Why The 4th Reminds Me To Stay Present

Four years ago this very day I woke up dazed, exhausted and extremely grateful. Our house had been struck by lightening the night before. As I ran out of the house with my three boys I remember looking back at the flames shooting out of our roof. It was traumatic and upsetting. Hours after the fire was extinguished, my husband and I walked through our home which was filled with water and uninhabitable. It was an upsetting sight. The next morning when we saw our home in the daylight we couldn’t believe our eyes. Many of our possessions upstairs were damaged. Every room in the house was damaged. The most important things, or rather people, were all safe. This was not lost on my family.

The day after the fire, the 4th of July, we took the kids into town and watched the joy in their eyes as they danced around to the parade music. Feelings of gratitude washed over me. One of my most vivid memories was when a friend was lamenting about how tough it would be to rebuild our house. My answer was, “It can all be replaced. If we had lost any of these three children, we wouldn’t be here today”. It was the truth and I knew it.

Throughout the summer, we reinforced how blessed we were to all have gotten out of our home safely. We reiterated that material things can be replaced, people can’t. When we were living out of a hotel, and then a rental home, we talked about how home was wherever we all were together. Sure, there were moments where incidental things caused high emotions. Making decisions about our home that needed to be gutted and rebuilt was stressful. Even while we were aware that the situation had potential to be much worse, life marched on with all of its ups and downs.

The summer carried on, and we settled into the rental home we were set to live in while our home was being rebuilt. There were many happy memories made throughout that summer. Time was spent with family and friends and after a back to school party, Christian was ready to enter first grade.

Just days before, he was called to heaven and EVERYTHING changed. The trauma from this event far exceeded the trauma of the fire. The very thing we were grateful for all summer had turned into our worst nightmare. It was as if my words on the 4th of July foreshadowed the end of the summer. In my mind, the lightening strike at the start of the summer set into motion the events that concluded the summer. Many times I have questioned, pondered and wondered why it has happened like this. The lightening strike was around 7pm on a Thursday night, and eight weeks later on a Thursday night around 6:30 pm, the worst event of my life occurred.

It is my belief that I will see my beautiful son one day again. I don’t know if I will ever know the reason why he was taken from us. I’m not sure if at this point it would make a difference. The fact is that he is gone. We cannot change that. He taught many people and changed many lives in his six short years. He continues to do that through me. His love transcends time and space. His energy is felt by many. I miss him so much. It makes me angry that he is not here anymore. It makes me angry that despite showing gratitude for what is truly important in life, it wasn’t enough to save him.

Summer is always a reminder of the final summer we spent as a whole family, together. It’s the time of the year when we abandon our hectic schedules and spend lazy days in the pool, late nights catching fireflies and connect with others we haven’t seen in a while. Each summer I think about what it would be like if Christian was still here. I wonder what his interests would be, which friends would come over to swim and always what he would be like with his siblings. It is a reminder to me about why it is so necessary to stay in the moment. We just never know when it is the final days with the ones we love. Love to heaven…

What “Grieving Mom Brain” Has Taught Me

We have all heard about “Mom Brain”, the condition that occurs when a woman is pregnant and continues while she is raising her children. I, myself, had Mom Brain pretty bad during pregnancy. One day my best friend arrived at my house to find me sitting calmly on the couch, while my car door was wide open in my driveway. Just one of my many examples.

Grieving Mom Brain” is just as bad! When I first lost my son, it set in and remained for some time. As I began practicing daily stress relieving routines, I found the condition improved. Just like millions of other moms, grieving or not, I don’t always sleep well. It is on the day after a poor night’s sleep that Grieving Mom Brain returns. Thinking and concentrating is extremely difficult. If I have something I am particularly worried or stressed about, Grieving Mom Brain sets in.

So, if you ever see me staring at you with a blank look on my face, it is likely I am lost inside my own brain. We all make jokes and laugh about this, but it can sometimes be frightening to feel your brain shutting down. It is only further proves to me how damaging stress can be! For this reason and many others, I practice self care on a daily basis. As Mother’s Day approaches, I urge all moms to examine their own self care routines. If you don’t have one in place, start small. Maybe take 15 minutes a day to do something that feeds your soul; take a walk, read, call a friend, journal, etc. You won’t regret it! Love to heaven…

Get It Done!

I am really good at procrastinating about some things. When I have a list of emotionally difficult tasks to complete, I tend to let them pile up and knock them out all at once. Today I feel like I am standing on a mountain, waving a victory flag! My list of emotionally charged tasks is complete, for now. My mountain imagery is a bit dramatic, but some of these tasks have been lingering for over three years. They have caused me sleepless nights, wracked me with guilt and led to negative thoughts. Today I feel accomplished. The tasks are not fully complete yet, but the ball is no longer in my court!

Why have I procrastinated for so long? Well some of these tasks being completed makes losing Christian even more real. Sure, it’s been more than three years if reality, but certain things confirm the finality of loss. Some other tasks required photos to be reviewed and words written about my angel. Again, causing me to confront a time in my life when all of my children lived with me on Earth is extremely difficult.

The amount of relief I feel after completing these tasks is actually surprising. It was weighing me down even more than I realized. The outcome is still the same. Christian is gone forever. Now, however, I am relieved of a small amount of parental guilt. We all feel better when we are relieved of any guilt!

So, my PSA today is to stop procrastinating! Maybe you need to schedule in your hard tasks, maybe you need to get a friend to nudge you or maybe you need to get a new to-do pad. I forgot I did that this weekend. Who knows if that is what inspired me? Whatever it is, get to it and stop stressing it, says the woman who procrastinated completing a task for three years! Another lesson learned. Love to heaven…

Surrounding Support

Yesterday I started to write this post. I published it by mistake before I finished it. I did eat a healthy breakfast and… it ended there. I was exhausted and feeling sad. I couldn’t, in good conscience, claim I followed through on my healthy habits.

This morning. I wrestled with myself. I woke up exhausted again but I followed through with my workout and have more energy than I did when I woke up! Now I feel validated to publish this post!

I hope everyone had a happy and blessed Easter. Our day was filled with egg hunts, excited children, family, love and blessings. I fell into bed last night! Unfortunately, my sleep has not been great lately. Last night was another night of twists and turns and nightmares. Honestly, after the night I had, I felt like today would just be a survival day not a “living” day. Until, I looked down at my phone.

There was an inspirational message from my trainer and good friend. She declared that, “Easter is about rebirth and new beginnings so what better time to recommit yourself… start with evaluating your why”.

In that moment, I knew I had to show up for myself today. Part of that meant starting the day with a healthy, well intentioned, breakfast. I could have come down and just eaten what I felt like. There are plenty of sweets left over from yesterday, despite most of them being given away. Instead, I relied on my normal routine breakfast so I didn’t have to think. In eating a breakfast I knew was healthy, I immediately began the day in a positive manner.

Support and routine habits are two of the most important tools for making changes. In my case, I am striving to continue on my healing path. These tools are not only helpful in my situation, however. These tools apply to all situations in which change is the desired outcome.

As a bereaved mother, support has looked different for me throughout my journey. In the beginning support was basic. I needed people to help me survive, help me take care of my boys, to let me know they were there to help me with anything. Shortly into the journey, support looked like coffee dates, lunches with friends and walks. It has evolved into many things. In addition to my friends who have been there since the beginning, my support now means having a trainer, who has become a dear friend and amazing support. It means having a workout partner, who is also a dear friend. It means attending therapy sessions each week. These people and actions keep me accountable. They keep me on track. They remind of why I am working hard on this journey. When I get too into my head, they call me out on it.

They also keep me in my routine. Some days I need their help more than others. When I am following my routine, it makes things that much easier. It takes thinking out of the equation. It’s Tuesday, so I go to workout class at 9. I’ve been doing this for over a year. I know if I go, I will feel better. I also know if I don’t go, my trainer will call me to see what happened. There are checks and balances in place for me. In the past, needing this much help would have felt weak. Now, I know what I need to be successful and I fully accept and embrace it. That doesn’t mean I don’t fall down. I do. It just means I get back up quicker. Don’t ever be afraid to ask for what you need. No one exists alone in this world. Love to heaven…