Saturday, April 28, 2012

Sent to Heaven

Owen walked around with a balloon all day from my nieces birthday party last night and when we finally took it off of him, I guess he was done with it, Karly took it. And went to work. She wrote on it and drew pictures and went around asking everyone if they wanted to send a message to Chase. When she was ready, she released it and we all watched the balloon go. It was pretty impressive. It was a dark blue balloon in an almost cloudless sky and the balloon went straight up from us. We watched the balloon for about 20 minutes. We watched it shrink to smaller than a pinhead, floating in a impressively straight path. There were no trees, no clouds, nothing to obstruct our view of it the entire flight. It was like watching it go straight up to heaven. I could almost see it float into Chase's hands. It is so cool that Owen could share his balloon with his brother. So it is in my eyes anyway...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Making Memories of their own

The kids left me today.  Took off for, oh, I don't know, probably 15 minutes before I knew where they were.  They left, told me where they were going which I was okay with and I went on with my work.  Then decided to check on them after getting Owen down and they were not where they said they'd be.  
I hollered a few times.  
I rode around on my bike, not too far from the house.  
I went back up where they told me and hollered again.
And then finally I hear, "yeah, mom, we're coming!"
A big sigh.  And then they tell me where they were.  
They miss Pearsolonia more than ever.  It's their old hideout where we used to live.  It was basically a dirt hill behind our house but their enchanting hideaway nonetheless.  They have many memories of it.  
And then I realize these memories....they are theirs.  I remember when all their memories had me in them. But not anymore.  They are busy.  Busy making their own memories and I'm no where in sight even.  I can hear it, "remember that one time when mom had no idea where we were? That was when we found Chase-a-topia!"  Reese showed up with shells of some crawdad-looking thing and enough excitement in his voice to tell me this was an important voyage.  It was a perfect opportunity for a lecture on informing mom of your whereabouts at all times....but also a lightbulb moment for me, too.  They are creative little creatures, my kids.  Give them the world to explore and it is amazing what they will find.  And Chase is never far from those memories.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Before and After

I feel like that is how my life is always going to be labeled.  I am a huge picture and home video person (freak, if you ask my husband) and I really enjoy going back every now and then and looking at old memories and occasionally making something out of them either for myself or for gifts.  My husband complains that I am "looking back" too often because he thinks it makes me sad to see how fast time flies and how the kids have grown up so fast.  I counter this complaint by claiming that my husband is too busy "looking ahead" and constantly planning for the future.  Hopefully someday we'll meet somewhere in the middle and both be content with the present, right?  Sounds pretty sad, but it's not.  We're really a happy family.  It's just that we're each different in our own way and have a different perspective on the same thing.  Isn't that what it's like when you're married with children?

Anyway, back to my fettish with the past.  It's not that looking at these old photos and movies makes me sad.  I think the whole point of it is why I enjoy looking at them.  

First of all, they remind me of Before.  It's not only a younger me and prettier me, it's a completely different person, on all accounts, that I see in those pictures.  That person was happy and blissful.  She didn't know what it was like to have a hole in her heart.  She only knew how much love her heart could hold and was constantly astounded by how much more love she kept giving and receiving.  The girls and Reese were so much fun!  I love raising kids--I love all the phases--but the pre-school age phases were (and are) so much fun for me.  Mostly because I'm a stay-at-home mom I guess and I get the privilege of spending so much time with them at these ages.  I have always been deeply deeply grateful for this opportunity.  And all those memories of them remind me of that feeling.  

But I had so much fun with the kids.  Emma and her imagination would just crack me up and I got quite a few moments captured on video of her tea parties, acting like a princess and dramatizing her life with her sister (oh dear!).  Karly was always so bull-headed (still is) and I laugh and laugh at the memories of her reacting to our orders or playing with her sister or dressing up her brother.  I haven't gone through too many of Reese yet but I know I have them as well.  The kids were so much fun.  And I knew they were fun--I enjoyed them at those ages.  But it seems like now, as I am older, I really appreciate how much fun they were and are.  I do with Owen--I really enjoy him right now.  I enjoy him so much more now than I would have if he were a "Before" baby because, in reality, he is a lot more challenging than his brother and sisters were.  I'll get to that later but I just want to say that watching the videos reminds me how much fun our kids have made our lives.  And I think that's all good.  Right?  It's not sad.  Do I sound sad?  I don't think so.  I hope not.  Because I'm not.  I'm starting to embrace ME getting older so it's refreshing and rewarding to realize this and feel gratitude for our kids, rather than how much trouble and how difficult they make life.  (Because that's true, too, isn't it?!--this post isn't about that, though!)

What I also consider when I look at the old videos, though, is how we are all different people now.  This is the After part.  It's not that we're sad.  We are a bit sadder, yes, because we miss Chase in our lives, but we are also happy.  Extremely happy.  We have so much going on in our lives.  Our kids are awesome.  I could never say that enough.  I am so completely lucky to be the mom to these kids.  I love being their mom. Don't get me wrong, there are days when you could look at me and say, " get to be their mom???" and I'd look at you under a pretty strong scowl.  But all in all, I love this job.  I love our kids more than life itself.  I can't measure the love I have for them.  It's beyond measure.  They are so cool.  Life is so cool.  Have I gone overboard yet?  Because I'm just giddy with all the love I have in my heart.  

Never to be forgotten the hole.  And that hole brings sadness.  The cloud on every sunny day.  But clouds are pretty.  They are happy, too.  They are reminders for some of us on this earth and that's just how we live.  Not everyone does and those who don't can't fully understand this.  But that's how we live our lives.  It makes us different from who we once were.  The people in the After pictures are different and sometimes no one can tell.  But we can.  Every picture I look at, no matter how big the smiles, I see the difference.  I see the After part in everyone of our faces, our eyes, our lips.  

So is that sad?  When I see the happiness we have in our hearts in the Before pictures and see the happiness in our hearts with the clouds in the After pictures?  No I don't think it's sad.  I think it's just a realization.  A realization of this journey we are on.  Now, I will say, some of it has to do with life in general.  We are older now.  We have different concerns, stressors and priorities.  I can tell you that I was much more concerned about getting my daily exercise in those old videos--comments I made or seeing how fit I was.  But the can I (WE) be happy like that again?  My husband and I have different definitions of happiness, collectively, now.  We're older.  I can tell you if I took a video right now of both of us, I can probably look at my video from Christmas, the air probably doesn't seem as blissful as it did from the Christmas video of '05.  I'm so laid back in that video I look like I'm on something.  And I wasn't.  I swear.  (lol!)  I'm glad I can see that, though.  It's something I can be aware of and work on.  As I get older....just to be happy more.  Not be so stressed out trying to get kids to the next thing on time or whatever it is.  The reason????  Because this is what they are going to remember.  Right now.  (the older ones anyway.)  They don't remember how cool, calm and collected (and skinny) I was back then, so it doesn't even matter!  Right now is what they'll I the mom, right now, I want them to remember?  Always workin' on that one!

I love being older.  I love having this perspective on life.  I know what I need to work on.  Right now I know I need to work on my relationship with my husband.  I am dying to go on a trip with the two of us--we need time AWAY alone.  We do time here alone but it's not the same.  It'll happen.  I am also working on being the best mom.  For the first year of Owen's life I was a little disappointed that I was not as good of a mom to him as I was the others.  I was way more high-anxiety with him, for obvious reasons, but still I wasn't as laid back when he was a newborn.  I felt cheated, in a way, that when God took Chase, he also took away my mothering capabilities.  That I would never again be the same mom and Owen would miss out.  He'd get the stressed out mom his entire life.  The one always worried, waiting for the other shoe to drop, the one worried she'd lose him, too, one day.  But I'm not feeling that way as much anymore.  I am really enjoying Owen.  Lack of sleep and all, I really breathe in every moment I get with him.  I can be in any mood any time and if Owen needs me, I put on a happy face, a calming voice and pick him up and love on him.  The older kids see that, too.  Emma told me the other day that whenever I get mad, if I see Owen, I get over it much quicker or forget about whatever it was that made me mad.  I play with Owen much more than I did the others, except maybe Emma.  I just give Owen a lot more of my time and I'm beginning to feel, just very recently, that maybe Owen is going to get the best of me, instead of the worst of me.  Maybe that's something Chase has been working on...and I'm finally getting it.  

Anyhoo.  This post is a bunch of stuff.  Ended up being a lot of what was on my mind.  I love watching the old movies.  Always will.  The kids will hate it when they get married, I'll have the best videos of them to share with everyone for their rehearsal dinners.   I'm still working on my photo album for '11 so I have an excuse to keep going through last years photos.  Some days I"m still learning who the After me is.  It takes a while to really get to know someone new, you know.  

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


I'm going to bed.  And I'm getting Owen out of his crib.  And putting him in bed with me.  I'm going to sleep with him next to me, touching my skin.  Because I can.  And because three years ago tonight, I had to go to bed without my baby next to me, but a brand new baby blanket instead.  Because I had to.  And it was a feeling I will never, ever, Ever forget.   I still sleep with that blanket, though it's not new anymore, next to my cheek exactly like I did that tragic, heart-wrenching night.

Thank you Owen, for being here.  Thank you Chase, for sending him to us.  Thank you God, for all my children.  And my husband.  Thank you.

Good night sweet boy.  Godspeed,  sweet dreams.


This day

Three years ago.  I remember waking up around 6 this morning.   A little surprised I slept for what seemed like way too long.  My sister walked in the room, maybe that's why I woke up, I don't remember exactly.  And she told us.  She gave us the news. We were waiting/praying/wishing/hoping for Chase to pee.  It seemed almost elementary.   That's all we needed.  Well, at the time, that's what we really needed to have happen for things to improve.  If he didn't pee, it meant things were not getting better and most likely were getting worse...way worse.  With the eminent end eluding us.

No pee.

I knew.  Right then.  I knew we'd be saying good-bye to him.   That the end was near.  But I was still in a state of shock from the beginning of the whole thing.  For the last three days I'd been in shock.  So I cried, but quickly pulled myself together.  I took a shower, and cried some more.  Quickly got dressed and dried my hair.  And got ready to walk over to the NICU.  Crying intermittently and then shutting the tears off.  I have asked myself so many times, how could I do that?  Just shut it off so quickly.  Not cry like a mess the entire time.  The pain was so great.  Surely it was great enough to sustain a constant flow of tears.  For the rest of my life.  Wasn't it?  My milk was coming in that morning.  Perfect timing, I thought.  My boobs were getting fuller and fuller.  As soon as I got up to the NICU, I had to ask the nurse for nursing pads.  And I also put another tshirt on.  Maybe I was crying from my heart--that's what it felt like.

The kids were coming over from the hotel after eating breakfast and spending some time with grandma, who had just arrived the night before.  We didn't know exactly all that was happening that day.  Just that the kids would come visit their brother again at some point.  We'd probably be in meetings with the doctors and staff during the day listening to what was being done to our son, likely prognoses, answering questions we had.  A procedure was being done on Chase in the morning to determine if his brain was still okay and checking his kidneys, too, I think.  I'm not sure, but we didn't want to be there during the procedure so we waited outside his room while the equipment was brought in to evaluate him.

Finally it was over.  And the prognosis was not good.  He was having the beginnings of seizures indicating brain damage.  And of course the kidneys were failing because he was not peeing.  That's the simplest way I can explain it, anyway.  It's all a blur really.  I knew it was time to get the kids in to see him, though.  Something told me we needed them to be there now.  So mom brought them over and it was around lunch time or after that they got there.  Reese was not feeling well.  He was warm and sleepy.  He knew, too.  Three years old.  His brother was protecting him.  Reese fell asleep for the rest of Chase's life.  I didn't know what to do.  I was out of sorts.  Do we wake him up?  The kids are going to hold Chase and Reese should get the chance to hold him, too.  But he was three.  I knew if we woke him up, he would be crabby, like any three year old who so dearly needed a nap.  But this was a very important moment.  I wanted someone to tell me what to do.  We let him sleep.  We took a picture with all of us, Patric holding Reese as he slept.  The girls held Chase.  Karly first, as she had asked as soon as we had announced the pregnancy to the kids that she be the first to hold him.   We granted her wish.  She was the first out of all of us to hold him.  She was so happy to hold him, too.  The tubes, the bloody marks from medical leads and tape, the faint blue vessels showing on his arms and cheeks.  None of it seemed to matter because she was finally holding him.  That was all she wanted.  And she got it.  For a brief moment.  Then Emma held him.  Looking so proud and so worried all at the same time.  Trying/wanting/wishing she could protect her baby brother and take away all the hurt.  Then I held him.  For the first time.  I still can feel the weight of his body in my arms.  All bundled up in the blanket, stiff, motionless, bloated, full of so much fluid.  It didn't feel like him.  I wanted to hold him but didn't want to all at the same time.  Like the balloon in my print.....Reaching for him and letting go simultaneously.  I knew he wasn't in this body, he was more like above us.  But this was the only chance I was going to get to hold him.  E.V.E.R.  I had to.  I wanted to.  I was so scared.  My heart was just mutilated.  I was so sad.  I was in disbelief and shock.  Composed.  How could I be composed?

They took out more tubes as I was holding him.  I was so confused.  I had no idea what was going on.  Was I supposed to know?  He made some gurgling sounds.  I let Patric hold him.  I wanted Patric to hold him.  I was too scared.  I didn't know what was happening.  I didn't want to know.  I left his room and cried.  I sat down at a nurse's desk and I cried and cried and cried.  I wanted time to stop.  I wanted it to go on forever.  I wanted Chase.  I wanted to be alone.  I wanted this all to never have happened.  I wanted him to get better and go home.  I was in conflict.  A conflict I would live in for the rest of my life.  Until that moment.  When I see my son again.  When I get to hold him.  When I get to feel him, hear him, smell him.  And I tell him how I feel about him.  How much, how deeply, how intensely I love him.  With all my heart.  With the heart of a mother who knows what it is like to have to let her son go.  Because that's the only thing she knew to do.

Oh god I miss you Chase.  I miss you so much.  I want to see you so badly it hurts.  And it will hurt forever.  Especially on this day, April 17th.  The day I said goodbye.

I have to write this too......I finished this post and clicked something.  Owen was grabbing at me as I typed the last half of this post.  I needed to type.  So I got up, tended to him, and came back and typed.  I had words on my mind at my fingertips that I had never had before.  Ever.  Some of this I have never written down anywhere.  Finally, I got it done.  I finished the last word and clicked as OWen was pulling at my arm.  And it was gone.  The whole post was gone.  I cried.  I cried the cry I was feeling each time I sat down to add to this post.  The cathartic cry.  I lost the post  I lost my boy.  My rainbow is here with me.  It's all okay.  But it's so sad.  I still lost in the end.  But I wasn't mad.  Just sad.  I can hold Owen.  I can't Chase.  
There was no place I could find what I had written on my computer.  Then I remembered blogger saves your unpublished drafts.  So it was all okay.  But I thought it was gone.  And it was okay.  I probably wouldn't rewrite it.  But would if I really needed to.  Because I have what I need.  My baby is here.  And he needs me.  So I must go to him now.  Because my angel is here, too.  And I need him.  

Monday, April 16, 2012

What it feels like

Today I left Owen with my sister's babysitter who was watching my niece and nephew while I went to my hair appointment.   I was going to be gone a while and was hoping to spend some time in a fun and fancy shopping district.  Thus, I decided Owen would more than likely make this challenging for me so for this reason, I decided to leave him with the babysitter.  

He cried when I left him, of course, and beings I very rarely do things on my own, I felt guilty for leaving him behind. Crummy, actually.  However, while I was sitting in the salon getting my "work done", the babysitter sent me a text with a picture of Owen smiling and having fun and texted "He's a happy boy now!"  This eased my guilt a bit and I was able to enjoy the rest of the appointment.  I did not stick around to shop, but ran an errand and headed back to pick him up.  

The closer I got to my sister's house, the more excited I got to see him.  I missed him.  A lot.  I couldn't wait to see him.  And I stopped myself.  For a brief moment.  I froze this moment.  This longing to see my child.  The strong desire to hold him again.  The butterflies in my stomach full of anticipation.  The giddiness.   I had an image of him in my  mind and I could almost taste the joy I would experience when I would see/feel/hold him again.  And I was grateful. 

This is the feeling I have for Chase All.The.Time.  I can't wait for that moment when I get to hold him in my arms again.  But I have to wait.  I have to wait for I don't know how long.  And I long for that moment.  But I get to see Owen right now.  I get to walk through that door and pick him up and kiss him and hug him and squeeze him tight and tell him how much I love him.  Oh how I wish I could do that with Chase.  I'm sad because I have to wait.  And wait.  And count my blessings.  And wait.  

But this is what it feels like.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Our special day

We had as good of a day as we could have...without you in our arms, anyway.  I imagine you running around at 3 years old.  You seem like a stranger when I do this, because my only pictures are of you as an infant.  But I still love you...the toddler I see running around.  I just feel like I don't know you.  What would you be like?  Calm like Reese?  Wild and destructive like Owen?  Somewhere in between?  I miss not knowing this.  I wish I could hold you, talk to you, feel you, hear you, smell you, kiss you.  I miss these things so painfully bad.  I know you should be here.  In every right, you should be here with us.  Where are you?  I wish I knew.  I wish I could visit  your world and come back to ours.  I wish I could have both worlds.  I wish they were one and the same.  

We celebrated you  yesterday.  It was beautiful.  It was terribly cold, but it was amazingly beautiful.  We sent you balloons and three of them did not make it up to you, but hopefully you still got them.  They had a note attached from your sister and I promised her I would make sure you saw it.  She was crushed when the trees got those balloons.  But the other balloons got to you, I know it.  They were from your brothers and sisters.  We want to give you so much more for your birthday than balloons.  A big party with toy tractors and cars and planes and baseballs and all the things we could watch you play with and play with you.  There's so much sadness in not getting to do that.  But we still celebrate you.  We honor you as best we know and we do what we can.  Emma wrote me a note "from you" and it was so incredibly sweet.  It said, "Today I am three, Mommy" and it made me cry.  I can't believe how much we all miss you.  I read this on Francesca's blog the other day and it has resonated with me (please click on that link to get the proper credit for this quote):
"She is not a creature who has much to do with time any longer.  Perhaps death removed her from this continuum where her mother still paces back and forth."
Time is so important to me anymore.  Yet it is not to you.  Waiting for the time I get to see you again is excruciating.  But then there will be no more measure of time.  And I must enjoy this life in the meantime.  

Here are some pictures from yesterday.  Moments so precious to me.  I love you sweet boy.  Happy, happy birthday in Heaven.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

Happy 3rd Birthday in Heaven

We love you and miss you with our whole hearts and minds sweet boy. Until we meet again...
Thank you, Kristy, for remembering my sweet boy and for sending such beautiful gifts.  I hope our boys are having extra fun today.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Five Minute Friday

I saw this post in BLM bloggers and clicked on it.  So you are given a topic and set your timer for five minutes and blog whatever comes to mind, unrehearsed, unedited, just whatever comes to mind.  This is the first time I've ever done this and the fact that I just happened to come across it today of all days....well, I couldn't NOT do this.  Here's the link:

Here's the topic:  Good-bye.

Three years ago today I thought long and hard about inducing labor as we were so excited to meet you.   

Anxious.  Nervous.  Scared.  Excited.  Fear.  Trauma.  Tragic.  Confusion.  Shock.  Emotions.  In the moment. 

We said hello.  And less than four days later we said good-bye.

I didn't know how to do it.  I didn't know what to say.  I didn't know what to feel.  I didn't know what to do.  I didn't want professional photographers.  I wanted just us.  

I remember holding you.  Finally.  For the first time.  And the last time.  I remember hurting so bad.  But the time wasn't enough.  It would never be enough.  You were in my arms.  And then you weren't.  I was so scared.  I really thought I could make you better.  When all the tubes and the medicine couldn't ... I thought I could.  It wasn't right.  Nothing was right about this moment.  This good-bye.  

That's it.  It was actually seven minutes, sorry.  Not very good. Just what's on my heart at this moment about this topic.  Dreadful.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

I miss you

Time is sneaking up.  Again.  Still.  Forever.  You are almost three.  But I don't know what you look like. I don't know your personality.  I don't know much about you and who you are.  How does that get explained in Heaven?  How will I know when I see you again?  How will all those questions be answered in just a moment....the moment I hold you in my arms again?

I don't know.  And some days it kills me.  It's so hard to imagine something.  Unless it's real.  Then you don't have to imagine.  I don't know how some days it's easy and some days it's not so.  I hear these words to a song in my head.  And I think of you.  " went away. How dare you.  I MISS you."  I sings those words for you.  Because it fits.   I know the song wasn't written for it, but those words mean that to me.  Because I do.  I MISS you.  So.  Much.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Goodbye Balloon

This print was given to me yesterday by my little sis for Chase's birthday.  I can't say enough about it and her gesture.  Both priceless.  This week is extremely taxing as I'm a single parent while my husband is working his a$$ off for our companies.  So I'm emotional, stressed, busy and tired.  Because I usually am tired these days!  A lot has happened so far this week already and yet I know as the weekend nears, my heart will be busted wide open again, feeling shattered and raw.  This picture, though, just makes me want to stare.  I love looking at it.  It speaks volumes to me.  A balloon for each of us in hand....and one just out of reach, floating away, yet always there.  Letting go....or reaching for it.....It's how I constantly feel about our sweet angel.  

I'm sad.  This month is tough for me....and so many of my friends.  It's how I met them.  This is where I met them.  This is when I met them...three years ago.  I'm thinking of all of you.  I hope you are getting through this month..or these months....just like I am.  With the comforting thoughts of our little ones and the comforting words and gestures of those around us who love us dearly.  


Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Visit

While on spring break, we had the opportunity to visit Chase's grave last week and did so knowing we will most likely not make it down on his actual birthday/angelversary this year.  It was the end of our trip so the 15 hour drive back home was pretty hard on all of us, though we are all glad we saw his grave and all glad to be home, as well.

It was hot at the cemetery yesterday but it was very pretty.  It was very green and a lot of pretty wild flowers, especially bluebonnets, growing this year.  We stopped in our usual place and picked out flowers for Chase and each of us arranged them at his marker.  I brought the bear some very dear friends gave me last year in church one day when Emma and their son sang "Godspeed" to the congregation.  I have slept with that bear every night since then and it holds a very special connection for me with my son.  I brought it to the grave with us and took some pictures.

It's hard to feel Chase's presence sometimes.  Sometimes I try too hard.  Owen keeps me busy no matter where we are and he was pretty busy at the cemetery.  I do whatever I can to make me feel like Chase's mom.  I put the flowers on his grave and situate them and move them around and look at each flower and situate them again.  I talk to him and tell him how much I miss him and that I promise to see him again one day.  I look around and try to find signs.  There was a tree, the one casting the shadow on our family picture, that had a little birds nest in it, just above my head.  There were lots of flowers around to make me think of him.  The sun was shining, but not many clouds in the sky to try to find him in.  I know he's there, it's just hard to know where.  Maybe its in us--each of us.  Maybe that's why it was so hard to pinpoint him.  It just amazes me how normal this scene is for my kids.  To pick out flowers and visit a cemetery and pay respects to their brother.  But it is.  They will know this feeling and have this memory there whole lives.  We plan on moving Chase to a cemetery that is more accessible to us.  I'm a little sad that he will be leaving this cemetery because I like it, but it's just so hard for us to get to it and moving him will definitely allow us to visit him more often.  And it's not like it's "him", I know that.  But it's a physical place to celebrate him and remember him and know that the parts of him that made him a real little person on this earth and a part of this family are here.  His spirit, the love we feel for him and send him is always with us, but having his gravesite to visit is part of who we are now.  When we get settled in a permanent place, I want to have a memorial garden for him that I can see every day.  But for now,  this is what we do and how we live our lives with our little angel.  We have just under two weeks until his 3rd birthday.  A lot is going on in our lives and then again, there's a lot that is not.  I know wherever we go to celebrate his birthday will be special and I look forward to finding a little bit of peace in that day.