Family Medical Leave Act

June 18, 2013 at 4:44 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love, Sawyer | 4 Comments
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According to the US Department of Labor the Family Medical Leave Act of 1993 (FMLA):

“Entitles eligible employees of covered employers to take unpaid, job-protected leave for specified family and medical reasons with continuation of group health insurance coverage under the same terms and conditions as if the employee had not taken leave. Eligible employees are entitled to (among other things):

  • Twelve work weeks of leave in a 12-month period for:
    • the birth of a child and to care for the newborn child within one year of birth;
    • the placement with the employee of a child for adoption or foster care and to care for the newly placed child within one year of placement;
    • to care for the employee’s spouse, child, or parent who has a serious health condition;
    • a serious health condition that makes the employee unable to perform the essential functions of his or her job

The problem is once the family member dies there are often little or no benefits.  When Jake died I had a c-section and could not return to work for 6 weeks.  The ironic thing was that after he died all I wanted to do was go back to work because being on maternity leave with no baby was beyond awful for me.  Evan’s work was extremely understanding and kind.  He ended up missing about a month of work – the 2 weeks Jake was alive and then the 2 weeks after his death.

When Sawyer suddenly died Evan again missed 2 weeks of work.  Again, we were very fortunate that his work was so understanding.  I know that is not always the case.  Dealing with the death of your child and the stress of an employer not giving you time off is too much for anyone.

Bereaved father, Kelly Farley, is taking action to fix this issue.  He has created the Parental Bereavement Act (Farley-Kluger Initiative).  It is a petition to modify the existing Family Medical Leave Act.  The objective of Petition is the following:

“Modify existing FMLA to expand coverage and existing benefits to employees that have experienced the death of a child.”

If you would like to support this modification of the FMLA please click this link to sign the e-petition.   I have already signed it!

The Other Side

April 26, 2013 at 7:44 am | Posted in after death?, Grief, Jake, Love, normal?, Sawyer | 4 Comments
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One day a young Buddhist on his journey home came to the banks of a wide river. Staring hopelessly at the great obstacle in front of him, he pondered for hours on just how to cross such a wide barrier.

Just as he was about to give up his pursuit to continue his journey, he saw a great teacher on the other side of the river. The young Buddhist yells over to the teacher, “Oh wise one, can you tell me how to get to the other side of this river”?

The teacher ponders for a moment looks up and down the river and yells back, “My son, you are on the other side”.

I have been and might always be on a journey to find the cause of Sawyer’s death.  I have wanted to be in a place where all of my children are living.  Not stuck between my two worlds.

I cannot do anything to bring back Jake or Sawyer.  I am here.  On the other side.  However,  maybe just maybe I can help spare other parents the heartbreak of having to live in a world without their child/children.  So, as we have done every year since Jake died, our family will walk in the March of Dimes, March for Babies this Saturday.

Thank you to all those who supported our team this year and in past years.    We appreciate all of your amazing kindness and generosity.   If you would like to support Jake’s Journey & Sawyer’s Strides please click this link.

Names in the sand (part 2) and Spam

April 12, 2013 at 8:36 am | Posted in after death?, Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love, Sawyer | 9 Comments
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So sorry if you recently received spam from me.  I have changed my password and hopefully I should be spam free now.

In case you could not see the link to Jake’s name in the sand here it is:

jake-1

Thank you again Carly Marie!  Here is Sawyer’s too:

sawyer

Sending you all hugs and hope.  I truly appreciate you reading and remembering Jake and Sawyer.

Tears in Heaven

March 12, 2013 at 9:50 pm | Posted in after death?, Love | 5 Comments
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In my 20’s I went to see an Eric Clapton concert.  He sang “Tears in Heaven.” I knew that he had written the song for his young son, Conor, who had died.  Below are the lyrics in case you have not heard the song:

Would you know my name
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you feel the same
If I saw you in heaven?
I must be strong and carry on
‘Cause I know I don’t belong here in heaven

Would you hold my hand
If I saw you in heaven?
Would you help me stand
If I saw you in heaven?
I’ll find my way through night and day
‘Cause I know I just can’t stay here in heaven

Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please

Beyond the door there’s peace I’m sure
And I know there’ll be no more tears in heaven

Eric Clapton wrote in his autobiography that “Tears in Heaven” did not have a big budget but “If you really want to know what it cost me then go visit my son’s grave in Ripley, England.”  He went on to write that this song was originally not meant for the public.  It was part of his grieving process.  What finally convinced him to release the song was the hope that it would help others.

In my 20’s I had no way of identifying with this enormous loss.  I just enjoyed the concert.  Now when I listen to the song I know all too well the heartbreak and sadness.  If I could have warned my 20-year-old self, what would I say?

Yesterday

March 4, 2013 at 11:07 pm | Posted in after death?, Cemetery, Grief, life after loss | 12 Comments
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Yesterday was the 2 year anniversary of Evan’s mom’s death.  It was also the day of the unveiling of her headstone.  She had asked that this poem be read:

To Those Whom I Love And Those Who Love Me
written by Mary Alice Ramish

When I am gone, release me, let me go
I have so many things to see and do
You must not tie yourself to me with tears
Be happy that I have had so many years

I gave you my love, you can only guess
How much you gave me in happiness
I thank you for the love you each have shown
But now it is time I travelled on alone

So grieve a while for me, if grieve you must
Then let your grief be comforted by trust
It is only for a while that we must part
So bless the memories within your heart

I will not be far away, for life goes on
So if you need me, call and I will come
Though you cannot see or touch me, I will be near
And if you listen with your heart, you will hear
All of my love around you soft and clear

Then, when you must come this way alone
I will greet you with a smile and say welcome home

We placed stones on her grave.  Evan and I had brought stones from Sawyer and Jake’s headstone.

I am so lucky to have had her as my mother-in-law.  I will always be here to tell the twins stories about their amazing Mom Mom.   I know I wrote in my last post that I bargained my life (and Evan’s) but it was never with the intention of leaving the twins.  I was just a desperate mother who wanted the impossible.

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Dinner Conversations & Divorce

January 30, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life lessons, normal? | 7 Comments
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At dinner the other night the twins started to discuss the fact that some of their classmates live with only one of their parents.  Evan and I tried to explain that sometimes parents do not always live in the same house.  This did not get us very far.

The twins responded in unison, “Why???”

“Why would a child’s parents not live in the same house.”

Good question.  Okay, I tried another angle.

I responded, “You know that daddy’s parents did not live in the same house?  Remember we visit Mom Mom and Pop Pop’s house and Grandmom and Grandpop’s house?”

Quizzical looks from both of them let me know that they were processing this information.  After a moment, he looked at me and said, “Well now that Mom Mom is dead does she live with Grandpop?”

Evan and I looked at each other. Neither of us had a response to give to our son. Luckily, his sister answered. “No silly! Mom Mom lives with Sawyer, Jake and Grandpoppy!”

Maybe

January 24, 2013 at 11:48 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life lessons, normal? | 5 Comments
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Maybe (Taoist story)

There is a Taoist story of an old farmer who had worked his crops for many years. One day his horse ran away. Upon hearing the news, his neighbors came to visit. “Such bad luck,” they said sympathetically.

“Maybe,” the farmer replied. The next morning the horse returned, bringing with it 3 other wild horses. “How wonderful,” the neighbors exclaimed.

“Maybe,” replied the old man. The next day, his son tried to ride one of the untamed horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. The neighbors again came to offer their sympathy on his misfortune. “Maybe,” answered the farmer. The day after, military officials came to the village to draft young men into the army. Seeing that the son’s leg was broken, they passed him by. The neighbors congratulated the farmer on how well things had turned out. “Maybe,” said the farmer.

After Sawyer died, one of Evan’s friends came over to see us.  Those days were such a blur that I do not remember his exact words but I will try to give you the basic gist.  He explained that sometimes things happen and we do not see or understand why at the time.  We may never understand why but the fact that Sawyer died could influence someone or something in the future. 

I, of course, responded that I will never understand why. 

He went on to say that some events need to be looked at in different ways.

I again responded that I have examined and reexamined every angle of Sawyer’s death and could not find anything except for earth shattering pain, emptiness and never ending darkness.

However, he continued to make his point in a way that I could actually accept.   He gave the example that when the twins grow up that their experience of Sawyer dying could impact them beyond my initial thoughts of how they would grow up without their baby brother.  They could be perhaps go on to discover a cure for whatever caused Sawyer’s death.  In that moment I grasped the fact that something good could possibly result from Sawyer dying.  Maybe, just maybe.

Doctors & Dreams

December 2, 2012 at 9:48 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, Love, normal? | 10 Comments
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Dream

Dear Sawyer,
Three years ago we had your 2 week check up with the pediatrician.  You did fantastic.  You were gaining weight.  You were eating.  You were sleeping.  All seemed to be going well.  Was there something that we missed?

The doctor told us that you were perfect.  We even scheduled your 2 month check up in January of 2010.  As you know, we did not make it to that appointment.

I try not to imagine what you would be like as a 3-year-old.  I know that I should just mourn the loss of you as a baby.  It only makes it more painful to grieve the losses of all the other stages you sadly never reached.  Good night baby boy.  I love you.  I miss you.  As always, I will look for you in my dreams.

Perfect

Elections & Explanations

November 8, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, Love, normal? | 13 Comments
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Dear Sawyer,
Your sister has big plans!  She would change the colors of the rainbow if she were elected president (just in case you cannot read her handwriting).  Hopefully, if she does decide to run for president she will first brush her hair.  I will not list all changes I would make.  But if I did make a list, the first thing would be to find the cure for whatever took you away from us.

I try not to think about it but I still cannot believe that we do not know your cause of death. The first weeks and months after you died I could not think of anything else.  I went over and over in my mind what could have possibly happened.  I looked for more information everywhere.  I thought if there was some logical explanation perhaps I could understand.  No medical explanation has been found.  I have tucked away the search for your cause of death. I will never forget or stop wanting answers.  I just cannot let myself go there very often.  We may never know why your heart just stopped.  Even if we did, it would not bring you back. And, that is what I want most of all.

I still hold out hope that one day the study that you are part of at the Mayo Clinic will find something.  Anything.

Time is moving forward, as it always does.  I am not sure how it is possible but your 3rd birthday will soon be here.  I do not want  it to be another November 17th without you. I know there is no other option for me.  Your birthday will come and go.  We will not watch you eat your birthday cake.  We will not take pictures of you opening gifts.  Or hug you.  .  .

I will now put away that part of me that cannot stop obsessing about your unknown cause of death.  I hope that where ever you are you know how much you are loved and missed.

Lost Girl?

November 2, 2012 at 10:22 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life after loss, normal? | 5 Comments
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In my younger (pre-children days) I loved to travel.  My parents took my brother and me on all kinds of exciting adventures.  I was an exchange student in Finland for a summer.  I spent a semester in Madrid.   My first jobs at times required extensive travel.  I was always happy to explore a new city.

In August of 2005, I held Jake,our first son, as he took his last breaths and a part of me died with him.  My love for travel was buried with Jake.   I could no longer be alone in my house let alone a hotel room in a far away city.  Even driving alone in my car was excruciatingly painful for me.

The twins’ birth brought me happiness that I did not think I could/would ever experience again.  However, that part of me that died with Jake was still gone.  Travel now seemed out of the question.  I did not want to let the twins out of my sight.  I was no longer alone in the house or the car.

When Sawyer died so unexpectedly my ability to be alone vanished again.  The 3 hours twice a week when the twins were in preschool seemed like an eternity to me.  For awhile I could not even shower unless other people were in the house.

I do not think I will ever be the person that I was before Jake and Sawyer died.  At times I do wonder if that person who loved to travel and see the world is still out there somewhere. . .

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