Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Strength

This month has been kind of a difficult one in a different way. Of course I still miss Everett, but some of my focus is on that of others lately, and it's got me thinking.

We had a good friend of Dave's (from high school) loose her husband tragically about a week and a half ago. It happened so suddenly and could have been prevented. He was doing something he loved, bicycling, and was hit by a car. He was only 40 years old and left behind not only his wife, but two amazing kids, extended family, and numerous friends.

How many times have you passed (on the road) a person riding a bike, someone walking, or running and thought, they don't belong on the road? Well, the fact is, they do. Sometimes there are no other options, but to use the road. I know that's the case near where we live. And I worry about my husband every time he hits the pavement running, especially if it's in the wee hours of the morning. Will people pay attention, will someone see his reflective vest, and God forbid someone be distracted (texting while driving), as someone was in our neighborhood last year, hitting and nearly killing our neighbor. It's every driver's responsibility to watch out for EVERYONE on the road. Whether it's another car, motorcycle, bicyclist, walker, or runner. Slow down, give them some courtesy and take your time. You will make it around them and still get to your destination.

In the past week and a half I have thought of, and prayed often for my husband's friend and her family. I think about how her life has changed forever. How she lost her soul mate, best friend and father to her children. I know what that deep grief and despair feels like, but not on that level. I noticed on FB that everyone told her to be strong. I remember when we lost Everett how so many people told me/us to be strong. Well, what if you don't want to be? What if you just want to loose it, and fall apart. What would people think? There were many days where I simply didn't care what others thought. But I didn't feel like I could share those days with anyone but myself and husband. Because people worry. People wonder if you are going to fall off the deep end, and you may wonder that yourself some days. It must be so incredibly painful for people who love you to watch you crumble to pieces before their eyes. Especially when you are the one who is usually strong for others. I think people simply don't know what else to say, so they tell you to be strong. And you feel like you have to.

For me, in terms of grief, strength has a different meaning. It means being willing to ask for help when you need it and feel too overwhelmed to make it day to day. It means being able to lean on the strength of others to carry you through, especially when you aren't used to doing that. But if you or someone you know is newly grieving over a loss and you don't feel like being strong, that's OK. It can be quite a relief to let yourself fall apart and have moments where all you feel like you can do is scream, especially when nothing else seems to be in your control. Those moments will pass and you will eventually regain your strength. And who knows, you may surprise yourself and become stronger than you ever were before.

~Steph

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

9 Months

Dear Everett,

You would have been 9 months old today. Can you believe that? 9 months! What a big boy you would have been. I have no doubt you would have been wearing at least 12 month clothing (possibly 18 month) right now!

Your daddy, Lilli, and I miss you so much. Lilli talks about you all the time. She is such a great big sister to you. She wants to make sure people know who you are and that you are important in our lives, even if you aren't physically here with us. It still hurts so much inside when we think about you and how you should have been here. But not to worry, we are doing big things all because of you.

Lilli regularly informs us that you are growing up in Heaven, and so does your cousin Ethan. I think they might know something... Feel free to continue to visit and play with Lilli in her dreams. She really loves it when you do that.

Loving you and missing you so much,

Mommy, Daddy, and Lilli

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mom's Day

Yesterday was Mother's Day, and it started off on a good note with Lilli and Dave letting me sleep in! When I woke up, depression somewhat set in with the fact that it was my first Mother's Day without our Everett. This time last year he was alive and kicking like crazy inside me.

Lilli greeted me with a card and gift, that Daddy help her make. In cards she likes to draw special pictures for people, and my card was no different. She draws the pics then tells you, or whoever is supervising, what it is she drew. On my card she drew what she referred to as a "toy thing" for me. Next to the toy thing was an oval with a small circle in the center. She drew eyes and a smiling face inside that circle and colored it in. She told Dave that was "Everett in mommy's belly". That brought tears to my eyes. A lot of tears. She's finally getting what happened in 3 year old terms. She tells people that Everett had an accident inside mommy's belly. And for now, that's really all she needs to know. But at least she understands those words.

As the day moved on, the depression slowly got better, as I thought about what a lucky mom I am to have my Lilli here with me on earth. I thought about all the joy and beauty she brings to my life and what an amazing kid she is. I love both my children very much, and feel so lucky and blessed to have both of them touch my life!


~Steph

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Scrapbooking

I bought my very first scrapbook yesterday as we have sooooo many things from Everett, his funeral, etc. I had things scattered around the house in a folder, bag, laying on a shelf, you get the idea. It needed to be in a centralized location where we could get to the items without having to go on a scavenger hunt! So I went to Target and found a beautiful scrapbook meant for a baby boy. I was able to personalize it with Everett's name on the front, along with a picture.

I started pulling all things Everett together yesterday afternoon and came across all the cards we were given when he passed, and started reading them again. I hadn't done this since they were received. It brought me back to all that fresh heartache and sadness, but also made me remember how much love we were surrounded by when we needed it the most. As I looked at the huge pile of items I realized that there weren't nearly enough pages in the book to hold everything I wanted in there.

Lilli talked about Everett almost non-stop yesterday. I'm not sure why, this was before I decided to scrapbook his things. So last night we took her to the cemetery. It started to cloud up on the way there and looked as though a storm might be coming from the west. This had been one of the first semi sunny days we've had in a very long time. I'd spent most of the month of April fearing we'd need to build an ARC to survive all the springtime Indiana rain that literally seemed never ending, and now it had moved into May! As we got closer to the cemetery I looked up at the sky and said, "OK Everett, I hate going to the cemetery when it's cloudy and grey, how about helping us out a little"? And low and behold a few minutes later, the clouds passed and the sun came back out again. Dave turned to me and said Everett was such a good boy for listening to his mommy! I agree!

I think taking Lilli to the cemetery and explaining how that is where Everett is physically helps her to understand the finality of death. It's not a lesson you want your three year old to have. Later in life, yes, but not at three. We were out running an errand yesterday and Lilli started talking to a woman we were waiting next to. Lilli warmed up quickly, as usual, and told her (on her own) that she has a brother. Then she asked the woman if she had a brother and the woman said she did, but that he died a very long time ago when he was a tiny baby. Wow! Then Lilli told the woman that her brother lives in Heaven too! The woman replied with, "maybe your brother and my brother are playing together". Lilli looked at me and smiled and said quietly to me, Everett's not going to be in Heaven anymore, he's not going to die anymore. He's going to play with me and come home. Then spent one of many times in my day where I had to try and explain that couldn't happen and why to her.

After the visit to the cemetery we headed to our local JoAnn's and I got some extra pages to add along with colorful paper for the background of our book. It's a very low tech, no extra stickers, fancy scissors to cut the paper or any other bells or whistles. Everything was on sale! I spent the remainder of my evening putting items together on the pages and once I started I couldn't stop. I would have finished last night, but I ran out of the items I needed to finish it up. I'll give you a little peak of what it looks like:



~Steph





Sunday, May 1, 2011

Sadness (Part 2)

In my previous post I told the majority of the details that made up our birth story for Everett.

When I read my friend's post about her sister, last week, who lost her baby to stillbirth, for a VERY brief second I had run through my head, "that's so sad, I'm so thankful nothing like that has happened to us". But wait, it DID happen to us! It's almost like a protective mechanism people develop when they hear tragic news about something. I'm invincible. Nothing bad will happen to me, it always happens to other people. Until you hit reality at some point in your life, it happens to us all, where we do finally realize that we are not invincible. You hear from people, life is fragile, live every day to it's fullest. It's hard to understand how incredibly fragile life is until you've had something so precious, so wanted, so beautiful ripped from your life in a matter of seconds.

The days that followed after Everett died were surrounded by family and friends. We got most of the "final" details taken care of the day I was released from the hospital. We stopped at Costco to purchase an air mattress for people to sleep on, stopped by to grab some donation envelopes for a charity we picked where people could donate to in lieu of flowers, went to the cemetery to take care of those arrangements, went to the funeral home to take care of that stuff, and went to the florist to pick out an arrangement for the table. The funeral home was AMAZING (and, on a side note, our very first sponsor for Run 4 Everett). You expect them to be great, but not everyone we dealt with on this day was, for lack of a better word, nice. The funeral home walked us through the entire process and were so warm, and caring. We decided to have Everett cremated as the thought of looking at a tiny, infant sized casket horrified me. I just couldn't do it.

The next day we spent "writing" the funeral service for Everett with another amazing person, the Chaplin who preformed Everett's service. He did such a beautiful job with everything and listened to me blubber through all my tears.

Then came the day of the funeral. At first, it was just family who was present. I remember sitting in one of the parlor rooms going over some final things with the Chaplin and feeling a major panic attack coming on. I looked over at Dave and told him, I can't do this as tears welled up in my eyes. I can't bury my child, I can't sit through a funeral, I can't breathe, I can't do THIS! You don't bury your children! I took some deep breaths and crying seemed to be a good release for all the emotions. We then went into the funeral room and friends and extended family had started to arrive. Dave and I stood up at the front where people could come to pay their respects. The line got longer and longer, and longer. It was unreal. There were close to 100 people who came to our son's funeral. I immediately felt a surge of strength as people wrapped their arms around us, cried with us and were just there for us. The service started and it was perfect. I didn't want it to be very long, because I didn't think I could handle sitting through it. But all the right readings were read, short sermon was delivered, and our letter to our baby boy was read:

Dear Baby Everett,

Your daddy and I loved you from the very first moment we found out we were expecting you. Over the months you grew inside of me we got to know you, your personality, your sleep and wake cycles, and your strong feet, which would kick me regularly, and we loved every minute of it. We could not wait to finally meet you.

Our hearts were aching and broken beyond belief when we found out that your heart stopped beating. Daddy, Lilli, and I will always treasure the moments after you were born that we got to hold you and spend much needed time with you. You were our perfect, beautiful little boy complete with so much hair!

We take peace and comfort in knowing that you are with the angels and all your great grandparents, who love you so very much, and will take care of you until we see you again some day. We will always, always love you.

Love forever,
Mommy, Daddy, and Lilli


The grief process fully set in after everyone else returned home and "back to normal". I think that's when my anger kicked in to full gear! And so much anger there was over what happened to our little boy. In the beginning of the grief process we were just trying to function and cope minute by minute (literally), then hour by hour. My brain wouldn't shut off, especially when I desperately needed it too (at night). All the events that transpired those last few weeks Everett was alive, then everything that happened at the hospital kept running through my head like the scariest nightmare you've ever had. It's was constant. It just wouldn't stop or go away, no matter how hard I tried. I was determined, at that point, to face everything head on, as "it", the grief, was grabbing hold of me anyways.

I sought out support in my friends. So many wonderful friends who were willing to listen to me ramble over and over again about whatever it was I needed to talk about. I also sought out support in an amazing therapist, who I still see, and of course, my grief group. It's specifically for people who have lost a baby. The other moms, and dads, I've met in there are incredible people. Some are further out in the process than I am, and others have just joined with fresh wounds.

So many people have told me, and us, how strong I am, how strong we are to be walking this journey and doing what we are doing. But what people don't understand, and don't want to understand, is that you really aren't given much of a choice when something like this happens. Especially when you have another alive child to take care of and think about. You do what you have to do to function each and every day and put one foot in front of the other. Literally. Some days that meant letting go of hygiene, food, or talking and that's OK. In the beginning Lilli was still in pre-school part time and I chose those days to let myself fall apart as much as I needed to, whether it meant staying in bed most days, crying or sometimes screaming. It also consisted of (obsessively) compiling research on what happened to Everett, and what could be done to prevent this from happening to another baby, another family. Then on the days Lilli was home with me, I tried to keep some level of "normal" for her.

At the end of December Lilli was home with me full time and I no longer had the luxury of my "fall apart days". She still sees me cry from time to time and now she's used to it. She used to feel like she needed to do something to help me when I was sad, but I explained to her that sometimes people get sad, and just need to be sad for a little while and that's OK. I don't want her to feel like it's her, a three year old, responsibility to make her mommy feel better.

Each day, slowly but surely gets a little bit easier to handle. We still have such an ache in our hearts for our beautiful baby boy, but feel the weight in our chest gets a little bit lighter as time moves forward.

~Steph