Saturday, July 12, 2014

Happy Birthday My Love

Dearest Harper,

Today marks four years since you crept into the world in a deafening silence. No cry, not a single breath, just silence so loud that it could shatter glass, and hearts. I remember those moments as if they were only yesterday, how could one not, the memory of you burnt into my brain as it were branded in with a hot iron. You. Were. Beautiful.

I held you, for hours, memorizing every inch of you, from your cap of black curly hair to how your fingers were long and slender, and perfect. It has been four years since I handed you over to our nurse for the last time. I watched her wheel you down the hall, and I thought to myself, how does anyone survive this? I watched the nurses take a piece of my soul, and I handed it over willingly because I had no other option. How does a mother survive giving back her child?

It has been four years since you died, since my heart was broken, and piece of me went with you. I understand that unless you have been through the loss of a child yourself, you don’t fully grasp the concept of the amount of grief a mother is burdened with.  It is an insurmountable task to overcome; in all honesty, a mother never gets over it. No matter what the reports from tests say, you feel some fault, some sort of failure because that is what your body is made for, to grow and nurture, and birth a child, and when your body fails you, and you lose a child, it is a sea of feelings you must wade through. Even the fathers of the babies lost do not quite understand what is happening in your head and heart, the battle that rages within.

Often, people ignore the subject because it is so taboo to talk about the baby that died. It is, at times, the elephant in the room that is seemingly invisible. I have watched as people tip toe around it, ignore it completely, and then there are those who have no comprehension of how far you’ve come in your journey and they criticize you for still being sad, even four years later. I am the first to tell you, I have more good days than bad, and those bad days are few and far between because I finally allowed myself to relish in the happiness of my little family, even if it is incomplete without you. But, I still have bad days, because I miss you. I would question my own self if this ever changed. I will always miss you because the heart wants what it wants and it wants you to be here so it can be complete again.

Criticizing grief is like throwing an anchor to a person who is already drowning
RaeAnn Fredrickson

I have my moments, we all do. My heart aches when I realize that I won’t ever hear your first word, see your first steps, or ever see you dance in a recital with your sisters. It leaves room for many moments of pondering. Wondering what your hair would look like, what your tiny voice would sound like, what your favorite show would be, would you like pirates like your baby sister? It is in these moments that a pang hits my heart because I miss you. And I realize that I will always be left with those things to wonder about. But this is my life; this is the path that has been chosen for me to walk down. Someone had to be the one in one million.
I have come a long way in the last four years. I went from being unable to escape my bed, to being unable to escape irrational fears of losing your sister, to watching your siblings grow into these beautiful little people, and being able to ENJOY it, it is something I never thought I would find again. I never thought that I would be able to be happy again. You showed me the way back to happiness, a way to honor your memory while still living my life. You guided me to where I am at today, helping me to find the silver lining in all the storm clouds that are sent my way. Last year RAK for Harper went international, and people all around the world took a moment to do a random act of kindness for someone in your honor. This made your birthday so meaningful. To know your name, your tiny life was celebrated all over the world. What mother would not be proud?

It is unbelievable that four years have passed since I last kissed the top of your head and breathed deeply your scent, whispering all those I love yous in your ear. I have so many things I never had the chance to tell you because I was riddled with the wounds of grief. I will settle for being able to tell you here. I love you Harper, more than words written could ever explain. You will always be my daughter, and that love will never change. I feel very lucky to have had the chance to be your mom.

If I had one wish for your birthday, it would be to send you all the love and kisses I have missed out on giving you over the last four years. One day, I can only hope that I get that chance.

Happy Birthday my sweet girl, I love you and I miss you.



Friday, July 4, 2014

Independent Grief

Dear Harper, 

Today is July 4, 2014. It's scary, but I can remember exactly where I was and what I was doing four years ago today. The next few days are burned into my mind, as vivid as if they were only yesterday. 

We spent the day at the farm, and I didn't feel good. I did a lot of sitting because it was just too taxing to do much else. The kids played and lit fireworks, but I was just tired. Too tired to eat. To tired to sit. I was exhausted. 

It is four years later, and I am finding myself emersed in a sea of emotions. I am working on RAK for Harper to celebrate your life, but also mourning your death. I am unsure why, even as I write this with tears on the verge of spilling over onto my cheeks, this year has been the hardest so far. 

I am finding it difficult to sleep, difficult to eat, really, just difficult to function at the normal level. My aches and pains have worsened, dreams are more nightmarish and exhausting than not sleeping. 

Some say that it is your sister, seeing her doing things you should be doing but you can't because you're not here. Others say it is because I've had too much downtime. I think it is solely because I miss you. 

I think it is because life is finding it's natural rythm, leaving more time for my soul to finally process the hurt I am experiencing. 

In 5 days time, it will be four years since the doctor looked at me and said "I'm so sorry, kiddo. There is no heartbeat." And I think about how that makes me ache all over. No mother wants to give her child back and I was forced to do so. 

Fourth of July was a long and exhausting, if I had only known then what was coming...if I had only known, maybe I would have tried harder to enjoy myself at the cookout. 

July 5 was a much better day, I put on some shorts and baggy shirt, and I sat in the kiddie pool while your brother and sister splashed me. I think you really loved it, you were moving like crazy. The kids enjoyed it so much, our home is littered with pictures of them from that day. We were outside all day, soaking up the rays, talking about how life was going to change when you arrived...if we had only known. I would give anything to be that innocent again. To be free of the ever present grief. 

I feel like I have reached a point in my life, where I can truly grieve. I have time to begin to understand the heartache. I have time to process the emotions and work through them as they come. No longer do I have to frantically push them down and lock them away because I have kids who need me to be super mom. 

As I lay here, wide awake and exhausted at the same time, I cannot help but wander through those last few days with you. Remembering all of those fleeting moments. Realizing the finality in it all. I weep in intermittences without warning or provocation, because you're not here and I just miss you. 

Fireworks are booming in the distance and my heart is pounding to their beat as I lay here and wonder about you. How life could have been. I think it's the ever looming what ifs, and what could have beens that I miss almost as much as I miss you. You would be nearing four, we should be celebrating with a party suited for a princess, instead I am planning a memorial in your honor. 

My heart is hurting this year, and I can only say that I miss you more than these letters could ever begin to express. 

As those fireworks boom into the heavens with you please know that I love you with all I have and that I am here, remembering you, your precious face, and perfect tiny fingers and toes. 

I love you sweet bean, 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Life in the Slow Lane

Dear Harper,

July is just around the corner, and as I sit here, I wonder how it was able to pass so quickly, with the outside world barely noticing. It has been nearly four years since you left us, and that in itself, is ridiculous to think about. It has passed at an incredible rate, and I am still sitting here trying figuring things out.

I don't know that I will ever have everything figured out, most likely not. But what I have taken away from the last four years is this: Slow down and take each moment for what it is, a blessing. You taught me to slow down, and enjoy the little things because those little things are, actually, the really big things.

Life has changed over the course of the last 48 months, people moved, old friends left, new friends joined, a sister was added, birthdays and holidays have come and gone, and I take each moment as it is, a wonderful addition to this crazy thing we call life. How you have reminded me to slow down, to enjoy the walk, and to smell the roses.And, I have to say, those roses smell so sweet.

I think people forget how to slow down. I know they forget to take a breath and relish the moment they are in. They constantly think about the next moment, and where that will take them, wishing the time away as if it were something with an infinite amount to spare. Forgetting to live for now, not worrying about what is to come. To be quite honest, I was one of "those" people. I never had a moment to spare, impatient with everything, but something has happened in the last four years to change that. I walk slower, see clearer and experience everything, even those things I dreaded doing, with a new found enjoyment that comes from slowing life down.

Grief can assume many forms for any given person, it can be a dark and scary place, or it can be an eye opening, uplifting experience. The path in which a griever takes is solely up to them. Four years ago I started walking a very dark and scary path after you died. But, soon I found myself with child again, and the dark and scary path was no longer an option. I spent months in an indifferent state, and then one day it clicked. I could allow the grief I was experiencing to rule every move I ever make, and to overshadow everything that I was to do, or I could do something great with the emptiness and sadness I was feeling.

Four years after the all consuming grief monster came in to consume my soul, I emerged from the battle believing that I am a winner of sorts. IF you can consider coping with loss of your child a win. I slowed down and enjoyed the moments I had here with your brother and sisters. Watching them grow into beautiful young humans, who care. Giving them what they need to be honest, caring, goodhearted people. That is what the world was granted, what I was granted, in your death, a person who cares enough to try and change things. You gifted me a new breath of life, a new person emerged from the chrysalis of death.

I may never have a million dollars to donate to a charity, or the means to make the entire world a better place, BUT, I have the means to make my home a better place, the means to raise good children that will go on to do much greater things. (I have a feeling that they will be unstoppable.) I slowed down...I forget deadlines, I forget what I was supposed to be doing, I am usually late and some consider it a downfall. But the truth is, I forget about things because I am busy...busy having piles of laundry, a kitchen floor that inevitably needs to be swept, and busy playing with my kids. Watching them become these neat little people that have amazing ideas, and BIG dreams. It is worth missing an appointment, or clocking in a couple minutes late to see this. I have become "that" person that makes others on a schedule mad because you can't schedule how life happens.

We make plans, God laughs. I watched as my hopes and dreams fizzled out when you died. I had your whole tiny life planned and God had other plans. His plans are not always clear, but I think this was part of it. I suffered, possibly one of the biggest tragedies anyone can face, in order to become a better person, a better parent. To slow down and take a evening stroll all day long, to never miss those glimpses of the greatness of your brother and sisters. I spend my time trying to find ways to make their eyes glitter, and to make them laugh. I spend my time creating with them, bolstering their imagination and their dreams. I know too well how it feels to have your dreams shattered, and I will do anything to help keep that from happening. Even if it means I am dressing like a fairy princess and trying to fight Captain Hook, or staying up all hours of the night making tiny, tiny Polaroids of the Elf on the Shelf to keep them believing their elves are bad. Because those are the important things.

You taught me to slow down. You taught me to be an incredible fan of random acts of kindness. Smell the roses, then pick one and give it to someone, the smile that ensues is enough to change the world. Dollars in a pocket do not compare to the love in a heart, and my wallet is flat but my heart is full.

Thank you for all you are teaching me, my sweet bean.

I love you always, forever, and then some.



Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Time does not heal all

Dear Harper,

It has been a while since I have written to you, not because I didn't want to write but because words would get jumbled and I couldn't quite figure out what I wanted to say. These letters I write are important and I don't ever want the message to get lost  in a mess of words.

It has been nearly four years since I had to say hello and goodbye in the same moment. Four years have passed in what feels like the blink of an eye. How has this much time passed since I held you in my arms for the only time, given mere moments to last me a lifetime? That, I cannot answer.

What I can answer is that nearly four years later I am still learning to live without you. Life continues to go on and I have had to learn how to continue on. The piece of my heart that went with you is still missing, but yet I still stand here before the world, breathing, even if only barely some days.

They say time heals all wounds but THIS IS A LIE. Time does not heal a wound that is soul-deep. What time does is teach you how to live WITH it. I have you on my mind all the time, carrying you with me as I walk this path. This journey is not one I would wish upon even my worst enemy because it is the hardest storm I have ever weathered. You learn how to live your life with this big gaping hole that never heals. This becomes your new normal, if normal can even exist in your lexicon. You do go on, but it is with new eyes, fresh lenses that show you what the world is worth, the beauty, sadness, reality and ugliness to it all.

You are no longer naive, you begin to see the ugly truths in the world, hidden amongst the shadows. For me, your sister came along very shortly after you, and this brought on a whole new view of having a baby. I cherished every second that I was pregnant, rarely slept, went completely natural during my pregnancy for fear that something would happen to her too.Everything scared me, made me nervous and I could barely think about anything else.  I couldn't fight that battle twice, I couldn't lose a second time. I was scared the whole time. And when she was born, I was scared because something might happen while I I never slept at night. I slept when others were keeping a very close eye on her. I don't think I slept a single night her entire first year and now...she's going to be three. Was it my pained vigilance that kept her here? I don't know but I wouldn't change it for a second. There are so many things in my past I would change but not who I was once you were gone.

Here we are, nearly four years later, and I am still learning how to cope, how to breathe, how to live without you. I have been working on ideas for your birthday. I am still promoting those random acts of kindness in your honor. I speak your name louder than ever before, because every time I don't, a little piece of you dies which means a little piece of me dies. And we can't have that. The world will know your name and it will echo on the whispers of the wind.

 I do not let your death define me. I do not let your death occupy all of my emotions and thoughts. I do not let your death control me. While some days are hard, when I realize that I will never think about getting papers together for you to start school, or if you would take ballet with your sisters, I can find a quiet peace in knowing that YOU WERE REAL. Your tiny foot left an imprint so deep no one could forget it. I rejoice in knowing you at all. There is beauty in that. Your death opened my eyes wider and brighter than they have ever been.

Some day, I will understand the pain that has been given to me in your loss. Until then, I keep breathing, keep walking, keep writing, in hopes that I can help someone else that is grieving their child. So they can begin to see that there is beauty in suffering, that GREAT things come from a great loss. You, my sweet bean, are doing greater things than I could have ever imagined.
And once the storm is over you won't remember how you made it through, how you managed to survive. You won't even be sure, in fact, whether the storm is really over. But one thing is certain, when you come out of the storm you won't be the same person who walked in. ~Haruki Murakami

I love you darling girl,

I miss you,


Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here but part of her is elsewhere for eternity. ~Unknown