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Monthly Archives: November 2011

Blog #26: Complicated

I used to hate when people would say, “time heals all wounds.” It sounded so callous. That if I just waited, all the terrible pain of losing my child would just somehow disappear. That I could miraculously forget about the piece of my life now missing. The 38 weeks of gestation and the 8 short weeks on earth would slowly dissolve from my memory and magically be replaced by peace.

It’s been almost six months and I can say without fail, that time does heal. For a long time, I almost didn’t want to get “better” or get “over” things. I thought it would mean that I loved Alex less, or that people would judge me as a mother, or as a person. I now realize that I loved Alex more than I ever realized, and that finding joy in his life in Heaven makes me a better mother and person than I could ever hope for. Sad for me, but so wondrous for him.

We had holiday pictures taken and I’m not sure how we are addressing Alex as a part of our family. He’s still present and so much a part of who we are now… how can we share and explain that on a short Christmas card? Is it possible that there is someone, anyone on that Christmas card list that didn’t know, doesn’t realize that Alex is no longer with us? Is it weird to keep him as a part of the family to outsiders who don’t understand the pain of loss, or how comforting his presence can be? It’s complicated.

We obviously can’t take a family portrait with Alex anymore. I thought about displaying his picture in the background, but it seemed cold to just paint him in the background, as if he were only in the periphery of our lives now. I tried to have little reminders of him in the picture. Christmas tree ornaments that were made for him, bearing his name, to show that he was still part of our family tree. None of it really worked out. We are a family of three on earth, and people will have to use their imaginations to see that second child’s shadows, present in our hearts.

I’m not really a person who worries a lot about what other people think. I don’t fixate on what to wear, how to do my hair, or finding that perfect shoe to match the dress I painstakingly picked out. I am distinctive in who I am, what I am, and what I like. I don’t necessarily need the blessing or approval of others to validate my choices.

Things with Alex are different. I feel like something so terrible happening to our family has suddenly made my normal, unremarkable life very public. A tragedy like ours has thrust our family into the spotlight, at least in our small circles. We’re not just Ben and Tammylynne anymore. We are the parents who lost their Baby Alex. Because of that, I feel a little more under the microscope, and a little bit more on display.

Maybe that’s why I haven’t been writing as much. I feel like things are going better, and I’m not sure if that’s “okay” in the eyes of the world. I still miss Alex and wish he were here, but I have accepted what has happened, and our family has adjusted. We didn’t choose what happened, but we have found a way to get through everything- for better or for worse.

I think I started this blog to share the pain of losing Alex, to talk about things I couldn’t say in person and to let other parents out there know, that they weren’t alone. When things were sad, I thought others could take comfort in that. Now that there is more joy for us, does that sound like bragging to all those parents out there still in the throes of grief? To the other parents I have met in this journey, am I betraying them by picking up the pieces of our loss, and (gulp) moving on?

I had trust and faith in God that we would have a happy ending to our story- I didn’t think it would happen so soon. I am grateful for the joy in our lives, and a little sheepish. We were so sad mere months ago, and now we are… okay.

I have beautiful reminders of Alex throughout my life. I have his pictures everywhere, in frames, on my phone, in my heart. I have his beautiful tree which is the focal point of our backyard, and visible from almost any window in the house. I have a son that mentions Baby Alex randomly throughout the week, in ways that make me grateful that Alex is still present in our lives.

So I hope that I am sharing a story of hope and peace that brings comfort to those who are still hurting. Life does go on, complicated or not.

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Posted by on November 27, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

Blog #25: Life

We’re planning Benjamin’s birthday party. He turns three on November 29th. He’s at the age where he can actually *tell* you when his birthday is. He can articulate all the presents he wants for his birthday. I mentioned to him that I had orders Yo Gabba Gabba and Wiggles balloons for his party. He remembers.

What a difference a year makes. Last year, he was vaguely aware of his birthday and understood that all the presents were for him. Alex was half grown in the womb, and I remember being excited and overwhelmed while planning the party last year. This year, things are calmer. Different.

Benjamin seems to recall so much information in general- it makes me wonder if there are any real memories of Alex still lurking inside him. He knows Baby Alex is in Heaven. Sometimes he will call Alex on the phone to say hello. Otherwise, Alex is really only mentioned when his picture is shown, or if we ask him a question like a pop quiz, “Who’s your baby brother?”

I thought there would be more sadness planning this birthday party because it’s just a reminder that Alex didn’t get a birthday party. It’s not all sad. While Alex isn’t here, Benjamin is. We need to celebrate life at every possible interval, and for us, that means a big birthday party. Again.

Alex is still a part of our lives. Benjamin will unwrap a present from Baby Alex for his birthday, and Alex is mentioned every night at prayer time. There are ways we still integrate him into life for Benjamin. Benjamin still uses a nuk at bedtime. (Please don’t judge.) We believe that the ripe old age of three is when he will no longer need it. We talk about it every night.

“Benjamin, what happens when you turn three?”

“ I don’t need a nuk anymore.”

“What are we going to do with it?”

“Mail it to Baby Alex.”

Maybe it’s weird to incorporate Alex into some of our folklore… ida know. There are no rules on this, so I will try to keep him present for Benjamin in as many ways as possible. Maybe it will get harder as Benjamin gets older, but for now, keeping Alex in the present seems like the best thing for our family.

In the meantime, there are favor bags to make, decorations to buy and presents to wrap. There is life and love in our house and we need to recognize the gifts of life all around us.

 
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Posted by on November 8, 2011 in Uncategorized

 

#24: Good

Does it tempt fate to say that things are good? Is it safe, and okay to say that things are going well, and that you’re happy with life these days?

Sometimes, I wonder. The last time I felt this peace, this contentment, this fulfillment, my sweet Alex was taken away just days later. I finally feel like we’ve reached levels of happiness to where we were before Alex died. Not every minute of every single day, but glimpses of that same happiness. It buoys my spirits to know that type of joy is still out there in life, for me and for my family. It warms my heart to know that the tragedy of losing Alex won’t define us forever.

I can talk about Alex and still miss him, but not have it be the one defining principle in my life. For awhile, the pain of losing Alex was the one thing I knew to be true. It’s bigger now. I know the pain of loss, the joy of life on earth and quiet peace of understanding that that there is life for us in between the two.

At bedtime, I tuck Benjamin in at night and tell him a made-up story about himself. Sometimes, it’s a nice story about how he was a good listener, or a good helper. These days, mostly tales about how he was a rotten listener, a lousy helper, or an otherwise naughty kid. My once perfect child is now a hooligan. It’s okay though. I can lay in bed with him, telling him stories, saying our prayers and I feel completely present in the moment with him. I feel like I am taking time out to spend time with him, and that I understand how quickly those special moments will pass by.

I didn’t have that before Alex died. I didn’t have those small moments of bliss when I would soak in every second of the special moments with my boys. Life was more harried. More rushed. I get it now.

I can take my time with Benjamin and enjoy his laughter and antics. His sassy comments and failure to follow instructions. Ben wonders why it takes so long to put Benjamin to bed. Sometimes it’s because he’s not listening. Other times it’s because I thought it was important to not rush.

 
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Posted by on November 3, 2011 in Uncategorized