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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Goodnight Baby Boy (April 30, 2013)

Goodnight baby boy. (April 30, 2011)

Red race car pjs on because it's warm tonight, and because you like vroom vrooms.
We've rocked and read our book.
"You Are My Sunshine" has been sung and the nightlight is on, just the way you like it.
I tuck you in and quietly leave the room, so grateful that you've gone to sleep.  
I head down to my own bed because it's been a long day and it's going to be a busy weekend because your cousins are staying with us.
I lay down on my pillow, read my book, and fall asleep rather quickly because my bed is comfortable and this is my routine...

"SHANNON!!! SHANNON!!! Something is wrong.  He's shivering or twitching or something!"
Who's talking?  Who's saying this?  This must be a dream.  Who's shivering?  Get them a blanket...
Oh, wait.  My sleep fog is lifting.  It's my baby.  It's my husband holding my baby.  Okay, focus.
I'm nursing you.  But wait, the twitching is still happening.  Should I stop?  Yes, I should stop.  Why?...
What if you have to have surgery?  I should stop.
I should call a doctor.  It isn't stopping.  You're looking at me and even smiling sometimes, but that twitching...
No, I need to call 911.  Yes, 911:
"Something is wrong with my baby.  He's twitching.  Coherent? Yes.  Wait, I think so???  My address?  Ummm, ok, I think I can remember that.  I'm standing in my driveway holding him.  I'll wait for you."
Daddy is holding you.  He looks so scared.  He needs me to tell him that this is ok. I can't. 
I'm shivering. 
Is it cold? 
No, it isn't.
Why is this taking so long? Why are you still twitching?  Stop, baby, please stop.
I leave you with Daddy while we wait in the driveway.  I'm scared to hold you. 
 SCARED to hold my own baby?  What's wrong with me?  What happened?  I put you to bed!! 
I was asleep.  ASLEEP!  Because that's what you do at 3 am, right?  So what is happening?  
Why are you STILL twitching?  This should be done now, right?  Whatever this is...
Wait, nurse brain is kicking in.  This must be one of those febrile seizures.  This will stop soon.
We'll get some medication.  It will be scary, but over soon.
The ambulance is here.  Daddy is handing you to me.  Maybe just being in my arms will stop this.
The paramedic has medication.  Good.  That's what we need.  Give it to him. NOW!
It's not stopping. Why isn't it stopping?  Can't this man see that I need this to work??  Make it work!
NOW!
We must be at the hospital now.  The driver has stopped.
They're rushing us in.
Now they're cutting your red race car pjs off of your body so they can give you the medicine.
Can you feel my hand?
 Are you ok?  Can you hear me?  I'm here.  I'll always be here...

You weren't ok.  I know that now.  And now, I'm not ok.
I will stay up with you tonight as I did that night.  I will not sleep until your seizure stops.
Every year. I promise.
It's been two years since that night we were shivering in the driveway.
It's funny, though because so many things have happened since then but so many things are the same.
I'm still shivering. And it still isn't cold.
Your nightlight is on, just the way you like it.
"You Are My Sunshine" has been sung.

Goodnight baby boy. (April 30, 2013)



Saturday, April 27, 2013

YES

Grief is a tricky thing.  It's a constant barrage of warring emotions.  However,  in that moment when you're feeling a particular emotion, it's as if it's the only one you've ever had.  It consumes you and you're incapable of anything but that feeling, and only moments later you're inundated with emotions that are in direct opposition to what you'd just been experiencing.  This is why one really can't say something "right" or "wrong" in these situations.  Someone can say something in one moment that will be perceived in a particular way, and the same utterance only days later will evoke a completely different response.  As you can imagine, this is extremely exhausting, and sometimes you just shove all of those burning emotions down, momentarily accept the things you can't change, and ask the important questions.

Today I was having one of these moments.  It often happens when I'm driving alone.  I'll be pulled in a thousand different directions, and then out of the desire for nothing other than self-preservation, I will quiet the chaos in my head by simply accepting my loss.  I find myself asking my son questions when I feel like this. Today it went something like, "Ok, I know I couldn't do anything to have changed what happened.  I know that you're gone, and you aren't coming back. But, I need to know that you knew love.  If the only thing in my power was to teach you how to love and be loved, was the time we had together sufficient for you to have learned this most important thing? Did you know how very much I loved you?  Did you feel that same love for me?"

The deafening silence caused me to turn the radio on, and I heard the introductory chords of an old, familiar song.  Each word that came through the speakers brought more tears...

Sometimes late at night, I lie awake and watch her sleeping
She's lost in peaceful dreams, so I turn out the lights and lay there in the dark.
And the thought crosses my mind, if I never wake up in the morning,
Would she ever doubt the way I feel about her in my heart?
If tomorrow never comes, will she know how much I loved her?
Did I try in every way, to show her every day that she's my only one?
And if my time on earth were through, and she must face this world without me,
Is the love I gave her in the past gonna be enough to last, if tomorrow never comes?

Some will say that a grieving mother will grasp at anything they can pass off as a sign from their child.  I would agree with this sentiment, because the pain is so very physical and the burning in your heart can only be quelled by the person you are missing.  Sometimes I have moments where I search everything surrounding me for just the smallest glimpse of my Easton.  I've learned that in those times, I usually find very little, and then it can feel silly to be searching for something that probably isn't there.  However, sometimes the signs are indisputable.  This is one of those times.  I know in my soul that this was our moment.  He was answering the burning question.  I have finally heard my son's voice, and although he sounded very much like Garth Brooks, I know he meant for me to hear this song.

So, I thought about those questions: If my time on earth were through, and she must face this world without me, is the love I gave her in the past gonna be enough to last, if tomorrow never comes? He was only 2 1/2 years old and his speech was limited. And even though the pain is mostly unbearable, even though there are still times that I just can't breathe and screaming is all I can do to release some of the burning, I can say to my baby with absolute certainty that the answer to his question is a resounding...Y.E.S.

Monday, April 8, 2013

Where Are You?

Where are you, Baby?  It may sound silly, but I was wondering if maybe finally seeing the sun would help me find you again.  I look for you everywhere I go.  You're not in your crib.  You're not in your carseat.  You're not outside on our swing.  I have trouble even sitting on that swing now.  It used to be one of my favorite parts of our home.  I can't hear your baby voice when I sit down and pretend you're next to me, and that silence is too painful.  I can't feel your pudgy hand pulling on my sleeve because you want me to pick you up and go a little higher.  The sun didn't bring you back.  So where are you?

The truth is that the sun actually makes it harder to bear.  We were such good buddies on nice days.  Remember our bike rides around the neighborhood?  Remember that moment when I stopped and was absentmindedly looking at my phone, and you said, "mo!"?  I do.  I remember looking around, frantically, wanting someone, anyone to have heard what I'd just heard.  My baby wanted to go again, and had actually told me so.  Your face was so funny when I reached around to kiss your little cheek as tears were rolling down mine.  You had no idea what gift you'd just given me.  Thank you for that day.  It was a good day, right?  It was warm and sunny and we were together.  So, why did you leave?  Where are you?

Daddy is back on the ball field again.  Are you there?  He would really like it if you were.  Maybe you could take a ride on the gator sometime.  Please let him know you're there.  I love him and his pain is too much to bear.  I see him hurt as he watches little boys play catch in the stands.  You must know how much he loved you, and how many times he pictured a ball in your hand.  We would have shown you everything about the greatest game on earth. You really seemed to love it.  So, where are you?

Your brother and sisters are playing kickball in the backyard and riding their bikes in the driveway.  Remember the time you watched your sister hoola hoop for an hour, and you laughed so hard you fell over? I do.  I remember sitting up behind you on the concrete and laughing with you because no one could escape that belly giggle.  We laughed so much that day that my stomach hurt.  Logan, Addi, and Morgan would do anything to make you laugh.  They love you and miss you every single day.  They want you to interrupt their basketball games by scooting your walker in front of the goal.  They write your name in sidewalk chalk and ask you to come play with them.  So tell me, Baby...where are you?

I can remember the way your hand felt in mine.  I can remember the way you would "moo" every time we passed the cows on the way to Grandma and Grandpa's land.  I still stop there.  I wait to hear you, and I check the mirror to see if you're pointing out the window at your favorite "pets."  I remember that most precious sound...that sound that makes all others obsolete.  Sometimes it was said in protest, sometimes in defiance, and sometimes with such longing.   I can hear it..."Momma."  Did I ever ignore that sound?  Did I ever take it for granted?  Did I ever once fail to take you in my arms at your request?  I hope not. Because now, I would give my own life just to hear that most beautiful sound.  "Momma."  So simple, so sweet, so saturated with love.  Thank you for learning that one sound.  I know your life was difficult, and that everything you accomplished came at a cost.  I'm so grateful to you for your perseverance in learning to utter the one name that makes me feel whole..."Momma."  I love you today and every day, Easton.  I will reach up to Heaven to bring you back down.  I will swim out to the ocean to scoop you up in my arms.  I will run the length of the earth to hug you one more time.  Just please tell me...where are you?

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

"Better"

I'm not better.  I don't sleep better. I still don't cook or clean, and I rarely want to move.  But, the thing is, I don't WANT to be better.  Not right now. Not just yet.  And you know what? That's ok.  It doesn't always feel ok, and I complain about not feeling better all the time, but the idea of letting go of even a small part of the pain I'm in now, terrifies me.  It feels as though relinquishing it takes me further and further away from the time that my son was still physically a part of my life.

So, if you are so inclined to give an opinion, please do so directly to me.  I will gladly explain the pain and horror I relive every single time I try to close my eyes.  I'll give you a play by play of the sights and sounds of the last two years of my life.  I'll try to do justice to the torment and utter despair that takes over every part of your being as your imagined control slips further and further from your grasp.  I could take a stab at describing how differently the world looks when you have to learn how to live in the one where your children actually die.  If you've never experienced this, you aren't in this world.  Even if you're EXTREMELY close to the situation, you're not in it. You cannot possibly know what it's like to wonder every day, how you are supposed to find the strength to stand up, let alone be functional.

It's important that these things are said because grief is so lonely and unknown.  It's full of so many emotions, all vying for their chance to inflict more pain and confusion.  So full in fact, that there is no more room. Absolutely no room for even one ounce of judgement.  The only role anyone has in someone else's grief is to be there to witness whatever they ask you to share with them.  That's it. Nothing more.  There will be times that you'll question their motives.  There will be times that you'll wonder how other members of their family are dealing with their "current state of grief."  My advice?...do so silently, or be prepared for an answer beyond your comprehension.

I can give some insight on parents who've lost a child, because that's what I've experienced.  I would not pretend to understand what it means to lose your husband, your mother, your brother.  I can tell you that losing one child and having others to take care of can be nearly impossible at times.  However, that does not mean that I've lost my ability to love them.  What you must remember is that I'm not parenting your children. I'm not parenting children who believe that missing out on a happy meal toy leaves them short-changed.  I'm not parenting the little girl who throws a tantrum at every small injustice, or the boy who thinks that having the newest video game is a right and not a privilege. My children are certainly spoiled in their own right, but they know better than most adults that you don't always get what you want. They know that Mommy and Daddy don't always have the answers.

As a family, we have moments of unfathomable pain, but we also share smiles and even giggles.  If you do not currently live in my home, you don't see my 5 year old reading books on the couch every night before bedtime.  You don't see the way we look through old photo albums when our children want another glimpse of the little boy who no longer gets to participate in family game night.  You don't see the torture on our faces  as they turn the pages and each memory slices through us with renewed pain.  And still, we do it. Why? Because our children need it in that moment.  And we will continue to do that...together.  However, this is something only the 5 of us can do.  No one can fix it.  No one can offer suggestions as to how we support one another.  The truth is, my husband and I are the best people for this job right now.  Our children couldn't be parented by people who still believe they have any reason to pass even the smallest judgement.  They're wise beyond their years, but in ways that burn your soul.  They can't hear general platitudes and claims that "everything will be better."

Things are not going to be "better." I know that makes people uncomfortable, but we honestly have no room for anyone else's comfort.  We're trying to breathe.  Some days are harder than others.  Some moments are full of crushing pain.  Sometimes we do it together and sometimes we can't bear to witness the pain of another, so we find a way to be alone with our grief.

It's also important to mention that we're inundated with support and love.  We feel it from friends and family daily.  Sometimes it's all that keeps us going.  We'll forever be grateful for the strength of our community.  But no one can save us from this.  We will always be alone in our journey because it is ours and ours alone. If you're so inclined to be there when we're able to live again, we'll welcome you with open arms. Just don't ever expect us to be "better."