Thank you Jake

August 12, 2012 at 9:52 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, twins, why I write | 12 Comments
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“If there ever comes a day when we can’t be together
keep me in your heart, I’ll stay there forever.”

Winnie the Pooh,  A. A. Milne

Dear Jake,
It was 7 years ago today when I was admitted to the hospital.  The doctors said there was no other option.  You were not ready for this world.  I suppose the world was not ready for you.  Your dad and I were terrified when the doctor told us my contractions were 3 minutes apart.  I could not believe at 26 weeks it could possibly be real.  I did truly believe you would live.  You held on for 2 more days before we actually got to meet you.

I still cannot understand how it is 7 years later.  I do not need a calendar to tell me the time of year.   My tears are much closer to the surface.  The lump in my throat is back.  My irritation and impatience have also risen just below my skin.  My nerves are so raw.  I wish to lock myself away so that I do not snap.  I already have apologized to your daddy.   If only just for a few moments I could be with you and your littlest brother.  I know that it is not possible.  However, this time of year I frequently seem to find myself back on the island of denial.

Your Yahrzeit was this weekend.   (The Yahrzeit falls annually on the Hebrew date of the deceased relative’s death according to the Jewish calendar as opposed to the secular calendar.)  Your dad and I lit a Yahrzeit candle for you.

You have 2 new cousins!  Welcome to the world Eli and Owen!!  I wish you could meet them.  You probably already know this but your sister asked if she could have one of the babies.  She desperately wants a baby brother.  She talks about you and Sawyer almost every day.  This morning she brought me two blankets she found for each of you.  She is so sweet and thoughtful.  I am trying my best to keep it together.

Thank you for chosing us as your parents.  Thank you for the time you were able to spend with us.  Thank you for sending us your baby brother and sister.  They are shielding us from all the rain.

I miss you so much.  I love you to the moon and back baby boy.  I will look for you in my dreams.

It is complicated

August 8, 2012 at 9:26 pm | Posted in after death?, Grief, life after loss, Love, normal? | 10 Comments
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It is complicated to explain.  Or maybe it is not.  The twins are doing and will continue to do things that Jake and Sawyer never did and never will.  This is a fact.  A bittersweet part of our lives.

There will be no first days and no last days.  And nothing in between.  Sometimes I play the pointless “What if” game.  What if there were more time with Jake and with Sawyer?

I just read True Compass: A Memoir by Ted Kennedy.  He included a letter his father Joseph Kennedy Sr. wrote to a friend whose son had just died:

Dear Jack,
There are no words to dispel your feelings at this time, and there is no time that will ever dispel them. Nor is it any easier the second time than it was the first.

And yet I cannot share your grief, because no one could share mine. When one of your children goes out of your life, you think of what he might have done with a few more years and you wonder what you are going to do with the rest of yours.

You never really accept it; you just go through the motions. Then one day, because there is a world to be lived in, you find yourself a part of it again, trying to accomplish something–something that he did not have time enough to do. And, perhaps, that is the reason for it all.  I hope so.

Sincerely, Joe

I hope so too.

Birthday Wishes

July 30, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, silver lining, twins, why I write | 9 Comments
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Happy Birthday!

As I wrote last year on your 4th birthday I am so very thankful for you two.   I am sorry that I did not take you to see your brothers on your birthday.  I just could not this weekend.  I promise that I will very soon.  Then I will take you out for ice cream (thank you Daphne for the brilliant suggestion).

I wish that you had a chance to know your brothers.  I wish that I did not have to explain death to you at such an early age.  I wish that some of your first sentences did not include “don’t cry mama.”

I wish I could find a picture of you from your 3rd birthday.  I will confess to you now that we almost did not have a party for you that year.  After Sawyer died the thought of planning a party was so daunting.  We realized that you no matter how sad we were you 2 deserve happiness (and a birthday party).  We did plan it and if I remember correctly we sent out the invitation the week before.  You both had a great time.  I just wish that 2010 was not such a blur of grief.

I wish that I could have protected you from my dark days.  I wish that you will always know how much sunshine you both bring to me.

I wish that you will continue to look for rainbows where ever you both go and that I can go with you.  And hug you both tightly.  Love you both to the moon and back.

Boy with the dragon tattoo & his sister

July 26, 2012 at 10:57 pm | Posted in Cemetery, Grief, life lessons, normal? | 9 Comments
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Thank you for all the well wishes.  The cast has not slowed him down one bit.

Here he is with his toy green teeth chasing the girl with the butterfly tattoo around the house.

Ok, the cast did eventually tire him out. . .

Blue casts can really weigh a boy down

Now that he stopped chasing her she was free to accessorize a bit more.

Tattoo, a Crown & a Ring
What could be better?

They are making the most out of their last days as 4 year olds.  She caught me off guard yesterday when she asked, “Will you take us to go see Sawyer and Jake for our birthday?”

“Yes, sure.  Why?’ I responded while trying to figure out what happened that made a visit to the cemetery pop into her toddler brain. 

“I love them.  You don’t take us to see them often enough.”

She is right.  I have not taken them to see Sawyer and Jake since the spring when she carefully arranged stones for her brothers.  Over the past 5 years Evan and I have made the decisions about when and when not to bring the twins to the cemetery.  Now that they have their own opinions I did not imagine we would be discussing trips to the cemetery.

“In the book of life, the answers aren’t in the back.”  – – Charlie Brown

The boy with the dragon tattoo (and the blue cast)

July 22, 2012 at 8:36 pm | Posted in life after loss, normal? | 8 Comments
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Thursday I was at work and saw that I missed a call from the twin’s camp.  One of the twins had fallen.  If I had placed a bet it would have been on her. Her mind has always raced far ahead of her body which often causes her to fall.  However, I was wrong.

Here he is before getting an x-ray.  If you look very closely at his hand you can see that it has a dragon tattoo.  Well at least most of a dragon tattoo.  Putting on those temporary tattoos in not one of my strong points.  They somehow are always missing part of the tattoo – in this case it is a dragon body with not so much of a dragon head.

The x-ray showed a small fracture.  Now the headless dragon is covered up by a blue cast. . .

Wonder what the dragon will look like in few weeks?

Sibling Rivalry?

July 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, normal? | 14 Comments
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On any given day our twins will be arguing over who is “bigger”.  She is 3-4 inches taller.   He is 1 minute older.  I have explained these facts over and over again.  So technically they are both right.  However, in their 4-year-old (almost 5) minds this is not a satisfactory solution.  I am not sure why but I continue to feel the need to unsuccessfully rationalize with them.  Sibling rivalry at its finest.

The other day I was driving.  The twins were in their seats in the back.   It had not been a particularly good day.  There had been arguing between the 2 of them.  There had been time outs (or as it is known in our house, “the zone”). All seemed to have calmed down as I drove along until the question was asked.  I have always known this question would be asked one day but somehow I was not prepared.

“Do you love Jake and Sawyer more?”

Silence.

“Mama, who do you love the most?”

More silence.

I realized that if I did not answer quickly this line of questioning would continue possibly forever.  In case you did not know, 4 almost 5-year-olds can be very persistent.

“I love you all the same.  I just miss Jake and Sawyer more.  I can not hug them the way I hug you both.”

Cora’s Story & Compromise

June 22, 2012 at 2:02 pm | Posted in CHD, Grief, Love | 7 Comments
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Cora’s Story:

Cora was a full term healthy baby girl born on November 30.   The pregnancy, birth and delivery were all uneventful.  Cora’s Apgars were both 9s.  She died on December 6 while breastfeeding in her mother’s arms.  After her death, Cora was diagnosed with a congenital heart defect (CHD).

Her mother, Kristine, created a non-profit which is spreading CHD research, resources and information in memory of Cora.  CHD is actually the most common birth defect – it occurs in 1 out of 100 births.  There is no cure but early detection is sometimes possible with a pulse ox screening.  Screenings are a low-cost, noninvasive way to potentially detect CHD.

Cora’s mom is also advocating for every baby to receive a heart screening at birth.  Cora might not physically be with us now but as her mom writes so eloquently, “Cora is saving lives now.”

Cora and Sawyer were born in the same month of the same year.  They both died that year too.  Sawyer’s preliminary reports also indicated an issue with his heart.  We still do not know exactly what happened to Sawyer but I know that I wish he had received a heart screening at birth.  Thank you Kristine for sharing Cora with the world.  She is truly saving lives.

Compromise:

She really wanted to go swim in the pool.  He really wanted to play pretend at home.  After a lot of pleading, crying and whining they finally reached a happy compromise.

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Molly Bears and Mixed Blessings

June 16, 2012 at 7:48 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss, normal?, silver lining, Time, twins | 6 Comments
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Mixed Blessings:

The twins have finished another year of preschool.  This is what I want.  I want them to be healthy.  They should grow up, unlike their brothers who are frozen in time.  So why do I have such mixed emotions as yet another year flies by?   There is so much to look forward to as the twins get older.   Is it the fact that there is nothing to look forward to for Jake and Sawyer?  Or, is it because the twins might be leaving preschool behind and starting kindergarten?

Which brings me to reason #2 I am a mixed-up mom at the moment.  The twins’ birthday is 8 days before school here starts.  They will be among the youngest in their class.  Many of the neighborhood children who I thought would be starting kindergarten with them are going to another year of preschool (or pre kindergarten).    Evan and I have a few options for the twins.  Whatever we decide will work for our family.   In the meantime, I will keep repeating the words of my therapist or Buddha (or maybe both. . .) “everything is exactly the way it should be right now.”

Molly Bears:

Molly Christine died at 34 weeks, on May 30th 2010.  A high school friend gave her parents a weighted teddy bear.  Molly’s mom added rice to the bear so that it was the exact weight of Molly at her time of death/birth.   While nothing will replace Molly it helped her mother to hold the teddy bear.  Her mother began to make Molly Bears for other bereaved parents.  They have received over a thousand orders and so far have created hundreds of bears. Molly Bears are now with families in all 50 states and 13 countries.

Evan and I ordered bears for Jake and Sawyer.  We are looking forward to holding them in our arms.

Right Where I am: 6 years, 9 months, 2 weeks and 2 years, 5 months and 2 weeks

June 10, 2012 at 5:52 pm | Posted in Grief, life lessons, Love, normal? | 11 Comments
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I am joining still life with circles for right where I amAngie started this project last year.  She asked other bereaved parents to write about where they were in their grief.

Am I 6 years, 9 months, 2 weeks from the last time I held Jake?  Or, 2 years, 5 months and 2 weeks from the last time I saw Sawyer alive?  (or I suppose it could even be the 2 or so months since the miscarriage).  To be honest, I do not know where I am except right here.

I no longer cry every day.  However, there is not a day which goes by that I do not think of them.   Now I am answering bittersweet questions and telling their brother and sister about them.

My arms no longer constantly ache to hold them.  However, the moments when they do ache are still so sharp and real.   I hug their siblings just a bit tighter.

I can now talk about Jake and Sawyer without the lump in my throat threatening to choke me.  However, the sadness and lost dreams are still there.   Now they are part of me.

Just like the early days of this journey of grief I take it all one day at a time.  I breathe.  I put one foot in front of the other.  I stay really busy.   I try to be the best mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend and person that I can be.  I do not always succeed.  Sometimes I cry and the days are dark.  I try to hope.  I look for rainbows.  I love and miss my 2 little boys.   I live.

Wish for Wendy, Wings & WTMI

June 4, 2012 at 9:46 pm | Posted in Grief, life after loss, silver lining, twins | 8 Comments
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Way Too Much Information:

We were at the pool the other day and I put our things down on a chair beside a woman with her newborn baby.

Our daughter quickly turned to the woman and with a big smile said, “I really like your baby.”

“Thank you!  How old are you?” responded the very new mother.

“4 and 3/4 . So is my brother – we are twins.  We had 2 babies too but they are dead.”  She shrugged her shoulders and ran off towards the pool.

Silence.  How many times can an already broken heart be broken again?  I shrugged my shoulders and ran after her.

Wings:

Wish for Wendy:

Andy Lipman never met his older sister Wendy. She died when she was 16 days old from complications from cystic fibrosis.  Andy was born 3 years later, also with cystic fibrosis.

I have written about Cystic fibrosis (CF) in previous postsCharlie, one of my brother’s closest friends, lived over 26 years longer than doctors had originally predicted.  CF is an inherited, chronic disease that affects the lungs and digestive system of about 30,000 individuals in the United States, and 70,000 people worldwide. In the 1950s, few children with cystic fibrosis lived to attend elementary school.  Today, advances in research and medical care have enhanced and extended the lives of children and adults with CF.  While Andy’s prognosis in 1973 projected that he would not live to become a teen, Andy is an active adult and sports enthusiast with two young children.

In August of 2006 Andy and his family founded the Wish for Wendy Foundation, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing awareness about living with cystic fibrosis and supporting efforts to find a cure.

As I previously mentioned, I have decided that I am going to add a feature to this blog which focuses on families who are making the world a better place by honoring the memory and lives of their children. If you know of or come across any organizations that would be worth mentioning please let me know.

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