Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Are you smarter than a 5th grader...

I woke up feeling off today.  Not like anything is wrong, health-wise at least, just off key.  Out of balance.  Not balance like I have too much of one thing to do and not enough of another thing....out of balance....with the universe, or something like that.  I was a little concerned feeling this way, and then we had my 5th grader's literature assignment.

She read a little story by Leo Tolstoy, a Russian author for those of you who have ever heard of him, of works like War and Peace.  It's called The Three Questions and is about this king who is looking for someone to answer three questions for him:  1) Who is most important person to you? 2) When is the right time to do something? and 3) What is the most important thing to do?  

Wow, when I read that, I thought, "man, could that be any more precise than if I wrote them myself?"  I/we have been struggling with #2 & #3 pretty adamantly lately.  When raising a family, these are very common questions we as parents ask.  And if we knew the answer....if we only knew the answer.  

Well the king was determined to find the answers.  And when he didn't get them from his people, he left to seek out an old wise man to help him.  (This was too familiar and freaky to me because feeling so off-kilter this morning I had a passing thought while I was eating breakfast that maybe I should talk to a psychic.)  He took off his cloak and his crown and left them at his horse and walked up to the hut of an old hermit.  This wise old hermit was busy digging holes in his garden and would not answer his questions, though, so the king took the shovel and began digging for him.  He finished digging the holes and then asked the questions of the hermit again and no answer.  Then a man came running at them with blood coming from his chest and his hand covering a wound and the king stopped the bleeding and took care of the man until he fell asleep.  The king himself was so tired he, too fell asleep. 

The next day the injured man woke up and told the king to forgive him but the king had nothing to forgive him for.  Turns out the man had set out to kill the king because his brother had been killed and he could no longer afford the taxes so he had followed the king into the forest but got caught instead by some knights who attacked him.  The king, however, this deed unbeknownst to him, took care of him and saved his life. 

So the king then asks the hermit again why he won't answer his questions and the hermit tells him that the king has answered the questions himself already.

I'll skip a short explanation here and end the story with the last paragraph:
"Remember then: there is only one important time---Now.  It is important because it is the only time when we are masters of ourselves.  And the most important man is he with whom you are, for no one can know whether or not he will ever have dealings with any other man.  And the most important thing to do is to do good to him, since it is for that purpose alone that man was sent into his life."
 Somehow this story put some balance back into me.  I can hardly explain it, but having this discussion with my daughters about what this story means to me, at my ripe old age, helped me teach a lesson to them that I really felt was meant for me.  And hearing them repeat the lesson to me in their own words was priceless to me.  Now to grasp this is a whole new level of learning.  Because I never thought I'd be searching for these answers at this point in my life.  But I know that what matters is the present time.  And whether we are by ourselves or with someone, we must give that person our best of who we are because we never know if we'll get another moment with them or ever meet them again or what their story is.  It's not everyday that I wake up excited to teach homeschool, I'll be honest.  And today was one of them.  But I am so glad I got to be a part of this lesson.  This lesson I will continue to learn, the rest of my life.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

School begins

Tomorrow Reese starts school....and as usual, I will miss him.  The first day of kindergarten, when I'm sending one of my kids, is always one of the saddest days for me.  He is a little apprehensive, but very excited to be with his friends, I know.  He'd rather stay in the comfort of home, but knows this is his next journey he will embark on.  So off another little Pearson heads to school.  And the next Pearson, well, he'll never get to.  I am sad for this, too.  The kids should all be in school during the days, Chase home with mom, waiting to pick them up every afternoon.  But that is not the way it is.  The girls are my students this year, teaching me as I teach them.  And we get to visit little brother at lunch times, parties and field trips when we can.  With another little brother floating above us everywhere we go.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

A Cemetery

I stopped by the cemetery that we are considering moving Chase to today.  My friend's son is buried there and I wanted to visit his grave.  She lost her son just after his birthday in 2007.  He died the 13th of April and Chase was born the 14th of April.  I feel a connection there, not only because I knew her son, but also because of the dates being so close to Chase's death and birth date.  Her son's birthday is just 6 days before his death date, 23 years later.  Chase died just 4 days after his birthday.  She has reached out to me and provided comfort to me like only mothers who have lost children can.  For that I am grateful.

I saw a grave of an infant, died in 2007.  It tears me up to see graves like that with all sorts of little toy trucks and airplanes and helicopters so curiously laid upon it.  I wish I could visit Chase's grave and share toys with him in this way, too.  Reese has a handful that he has saved just for his little brother.  I long to visit the gravesite of my son, to see his name in stone, to see our names right with his, as close as we can get in this human life of ours.  I looked around the cemetery and felt it would be a nice place to keep his "box", as we call it.  When I asked the kids the other day if they thought it was a good idea to move Chase to this cemetery, they said yes.  Actually Reese said, "no mom I want him at my house! Please?  Can we have him at our house?"  I explained the purpose of this cemetery and I think they all understood.  The fact that we may or may not be living in Ruidoso makes our decision to disinter him more complicated.  But, again, I looked around the cemetery and it felt "right".  Twelve years ago, Patric and I were married about 15 minutes down the highway.  Three of our children were born here.  Whether or not we live here in 5 years doesn't mean we won't ever be back.  We have several reasons to come back here, several concrete reasons, and one of them is his grandparents.  I would have the comforting feeling that his grandparents will always be here.  They will never move so they will always be close, and I know his G would love that.  These thoughts make this decision a little bit easier.  If that is ever possible.

I'm writing these thoughts down because I want it be known that when your child dies, cemeteries and grave sites are not something that you had ever thought about before.  Choosing a place to keep your child for the rest of time as you know it, is really an impossible choice.  There is no way of knowing the right answer.  Because, as our funeral home director pointed out to us, where we bury him, is where we will want to be buried essentially, so we may as well purchase 3 lots instead of 1.  See?  Things you never thought about, right?  Who would have known that when you give birth, days later you will be deciding where you want to be buried when you eventually die 50 years later.  Cremation was, for us, not something for considering on the spot but choosing which cemetery seemed preposterous to decide.  

The first year I was only consumed with having his grave stone ordered and in hand.  Then when it came time to lay the stone, we felt the permanence of this deed and wanted to do something about the fact that we wanted Chase closer to us.  Once we decided to do this and talked to the funeral director to find out if it can even be done, only to learn that there is even a word for it, then we had to pick where.  The cemetery I visited today was our pick, until we started to consider the facts--that our family would not forever reside in Ruidoso.  We weren't convinced that we would be raising our family here and did not want to move Chase again when we decided we were leaving.  And so here we are.  His stone sits in the garage at the funeral home across the street.  And his "box" is still 6 hours away.

So these are my thoughts today.  I hope to close this chapter soon, though I won't ever know when that will be until it actually happens.  I would rather think of my son as I saw him in the hospital isolette and those days when he fought for his life.  I would rather remember him as best I can than think of the cemetery where his box will forever remain.  But this is life as best as we can understand.  I was searching on old (really old) computer CDs the other day and found this saying that gave me chills.  I have no idea why it was on my computer years ago.  Here it is....
It is a deep mystery, This matter of Life and Death.
That the same person who brought us a thousand joys, can one day leave us shedding a thousand tears.
So suddenly, sometimes we grope blindly for words left unspoken, and for the hug we needed to give, to say goodbye.
And we wonder, how this thread holds us all to life can be so thin and fragile.. 
Until one day we find the faith and courage to accept, that the living aren’t meant to understand death, only to accept and celebrate life, and to remember that the only real death is forgetting.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Rainbows and sweet moments

Patric & I went to Albuquerque yesterday, just us two. We had appointments and then we had a nice late lunch before we headed home. It was a really good day. The kids stayed with a dear friend which allowed us to have this day, worry-free and kid-free. I know we need more of this kind of time together but when we do get it, I am so incredibly thankful and feel so blessed to be spending the time together. We had a long drive so we had plenty of time to talk and, being woman, this is important to me. ;) Patric is my best friend and my soul mate and I am so fortunate to have him. We don't always agree on things but that's part of marriage and any relationship for that matter. Being able to discuss our life dreams, plans for our family, our kids and how we are raising them with the man whom I am forever in love with makes me the happiest girl in the world. I never would have gotten this far on this journey without him. We have obviously had a tough life together so far, but I wouldn't have chosen a different one if I could have. I am with who I want to be with doing what I want to do (for the most part!) and we are blessed. On our way home we saw the brightest rainbow I have ever seen and I think
if we would have veered just a little bit off the road, we could have found the pot of gold! When I told Karly about this rainbow, she smiled and said Chase was just so happy for us, that's why it was so pretty. I like to think that, too. He was with us and is with us, every step of the way.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Ready to clean....

This is not about dusting and cleaning on a normal basis. I don't dust regularly anyway, but it was beyond time to clean up some thigns that had collected in the crib. I'd call it Chase's crib but it is really our crib. All the kids have slept in there and any subsequent children will sleep in there. But for the last year and a half, it has been filled with memories of Chase. From the first week we had gotten home from the hospital until now, I have collected cards, small gifts, photos, letters, sculptures, clothes and anything that reminded me of our little boy. I had been feeling for the past couple months that I was about ready to box up these things. I still want them available to me to look at whenever I want, but I wanted to get a pretty little (medium-sized, actually) box to collect it all in. And the crib was getting pretty dusty anyway--it was time to do something.

So I ordered a pretty box and assembled it and started storing his things. Though it seemed a pretty unemotional task at first, the wave came over me, as I figured it would. In some ways it was comforting to see go through these memories--in a way it's hard to describe. But then the sadness....the deep sadness....came. And the tears.... Those things that will always be there. Not far from the surface. I had saved things like the hospital bracelets which I have in a shadow box. But I forgot about my hospital bracelet. The sight of that brought back a bunch of memories. I had even put back some of the clothes that we had on the day we held him and he died. Those are things that I don't see as "normal" and when I would see them come through the laundry, I'd think about our last day with Chase so I finally pulled them an put them in his crib. I have stuffed animals and wonderful, wonderful cards from my family that have words in them I cherish very deeply. Words that bring tears, but words that mean so much to me that it is hard to explain in a human capacity. I have little airplanes and nerf bullets that Reese gave to his brother that I put in this box. I have Reese's little santa hat that Chase was going to wear last Christmas. I have Chase's first birthday cards and memories and my mother's day cards from Patric and the kids the month after he died. I probably have hundreds of photos in there, several duplicates, but of course none of them I could throw away, so they are all there. And then all the legal documents from the funeral home are in another matching box, just smaller. The baby book from the funeral home with all the signatures of those who attended the funeral, which still surprises me to read through sometimes. I have my blog book in there, too, which is sacred to me. It is what helped me most through this loss....writing down my feelings and the comments from those who cared enough to tell me I wasn't alone on this journey.

I still have plenty photos, some candles, statues and things on the wall to see....my blanket I sleep with every night... And we talk and pray about Chase every day. But for now, the crib is empty. We hope to fill it again some day. Maybe we will move first and I won't put the crib back up until we need it. Maybe it will sit here until I am ready to take it down. Maybe....

My memories are in my heart. They are in my head and in my soul. And if I need something tangible, I can go to the boxes and touch him. I know I have a lot of "stuff" but I couldn't get rid of any of it. It's as close as I want it to be. Without having him here.....it's as close as I want for now.

I am curious, for those that are a year or more out from their loss, what have you done with your memories? I would love to hear your stories.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Summer Days...

We had a great week camping at the lake with my family.  The kids had a great time, I had constant "sister time" and the guys got to fish and jet ski and nap.  True vacation!  We explored Colorado a little more and found some really neat things.  I love the farm houses where you can go pick your own vegetables.  And I LOVE the fresh sweet corn.  Lots of stuff to do and lots of places to go.  And always something new to find.

I enjoyed the time away, but I miss Chase badly when we are on those kinds of trips.  I absolutely adore my little nephew.  He is about 8 weeks now and so fun.  I changed his diaper and thought to myself how I would so love to do have done this for Chase...or one day for our own baby.  I know--I thought I was so done with diapers!  I imagined Chase running around after the kids and chasing Kate.  It's always going to be hard....and so is life.  Even though there is so much to enjoy....this is so much to yearn for, too.

It's nice to be home.  We have lots to do...unpacking for one.  Then school for another.  Then work.  Then hopefully a huge garage sale!  

I miss you, little man.  Thinking of you always.  Love, mommy