Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Thanksgiving and Such

I really need to start doing better about posting updates.  But, let's face it...life is busy.  And I may be a horrible time manager these days.  Back in my professional life, I did much better about it.  I was a To-Do lister from the word go.  I worked to make sure that I was accomplishing the tasks required to get the job done.  Now though, I don't make To-Do lists.  I basically just try to get as much done during the day as possible, but I feel so disorganized!  Honestly, I just try to keep up with little Ms. Addalee!  She does a pretty good job of telling me what needs to happen yet.  I spend more time with rattles and Kick and Play seats than I do at my sewing machine and craft table, and while the house is a wreck, I'm right where I'm supposed to be.

This all leads me to what I'm thankful for this year.  I have so much to be thankful for.  In my last post, I shared some of my very personal and raw feelings about feeling jealousy and anger.  I was told by one person that I seemed ungrateful and insensitive.  I hate that she felt that way.  I really do.  I never want to hurt someone with my words, never.  That's not what this blog is about.  It's about healing and love, and sometimes crafts and recipes :)  I share what I feel from my heart.  So, I will reiterate that I'm sorry if my words hurt you or seemed insensitive.  But I can't apologize for how I felt and feel.  I'm so thankful for Addalee, and all the other tons of blessings showered on me.  In the same breath as my thankfulness and joy, are hurt and sorrow and longing for little Caroline.  But this is just the balance that I'm trying to learn to live with.  Most days, I hold my head up and go through my day...other days, I just go through the motions.

Depression has been something that I've battled for years.  There, I said it.  It's like a dirty little secret.  A skeleton in my closet.  My depression started being unmanageable when I was 18.  I was a senior in high school, and it got out of hand.  Through years of hard work and some medication from time to time, I have learned to live with it.  I have learned how to manage this dark cloud that just sweeps in sometimes.  I think that this depression still lurks.  I think that it hangs around and waits to jump on my back when it senses weakness...and sometimes, I feel weak.  I have been working really hard lately to keep this ugly monster at bay recently, and I'm tired of working on it, to be honest.  I think that's why I've been having more anger, jealousy, and sadness than I was having for a while.  But, I guess the first step is realizing you have a problem, right?  So, I'm just going to keep on keeping on.

Thankfully, (see how I brought it back around there...pretty good, huh?) I have a super supportive family and a bright eyed, generally smiley little girl here to help me out.  Addalee is growing so much and I want her to SLOW DOWN!  She had her first Thanksgiving this year and she is gearing up for her first Christmas!  She already gave us her wishlist!  That stinker!

My family doesn't really do a traditional, "What are you thankful for?" thing, but I wish they did.  So, since I didn't do an official list anywhere, I'm going to give a few things that I'm thankful for now.
1.  My salvation - my guarantee that I'll see all my loved ones again
2.  My daughters - they're both amazing girls, and they've both changed my life in huge ways
3.  My husband - my constant companion, my best friend, and my strong shoulder to cry on
4.  My family - a crazy bunch of people who love me, even though they know me
5.  My friends - always supportive and always there
6.  Provisions - having a comfortable house, good food, clean clothes, dependable car

Just a few pictures from our Thanksgiving:

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hey Jealousy

Jealousy.  Envy.  Covetousness.  The green-eyed monster.

Feeling jealous isn't something I enjoy, but I can't help it.  I manage to stay away from feeling jealous of the "shallow" things that consume some people...cars, money, status.  But lately I've really caught myself being jealous of families.  I'm jealous of families with more than one child.  I see a mom and 2 little girls and I cringe.  Yes, I have Addalee here, and I'm beyond thankful for that, but I have 2 daughters and I want my first one too!  I'm jealous that they haven't had their world rocked by loss.  I'm jealous that from the outside looking in their lives are perfect.  Ugh.

I know no one has a perfect life.  But I know that most people don't have to go through losing a child.  I know that many people sail through life seemingly unscathed.  And some days, this doesn't bother me...today I'm a little angry.

I try to stay away from the jealousy and anger as much as possible.  And I think I do a pretty good stinking job, but sometimes you just wanna scream!

So, here I am...screaming!  I feel better already!  :)

I guess a lot of my problem started the other day when I was at the craft store buying fabric to make some more blankets for families who lose their precious little ones.  I explained to the lady measuring and cutting the fabric what it was for and she said, "Oh how nice."  Yeah.  I know.  You're uncomfortable.  It's uncomfortable.  Deal with it.  So, I guess she just needed to say more...maybe she was just trying to be nice.  She said that she had once been to the funeral of a little boy, who was a twin, and the other twin was still living.  She talked about how hard that must have been.  (I agree, it would be hard...any child's funeral, make that ANY funeral is hard.)  I shared about our Caroline.  Even more uncomfortable.  Then she said 2 things that make me wanna throw some punches...something about a flower for a garden or whatever that mess is, and that it was probably for the best since something must have been wrong with her.  Wait, what?!  Backup, lady!  What??!!  Could you please speak into this mic, I have a backup right here (okay, now I'm just being dumb, but you get the point).  I kindly told her that there was NOTHING wrong with my child.  She was perfectly healthy, that it was a cord accident.  And I included that I wouldn't have cared what was wrong with her, she was my child and I love her and wanted her now matter what.  Then I got the heck outta there.

I'm really happy that Addalee was with me, otherwise I'm not sure how pretty that scene may have been!  Thankfully, she was right there with me, sleeping peacefully and beautifully.  It took one look at her to calm me down.  She doesn't take away missing her sister, but she sure does make life sweeter!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Small Enough

Have you ever wondered if anyone is listening?  Or felt so defeated that you just wanted to lay down right where you are?  Or just wanted a hug or some reassurance?  Or needed to know that SOMEONE truly cared?  I know I have. 

Another thing I know is that life is both beautiful and messy.  Surviving the deaths of those that you love is messy.  Grieving is dirty work.  It’s hard and exhausting and painful and indefinite.  It’s ugly.  Yet while you’re doing that ugly work, there are the “simple” miracles of the sunrise, or rainbows, or the beauty of the fall leaves around you to remind you that it’s not all bad.  Life is good.  But sometimes, it sure is hard to see the forest for the trees…

On November 7, 2008 my cousin Brian passed away.  He was like a brother to me.  Being an only child, and growing up so close with my cousins, they were (and still are) my brothers.  Brian was only 32 when he went Home.  He had a heart attack.  It still doesn’t seem real to me.  I know it is, yet I can’t completely reconcile the fact that he really is gone.  When Addalee was born, I actually had the thought that I needed to call him and share the news.  Even though it’s been 3 years now since I’ve spoken to him, I still think to call him more often than not.

Because of this anniversary, I’ve been doing some reflecting.  For better or worse, when these days come around, I think about the loved one who is no longer here more than I do on the average day.  Brian is never far from my mind.  I think about how badly I miss him, but after going through what I have with Caroline, my heart is breaking again for his mom.  My aunt is living a nightmare.  She lives each day missing her son.  She has a grave to visit, and that’s no way for any parent to have to live.  The fact that so many of us are living with a piece of ourselves missing breaks my heart and makes me feel small and scared.

I came across this bible verse and it really struck me:  “This you have seen, O Lord; Do not keep silence.  O Lord, do not be far from me.” –Psalm 35:2.  I’m thankful to have had my faith when going through losing Brian and Caroline.  I feel comfort in knowing that we’ll all be reunited one day in Heaven.  Without that comfort, I believe it’d be too much to handle.  But what about those days when Heaven seems so exceedingly far away?!  What about the days when you’re all alone in the here and now?  Sometimes God can seem far away.  Sometimes I feel like I might be lost in the crowd.  I’m assured that this isn’t the case, yet I can’t help but feel it.  I’m so happy that I’m not the only one who has felt this.  I’m blessed by these words from the Bible – O Lord, do not be far from me!  Please let me feel you, comfort me, tell me everything is going to be alright. 

There’s a song that I really identify with called “Small Enough” by Nichole Nordeman.  It’s about feeling so small in the world and the grand scheme of things and defeated, and asking God to be small enough for you to feel Him.  I want to share my favorite part (and encourage you to check out the whole song)

All praise and all the honor be to the God of ancient mystery
Whose every sign and wonder turned the pages of our history
But tonight my heart is heavy
And I cannot keep from whispering this prayer
"Are You there?"

So, I’ve been asking Him, “Are You there?”  And the answer is yes.  Even if it is just a whisper.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Caroline's First Birthday

October has come and gone.  I have to admit, that I’m glad it’s behind me.  October was a month that I was dreading for a while.  It held so much emotion that I was scared to face it.  The thing about most situations is that you can’t avoid them forever.  Even if I had tried to avoid Caroline’s birthday and all the emotion attached to it, the day still would have come.  So, I chose to try to embrace it as much as I could.  Some days were better than others, but overall it wasn’t quite as hard as I thought it would be. 

I couldn’t decide what I thought we should do to honor our sweet girl’s first Heavenly birthday.  It was a lot like picking out her headstone in that nothing seemed good enough.  I saw something from a fellow BLM that really seemed like something I wanted to do.  I went to Hobby Lobby and picked out some fabric that I thought was pretty, and flannel to line them, and made some blankets.  I made 2 boy blankets and 2 girl blankets.  I prayed for the families who would receive these blankets while making them and after they were completed.  I included a letter that Arthur helped me write that shared our sympathy and offered some helpful resources and Bible verses.  We all delivered them to the hospital the day after her birthday as a family.  It was nice to visit the L&D floor not as a patient (I delivered Addie at the same hospital).  I would love for those blankets never to be used…

With Caroline, we actually have 2 anniversaries: the day we got the worst news ever, and the day we got to meet our girl.  So, October 19th is the saddest day.  I found that the lead up to that day was the worst for me.  I couldn’t help but cry at the drop of a hat.  Thankfully, my awesome husband took off work to spend the day with me that day.  He woke me up with Addalee in his arms and told me that we were going to just get out of the house for the day.  So, I got up and got ready and we spent the day shopping and around town.  It was a welcomed distraction.  We still talked about Caroline and how much we love her and miss her, but I didn’t sit and focus on the sadness of the whole situation. 

On her actual birthday, we went to the cemetery and put fall flowers on her grave.  We spent some time talking to her and telling her about our lives now and about her little sister (I wonder if she can hear us).  It was hard to visit that grave, and that tiny headstone, but it is each time.  I have to say though, that it was really tough to see October 20, 2010 on the stone and know that an entire year has passed since I held that sweet little baby girl.  It’s tough to acknowledge that we’ve spent each and every day of the last year missing her, yearning for her, and thinking of her…and it doesn’t stop here. 

I guess I tried to put a timeline to things – let me explain:  You know when a task is too daunting; you break it down into smaller tasks or pieces.  I had taken on a “one day at a time” kind of existence after we lost Caroline.  It became this even more so in my pregnancy with Addalee.  I dealt with Caroline and Addie together and separately.  The grief with Caroline was so painful that I had to only handle anniversaries as they came. I couldn’t think of anything in the future.  Just like now, I can’t imagine being 5 years away from her.  I couldn’t fathom what it would be like to be out 1 year from that horrible night.  I don’t know for sure how to make this make sense to the rest of the world, but I’m going to give it a shot…it’s almost like I thought that it would get better at 1 year.  Like maybe a little part of me felt like I’d either get her back, or just stop feeling it when I met that mark.  Maybe I felt like if I met that goal, the 1 year mark, I’d have completed the mission and I’d get the reward.  Of course, I know now, and really knew then that it would just be an anniversary and that nothing would change from the day before it to the day after it, except getting to really recognize her.  I think it has helped me though, to know that I’m still standing, and standing with more assurance than I was in the days following losing her.  It helps me to know that we’ve lived through this year.  We’ve done all these firsts and lived to tell about it.

After Caroline’s funeral, we had the whole family to our house.  It was October 22.  Those hours were the only time for quite a while that I remember feeling okay.  Having all those people around us, loving us, loving her, was healing to me.  I didn’t feel like myself, but I did feel like the haze lifted at least momentarily. Well, this year, October 22 fell on a Saturday, so we opted to have everyone over!  I was thrilled that the family was interested and it was wonderful!  We had soup and chili and good conversations.  It was a beautiful clear and sunny day, so it was so nice to be outside.  I got pink, yellow, and white balloons for the balloon release.

They were bright and cheerful and sweet.  We all gathered in the back yard, we all got our balloons and then I said a few words.  Then we released our balloons…

You could see them forever!  It was beautiful!  Happy birthday, little Caroline!

We had this little sweetheart to celebrate big sister’s birthday, which sure was a blessing to this broken heart!

Also – Happy Halloween!