Look for the Happy

May 24, 2015 at 5:55 pm | Posted in Anniversaries, life after loss | 6 Comments
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On the road of life, it is not where you go
but who you are with that makes the difference.

Author Unknown

A very happy Birthday to my brother!


And, a very happy anniversary to Evan!


“How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

November 20, 2014 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Grief, twins | 11 Comments
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I have previously written about being asked “How many children do you have?”  Over the years, I have different responses to this question.  It may always be a tricky question for me to answer or maybe one day I will come up with the perfect response.  I will let you know.

“How many brothers and sisters do you have?” is the bereaved sibling’s version of this question.  They are both such common and polite questions but the answers for some of us are so complicated.

The other day on the playground a classmate asked one of the twins, “Do you have any brothers and sisters?”

She answered, “Yes, I have a twin brother and my 2 other brothers, Jake and Sawyer, passed away. ”

The second grade little boy answered, “Jake and Sawyer probably passed away to get away from you.”

Our little girl walked away.  She is not perfect, she has and will say mean things at times too.  I wish I could protect all of my children all the time.  Jake and Sawyer have taught me that I cannot.  As much as I hate it, there are things beyond my control.  I am going to do my best to teach kindness to the 2 who are physically with us.

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So, this happened in the last week. . .

August 4, 2014 at 10:40 pm | Posted in life after loss, Love | 6 Comments
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these 2 turned 7 and they started 2nd grade!

twins are 7!!

I am beyond grateful that I am their mama.


Helping with Homework

March 6, 2014 at 10:14 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, Love, Sawyer | 12 Comments
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Today’s 1st grade homework assignment for one of the twins was about cultural diversity.  The questions asked about backgrounds, customs and families.  I was helping her with the assignment.  We discussed the questions and her answers.  “Where are you from?”  Where were you born?”  She quickly answered and wrote down, “Atlanta, Georgia.”  All was going smoothly until, we got to the question asking, “How many brothers and sisters do you have?”

I have written before about being asked “How many children do you have?” “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” is the bereaved sibling’s version of this question.  They are both such common and polite questions but the answers for some of us are so complicated.  When people ask me how many children I have these days I usually say something like “I have 2 children at home.”  I then try to change the subject.  Or, the other day I caught myself saying “excuse me for a moment” and  I left the conversation all together.  I always remember Jake and Sawyer but I do not always talk about them.   But maybe it does not have to be so difficult.

At first she did not immediately answer the question “How many brothers and sisters do you have?” Instead, she looked at me thoughtfully and asked, “Mama, how many brothers do I have?” Before I could say anything she said “I know!!” and she began to write . . .

I used to have three brothers but now I only have one.  one brother

I used to have three brothers but now I only have one. one brother

When she finished writing she went over to her one brother and gave him a hug.  And, then I hugged them both.

Second Star

February 18, 2014 at 11:14 pm | Posted in Grief, Jake, life lessons, Love, Sawyer, Time | 5 Comments
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When Jake died the hospital gave us a packet of information to take home.  I remember trying to read it through my tears and being unable to make out most of the words.  When I got to the page on “Ways to Honor Your Child” I got a tissue, wiped my eyes and read.  One of the ways was to name a star.  Before I knew it I was on the phone buying a star for Jake:

Jake's Star

Jake’s Star

The star date is his birthday and it is in the constellation of Leo (Jake’s zodiac sign).  We have the star certificate with all of Jake’s other belongings.  I think before now the only other person I told that I bought a star was Evan.  Buying the star made me feel a bit better for the moment.  It was something I could do for Jake.  Funny how time changes some things. . .

After Sawyer died I did not buy a star.  The thought of buying another star did not make me feel better.  Recently, I came across Jake’s star certificate and decided that I did want a star for Sawyer after all.

I tried to order it online and then finally called.  I wanted Sawyer’s star date to be his birthday, just like Jake’s.  The star registry only goes back 2 years – which meant 2012, 2013 or this year.  There is no 2009 option.  I chose this year  – for Sawyer’s 5th birthday.

Sibling rivalry is an issue at times in our house with the twins.  I will never know if Sawyer would be unhappy that Jake had a star and he did not but the second star bought to avoid any worries.  It made me feel a bit better and it was something I could do for Sawyer.

The unbirthday

November 20, 2013 at 10:22 pm | Posted in Grief, Sawyer | 7 Comments
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There are many ways to celebrate a deceased loved one’s birthday.  This year on Sawyer’s birthday I ran in a race in the morning.  One of my close friends suggested the idea.  I did not realize at the time that it was a 4 mile race benefiting Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta.  So, it was a 4 mile race on Sawyer’s 4th birthday benefiting the hospital where he died.  Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

After the race we went to lunch with the twins.  We had pie.  Not birthday cake.  The little girl at the table next to us asked me if we were having dessert because it was someone’s birthday.  I said, “Yes, but the birthday boy is not here.”

Next we went to the cemetery where Sawyer’s sister decorated and sang happy birthday.  It started to rain.  I was thankful that the raindrops hid my tears.

Evan was a bit cranky which is more than understandable when you should be celebrating with your 4-year-old son but instead you are going to the cemetery.

Evan holding Sawyer

Evan holding Sawyer

My broken heart was glad when the day was finally done (even though I know my arms will ache to hold Sawyer just as much tomorrow).


May 2, 2012 at 10:18 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life after loss, life lessons, normal?, twins | 23 Comments
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Aibileen, from The Help, whispers this quote in Mae Mobley’s ear every day so she will understand that she is special.  Are there words which I can whisper into my toddlers’ ears that will help them understand about their brothers?

The other day I was driving the twins and listening to their conversation.  They were discussing one of their friend’s new baby sister.  The conversation went something like this:

“We have babies too.”

“Our babies are not growing.”

“They are flowers.”

“Flowers grow.  So, our babies are growing.”

“Mama, what kind of flowers are Jake and Sawyer?”

A long silence from me.  I finally come up with, “want to go to the new playground?”

Burritos, Buddha & Baggage

September 30, 2011 at 11:20 pm | Posted in Grief, mourning, silver lining, twins | 7 Comments
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I have been trying to move past the fact that there may never be an answer to what caused Sawyer’s death.  It is hard to let go.  A moral from one of the twins’ books has been helping me with this process.  The twins’ great grandparents recently gave them a book call Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth.  Have you ever heard the Buddhist tale about the Monk with the Heavy Load?

One day two traveling monks reached a town and saw a young woman waiting to step out of her sedan chair. There were deep, muddy puddles and she couldn’t step across without getting mud on her silk robes. She impatiently scolded her attendants, who were carrying heavy packages.

The younger monk walked by the young woman without speaking. But the older monk stopped and picked her up on his back, carrying her across the mud. Not only did she not thank the monk, she shoved him out of her way when he put her down and scurried by him.

As the two monks continued on their way, the younger monk was brooding. After a long time, he finally spoke out. “That woman was so rude but you picked her up and carried her! She didn’t even thank you.”

“I set the woman down hours ago,” the older monk responded. “Why are you still carrying her?”

Letting go does not mean forgetting Sawyer or Jake.  It means moving forward.  It will not always be a straight path.  Luckily, I have some little monks with me on this journey.  Here they are in burrito pose (or more commonly known as shavasana):


Anniversaries (again)

September 10, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Posted in Death, father, Grief, mother, mourning, parents | 4 Comments
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The tragedy of 9/11 and its’ anniversary are kinds of grief.   It is of course, an enormous source of grief for all of the families and friends who lost loved ones.  It is also the kind of grief in which you realize that the world as you knew it will not ever be the same.

Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans the week that Jake passed away.   A very close friend of mine took her 5-year-old son in for his check up and the pediatrician found a rare heart condition.   My grandmother had died.  I felt like the world was coming to an end.   So, I asked the rabbi who presided at Jake’s funeral about the possibility that the world was ending.   He replied with an analogy.   He said that it is like when you decide you are going to buy a certain kind of car.   Once you make the decision you start seeing the car every where.   So, my take away from his explanation was now that I was grieving I would start to see grieving every where. . . Turns out you don’t have to look too far for grief in this world.   The record 7.0-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti shortly after Sawyer died.

I know that 9/11, where close to 3,000 people died; Hurricane Katrina, where 1,500-1,700 people died; and the earthquake in Haiti, where almost 230,000 people died are tremendous losses compared to the death of two babies.   But, those babies were mine.   And, my world will never be the same as it was before they had died.

There is not a contest for who has the most grief.   I am not trying to compare my losses to these catastrophic tragedies.   There are not any winners here.  In grief we have all lost.   However, there is still the next day and the day after that.  And one day, there is a point where we will realize that our loved ones are dead but we are still alive.

I posted the above last year at this time.  On the anniversary of 9/11 and every day, my heart, prayers and thoughts go out to not only the victims but to those who they left behind in this world. 

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