Hugs From Heaven

Albert Einstein said, “Energy cannot be created or destroyed, it can only be changed from one form to another.” When we lose someone we love, we quickly learn this lesson. Yesterday this idea was further strengthened for me when a mom from the school where Christian attended Kindergarten, and where Anthony goes now, approached me. She asked if she could speak to me for a moment, assuring me that nothing was wrong. She proceeded to tell me a story about how her dog ran away last weekend. The last place he had been was the playground built in Christian’s memory.

It took four long hours and then she miraculously found him in some thick brush a little ways away from the playground. When she reached this point of the story, I had an idea of what she was going to say. It did not come as a surprise when she said that she truly believes that Christian helped her find her dog. I won’t go into the details. That is her story to tell. The thing that did come as a surprise was how she described Christian’s energy. She had never met him before. In fact, she and her family had only moved to the community when the playground had just been completed. Yet, she was able to describe his spirit and his energy in the exact same way I feel him. She even commented that he “has such a large presence for a young boy”. She also said, “it’s like a big hug”. It was invigorating to hear someone who never knew him describe him as I feel him. In a way it was validating that he is watching over the community. It was validating that others who were not connected to him in the Earthly realm find connections to him now.

As a bereaved mother, I wish with all my might that Christian was still here. It has been a long process to actually accept that. I’m still not sure I am fully there, even though I live it. Of course intellectually I know he will never be in my arms again, but to know that he actively lives on in spirit, makes my heart sing. Love to heaven…

Memorials, Memories and Mugpotato

I am sitting quietly in my bed, hoping if I don’t breathe too loudly my son won’t hear me. As far as I can tell, he only came in to change his clothes and pee. My mind and body are exhausted to the core. My husband travelled all week and is finally home. The kids are outside with him and I am writing in pure silence.

Not once, but twice, today I found myself in tears. Funny when those things spring out of your eyes and you are not expecting it. In hindsight, on the heels of all of my achievements yesterday, I should have seen it coming. There was a lot of emotion attached to them.

Tomorrow proves to be another exciting and emotional day. The customized backs will finally go on to the buddy benches at Christian’s Adventure, the playground built in memory of him. These backs are complete with his drawings and his name written in his own handwriting. So, yeah, more tears tomorrow.

I have been asked a few times since my post yesterday if all of these tributes to him evoke more happiness or sadness. The truth is both equally. My main quest as a mom of a child who has passed away is to make sure he is never forgotten. These projects and tributes ensure that he will not be forgotten. They are also extremely emotional because there would be no reason for them if he was still here.

Today, as I was sitting on the bench at school, one of Christian’s Kindergarten classmates came over. He said, “Do you remember me?” I said, “Of course! How are you Mateo?” We talked for a little bit and then I said, “For the first 2 days of Kindergarten Christian came home telling me that he had a boy named Mugpotato in his class. Of course I said, ‘can’t be Christian.’ He swore your name was Mugpotato.” Finally on the third day he came home and his little voice said, “Mom! His name is Mateo!” We had a good laugh about that one!

Mateo and I talked for a little longer and then I said goodbye. As I walked down the steps to sign my son, Anthony out as a walker, I passed more of Christian’s classmates. I heard one girl say, “Hey, there’s Christian’s mom!” That’s right, I thought, I will always be Christian’s mom. He may not be here to tell me funny stories anymore or to give me the gossip about who likes who in his class, but I will always be his mom. He will always be in my heart, and in his friends’. For that, I am eternally grateful. Love to heaven…

Just as I was finishing this post, there was a familiar ring, letting me know the front door had opened. Then breaking the silence, “Mom?” My time is up!

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…

When Heaven is Where Your Brother Lives

As a mother of one, I was terrified to add another child to the mix. How could I do this to Christian? What if I didn’t have enough love for both children? How would I handle those times when both of them needed me at the same time? These are all questions that ran through my mind. Very common questions and thoughts. All were answered as soon as my second son entered the world. I had just given Christian one of the best gifts, a younger brother. From personal experience, I knew what a gift this was. Having a sibling means having someone to play with, someone to learn from, someone to share with. Sure, there would be a learning curve, but eventually he would thank me for this other being who would wholly understand the idiosyncrasies of our family, like no one else.

That time did not arrive as quickly as I had hoped! The learning curve and adjustment took some time. Quite honestly, it was probably more difficult for me than him. When the time came however, that he and Anthony were able to play together, they melted my heart. There was a lot of fighting. I am not going to sugar coat that. There were also a ton of laughs. The two of them together would sing silly songs, dance around, play with cars, build blocks; all the normal things that brothers do. As a parent, seeing two beings who you love more than anything, love and enjoy each other, makes your heart sing.

Then, when Anthony was one, we found out there would be yet another little person added to our family. Surprise and fear are just two words I will use to describe our emotions at that time. After getting over the surprise, excitement also set in. We knew that baby number three would complete our family. We were overjoyed when Nicky made us a family of five, no one more than Christian. Anthony had just turned two, but Christian, at the age of five really loved Nicky. He was the first person to make him laugh, he loved helping me take care of him and he loved being an older brother to two younger siblings. With three boys under five, I was completely overwhelmed. We added a move into that equation when Nicky was eight months old and I was spent! The boys, however, rolled with it all. They grew closer and closer. When Christian went off to Kindergarten, Anthony would say immediately after he left, “I miss Christian.” Life was fast paced, demanding, crazy and exhausting.

Fast forward to today, where my two boys are five and seven. Life is fast paced, demanding, crazy and exhausting. That love and admiration between all three brothers remains. Added into the equation is the sadness of their oldest brother not being here physically. It is a harrowing experience to try to explain to a five and seven year old where their brother is, why he is not here, when they will see him again and that most people don’t enter heaven that young. Children simply do not process things the way we do, which was a positive aspect of them being so young when we lost Christian. As they grow however, and their brains mature, so does their level of understanding.

Anthony, who is seven, seems to be entering a deeper level of understanding. A few different things have happened lately, leading me to this conclusion. Just yesterday, while playing at a nature park with friends, he broke down in tears. At this park there is a beautiful memorial to Christian. It is a tree with three bird houses, one for each of my boys. Under it is a rock with Christian’s name inscribed on it. Anthony was sitting on the rock, sobbing. When I reached him he verbalized that each time he sees something that reminds him of his brother or hears someone talking about his brother, it makes him want to cry. Heart breaking, simply heart breaking. A child at the young age of seven should not have to deal with the depth and meaning of the emotions surrounding such a tragedy. This is his journey, though. Through my own journey I have learned that there is nothing I can do to change that. He needs to walk his own path. Certainly I can, and do, guide him. I encourage him to feel his feelings and share. As a family, we talk about Christian openly and often. Yet, no one truly knows how Anthony feels, other than children in his position.

It is downright terrifying to know that as much as I want to take this pain away from him, I cannot. My mother has voiced this same sentiment to me about my own journey and pain. All I can do is let Anthony know that he will never be alone on his journey. He will always have his family walking beside him. I can also give him the tools to get through his pain. No one escapes the world without pain. My hope for him is that learning how to use these tools at a young age will make him that much stronger. He needs to know we are a family of fighters. We are a family of strength. We are a family of love. If nothing else, my hope is that he learns this. Child loss is an ongoing barrage of emotions, especially for the family. I must arm my children with the tools to walk on their journey through their pain. Along with their angel, I will never let them walk alone. 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…