Tuesday, May 12, 2015

the best mother's day I've had // the perfect gift

I didn't cry on Mother's Day. Not one tear.

I felt sad. I noticed the missing one.

But I didn't cry.

That feels amazing since every other Mother's Day I have cried all. day. long.

Here we are in the middle of moving, and J found time to MAKE me a Mother's Day gift that was absolutely perfect, and incorporated all of my babies.

Mother's Day is always hard because it's so close to Charlotte's birthday, but looking at that line of photos all day helped somehow.

(Look at Charlotte's rose blooming outside the dining room windows. It's on fire this year, blooms everywhere)

On Mother's Day we packed, and packed, and packed, and then we walked to lunch. We sat outside, and for a while we were the only ones there since we went early on a Sunday, so we chased the kids around a bit to keep them busy, and J jumped out from behind a stairwell and surprised me to pieces.

It was bittersweet - as every day without her is - but the tide seems to have turned a bit this year because it was a little more sweet than bitter.

Two more days until Charlotte's fifth birthday. The kids and I baked a Charlotte cake for Thursday this afternoon. After they made a complete mess of the kitchen they scampered off to the living room to play while I cleaned up. They are the best of friends, which makes my heart sing and ache all at the same time because I want them to have a big sister to play with. Ainsleigh especially. I love my big sisters. Just when I felt the sadness crashing in I heard giggling from the living room. I peeked in to see Bennett blowing raspberries on Ainsleigh's tummy. She laughed, and laughed, and laughed, and he said, "Oh, Ains, is that funny? Do you like that? Isn't this fun??" And there it was again: the bitter edged out by the sweet.

* One of J's goals after we move and get settled is to open an Etsy shop. He came up with this photo idea the night before he gave it to me. His creativity and inventiveness impress me. I can't wait for others to have a chance to own a piece he hand crafted *

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

on year five

As if the grief wasn't bad enough I now have a serious case of, 'I'm terrible at this dead baby gig," going on.

So many seem to be sailing past the anniversaries. A lot of you seem to be doing fine. I know that can't be true, some of us are just more vocal than others, but I wish I had the ability to bear it with a little more grace.

This morning I stood in my friend's kitchen eating these horrible, processed store bought donuts I've been craving for a month. "I'm grief eating," I told her. And let me tell you, the friends in that house are two of a rare handful who get to see that side of me because I know they'll pull up a chair and eat a donut with me and there won't be any platitudes or expectations.

And then, later on, I said, "I feel like everyone else is coping better than me. Like I'm more of a mess than anyone else. It's been five years, why can't I just get it together?" I see snippets of lives online, and in real life, and I'm awed at how put together people seem. It's like I can't stay quiet about how sad I am, even though I've promised myself I will cope beautifully and calmly with late April, Mother's Day, Charlotte's birthday. It never works. The calm doesn't last. I fall to pieces. Every. single. year.

I said a variation of those words to a different friend last night and she said, "Well, that (losing a child) is the most difficult thing that can happen to you. You won't move past it."

But I keep trying. I expect it to be easier. I wonder how you all are doing, and how hard it's been for you, and what you do with the sadness. Do you eat donuts, or are you processing your grief in a healthier way?

Is year five easier than year one?

Yes. Obviously.

But it's awful in its own way.

My brain snatches two sentences from the endless book of grief and sends them through my mind over and over: I miss her. I want her back. I miss her. I miss her. I want her back ... 

That alone is enough to make me sit up in bed at night wild eyed with insomnia. And then the flashbacks come crashing in and I end up pacing the house at 4 am, nervously checking that all the doors are locked and all my people are safe.

And I know you go through this too. I know we who have lost experience incredible fear, longing, and rage when the anniversary comes. I know it, but I can't always see it, so I end up feeling alone. And I hate feeling alone because after Charlotte died I felt absolutely, terrifyingly alone, even though I was surrounded by people.

The surreality of burying a child is always at the back of my mind, but there is something about the anniversary of Charlotte's birth and death that makes me realize anew how awful it is that I have outlived one of my babies. 

So I eat everything. I wander from room to room. The laundry piles up. The kids watch too much television. I cry when asked what I want to eat for dinner. I cry when people are nice to me. I clutch the first card I receive with joy because the person who sent it remembered, and I am so scared people will forget that Charlotte lived as the years between her being here and her being gone expand.

In nine days I should be yelling, "Happy birthday!" when my five year old wakes up and comes out to the kitchen for breakfast. We would watch the video from the day she was born and talk about how excited we were to meet her. There wouldn't be tears, or sadness, or pain, just joy and excitement and too much sugar. FIVE. That's such a big number. I can't believe I should have a five year old. I wonder, as I do every year, just who she would be, what would make her laugh, what would make her eyes dance, or spark with anger. I don't know her, and that, more than anything, breaks my heart because as mothers our desire is to truly know our children so that we may love them better.

I miss her. 

That's it. 

Every year.

That is the root and the core and the bottom line:

I miss her.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

this is a hard time of year for us ... but there's good news

We've been saying, "this is a hard time of year for us ..." so often lately I feel like we should have t-shirts made so we can just point at the shirts when people are puzzled by our behavior.

One grief side effect that annoys me to pieces is that making decisions is really hard for me from mid-April to mid-May. The other day when J asked if I wanted anything for dinner since he was going to the store I started to cry because I was so overwhelmed at the prospect of picking something to eat.

Throw in moving, and all of the things that go with it, and trying to find a house to buy, and I've spent a lot of time the last few days feeling overwhelmed and crying.


the good, fabulous, great news is that we put an offer on a house and it was accepted!!! 

It's been a huge adjustment for me to wrap my mind around the house since it is not what we originally planned to buy. We put our poor agent through quite an ordeal this weekend, but after a lot of back and forth we decided to proceed with the purchase. It's not the super, amazing dream home I wanted, but it's a step towards it, and it will absolutely work for our family for the next five or so years.

I cannot believe we are buying another five year home, but after going over and over numbers and what we want we decided that it made the most sense to do that, and then prepare to build.

The house is dated, but in great shape (our agent said, "this house is built like a bomb shelter!) so we can fix up a few things, or just live in a dated home for a few years. The biggest downside is that the kitchen is nowhere near what I would like, but J is going to add an oven (the only oven is original and it hardly works) and add a bar on the other side of it so I can have more counter space. When we first toured the home I said, "Look at this interesting microwave in the brick wall here." And then our agent said, "that's your oven," to which I said, "WHAT???!!!" But J and our agent are master builders and sorted that particular problem out within a few minutes.

The more I think about the house the more excited I get so I really hope the process goes smoothly. It's a 4 bed, 2 bath home, and it's about 400 square feet bigger than the one we are currently in so I think it will really work for us.


I managed not to cry in front of our real estate agent yesterday, which was a huge effort, but I'm really trying to tone down the crying in public around Charlotte's birthday this year.

We got a house, guys!! The end of this HUGE process is in sight! I'll still have to move in with my parents for a little while, but not nearly as long as we feared.


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