Monthly Archives

November 2018

Hope for the Holidays

The Holidays are HARD.  Most people you talk to who are missing someone they love would rather fast forward through the next six weeks than go through the day to day reminders that other people are happy. Happy people seem even more happy – big smiles, twinkly eyes – in contrast to the life we are living.  Curse the happy people lol

So you are allowed, if your heart is hurting, to handle the next few weeks however you need to.  You can choose not to decorate and close the blinds and wait it out if you want.  It might feel easier, or perhaps I should put it as less painful, to avoid trying to navigate family gatherings, and holiday music, and the memories contained in each ornament and tradition.  That is okay.   Breathe in, and breathe out and January 1st will be here before you know it.  You will get through.

If you decide to try and do the Holidays as you always have I think you just need to go in with the knowledge that some days you might be sad.  I think the worst thing is when you get caught off guard by your emotions.  You could be baking gingerbread cookies and all of a sudden you remember all the times you spent at the island rolling out and decorating stars and trees with your sweet child and before you know it you’re up to your elbows in flour and feelings.  So go into the holidays prepared to have a few moments.  Or more than a few moments.  Just allow yourself that space.

Heading into my fourth holiday season without Luke I know there are things that I had to give up to get through.  Take cards.  Holiday cards were my thing.  We always loved to share pictures of our boys as they grew each year, but we were never those people who took a family photo in front of the fireplace in matching sweaters.  Well, to be truthful, we did try one year, but it was a complete disaster. lol  Everyone looking in different directions; Logan squirming around.  Sigh.  Just couldn’t get that camera timing down.  Anyway, after Luke died I contemplated many ways to keep the card tradition going, but none of them felt right.  So, I let it go.  Just like that.

Some traditions have stayed the same. I have a box of homemade ornaments for both of my boys.  I had always kept them thinking as they grew older and went out on their own I would give them their own little box of treasures to decorate their first trees.  Every year I pull out the boxes and smile thinking about Luke and Logan at each stage and how adorable they were.  I still do this.  It makes me tear up as I go through both boxes, but at the same time it reminds me that we were happy then.  Luke was happy.  It helps my heart.

Some traditions are new.  I have a white, LED powered candle that I put in my girls room.  I set the timer to come on at the same time every evening and when it does I imagine that Luke is thinking of me and I am thinking of him at exactly the same in.  I love this because it forces me to stop for a moment and be intentional about my relationship with my boy during a very busy time of the year.  For the length of time the candle glows I feel like Luke and I are together.  For something so simple, it has a magical effect.  I also try and find a new ornament or knick knack that reminds me of the Lukester.   I have embraced birds, hearts, feathers, angels – anything that makes me think of Luke.  By adding a new item in Luke’s memory every year, it makes it feel like he continues to be an important part of my decorating, our traditions, our family.  He lives on.

So if today is your Day One, here’s what I need you to know:  I wish there was a foolproof way to navigate the next six weeks, but there isn’t.  I wish I could tell you that each year gets progressively easier, but that’s not true either.  What I do know is that getting through requires more of a moment to moment kind of strategy.  Or in the case of a newly bereaved momma – minute to minute.  So go slow.  Do what feels right for you and before you know it You will get to January 1st and breathe a sigh of relief.  Sending strength and hugs your way. Xxx

 

Milestones, Things that help

Once Upon A Time

Once upon a time there was a woman.  This woman had lost her son under tragic circumstances and was trying to figure out life without someone she loved.  Day after day she just tried to do her thing: get up, love the world, miss her boy, go to bed, repeat.  A year ago around this same time, she was asked how she managed, how she made it day after day, and the woman decided to write down her thoughts on what helped and gave her hope.  She made it a blog and her only wish was that maybe, just maybe, it would help one momma in a moment of despair.

Turns out people read her words.  This in itself surprised the woman, but more incredible was the fact that people were reaching out and sharing how they related to each of the woman’s posts.  “I hurt, too” they told her and this invisible web of child loss began to surround the woman.  The woman felt the importance around sharing what she wrote most when she heard from two families who hadn’t lost a child, but their kiddos were struggling and the parents – well, they were afraid.  They didn’t want to walk in the woman’s shoes and they hoped, by reading the woman’s words they might gleam a word of advice on how to just love their child and help them reach another day.  Those children still live.  It makes the woman’s heart happy.

So each week the woman sits down and writes the blog.  This is no small feat for the woman.  This is asking her to go deep inside her heart and pull out all the hurt and anguish she has tucked down since her boy passed away.  It is asking her to be honest about what really happened with her son and all that that means.  It is asking her to relive everything that came to pass and if you think it is hard the first time, it is no less hard the second.  But she does it.  And she knows that it helps heal not only her, but her little corner of the world.

Still, there are days the woman doesn’t want to write the blog.  She wants to curl up in her cream chenille chair in her girls room and keep her thoughts private.  She grows weary of letting people know exactly how she felt over each part of her journey.  She is quiet by nature and every once in a while she just wants to keep what existed between her and her son HERS.

But then something will happen.  One of the lovelies will be at a concert and share a song that reminds them of her son; or a friend will comment on the blog and let her know how meaningful the writing is that she is doing; or more people than the woman can imagine – like 1000 and more will see her blog because others have been kind enough to share it: or, and this is a good or, one of the lovelies will send a moving text at two in the morning about how much they love the blog and how it makes them feel closer to her son and how much they loved her boy, that damn Canadian Princess, and it sits in her heart like a shining light and it is then that it hits the woman: something good is coming from this.  Out of this unimaginable horror there is a silver lining, a flicker of hope, a community of love being built.

And so she keeps writing.

For Rylee Xxx

 

I need you to know, Things that help

Just Luke

It is a bit scary when your child starts interacting in the world without you.  Remember that feeling when you put your child on the bus for  the first time?  You smiled and reassured them and took pictures and as the bus pulled away  you had that “Oh Shit” moment of panic when you realized you wouldn’t be there to protect your child from the real world.  Because isn’t that all we want?  To keep our children in a place of love and safety for their whole lives?

When we lived in Shirley, a family moved into our cul-de-sac with two young boys.  One was a few years older than Luke from what I can remember.  This family had definitely not had the easiest of paths in life and the kiddos were, well, let’s say they were more street savvy than my boys.  Luke wanted to play with the older lad because it was someone new, but this kid was mean.  He loved to mimic me talking to Luke and Logan which was annoying enough, and he seemed to do all these little things that were just not nice.  You know this kind of kid.  John and I would try and get in the middle when we could and I have very clear memories of John ripping this kid a new one over an incident with bikes.  No one wants to be on the wrong side of John Inwood. Trust me when I say this. lol  It was our first experience trying to protect Luke from someone unkind and because he was young and we were always out there we could get involved.  It didn’t make it any less upsetting and once something like this happens to your child I feel like it makes you super wary.

At four Luke went to  this sweet preschool in Harvard.  Luke was one of those little kids that had trouble pronouncing his words and when he arrived at preschool his teacher was kind enough to get us into the speech services program.  Unfortunately, his speech meant the other students couldn’t understand what he said and one of the boys decided to make fun of Luke and isolated him from the other boys in the class.  I remember being heartbroken when I would pull up at pick-up time and I could see the boys all playing some game and Luke would be by himself walking around the outside of the playground.  And so the parental anxiety begins.  Was Luke really sad or was he okay walking by himself?  As parents we can’t help but put our own insecurities onto our children.  I was sad watching Luke alone therefore he must be sad.  Problem was I never asked and he never said.  What did happen was I continued to stress over whether or not Luke had anyone to play with every day.

My anxiety around Luke’s social interactions really became pronounced in first grade.  We had moved to Rutland and both our boys loved our new neighborhood.  There were tons of children to play with and the older boys and girls did an excellent job of keeping the peace and ruling our own version of Lord of the Flies.  I’m pretty sure Corey carried the conch and made the rules lol.  Kindergarten went well, but I was the homeroom Mom and could keep a close eye on Luke and his relationships with his classmates.  It was first grade when Luke started to cry.  And hate school.  He would get off the bus and tell me a boy that was both in his class and on his bus was being mean to him.  I had no idea the level of anger that erupted from me was even possible.  I just wanted to knock this kid into next Wednesday for making my child so sad!  And fear!  Did I mention how afraid I was for Luke?  That he was on his own for hours without me and had to put up with this child being mean to him?  I started packing Logan up at recess time and driving over to the school and watching Luke at recess to see what was happening.  Yep, I did.  Every day for a week or so.  And you know what I saw?  Luke, alone, walking around the outside of the playground.  It did not make my heart feel better.

I eventually called the teacher and told her what was going on.  I cried, which I am incredibly embarrassed to record here for you all to read, but my heart was broken for my boy.  Turns out this kid was tormenting Luke and making fun of his speech and his name – Luke was John-Luke back then – his given name.  How was this happening to my sweet gentle boy?  And that feeling of vulnerability, of not being able to protect your child, of being HELPLESS might just be the worst feeling in the world.  The teacher promised to take care of it and Luke did start to have better days again, but my innocent John-Luke was gone forever.  He developed a little armor, a little edge, and he made me promise that he could be “Luke” from now own.  Just Luke.

So here’s what I need you to know:  If today is your Day One you are struggling because your child has died on your watch.  How do we forgive ourselves for not protecting our babies from death?  I have spent many a night trying to reconcile my feelings of failure as a parent and frankly, I’m not sure it will ever fully happen.  What I do know now, after three and a half years, is that we can’t protect our child from all of life’s challenges and that is the tricky part of it.  We are given these beautiful souls to love, and nurture, and keep safe as best we can.   And sometimes that means all we are allowed to do is watch and cross our fingers and hope.  So hold on to this: You loved your child and you did the best you could.  You loved your child and did the best you could.  You loved your child and did the best you could. I love you, John-Luke, Just Luke, and I did the best I could. Xxx

 

The FIrst Days

Crazy Slowly Going Am I

Losing a child can feel a little bit like losing your mind.  When your reality is altered in such a traumatic way it is disorienting.  The truth of things as you know it has changed forever and wrapping your head around that fact takes time.  A lot of time.  So in the process of doing that your mind can cause a little havoc.  I always tell people who are missing part of their heart that thinking is not your friend and it becomes increasingly important at this stage to find ways to distract your brain so the what ifs and the how comes and the sadness and the guilt and the missing don’t take over every. single. minute.

If you know me then you know that positive thinking is a way of life for me and always has been.  John calls it denial of reality lol, but hey!  My rose-colored glasses have served me well and through many a trial.  Losing Luke was no different.  I put those glasses on and did my darndest  to find the silver lining in what the Universe had handed me.  I had been exposed to enough stories of families falling apart after child loss that my focus was on keeping us together and getting through.  Five years is the number, by the way, that experts say it takes to make living with child loss more bearable.  So I set my sights on that number and day after day it is a choice, an affirmation, an attitude that pushes me through: I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

Now don’t get the wrong idea here, friends.  I am not a superwoman and I am not pretending to be one.  When you lose a child you stand on the edge of an abyss.  And it is damn dark down there.  I have had my moments of crazy and when you are in it you wonder if you are ever going to recover.  I always said to John that I worried my mind would get so caught up in missing Luke that he would find me in a corner some day, rocking.  I made him promise to pay someone to apply my lipgloss if I ended up in the crazy house. lol

It was a day just like today that I remember clearly.  It was the first autumn following Luke’s death.  I was in a dark place and I had headed to the cemetery hoping it would allow me a little comfort.  But when I got there the wind picked up and the leaves were falling off the trees and the world just seemed more bleak.  And I looked at the spot where Luke rests easy and I just lost it.  I wanted him back more than anything I had every wanted in my whole life.  I wanted to see him and hold him and rock him in my arms.  And I felt the desperation of that and honestly wanted to knock his headstone right off its bearings.  It took everything in me to not push it over and get down on my hands and knees and start dragging the dirt away.  LUKE!!!!  my heart screamed and as I looked around at the branches of the trees bending with the force of the wind this poem around grief popped into my brain.

“Do not stand at my grave and weep,

I am not here, I do not sleep.

I am a thousand winds that blow,

I am the glistens of the snow.

I am the sunlight on the grain,

I am the gentle autumn rain.”

Forgive me for not having the right words to the poem, but these are the ones that came to me and I kept crying and repeating them over and over out loud hoping to see Luke or Angel Luke or something magically appear in the woods. Thinking back on this now my heart aches for the momma that I was at that moment.  Eventually, the exhaustion kicks in and obviously I made it to tomorrow and better days.

So if today is your Day One here’s what I need you to know: Grieving a child can create moments where you feel like you’re losing it.  It’s important to recognize if you need help because in the beginning you don’t have the strength or the strategies to get yourself through. Don’t be brave – friends, family, physicians can all help.   What you also need to know is that grief is full of hills and valleys and although the valleys are deep initially, the hills and highs will come.  The valleys will become flatter and less frequent.  Three and a half years later I know this to be true.  You also come to recognize that when the valley comes, and I had one heck of a valley this week, friends, that is only a matter of time till you get to the other side.  Try and remember  You can do this. Take it slow.  One day at a time. Hold steady, mommas, the love will get you through.  Xxx

 

 

 

I need you to know, The FIrst Days