Sunday, March 27, 2011

"That" Conversation

Last night, as I was putting our 3 year old to bed, she decided she wanted to talk about her baby brother. Lilli does this from time to time and it almost always seems to be at bedtime. I want to make sure she feels like she can talk about him and ask questions and have me answer as honestly as I can to a three year old child. She always starts off with, "mommy, remember when you were in the hospital and were really sad, and I came to see you and gave you a hug"? And I always responds with, "yes, I remember". Then she proceeds to ask why everyone was so sad and I tell her it's because we wanted her baby brother here with us so badly and he didn't get to stay. That he now lives in Heaven with God and Jesus. She usually follows with, "I wish I could go visit him in the hospital and hold him again. I liked holding him, when he was sleeping." Then I gently remind her that he is not in the hospital and that he died and lives in Heaven. That conversation has typically been enough to satisfy her.

Last night though was the first time she really started probing me about why Everett was there, what Heaven is, where it is and who is there. We have books, and I've read them several times to her that describe in a kid friendly way what Heaven is and what it might look like and who is there. I tried to explain in the best possible way to her why Everett was in there. I found myself trying to explain what an umbilical cord was, explaining about how all babies have them and she had one too, pointing to her belly button. That Everett's cord had an accident inside mommy's belly when he was in there and he died, leaving out all other details of the circumstances that surrounded that. She kept asking, "why". Why did he have to die, why couldn't she hold him again, or see him. All I could tell her was; I don't know why. She will know all the details when she is old enough, far into the future when she can comprehend what all happened.

I surprisingly managed to make it though that conversation without tearing up, which usually doesn't happen. Then came the trigger point. She told me she wanted to go to Heaven to see Everett, to hold him, to play with him and I told her she couldn't do that. She asked why, and rightly so. I told her that Everett was a very special Angel and only when you die do you get to go to Heaven. I told her that you only die once, and when you do, it's forever. I told her he didn't need a house, or a car, or anything like that where he was, that he had everything he needed, that he is loved and taken care of, that it was a beautiful place, and some day, a very long, long time from now, when she dies she will get to see Everett again and hold him and play with him. I know all this because I feel it in my heart. She then looked up at me in the dark with her big blue eyes and sadly told me, I'm not an Angel anymore. Kind of like she knew maybe she used to be, but not at this time. I told her not to worry, and promised her that when it was time she would most certainly be an Angel again. But she had lots of growing up to do and a life of her own to live and enjoy before that happened. She felt better hearing that and was finally ready to go to sleep. I love her and her incredibly beautiful soul so much. I love her brother too, and together (with her daddy) we miss him from our lives every day.

~Steph

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Bitter Sweet

Yesterday was warm and beautiful outside. To enjoy 70 degree breezes in March is slightly unusual here. Spring seems to be budding out everywhere I turn. With the turn of seasons comes some flood of feelings at unexpected times.

Last year, in July, Dave worked tirelessly to get our fence up around our yard, tried to finish our deck extension, and put down lord knows how many bags of mulch in the back yard landscaping to perfect things when Everett would be home (and make it easier for me to contain the kids in the yard this year). The plan was I would quit my job when Everett arrived and stay home full time with both kids. With the amount of money I was making it made no sense to pay for two children full time in daycare! All the problems continued with the pregnancy, and I ended up quitting my job when I was placed on full time bed rest at the end of July. Lilli spent a lot of time outside last summer in her "baby" swing and Dave and I would talk about how she'd be in a "big girl" swing this year with Everett hanging out in the baby swing next to her this spring and summer. As you know, that was not able to happen.

Dave put Lilli's "big girl" swing up last week and while we were enjoying the 70 degree breezes last evening and listening to Lilli's squeals and giggles from the swing as the was pushed higher and higher, I couldn't help but look over at the empty spot. The spot where Everett was supposed to be sitting and swinging next to her. I had tears coming down my face before I knew it. I guess feelings like this will be happening from time to time, especially with the change of seasons and we see first hand all the things Everett continues to miss with us. And this may sound weird, but I couldn't help but feel his presence among us last evening, especially next to his big sister as she swung higher towards the sky. The feeling was truly bitter sweet.

~Steph

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Breathtaking beauty

I came across a blog a couple of weeks ago, namesinthesand.blogspot.com, and was taken back by the beauty of the images I saw and the beauty of the woman behind them. This blog is specifically for bereaved parents who have lost a child, most are infants/babies. Carly, the woman behind the blog who also lost her son Christian to stillbirth 4 years ago, writes names of children in the sand at sunset on a beautiful beach in Australia, half a world away from here. I submitted a name request to have Everett's name written on the beach and was on the wait-list for a very short period of time. Over the weekend she posted the photo of our beautiful boy's name written in the sand overlooking a stunning Aussie sunset! For a small donation fee Carly will email you the image of your child's name without the watermark in a high resolution file. We opted to do that and plan to have it printed on canvas as it is a beautiful piece of art.

It means so much to me, and other bereaved parents, to see my/their child's name in writing or to have it spoken. I think it helps me know that Everett lives on, even if it's in memory. My nephews who never got to meet him or hold him will tell their mom from time to time that they miss him. They were anticipating a crazy little boy to join them in their shinanagins. Another cousin to love and play with. At 8 and 5 years of age, they feel the grief and emptiness of not having him here when he was supposed to be.

Since Everett died, I have seen so many examples of beautiful human spirits. You see, for a little over the last seven months I unwillingly joined a club that I will belong to for the rest of my life; I am a baby loss mom. I have met many other beautiful baby loss moms who's spirits are amazing and uplifting and it helps me put one foot in front of the other each day and know that life will eventually get easier. I have so many new friends, that had it not been for Everett, I would have never gotten the opportunity to meet. They have helped renew my faith in the human spirit and let me know all the time that I am not alone. I thank each and every one of them for that.

~Steph

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Thank God Spring is almost here!


The weather got warmer this weekend, well at least on Saturday it did, and the sun was out. That's a glimmer of hope to hang on to that we'll soon be out of this crappy Indiana winter! Not that summers are much better with the droughts, heat and humidity, but at least things are green. I miss seeing green.

Towards the end of fall I remember thinking I didn't know how I could possibly get through this winter. Dark, cloudy, short days, bitter cold and snow does NOT do wonders for depression or grief! We started out our turn into winter with two trips. One was a visit at the very end of September for a week long visit to my parents in Arizona. I HATE (hate really isn't a strong enough word) to fly but the thought of being able to spend time with my parents just six short weeks after Everett died outweighed my hatred of flying. The trip was nice and I spent a lot of time working on some retail therapy while out there, and taking in the beautiful views of the mountains and fresh air. However, my grief, anger, and anxiety followed me out and then decided to followed me back home again as I was secretly hoping it would disappear in the mountains forever. I just didn't want to feel it anymore, it was so unbelievably unbearable.

For Thanksgiving, kind of on a whim, we decided to visit Dave's sister and family down in Florida. (We hadn't been down to that part of Florida since 1999) They are only a 5 min. drive from the beach on the Gulf coast. Most of Dave's other family came too, except a sister in N.Y. who wasn't able to make the trip. It was nice to spend our first major holiday without Everett surrounded by family and in such a beautiful, warm place, and this would be Lilli's first time seeing the ocean. We brought Everett's blanket he was wrapped in at the hospital so we'd have a little physical piece of him with us. There were plenty of anxiety and tears shed while on this trip by me. We spent Thanksgiving day on the beach, taking in the sights and sounds of the ocean. All the cousins had fun together. The second day there we went up to Siesta Key, which if you've never been, I highly recommend it. It's beautiful. The beach is like powder sifting between your toes as you walk over it. We spent most of that day tooling around that area and hanging out at the beach. There is something that's so healing and peaceful about the ocean... We headed back the next day and as we crossed the border into Georgia, the grey clouds were looming in to grab us once again, especially the further north we got. Holiday traffic was atrocious. Essentially by the time it was all said and done, we spent a total of four days in the car for two days with family and at the beach. Was it worth it? Absolutely!

The rest of this winter has been kind of like a blur, drifting in and out of depression and anxiety and just trying to get through to the next day. Some days have been better than others, but "it" is always looming in the background. I still HATE that this happened, and HATE that our son isn't here with us.

We joined the local Y in early January and I began an exercise routine that I have stuck to. It's helped with the anxiety and depression and got Lilli and I out of the house several times a week. My energy is starting to pick back up and my fitness level has definitely increased. I honestly think doing that, along with continuing my therapy, and support group meetings were the only few things that got me through this long, cold, dark, snowy, and very icy winter!

When I was outside yesterday, I noticed my tulips are starting to come up out front, and slowly but surely the yard is getting a little bit greener. It can't be too much longer before the leaves come out on the trees, and spring has officially arrived! Not that there won't still be dark days ahead, more so metaphorically, but at least with the sun shining outside it makes those dark times feel a tiny bit more tolerable. We dedicated a spot in our back yard last year for Everett. It has the angel we had on his flower arrangement at his funeral, and a butterfly bush we planted in the fall. I can't wait to start working on it this spring and watching some beautiful things grow there. I will post picks as Everett's garden progresses.

~Steph


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

It's finally here!!!

After working 20+ hours a week on this for the last several months, soliciting sponsors, and changing event planners ,Run 4 Everett registration is FINALLY up and running! If you are interested in participating in this very worthy cause, or want to just set a fitness goal for yourself, you can sign up at www.run4everett.com.

You do not have to be a runner to participate. There is an option available for a one mile walk, and if you are more of a fitness walker you can opt to do the 5K or 10K race, which will be chip timed. All registrations come with one race t-shirt, which is a high quality dry blend. It looks like a cotton t-shirt, but is moisture wicking, making it nice to walk or run in, or just to wear out and about. Additional shirts are available for order as well.

We are still seeking sponsors for the event, so if you or someone you know is interested please leave a comment. Also, don't forget to "Like" us on Face Book, under run 4 everett/causes. Once you click "Like" you will receive race updates and progress.

Thanks!

~Steph