March 30, 2013 at 10:03 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss, Love, normal? | 15 Comments
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quote - everyone has something

There are times when I am at a loss for words.  People talk to me.  And, I can not respond.  At all.  Here are a few examples:

  1. At work the other day someone asked my opinion about his home computer.  I said my answer depends on who uses the computer.  He went on to talk about his wife, his school age daughter and 5-year-old twins.  I said I have 5-year-old twins too.  Once the words came out of my mouth I wanted to take them back.  I knew his next question before he asked it.

“Are the twins your only 2?”

“They are our only 2 at home.”

“Oh, so does your husband have kids from a previous marriage?”


“Do you have kids from a previous marriage?”


“Then what?”

Silence.  More silence.

  1. I am at the doctor.  A nurse notices the scar tissue from my c-sections.

She asks “How old is your youngest child?”

I do not respond at all.

She tries again,”When was your last c-section?”

Tears silently stream down my face as I say “November 17, 2009.”

The nurse in response to my tears, “You must really not feel well.”

I try to respond but no words come out of my mouth.

  1. I am on a very bumpy flight with the twins (and without Evan).  I am turning green.

An extremely kind stewardess offers me a drink of water and then proceeds to tell me about another mother flying alone with her 4 kids.

She is just trying to make me feel better.

After the stewardess finishes telling us about the air sick mother of 4, the twins start to whisper to each other.

Then they start to loudly whisper to me.  “Tell her about Jake and Sawyer.”

I do not say anything.  I listen as the twins tell the poor sweet stewardess about their dead brothers.

Sometimes I wish I really did know Scotty and he could beam me up.


March 24, 2013 at 12:14 am | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, normal? | 4 Comments
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quote - John Lennon

Staying Present

March 18, 2013 at 9:56 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, Love, normal?, Sawyer, twins | 12 Comments
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Recently, I was reminded once again to live in the present.  I watched an interview with Valerie Harper.  She spoke so honestly about how she is trying to live in the moment and live her life to the fullest despite her terminal brain cancer diagnosis.  In her interview, Harper reminded us all that “None of us gets out alive.  Don’t go to the funeral before the day of the funeral.”

I replayed her interview in my head when I saw a daunting hill on mile 12 of the half  marathon I was running.  My first thought was to jump to the future (at least for a couple of hours to when I was showered and not running).  I tried to focus on the moment.  It was a beautiful day.  Only 1.1 miles to go.  The run was rough but I made it.

I again thought of Valerie Harper as I was helping the twins with their homework.  One of the twins had the assignment to draw a family picture in order from tallest to shortest.

Who is the tallest?  No problem.  “Daddy is the tallest!”

Who is the shortest? Tougher question.  “Mama, who was taller, Jake or Sawyer?”

The “not living in the moment me” would have taken into consideration that Jake should be 7.  He should be taller than the twins and Sawyer (who should be 3).

I pulled myself back to the present reality.  I answered,  “Jake was the shortest.”

My therapist is always reminding me not to grow Jake and Sawyer up.  The loss of Jake and Sawyer as babies is horrible enough without also grieving the loss at every age.  I am still working on this. . .

A's art 2013

Sunshine and Rain (part 2)

February 28, 2013 at 11:24 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, Love, normal?, Sawyer, twins | 7 Comments
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helen keller quote

Thank you all for the kind words of encouragement.  The rain has stopped and there is some sunshine through the clouds.

When it rains one of the twins usually says “HaShem is crying.”  This week, I decided to ask, “Why do you think HaShem is crying?”  He responded, “I don’t know, mama.  Maybe HaShem is very sad.”

Ever since Jake and then Sawyer died I do feel like the rain is tears.  Sometimes I will confess that I am glad it is raining because it matches my sadness.  And, as an added bonus the raindrops disguise the tears running down my cheeks.

However, the other twin chimed in with her own answer.  “Maybe they are not tears of sadness. Maybe they are tears of happiness.”

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!”


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.


January 16, 2013 at 9:16 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, life after loss, normal? | 6 Comments
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Quote - things

Very often “get rid of clutter” is at the top of my to do list.  Okay, sometimes I put it at the top of Evan’s to do list.  I am overwhelmed by the piles of paper, toys, laundry, and stuff in general which seems to fill up the world.  However, there is some clutter that I just cannot part with.   The hospital bracelets from Jake’s tiny ankles, the smallest “sunglasses” which covered his sensitive eyes, every little thing that touched his body came home with us.

Sawyer had a lot more stuff.  Right after he died we packed up, donated or got rid of most of the things he never wore or used.  The things he did wear and use stayed on a shelf.  Year after year Sawyer’s stuff did not move.  Except for the sock.

I recently went on a business trip and when I got home Sawyer’s stuff was not on the shelf.  I backed out of the room and went in again.  It was still not there.  I yelled for Evan.  He calmly explained that he moved it.  Just like that.  He moved it to the same place where Jake’s stuff is kept.

Logically, I know that it is all just stuff but these are the only things that we will ever have that were Jake’s and Sawyer’s.  I thought about these things as I threw out garbage bag after garbage bag of stuff as I helped to clean out my grandfather’s home.  Why did I find it so easy, even therapeutic, to throw away his things?

I decided that my lifetime of memories with my grandfather made all the material things not necessary.   I do not need stuff to remember him.

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On the other hand, I had such a short time with Jake and Sawyer.  There are not so many memories or stories to tell.  So, I will hold onto the stuff that I can.

Sawyer and Evan

Tips for NICU Parents

January 12, 2013 at 10:52 pm | Posted in Grief, hospital, NICU, normal?, silver lining | 12 Comments
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This past week I, along with 2 other mothers, spoke to a group of nurses as part of their bereavement training. The nurses all work at Northside, the hospital where we had all 4 of our children.

This is the 3rd time I have been on the parent panel as part of this course.  The purpose of parents speaking is so that we can give feedback about our experiences at the hospital and help the nurses to better understand the needs of the families.  I listened to the other women recount their bittersweet experiences. I spoke about mine.

Along with helping the nurses understand the parent’s perspective, we also spoke about ideas for families with babies in the NICU.  The other 2 mothers had several suggestions that Evan and I had not thought of while Jake was in the NICU.  No one knows ahead of time that they will be a NICU parent.  And, NICU parents do not usually have time to google suggestions for being a parent to a very premature baby.  However, I am going to share this list just in case you or someone you know finds themselves with a child in the NICU.

  1. Take pictures.  Use your phone, a disposable camera or whatever kind of camera is available to you.  I am so thankful that the nurses encouraged us to take pictures.
  2. Video tape.   If it is allowed make video tapes of your baby.  I wish Evan and I had video of Jake.
  3. Pen and journal.  Ask the nurses to write something down about your baby during their shift.
  4. Small stuffed animals.  Carry them around so they pick up your scent.  Place them in your babies’ isolette.
  5. Memory metal.  Use the metal to make a finger or foot print of your baby.
  6. Scrapbook.  The hospital gave us everything that touched Jake’s body.  Evan and I keep all of Jake’s things.  We have been working on a special cabinet to keep it all together but it would be great if we could put together a scrapbook as well.

Some hospitals have organizations to help and support NICU parents.  The group at Northside is called Parents Partnered for Preemies.  Do you have any other ideas to add to this list?

Jake's stuffed animals

Jake’s stuffed animals

Reality Bites

January 8, 2013 at 10:54 pm | Posted in Death, Grief, mourning, normal? | 9 Comments
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quote - reality

Today it has been 1 week since I held my grandfather’s hand as he took his last breaths.  He is no longer suffering.  The funeral is over.  He was 100.  His death was not a shock.  Death is part of life.  I repeat these statements to myself several times a day.   So, why do I still feel like I am walking around in an alternate universe?

Evan, the twins and I have returned to work, school and life in general.

People ask “How were your holidays?”  I want to scream, my grandfather died on New Years Day.  Sawyer died the day after Christmas 3 years ago.  I officially hate the holidays!!!  However, I instead take a deep breath and respond, “Fine, how were yours?”

My thoughts are scattered.  It took me less than 1 day to lose the new insurance card Evan handed to me.  I got lost driving somewhere I go almost every week.

I am figuring out another new normal.

My Ghost of Christmas Past

December 26, 2012 at 12:02 am | Posted in Grief, Love, mourning, normal?, why I write | 21 Comments
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Sweet Sawyer

Dear Sawyer,
This picture of you looks as if I could just pick you up.  My arms ache every time I look at it.  I cannot believe I will never hold you again.  I should have never let you go that night.  If I knew it was the last time I was ever going to hold you or kiss you I would never have put you down on December 25th three years ago.  If I were holding you would I have been able to save you?  Why did you have to go?  Will we ever know?   So many questions without any answers.

The rational part of me knows that even if I ever do find out why you died it will not make a difference.  You will still be dead.  And, I will still be alive.  The irrational part of me thinks that if I could just understand your cause of death I could protect you.  Change the fact that you are gone.  The logical me then takes over again and argues that if we knew the cause then we could test the twins.  We could prevent other children from dying.  The rational, irrational and logical me might be battling it out forever.  None of us will win.  We will have all lost.

Quote - winnie the pooh

I hope that I can always remember how it felt to hold you.  I want to permanently erase the images of you in the emergency room.  Unfortunately, they are burned into my mind.  Luckily, there are other pictures of perfect little you. . .


Missing you always and forever.  I will look for you in my dreams and hope that I can hold you again one day.  I love you to the moon and back.

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