October 15th

October 14, 2015 at 9:32 pm | Posted in Jake, life lessons, Sawyer, traditions | 3 Comments
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quote - candle - 2015

Tomorrow is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  As part of the day, everyone is invited to light a candle at 7 pm in all time zones, all over the world.  The idea is that if everyone lights a candle at 7 pm and keeps it burning for at least 1 hour, there will be a continuous wave of light.

Today and every day I miss Jake and Sawyer but tomorrow at 7 pm we will light candles.  This year I will once again hope that the light from all the candles will make the darkness of the unknown a little brighter.

Update – October 15, 2015 at 7:30 pm:

Remembering Jake and Sawyer and all the other babies gone too soon

Remembering Jake and Sawyer and all the other babies gone too soon

 

October – Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month

October 12, 2014 at 9:08 pm | Posted in Grief, traditions | 4 Comments
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October, in addition to being Breast Cancer Awareness month, is also Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.  In 1988, President Ronald Reagan issued a Presidential Proclamation making it a national event.  This year the Governor of Georgia also wrote an official proclamation making October Pregnancy and Infant Loss Month.

Across the world there are many walks to remember.   Families and friends walk to remember their little loved ones.  The walk also symbolically joins people who are working towards raising awareness of perinatal loss and care.

The year before Jake died, 10 years ago, three bereaved mothers in Atlanta started the Atlanta Walk to Remember.  Last weekend we walked for the 9th time.  Originally, Evan and I walked to remember Jake.  In 2007, we were lucky enough to walk while pushing the twins in their stroller.  Starting in 2010, the 4 of us have walked together every year to remember Jake and Sawyer.   The walk this year had the  biggest turn out yet.  It was in a new location and it was a very special day.

This was also the first year that one of the twins had an activity conflicting with the walk.  One of the twins had a flag football game.  Evan and I decided to talk to him about it and give him a choice.  I was a bit surprised, but maybe I should not have been –  he decided to go to the walk.  He said “I can play in the game next week.”

Each week in his 2nd grade class they write the “Weekend News.”  Here is his from last week:

weekend news

In case you cannot read this, it says “My dad’s a[u]nt came over.  I went to the walk to rem[em]ber. With my spicey monky.  I went [to] the walk to rem[em]ber bec[a]use two of my brothers died.  I had a good walk.”  And so did we.

 

Sawyer’s Story: The Funeral

December 28, 2013 at 11:02 pm | Posted in funeral, Grief | 8 Comments
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Four years ago today was Sawyer’s funeral.   I still cannot believe that Evan and I have lived through 2 of our children’s funerals.   Most of those days are a big blur and what I do remember was that everything seemed so surreal.  I had trouble putting sentences together.

Evan, on the other hand, wrote speeches for Jake and then again 4 years later for Sawyer.  I am still amazed and thankful that Evan was able to think and write clearly enough for both of us.

My brother read what Evan wrote at Jake’s funeral.  Below is what Evan read at Sawyer’s funeral:

Our son Sawyer is perfect.  We know all parents feel that way about their children, and they should.  We feel that way about our first son Jake, our twins Fletcher and Alyssa, and about Sawyer.  But it’s not just a feeling.  We know it.  Sawyer is and always will be perfect.  He has been perfect from the first moment we met him.  Yes, he was also sweet, and adorable, and soft, and cuddly, and wonderful.  But above all else, he was perfect.  A perfect son.  A perfect little brother.

We don’t know why we only got 40 days with Sawyer.  We were supposed to have 40 years or more.  40 days makes no sense, and likely never will.  We don’t know why that happened, but what we do know is how much we love Sawyer.  We know how much we miss him and how much are hearts ache not being able to hold him and kiss him and care for him the way we were supposed to be able to do.  40 days – even the 40 wonderful days we had with him – is not enough.  Not even close.

But, we’re going to treasure every memory from those 40 days.  The first moment we saw him at the hospital.  The first time we each held him.  The first time we fed him and changed him and swaddled him.  The first time we took him home and introduced him to the twins.  The first time he smiled at us (even though it was probably just gas).  The first time we got to tell every one of you about him and positively beamed with pride in getting to do so.  We will hold onto each of those firsts – and every other moment after them that we had with Sawyer.  We’ll remember every time we just sat and stared at him and marveled at how perfect he was and how amazing it was that we could make something – someone – so perfect.

We thank you all for being here this morning to help us get through this day with your love, friendship and support.  We thank you for all that so many of you have already done, your words of love and kindness, and your helping hands.  And we thank you for all that you will do to help as we try to figure out how to go on without having all those “firsts” we were supposed to have with Sawyer over the days, weeks, months and years to come.  We welcome you back to our house after the service today, so that we can attempt to start to thank you in person and thank you for loving Sawyer with us.

There is comfort in knowing that Sawyer’s big brother Jake will be with him now.  So will Grandmother and Aunt Sophie – Sawyer’s namesake who also had to grieve for a lost son – and his other great grandparents and loved ones who passed before him.  We know he’s in good hands – it’s just that they are not the hands he is supposed to be in yet.  He is supposed to be in our hands.  But instead, our hands shake because we can’t touch him.  Our arms ache because we can’t hold him.  Our hearts break because he is gone after only 40 days.  But even as we cannot understand or believe any of this, we want you to know, Sawyer, that we love you.  Truly, deeply, forever, we love you.  And no matter what Sawyer, you are perfect.  You are perfect.  You are perfect.

The Story of the Stones

March 28, 2012 at 10:48 pm | Posted in Cemetery, Grief, normal?, traditions, twins | 9 Comments
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You may have noticed in my last post that Jake and Sawyer’s headstone is covered with stones.  At the unveiling, Jake and Sawyer’s sister carefully arranged all of the stones.   In fact, the twins each painted rocks for the occasion.  She would only paint the smooth stones.  He would only paint the rough ones.

The tradition of leaving rocks on the headstone signifies that someone has visited which honors the deceased person’s memory.  The last scene of Schindler’s List depicts children of Survivors placing stones on Oscar Schindler’s grave. 

There are many theories on the origins of this custom.  A few are the following:

  1. The stones are a kind of calling card left for the deceased.   Stones, unlike flowers, are permanent and do not get blown away in the wind.
  2. Jacob’s sons took a stone and put it on Rachel’s (their mother’s)grave to make up Rachel’s tomb.  In placing stones on the grave one participates in building the tombstone.
  3. A large stone slab was placed on the grave so that it would not be lost.  Rabbi Tam, goes on to explain that there were smaller stones that were set under the sides of the large stone that rests on them so that it will not bear down too heavily on the deceased.
  4. The ritual of placing a stone is a way of expressing our emotions and spiritual needs. Rabbi Andrew Straus explains that “we need physical acts to express these things for us, to make them concrete.”

    “Placing a stone on a grave does just that. It works in several ways:

    1) It is a sign to others who come to the grave when I am not there that they and I are not the only ones who remember. The stones I see on the grave when I come are a reminder to me that others have come to visit the grave. My loved one is remembered by many others and his/her life continues to have an impact on others, even if I do not see them.

    2) When I pick up the stone it sends a message to me. I can still feel my loved one. I can still touch and be touched by him/her. I can still feel the impact that has been made on my life. Their life, love, teachings, values, and morals still make an impression on me. When I put the stone down, it is a reminder to me that I can no longer take this person with me physically. I can only take him/her with me in my heart and my mind and the actions I do because he/she taught me to do them. Their values, morals, ideals live on and continue to impress me – just as the stone has made an impression on my hands – so too their life has made an impression on me that continues.” Rabbi Tom Louchheim

I am sure there are more theories but no matter the origins I like the tradition.  Evan and I collect stones from places we go.  We have our own tradition of kissing the rocks before we place them on the headstone.  We are sending kisses to Jake and Sawyer.  I hope that they are getting them. 

Planning

February 10, 2012 at 8:46 am | Posted in Cemetery, Death, Grief, life after loss, parents, traditions | 7 Comments

The day has arrived, as I knew it would – Sawyer’s headstone is here. And it is 100% correct. Although I will never think that it is right that we have 2 headstones for our children in the first place.

 “The difference between fiction and reality? Fiction has to make sense.”  – Tom Clancy

Evan met me at the cemetery and we discussed what we should do next. Planning an unveiling is not going to be on anyone’s top 10 fun things to do list – but we are going to give it a try. I want so badly to be planning a play date for Sawyer –  not this. I know that we do not have to do it. There are no rules saying that we must have an unveiling.

I know in my gut that I will regret it if we do not have the unveiling. We will not plan birthday parties, play dates, gym classes, summer camps – the list is so very long of the things we will not plan and do for Sawyer. This we can do.

     When you look back on your life, you’ll regret the things
you didn’t do more than the ones you did.  -H. Jackson Brown, Jr.  

Where are Sawyer & Jake?

January 20, 2012 at 4:36 pm | Posted in after death?, Cemetery, traditions | 6 Comments
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I do not know exactly what I believe happens to us after we die.  I like to think that Jake and Sawyer are with me where ever I go.  Perhaps they are with Evan, the twins and others as well.  Are they angels?

According to the free dictionary one definition of an angel is “a typically benevolent celestial being that acts as an intermediary between heaven and earth, especially in Christianity, Judaism, Islam. . .”.  Every religion seems to offer a different view on what happens after we die. 

I go to the cemetery to “visit” Jake and Sawyer.  I know that they are not really there.  It is just their physical remains which are buried in that plot.  I do not like to think about that part – especially in the cold weather.   Cremation would have solved that issue for me but at the time I was so numb and just went through the motions of a Jewish burial.  

Like so many of my questions about Jake and Sawyer, this one will be unanswered.  I have made up my own answer.  Jake and Sawyer are in our hearts.  I hope that if they are actually somewhere else that they are safe, happy and know how much they are loved.  I will always look for them in my dreams.

Spam, Signed & Sealed

October 8, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, traditions, twins | 8 Comments
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If I have ever emailed you since the late 90’s you may have recently received suspicious emails from my address.  Let me apologize for any emails offering secrets of happiness or descriptions of sexual adventures.  I promise if I knew the secrets to happiness I would let you all know immediately.  Not sure what to write about the sexual adventures but please don’t open the link.  However, it appears my email account (which I have had for almost 15 years) was hacked.  I have changed my password.  Hopefully,  I will soon be spam free which coincides perfectly with my clean slate from the High Holidays. 

The days between Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year, and Yom Kippur are known at the Days of Awe.   These days are for introspection and reflection on the sins from the past year.  Names are written into the book of  life.  On Yom Kippur, the books is sealed.  In the High Holidays since Jake and Sawyer have died, I have thought about the fact that they did not have any sins.  So why were their names not inscribed in the book of life?  I know there is no answer to this question but I had to write it anyway.  I will not go down the path my mind usually takes.  This is the path of guilt where I have thoughts about my sins being the reason that Jake and Sawyer were not written into the book of life.  Must remember that my guilt is in the river. 

WE REMEMBER THEM.

At the rising of the sun and at its going down
We remember them.

At the blowing of the wind and in the chill of winter
We remember them.

At the opening of the buds and in the rebirth of spring
We remember them.

At the blueness of the skies and in the warmth of summer
We remember them.

At the rustling of the leaves and in the beauty of autumn
We remember them.

At the beginning of the year and when it ends
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as
We remember them.

When we are weary and in need of strength
We remember them.

When we are lost and sick at heart
We remember them.

When we have joy we crave to share
We remember them.

When we have decisions that are difficult to make
We remember them.

When we have achievements that are based on theirs
We remember them.

As long as we live, they too will live, for they are now a part of us as
We remember them.

By Sylvan Kamens and Rabbi Jack Reimer

Go Guilt Go

October 4, 2011 at 11:40 pm | Posted in Grief, traditions | 9 Comments
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This week I went with the twins on a school field trip. We went to a park alongside a river. The purpose of the trip was to say the Tashlich prayer. Tashlich means to cast off. It is a Jewish tradition of “casting off” your sins and starting the new year with a clean slate. Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish New Year was this past week (just in case you did not already know that). I really like the idea of having a clean slate.

The way that the twins’ teachers explained Tashlich to the children was that it is putting all of your bad feelings into the river. Examples they gave were fighting with your brother/sister and not listening to your parents.

There were lots of feelings that I tried to “cast off” into the river. The top of my list was my guilt. My guilt that I did not do everything I could to protect Jake and Sawyer. I know logically that there was nothing I could do but as their mother I should have been able to protect them. I have replayed (in my mind and in talking to friends and therapists) Jake and Sawyer’s short lives over and over. I have tried to imagine if there could have been something I did or did not do that would have changed the fact that they both died.

I tried to leave my guilt in that river by the park. I will let you know how that works out for me. . .

Cosmic Connections & Kindness

August 9, 2011 at 9:54 pm | Posted in Grief, mourning, silver lining, traditions | 7 Comments
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Jake and Sawyer are buried in a cemetery not far from our house.  They are in the Jewish section of the cemetery called Menorah (it is named for the gigantic Menorah in the middle of it).  Evan and I were shown the children’s section when Jake first died.  It did not feel like the right place for Jake – or us.

Menorah is a section for people of all ages but Jake and Sawyer happen to be surrounded by other babies.  The grave above is a little girl who died in August of 2005 (just like Jake).  There are other children to the left and right of Jake and Sawyer’s grave.  I rationalize that hopefully they are all having a cosmic play date.

This section of the cemetery also includes the grave of the mother of my college boyfriend.  In addition, the grave of the mother of our fantastic doula (she helped Evan and I with the twins).  I am not sure if they are part of the cosmic play date but I like knowing they are there.  In another section not too far away from Menorah is the mother of a very close friend. Her proximity to our sons’ grave also brings me comfort.

Sawyer still does not have a headstone so I had arranged the stones over the grave.  Leaving rocks is a Jewish custom to show that someone visited the gravesite.  Stones “are permanent and do not get blown away in the wind.”

The stones prevent the cemetery caretakers from cutting the grass.  Usually, I clip the grass but we had been away.  The grass had become extremely over grown.  I put all of Sawyer’s stones into a bag in hopes that the caretakers would be cutting the grass soon.

The next day I checked our home voicemail and there was a message from the grandfather of one of the little boys buried near Jake and Sawyer.  He wanted to let me know that the stones I had carefully arranged around Sawyer’s part of the grave were gone.  He did not want me to be surprised.

Even cosmic communities have good neighbors.

Kindness is a language the deaf can hear and the blind can see.
– Mark Twain

Confessions

June 10, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Posted in Grief, mother, mourning, silver lining, traditions, twins | 5 Comments
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When I was young I loved to travel.  I would travel whenever I could for work or fun.  After Jake died my desire to travel was gone.  I wanted to stay home so I could visit the cemetery

I have met a few other people while visiting the cemetery.  One grandfather visits his grandson’s grave every day.  He also takes care of the family plot.  Year round he is out there cleaning the headstone, cutting the grass and maintaining the plot.  Although I no longer go every day, I frequently want to go to the cemetery. 

One day I spoke to the grandfather about visiting the cemetery.  He said that it helps him to take care of the plot and visit every day.  I 100% understand and relate to being drawn to the cemetery.  However,  I wanted to know how he felt if he ever missed a day.  He is from the area and his whole family lives within a few minutes of the cemetery.  He has not missed a day since his grandson died over 3 years ago.  I think it is great that he has found a way to comfort himself.

I on the other hand, have family who lives out-of-state.  I no longer travel often for work but I do take trips to visit family and friends.  Every time I am away I stress about not being able to visit Jake and Sawyer’s grave (as I have written about before they share one plot).

When we were snowed in this past winter I did have fun playing with the twins.

    

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However, I worried about not being able to check on my other 2 children.  I know that they are not really there but I like to check on the little piece of land in the cemetery.  It gives me a brief sense of being able to take care of Jake and Sawyer. 

Dream

I am drawn quietly to his grave to check on him,

Just as I’d have been drawn quietly to his crib.

I trim the grass around his marker,

And dream of trimming bangs from his forehead.

I place flowers in his vase,

And dream of placing kisses on his check.

I hold his memory dear to my heart,

And dream of holding him in my arms.

                                                                Author unknown

I know that frequent visits to the cemetery might sound morbid to some people.  Just like with birthdays I do not think there are any rules in this area.  We all find comfort in different ways.  The path in the journey of grief varies – even if you are grieving the same person (or people).  Visit or do not visit the cemetery.  Do what ever helps you at the time.

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