Friday, July 20, 2012

A Conversation

I tucked O into his crib for his morning nap and quietly left the room. I walked down the hall, around the corner and my heart melted as I saw my Joey laying on the couch. His blue blanket was tucked under his arm and wrapped around his hands. His hair was messy and eyes still puffy from waking up just a short time before.
"Can I sit with you, bud?" I asked him. He looked up and smile, then nodded. We sat and cuddled watching one of his favorites, Lady and The Tramp. He adores this movie but is also very bothered by the crying dogs at the pound and the way the mean Aunt Sarah in the movie is cruel to Lady and her friend, Tramp.
"Aw, mommy I no like when dey sad." He quietly mumbled.
"I don't like it either.."
"Mommy, sometimes you get sad? you get sad when Catie Wosie hapt to go to heaben."

He asks this occasionally, always referring the word or feeling "sad" to Catie dying. I never want to admit to him that I'm sad, I feel as his mom that I should always be strong. I don't want him to worry about his mommy being anything other than happy. However, the truth is I am sad. I do miss my sister and I believe its better for him to understand that being sad is normal, though it doesn't feel good, there is nothing wrong with having that feeling. He is a very straight up kid. Everything is black and white, playing pretend isn't something that he enjoys too often. He likes things for what they are, he likes the truth, and so thats what I give him. In toddler amounts at least.. I also want him to know that although we are sad and miss Catie Rosie, we can be happy to know that she is all better now and has no boo-boos.

I took a deep breath and said, "yes Joey, sometimes mommy gets very sad. I even cry. Its because I miss Auntie Catie Rosie. But she's in heaven now so she's okay.." He looked up at me with a hopeful look and forced smile.
"yeah she did go to heaben but she gonna come back. I gonna see her today" he said, nodding his little head.
"No baby, we don't get to see her today. I wish we did! that would be so fun! But when someone goes to heaven they don't come back and visit."
"but she hap to! she hap to come someday!" He said in a very frustrated voice. His little blonde eyebrows scrunched tightly across his bright blue eyes.
"Sweetie, Catie Rosie is not coming to see us. I'm sorry, but we can draw her a picture for the angels to bring to heaven tonight if you'd like?"

We met with a grief psychiatrist about 1 month ago. Joey's appetite had decreased after Catie's death. We couldn't get him to eat meals, he wasn't even interested in snacks and often complained of stomach pain. His sleep pattern had changed and our independent, non-cuddle child was unable to fall asleep at night unless he was lying between Kyle and myself, one hand or foot touching us at all times. He began to isolate himself and would constantly ask where family members were in a panicked voice as if he was afraid someone else would die. Among other things, Joey had classic signs of childhood depression. The psychiatrist gave me some amazing tips to help Joey understand to his best ability, what death is. That every living thing dies and that it makes us sad. I asked him about the cemetery. Do I raise my boys going there? Joey could never understand what the cemetery is, so we came up with an idea to call it "Catie's Park." We can go there to think about Catie and when we miss her we can write her a letter, bring her a gift or something. When we leave it at her special spot in the park, angels will come at night to get the gifts and bring them to Catie Rosie in heaven. He has improved since this meeting so greatly that I canceled the last appointment scheduled and we have started having picnics at Catie's park. Today however, the idea of bringing something to the park was not enough..

Joey began to cry. He buried his face into his blue blanket and cried out, "no mom! she hap to come back. I not gonna bwing her anyting. I gonna see her."

I picked up my crying boy, holding back tears myself. I laid his little head on my chest and wrapped my arms all around him. I just held him tight and rocked him back and forth for a while.

"I know you're sad sweetie. Its ok to cry and be sad, Mommy loves you so much."

He was quiet and still, looked up at me, his eyes full of tears and said, "Mommy? Can I watch Toy Story?"

Thats my boy. Adapt and overcome. Toy Story it is...

Friday, July 13, 2012

A Bad Dream

Two months ago today, my family was changed forever. It was a change we knew was coming, we just didn't know how greatly it would hurt. For the last 62 days I have been hoping that today would hurt less, or that maybe the hurt would still be just as great but feel less intense. I've been told by the many people who have been through this kind of heart ache that it gets better, you get used to it, the days get easier etc. I guess it hasn't been long enough because it just hurts more and more. Losing my sister wasn't like a cut or wound. Where it hurts and after time the pain decreases.. It feels more like being thirsty and waiting and waiting for a drink of cold water. The longer you go without it the greater your thirst. Its like the more time that passes the more desperate I am to see her, hear her and touch her.

The day she passed runs through my head all day long like a video. I also dream it over and over.. My dream always starting with her laughing. Belly laughing like she loved to do. Then it transitions into her crying and then suddenly she is gone, my family circled around her sobbing. A nurse walks in and announces that we need to move her to a different hospital room and when we arrive to that room my dream starts all over again with her laughing etc. The brain is a crazy thing... the way it holds on to things. I don't cry as often when I wake from these dreams but I always try to go back to sleep so I can dream it again just so I can dream the very quick part when she's laughing.

I have moments daily where parts of that day flash through my mind. The one most often, for whatever reason, being a memory of my dad. I was sitting on the bench in front of the window of her room with my head on Kyles shoulder and I looked up to see my Daddy. He was sitting in a chair with a high back, both feet on the floor. His arms were laying on the side of the chair and his hands hung over the edge of the arm rest. His shoulders were sunk and his head hanging low. I noticed his face was dry. He had no tears in his eyes or on his face and he was quiet and still. He looked so quiet and calm that I thought I had been dreaming, that Catie hadn't passed. I looked up at my sister, her body white and cold. She wasn't moving, she wasn't making any sounds. Her black hair was softly brushed over to the side and her jaw relaxed open. I watched for her chest to rise and couldn't see movement. I didn't have my glasses on, maybe I just couldn't see clear enough? My mom was still holding her, one arm under her neck and one arm laying over her chest. I looked back at my dad who was in the same position, still not crying and I thought to myself, I really was dreaming. This was just a bad dream. My dad is too calm! She is still with us, she hasn't died! A split second of hope and desperation overcame me and I asked, "daddy, why aren't you crying?" I was waiting to hear him tell me its because he was thinking, or praying or resting next to her bed side. Instead, he told me, "I think I'm just out of tears." He then burried his face in his hands and started to sob. I knew then that I wasn't dreaming. My sister was gone.

That is the memory my mind replays the most. Day after day. even now, two months later, I can still feel that feeling of hope and desperation that she didn't really die. That my dads gonna say, "its ok kel, she's here." Its like a horrible mind game that I'm still waiting to end. I have to see proof of her death some days because I can't always accept it as reality. So, I look at her picture, the one from her viewing to confirm her body was there in a casket or I walk to my moms and sit in what used to be her room and I know its all true.

How perfect that this morning, as I struggle with the fact that its been another month without her, my purple Angel Face rose bush in the backyard bloomed another beautiful flower. That is God right there.. you can take that as coincidence or Caties spirit. I believe its the one true Holy Spirit showing his grace and mercy to me on this day. Reminding me that "to be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord" and while this has been the worst two months of my life, my sister has no idea of time because she is in a place where time does not exist. She is just perfect and happy and more beautiful than I could ever imagine. I'm going to bring her this purple rose and press on through day 63 and day 64 and make the most of it until I can see her again..

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Silence & Sunshine

I woke up and was still. My mind fuzzy as I began to try and figure out what day of the week it was, the date, the time. It was then that my eyes filled instantly with tears. I got out of bed and kissed the baby good morning and thanked God for my son and another day. I continued out to the kitchen to make our morning coffee and it was there that I began to sob. My chest tight and airway closing, my mind flooded with memories of Catie during her very last weekend of life, her weekend in Santa Cruz. I eventually caught my breathe, threw some cold water on my face, blew my nose and continued making coffee.

This happens quite often. A feeling of panic and overwhelming grief when I can clearly see my sisters face, her smile. The pain of missing her is so much more than I ever could have imagined. Still, life goes on. It does not stop and thats why the coffee was brewed and we were on our way to Santa Cruz for the day as a family.

I had tried multiple times to avoid this day trip, suggesting to my husband that we should save gas money, maybe spend the day with family instead. Use that time during the day to get things fixed up around the house etc. Each time I was told, in a child-like excitement, "no, I'm excited to go! Joey has been asking ever since the weekend of the Relay if we could go back. The thought of surprising him is getting me through these work days." What a guy. Really! My amazing husband, desperate to take his family away for the day. I know at any time I could have been honest and told him I wasn't ready to go back to Santa Cruz. Just the thought brought tears to my eyes and tightened my chest. I could have told him that although I know my sister is gone, I feel crazy enough to drive over to the beach house just to be sure she's not there. Hopeful that she could be and desperate that she would be. I could have told him, but he was excited to go for the sake of our little boy. Joey has literally been asking to return to Santa Cruz with daddy every day since the day we left that weekend in May. The weekend before Catie died, one week to the day before I made promises to her hours before she took her last breath. Promises that meant going to Santa Cruz with my husband and boys no matter how hard it might be. And so, off we went...

It was a beautiful day. Perfect blue skies, a warm breeze lightly blowing across the sand and my boys all around me. I took deep breaths and quietly sat and stared at the beach. Clearly imagining the flags and banners that lined the finish line years ago where Catie would find the strength to run across with her team of runners. I didn't cry, or get upset, I enjoyed the memories as they are sometimes hard to remember. While feeding Owen and thinking back on these special moments I was interrupted by Joey. "Mom!! hey Ma!! lets go down to da osen! I wuv it so much!" I handed the baby off to Kyle and walked down to the water with my son. As we got closer to the edge of the waves I felt his tiny hand, covered in sand and oily from sunscreen grab my fingers so very tightly. I looked down at him and saw his enormous smile looking up at me, his bright blue eyes shining, "Com'on! lets go in it! it so cold!!" I grabbed onto his hand and we walked into the water. The soft waves crashed into my legs while splashing up to his little waste and he squealed. I picked up his other hand and swung him up into the air above the water and back down into it, splashing back and forth. Thats when it happened, there in the sunshine. Suddenly I could hear nothing but complete silence. I looked down at him and he was hanging from my hands, his head dropped back and completely relaxed. His eyes were closed and his smile peacefully reaching from ear to ear. He held on tight, completely trusting me to hold him over the water and there he stayed, swinging back and forth. I couldn't hear the waves, I couldn't hear the children around us, I could only hear silence. I stood there staring at him and felt an incredible wave of peace and calmness completely wash over me. I was reminded in that moment of Gods perfect plan for my life. For the gift of my son. I felt completely grateful for the new memories made in that very moment and for the many more I know we will get to make together in the future.

As we were packing up the car and brushing all the sand off of our little boys my husband stopped and grabbed me. He looked into my eyes and thanked me for being brave. For putting our little family first and for going to Santa Cruz with him. He apologized for not considering the pain that might come out of returning there so soon and then kissed me softly. I assured him that while today was an extremely emotional day, he and the boys give me hope and  keep going. That earlier in that moment of Silence and Sunshine, I was able to breathe and know my sister was smiling down on me.

Saturday, July 7, 2012

A new blog

Where to start.. I'm not really sure. I feel as though I have to start from May 14th. The first day of the second half of my life, the new life I must learn to live. I've blogged before but that was all coming from the old me, the me in the only world I knew and the one I loved the most. But, now I'm living a new chapter of life and with that comes a new blog. I've been debating whether or not to even start one. With a lot of encouragement from many people I've thought, yeah! I'll start writing again. Then I sit down to write and can't find the words to express any of the feelings I have. But then small things happen, sometimes big things. Things that confirm my faith in God, things that confirm the safety of my sister and things that encourage me to continue each day no matter how difficult they may be. If they encourage me, maybe they'll encourage one more person, so why not go for it. Here goes...