Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Christmas HOPE

It is Christmas night.  The presents have all been opened.  The dinner had been prepared and eaten.  The DIY addition projects are still underway, but that is never ending for now.  We are at the end of the day, after a long and wonderful, but always hard week.

The kids having spent all day playing with new toys and helping Daddy with construction stuff and I've spent most of the day doing some help on the house, a LOT of cleaning up Christmas carnage, and a decent amount of cooking to make a dinner special.  And like every other day of my life, I spent all day thinking about my Jameson.

Tomorrow marks eight years.  Eight years ago he died.  How could it already be eight years? How have we lived this long without him?

This season has been filled with distractions with the new puppy, and the house addition, and finishing up grad school, so I haven't been able to write or really process my feelings well now for a while. But now I'm done with grad school.  Holy buckets, that in and of itself is crazy and a whole different story. The short one is that I now have a masters in Pastoral Theology and plan to start an internship at the hospital next fall to become a hospital chaplain. The long story is a book, I'm afraid. Not one I'm sure I'm ready to write.  Ha.

But here I am and here we are together and it's Christmas.  Christ's birthday.  AMEN.

We went to midnight mass last night and it was a little bit of a train wreck. I had in my mind candles and full out orchestra and magic.  How it really went down was spending 30 minutes trying to wake up Hubs (who has only been sleeping like 3-4 hrs a night in order to finish DIY projects) and then get to church and have all three family members fall asleep during the mass.  I'm totally going to throw Hubs under the bus, because it was SO FUNNY.  At one point he fell asleep and woke up, but wasn't quite awake enough to know where he was...and it just happened to be at a very quiet part of the mass and he, quite loudly, exclaimed, "OH MY GOSH I"M SO TIRED" and I'm pretty sure the priest probably heard him.  Little Man and I were trying to not laugh loudly.  It was so funny.  Bless this mess that is my life.  Ha!

We are also living in Jumanji and losing.  Lord have mercy, my home is always a disaster of epic proportions, with insulation, and wiring, and new holes in the wall daily kind of madness.  If we all survive I'll be pleasantly surprised.  Especially the puppy.

So I suppose we have a little bit of excitement and drama going on, but overall, I can't even express my joy at life.  Everything is so magical and perfect and life is grand.  I think Jameson would be really happy to hear me say that. It's weird, to write that and think that -as if life after losing a child should ever be good.  But it is.  Its still a gift, even in the bittersweet pain of mourning that will never end, and really never could.  But I am happy, we are happy, and life is such a gift and we are so thankful for every second of it.

But damn.  He's still gone.

Today I am conflicted. Full of grace. Full of Joy.  Full of love. And also full of sadness and wistful longing for what might have been.  I miss my son.  And I want the life we should have had.  But I also want the life I already have and I don't know how that fits together, other than understanding that God's plan is always the best one, even if it kinda sucks in the short term.  I've learned how to grit my teeth in thanks in the short term, knowing the truth that later it will all be right.  But this still sucks, even eight years later.

The weather here has been amazing.  Sunny and dry, which truly feels like a Christmas miracle.  But tomorrow the rain comes back and it feel just right.  As if the whole world is in mourning with me.  Tomorrow morning we say goodbye to Jameson once again.  And we all feel the sting of the heartbreak and pain just a strongly as it was eight years ago.  But we also feel the hope for what is to come.

We look forward to the day we will see him again. And we see the connection of today with tomorrow so profoundly.   Therefore, today, this day of Christ's birth, we acknowledge our pain and our longing in light of the cross.  And we celebrate this day of Christ's birth all the more joyfully, knowing how much it changes tomorrow.  We have sadness tomorrow, but HOPE for eternity.


Saturday, September 15, 2018

Eleven

Oh Jameson, how are you already 11?  My sweet boy.



I miss you with all of my heart and soul.  I've been watching a slide show of all of my favorite pictures from your life and they make me so happy. 

But also, oh the heartache, because we are missing 8 years of pictures and memories and time. 

Some of my favorite pictures of you are with your brother and your doggies.  Oh how you loved your doggies.  I remember so many times at the table hearing you giggle and looking over to see you had shoved your hands into your yogurt up to your wrists and then were letting the dogs lick it off you.  Farkie and Flick just loved hanging out with you at the table.  Ha!  It gives me so much joy to think about how much fun your are having with them in heaven, even though we miss all three of you so much here! 

We aren't getting balloons this year to celebrate your birthday.  And the dinosaurs are all packed up.  This year, we are adopting a puppy on your birthday.  I can't imagine a gift you would have loved more.   And of course we'll have cake to celebrate 11 years of Jameson! 

Even though you were only here for three years, you, my boy, have profoundly left your mark on this world and we will always celebrate our J Day.  Happy Birthday Jameson.  I hope 11 is grand. 

All my love,
Mom

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Hello Again

Oh my goodness, it has been eons since I've last written here.

I was trying to think about how to write a short update on life, since its been quite the adventure lately, but I'm not sure how short it can be.  But I'll try.  So we moved.  Hubs got a job way up north and we finished the home improvement projects, sold our house, packed up a moving truck and moved into a tiny, not-so-great apartment and house hunted.  And then we moved into a tiny house, but not a #tinyhouse, if you know what I mean.  We basically bought heaven on earth, but it needs a little adding on so the kids have things like bedrooms.  And Hubs loves his job.  And Little Lady started FULL DAY kindergarten (can I get an AMEN?), and Little Man is now in middle school, God help me.  And holy buckets, life is so good.  I have this amazing thing called alone time every day.  Its incredible.  I've been using it to hike and bike and explore.  And try to squeeze full-time grad school into that, too.  I'm a procrastinator, so that isn't going quite as well as it should, but it'll be fine.  I hope.  So here's the new view from the front door.  Heaven on earth. 





My tiny house isn't really that tiny and it has an amazing kitchen.  I've been cooking a lot and will try to put some more food posts here if I get my act together.  Here's a few pictures that are especially fantastic owing to that whole we-moved-to-paradise-thing. 





I am still missing my boy every second of every day.  We are coming up on seven years.  And I still get the aches and pains and extra dark days from Aug-Jan as my body and mind grieve his illness and death.  Its been a little better this year.  Partly because I'm taking better care of myself.  I'm exercising more and sleeping more and my stress levels are way down.  But my boy is still gone and the scars in my heart still ache for him. 

And we are still in the Newbie stage and meeting everyone and everyone always asks how many kids I have and I still fumble over that question.  It's a thorn in my side that I think I just need to learn to live with. I feel like no matter what I say, it will never be the right answer.  And I know everyone means well, but I'm just so tired of people finding out and only ever asking about his death.  Can we please stop focusing on the worst part of my life and maybe talk about his life instead? 

I get it, I really do.  And I'm sure I'm guilty of it too.  We all want to hear about the phoenix rising from the ashes, how people survive tragedy and continue to live; its inspirational and its a testimony of my life and faith.  And I've been writing about it for years.  But its also the darkest and most painful part of my entire existence.  It would just be so nice for someone to ask me to tell them about Jameson's life instead of asking me about his death. 

Arg, I opened the floodgates but I don't have time for it right now owing to that whole procrastination thing with grad school.  I have to write a paper before Little Lady gets off the bus. But I think I'll be back soon.  It feels good to write again.

Friday, September 15, 2017

Ten

We've been having glitchy and bad internet connections since we moved into our house and I'm not able to update the blog well, but today is Jameson's 10th birthday!
Happy Birthday, my boy!
We are going to make a chocolate cake, because the kid knew what was important in life.
Jameson, we love you and miss you and hope you have a marvelous birthday in heaven!


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Nine

Happy Birthday Jameson!



You would be nine today.


It's been six years since we were able to celebrate with you here, and even then, it was in the PICU, with ECMO and it was so much fear and exhaustion and anxiety and heart-ache.  That year, when you were three, we had such a great party planned for you.  Dinosaurs.  Everything was going to be dinosaurs.  You were totally into dinos.

But now you are nine and its been a whole lifetime since I've seen you and known you.  And I'm clinging to what I knew because I don't know what else to do.  So I've got a dinosaur tablecloth spread across the kitchen table in your honor, J, and later this morning Little Lady and I will go and get the dinosaur balloons.  And we are making chocolate pudding cake.

We are going to hold on to your memory a little tighter today, when we all wish we were holding on to you, my boy.  I dream of what it could have been, what it should have been like.  How I'd take your picture in front of the blue door to show how blue those beautiful eyes are.  And your fiery red hair would flame in the sun.  And when you smile, your laughter would fill the sky with joy.   

I reach to hear your laughter as I take the picture, but it is not you in your nine year old glory, but the faint memory of your laugh when you were two, because there were no more laughs after that.  Not here, at least.



I know this looking back and dreaming on what should have been is no good.  But some days the longing for you and the life we dreamed of just pulls me in.  Oh if only.  If only.

I know that looking forward to what will be is better.  And even though you were only three when we last got to sing Happy Birthday to you on this earth, I do not despair that it is over.  Someday I'll see you again.  And I will get to know you again and hold you again and sing to you again and I will never have to say goodbye ever again.  

"We will not lose heart.  Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.  For this slight momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all measure, because we look not at what can been seen but what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal." 2 Cor 4.16-18

Happy Birthday, Jameson.  I miss you with all of my heart and looked forward to the day we walk together with Jesus. 




Monday, May 16, 2016

Double digits

So it's been a little while.

I'm not sure why either.  Partly because school, work, kids, residency, life.  Partly because I've felt a little silent.  Or maybe just exhausted.  The class that I started taking in January was pretty brutal, plus I started working full-time.  I think between the homework and writing for school and the 445 a wakeups with the go, go, go all day long life just wipes me out.  I think for a long while, I was treading water, if you will, just trying to stay afloat.  But Mother's Day was just over a week ago and the scars cracked open a bit.  I've spent a lot of time reflecting on life and grief and happiness and hope and how it all ties together to make this beautiful, broken existence.

It's dreary and a little bit foggy this morning as I write.  We've had a really warm and dry spring lately and yesterday was a day of slow, calm drizzle.  It was a welcome change, the rain.  Now its starting to dry out and the birds are singing and the world outside my window is green.  Deep, dark evergreen, bright, electric spring green.  And everything in between.  The big leaf maple outside my back door is already sporting leaves bigger than my head and there are three little peppers ripening on the plant in my front yard.  As the seasons change from spring to summer and the rhythm of our life shifts to later nights and lazier mornings and most of life happening out of doors, the memories and experiences also shift. In a way, a part of me is frozen in that last year we had with Jameson.  I see it even with the seasonal shifts.  This is the kicking off the last summer of shiny in our lives.  May-August of that year was amazing.  It's so good to remember.  It inspires me to keep carpe dieming the crap out of life, too.

Not only does this seasonal shift have me feeling all nostalgic, but this week, my Little Man hits double digits.  He's not so little anymore.  And I've been a mom for a cool decade now.  How did that happen?  He's my whole heart all bundled up into a boy and I can't even begin to say what he means to me without swelling with so much love I might burst and die just thinking about it.  And he turns ten, which seems so big and round and momentous.

He's ten and she's just a little over four and exactly the same age he was when his brother got sick.  I look at Little Lady and think she seems so young; all of my memories of Little Man at that age are all so big and he seemed so much more grown up in my memories.  But I suppose that happens when life get all crazy like it did.  It's overwhelming, though, to see her and remember him and the whole lost year where we were so lost and gone and he was lost and everything was big and scary and chaotic and then quiet and sad and lonely.  And I wish I could go back and just hold him and protect him and let him be as little as he should have been able to be.

And he's ten.  And I'm going to blink and he'll be eighteen, so, really, I should just never blink ever again, I suppose.  It's so cliche, but annoyingly true how fast it goes by.  And you never believe it when they are little and you are in the throes of spit up and poopy diapers and fatigue and the whining and the fantasies change from exotic beach vacations with umbrella drinks and naps in the sun to really, just being able to pee alone and take five minutes without feeling guilty.  But its so true, that it flies by.  And all of a sudden, they are big and independent and it's a little startling how you can just blink and have a ten year old.

Luckily, he's still only ten.  Ad really, nine for a few more days.  And he still needs me to wake him up and pack his lunch and he still wants to snuggle on the couch and read together, even if it happens a little fewer and farther between.  He has such a big heart and I'm so glad he's mine.  And I'd love to keep writing, but I have to go wake him up for the THIRD time so we aren't too late to school.  Already acting like a teenager....


Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas

It's Christmas week and it's impossible as always.  All these feelings.  Plus a giant paper that I've been putting off for almost a month.  Grad school deadlines may be the death of me.  I've got til NYE.  I've got Little Man working on some homework.  Little Lady snuck the Nativity under the table and is playing with Baby Jesus.  And before you go and think about how cute she is, I'm hearing talk that Baby Jesus has lava coming out of his butt.  Almost four and the potty talk is off the hook.  So Merry Christmas and pass the Pepto. Sigh. 

Last week was our big family vacation week.  And in true family fashion, Hubs had pneumonia and sinusitis and the rest of us had colds and we were all just a big hot mess.   So instead of going on a trip to see the ocean and big trees, we had a staycation and our goal was to eat out at least once a day and do something fun everyday.  And sleep in and nap a lot.  So that's what we did.  It was pretty nice too.  It was actually really nice, because the pressure was off, we relaxed a lot and we had some good food.  We also saw Star Wars and loved it, so there you go.  I'm calling it a win.

But now here we are and its that week.  The one that is merry and bright and happy and festive and filled with cheer.  Except not so much.  Because five years ago we were in the PICU with our Jameson, waiting for him to die, knowing that there was nothing else we could do, except still pray for that miracle and try to keep our boy out of pain.  And I'm still right there, five years later this week.  Watching his body betray him, watching everything spiral down, trying to remain hopeful in the face of despair.

Part of me doesn't mind being stuck there.  Its sounds bad to write that...like I'm being dramatic on purpose or something, but this was the last week of my son's life.  Even though it was horrific, he was still here and I miss him so much.  As bad as that was, living, continuing to be without him here, sometimes that feels worse.

It's hard enough on normal days and Christmas isn't close to normal.  Christmas is extraordinary.  Christmas is magic and happiness and childhood warm and fuzzies.  It's the birth of our Savior, the birth of hope in this broken world.  It's love, unconditionally given, all wrapped up into one day.  It is presents and rice pudding and crab legs.  It is staying up too late and twinkle lights and Midnight Mass.  Candles and chocolates.  Cookies with sprinkles.  Cousins and Grandmas and special traditions.

Except that it is a lot more than those things now for me.  For me it is also sadness, grief and death.  It is cold and loud and overwhelming.  And when I want nothing more than to run away to someplace warm and quiet and undecorated, I try to think about what it used to be.  And then I try to make that happen for my kids.  But it is a struggle at times.

And I certainly still have special moments that I love about this season.  The whole celebration of Advent and really focusing on Christ's birth has truly become the joy of Christmas for me.  This is a beautiful thing.  I love passing this on to my kids, too.  We light the candle and read the Advent book.  And we try to do everything else so they can have the warm and fuzzy memories, too.  We bake cookies and wrap presents and sing carols.  We will see Peacock Lane and the Christmas Ships (if we can get our acts together this week.)  There will be Midnight Mass and more presents than they imagined and rice pudding and crab.  We will stay up late and eat chocolate.  And I love the idea that even though this season is a strain for me, I'm still making it magical for them.

But the 26th always comes after the 25th of December and Christ's birth will forever be tied to Jameson's death for me.  In a way, this perceptive is amazing.  Hope is birthed the day before despair tries to overthrow everything.  And even though despair may win a battle or two along the way,  I already know the ending to this story.   And I have hope that can carry me through these dark and hard days.  “And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” Revelation 21.4.

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas.  May the birth of Christ truly be your light and hope in this world, as it is for me and mine.