Shifting

October 22, 2013 at 8:46 am | Posted in Grief | 4 Comments
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Awhile back I mentioned that Jake and Sawyer’s nameplates, which are part of the headstones, have shifted.  The bolts had become loose and then inexplicably disappeared but they were repaired.  However, the cemetery grounds people explained that because these are not the original bolts they might not hold.   I have been watching them shift again over the last few weeks.  I really still cannot understand how it is possible so I brought Evan to confirm.

He took one look and verified that yes, the nameplates (mostly Jake’s) have shifted again.  He did offer up the explanation that perhaps Jake and Sawyer are just like any other children giving their parents something to worry about.  I sort of like this idea.  It goes along with the theory that my very sweet cousin pointed out Jake and Sawyer are just being boys playing together and being mischievous.  They could just be playing Halloween tricks.

We are going to call the cemetery to have the process started to replace the nameplates.  This is still odd and not okay but we can get it fixed.   I have to keep it in perspective.  Jake and Sawyer are not in danger.  Nothing can harm them anymore.  This we can do something about.

Of course, all of this reminds me there are so many hard and heartbreaking events in life that we cannot control.  Illness, accidents, disasters, bad things happening to good people.  These things all happen, and seem to happen far too often.  They will continue to happen too (though I feel like we have had more than our fair share lately).  But a break would be nice.  And fixing things that we can control helps, at least a little.

Spreading Awareness

October 6, 2013 at 9:14 pm | Posted in life after loss, Love, silver lining, why I write | 9 Comments
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This past weekend, I walked in one day of the Atlanta 2-Day Walk for Breast Cancer and in the Atlanta Walk to Remember.

In addition to walking, Evan has been talking as well.  Last week he went to Capitol Hill with a group from the March of Dimes.  They spoke to members of Congress about the importance of newborn screening and funding prematurity studies.

This week, Evan spoke at the Atlanta Walk to Remember.  Below is his speech:

“Dad and Father”

I am the father of four children,
but I am “Dad” to only two kids.

Our six-year-old twins call me “Dad” or “Daddy”
– or sometimes other silly things, or things I won’t mention here.

Our first child, Jake, never left the hospital
and lived only 2 weeks.
He was born 14 weeks early
and with other ultimately unsolvable medical complications.

Our fourth child, Sawyer, was born happy and healthy
and came home with us.
But six weeks later, with no warning,
and for no reason that has yet been fully figured out,
his heart stopped working.

Neither Jake nor Sawyer ever got to call me anything.

My family and I grieve the deaths and loss of our boys,
as you all grieve the loss of your children and little loved-ones.

As their father, I grieve the loss of Jake and Sawyer’s childhoods,
the big moments that they were supposed to have but never will.
I grieve the loss of their chance to grow up, to flourish,
to become teenagers, young men, husbands and “Dads” themselves.
I grieve the lost ball games and trips and adventures we’ll never have.
I grieve all the missed hugs and high-fives.
I grieve even the cranky wake-ups and bedtime fits we know so well from our twins,
but never got to experience with Jake or Sawyer.

I grieve all the truly heart-warming bedtime snuggles
that will never happen with Jake or Sawyer.
Beyond all those missed tender moments,
I also grieve the loss of my belief that horrible things won’t happen to me or my loved ones.
I am all too aware now that they can happen to anyone – as they have happened to all of us.

It’s all I can do most of the time
to just hope nothing like losing Jake and Sawyer ever happens again.
As a father, I also grieve the loss of my once unshakable belief
that I could always protect my wife Lanie and all our children
from such terrible pain and anguish; that I can “fix” their problems;
that I can always make everything all better.

I know that I cannot make Jake or Sawyer all better or bring them back.
I’m not sure that grief is something a father can ever overcome.
Of course, I have learned that you do not overcome or get past grief.
You just go through it.
I hate that my family has to go through it too,
but thank heavens I have an incredible wife and wonderful kids
to travel along with me as I go down that path.

So I guess I will always grieve the loss of never being called “Dad” –
not even once – by Jake or Sawyer.

But that doesn’t mean I am not their father.
I am and always will be a proud father of all my kids,
no matter what they call me
or what they were never able to call me.

And, I am so very proud of Jake, Sawyer and the twins’ dad and father.

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Control & Clean Clothes

September 26, 2013 at 9:53 am | Posted in life lessons, Love, normal?, venting | 6 Comments
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I wish life could be a bit more like laundry.  You put the dirty clothes in the washing machine, add detergent and wait.  After the clothes are clean put them into the dryer.  Wait.  Fold.

Okay, it is not always so seamless.  I have turned a few white loads pink.   I will also confess that I have washed more than one diaper.  It is pretty messy.  However, after shaking out the clothes and repeating the wash and dry cycles everything was once again clean.

Before 2005 there were plenty of situations out of my control but Jake’s diagnosis put them all into perspective for me.  I did what I thought were the right steps.  I gave birth to Jake at 26 weeks anyway.  He lived for 2 weeks but I could not do a thing to prevent his death.

At the time I thought that I could protect any potential future children if they were not premature.  I could be in control if I could just keep them out of the NICU.  Sawyer’s death let me know loud and clear that I was wrong about that too.

Lately, life seems more out of control than I would like.  I just need to realize that is all part of life and hold on.

I think I will go switch the laundry into the dryer.

 

So glad to see you September

September 2, 2013 at 10:56 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, Jake, life after loss | 8 Comments
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quote - breathe

August is over and Evan came up with a brilliant plan to get through the last few days of it.  The last week of August includes Jake’s deathiversary, my birthday and my grandfather’s (there are a few family wedding anniversaries in there too).

Evan planned a trip and we went away.  My parents were able to join us.  We usually do go away Labor Day weekend to see my grandfather for his birthday.  Our whole family for many Labor Day weekends has come together to celebrate his birthday.  I know that I am so lucky to have spent so many birthdays with my amazing grandfather.  However, this year there was no trip to see him to look forward to, so I had to find other ways to distract myself.

Evan’s plan worked like a charm and these 2 helped as well. . .

September 2013

When the Walls Come Tumbling Down

August 26, 2013 at 6:14 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love | 4 Comments
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As I wrote about here, the house where I was pregnant with Jake was sold a few months ago.  We had a room for Jake in that house but he never came home to it.  There was a time after Jake died that I had such anger towards that room.  I wanted to renovate it, destroy it or at least move far, far away from it.

My anger was not rational but it seemed very real to me at the time.  Along with denial, bargaining, depression and acceptance;  anger is one of Elisabeth Kübler Ross’ 5 stages of grief.  I guess I did not have any one to be angry with so why not get mad at a room painted baby blue?  So, when we sold that house we knew that it would most likely be torn down.  The other day, it looked like this:

IMG_3647

The next day when I drove by, all that was left was this:

IMG_3648

It is just Jake’s room.

Now the whole house is gone, but Jake will never be forgotten.  We love you Jake.

One Day at a Time

August 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life after loss, Love | 3 Comments
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quote - several days

Thank you so much for the thoughts and prayers for us and Jake on his birthday.

We are continuing to ride on the August roller coaster of happy and sad days.  This weekend had a happy day.  Evan‘s birthday.  I remember in 2005,  Jake was a few days old and I was still in the hospital.  The only thing Evan got for his birthday that year was a shower.  Life is no longer minute to minute like it was in 2005.  However, even today if I think too much about Jake’s birth day and death day, it seems like August is so very dark.

I remind myself not to imagine the 8-year-old Jake.  There is no point in grieving over the little boy who never was but somehow I can not stop myself at times.  I catch my mind as it wanders to what color his eyes would have been. . .

I remind myself to take it day by day.

quote - The-best-thing-about-the-future-is-that-it-comes-only-one-day-at-a-time

Jake

August 14, 2013 at 12:14 am | Posted in Grief, Jake, life lessons, Love | 13 Comments
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Dear Jake,
Today you would/should have been 8.  You are not.  I am still so very thankful that I got to meet you.  I just wish we could have kept you for longer.  Below are the words that your dad wrote to you 8 years ago.  They are just as true today.

We love you Jake.

You are our sunshine.

You are such a courageous and strong fighter, and we are so proud of you.

Jake, you are a miracle, and we thank you for choosing us to be your parents.

You are so wise for someone so young and so small.  You knew when you had to come into this world Jake, and you knew when you had to leave us to be in a better place.

You are and were the perfect son for us.

Jake, please know that we felt all the love you gave to us during your time here.

We are sad that we could only spend such a short time with you, but we are so glad and thankful for every minute of it.

It is amazing how we could come to love you so immediately and so completely even though we were just getting to know each other.

Then again, we feel like we have known you all of our lives, and you will be in our hearts forever and beyond.

Jake, we also know that you are at peace and that you are being watched over by all of our loved ones who also watch over all of us from above.

Thank you, Jake.

Thank you for coming to us.

Thank you for choosing us.

Thank you for loving us and letting us love you with all of our hearts.

We’ll see you every night playing up with the moon and the stars.

I miss you every. single. day.  Some days are harder than others.  I love you.

Hasta Luego House and Hair

June 2, 2013 at 11:48 am | Posted in Grief, life after loss, Love, normal? | 6 Comments
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“How would this do: and they all settled down and lived together
happily ever after?’
‘It will do well, if it ever comes to that,’ said Frodo.
‘Ah!’ said Sam. ‘And where will they live? That’s what I often wonder.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring

I wrote about our old house in this post.  We had been renting it since we moved in 2007.  It was not the plan to rent it all this time but as my grandfather used to say “people make plans and G-d laughs.”  And, there was the real estate market crashing. . .

Last week we sold the house.  Before the closing I went in to walk around.  I stood in what was supposed to be Jake’s room.  The once baby blue walls are now whitish.  The room was empty.   No tears filled my eyes as I entered.  Jake was not there.  I did not really think that he would be – I know that he is with me where ever I go.  The address does not matter.

Completely unrelated (except for the fact that it also happened last week), I donated my hair for the 4th time to Pantene’s Beautiful Lengths.  So far, “Pantene has donated 24,000 free real-hair wigs” to cancer patients throughout the country.  It takes 6 donations to make 1 wig.  So, I have officially donated 2/3 of 1 wig.

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Silence

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?”

“No.”

“Do you have kids from a previous marriage?”

“No.”

“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.

Rancic, Relationships and Reality

March 2, 2013 at 11:28 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons | 7 Comments
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In a recent interview Giuliana Rancic told US Weekly “We’re husband and wife, but we’re also best friends, and it’s funny because a lot of people, when they have kids, they put the baby first, and the marriage second.”  Giuliana and her husband Bill went through infertility treatments for years.  She battled breast cancer.  In 2012 they had their son, Edward, with the help of a surrogate.

The Rancics have had a tough road to parenthood.  I do not judge other parents and their decisions.  I believe the balance of marriage and parenthood is difficult.  I understand both sides of the debate which Giuliana’s comments created but I have a confession.

The night that Jake died and the night that Sawyer died I bargained with G-d.  I pleaded that it should be me and not them.  I offered to trade my life for theirs.   I also offered Evan’s life.  I would have switched places with my children without hesitation or any consideration of our marriage.  I think that Evan would have as well.

The pleading and bargaining did not work.  Evan and I are still here.  Sawyer and Jake are not.

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