes we had for you were severed. We all expected to watch you grow only to let you go. We are women who are now forever changed from the people we used to be, and we are lost about who our new persona is, we don't know them to well. Hopefully with your help we will. We feel empty, our lives now filled with grieving, not motherly duties that so many people begrudge, but we would be glad to have just to have you with us. We watch others around us rejoice about their joyous events, and wonder when we will rejoice again. We are "that woman who lost a baby" and maybe one day it will be a badge of courage that shows others how to be strong, but now, it is a scarlet letter. Our tears are the tears you never got to cry, and, thankfully, the tears you will never have to cry. As wonderful as you were in life and are as an angel, your life would have been ten times as more beautiful. We will live on, and so will you. You are a part of us and we a part of you. You will ALWAYS be our little ones, our little angels. When our day comes, you know we will be running to you, yearning to mend years of loneliness for you. We have hope that one day, we will look back and realize our strength and smile more often at the mention of your names. Right now, our wounds are fresh so please continue to send your gifts, as if they are Neosporin for our hearts, souls, bodies, and minds. Find each other and band together as we have. Play in our dreams, dance on our hearts, sing to our souls, inspire our minds, challenge our thoughts, and make your presence known when you are around. We are thankful to never have to worry about you ever again, we know you are cradled in the arms of close family and friends, as well as new friends. These words are written because you gave us people to embrace in our tough times. We all feel most of these feelings, and even if we don't, we can be a shoulder to a mother that does. Thank you again baby angels for the MANY gifts and blessings you have given us and will continue to bestow upon us. You ARE missed, you ARE loved, you ARE cherished, you ARE an inspiration, you ARE celebrated, you ARE blessed, you ARE safe, you ARE no longer suffering, you ARE in our hearts, and you ARE forever alive in our existence forever. We love ALL of you and the friendships you have given us in the wake of losing you. Thank you for leaving us a legacy of hope, faith, love, and life.
With our unconditional and undying love,
IF YOU ARE READING THIS AND WANT TO ADD YOU ANGEL TO THE LETTER, PLEASE COMMENT BELOW. MANY BLESSINGS TO YOU AND YOURS.
WISHING YOU WERE SOMEHOW HERE AGAIN
From my favorite musical of all time "The Phantom of the Opera"
You were once
my one companion . . .
you were all
that mattered . . .
You were once
a friend and father -
then my world
was shattered . . .
Wishing you were
somehow here again . . .
wishing you were
somehow near . . .
Sometimes it seemed
if I just dreamed,
somehow you would
be here . . .
Wishing I could
hear your voice again . . .
knowing that I
never would . . .
Dreaming of you
won't help me to do
all that you dreamed
I could . . .
and sculpted angels,
cold and monumental,
seem, for you,
the wrong companions -
you were warm and gentle . . .
Too many years
fighting back tears . . .
Why can't the past
just die . . .?
Wishing you were
somehow here again . . .
knowing we must
say goodbye . . .
Try to forgive . . .
teach me to live . . .
give me the strength
to try . . .
No more memories,
no more silent tears . . .
No more gazing across
the wasted years . . .
Help me say
TO ALL GRIEVING MOMMIES,
You are the strongest person you have ever met.
You have suffered EVERY parent's worst nightmare. You have lost the very thing you spent your love and your life trying to make. You watched a part of you perish. You watched the hopes and dreams that you had for your child vanish. You were robbed of the maternal rights that you earned when you conceived that baby. You were forced to let go of the very life that you cherished. Your baby lost a fight that they fought with every ounce that they had. Your child's room is empty and their photo albums are not nearly full. You are angry that your child suffered.Your arms are empty and your heart is broken. You have resentful answers to those who try to comfort you. You are angry with God, the world, people who don't deserve the happiness you wanted, the people who didn't want the happiness you wanted but got it anyway, fate, and fairness. You wonder when you will ever be happy again. You watch others experience happiness, and your new self is not 100% into it the way it used to be. You watch others who are pregnant or have children and your emotions and thoughts are ruthless. You lay awake at night or wake up frequently for no other reason than the torture of silence. You watch others not appreciating their children and you want to take those children into your arms. You remember how ever much time you spent with your kid and wish there were one more day, year, or lifetime.
You were left to wonder why. You wished it were you instead of your child. You analyze what you could have done differently. You torture yourself with blame. You are saddled with what you can't have. You struggle with your not-so-conventional role as a mother. You don't know what to do with yourself because however long you spent being a mommy in the physical world, the spiritual world has taken the reigns. You have resentful answers to those who try to comfort you. You are angry with God, the world, people who don't deserve the happiness you wanted, the people who didn't want the happiness you wanted but got it anyway, fate, and fairness. You wonder when you will ever be happy again. You watch others experience happiness, and your new self is not 100% into it the way it used to be. You watch others who are pregnant or have children and your emotions and thoughts are ruthless. You lay awake at night or wake up frequently for no other reason than the torture of silence. You watch others not appreciating their children and you want to take those children into your arms. you listen to people tell you how awful death is but you wonder if they have ever lost a child. You have wanted to hole yourself up, scream, cry, yell, be silent, throw things, squeeze things, hit things, lay on the floor, sleep, drink, be still, be active, stay busy, be lazy, talk, be alone, lock yourself in your child's room, hold their things, avoid their rooms and their stuff, create, destroy, run, stay still, escape, curse anyone and everything, eat, starve, fix, break, fall, rise up, be, brave, be weak, be strong, and submit. The lives of others move on and yours stands still. You repeat everything you say, feel and think and you forget what you've told, expressed, or thought, so you repeat yourself again. Every hour, day, date, month, and year have a meaning to you and suffer through those moments with pride, sorrow, or a little bit of both. Maybe some of those landmarks will fade, but then again maybe they won't, only time will tell. You are learning the ultimate lessons of mortality, recourse, and patience. Your attitude sucks and your normal self would be disappointed at your cynicism, bitterness, callousness, hopelessness, faithlessness, and bitterness. BUT YOU CAN'T HELP IT!!!
Your loved ones are suffering and you witness this alongside your own grief. There are people close to you who are inconsolable, and normally you would be able to hold them up. The tears you once cried for your loved ones are now cried with them. You are well aware of the disappointment and sorrow of those who are close to you. People look at you and speak with you with a hint of pity. You mortify people who are not made privy with the news. The tears of your loved ones level you, although you are comforted that they share and don't hold in. You have trouble going into social situations that are unfamiliar since your child's angel date. You put on a smile, yet cry inside, so that others will not shower you with pity. You wonder what people are thinking and how they are feeling. You want people to talk about your child one minute and shut up about them the next. Though your friends and family hold close, you feel alone. You get to watch the faces and tears of loved ones and want to take it all away even you if you don't have the energy, space, or time. You walk through life fearing the attention but yearning for the recognition. Your friends and family know that nothing they say of do will take this away, but they try anyway, maybe they try to hard or not enough. But at least you know they try. You wish with all your might that you knew what to tell them to do and how to tell them to act but you have no idea what to ask for. All you want is your child back, and no mortal can do that.
You are still standing. After all you have been through you still exhale, put one foot in front of the other, and attempt each moment, hour, day, week, month, year, and lifetime. Your strength inspires others to take a better stock in their lives and appreciate their blessings. You fight your child's battles well after death by being an advocate, educator, and example. Your loved ones draw from your strength and grow as people. You weather the lows and the highs of your grief, and reach out to others in the process. You are the pride of your risen angel. You strive to live a better life that your child will be proud of. You light your candles in remembrance and brag about your offspring. You wear trinkets of their life, talk about your child, and promote their lives. You help others through their grief and share their journeys. You embrace your fellow mommy mourners and hold them up in their times of sorrow. You listen better, learn more, grow higher, do more, love more, forgive more, and live more. You survive each day no matter what it takes because you have no choice. The need to reach the children you have loved that are in heaven takes a back seat to the life you want to live to get to them in heaven. You celebrate your child's special day with tears, laughter, and memories. You want to put your chin up and wear your strife as a red badge of courage. Life goes on and you walk the beautiful wildflower field of grotesque weeds to get through it.
A TIME OF MANY TRIALS
I know I have over stayed my welcome on your prayer list, but my family is going through yet another couple of trials. As many of you know, my Mucca (dad's mom) passed away early Sunday morning. Our family is at peace that her days with suffering with numerous bone injuries due to old age (although she would pop me if she knew I said that) and alziemers (spelling?) are over. She was truly the heart of our family and we know that we can carry on her legacy because she meant so much to us and taught us and loved us so much. She is holding my son and has her soul mate's arm wrapped around her surrounded by her family. She is truly at peace and we are thankful
While that is all going on my mom was diagnosed 6 weeks ago with a bulging disk which complicates her scoliosis. They were treating her for pain but as a result of inactivity, she developed a blood clot in her leg which made the pain that much worse. My daddy also believes that the events over the last year have weighed heavy on her more than any of us really know. She always says that when she is stressed or depressed, her back takes the brunt of the pain. I was with her when she was admitted into the hospital on Sunday afternoon after two and half hours of trying to get her out of the bed. Her entrance into the ER was excruciatingly painful for all of us. She was in so much pain, more than I can ever describe and ever want to see again. She was eventually admitted after a doctor witnessed one of her painful episodes. (Understand that my father has been nursing her for six weeks, painful episodes and all). They are trying to get her to a point where she can recover at home without IV meds and able to get around almost totally on her own. Her progress has been stalled due to the nausea that all of the meds she is taken gives her. She does not eat much and can't get around much like they wants her to because she gets nauseated when she moves around. Although I know she is good hands, something else weighs heavy on my heart.
All of the while that my mom has been going through this, we knew Mucca was dying. My dad's devotion to his wife is outstanding and I knew it killed both him and my mom that they could not be there for the rest of the family during this trying time. The exhaustion that has accrued over the last 6 weeks was compounded by Mucca's death. My mom and Mucca were VERY close and my mom is quite upset that she can't do what she needs to do for her husband and she can't pay her respects to the woman who meant so much to her. My dad has to take all of this in: his mother's death, my mom's pain and suffering, my mom's grief, his own grief, and his responsibilities as a husband and a son. He is truly torn and won't even show me the agony he is going through.
I ask, once again, that you pray for healing for my family. Watching my family go through what we have in the last year and what we are going through now is the hardest thing to bear. Please pray for strength for all of us as we weather these hard times together and try to hold each other high. You amazed me with your encouragement and support during our tragedy and your prayers worked wonders. I hope that I am not asking to much for you to continue praying for our family, our healing and our strength. Thank you for all you do!
THE ONE WHO LOST A BABY
Many of my grieving mother friends and I have talked about our new label. We don't hear it, but we know in people's minds, we are labeled as "the one who lost their baby". WELL, I am taking a stand. I will no longer accept that label, fall victim to that label, or live that label. I wanted to make a list of other labels I am proud to hold. Although I AM the one who lost a baby, there are so many other things I am known for and I am proud of.
I am the one who is a:
life long learner
kind hearted woman
lover of music
free spirited woman who runs with the wolves
big fan of family and friends
Pope High School graduate
Georgia State graduate
Kennesaw State graduate
NOVA Southeastern University graduate
big fan of hugs
I would ask my friends who are mommies to angels to create their own lists. I ask of my loved ones if they would choose one of the above, instead of such a painful identification as "the one who lost a baby". Much love to you all!
Smile though your heart is aching;
Smile even though it's breaking.
When there are clouds in the sky, you'll get by.
If you smile through your fear and sorrow,
Smile and maybe tomorrow,
You'll see the sun come shining through for you.
Light up your face with gladness,
Hide every trace of sadness.
Although a tear may be ever so near,
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile,
If you just smile.
That's the time you must keep on trying,
Smile, what's the use of crying?
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile.
EXTREME MAKEOVER (NOT!!)
When this grieving process started for me I was disconnected and wondering how to cope with the new me. I felt separated from my former self, a shell of who I used to be. I was frustrated because I did not know how to handle someone who cried all of the time, was chronically depressed, and empty. I hated the "new" me as a I called it and longed for the care free "old" me.
I have moved into a new place in my healing. I now believe that we are only given one "me". What I called the "old" me was the "me" before this tragedy, but it didn't change who I am, like I thought. I am still "me" but changed, developed, experienced. We mourning parents are floored by our new circumstances because we never expected to live without our little ones. We expected the dream that most other parents have a lifelong joy of. Our ideal situation did not match up with out reality. We dream of our children growing up and having children of their own, never knowing that we would outlive them. We live with holes in our very existences. Our beloved homes are haunted by an empty nursery. Our jobs are filled with employees beaming, or in some cases, complaining about their kids. Our families and our friends are hurting. The relationships with our significant others is shadowed by our pain over each other's grief. Even still, our names remain the same, we still live in our own bodies, have all of our own working parts, and the bittersweet part is we are still living a breathing, though we would gladly take the place of our loved ones.
In the wake of all of that I am still "me". I have the same laugh, though it may not come as often, I love the sound of it and my loved ones do too. My heart still loves everyone in my life, including my baby angel Trey. If anything I love more. My passion has increased from teaching and learning, to advocating, and supporting CHARGE and NICU foundations. Once a very caring person who would do anything for anyone, my care for others has grown exponentially. I used to live life by the seat of my pants and take things for granted. Now, I try to do everything 100% and take pride in my blessings. Trey makes me want to live a better life.
Because of Trey, "me" is learning vital life lessons that will enrich my life, allow me to help others, and increase love with those I love so very much. As tragic as my situation is, this is where "me" is supposed to be. As with any change in a person's life, it alters the road map and the destination. I need to nurture this "me" throughout this process and the rest of my life. This "me" will probable encounter more road blocks to detour, pot holes to go around, and variations of my personal GPS. "Me" and I will make it through this and "me" will live proudly realizing how strong I really am. There are days I can't fathom the future, but "me" is working through that and on to better days.
THE UNEXPECTED RESPONSE
Even almost 8 months since Trey's birth I still run into folks that dp not know what happened. They always ask the dreaded question though it varies every time. How is your baby? Oh, you've had your baby, let me see pictures? How is your little one? How old is your baby now? Do you have any children? How many kids do you have? So tell me about that baby? Did you have a boy or girl? After Trey died I was asked a bunch and it took awhile before I got out of the habit of saying "he's dead". That was my angry reality. I moved on to "he passed away, he was very sick". I am now fully prepared for their shocked faces and apologies now with "he was very sick and passed away". It still is met with the same response: shock, embarassment, sorrow, pity, and two cents. If you think about, it most people have the normal experience. Get pregnant, go into labor, bring home a baby, and raise the baby. No one expects to hear that your baby has died. Everyone, including yourself expects that the norm will happen. Believe you me, I don't want to be the poster child of child loss and I refuse to be the one who lost a baby. I want all of the people out there who ask the dreaded question and are met with a response like mine that they should not fret. These questions are a reality to grieving parents everywhere. Even 20 years from now I will have to answer the question about how many kids I have and I will have to add my baby angel Trey to the number. I find that when I am asked the only cure for their shock is to smile and say do you want to see pictures? That's what you do when you have a living baby right? Why not have bragging rights about a baby who is your guardian angel forever? My pictures might not be in a studio but they sure are candid. They are the only pictures I have and I am proud of every single image! Your response may vary, but if you get the dreaded answer, convey your condolenses and ask if they have a picture. They might not be so enthused as I am, but it gives them a chance to live a little of what parents of living children get to experience. We will have this red badge of courage forever and will never let it go no matter how much we did not want it or ask for it. We owe it to our angels to be as strong as we can and keep our babies' memories alive with our pride, love, and memories. It is hard but we are the strongest of the strong. We have lived the nightmare and we need to take the "u" out of mourning and wake up to a life blessed by our little ones. God bless you all and kisses to our angels in heaven!
MT HEART STILL BEATS
THANKS Beyonce! WORD!
You're holding me and I close my eyes
You're whispering, and I start to cry
You feel so good, so beautiful
For as long as you live don't let me go
Just hold me, touch me, feel me
As long as you love me, reach for me and need me
If you could trust me, and teach me, never let go of me
Becasue you're half of me, my heart still beats
I'm looking in the eyes, the eyes of love
And I hold your face and I see the sun
I taste your kiss, you touch my soul
and I'm feeling things I've never felt before
Just hold me, touch me, feel me
As long as you love me, reach for me and need me
If you could trust me, and teach me, never let go of me
Because you're half of me my heart still beats
I'm feeling what they call pure love
I never knew feeling like this could exist inside of me
I'm soaring, emotions exploding
I don't want to live another day if you're not here with me
Just hold me, touch me, feel me
As long as you love me, reach for me and need me
If you could trust me, teach me, never let go of me
Because you're half of me my heart still beats
because you're half of me my heart still beats
accepting the death of your child
holding back the tears
getting out of bed in the morning
putting on a smile at "happy" occasions
reaching out to others
having a positive attitude
going through the emotions, not the motions
listening other other mothers complain and not saying a word
listening to pregnant women complain and not saying anything
keeping your chin up
uplifting other people
getting out of the house
getting dressed everyday
asking for help
celebrating your child's short life
watching your child die
tearing down walls
honoring your child
being a grieving parent
being an advocate
returning to work
weathering the holidays
singing the saddest songs with eyes lifted to heaven
laughing through the pain
hoping for the future
drawing closer to your loved ones
commemorating your baby angel
passing by the infant section
passing by the marnity section
entering a hospital
going to the doctor
sleeping through the night
taking care of yourself
giving yourself time and space to heal
getting on with life
physically living without your child
keekping your angel close to your heart and throughout your soul
feeling blessed despite your loss
enjoying the things you used to enjoy
adding post partum depression to your grief
informing thse who don't know what happened
bragging about your child
spending time in the NICU
leaving the hospital without your baby
changing your attitude
taking it one day, hour, minute, second at a time
giving birth to the baby you've always wanted then giving them their wings
CHRISTMAS IN HEAVEN
Christmas in Heaven....
I see the countless Christmas trees around the world below ....
With tiny lights, like Heaven‘s stars reflecting on the snow, ....
The sight is so spectacular; please wipe away the tear ....
For I am spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year. ....
I hear the many Christmas songs that people hold so dear, ....
But the sounds of music can‘t compare with the Christmas Choir up here. ....
I have no words to tell you, the joy their voices bring, ....
For it is beyond description, to hear the angels sing. ....
I know how much you miss me; I see the pain inside your heart, ....
But I am not so far away, we really aren‘t apart. ....
So be happy for me dear ones, you know I hold you dear ....
And be glad I‘m spending Christmas with Jesus Christ this year. ....
I send you each a special gift, from my Heavenly home above, ....
I sent you each a memory of my undying love. ....
After all, love is a gift more precious than pure gold. ....
It was always most important in the stories Jesus told. ....
Please love and keep each other; as my Father said to do, ....
For I cannot count the blessing of love He has for each of you. ....
So have a Merry Christmas and wipe away that tear; ....
Remember, I am spending Christmas with Jesus this year.....
I never really did like roller coasters. They scared me, I did not like being out of control of my own movements and body. I did not mind the corkscrews or the loop de loops. They always brought you to the same place in the end. The drops were the worst, I knew at the top of the hill that the fall was soon to come. I was scared of the fall. But once the ride was over I was always so proud of myself for facing the terror and taming the beast. No matter how many times I went on any given roller coaster, I was always scared, but wanting the release of surrendering to fear.
The grieving process is much the same, except you never get off the ride. Just when you think the ride is over it starts again. It began when I got pregnant, the uphill excitement and fear at the same time. The hill was the largest ever, but the fall was terrorizing. All of the dreams and expectations, hopes and dreams for my child built the hill up further, when he died the fall was faster than the ride up the hill. It was an exponential drop the bottom of my grief, or at least I thought.
The ride continued, even after the cars went through the station, they never even stopped, there was no release of the safety straps, no line cues, no instructions over the microphone. It is my ride alone, sometimes my loved ones join me but mostly they are standing in line waiting to take my place. I arrive at the station proud of myself for making it through the ride once again. Only for the confusion of the fear starting again when the cars return to the track, up the same hill I went through the first time and will continue to go through for the rest of my life. I admit that each time, the emotions were easier, but I grow weary of this ride, and my patience makes the hill worse.
I mentioned before that I lke the corkscrews and loop de loops. Now, I dread them. They put me back in the same place I was before, closer to that hill. The hill that sends my from satisfactory happiness, thankfulness, joy about my son, and confidence to dispair, sorrow, hopelessness, faithlessness, bitterness, and anger. You know the dips that coasters take, the ones I go through go under ground, to me, they go to the center of the Earth. Just imagine going to that place even when you think the ride is ending.
Everytime, I think the ride ends, it begins again. The hills and dips are in different places, the speed varies, and sometimes the ride does not even stop at the gate, it just keeps going when all I want to do is get off. When the ride continues, I do not recognize it, the peaks and valleys are different. The twists and turns of my emotions are unpredictable. You would think someone who hasw been on this emotional, physical, and mental roller coaster ride would memorize it by now. But grief is not a routine, it's a neverending passage of being lost. Never knowing what's next.
There are times when the ride goes slower, and the jerks, falls, twists and turns are easier to bare. At other times the ride is so out of control that you wonder if the restraints will hold you. No one else understands because there is not time to get them on the ride with you when the cars role into the station. Your fellow passengers are other grieving mommies but they are not right nex to you. They are in their assigned seats, the definitions of their own situations. You connect with them because you'e on the same train, but you're in your own row. All of the restaints fall to empty seats next to you.
All in all, you don't get to take the corny amusement park pictures or play the games to win prizes. You are stuck in the ride you hate the most. You don't even have to wait in line, you have a permenant ticket. With any luck, the patterns of this rollercoaster will present more patterns and the falls will be less tragic and the twist and turns will bring me right back to where I need to be again. And each time I complete a cyce, I will be proud of myself for making it this far.
This ride I talk about is emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental. The ride is ongoing and ever changing. The more times I get to ride the less the fear will criple me. I will be stronger each time I exit the station and I will be able to handle the ups, downs, twists, turns, and chaos of the ride. God willing, I will never hate roller coasters again.
I SURVIVED THE HOLIDAYS
There is this new show on called "I Survived" tha John made me watch the other day. I couldn't BELIEVE the stories of survival and the extreme circumstances. There was much blood shead and physical termoil in all of the stories we watched. It got me thinking about how I survived the holidays.
I have ALWAYS LOVED LOVED LOVED the holidays. I was the decorating princess and sang every holiday song at the top of my lungs, especially last year. Last year was the best holiday season of my life. We had our dream home and a child on the way. I loved decorating the house, it was sort of a practice for this year when my 9 month old would be cooing over lights, sounds, and wonders. We had it all planned out and pictured, down to the outfits our loved ones bought for us that would fit Trey perfectly at the holidays. But fate had other plans.
Ever since Trey's death I have dreaded every holiday, and that, on top of the already exhisting depression, is DEVASTATING!! Those who know me see a jovial holiday spirit. My students know it beall too well. I take the day before/of any holiday and fill it with fun crafts and activities. My dogs have to bare with mommy dressing them up and posing them for holiday pictures. My husband knows it better, having to navigate boxes of decorations for each holiday. Not to mention I was all OVER the holiday card, usually right after Halloween. There was always Christmas Eve Services and blakc eyed peas, cornbread, and collard greens on New Years. It was always a joy shopping for loved ones and watching them open their gifts. Every holiday card and party invite used to bring me into a fit of glee. My guilty pleasure was buying all of the holiday specific candies at the store.
Every holiday since, most of my holiday whims have escaped me. No wait, they have run screaming for fear of my sorrow. All of things I loved about every holiday felt empty and made me feel devestated. I purposely went out of town for Halloween. Enter Thanksgiving!
UGH!!! It's hard to feel thankful for anything when you're heart is ripped out. I sucked it up because my mom had been going through so much with her back injury and I volunteered to have our annual Thanksgiving meal at our house instead of hers. She saved my sorrowed spirit by teaching me how to cook her signature recipes so they would be ready for the feast. I took pride in the home I loved so well and was blessed to have so I spent time and positive energy cleaning my home, making it perfect for my extended family to congregate. I was in charge of making uplifting us this Thanksgiving after the passing of our matriarch, Mucca (Dad's mom) on top of the first Thanksgiving that Trey would have been here. Thanksgiving, this year, was supposed to be filled with the joy of one more year with Mucca and the joy of a new family member to the tradition. All of the energy it took to pull off a successful holiday with my family kept my attitude positive. Then they left.
Talk about an emotional crash. There are things that I won't share, they are mine. But what I can tell you is that being on stage just to make sure your family has a joyous holiday will wear on you. I am not saying that everything I did was fake and an act. I only mean to say that I put my family's need to have a wonderful Thanksgiving ahead of my grief overmy son. The grief will always catch up with you and it caught me, snared me, trapped me, and kept me for quite a while. I always find that when I have positive that I am forced to focus on, the crash is harder. Eash holiday party you would find me smiling and having a good time, but as one old friend found, after I left, you could find me sobbing in my car. This happened after the benefit we threw for CHARGE. I found myself in the hole of what I did not have. I also was of the mind set that everyone had moved on and no one really realized ow hard it was for me to get through this holiday. I found out almost right away how wrong I was. The landslide happened then, my grief (tripping), the grief of my family (falling), surviving (accelerating speed), realizing that ones I thought had forgotten were still aching for us (plumetting), and knowing that there are many more Thanksgivings are to come (free falling). If you hae been following my journey, you wll know that I hate the free fall, the out of comtrol feeling. But I survived, the hill lessened, then came a whole new set of holidays.
As I said before, I have always loved the holidays, not the hype that the retail industry forces on us, but the instutution of family and traditions. The retail hype always annoyed me, multiply it by infinity and you've incapilated my experience of this holiday season. Top that off with trying to find a radio channel NOT paying holiday music or a TV channel NOT plaing holiday music. I was stuck in a whirlwind of reminders of what I don't have and what I won't get this holiday season. Cap that off with holiday pictures and cards showing happy living children. I floated through it all trying to hide my pain, because everyone else had reason to celebrate. I didn't want to jade myself or their experience.
Fast forward to Christmas Eve. I was alone for the night before Christmas and Christmas morning, not my ideal but let's just say that John needed to spend time with his mom. Follow that up with Christmas with my wonderful family, all of whom know how miserable I am amongst their joy. This is the same family that I entertained at Thanksgiving. The truth of my sorrow came out, but I kept my composure as the little ones ripped open the wrappings of their treasures. I wanted them to have their joy, they deserved it, and I needed to experience it. I was ready for this normally joyous of holidays to be over.
On the drive home, I bawled my eyes out. The radio was on and one song caught my attention. It was the first holiday song that I did not avoid or change the channel when it came on. I wih I could remember the song or artist, then again, maybe the song was sent by my angel Trey, not for me to remember who sang it or what the title was, but just to make me remember the miracle of the season. The singer expressed such love and joy for her blessings even through her trials. I listened mesmerized by the lyrics of someone who had gone through so much, yet knew her blessings. It was the first holiday in nine months that I really appreciated what I had amongst the pain of what I do not have.
I started thinking about my bitterness for others who have children they don't want, deserve, or take care of. I stopped being bitter with their good fortune with children and started focusing on the problems I am blessed not to have. I have a dream home, the husband of my dreams, awesome family and friends, good health, and my wonderful career. My focus changed from what I don't have to what I can give to the children who can't fend for themselves. I recognized that I cannot change others' fortunes of fertility, I can only support the children affected. I started thinking about what I had to feel thankful for (a month later) and every miracle that this Christmas had presented me. The most wonderful miracle is Trey, who blessed us with his strength, love, and inspiration. He is my Christmas miracle. God gave me my miracle as I had asked, and this miracle would continue to bless me for the rest of my life. My spirits lifted, I head into the new year.
I know that 2010 has many possiblities. I have made it through the roughest part of my grieving, I survived the holidays. I am hopeful that the holiday seasons to come will bring more joy. I know that a new year is a new start, fresh with new hope. I also know that nothing I want this year is guarunteed but possible. The only thing I can do is take care of myself and those I love dearly. I can make decisions for myself to further my healing and improve my exhistence. I can live the way my son would want me to. The new year is the perfect time to shed some pain nd grow a new skin.
I wish they could make a show about what I survived. Granted, there would be less blood and physical trauma, but the emotional and mental trials would be in stiff competition. Thank you Trey for being with me during this holiday season. Thank you to my family and friends who surrounded me during this trying time. I did not come out unscathed, but I came out alive and ready to face another year.
THE NEXT CHATHAM IDOL
I was advised be two friends over the holidays that I should not idolize my son. One has experienced more deaths than I could imagine but neither of them has lost a child. Yes, I do light his candle on special anniversaries, have a holiday tree for him, used to buy him a monthly birthday present from my registry, talk about him, talk to him, remember him, wear a necklace and bracelet for him, have a stocking for him, have pictures up at our home, have a digital photo ornament with pictures of him in it, have given our parents the same ornament for Christmas, reach out for support, reach out to others who need support, raise money for CHARGE, educate and advocate about CHARGE, tell others about my experience, cry for him, feel proud of him, have his nursery still a mess, have a chest for his things, and treat him as a member or our family. It seems like a long list but it does not consume my days. I am ashamed to admit I have missed lighting his candle on a few special days. I even stopped lighting it on Mondays and Saturdays, his birth day and angel day. I stick to the 23rd and 4th, his angel and birth dates. I do have a life that I lead the best way I can under the circumstances. Those who have lost a child understand. I light a candle for their children too on their special days. The death of your child is different than any other death. Parents of these angels are not only mourning their child, they are mourning a part of themselves because the child was developed from their love. We do everything we can, especially the first year, to survive. These things I do don't make me sad as my husband worried they would. I am paying tribute to my child the way parents with living children do but at a different capacity. Trey is a member of our family and not to recognize that would be cruel to his memory. Many of my angel mommy friends and family members also recognize Trey's anniversary days by lighting candles, are they idolizing too? Our parents gladly displayed their digital ornaments, does that make them obsessed? They lost a part of themselves too, their love made John and I, and our love made Trey. Most of my loved ones loved the idea of a special tree for Trey, are they too consumed? People coo over his pictures, are they too focused obn him? The answer to these questions is NO NO and again I say NO! When a little one dies, there is nothing left to do but honor their life, no matter how short or long or suffered. My life is not a shrine to him, I have been living and plan to keep on living. One must understand that my days are not filled with motherly duties, they are filled with survival. I choose these "rituals" as a positive way to brighten my day. One might say how long will you carry on these practices? The answer is, as long as I need to and as long as it takes for them to help heal me. I have cut down from the time closer to his passing and will keep doing what I need to forever if I need to. The fact that I miss anniversaries sometimes should be evidence of that. Its my process, and I will do whatever it takes to get there. No one can judge my process and if the ones closest to me are not worried, than I am fine. I ask you, what would you do if you lost your child, no matter how old? Would you spend your days wallowing or making the most of what happiness you had and still have in your heart with your child? Eventually I won't need to do so much to get by, but until then, I will post what I want to, say what I need to, feel what I need to, and do whatever I need to do to honor my child and his memory. If it makes me feel better, that's all that matters. I hope no one else around me ever has to go through this and wonder if they are doing the right thing or focusing too much in regards to their grief. Believe you me, I would rather be doing motherly duties than trying to get through everyday. So I ask doubters to try to put themselves in my shoes, and look at what I am doing positive rather than worrying that I am making my life about Trey. See this as my attempt to be the only kind of mother I can be. Let me do what I need to, I am not in excess. I only a mother who misses her son. There's nothing wrong with that.
So, the worst periods I have ever had have happened in the last 9 months. Mommy's of angels know that if you are trying for another baby the cycles are torture. My cycle is crazy random so knowing a fertile period is practically impossible. Those angel mommies who lost their first suffer even more. We don't have the focus on another child to fall back on. Don't get me wrong I am not without hope just questioning the possibilities since I have not had a successful pregnancy. I have no doubt that I will happen but I wish God would adapt to my time table. I get excited yet disapointed with each period. Disapointed is obvious, excited at the possibilities for the next cycle. Then, when I am late, like I normally am, the wheels start turning. Only to be shut down with the dreaded Bloody Mary. My cycles keep getting further and further apart, the doc will be called tomorrow. Until that baby is in my arms I will always be weary of what fate and/or God has in store for us. Until then, I am hoping Bloody Mary takes a long awaited vacation.
THE NEXT CHATHAM IDOL SECOND SEASON
So, after I wrote the first part of this topic I was frustated. I needed to know how more people felt about what I was doing to cope with Trey. All of my fellow angel mommies of course would side with me. They know my pain and process all too well. So I poled some more of my friends to see where they stood. I did this not knowing it would lead to another journal entry. In all fairness to them, they were completely honest with me which is hard to do when you are face to face with a grieving mommy. Also, I did not use them to fuel another rant. I appreciate their input even though I do not always agree with it. The fact that they would share with me concerns from their heart is a testiment of their friendship and love. Even still, I am still having trouble with their point of view.
There is still a perception that I am acting in a way that furthers my grief. I have been asked if I will continue my routines when my other children come. The answer to that is at this time I plan to keep doing what I am doing as long as I need to. None of the things I do to honor and remember makes me sad. That eliminates my husband's concern, god love him! My children will know about their older brother in their own time. These are valid concerns, however I do not have other children so I have no idea how I will handle it. I know my plan now but time will change my perception. I do not wear my necklace anymore because I want to wear other pretty necklaces. I plan to put his chain on my rear view mirror. All of this happened in its own due time. I do not put the picture of his candle on special days anymore though I still light it. Time will tell if I put his holiday tree up every year. I still plan to have a birthday picnic for him, will it happen every year after, not likely, but I am allowing myself all of the firsts this year has to offer. I avoid everthing possible that makes me sad about him. Sometimes I have to succumb to the sadness. But when sad songs come on or anything at death related comes on the media, I change the channel.
If Trey would have lived, I would have spent all this time consumed with him and no one would tell me that it is unhealthy. Now there is avoid and I am doing as many positive things as I can to get by. Every death has a different perspective. Relatives who die expectedly we feel more at peace with. My peace lies with him, he is the only peace that I have. Everyone deals with grief differently. The death of a child is a whole other ballpark. So as long as I am not holding sollice in my house, not going to work, shrining him, crying all of the time, or making my life about him, I am going to trust my husband, I am healthy. He of all people would tell me if I need to adjust. My process is my process. I have appreciated the input from others but I will not revisit this again. My head will lead my logic and my heart will lead my healing. I trust myself completely. I will allow myself to heal in my own time! Thanks again to my unsuspecting friends. I love your input and stil love you even if I don't agree. Thanks for caring so much for sharing!
Since Trey's death, I have felt the need to reach out and help others that have been through a tragedy such as ours. I jump to contact my fellow angel mommies when I feel that they are suffering. I can't help it, it is ingrained in my nature. I was raised by two loving parents who spent their lives taking care of us and anyone in need. I never realized how much they taught me, not even when they took care of John and I during our grief. I have had many chances to reach out to others as they have reached out to me. I have even been asked to reach out to families who are new to this grim existence. It really saddens me that we aren't the last to experience this, but it gives me much peace to help others in need. Even when we were at the Cobb NICU, another "Trey" came in with minor problems, but the parents lived 30+ minutes away. I offered them our spare room so that they would be closer to their son. They never took me up on it, partly because he left not long after I offered, thanks be to God.
Recently, friends of ours experienced a loss, no a double loss, in a sense. Without going into too much detail, my friend and I became close due to similar horrific circumstances. So when their hardship came about, naturally I was crushed for them. The pain and devastation of their event was all too familiar to me. I hated that they had to feel that way and suffer even more afterwards. Now that I know this pain, I ache for those that join our ranks. I don't relive my own pain, yet the pain they describe i have been through. Still, I cannot find the words. I wish I could say and do the things that my fellow angel mommies have done for me. I just know how hard it is to listen or accept anything anyone has to offer. Your mind body and soul is engulfed in your own reality, word of encouragement often are hard to swallow, though they are appreciated for their intent. In this situation with my dear friends, I felt worse for not knowing how to comfort them. I never wanted our friends and family to EVER experience the tragedy that we are still living. John and I have always said that we are glad this happened to us and not our loved ones. Now, it is staring us in the face in the lives of the ones we love.
Another angel mommy of mine went on to have another child who spent a lot of time in the NICU recently. I can't imagine the fear, anxiety, and bitterness she went through. Our prayers were answered when he came home today, healthier and happier to a family that is truly deserving of his love. Even so, I revisit te fact that, despite my NICU experience, I had no words, only ears to listen. But I still wanted to fix it. No doubt, the passing of their little angel followed by another birth with health issues errupted their lives even more. Though a pregnancy would be MORE THAN WELCOME, there is still the underlying fear that we will relive this nightmare, not with CHARGE, but for some other reason.
Many of my fellow angel mommies are coming up on or just passing special anniverseries of their tragedies. I can't help but rally around them the way they have rallied around me. We are all doing the best we can and I can truly say, of all of our loved ones, they have been such a valuable resource and soft place to land. Our loved ones surround us with love and support, our fellow angel parents do the same but with the added sorrow of experience. The fact is, all of my loved ones and angel mommies are a member of a club that is not exclusive, BUT no one ever WANTS to be a part of. But when we become members, the only initiation is accepting each other's comfort.
A very close friend has always been concerned about how I take care of others more than myself. She is right, somewhat. Sometimes, consoling others helps me console myself. I have spent WAY too much time on and with myself this past 11 months. Sometimes I feel like I am selfish in my laziness that often comes during my darker periods. She has alwyas raved that I take care of everyone I love, but she worries that I neglect my own problems and sorrow. Trey's life and death have led me to a New Year's Resolution to be more productive. I have dedicated my self to take better care of all of the people and non-tangible things in my life. I want to take care of my health, my career, and home in a way that Trey would be proud of.
This experience has made me grow up, well, sort, of. You will still find the funloving woman you have always known, but my focus is altered. My parents gave me the gift of looking after those in need, but Trey gave me the path. I was chosen to use my drive to help others. I never wanted to be the poster child for CHARGE or baby loss, but I am running with it. I will definitely let my spirit guide me in my healing and helping. The reality is that we will not be the last to live this nightmare. Our reality also will lead us to be there for anyone who needs us, to support whomever is in need, and to spread love inthe name of our son, John Thomas Chatham III, our Trouper Trey! Thank you Trey for this gift and all of our blessings, including you! I would rather have you here healthy, but the peace that I am carrying on your legacy gives me much peace!
HERE WE ARE
oday is my husband's birthday, and Trey's 11 month birthday. It's a day of bittersweetness, I put everything into making my husband's day special, meanwhile out hearts, yes I am sure both of us are there, were on our son. Today, I wanted John's birthday to be special, to be the day I would tell him I was pregnant. The 23rd of the month has held meaning for us, our son was brought into this world on the 23rd of March. The 4th also hold meaning, the day our son took himself to God. I still remember the last moments I spent with him, after they told us that "we weren't told the whole story". Our child had suffered severe brain trauma from the night he was born. That ever since he was born, his brain was deteriotating. John and I spent the night before Trey died, our 4th wedding anniversary knowing what we needed to do, and talking each other through what good could come from it. We had grand plans to support CHARGE and NICUs everywhere. We have fulfilled our promises to each other and our son. Our hearts were in a positive place, we spent our special anniversary in love, with ourselves, but mostly our son.
The next day, we sat before our son, a mommy and a daddy. John kissed his son from head to toe, I jist talked to him. I told him, " Mommy and Daddy are letting you go. It's ok, be strong now son, go to where you will never be sick or in pain. Please go, be at peace. It's ok sweet boy, you won't be alone when you go. Go baby, it's ok please go, we are so proud of you, we love you, don't be scared, be brave sweetie, Mommy and Daddy are letting you go". John remembers that I repeated one if not all of those phrases repeatedly before I finally let go.
Honestly, I am not ready to tell you what happens next, but I am sure that it will spill out of me. BUT, today I remember the 23rd, the tragic events of his birth and the 13 days afterwards. I guess I can congnitively get through the day of his death because the day he died, I felt the first paing of peace. Our son no longer hurt, Mommy and Daddy didn't have to fret, but most of all, our son NEVER has to suffer again. Isn't that every parents wildest dream, to never have to worry about their kids or to never worry about their kids suffering. Well, John and I have it, I would much prefer having a lifetime of worry, than 13 days of extreme worry, yet, as far our son in concerned, our son WAS sick, and now we never have to worry about him being sick again.
It's amazing the things I am remembering, and sometimes forgetting in the moments before his first birthday.
To be continued....
So I am at the hospital again with mom. It seems like this last year I have been spending a lot of time in the hospital, none of the visits have been pleasant. The noises and the smells take me back to the time we spent in the hospital. It's amazing to me how my other angel mommies can go to visit their nurses and doctors. I never want to set foot in the hospital Trey was born in again. The unnecessary trauma that all three of us went through at that hospital would spark some to file suit. I am not a scorned parent trying to seek blame. I am a grieving mommy who wants to know what some of the staff at that hospital were thinking while they were taking care of Trey and I. Why weren't they straight forward with us? How could they in good conscience take our crisis and make it worse? I cannot praise Chilren's Healthcare enough. Being in that hospital was also traumatic. That was where we watched our son's chances of a long healthy life wash away. We live near the hospital Trey was born in and often have to pass it on our travels. I can only hope that in the event that John, our children, or I need a hospital, we can make it to a different one a little further away. Before all of this, our faith in the medical field was already shaky at best. Now, I worry so much about the medical care of my loved ones and myself, especially in the event of a pregnancy. I hope I am not the only angel mommy to feel like this, then again maybe I don't. I hope that no other angel parents had to go through unnecessary trauma with their baby. It's traumatic enough without the carelessness we three endured. Hopefully in time my jaded feelings toward the medical field will subside. Eventually, I will need medical care and hopefully God will guide the hearts, souls, and minds of the professionals taking care of me to do no harm.
Here I am at home, unable to complete the day due to my despair. I ashamed that I might be becoming that woman I never wanted and claim to now be. I feel weak because I can't just suck it up, and be strong. My husband always tells me to be strong, but I wonder how strong he atually is. It must get him the way it gets me, but he doesn't share too often anymore. The Months of March and April are going to be hard for us. Just looking at the month on my students' calendar and I get choked up. This time last year we knew there might be a heart issue, but we were thrilled at our miracle pregnancy and our son. My loved ones were planning baby showers and everyone couold not wait for the day he showed his face to the world. As his birthday and angel date approach, I find myself thinking thatI shopuld be planning a birthday party for him, instead, I am planning a cook out in HONOR of his birthday with close friends and family. We've missed all of the "firats" with him, first Christmas, Halloween, Thanksgiving, New Year's, etc. I find myself pining over what he would look like, what he would be doing, what his milestones would be, if he had spoken his first word and what was it. Our house should be a mess with baby gates and toys, it feels empty now. Even John is starting to feel the anxiety of the days to come. We haven't touched the nursery, but gave ourselves until his angel date to put the crib together and pack away his things in order to get the nursery ready for possible children to come. Even that subject is had to bear. People don't understand how many cards are stacked against us in that area. It makes everything all that much worse. We only have his crib to put together, all of the other furniture is waiting for us to pay for and pick up. I don't know how I'll feel about his nursery will feel all put together, but it needs to be done. I have heard that the days leading up the a baby's one year anniversary are the worst, and the days of bring a little bit of peace. I am ready for March and April to be over. I am ready for this nightmare to be easier to take, although I understand that takes time. I don't mind saying again that time is a cruel master that thrives on patience, which is a taunt to our lives. I have been told that I do a good job trying to stay upbeat and busy. To tell you the truth, I live a bipolar existance with miy grief. Our home is a haven for our grief. In our home, we are reminded even more how we miss out. It seems like the months in between our tragedy and this moment have been easier to bare. I dread these coming anniversary, but at the same time I wish they were over. At this point in time, I SHOULD be recognizing how fast Trey was growing up and how fast the time flies. It's been a slow year, a painful year, but a year of testing our strength and love for each other. I have never been a good test taker, so I am always concerned how the results will turn out. The Saturday after our little boy was born, I took my final graduate exam to finish my Specialist Degree. I forgot my cell phone so my thoughts were constantly with my husband and son. Did something happen at the hospital? Was ther a test result shared. In the end I passed that test of forgetting my cell phone because nothing major happened. I also passed my graduate exam, I did it for our little boy, I know he is proud of me. To ramble on, we are truly blessed in our lives, our careers, our marriage, and our relationships with loved ones. There are others who have more kids than they can handle, but more problems that go along with it. I would not wish my problems on anyone and I am grateful that the problems of others do not inhabit our lives. That brings me peace, but does not put Trey in our arms, nothing ever will. I know my thoughts are scrambled right now, but this is how I spend my days. Often I am concerned about my use of "I" instead of ":we". I am writing solely about my grief, I cannot speak for my loving husband. Although many feelings are shared between he and I, his role as a father and grieving as a father is beyond most of my understanding. In addition to everything else I dread about the coming months, I dread his pain. My favorite sound in the world is my husband's laughter, the worst soun to me is his weeping. The funny thing about him is he can do it silently as I cannot. His silent tears are more painful. We are so blessed that this whole situation has brought us closer together. When I am hurting, he is strong for me, and visa versa. That is the most comforting thing. He once said to me that I was really the only person he could talk to, because men don't talk to each other the way women do and I am the only other loved one that is going through it with him. Our loved ones are going through it too, but we are going through it as parents. My rambling has taken me plenty of places today, it feels good to get it off of my heart, or at least part of it. I think now I will buy stock in Puffs and Kleenex, for they have been with me the whole time, even when I hide my tears from others. Thank you to all of my loved ones for holding us up during this trying year. Thank you especially to my adoring husband, who is my rock, my strength, and most important, the daddy of the best miracle we have ever been blessed to receive. Many thanks to our son, who has driven us this year to keep living and supporting others.
WHAT MY TEARS SAY:
I miss my son.
I wanted to have him with me.
There is a whole that encompasses me entire life.
I wish I were pregnant.
My family and friends are suffereing.
I am thinking about what he would look like, what he'd be doing, and what we'd be doing
My nursery is empty.
I only want to get through the day.
I miss Trey in my tummy.
I miss being a mommy.
I am still missing out on being a conventional mommy.
My son had no chance at life.
We were not given a choice.
Trey had to suffer.
I will never watch my son grow up.
Everyone else's life has gone on, my nightmare is here to stay.
I am angry.
I am bitter.
I feel robbed.
My patience is thin, if at all there.
My hopes, dreams, and faith are shaky, and very hard to hold right now.
Everyone wants to fix it, no one can.
I am worried I will never be pregnant again.
You don't really know how much we have struggled with our son and fertility.
WHAT MY SMILE SAYS:
I am proud of my son.
Trey never has to suffer or be sick again.
I love my husband, family and friends.
I can see my darling son in my mind.
My heart is filled with love for Trey.
I am hoping and having faith, for now.
I want to be happy.
I really want to smile more often.
I loved the "me" before all of this ever started.
Being pregnant was the best time of my life.
My friends and family are around me.
The wind is blowing and I can feel him.
My hubby and I are closer than ever.
I am making a difference and speading awareness.
I have a wonderful career, marriage, home, family, friends, and support system.
My puppies lighten my spirits.
I am busy instead of brooding.
I am helping others.
I have others who support me.
There are so many beautiful things to live for.
His eyes were the most beautiful I have ever seen.
He was perfect despite everything.
I am a mommy.
I am loved.
THE PAST SHADOWS THE FUTURE
John and I are on the baby train again. Although we are excited and ready, the whole idea of another pregnancy and baby creates a lot of anxiety. It took a year and a half and lots of doctor's visits before we were blessed with Trey. I was pretty carefree during my pregnancy, no worries, no overwhelming fears for our child until closer to the end. The chaos surrounding Trey's birth stays with as does the events that led up to his passing. All of these things follow us into this new terrain in our lives. Our hearts are still with our son, but we hope his love will give us strength and patience as we try our hand at another baby.
As for that struggle, I won't go into details, but our reality is that we are not the type of people who can look at each other and get pregnant. It seems like in this day and age, there are a lot more of us. We always hear that we shouldn't try so hard and we should relax about it. Those who have said this to us have no idea the struggles we face in our attempts to concieve. More times than not, these are the very people who are blessed with fertility and have no problems conceiving. Other parents like us, can I get an AMEN, we live this challenge. To get pregnant with Trey, we had to pay attention to timing and the numerous techniques and strategies suggested to us. The same will be true this time around. I was hoping everyone who said that this time would be easier were right. I also wish the virage of people telling me each month "it will happen this month, I just know it!" were right. But with every arrival of Mother Nature rears her ugly but necessary head, I realize that my loved ones are holding onto hope in a time when it is hard for me to hope.
Skip ahead to a successful conception, which has not yet happened. It will be a nerve racking 9 months. Unlike my first pregnancy, I am not sure that I will so care free. We have already been set up with extra special care. There will be many appointments and lots of anxiety with each appointment. What will be wrong this time? What will our child and I have to go through? What exam or shot will I get today? Hopefully, each visit will yeild a sigh of relief as the pregnancy progresses well. When the birth comes, I fear that the trauma that was our first birth will weigh heavy on our minds. At that point, I am sure that I have spent 9 months comparing my pregnancy with my first one. I fear I won't enjoy my next pregnancy as I did my first.
Despite all of our fears I refuse to give up on birthing another child. There are many fears and much anxiety about future pregnancies, yet we can't live our lives scared, it will get us no where but childless. If I were God, I would look down on couples who have lost a child and make sure they were pregnant right away as soon as they were ready. Unfortunately, this is our reality and the reality of many more families than most folks know. It is sac to know we are not alone, yet I am greatful to the angel parents who support us. Until the day when our children bless us with their lives, we will pray for peace in our rocky journey towards having children. Patience is also key, that is the hardest part for me and so many others. Fingers crossed.
ASK MOM HOW SHE IS
Ask My Mom How She Is
My Mom, she tells a lot of lies,
She never did before
But from now until she dies,
She'll tell a whole lot more.
Ask my Mom how she is
And because she can't explain,
She will tell a little lie
because she can't describe the pain.
Ask my Mom how she is,
She'll say"I'm alright."
If that's the truth, then tell me,
why does she cry each night ?
Ask my Mom how she is
She seems to cope so well,
She didn't have a choice you see,
Nor the strength to yell.
Ask my Mom how she is,
"I'm fine, I'm well, I'm coping."
For God's sake Mom, just tell the truth,
Just say your heart is broken
She'll love me all her life
I loved her all of mine.
But if you ask her how she is,
She'll lie and say she's fine.
I am here in Heaven
I cannot hug from here.
If she lies to you don't listen
Hug her and hold her near.
On the day we meet again,
We'll smile and I'll be bold.
"You're lucky to get in here, Mom,
With all the lies you told!"
LEMONS TO LEMONADE
The other night John and I had such a WONDERFUL conversation. I would recommend this to ANYONE, tragedy or not. We started talking and the conversation veared toward memories. We revisited all the landmark moments in our 10 years together. We laughed at memories from long ago, long ago but not forgotten. We remembered the day we met and then the day we met again. It brings a smile to my face just to think about it. Then our conversation veared toward Trey. We recalled such moments as finding out we were pregnant, seeing him on the ultrasounds, the first time John felt Trey kick, finding out he was a boy, telling our parents we were pregnant, our son responding to our presence and many more memories. We smiled and laughed whole heartedly.
Then I said to him, let's take this positive energy and put some of his personal stuff into his chest. We cooed and cried over the artifacts that represented Trey's life. It amazed me that there were items that John wanted to keep for himself, I found it endearing. I wanted everything to go in the chest, but he gave me a look that said certain things needed to be kept with daddy. Because the nursery was a mess, we could not f ind all of his stuff, but as we prepare it for another child, those items will present themselves and we will add them to our memories. I decided that his chest should be the first thing we tackle, because it is the hardest. I am glad we did it. John went through a process when we were deciding how to pack up the nursery. He wanted to pack everything and put it in the attic. I told him I was not comfortable with that, we had plenty of closet space. The toys would stick around and the clothes can be used for our future children. Going through Trey's things gave him a new perspective, he says he wants the wardrobe to stay. Funny thing, I told him that if we only have girls, what am I going to do with all of the CUTIE PATOOTIE little boy clothes. It's probably cruel to dress baby girls in them. I think a charity would love them!!! Tears were cried, laughter was shared, and another step was taken toward healing, wouldn't trade it for the world. I am so glad John was there with me, this kind of thing nutures both of our healing and our relationship. A generous friend offered to come and clear out the nursery for us. I said thank you but not only am I a control freak, but I feel that the clearing out of the nursery needs to be taken care of by John and I as a part of our healing process.
I am actually looking forward to seeing the nursery put together, I think it will bring a lot of peace and strengthen my hope and faith. I would love to sit in my rocker again, I always loved rocking Trey in it while I was pregnant. I look forward to putting the crib together and placing it where we always said we would. As we pay off the furniture, I look forward to putting away the gender neutral stuff into drawers. Basically, I look forward to finishing the job we started. I am impressed that Gemini, our cat, has found room in that mess to hang out in the nursery. I honestly believe that Trey and her play together. She loves to nap in the rocker. I also believe that Trey would be more at peace with a nursery that is prepared for his siblings. I've always pictured him perched up on the crib watching over our babies as they slept. Honestly, I have always pictured him playin a handheld game (his daddy is a gamer) and having interactions with our babies that are only between them and understood by them, and I am all for it.
I am hanging on to this positive energy. I am incredibly thankful for the conversation that John and I had that night. After a rough couple of weeks, we needed this time to connect and embrace each other in hope, strength, and love. My outlook needed to be brightened, and thanks to my husband and the love we have for each other, the song Blinded By The Light comes to mind. I embrace this blessing of peace. It's needed in the days before such landmark anniversaries such as Trey's birthday and angel date. Like everything else this year, it won't always be easy, BUT we will weather it and get through it and be stronger for it. It feels good to breathe again. <3
Acoustic Guitars: Sara Hickman and Mitch Watkins
Baritone Guitar: Mitch Watkins
Drums: Brad Evilsizer
Peruvian Flute: Eddy Hobizal
I must have faith...in my own journey
I must believe that I belong
Though I am weary...and feel forgotten
I’ll find the strength in my own song
I see the sorrow of my yesterday...I read tomorrow’s front page news
I hear a heartbeat long ago and bittersweet...it’s a glass slipper I’ll never lose
I must have faith in my own journey
I must believe that I belong
Though I am weary...and feel forgotten
I’ll find the strength in my own song
There is a shadow over your shoulder ....
Oh, I can witness...for I’ve had one, too...
The lonely anguish...the flicker of anger
So many questions...of what to do
I must have faith in my own journey...I must believe that I belong
Though I am weary...and feel forgotten...I’ll find the strength in my own song
Many the stranger...standing at the window
Watching the street...eyes in the rain
Behind this curtain I’ve watched my dreams die
Waiting for a lover’s hand...and comfort’s sigh
I must have faith in my own journey
I must believe that I belong
Though I am weary and feel forgotten
I’ll find the strength in my own song
I’ll find the strength to carry on....
Well, here it is, his birthday and I am sitting on the couch by myself receiving loving messages from my familw and friends. My guts are turning, my mind is wondering, my heart feels shaky. One year ago today, I started to go into labor with who I knew was a sick little boy, but I had no idea I would have such very little time with him. It's amazing how time changes after an "event" like this. (The doctors called Trey's death an "event", GRRRRRRR! It's not a one day sale people, it's a tragedy!!!! After Trey died, I dreaded every Monday and Saturday, the days of the week he was born and the day of the week he died. The 23rd and 4th of every month were also big in my mind. Nothing compares to today. As time went on, Saturdays and Mondays became days like any others and a 23rd or a 4th would pass me by. I never knew how heart wrenching the months of March and April would be. I thought his angel date an birthday would be the worst. Since the beginning of March, my emotions have taken off like a jet and crashed numerous times a day. No more talk of emotional roller coaster, this whole month, and I am sure next month, has been the second most challenging time of my life. Everytime I saw the words March or April, I feel like someone has knocked the wind out of me and punched me in the gut.
Fast forward to Sunday, March 21st, excactly a year to the day that I was admitted into the hospital. From now until April 4th 2010, my heart will be wrestling with where we were and what we were doing at this time last year. I will remember the trauma that John and I endured over our five days at the hospital. I will remember the exact shade of Trey's skin was when he came out and the shade of my husband's face when he came back from watiching them trying to keep our son alive in the NICU.
The next 13 days, I will look back and wonder why we didn't se this coming. I remember our countless trips to the NICU to be by our son as he got "better". I'll remember waiting by the phone for the NICU to call and say that Trey has a bed at Egleston. I will remember that ride to Egleston, when my heart was overjoyed that our little boy was in good hands and would be home with us afterall. I will remember with VERY heavy heart the words"We don't think you've heard the whole story", eight of the worst words strung to together in a sentence. Lastly, I will remember the agony of giving him to God but the peace in knowing he IS is a better place no matter how hurt we are, our son would never havet o suffer through life. I will remember going home instead of staying with him as he passed and wonder if that was the best decision and he forgives us for not being there. I will know that Trey was not alone, his grandparents and great aunt were there with him and that the phone call that notified us of his peaceful passing was made by my dad, instead of a doctor. These are my bad memories, things no one else can feel but me.
On the flip side, I have LOADS more memories of my family and friends supporting me and lifting us up. We would not be as well off, not that we think so, as we are if not for their support. Although the memories of their support are vast, the love, prayers, and care we felt is larger than outer space. That's what helps me get out of the funk. I am thankful for al of the new friends I have made, old friends that have been sent back to me, and friends I never knew I had. For every bad memory there is a bigger positive feeling. I hope as time goes by, that the love we receive and give will win the battle against pain and suffering.
This time will no doubt be hard, the would'ves and could'ves will be on constant attack. These memories are my dark point, when I get sad, I go to them, or maybe they come to me. I am looking forward to feeling the sunshine on my heart and soul.
DOWN BY THE RIVER
HA!! This title makes me think of the funniest Chris Farley skit ever on SNL!!!
For a long time, I planned to go down to river and spend some spitirual time with my son. The inspriation for this trip came from "Eat Pray Love" when the main character goes up to the roof of an Ashram to release her spiritual sorrow, in a way. So today, I packed up a picnic, "Eat Pray Love" and "The Shack", roses, my camera, and my dog Finnegan and headed off to the Chattahoochee River Park. I actually wished to go to a certain spot that John and I spent time at when we were dating but I ended up going to the wrong park. Both parks are nearby where we used to live, so I got confused. When I realized my mistake, I went with it, thinking that the spot I originally wanted was flooded with wonderful memories, Trey and I needed a spot all our own.
So on this crisp but Sunny Atlanta day, Finnegan and I set out to find a place to picnic. I brought my dog Finnegan because him and I have a BIG Trey connection. He was always fascinated by my growing belly and the days leading up to Trey's birth, he would not leave my side, he knew. I also brought him because he LOVES LOVES LOVES the river park and it makes me happy to see him happy. While I enjoyed my picnic, Finnegan explored the beach of the river, scaring the ducks away. I tried to feed them but apparently they don't like low fat Saltines. The river was BEAUTIFUL, flowing with that peaceful sound that flooded my soul. At one point I spoke outloud to my son. I told himk that I was sorry that when we let him go to heaven almost a year ago, I didn't really let him go. I held onto his wings to soothe my soul, I held him hear like any mother hangs onto their child, and I did not let him go totally to the place where he chose to go when the book of life was written. I told him that I forced his heart and sould to remaing here, and if I would just let him take his wings to heaven, his prescence will be a choice, not a requirement. I asked for his forgiveness and formally let him go. I felt his prescence and I felt his forgiveness and I can't help picture him traveling toward heaven, and looking back every couple of seconds to make sure I am ok. I released 12 roses into the river to signify the twelve months that have passed.
I took pictures of my surroundings, read and reread my favortie parts of the two books I brought, and took in the wind, that's where I find Trey, in the wind. I am glad I went and I would reccommend it to ANYONE who is grieving. It brought me such an AMAZING peace and such joy. The time I spent with my son today meanst the world to me and gave me the strength to let go more. I know it won't be an easy task, but it is better for him and myself. Letting him go has nothing to do with how much I love him, how much I will think of him, and how much he is and will continue to be a part of my life. I've always heard these words, just never really connected with them until now. :)
THE OTHER SIDE
Most angel parents talk about how their children will love them from heaven, they want their angels to be proud of them, their angel babies are with them, etc. No one ever talks about what our angel babies are going through along with us. I find myself wondering about what Trey is going through watching us from heaven. I remember in the NICU he would gently grab my finger, he knew me, knew my prescence. He was so peaceful around me. But his daddy, now that was altogether different. His heart rate went up, he grabbed onto his fingers for dear life (pardon the expression), and he was WAY more active. For 7 1/2 months, my son and I had a bond that NO ONE could touch. My heart beat comforted him, my singing soothed him, and my body sheltered him. We shared life. His bond with his daddy is something I will never totally feel or comprehend. He knew John through my interactions with his daddy, zerberts, and John's voice telling Trey everything and anything he wanted to tell him. He knew when daddy was touching my belly and kicked accordingly.
With all of these memories and many more, I know now more than ever the son that we created in love. Anyone who knows us will tell you we have big hearts. Two loving big hearts can only make a child with a bigger heart. Our son knows, knew, and will continue to know us. People say to us that Trey felt no pain, he was sedated, and he was comfortable, I DON'T BELIEVE THAT ONE IOTA!!!! Even if he was not in pain, how could he cry out? Let's just hope he felt no pain physically, I would thank God for that. But two big hearts, coupled with intelligent minds, and open souls make quite a little human. We know our son suffered for us. He knew his mommy when she hurt, he knew when is daddy was upset, DAMN he KNEW when was too long for his daddy to be away and was only calmed when daddy made his presence known. Never being the parent of a living child, I don't know this but I am sure parents will tell me similar stories of their children's interactions with their parents. I believe the same is true for angel babies.
I know most would hate to think of our babies suffering because I do. I feel it is comforting to know that he misses me as much as I miss him, he wants to be with me as much as I want to be with him, and he loves me as much as he loves me (if not more). What we angel parents don't DARE to think about is the flipside. I know my son hurts for us and feels some sort of guilt for not being with us just as I feel guilt about my role in him not being here with us. It has been said that guilt is one of the most useless yet popular emotions. Neither Trey nor I can change what happened, but our love makes us feel for the things we do not have with each other. Just as he wishes I would not suffer for him, I hope he does not suffer for me, but yet I know, even in his heavenly state that he does pay attention and feel something for our pain. It sucks to think about, but I can't help but think that because I feel it, he feels it too. This is OUR son, we know him, we know his heart and soul, we know him, and we know he hurts for us.
So what to do? All we all can do is continue to heal and be honest about our feelings. Trey WAS human at one time that is why I believe has had experience with human emotions. Trey and I know that each other is going to be ok. As I grow in grief, healing will follow. As much as I let go, Trey can also be assured that his daddy and I will live on and live being proud of him. I know Trey no longer will be in physical danger, but I want his soul to be at rest knowing that we continue to heal. Healing is for the human, peace is for the spirit, all spirit, even human spirit.
THESE ARE THE DAYS
Everyone who has experienced grief knows the landmark days of mourning. These days go from birthdays to anniverseries, death to angel date, anniversaries to lone celebrations, holidays to days we have to get through. For me, there are plenty of landmark days beyond anyone else's norm. From March 23rd to April 4th I am flooded in landmark days. Those 13 days were spent in hospitals. March 23rd he was born. March 25th we held him for the first time, but then left the hospital without him. April 1st we went with hope and excitement to Egleston Children's Hospital. On April 2nd, we heard the sentence that shattered our hearts and hopes, "We have a feeling you haven't been told the whole story." April 3rd, our wedding anniversary, we spent the whole night talking about turning off his machines. April 4th, his angel day does not fill me with nearly as much dread. The previous days remind me of the struggle our son was going through and the impending doom. Tomorrow, I am sure I will be thankful that he is the cutest baby angel in heaven instead of living a torchured life. In my mind I see that famous cherub pitycure painted long ago with the two baby angels by Raphael. That's what he looks like to me. I will be the first to admit that I will be glad when his angel date passes, that day is the last of the firsts we have had to experience as angel parents, our red badge of courage so to speak. After all we have experienced this year that what so difficult, it's refreshing to think of the many blessings and many more positive celebrations we will have in our future.
I have taken a hiatis from journaling lately. I have felt the need to write to my soul. Writing has been such a release for me and I am glad that this avenue of healing helps others, but there are certain healings that need to be done privately and totally on the inside.
Throughout my journey I have dealt with all of the stages of grief. Sometimes I joke that I can go through them in a minute flat. I have found that crying helps with the sadness, being kind to myself relieves the guilt, the childless house eases the denial, and being surrounded by loved ones almost always cures the lonliness. The anger is something that is still very prevelant and there is no pretty acceptable way to handle it. I have been so fortunate to be able to share so much of this tragic journey with so many of my open hearted friends and family but anger is something I cannot put to words or express through tears. Anger is something we often keep to ourselves, to me, it is embarrassing. It is often used in a flight of passion and most of the time it ends badly. Yelling and screaming to releive anger probably would not bode well with my loved ones. I mean, I am sure they would bare witness to my irate venting, but who exactly would I be yelling at? All of the people I am mad at aren't around and I don't ever want to grace their presence again. The God I am mad at already knows it and can't fight back with me, TOTALLY ruining the fact that I usually try to go for the last word. Anger requires feedback, needs returned emotion, yearns for expulsion. Anger is scary, even to ourselves, it's an ugly place we don't won't to go, but the longer we avoid it the bigger hell it becomes. We try to stifle it with excuses, kind words, positivie thoughts, and self deprication. For me it involves A LOT of hate, cussing, and shame for the two.
Throughout this year, I have shared, in abundance, every other emotion and I have barely touched anger. I have allowed myself every emotion and feeling, but anger still elludes me, or do I ellude it? So I decided to write to my soul about my anger. I decided to get REALLY mad, to write anything no knowing no one would read it but me. I was unimpressed with my first attempt so I stopped and put it away. Anger is not like all of the other emotions which I find easier to express. I put it off a little longer, telling myself that it might not take just one letter. I plan to burn my angry letters to my soul, in an effort to release as little or as much anger from me towards the heavens, letting it go, and letting God work in my life without the anger. I am sure that my anger, in general and specifically at God, blocks me spiritually in EVERY way. I hope by releasing my anger in flames will dissolve the anger of my misfortune and help me see the path ahead. Anger has always been my weakness and it seeems fit that NOW, in the midst of such heartfelt anger that I focus on it and vow to control the weakest yet easiest of human emotions.
I can use this time and the rest of my life remembering this anger and knowing how it has crippled me always. This time has been the biggest test of my anger and if I can surpass it and live a better less angry life, this whole experience can be a gift. I have to admit my angry nature and strive to not give my power up to those seeking to make me angry, life situations that fill me with anger, or past offenses that keep me knee deep in anger. Anger is acidic and I REFUSE to let it eat at me anymore. This will take a lifetime of practice, but I am committed to the lesson that can last and positively effect the rest of my life.
So many have told me that I have not let Trey go and I am so confused as to what that actually means. Letting go of a child is not like letting go of a balloon or someone's hand. It's not like letting go of love lost or something one cannot change in their life. I am reminded of Rose and Jack in the movie Titanic. Rose promised to never let go, physically or mentally, that's how strong her love was. Now I know it's a movie, not real life, but I connect with it none the less.
People say to me that letting go of Trey doesn't mean I will forget him or love him any less. THEN WHAT'S THE POINT OF LETTING GO? I don't want to let any part of my son go. My husband and I did ENOUGH letting go at the hospital when we let him go to Heaven. A HUGE sacrafice was made and unlike the saying, even though he loves me, he's not coming back even though I let him go. I am not letting any more of him go. I want his love to flood my heart, our tender memories to comfort me, our bond to sustain and confirm my motherhood. I will not let any of that go. It's all I have left of him, why would I let it go?
I think everyone says let go but no one REALLY does. I think it is impossible to let go of love in any form. True, you move on and the loss won't sting as bad but the love is always there unless you will it to go. So as for this concept of letting go, I'm not buying it. I am quite content with holding onto the love, fond memories, and bond I have with Trey, they bring me joy amidst the saddness that came with his passing.
I have had a year to learn my way through this grieving process and I still have lots more to learn. I wanted to reflect on what I have learned this past year so that I am encouraged to live a lifetime living what I learned.
Grief is individual. I will say it again, Grief is individual. No one grieves the same way or at the same rate. Grief is individual to the person, the circumstance, the relationship, the time in one's life. I cannot tell anyone else that their grieving process is wrong and no one else can tell me the same. People try to help you with their wishes, words, sentiments, and anything else that has probably been said or done to them in a grieving time in their lives. Sometimes they say and do things because it makes them feel better to know that at least they contributed and sometimes they say and do things because they don't know what else to offer. Sometimes the things that are said or done make no sense to us, make us angry, don't help at all, or make things seem worse. Or maybe they help. Either way, they come from a heart that feels for the grief we feel and is purely trying to help in anyway possible. I have learned that I reserve the right to feel how I want to about things said and done on behalf of my grief, but I have also learned that accepting any condolences or pearls of wisdom face to face with gratitude, even if you white knuckle it, is best. I learned that so long as one is not going to extremes that effect their health and well being, grieving needs to flow naturally, again, to the individual.
Patience is REALLY a virtue. I have never claimed to be a patient person but this last year has really given me face time with my impatience. When bad things happen, we want the aftermath to be over now, five minutes ago, last week. But in the words of my favorite musical artist Alanis Morrisette, "the only way out is through". I hated that I had to trudge through thislast year. I wanted it to be over every other minute of the day. BUT, if not for the journey, I would not have enjoyed the scenery, corny I know, but it's true. If I would have pulled a sleeping beauty through all of this like I originally wanted to, I would have learned nothing. I would have never realized how well, and at times not so well, I can get through hard times in my life.
You know that old addage about how God never closes a door without opening a window? Well, I wish he would build another door, the closet is so small. But the window he did open filled my perverbial room with fresh air and sunshine. Because of this tragedy, friendships were renewed, relationships were strengthened, family became closer, and new friends entered my life. I always thank Trey for showing support mommies and friends my way and for guiding others that need support to me. Through this tragedy, I have been able to help the CHARGE organization and NICUs in Georgia. If God hadn't closed that door, none of these things would have come to fruition. These elements of sunshine and fresh air have lift my spirits at the darkest times.
BEING A MOTHER IS THE GREATEST THING EVER!!!!! Even though my role as a mommy is not a conventional one, I am a mommy none the less. I gave birth to a child and we got to share his short life with him. The love I feel for Trey is unlike any love that I have felt before. I know and have known a lot of love in my life, but this one is altogether different. The most important gift Trey gave me was the gift of motherhood. He will always be included in the list of children I have even though he is no longer with us here on Earth. We all have heard mother's complaining about the stresses of motherhood. Let me distinguish the difference between venting and complaining in my mind. Venting is unloading stress verbally, complaining is simply whining about your situation. Complaining is like sitting in a rocking chair, you get a lot said but get no where. I hoep that when we have our living children that I can keep myself in check in the complaint department. Some things parents complain about are far better than losing the child altogether. I have known folks to tell me that because of Trey, they are more patient with their kids and complain less about the seemingly huge issues in parenthood. I cannot change my role as a mother to Trey at this time, there will be a day when I hold him in my arms again. Until then, I can only pray that we are blessed with more children and appreciate the blessing of living children for as long as I live.
Death changes people. In my case overall, I think Trey's death has changed me for the better. I don't kno2w how much time I have on this Earth and I do not know how much time my loved ones have. I realize how trivial the little annoyances in life can be. BUT, I also realize that the good little things in life are so important. I have changed my attitude on confrontation. Now, I would rather be happy than right. I strive to eliminate anything acidic in my life with lots of inspiration for The Serenity Prayer. There are so many positive things that can come from a tragedy such as this and I am trying to focus on their success. One thing I am incredibly thankful for is becoming closer to my husband and the strength that Trey's passing has brought to my marriage. We take better care of each other, are more patient with each other, listen to each other better, spend more time communicating with each other, and love each other more deeply. It's what every couple wants but no one wants to get there the way we did. We have always loved each other, but our love is now fortified by our struggle to recover from this loss. As the two parents who went through this together and are the only ones who know this pain as parents, leaning on each other is the most important tool. I look forward to seeing what other positive changes are coming my way.