Friday, September 10, 2021

The unnatural order of things

Last week, we were at my parents' house as we usually are on Thursday nights. We were talking about boring adult things in the living room, and it was getting late. Lainey came in, crawled up behind me sitting on the couch, and fell asleep. 

She was almost completely upside down--Her head sank slowly as she fell deeper into sleep, and she started wedging herself between my back and the couch cushion, so I moved over to let her breathe. 

And I looked at her face. Jeff did too. And we both saw Luke.

I don't think there's anything that really ever prepares you for that moment when, as a parent of a dead baby, you see your dead baby in your very-much-alive child. But that's how siblings go, right? There's been so many times in my life I've been confused for my sister. And it's normally a SUPER annoying thing as a young kid, but then it turns into sort of an endearing thing as you realize your siblings are kind of your best friends as you trudge through life together. 

But this? When the face you're actually seeing is an alive 5-year-old, and the one you accidentally see is a dead newborn who you said goodbye to almost 4 years before the 5-year-old was born? It's that typical mindfuck that comes with being in this shitty club. Most parents see their kids grow--their features change and develop over time--but they usually stay similar, even as you age. How do you ever reconcile seeing your dead newborn's smooshed cheeks and lips in your Kindergartener?

I guess this is the sort of shitty math and reconciling you find yourself still noticing, 9 years after your first child is born still. 

Something that's really...struck me...this past year and a half of living through a pandemic is that most people don't understand the gravity of surviving the unnatural order of real, life-altering loss. Being the person left here, still alive, left to keep moving forward is usually soul-crushing. Guilt inducing. Isolating.  

Yes. All of these things get less heavy over time. But then again, I'm still over here seeing my dead baby's face in the places I least expect it. Trauma does that to you. And I guess in some ways, I feel lucky--To have seen his face and remembered it so well at all, nine years after the last time I saw it for the first and last time. 

Recognizing the unnatural order...of having to say goodbye to your own child while you still have tons of life to live? It's a difficult future to face and build around. 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nine years later, what I know, is that if there was anything I could have done? To avoid all of this heartache? To have maybe changed what happened to Luke? I would have done it. No matter how far of a fetch it was. No matter how crazy I thought doctors were. Because it would have maybe meant saving me, us, from the lifetime of mindfucking grief that comes with the death of your own child. 

So I guess lately, I'm not understanding how there are people in this world that wouldn't do anything they could to stay here...to keep their loved ones safe, to see the ones they love grow up or get old. If I'd had some sort of vaccine to take that would have saved Luke, or at the very least have given us better chances? I would've done it. It's literally crazy-making watching people decide they'll just take their chances with a completely unknown disease. 

You know what other thing had incredibly low odds? Stillbirth. Your baby dying full-term. It's like, 0.1% odds, I think? I learned that somebody is always that 0.1%. It was us. 

Maybe for some, taking that chance only comes around out of desperation, or when it's too late. I don't know. But I know that witnessing so much grief swirling around in the world right now hurts. And I think it might strike me a little bit deeper because I've understood grief and odds like 0.1% at a visceral level for nine years. 

If you're lucky, you can brush off devastating things that happen to other people because they don't happen to you. That's luck. But the thing is, you don't get to call your luck. No one asks for shitty things to happen to them. They just do. 

I can promise that when they do happen for you, you'd most likely do anything to change your circumstances. Bargaining--I think that's called the Bargaining stage of grief (even though those stages of grief are bullshit because they usually all just happen concurrently or in weird orders). It's real. And I've seen so many stories lately about people who are/were full of regret. 

I can't say that I have tons of regret about Luke...Because what happened to him was such a freak accident. I wish I'd gone in sooner. Maybe that would've given us a chance. I don't know.

But...I guess all that to say, we all think we're invincible. Until we're not. And we're desperate to change the outcome. 

I wish I had a chance to change our outcome, Luke. 

I can't believe it's been 9 years since I've seen your face and yet I can remember what it looks like like it was yesterday.

I hope you and Finn are celebrating together in the stars, tonight. 

Thursday, September 10, 2020

Eight

Eight years. How have we already been separated by eight YEARS?

2012 seems like a lifetime ago, when I sit down and think about it. It was the last year I went to Coachella. The last full year we lived in our condo. We've moved twice since then. And of course we've had two girls, and now they're in first grade and preppy-k. The school years have begun for them. Eight years ago, Jeff and I had just begun our journey into parenthood--With no idea what was in store for us. 

Lately, I've been feeling that I live my life with a neverending sense of heartache, just below the surface. And I'm not sure if the current events of the world would feel as heavy if we'd never lost you, Luke. Maybe I'd still have that sense of invincibility I had when I was just 33 and had never had kids before. Things were simple then. 

Everything feels heavy now. The world seems like it's swirling everyone around in an intense washing machine filled with nothing but heartache. When COVID-19 first hit California back in March, when our world first shut down, I felt that impending sense of doom hard. I think that once death comes for you on a deeply personal level like it did with us, you're reprogrammed to understand and acknowledge that fear fully and without question. 

I carried death, and I witnessed and held my own child, dead. 

So I do have a healthy respect for death. It's not something that just happens to other people for me--It's mine. It's caused me and Jeff permanent heartache. So while I've spent the last eight years carrying it with me, learning how to operate my life differently and find joy and happiness where I can, I still feel it close, always.

For those first few months of shutdown, I felt that doom hard. I felt like every step I took outside of my home and people might be the straw that breaks the camel's back. I knew I had to respect what this disease does to people with diabetes or blood pressure issues, since they're problems we live with at home. 

And so I've felt a super-acute heartache since this all started, and I guess it hasn't really stopped. Seeing people devalue actual human lives lately has crushed a lot of my own spirit. This year, on your birthday, Luke, I feel numb. My heart hurts. And maybe it's just because there's so much loss happening for so many people right now--I don't really know. But I know that when I see others hurting, I tend to absorb it. It's sort of what I do. It's not great for me, personally, but I guess it's my way of helping others find the light out of this heartache. I've done it. I've somehow survived eight years without my firstborn son. A lot of times I feel like I'm built for this. I can endure and I can officially take steps to keep going because I've done it before. 

And yet...it's still hard. Even when you're a pro, even when you know how it goes. Even when you're accustomed to death being at your door or inside your house--It doesn't get easy. Maybe the expectations do. But when I sit down and take a deep hard look at our pictures from our day in the hospital with you, Luke, my heart still hurts. It always will. And I can keep going and endure that heartache and be a mom to these beautiful, crazy girls (even if I have no idea what I'm doing on a near-hourly basis) but still miss you like crazy. 

The heartache of missing out on what you would have been will always exist in that hole you left in my own heart. That's the reason this never ends. Love lost is heartache. And some love is deeper than others. 

I'll always wonder who you would have been and  I'll always have cookies or cake or something to celebrate our brutiful life. Just wish you could ever have been here to celebrate it with us. 

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fall skies and invisibility


Its hard for me to comprehend that I’ve been writing here in this space for 7 years now.

Seven years seems like such a long time. Closer to a decade than just a year. So much life happens in seven years.

And yet here we are. It’s September. I feel it in my bones, as I always do. When I’m driving, I notice the skies changing more than anywhere else. And seeing the change in sunlight always brings that sense of longing back around. It’s easier to not think about during the spring and earlier summer. But it’s so pronounced for me during the last weeks of August and first weeks of September.

Most days now, I’m a normal mom. But seven years later, my rainbows are growing up. They’re not babies anymore. Seeing them growing and moving forward in life is one of my greatest joys.

And yet the hardest truth now is that you’re always missing, Luke. I think that’s the part that hurts the most. Your invisibility.

I have so much to show for Lena and Lainey. Probably too much? Lena is constantly writing me notes on scraps of paper and shoving them in my purse or pockets. Lainey makes the hugest messes. They both have friends—school friends even. And I think the part that’s the hardest about walking these new steps as a parent is knowing that most people who know us as a family don’t know our story. Some might hear Lena talk about her brother and get confused. I mean...she’s confused too. The other day, out of nowhere, she asked me how old Luke was when he died. I’m not one to dance around the truth, because I know my kids are capable of understanding hard things. But it’s still hard to explain the hard details to her.

I told her he died right before he was born. “So he didn’t get to live?” she asked.
“No.” I said.
“But why did he die? Was something wrong with him?”
“No,” I said. “It was just a freak accident. Like how sometimes bad things happen to people when they don’t expect it. Like that.”

Lena’s accepting of my answers for now, but I know she doesn’t understand everything yet. She’s never had to see a mama be very very pregnant and not get to bring a baby home with her own eyes. I’m thankful for that. Because I want her to be naive for a little while longer. But she’ll understand someday.

But that intangibility is what gets me the most these days. I relate more and more to the title of Elizabeth McCracken’s book An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination more and more every day. Because that’s what Lena and Lainey are to me. They’re replicas. Of Luke, who never had a chance to live and breathe—who was so so close...and yet. Not. He never cried or crawled or took a step. I carried him for 39 weeks, and all he knew in life was me.

Sometimes it’s hard to believe he wasn’t a figment of my imagination when I have so little to show of his life.

He’s my first baby. Nothing can ever change that. But it’s still heartbreaking knowing that every new person I’ve met since he died never knew him. and never can. There isn’t anything new to add to his story. And there will never be.

The heaviness of all that still weighs on me. That’s the part of all this that I’m quite sure never disappears. Parenting is hard enough. But carrying the weight of his invisibility...his intangibility...along with everything else? That’s the load that’s hardest, seven years later. And I think the expectations some people have...of "getting over" this. Or moving on...are absurd. Because that's the thing. Once you've survived something traumatic--giving birth to death, losing someone in an unexpected way...You're forever changed. It's not something you can "get over." You change. You keep living your life. You build on what you have left. Because that's all you can do. There's no other option. And make no mistake--My girls are the world to me. They mean just as much as Luke does. All three are ours, and always will be. Just like any parent loves ALL of their children. Just because one doesn't exist on this earth any longer, you don't just give up on loving them. Love never dies.

I want it to be known that he’s our first baby. We’re a family of five. You just can’t see one of us. We have mementos for him, and boxes of team t-shirts for Walk to Remember and leftover funeral programs with his tiny stats in them.

I just wish all of that was easier for the world to see and not forget...or even ever know. I can see how this gets more and more inevitable through the years...and of course time makes it easier. But it’s never easy. It’ll never be ok, and I guess that’s just ok at this point.

Life is brutiful. Brutal and beautiful. And seven years on, that's the way it is.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

SIX.

Six years seems like...a LOT.

A lot of years. Past one. Past three. Past FIVE.

So much time, that when I came back to this place--The blog that I write to you at? The background widget I used was gone. I found it on some free website back in 2012. And six years later, the host had taken down their page--it just disappeared.

Just like your heartbeat did six years ago.

I feel like I’ve said all the words that have ever been said about loss and life and grief here. And yet I still keep coming back. I think that’s the thing that I hope people understand. That somehow, through years and life and sadness and happiness, you will still always be mine, Luke. But there will never be “getting over” this. It will never be fixed. When trauma strikes you, you’re changed. There is no going back. So what was left of me—of us—from that day six years ago? I like to think that I’ve come a long way. We’ve built a family—one that will always include you. You were first, and without you, there is no Us.

Our family is made of five of us. You were the first.

It’s grief season for me. I can feel the start of September in my bones now. I wonder if it would be so pronounced if you’d have been born in the neverending heat of summer? The change in seasons signals the change I went through—The season that came when everything I thought I had had fallen apart. The marked end of summer marks the end of our time together—every year—and when the sun starts turning a golden yellow and the leaves start falling from the trees, I revisit the first hours and days and weeks and months I spent without you. Everything feels more settled now. Maybe more numb. These feelings come yearly and I know what they feel like. The pain is less blunt now. I know it will always be there—the hole you left in my heart. No one should have to make birthday cakes for their dead children. You never think you’ll be that person until suddenly, you are.

On this day six years ago, I knew it was the beginning of a new season of my life— with our first baby. The season that changes everything. And now, six years later, I feel like I’m on the start of the next season. The baby things are gone now—the girls are kids. The baby stage is over, along with the pregnancies and births. And I’m relieved. I know there are endless possibilities of more heartache to be had in life—but to have survived this much so far...it’s a relief.

I still look for signs that you're still with us, somehow. Tonight, we got one. We took the girls to dinner, and as we climbed back in the car, the radio turned on. It was on Pearl Jam radio (it's not necessarily locked there in my car like it is in Daddy's car...) and Light Years was playing. The song we printed in your funeral program The song that...says everything we feel. It's not a song that gets that much play., especially when it comes to their live shows that get played. But there it was. There you were.

I still wish I didn't have to look for instances of your presence...I still wish you were here--that you made it. I don't think that's ever going to be different. But I can see the beauty you brought us in life. Without you, there would be no Lena or Lainey. I would never have connected with so many of my favorite mamas in the world. Women I wish I never met and yet am so glad I know now. What a strange situation to find friendship in...

Anyway. I'm sharing a pic of the three of us from the day we finally saw your face, six year ago. We don't have many pictures of you that don't scream "death", but this is one of you and me and Daddy that shows exactly what it felt like, meeting you. A satisfaction that labor was finally over and we did it. And a sadness...a thick veil...on both of our faces. A resignation that this was real. You can see both of us wishing that this wasn't the end. I think I still make this face when I think of you. These were the first minutes of our life without you. Six years later, I can still take myself back to this scene and the tears still fall.

I'm so proud to be your mama, Luke. But I'm still so sad that I'll always have tears left to cry for you.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

Firsts

These girls.



This week we hads two big first days in our house. Lena’s first day at her elementary school in preppy-k, and Lainey’s first day at preschool.

I’m not one of those parents you’ll see crying as I push my kids into their classroom, bemoaning their loss of little-ness. There is nothing I want to see more than for them to grow. Grow up, girls. Become who you were meant to be. See the world for yourself and learn and laugh and love.

I will always be here. Waiting to hear about it. Watching you misstep and succeed and everything in-between. I’m your biggest supporter and I hope you always know that.

And I hope that you always know that as much as I miss your brother and all the life he never got to live, I will never expect you to fill that hole in our lives. You are who you are. Your futures are yours and yours alone. You were never meant to fill his shoes, and your lives are yours.

I will never feel sad watching you grow up. Not for one minute. I’m sure I’ll miss your baby-mess sometimes. I already miss Lena calling strawberries “strawbabies.” I know I’ll miss Lainey telling Lena “You know better, Weena!” whenever Lena does something mean to her. But every minute spent here on this earth with both of you is a minute that I didn't get to spend with Luke. As life keeps going, and we keep getting further and further away from our last day spent together, I realize that the time I have with you both is precious. This life is ours to live and love, together.

Today would have been Luke's first day of Kindergarten. Another milestone that he never reached that still hurts my heart. These milestones with the girls...they mean so much to me. When you know what it means to have these taken away, those visions of how life was supposed to be, there's something about finally reaching them. Their big-ness takes on...more big-ness. More depth and more meaning.

I think sometimes I try to harden myself to these types of things...but the depth of missing Luke is something that comes with any potential milestone. It won’t ever be different because babies are supposed to hit milestones for their parents. Baby milestones. Toddler milestones. School milestones and adult milestones.

Now?  Always. Missing. No more milestones.

I’m not sure most people realize the gravity of that sort of finality that exists when parents lose a child.

So the sweetness of these milestones? They might be sweeter for me. I fought so hard to still get to have them. They’re bittersweet sometimes, but sweet for sure.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

Hard Pills to Swallow

Almost five years have passed. FIVE. Half a decade.

It's been half a decade since I last held you, Luke. Since we last saw your face.

I've been thinking a lot about things that I've gotten the hang of over the past five years. Grief is a constant adjustment. It's always changing and life gets both more complicated and yet more simplified. I know the ropes. I know how it feels to see someone join this community of parents who've lost a baby. I know what to offer them. I have rote responses now for the questions that get asked to every parent everywhere.

"How many kids do you have?" they ask.
"Three," I say.
"Oh, how old are they?"
"My youngest is 18 months, my oldest is almost four, but I also had a son, who was stillborn."

And that usually kills a conversation. Sometimes it doesn't and I make a fast friend. I know I can say the words without crying (at least most of the time) and it makes me proud to be able to mention all of my kids in one statement. I've gotten past the point of caring how it makes the other person feel to talk about death, because my reality will always contain my dead firstborn. It's not something that I get to walk away from, or ever be OK with. He will always be gone. I will never have more memories of him to share with people. You were born, and you were not alive, but you still count as my child.

So I've learned how to swallow most of those pills. Over the past 5 years, I've figured out how to present myself and my circumstances to people. I also know that I can't put you away, Luke. You matter too much to me to tuck away into our past. I need people to know that you existed. That you were wanted and that living without you will always hurt. That a piece of my heart will always be missing. Sharing you, while hard, is my job as your mama. I don't have pictures or stories or baby books filled with your milestones, Luke, but I say your name. That pill is less hard to swallow now, five years out.

But some things still hurt. 

Babies are still named Luke. There will always be some that are the age he should be and I'll meet them over my lifetime. 

Babies are still being born on Luke's birthday.

Snooki has her friggin kid, and he's still alive.

Those are still hard pills to swallow. If there's one thing I understand now, 5 years out, it's that I might be bitter about some things forever. I didn't just lose you as a baby. I lost you being a 5 year old on your first day of school. I lost a little boy who might've played little league or loved karate. I lost a teenager who thinks his mom is the most annoying person in the world. And I lost a grown man who I'd hopefully get to see grow up and be a wonderful person.

I never got to see you grow, Luke. I never even got to see your chest rise and fall with air in your lungs. It was all just taken away.

All of that, but on the flip side, you were the first of the grandchildren born to my family. And now, there are 7 more. That's how much has happened in 5 years. And right now, it's hard to think about how empty our lives were when we lost you. But it's still hard to think about the fact that if you weren't gone, Lena and Lainey wouldn't be here. Our lives have diverged down so many different paths because of what happened to you. And it's brutal and beautiful at the same time.

The sun is lower in the sky--Literally as of this week. For me, it signals your birthday. Five years, sweet boy. At this time 5 years ago, I was in labor and we just wanted to meet you...even if you were already gone.


A death date before a birth date. That's still the hardest pill to swallow. 

Monday, December 12, 2016

Three years


It's hard to believe that it's only been three years since Lena was born. So many times I feel like she's been ours forever because the days can be so long and trying. But three years? That's nothing. 

I sometimes wonder if she'll ever understand how much she healed me. How she changed me. In some ways how she saved me from being a completely hopeless soul. I hope someday she understands how she breathed life back into me...just by being born alive. 

I don't know who I would be today if she weren't here. She's exactly everything I needed to live through my grief. To help me carry it. 

I'm not a perfect parent. Not by a mile. I have a lot of help in molding who she turns out to be. And  somehow, this little girl has grown into an amazing person. She's beyond smart. I don't even know how. She's a sponge who absorbs everything--language, tasks, how to ride a trike. She's empathetic and caring, and even though she can be a total asshole (like all toddlers), she knows how to show love and kindness to other people. She's funny and witty and her laugh makes me laugh. 

I feel like I'm finally able to step back and see who she's turning out to be, and every day, I'm blindsided by how lucky I am to be her mama. 

She may never be potty trained, but there's always Depends, and I'd buy them for her if I had to. 

Tonight I put my three-year old to bed for the first time. I've been parenting a living child for three years. There's been so many ups and so many downs...but I'm trying everyday to remember to give her everything that I couldn't give her brother. For him and for her. 

I feel like I fail them a lot of times...but I guess that's probably a constant feeling all parents have, right?

Anyway. Happy third birthday, my Lena Bowie. 

Sunday, September 4, 2016

That time of year.

It's so strange to me, how I can so distinctly tell what time of the year it is by how the sun is.

I think I write about it every year at this time, but the color in the sky is changing right now. And it's the same sign every year...It's the season that was coming when we were supposed to take you home, Luke.

And every year since we lost you, it's the change in season that reminds me that you're still gone. I mean, I think about you being gone every day. But when the days get shorter, and the sun shines a little bit differently in the sky like it does when summer's ending, that's when the reminder hurts the most.

Four years ago at this change in seasons, we had so much hope for your future. We were so naive and we had no idea that something so life-altering was just about to happen to us.

If only we could have seen what was coming...if only we could have known that we'd lose you. We could have changed things--We could have gone to the hospital sooner and maybe things could have turned out different. Maybe we'd be celebrating your 4th birthday soon.

I wish that I could go back to being as hopelessly naive as I was at this time four years ago. In so many ways, I'm jealous of people who haven't had to live through really hard things. Why am I the person that had to be brave? That had to figure out how to keep living without my first child? I know there are plenty of others who've also had to do hard things. But I wish none of us did. I was a stupid first time mom worrying about whether the nursery was going to be done in time for when the baby arrived.

The other day I heard Muse's song Madness on the radio...and it took me back. The day we left the funeral home after Luke's service...I remember that song came on, as we were pulling out of the driveway on our way home to live the rest of our lives with that behind us (or maybe, in front of us, too). I remember thinking how absurd it was...We just held a funeral for our first baby. OUR baby. The one who made us parents. I...I can't get these memories out of my mind... I know the song mostly doesn't pertain, but some of it? Eish. Who has to plan funerals for their own babies?!

This week, I've noticed just how much Lena and Lainey look EXACTLY the same. Like, in pictures without context, I can't tell them apart. And then I think about the photos I have of Luke...in his tiny baby casket. And every night when I'm getting ready to put Lainey down into her crib for bed, I see him. Barely, anymore though. She's growing out of looking like a baby. And with that...there won't be anymore reminders of how his siblings looked like him. Luke will always be a newborn and Lena and Lainey will grow into girls and ultimately, women. 

I sometimes wonder if Luke would have looked different from the girls as he got older. Would he have been the one that looked different? Or would the three of them look exactly the same? It's an unfair question that will always nag me, because none of it makes sense. No one should look at their third baby sleeping and see their dead firstborn. No one should have to think about not having their second or third child because the first one died. 

I realize now that all of that will end soon. At six months, Lainey is growing into her own person. And all I still have of Luke are photos in a casket. And that's all there will ever be. 

And four years out, that still stings. 

Four. Years. You should be four.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

Dear Finn...


How much more heartache can one family take?

Actually, I don't want to know the answer to that question. 

When I got the call Monday morning telling me that you were already gone, I was shocked. Shocked. 

To be honest...I thought we'd already met the statistics. Babies just don't die that often after the second and third trimester. I mean...the people that I've met that it's happened to? I know them because of Luke. Those are the types of circles I run in. 

But you were MY nephew. This wasn't supposed to happen to us again. We already paid our dues. We already lost Luke. 

First was the shock. Then the tears came flooding back. Every thought I had that day we were told Luke was gone ran through my head again. How? When? Did he struggle? What happened? He has to be delivered! When? 

Oh my god. 

Except this time, I knew what was coming. Because these are the circles I run in now. I know people who've been through this at all stages of pregnancy. 20 weeks. 34 weeks. 42 weeks. How fucked up is it that I know these things? That I knew Finn probably wouldn't be considered a stillborn at 19 weeks + a few days. That that MATTERS. That I knew he'd have to be delivered the hard way. That questions about autopsies and mortuaries were coming. 

I got to the hospital, and watched again as hearts broke each time a new person walked through the door. This time, there were new faces. But the pain was all the same. 

We'd have to wait for Lauren to start labor. Which is absurd when you're just 20 weeks. This journey would take much longer than ours meeting Luke. But it was still so unfair. 

No mama should ever have to give birth to death. To their own, much-wanted baby. To silence. 

Soon enough, it was Wednesday. And things were still progressing slowly. I called a photographer, knowing there was no way my brother could possibly document any of what was coming--no matter how talented of a photographer he may be. 

We waited at the hospital for hours. And soon enough, you were here. At 9:41pm on July 20, you were born. With the cord wrapped too tightly around your neck. 

When we heard the news about your cord, Finn...my heart felt like it stopped. How? How could we have lost you to a cord accident too? We already HAVE a cord loss in our family. How was this possible? At 20 weeks? How is it possible that two out of seven babies in my immediate family have died before birth from a cord accident? 

What I know is that we will likely never have an answer. 

What I know is how to survive this. How to work to remember you. How to be there for your parents. Who to call at the mortuary. When to bring cookies. 

I will never understand this. It will always haunt me. It will always be absolutely absurd that my family has had to go through the death of two babies. It will never be ok and no matter how much I've been able to help others through this, I'd trade it all to just have both of you here, somehow. 

The paths that are paved for us by life change so much about who we come to be. We didn't choose the path that brought us Luke, then Lena and Lainey. And we would never have chosen this for you, Finn. You were supposed to be Lainey's BFF. Like E and Lena. And now all of those dreams will be tucked away with our dreams we had for Luke. 

I still have a hard time putting away those dreams, 4 years later. I'm starting to wonder if I'll ever stop wondering, but I'm positive the answer is that I won't. Now we're short two boys in our family. Which seems like a gaping hole at this point. 

I mean, we've been through enough right? 

I'm still in disbelief. I still can't believe we're surviving this again. How can you really be gone too?

I know you and Luke will be BFFs, wherever you are. In some ways, it's comforting to believe that the two of you are traveling together...in whatever forms you might be in. Maybe now your lights will be twice as bright... 

I love you, always, sweet Finn. You were perfect. And so, so, so loved. 

I hope you know that--wherever you are. 

All my love, 
Auntie Jen

(And Heather...there aren't enough thank yous for this picture. We needed it so much. You're the best BFFBLM I could ask for.)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Waiting on someone that just won't show


About 4 years ago, I bought these navy Carter's rock star jammies. 

For my son, who was supposed to be born on September 17, 2012. 

I loved everything about them. They were boyish and cool--I found so many boy clothes to be so cliche. I wasn't into trucks and cars, but I could 100% get behind these. 

Four years ago, we were also at Coachella. I was about 18 weeks pregnant, and it was Jeff's 39th birthday. It was so, so, so friggin hot (I vaguely remember it being about 110 degrees F), and I felt SO pregnant. The day before we left, though, we had our anatomy scan, and there was nothing as exciting in our lives as finding out what the sex of our first child would be. A boy, they said! I'll admit that I was disappointed at first--I'd always wanted a daughter first--like me! But I was also so happy. Because of this: 


Jeff was so so excited for that little boy to come. I was too--it just took me a little longer to grasp. 

We bought those footies and that Coachella shirt for a little boy that seemed like such a given. We made it to the second trimester! Obviously he'd be wearing the clothes we bought for him soon! In a matter of months!

These two articles of clothing will always be Luke's. I just never anticipated that he'd never wear them, but his two sisters would. 

These are the things that still haunt me. 

I put these pajamas on Lainey a few weeks ago. And while it's comforting now to put my baby in them, I still long for the one baby that they were first intended for. Unfulfilled wishes and dreams...I'm relieved that they didn't sit unused, forever. But it's still not fair. I still wish I had a picture of him wearing these. 

You were so, so wanted, Luke. You still are. You will always be. 

In the beginning, there was nothing more painful to me than to look at Luke's dresser and closet--full of clothes, just waiting for him to wear them. It was the ultimate neverending nightmare. 

Waiting on someone that just won't show...and every night it seems like there's no tomorrow, not that you'll ever know...

What would i do with them if he was never coming back? 

I was forced to pick one thing--one item of clothing--for him to wear at his family viewing and then to be cremated in. Babies don't wear suits in a coffin, do they? Pajamas were pretty much all we had. Who even has to think of these things? Do you have any idea what a terrible, horrific, painful choice that is to make when he'd literally never worn a goddamn piece of clothing in his life? I picked out a different footie pajama--one that said "Mommy Loves Me". Because I couldn't bring myself to part with this one thing of his

Because I'd already allowed myself to see him in it in my head...and if he wasn't gonna be in it...I just couldn't let it go. 

And I don't think I ever will. At this point, both of his sisters have spit up and pooped through it. But it was always his. And the same goes for the Coachella shirt. It was always meant to be his. 

The other day I thought about what I was going to do with the baby clothes. We're done having babies. But Luke only had baby clothes. And literally ALL of them hold a pretty special place in my heart. But it's not like I would have kept them all if he'd lived. So why would I keep them all now? Because I have so little left of his presence? That's probably why. 

I still don't know my answer to this question. I'm probably going to put them back into the box they came from and sit on it for awhile.

But these two things are going in the special box of his things. Waiting for a little boy that will never come. Whose sisters' faces look just like his did. 

Cruel and beautiful.