Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Christmas in Heaven

My Dearest Baby Boy,
 
I love you so much. I have learned to live here and now in the present, but there is that piece of me that will always be with you. Christmas is hard. Instead of picking out flowers or a Christmas decoration for your grave, I should be wrapping hot wheels and dump trucks alongside Barbie dolls and Minnie Mouse. I long to see you chasing Audrey with your baby sister and fighting over who gets to sit in Momma's lap. Christmas is so exciting with your sisters, but at the same time, it is incredibly hard without you. I wish there was a grief blueprint to follow, but there isn't. To say it is at times confusing would be an understatement. Sometimes I don't know what I feel, but it feels good to just "feel". I love you. I miss you. I want you here. Merry Christmas Baby boy.
 
Love, Momma
 
Thank you to a new dear friend for sharing this video:
 
 
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Monday, December 15, 2014

Love Wildly

This past weekend I had the privilege of attending Love Wildly in Kansas City.
 
Here is the first thing I learned. Sometimes you don't realize how much you needed something until you have it.
 
The fellowship with these incredible women. The friendship. The vulnerability. The love. I needed it all and I didn't even know it.
 
When Barrett died, I built up walls. Strong concrete walls. These walls have held my emotions for two years. I cried so much after he died, that I started the process of constructing these walls. I constructed them with shame, fear, loss, and pain and then I held them together with guilt.
 
Those are powerful building tools if you allow them to be, and that's just what I had done.
 
And along with those walls came shame. Because there were times that I wanted to show emotion, but those walls held them in tightly, and I was ashamed that I looked fine when inside I was screaming. I was ashamed that I was sad on the inside at times but on the outside I seemed unaffected.
 
And the guilt. Oh the guilt. There is so much of it.
 
I feel guilty so often because I feel like I don't love my son enough because I don't get to show my love for him in the same ways as my daughters. Even though I love him with all of my heart. His sister was conceived before his due date and I battle the sentiment of "if he were here she wouldn't be". I know that's probably true, but please don't tell me. I love my rainbow girl more than I could ever put into words. She is more than my daughter. She is my proof that good endings exist when my view of the world was shattered. She was my hope when all I longed for was to give up. When I was fighting the stormy waves searching for shore, she was the light Jesus shone to lead me back. She taught me the true significance of the rainbow.
 
But I hate the sentiment that I traded my son for my daughter. That I traded pain for hope. That I traded the storm for the calm. I didn't. I wasn't given a choice. There was no trade. My son was given, then he was taken. My daughter was allowed to stay. The sentiment of a trade throws guilt over my shoulders that is so heavy I feel like Wiley Coyote when an anvil falls on his head. It's heavy, it hits quickly, and I can't stop it.
 
I feel guilty that I get so caught up in life sometimes that I don't speak his name as often as I would like to. I feel guilty that life gets so busy that I don't visit his grave as often as I would like. Guilt comes knocking at my door, and it comes carrying a bag of shame to tell me that I am not worthy of being Barrett's mother; that I am not worthy of the precious gift I was given.
 
And I harbored all of this guilt and shame for two years. This weekend wasn't a fairy godmother's wand. They didn't just disappear. But this weekend gave the tools and power to say "You're wrong. I am worthy of this gift".  
 
I don't usually struggle with words, but trying to put what this weekend was into a simple blog post is an impossible task. I do hope to give you a taste of it.
 
The group of women who attended this event are extraordinary. Along with all of the ones who wanted to be there but weren't able to for different reasons. I hope to meet each of you one day as well.
 
This weekend I found some healing that I didn't know I needed. As I took the time to allow myself to be vulnerable to feelings and emotions, I discovered that when Cathleen came along, I put my healing on hold in order to survive the emotions of the pregnancy after loss. I spent all of my energy going through the motions so I didn't just collapse.
 
So this weekend I was able to walk back to that. I took some of that spent up energy and put it back towards walking my healing journey as a bereaved mother. I don't need to go through the motions; but I do need to allow myself to heal.
 
You don't ever "get over" (what does that even mean?) losing a child, but I was still stuck in my grief stage of 4 months after his death. While on the outside I may have appeared to heal, I haven't. I was simply hiding behind those walls of shame and fear and pain and guilt.
 
This weekend they came down. And I cried for the first time since shortly after Barrett died.
 
Who knew that crying could be so scary? But it was. I was petrified. I was more scared of that than revealing any other part of myself. I was scared of feeling again.
 
But feeling isn't always bad. When you block off the feelings of hurt, and pain, and grief, you block off the wonderful feelings of love, and friendship, and healing as well.
 
This weekend, while I was surrounded by these extraordinary women, I was surrounded by so much more.
 
I was surrounded by beauty. Each of them carries their beauty in their own unique way, both inside and out, and that is an incredible thing.
 
I was surrounded by courage. These women shared themselves with me, with each other. They shared things, that maybe they had never shared before. They shared their stories, their hopes, their fears, their joy, their pain, their precious babies, and themselves. There was the courage of the women who knew they needed help in their journey, and they reached out for it. They pushed aside the feelings of "I'm not worthy of their help" and "I'm not worthy of their love" and let someone love them. The courage was overwhelming.
 
I was surrounded by strength. Even when they don't feel strong, it is there. The group of women at Love Wildly have buried their children. Some have buried their future children. We have all buried our dreams, our hopes, and a huge part of our hearts and ourselves with those precious lost lives.
 
I was surrounded by love. Love Wildly wasn't just the name of the event. There was so much love that you couldn't help but feel it. Love for each other, love for our babies, and the hardest one--love for ourselves.
 
Along with the love, came support. Inspiring support. There were times I was overcome with emotions as I would turn and see mothers having a one on one moment. To realize that one, in all of the busyness, noticed that the other needed a helping hand in that moment; a hug, a cry, a friend. And they pushed aside any possible fears of rejection or "What do I say" and they acted.
 
It isn't all sunshine all the time. Fear and pain also made their presence known because they become a part of you after losing a child. But the truth that "that's ok" was there too.
 
It was a weekend I will never forget. And I love that. I don't want to forget. I want to carry the truths from the weekend with me always. I want to carry these ladies with me always.
 
Their friendship is a true treasure; a blessing.
 
Love Wildly ladies. You are loved. You are worthy of that love.
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