Thursday, June 27, 2013

My Birthday Background and My Birthday Wish- (part one)

July 2, 1989, I made a wish. 
July 2, 2005, I made a wish.

My birthday background and my birthday wish...(part one)

July 3, 1989, my 15th birthday!  The day I was going to the DMV to get my driver's license!  Oh yeah!  

I had the perfect outfit, a great shade of lip gloss, my hair was ready, my face was smooth...yep, it was going to be a great day to take that long awaited photo in front of that blue screen!  

I was ready!  My worst fear for that day was that I would fail to yield like sister did when she took her driving test.  (sorry, sis!)  

That fear rapidly faded because I never made it to the DMV that day... instead I stood in dead silence at the hospital as my brother held his lifeless son and sang to the both of us "Happy Birthday..."

My 15th birthday was the day Christopher Lloyd Clark would enter and leave this world.  Christopher was born still...

I was prepared to get my driver's license, but not prepared for this.

No one was.

Sad, it was so sad. Unexpected, it was so unexpected.

As a teenager I was so focused on myself and shoes and driving but I knew that day it had all just changed...I just didn't realize how much.  

I cannot even remember when I got my driver's license after that but I remember the day that I didn't get it very well.    

I was uncomfortable receiving a "Happy Birthday" on my birthday (those that followed) when my brother's baby was not.

How was I to adjust to this for the rest of my life?  How would I celebrate my birth without remembering his death?

How would my brother?  How could I eat cake while his son could not?  

Finding the balance of being okay to celebrate my birthday again was hard after Christopher died.  I am not really sure how successful I ever was with that though I tried.  

My memory is vague as to when I actually started having "Happy" Birthdays again...but I do remember when they stopped permanently...July 2, 2005, the day before my 31st birthday.

This would be the day that my baby boy would die.

July 3rd, 2005, on life support, while my baby was in a morgue, I turned 31 years old.

Sixteen years minus one day from the day my brother's son passed away, Matthew died.  

July 2, 2005, had Christopher lived, he would have been getting ready for his visit to the DMV.  

No one would  be going to the DMV and I wouldn't be blowing candles out again...

Eight years later, here I am still, while Matthew and Christopher remain buried just a few feet away from each other.  I am here with these two days weighing heavy on my heart, always.  

Surrounded by memories of loss and feeling very sad about my birthday.  I am so tired of being sad about my birthday.  

My birthday comes with such tragic memories for our families and it has since 1989...that is a long, long time.

I don't want cake...I don't want gifts...

But I do want a "Happy" Birthday...

I am determined to make it different this year.

I am choosing to make it different this year.  

I am determined to smile more than cry and I am determined to find the "happy" in my birthday...for Christopher, for Matthew and for myself.

My wish for my 15th birthday was for my nephew to be born on my birthday, yes that was my 15th birthday wish.  It came true...hauntingly true.

My wish for my 31st birthday was to have Matthew while I was still 30 years old, yes that was my birthday wish. It came true...hauntingly true.

I quit making wishes, for there is so much pain in the very words I spoke for my 15th and 31st birthdays.  So very much pain.

Today I courageously use that pain to make a wish.  A wish that has the potential to make someone smile instead of cry...and I will be the first to say that someone could and probably will be me!  

I need YOUR help!

That's why I am here today giving you this background in hopes that it will help you understand why this wish is so important for me...

This wish that I will be posting here soon!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Rules and Fears for raising my kids after losing Matthew

So, I have had several messages sent to me today wanting to know if I was okay since I "ranted" a couple of days ago on my blog post...well, I am okay, thank you...but I was having a mama moment that tends to happen every now and then.  I tried to be as gracious as I could, perhaps more mama in me showed than grace, but it was a mama that simply misses her son and has some hard times on her hands and in her heart.  Writing and being real gives me that opportunity to not just give grace to others, but to show others I need it too.  This is all part of my life after loss...and these moments are just as real as the come to Jesus moments I have...please note, these moments lead me to those come to Jesus moments too!

So, perhaps the post was a tad uncharacteristic for my usual posts but it was real, honest and raw, just as I said it would be.

I am a human mama that has moments that get to me...and God is a big God sees that and understands that.  And with that, I am keeping it real... it's not all rainbows and butterflies.

But at the end  of the day, it's all God that molds me back together and gives me the humility to pick myself up and try again.

So here I am, trying again!

I ran across a blog that spoke directly to my heart for many reasons.  It is a must read for anyone that has lost a child!  Click here for the link.

I love the words Ann Voskamp shares as they also relate to my heart very much.  "I struggle with fear. I always have. And I have faced one of the most terrible things a parent can ever go through. But I don’t want those to be the deciding factors in how I mother my children."  

Wow, when I read those words, I stopped what I was doing, which ironically was telling my kids to be careful in the pool, and realized that this is exactly what I am doing!!!  (please read her blog post linked above, it is truly worth the read!)

This is why Ann's words went straight to my heart...I am letting the fear of losing Matthew determine how I parent my boys now.  In fear of losing them or something tragic happening to one or both of them.

I have a 13 year old son and a 6 year old very brave, I want to do everything that the teenagers do, son.  I have so many rules for them that is it quite ridiculous and I recognize that these rules are probably bigger than most rules because I also have a 7 year old in heaven.  These rules I have for them are are fears wrapped up in a different word for me.  I know that.

My boys are pretty typical boys that love adventure more than pizza.  Any chance to do some boy stuff and the door shuts as quickly as it opens with a "Bye Mom" that is interrupted by the slamming of the door.

Boy stuff isn't just about race tracks (inside race tracks) and Hot Wheel Cars anymore...oh is at an entirely new level!  Big flips in the pool, BB guns in the woods (not my 6 year old!), four wheeler riding in the trail, standing right on the edge of the pond to catch a fish while mama sits behind them saying "you are too close to the water, there could be a snake..."

You get the picture, right?

Last night they were outside with their dad riding their four wheelers.  This will come as no surprise, I am not a fan of four wheelers.  (shocker!) And four wheelers and living in the country are like ponds and fish.  Most of us have them.  The big smiles that accompany their helmets really make me smile, until I hear the engines start, then I am off into the house with music or the TV on loud so I don't hear the four wheelers.  That may sound terrible but that is the way it is.  No one is allowed to ride them until their daddy gets home and then when he is outside watching them, I recluse to the house to panic and pray until the engines turn off and all the helmets are being carried inside by my boys that are safe.

The boys are forever telling me "relax mom," "take a chill, mom," "it's going to be okay, mom."  and so on!

Oh and let's not forget about the foot long list I have for them when they go away to college sporting events, of course to see Ole Miss!  :)  Even when they go with their dad, I have the list...and they know it!  The list that includes the infamous don't ever go to the bathroom alone!  (go into the stall alone, but never to the bathroom alone)  There are creeps in those bathrooms and that is just one of my rules.  Period.  I will say that I won't budge on that one.

The boys do have so much fun and they get to experience so many things and I am super happy about that. And while they are experiencing all of the above and more, let's just say I talk to God a lot.

Why can I not just relax and let them be boys and have fun WITHOUT all of my worrying and my rules?  Why?

Because I am afraid of what could happen to them in an instant just like it happened to Matthew.

Before you think it, I know what the Bible says about fear...keep reading.

My oldest just walked out of the door to go fishing in our pond and he said before I even had to, "I know, I know, watch for snakes, I love you Mom." And out the door he went.  There's a country song "There Goes My Life" and I promise when I see these boys walking away from me, I see my heart going with them and my life all right there.

My family often jokes with me about being too concerned or worried about the boys.  I simply don't know how to be anything else.  I am on edge most of the time and I am pretty sure that isn't such a great place to view everything, especially since the boys are more adventurous than ever and they are growing up.

This is where it comes down to trusting God with the outcome of any and every situation, including my children.  Well, I did that and continue to do so, but as a mama who lost her son, that is a battle of the flesh  for me sometimes.  Keeping it real here, again. 

I am a Christian who loves Jesus more than anything in the world and that believes in Him with all of my heart.  I believe that I will be reunited with Matthew in heaven and I believe without hope of that I wouldn't be able to carry on.

With that said, one may wonder why the struggle with fear/ anxiety/worry over my kids?   I wish I could tell you how many times a day I give them to God and pray that He will calm my heart over anxiety of something tragic happening again.  And He does.  He gets me through that moment and I lean into the next.  I have to depend upon Him and I have learned that I cannot go one day without Him.

1 Peter 5:7 says Cast all your anxiety upon the Lord because He cares for you.  I repeat this verse many times and cast my anxieties and my fears every single day.  And if I am being completely honest, which I am, I cast my cares a lot during the day, not just once!  This keeps me grounded in my faith for those moments when I hear those engines start!  And so on!  I cast a lot!!!

Am I overprotective?  Um, yes.  I would have to say yes.  Does that make me a bad mom?  Um, no.  I would have to say no.  It just means that I know what it feels like to lose one child and I don't ever, ever want to know what it feels like to lose another.

SO Dear God, thank you for the grace that you  have given to me when I have crazy mama moments and thank you for helping me moment to moment, adventure to adventure, as these boys I have are growing up.  Thank you for helping me to to understand that as I try to relax more and loosen up the grip I have, that you our Father have them, tightly in your hands.  That dear God, is very important for me to know!

Thank you all for bearing with me in these times when grace is needed and appreciated in my life more than ever!

Love to all of you!

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Diagnosis, the worst possible

When something unexpected happens and the outcome is uncertain, I tend to diagnose it with the worst possible outcome.

I wish I didn't, but I do.

I mean what prompted me to start diagnosing my behavior tonight and also prompted this blog post was when the dog walked by, I saw a knot on the top of his head.  I had a slight freak out and then assumed he could have internal bleeding.  That is just how fast I went there too.  There was no happy-medium, if you will, of perhaps he just got a little bump on his noggin.  Nope, diagnosis, the worst possible.

Even as I am typing this, I have my eye on him.  He seems fine and is acting fine, why am I not fine?

I am not fine because I am sick of always going to the worst possible scenario when something happens.

I want that to stop.  First step is admitting it, right?

When one of my boys are sick, especially with fever, oh Lord, I can get a little carried away.  Is it the flu, strep, what is it?  Diagnosis, the worst possible.  Perhaps it is a cold, mama!  Yes most of the times it is a cold or a little stomach virus.  But I don't believe that until it is over.

When the fever breaks, I breathe.

My son is in Washington DC and the weather had been bad today, they are supposed to fly home tomorrow, I am already thinking about flight delays. has to stop.  

When I see someone that is pregnant going to deliver their baby all over social media, I think oh my word, she could not leave with her baby too.  It is hard to keep up with friends at the end of their pregnancies because I am too busy holding my breath diagnosing the worst possible.  Because that is what happened to me.

If I dig deep, which I am, I can find the answer is extremely obvious to me.  I diagnose the worst possible to guard my heart in case it really happens.
This goes back to losing Matthew.  

I never expected the worst possible and I had the biggest disappointment of my lifetime.  I wasn't expecting the worst possible, I didn't even know that could happen to me.

Naive, maybe.  Sometimes being naive sounds a lot better than knowing.  

But when I lost Matthew, I lost the innocence of that hope that I had in my heart!  The hope that I was bringing my baby home.  Instead, I brought him to the cemetery.

That changes things.

I am not sure where to go from here but I am going to try my very best to put my guard down so I can enjoy life a little better. I need to relax and realize God has all of it under control.  All of it.  And that there is not one thing that I am expecting or not expecting that God is not preparing me for.  I know that.

I believe that.  I just need to act on my faith more.

I am tired of the worst diagnosis theory, so tired of it.

I know why I do it, I don't want to be disappointed if the worst happens, so in some weird way I am subconsciously trying to prepare myself for it, as if that is even possible.

I wasn't prepared to lose my son.  I didn't expect the worst possible diagnosis, but that is what I got.  I don't ever want to feel that again.  I feel like if I prepare, so to speak, I will be better, but truth is, I probably wouldn't.  

Anyway, I am taking the steps that I can to transition my heart and my mind to think it's going to be okay when something unexpected happens instead of thinking that someone is going to die.

I am not sure if any of you can relate to this and it really is uncomfortable for me to admit it, but it is what it is.  It is part of what I am working through.  

As I look at the dog and see his little bump, I am going to say he is fine!  Just a little bump while holding my breath that he wakes up fine in the morning! 

This is what loss has done to me.  The reality that bad things do happen when I am not expecting them to.  So if I expect them to in the beginning, my thought process is perhaps I won't be so caught off guard if the worst happens again. (Yeah, right! Right?)

Crazy logic, perhaps, but my logic changed the day my son died.

My coping mechanisms took over and this is just the way I have rolled.  I am going to try and stop rolling like this now.  And with God's help, I believe I can succeed.

So here is to my boy flying home on time tomorrow, babies coming home from the hospital and the dog handling his little bump just fine!  Now if there is a fever... ;)  I think I am going to have to work on that one!

Love to all!

PS- the dog is fine, the plane was an hour late and the babies in my social network have been delivered and are fine...and everyone in my home is fever free! 

Monday, June 24, 2013

Dancing is not harder than childbirth...

Recently, I was watching an interview with a mother of four children and she said repeatedly that dancing (referring to a dancing competition she was in) was harder than giving birth to all of her children.  And then she said she should know because she did it.

Buckle up people and if you are sensitive, quit reading now.  For those of you that want to know my opinion on this topic, read on.

Wow, I thought, dancing is harder than giving birth?  That is a broad statement and one that was made by a mother who has probably never experienced loss at birth.  And that I would know because I did it.

And then I heard from another mother that she didn't sleep at all the night before and then she followed it by saying it was the worst thing ever.

This is where I give you the go ahead to quit reading if anything above offended you or hurt your feelings.  If not, read on.

Wow, I thought that is also a broad statement and also one that was made by a mother who had probably never experienced sleepless nights without one or more of her children.

A sleepless night with all your children, the worst thing ever?

Try (not just one) but many sleepless nights without one or more of your children.

That friends, is the worst thing ever.

I know that these mothers mentioned above probably do not know how the loss of a child feels and in no way do I ever wish for them to know this pain but with all due respect, there are many mothers that only wish that dancing was harder than childbirth, (me included) and there are many mothers that wish they didn't know the agony of a sleepless night without their child. (me included)

I am going to be real here for a hot minute and be so bold as to say when I read or hear things like this from a mother that has all of her children, my lip does curl up a bit...sometimes even a lot.

Mothers that compare dancing to childbirth cannot do so in the presence of a mother who compares the delivery room to a morgue.  It was time for me to change the channel.

Remember, I am keeping it real here.

Dancing is not harder than childbirth and one sleepless night with all of your children is not the worst thing ever.

That is all.

Sending big hugs to all of my mama friends that didn't dance today and that won't sleep tonight!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Bottom of the Rain

There are some moments in the day that I just feel crushed.  Some days contain many of these moments and sometimes those moments overtake the entire day.

It was raining yesterday and it became one of those moments where my heart hurt and my spirit felt crushed.  I didn't feel good and the rain added another layer to it all.

I usually love the rain, admiring the drops as they fall upon the trees and flowers, and listening to the frogs rejoice in the fresh puddles surrounding them.


But all I could think about were the puddles this rain was leaving behind.  We had so much rain the day before, we really didn't need anymore.

I turned my attention to the bottom of the rain...and I put myself there.  I felt like I was at the bottom of the rain, not in a storm, not in the rain, but at the bottom of the rain. In the mud.  In the puddle it was leaving behind.

I have never done that before.

I quickly started thinking that I better focus on the moment that the sun would come out again.

I thought this was going to be the perfect day for a rainbow, right?

I  just knew there was going to be a rainbow to shower me with hope at the end of this day.

Well, as the sun peered through the rain clouds, I anxiously opened my door and walked outside expecting a rainbow.

I went to the back of my rainbow.

I walked back in and waited for the rainbow.

I repeated this at least four times.

Finally, I shut the door and said there's not going to be a rainbow today.

With a pout, I decided I wasn't going back out to check and I closed the curtain too.

The moment I closed the curtain, I felt really bad.

I had a horrible attitude and this was not going to make my crushed spirit any better.

Where had my hope gone?

Was it contingent upon seeing a rainbow?

Yes, yes it was.

And I know better.

I opened the door again and walked on my back porch, this time not looking for a rainbow...but looking for what God wanted to show me.

This is what I saw...

Pretty magnificent, right?

It's not a rainbow, but it sure is a reflection of the majesty in the heavens, the ONE who is the maker of the rain, the rainbows, and all of the evidence it leaves behind.

The ONE who knows what we need, always!  The ONE who offers us hope no matter what our circumstances are, but we have to be willing to open the door to see it.  I literally slammed the door on it four times grateful I opened it again!

Even at the bottom of the rain, I found hope...simply by letting go of what I thought God should do and embracing what He had already done and was doing.

This morning, I went outside to clean the pool filter and when I did, I walked through the biggest puddle of mud and I smiled...I was standing in the bottom of the rain but my heart was full of hope!  If God would have given me a rainbow yesterday, I can assure you I wouldn't have appreciated this at all!

Thank you God  for the bottom of the rain moments that teach me that my hope is in YOU!  Thank you God for letting me be full of hope even when my feet are covered in mud!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Breath of Life

After delivering Matthew, I was taken into emergency surgery to repair my uterus.  Within minutes of the repair it was obvious that the repair didn't hold. I went into *DIC and flat lined twice in the operating room, a second surgery was performed resulting in a hysterectomy to save my life.  It is truly a miracle that I survived the trauma of my uterine rupture and the complications that followed.

I was really distressed and prayed and prayed that God would give me some peace and show me something.   I don't remember a white light or angels, but I believe with all of my heart that I had a few precious moments with Matthew before I came back.  On one of my most heart wrenching nights the following words flowed from my heart, I knew this was God's way of answering my prayer through words like He so often did.  

As I penned these words, I shed buckets of tears feeling every ounce of pain that my son must of felt as he left the earth.  I remember a few months after Matthew passed away, I gathered enough courage to ask my doctor if Matthew suffered as he died.  His response was he felt like you did.  That broke my heart because the pain I felt as the blood was leaving my body was immense and it rips me open to imagine my baby feeling that as the blood was leaving his precious little veins and body.  

Although I shared this experience in my book Facets of Life; What I Didn't Expect When I was expecting, I felt compelled to share with my blogger friends today... 

Breath of Life

Breath of life leaving your body, blood escaping every vein
Leaving you lifeless, lying in pain.
I was screaming at all, why isn't he crying
No one would answer, no one replying.
Instead I hear moans in the room with me,
As life surely came, with death you would leave.
Inside I was screaming, wouldn't you hear?
Was I really dying, were these my last tears?
The tears turned to blood, I was dripping wet.
I was going far away, but I will never forget.
Forget the last moment before I went,
The moment you came, the moment you left.
In my mind I see you gasping for breath,
And I am trying to help you but you enter your death.
I cannot reach you, I am trying so much
You needed me, you needed my touch.
I am close behind you as I too am in pain
For you leaving me it took my breath away.
I quit breathing and gave up on living,
As my body was weak and the blood it was leaving.
The blood it covered me, running out of every pore,
Leaving my body dead at the core.
No one would hear me, I couldn't speak
But I was screaming inside as those around me did weep.
Why can't you hear me, what happened to me?
Why did my baby die?  I no longer see.
What happened now, where did you all go?
Why can't I feel you, are you letting me go?
Don't go...don't go...stay with me please
I am scared and afraid, where are they taking me?
The blood is flowing all over the place,
Like sweat on my brow, it drenches my face.
God can you hear me?  No one else can
Do you have my baby?  Are you holding my hand?
Please give him back for me to keep
Please Dear God, take this cup from me.
I don't want to leave You or him right away
Please let me rest and let me stay.
My breath is gone, also my blood
My lifeline has stopped, has Thy will been done?
You are sending me back but I don't want to go
Please Jesus, please Jesus...okay, I will go.
My work is not yet through on the earth I see
And restoration I know You have promised to me.
I will go and do Your work as YOU will
For I know You are in heaven, holding me still.
Holding my son, waiting on me
Until I am called home for eternity...

* (Disseminated intravascular coagulation (DIC) is a rare, life-threatening condition that prevents a person's blood from clotting normally. It may cause excessive clotting (thrombosis) or bleeding (hemorrhage) throughout the body and lead to shock, organ failure, and death.)  

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

I just went in to have a baby, venting today!

"I just went in to have a baby"...words that I have said many times since that tragic day.

and eight years later, my nerves are shot and my baby is gone.

Neuropathy is off the charts and I am having a freak out.

I decided today would be the day to tell you all a little about daily life with my injuries.  Please keep in mind as you read this that before I delivered Matthew, I was fine.  He was fine.  We were both alive and healthy.  

He died.  I almost didn't make it. 

My body has suffered extreme consequences of a uterine rupture and my son suffered the ultimate, death.

July 2, 2005, was the last time I felt my lower extremities from the base of my spinal cord all the way down to my feet.  

It's all gone.  Total sensory loss.  

My mind never gets a break from the neuropathy.  I have a  break from chronic pain, but the neuropathy is there, always.  My mind is always recycling the chain of events that led to the injuries I suffer with.  

I wake up usually around 3 or 4 a.m. with my feet and legs on fire.  I get up and I will try and get my circulation going as I silently scream with agony.  It is really agony.  For hours I lay there, sometimes I will get on my Pilates machine and just keep  my feet and legs propped up hoping that the blood flow will take the burning pain down a notch or two.  I do anything I can to help rest my body.  I usually don't get back to sleep after this.  And if I do, it is just in time for the alarm to wake everyone up.  It's exhausting.

Mentally exhausting as well as physically.

I cannot disassociate the agony of this physical and nerve pain from my son's death.  No matter how I try to categorize it.  I have had nearly eight years of practicing and it sucks.  Sorry, I couldn't think of a better word.

The best part of my day is mid morning, so I try and get as much done as I can.  As the day goes on, the neuropathy heats up.  I cannot sit down, I have to sit at an angle or lay flat on my stomach to try and keep the pressure off of my lower back.

The burning never stops.  Never.  

The pressure at the base of my spine is ridiculous.  The more pressure on the base of my spine, the worse the neuropathy becomes.  I try to change positions as often as I can, to stay as comfortable as I can, but I am in no means going to sugar coat it.  I am really never comfortable unless I am asleep, sound asleep.  

Early afternoon, if I am driving, even for a short distance, my nerves are easily agitated.  Thus making me agitated.  It is terrible!  I cannot stand the way I begin to feel around the evening time.  My nerves, all of them, are short circuited and leave me really begging God to help me.  

I don't share this for anyone to feel sorry for me, so please don't.  I share this because this is part of my life.  This is part of my loss.  This is me without Matthew.

I don't have the liberty of doing what I want when I want, I have to make sure my downstairs departments will agree with what is on the agenda for the day and I have to make special arrangements to do so.  There is always something that can trigger the neuroapthy, my neurogenic bowel or bladder and it is difficult to live like this.  But I am living!  And I am grateful!  Even though  it may sound like I am not in this post, but I promise I am!  So grateful!

I shouldn't be living after the trauma I went through, but God kept me here for a reason. I am looking for those reasons daily.

The most difficult is to keep my composure when I have tasks to do and I try my very best to make that happen.  I suffer silently with this  and I am just not going to do so anymore.

SO now that you know neuropathy is my companion, it takes a seat right next to grief over losing my son.  I am sad that my life is this.  Life is without my son and life is with injuries that cause me extreme pain and neuropathy and a whole plethora of problems that come along with it.

At night, I take a bath, RW rubs my legs and feet with my Arbonne oils and then I put my grandmaw compression hose on as I finish my nightly mama duties.  

I suffer silently so they will not see the pain that radiates in my body although they know, they really, really know.  They can see it.  

I tuck my kids in and say prayers and then hit my pillow and beg sweet Jesus to take it all away.  

Sometimes I am just so exhausted I fall asleep without help and sometimes I have help.  This too, I have learned to do for my sanity.  This is part of accepting my life, my loss and what is in store for my future.  I pray for a miracle.  I pray for peace within my body but mostly in my mind.  This is where it gets complicated.

I miss my son.  I miss my health.  I miss what it feels like to be free of neuropathy and the injuries that I live with.  I miss that terribly.  

If you know anyone that suffers with a chronic illness, please be gentle when you just don't understand why they snap over nothing.  That nothing may be the loss of a child that scarred their hearts and their bodies for life.

One of the closest diagnosis that I received from one of my doctors was Posterior Cord Syndrome.  As I researched this I was blown away at the similarities with my symptoms.  My injuries are more extreme but this is as close as they have ever been able to diagnose me.  I appreciate the work my doctors have done through the years to help me live better...

Through surgeries, tests, procedures and much more, I have been able to have a better quality of life.  They just cannot seem to stop the migration of the injuries from progressing.  

That stinks.

I cannot look to the future for that will fill me full of fear.  So I take one moment at a time.  So far, I have made it through some really rough moments today, and I am thankful for that.  Now I move on to the next moment.  I sit here with my granny socks on waiting to start the night thing all over again, praying with all of my heart for a peaceful night of rest and sleep.  

I close today, grateful for breath, grateful that I am going to be in heaven one day with Matthew and and no neuropathy!  I know that!  That gives me great hope...

I am grateful God gives me the strength to be the mama to Nathan and Will that I need to be.  I am so grateful for that.  

I am not sure what tomorrow holds and to be honest, tonight it would freak me out to think about it.  I have survived another day without Matthew and another day with extreme neuropathy and disabilities.  That is an accomplishment for me. And I will leave it at that.  I will try again tomorrow.

Thank you for letting me vent and share this part of my life, who I am, after loss.  

If any of you can relate to this, I am so sorry!  Big hugs and prayers to you all!  

Monday, June 17, 2013

The Language of a Bereaved Mother

Bereaved mothers speak the same language.  We may not be able to translate it to the rest of the world, but bereaved mothers understand it, every word, every syllable, every sound and every echo of silence.  Universally.  

Our eyes recognize the pain staring back at us through words, through art, through music, and through silence.  The pain that changes everything. 

Our worlds connect as do our hearts and at that moment, we offer what we never wanted to be able to give, empathy to a bereaved mother.

With social media today uniting so many of us together, I have come to appreciate and love our community so much.  I value the gift of  a <3 or  {hug} in the comment corner more than I ever thought I would.  A bereaved mother speaks volumes by this simple gesture while the rest of the world is still trying to figure out what to do or say.

There is much to be respected about the experience of living (surviving) after loss and the understanding that is woven between hearts miles away from each other or those that are only a tombstone apart.  

There is something tragically beautiful when bereaving mothers connect.  There is a bittersweet relief that someone understands, really, really understands.

And with that, they understand all of the extras that come along with child loss.  The extras that come along with tending to a cemetery plot or replacing silk flowers every season.  The extras that cannot be adequately described in any form of content, but only felt and seen in the eyes and heart of a bereaved mother.  The extras that hurt and cause silent chaos and suffering long after the world thinks you should have "moved on."   The extras that leave residue behind when the rest of the world thinks enough time has passed and things are all better.  Some of this residue will surface immediately, but sometimes doesn't show up for months or years, it includes PTSD, depression, anxiety, mood swings, control issues, loss of sleep, tormenting flashbacks, extreme highs and lows, etc...I really could go on and on, but you know what I am saying.

They understand the way your stomach feels two days before your child's birthday isn't "happy."  They understand it doesn't go away, ever.

They understand the language, the language of our loss.

Too many of us speak this language.  The bereaved mother's language.

Do you understand what I am saying?  If you do, I am so very sorry!  And if you don't, you are so very blessed!

So I sign off tonight in honor of all of my bereaved mother friends...wishing you didn't understand!

<3 <3 <3 and {{{hugs}}}

Friday, June 14, 2013

"There" She Remains Forever

"There" she sits.

"There" she remembers.

"There" she weeps. 

"There" she stands.

"There" she falls time and time again.

"There" she loves...always.

"There" she dreams she was never "here."

"There" she leaves.

"There" she remains forever.

"Here" she sits.

"Here" she remembers.

"Here" she weeps.

"Here" she stands. 

"Here" she falls time and time again.

"Here" she loves...always.

"Here" she dreams she was never "there."

"Here" she lives.

"There" she remains forever.

©2011-2013 All Rights Reserved

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Sunday Shoes

I talk about my injuries and living life with them after losing Matthew quite frequently in the beginning of my "blogosphere" experience but not so much lately, so if you are new here and need a little catcher upper, visit here for a quick briefing.  There are many posts that go in great depth about my injuries and the physical suffering that comes along with it.  But today, I want to talk about Sunday!

Let's get down to business...and yes I am going to talk about shoes!  

Y’all know how much I love shoes, right? (GASP!) And that I wear high heels and cannot feel my feet, right?  Well, Sunday morning, I dressed for church and pulled out a pair of heels to complete my ensemble.  When I slipped the shoes on and took two steps, I slipped right out of them.  Oh boy, I had a moment…I was sad, aggravated and mad because they were supposed to fit me!  They were beautiful shoes and I hadn’t worn them since last summer!  They no longer fit me.  I didn’t grow out of them, I shrunk out of them.  They were too big!

It isn’t like a yay I shrunk out of them, like I lost weight or something like that…it is a sad I shrunk right out of them kind of a deal.

These shoes fit me great last summer and Sunday, once again, the presence of the atrophy migrating throughout my feet and legs were evident.  I know it is happening, but every season when I get this blow, it stings.  I become more and more aware of the progress of the degeneration especially in shoes.  I have had to toss lots of my fabulous shoes from my lack of fitting into them anymore.  I will admit that in the beginning when this started happening, I would keep the shoes hoping and praying for them to fit again. Okay, okay, I still have one pair that hasn’t fit me in several years!  Sigh.  But they are so pretty! 

I better focus…Lord help me before I go get those shoes and try them on, again! 

Alright, back to Sunday…

After they slipped right off of my feet, I gained my composure and I put those shoes right back on and walked down my hallway to prove to myself that I could still wear them.  As I was walking down the hall, I sounded like a herd of cattle trucking down a hardwood floor…with each step they flipped and flopped all over the place. I concentrated so hard to keep my toes in the perfect position to try and keep them on. It was a show I can tell you!  A show!  Finally I stopped.  I looked down and I stepped out of them for the last time.  Sigh.

It's hard to learn how to embrace moments like this and to be honest, sometimes I don't  want to.  I don't want my injuries to migrate, I don't want to slip out of any of my shoes, I just want it to go away.  And then with that very same breath, gratitude takes a first place seat... I am alive!  I am walking!  I am standing!  I am still wearing fabulous shoes!  They may be smaller, but friends I am still wearing fabulous shoes!  

I went back to my closet and pulled a pretty gold pair of wedges out that my mom gave to me  I had never worn them before because they were too small!  Ironic, huh?  Well, that was last summer and this summer they were a perfect fit!

So here's to Sunday Shoes...and Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday and Thursday and Friday and Saturday Shoes!  Here's to shoes!  ;)  Small shoes, big shoes, bedazzled shoes, red bottomed shoes...oh I better stop!  

Have a beautiful day everyone and I hope with shoes are no shoes that you realize what this post is all about...because it really isn't about the shoes!  XOXO!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

My not-so-empty curio

Yesterday was a cleaning know the kind of cleaning day when you dust too!  ;)

Well, since my boys weren't at home, I thought I would tackle removing the trophies, the baseball cards, and all that sports memorabilia from every shelf and dusting it!  A couple of hours later I was finished and their rooms even smelled clean!  Boy mamas, you know that is pretty good!  (big grin)

 The black chest is full of his special things as well
When I walked into my room, I saw Matthew's curio full of his precious memorabilia and I had to dust it too!  His things are throughout every room in the house, but there is one really special spot that is his in the corner of our bedroom.  I go to sleep every night looking at his things and I wake up every morning looking at them.

It had been quite a while since I had done this and I took my time as I cradled every item, each one came with a walk down memory lane.

As I picked up his Ole Miss baseball cap I remember the smile on his daddy's face when he saw it and  how excited his daddy was when he found the perfect "going home" outfit for Matthew detailed down to the little socks embroidered with his Alma Mater, Ole Miss.  And even the little hat.

The little hat,  he wore on July 23, 2005 at his "going home" service. "Going home" wasn't supposed to be like that.

The little hat, I took with me when we said goodbye.  I keep it in this curio along with many other special things.  Yes, there are two more Ole Miss outfits in there too.  He was going to be a "Rebel" just like everyone else in the family.

There's so much I could say about every piece in this curio.  Priceless to me, all of it.

Everything in this curio has a beautiful scent because my mother and her friend made a necklace and a bracelet for me out of the rose petals that RW and Nathan bought for me while I was in the hospital.  They crushed the petals mixing them with fragrant oils (and I am sure a tear or two) and delicately molded them into beads stranding them one by one.  The aroma was preserved along with the beautiful crushed petals.  When the curio is opened, the aroma is one that cannot be purchased, it is made, with lots and lots of love!  This scent is amazing!

This scent comforts me.  As a loss mom, if you are reading this, you know how certain scents (like hospital soap) can bring you to a place like no other.  Well, for me, this scent brings me feelings of warmth and love.

As I removed everything, there were only two items left in there, his two blankets.  The two blankets that he was wrapped in at the hospital.  A green one and a blue one.  I never held him in these blankets, but my family did and I have photos of them holding him wrapped in these.  I am not even sure where they came from, perhaps the hospital gave them to us.  I really don't know.  Maybe something one day I will find out.

When I picked up the blue blanket, the scent enveloped me with great emotion.

I thought he was in here!  He was in this sweet little blanket and now it is empty.  I held it to my heart as I removed the little green blanket and did the same.

Precious memories that I know my family had with him wrapped in these blankets were coming to my mind.

I expected to feel empty like the blankets and the curio, but I was so full of love, peace and joy that it was soothing to my soul.

This moment was right.

This moment when I could hold his things, remember him and not feel so empty!

Before I put everything back into the curio, I took this photo.  What I didn't realize was when I looked back at it that I would see myself in the mirror holding the sweet little blanket that Matthew was wrapped in.

I was actually just trying to get a photo of the empty cabinet.  I studied the photo and visibly saw the empty curio and the empty blanket, but it didn't look so empty.  I knew it was empty because I removed everything and I knew the blanket was empty because I was holding it...but it wasn't so empty after all!

If I were to ever paint a self portrait, this would have to be it.  This.  If you take everything away, empty it all out, Matthew is still with me.  He is in my heart, my soul, my life and my reflection.  Always has been, always will be!

This picture says that to me!

Grateful for this lesson that my sweet boy taught me!  I will never forget it!


Sunday, June 9, 2013

It will never be good enough...

I was excited to have written my June article for Still Standing Magazine ahead of the deadline, but when I looked at the calendar and realized it would go live June 28th, just four days before Matthew's eighth birthday, I freaked out.

I panicked because it was suddenly not good enough, not appropriate enough to be the article that would be be published just days before his birthday.

I messaged sweet Franchesca and told her that I would write another piece for the one I had already written wasn't special enough for this time.

After all, it's not like I have his birthday party to plan, the least I could do as Matthew's mother is write something that would be good enough to honor him, right?

Convinced I could write something that was going to be special enough, I took up the task of sitting behind my computer and began.   I tormented my heart as I analyzed every inadequate word that I had written or was trying to compose. I felt like with every delete that I was throwing garbage out of the window but then realized that garbage was my heart, my tears and it wasn't trash!  It was pain! It was the pain of trying to produce a piece that would be worthy of my son's birthday.  I failed that task.

The pressure and the weight I was applying to my already heavy heart was beyond measure.

Nothing was good enough and I had to stop.

My heart broke when I realized I needed to let it go.  I needed to let go of the fear of it not being special enough for this time.  Truth is, for me, there will never be anything special enough or good enough for this time except singing Happy Birthday to my beautiful son's face and kissing him and watching him hold balloons instead of wondering if he catches them in heaven.

That would be good enough.

Nothing else.

So I let this post go knowing I will not replace the original article written for June because that is all that I have and that has to be good enough for now.

Friday, June 7, 2013

the silence of child loss now and then...

Today I am pondering the silence of child loss now and then.

Throughout the past few years I have been able to talk to many mothers who were silenced after losing a child.  Not silenced because they didn't want to speak about their children but silenced because of society.  Society dictated how they would just "move on" as if their child never existed.

I wonder what I would have done way back then...

Answering honestly, I probably would have been quiet too.  I wish I could say differently, but raw truth is that people just didn't talk about child loss back then.

Some still don't.  But I do.

I do because I need to.  I need to speak about my son and my loss and help others who are experiencing the same.  I need to be his mother and to be validated as such.  He was taken from me, but my position as his mother will remain forever.

I look at some of the women who were pioneers in history, and I wonder if any of those women who bravely stepped out and stood up for a cause ever lost a child.  Statistics will prove that one in four women have lost or will lose a child, so there's a pretty good chance this happened to one of them.  I wonder if any of those women wished they were brave enough to step out about their loss.  I wonder.

I then look at our society now, embracing life after loss.  The silence is being broken and it is incredible to see, hear and be a part of.

But it also makes me sadder for those who have gone to their grave silent...because of society and the pressures surrounding.

I must say many mothers that I have met have never spoken or never speak about the loss they endured but are dying to.  I have had many mamas come and whisper "I lost a child too" and simply walk away.  My heart hurts for these mamas!  There are so many!

A couple of years ago, I saw an elderly lady rushing to the table toward me at a book signing. With tears in her eyes she told me that her son passed away decades ago and she had never talked about him until that moment, there with me.  She saw an interview I had done and she said "If you can speak about your son, I can too."  And she told me all about him.  At that moment, tears now filling my eyes, I knew this was why I would continue to do what I do.  She had freedom, perhaps that society didn't offer to her back then, but with welcome arms was reaching out to her now.   I hugged her and she just sat her head on my shoulder and cried.

That was a beautiful moment I will never forget.  Ever.

Now and then, love for our children was no different.

But society was.

Their voices were never heard.  Their tears never seen.

This was taken from them too!

My heart hurts for every precious mama that carries the silence along with the death of a child.  Both are great weights that when combined can take a toll on a mama's heart.

It took me a long time before I was in the place where I felt like I could speak about our loss and about Matthew.  I don't wish that silence on anyone. Whether it is self inflicted or society driven, silence can be brutal.

Moms that are new to life after loss, I hope you will know that you can speak, you have a great big community of loss moms and dads that would love to hear your story and about your children.  I know, I am one of them.  Moms that have been silent for one year or fifty years, I hope that you will find a way to speak, to break the silence and to feel the freedom that comes along with it somewhere in your life before it is over.

It is so worth it.

I close with great respect and admiration to the mothers of both now and then...

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Why I come here a lot...

I find myself coming here a lot more lately. A lot more than usual.

I write, I ramble and I stutter much more than you know that I do.  My draft section is quite full.  I will write a sentence or two and just sign off.  A lot.

I will come back just a while later and do that again, perhaps with a different topic, but nonetheless, my pattern is the same.

Today as I examined my pattern, I had a breakthrough in what and why I am doing this.

With summer in full force here, I am busy taking care of Nathan and Will, very busy...but somehow there is this time that I am carving out to visit here often.  I don't have any extra time but I find myself making time more than I ever have before.

I find myself growing anxious if I have a thought and cannot carry it out at that moment.  Almost like when I am spending time with one of my boys and the other one calls for me.  Yes, I feel like that.

This time that I am creating in the spaces of my day is Matthew's time.  The only way I know  how to be his mama is by writing about him and sharing him with others.  This time is not just important to me right now, it is necessary.  I know that.

I am very protective of this time right now as his 8th birthday is on the horizon which is probably what I subconsciously am fretting over the most in my head and heart right now.

I should be busy planning his party.

But instead I am writing here about him and about the party that will never happen.

That's why I am here, a lot.

I will remain here a lot, for that is what I need to do right now.  I am fulfilled by being here.

I am fulfilled in life by being a mom to three boys...three.

I am full circle today with this epiphany, if you want to call it that.  I am so happy that I made the connection today.  Instead of being so frustrated that I cannot complete a draft, I will embrace the one liners and  recognize I am simply being his mom! 

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

child loss, the permanent mark

Today as I was looking at all of the beautiful memorial tattoos over at StillStandingINK, my heart swelled full of love for the community of loss parents that are surviving without their children. I felt complete gratitude to witness this as a bereaved mother and also as someone that has never been inked.  Thank you for giving me a glimpse of what you hold so dear.  Thank you.  

I carefully studied many of the hand prints and tiny little feet adorned with angel wings and felt my heart pierce as I "heard" each story through these photographs.  With every photograph came a different story whether it was as simple as a date when loss occurred or a portrait of a child engraved on skin, the story was there and it was painfully beautiful.

I could feel the pain of enduring the ink.

I could feel the loss and see the beauty.

I could see the pain of the permanent mark. 

The permanent mark is no respecter of persons,  inked or not.

It is forever.

The ink, though visible, remaining just a shadow of the permanent mark that child loss had already left behind..

I could see that.  I could feel that.

Painfully beautiful.

It is all painfully beautiful.

I remember the words penned by Fran over at Small Bird Studios, "what a beautiful mess she left behind"~ part of that beautiful mess is Still Standing Magazine and the reason that many of you are sharing your ink, your hearts and your children today... that is pretty amazing!  That is one big permanent, but beautiful mess!

Child loss, the permanent mark, cannot be reversed but beautiful things sure can come from it...

I hope you will find some beauty today, I know I have and it has been right here with you!


Monday, June 3, 2013

"sew" in love with my "son"dress

I am going Project Runway on y'all!  (insert big grin)

A few weeks ago, I made a dress.

Yep, me, I made a dress.

Or what may eventually be a pillow case or perhaps a quilt!  Or handkerchiefs...yeah handkerchiefs!  ;)

This is how it started...For many years I have wanted to take my boy's little league jerseys and make a patch dress, of some sorts.  Well, I woke up and said "today I will make a dress!"

I didn't know ANYTHING about making a dress but I was DETERMINED to do it.

This was the time.  This was the day.

I would make a dress!

I gathered all of the jerseys and started cutting little squares with kindergarten scissors...yes, you read that right kindergarten scissors.  The kind you cut construction paper with.  That kind.  

I believe back in the 2nd or 3rd grade, my home-economics teacher taught me how to sew...or rather taught me how to "stitch" something.  So...I figured with my extraordinary stitching skill and LOTS of jersey shirts, I could sew this thing right up!


That is me laughing at myself for that one...

Along with my kindergarten scissors and my dollar store sewing kit out, I was never more serious about making a dress before!~(Are you laughing at me too now?)  Ah, it's  okay!  I would laugh too! And it was on!  I was going to figure this dress making out, the art of my home!

I started around 9 am, and at 6:30 when RW came  home, there I was on my bed sitting and sewing STILL!  When RW saw what I was doing he asked me where is wife was and what had I done to her!  This was definitely  not something he had seen before!  :)

So I continued to sew (okay, I meant stitch!)... hand stitch each piece of fabric...yes, hand stitch.  My bro-n-law called and I told him what I was doing and he said he had a sewing "thingy" that he stitched dog beds with and I could use that! WOO HOO!  Now we are talking!

My mom picked it up and brought it to my bedroom AKA the place where the stitching goddess would be for the next 24 hours, much to my surprise I would  be doing this another 24 hours!

I began to stitch and stitch with the sewing "thingy."  I had NO IDEA what I was doing but folks I can tell ALL of my effort went into it!

I got it all stitched together...YAY me! This was the moment I had been waiting on...You know like the  big moment on Project Runway when the models come rushing in for a fitting~  I was in that moment!  I slid the dress on, look out Michael Kors and Nina Garcia!  It FIT!!!

OH my word...well sort of!  So the front fit, the sides fit...oooh...but when I turned around I gasped!  WHAT happened to the material that was supposed to cover my booty?

It was the same size as the front so...huh?  Okay, now you can definitely laugh!

SO, an EDIT was in the making!  Hmmm...I just stared at it wondering how in the world was I going to fix this.  My first edit began...I started slicing through that material that I had stitched for nearly 2 days!  I imagined Tim Gunn telling me to "make it work!"

So determined not to let Tim down, I was going to edit it and make it work!

before the edit or "extensions!"

I sliced and unthreaded (that's not a word, but I am not sure what else to call it) until I could find a place to stitch more material.  And then I added some "extensions" to the back of the dress that apparently ate the original material all up!  ;)

I was now well on my way to satisfaction!  I was done! Moment of truth again...

I slipped it on, and it was rather cute...not so cute that I would like wear it anywhere but it was kind of cute. At that moment I didn't care what it looked like but what mattered was it was done!  And that the material on the backside was now covering all of me that it was supposed to!

It was a success!  I grabbed a baseball belt and accessorized and it was perfect for me in that moment!  I was standing in my "son"dress...the dress that was stitched with love and full of memories that came along with each and every swing of the bat and every grin on the  baseball field!  As I looked at each jersey color represented, I saw my boys!  And that completed my ensemble like a cute pair of heels would! 

(let me add that any baseball belt would have matched it as well as any baseball hats from their league, which is great if I were wearing it anywhere!)   

I started to do the victory dance hopping and popping in my newly designed one of a kind "son"dress!  (get son's jersey's so I call it my "son"dress!)  AND then it happened...apparently one cannot dance in a dress that is merely least not stitched by me!  As I was popping in my new dress it seems (seams, pun intended!) that the stitches were popping too!  Woops!

Laughing at myself I danced some more while my little Will just shook his head and laughed too!  

And the stitches loosened with each move!  I took this pic right before that happened...

after the edit or "extensions"

I share my "son"dress with you all today in hopes that you may smile a bit,  but mostly in hopes that you will be inspired to do something you really want to do but have never done before!  Even if you don't know how to do it, try!  Don't quit!  

By all counts, I should have quit when the back of my dress looked like an upside down heart but I would have missed the dance party I had after it was done!  Even if it was a very short lived dance party, at least I got to dance!  

Believe me, if I made a dress, you can make anything!  ;)

One special note to this entire story that is worth taking away ~  I laughed at myself so much while I was making this dress but at the same time I was applauding myself for not giving up!  I woke up and wanted to make a dress and I did.  It doesn't matter if anyone ever sees me wearing it out in public what matters to me is I saw myself in something I wanted to make!  I saw myself wrapped (and popping out)  in some of the most special material "son"dress and I was pretty proud to wear it...AT HOME!  ;)

I close with the cheesy title of my blog post today...and I ask if you see why I am "sew" in love with my "son"dress?


I know, I know Heidi Klum ..."auf Wiedersehen! 


If you don't get any inspiration from this at least you may have learned how goodbye is spelled in German!  NOTHING like it sounds!

PS- want a handkerchief? ;)

Sunday, June 2, 2013

here I go LEANING...

One month from today will be Matthew's 8th birthday in heaven.

Here it comes and here I go...

This may be a surprising fact but not one year has it been any easier.  Not one.  Sometimes it is more difficult than the year before.  But It is never difficult to count my blessings at the same time I count the number of candles that I should be putting on Matthew's birthday cake.  Know what I mean?

July 2nd, the day he passed away, July 3rd, my birthday, July 4th, everyone around me celebrating "Independence Day"~ It is awkward, always and perhaps always will be.  July 4, 2005, I was on life support fighting for my life after my baby lost his and others were eating has never been the same since.

Is it so difficult to understand why the fireworks pierce my heart so?

How does one celebrate her birthday the day after her son doesn't get to?  

After years and years of trying to find peace with people wishing me Happy Birthday, (did I mention that my brother's son passed away on my 15th birthday?) while refraining myself from wanting to tell them to shove that Happy Birthday somewhere else, I have found a way to celebrate life on my birthday.  I celebrate being here for RW and for my boys.  That is something to celebrate for it is a miracle I survived from the trauma of what happened to me.  A miracle.

I know that and I CELEBRATE that.

It is impossible to go into this time of the year without memories surfacing of the very moments before our loss...the innocent anticipation of what we were "expecting" and the tragic rawness of what we "didn't expect" that we were left with.

Seriously takes my breath away.

It is tough, very tough. 

As the memories and rawness of it all are dipping me in a fresh batch of hurt, the annual countdown to the death of our son and the tragedy that came along with it is on.  I feel like I should be an old pro at this but to be  honest I feel just like I did that first year and every year after.  I am pretty sure experience will never trump that.

I am also pretty sure that I will do whatever I have to in the days ahead to stand... But there will be a whole lot of leaning...leaning on Jesus, leaning on RW, leaning on my family and leaning on the word of God.

So here it comes and here I go LEANING...

Love to all!