Thursday, March 26, 2015

What I Will Remember...

I can imagine the phone ringing - twenty, thirty years from now...

"Hey, Mom.  Do you remember how old I was when I first slept through the night?  The baby's been up all night every night and we're exhausted."

"Hi, Mom.  How old was I when I cut my first tooth?"

"Mom - can you put Dad on the phone?  I need a recipe."

In thirty years, I will be 75 years old.  Or young.  We have longevity in the genes, thank God.  It's possible one or both of you will be married... have kids... who knows.  But I hope that you call me... and I hope that you turn to me to ask these important questions... just so I can tell you...

I don't remember.

It won't be because of my age.  Heck, I have a bad memory NOW and I'm only (almost) 45!  I won't remember the big details of your development (unless they were written down in this journal) because I was too busy storing all the memories of the important ones...

I'll remember how I felt the moment you were born.  True elation.
I'll remember the days we spent together in the hospital - just the two of us - bonding and learning each other.

I'll remember the late nights, the early mornings and how you felt against my breast or nuzzled into my neck.  I am sure if I closed my eyes right now - I could imagine you there in my arms.
I'll remember the tears.  Yours and mine.  Some days were hard and our emotions were intertwined.

I'll remember how your body sunk into my lap or against my shoulder as we read books.

I'll remember choking back tears as each birthday ended - grateful tears that we had another year together.
I'll remember watching you from afar with such pride - so overwhelmed that you were mine.

I'll remember wiping your tears that were mixed in with mine as we stumbled and bumbled through grief.

I'll remember how you loved each other.

Oh, how you loved each other.
I'll remember how I loved your Father... and how I loved seeing the best parts of him in each of you.
I'll remember the way you smiled with your whole face... how your nose crinkled and your eyes lit up.
I'll remember death.  Your sister's and your brother's.  Watching you play and grow under a mantle with two urns.
I'll remember our life being wonderful and happy and filled with adventure and boredom and questions and answers and easy days and many, many sleepless nights.
I will remember all of these things in my heart.  And I hope, above all, that YOU will remember this...

Always remember the beauty and the pain equally... because one is born from the other.

Always remember that spending too much time dwelling on the pain, the bad day, the deaths, the tears... will only keep you in the dark.

Always remember that there will be sad "anniversaries" - but resist the urge to make them solemn and sad, just because the calendar says so.

Always remember that every day is an anniversary of a life.  Every single day you have an opportunity to celebrate love, joy and wonderful memories - all of the things that make you who you are.

And always remember that one day we will be in each others arms... all of us together.  And as your soul embraces mine I will know that I never forgot.


Sunday, March 22, 2015

Success!...

This past week was the Just Between Friends Sale!!  It was a huge success all around.

If you read my last post, it might explain why I chose to use their "Valet Service" this time around.  I just didn't want to expend the energy and time on the consigning part.  So, I gave the things I wanted to consign to one of the JBF Valet team members and she organized everything, priced it all, tagged it all and even delivered it all to the sale for me.  All I had to do was collect it from my basement, drive it to her home and have a lovely conversation with her in her kitchen.  Done. The upside to using the Valet Service is - all of the above.  It saved me a ton of time and pressure that I didn't want to put on myself.  The downside - if you consider this a downside - is that you make less on your consigned items.  I split the profit three ways: I get 50%, the woman who tagged my items gets 20% and JBF gets 30% ... but I didn't care one bit.  I'd say it was a win for me!

I was up bright and early the day of the sale and was so ready to get in to shop.  I was there the night before and, as usual, was blown away by the amount of items.  Seriously - check out some of these photos...

Here's just some of the baby gear!
This was the row of clothes in Hope's size that I had to get through.  Yikes!!
If you were looking for a stroller, you were in luck.
Speaking of which, I get a lot of comments on Hope's favorite stroller.  You could have snagged it at the sale for THREE BUCKS!
A partial photo of the little girl toys...
...and just some of the puzzles.  Unbelievable, right?
But I know you're waiting to see what I bought.  I aim to please.  Here we go...

I had a goal to get some Easter presents for the kids.  Our Easter Bunny brings a few presents and less candy.  For Brian I found a fun airplane he can put together and then decorate however he wants.  He recently had a cardboard house just like this that he loved, so I know he'll have fun with this!  It was $12.00.
I also got him "Tabletop Air Hockey" - he and Ed will have a ball with this.  And if they don't?  Who cares - it was FOUR BUCKS!
And he'll love (it may be his favorite thing) this brand new snorkel and mask.  Brian takes a bath in our large master bathtub and practices going underwater with goggles on.  Now he can practice snorkeling for a future (probably the very FAR future) island vacation!  Brand new for $4.00.
I found presents for Hope's Easter basket, too.  I couldn't resist this brand new, with tags twin doll set in a perfect little cradle.  It is just the cutest thing.  $5.50.  Can you believe that?  $5.50!!
I think she'll also love this toy - I've always loved these.  It has beads, doors to open and close, mazes... it's bright and colorful and in perfect condition.   It's the "My Busy Town" by Alex, Jr.  The cheapest I could find this online was for $62.00.  I bought it for $20.00!!
I put those things aside so Brian and Hope wouldn't see them.  But I got some other things that I showed Brian right away.  Like this super cool "boogie board" for our beach vacation this summer!  He can't wait to learn how to use it.  It was $4.00.
And I made his day when I showed him these Star Wars ships - all for $12.00!
I was super excited to score this beautiful Pottery Barn Kids canvas bin.  I was able to remove the fabric to wash it and it looks brand new!  It's now in the playroom filled with Hope's stuffed toys and dolls.  It's perfect!  And it cost me $10.00.  Pottery Barn Kids, people!!
Now... on to the good stuff.  The clothes!

I got these for Brian.  Five shirts and six shorts from Gymboree, Polo, Kitestrings and Gap - all for $43.00.  That's about $3.00 an item!
Six pairs of sandals and shoes for Hope - three that looked like they'd never touched the ground.  Pediped, Stride Rite and those white sneakers are little Pumas (they were THREE BUCKS!).  I got all these shoes for $25.00.  Those pink glitter slip ons are even cuter in person.
Here are all the clothes I bought for Hope.  Baby Gap, Gymboree, Janie and Jack, Carters, Hartstrings, Tea, Hanna Andersson and Polo.  Most of these items were under $5.00.  The most expensive clothing item I bought for Hope was her Easter dress (not shown) for $10.00.
I love these two dresses - especially the one on the left that is from H&M and new with tags for $5.00!
I loved this $4.00 stretchy denim jean jacket from Old Navy.
And I could NOT resist these jackets.  Each of these (in different sizes) were $4.00!  Janie and Jack trench coat, London Fog polka dot windbreaker and a bright pink jacket from Hartstrings.
I did find an Easter dress for Hope that I LOVE - but you'll just have to wait to see that one!

I bought a few other things I didn't list here.  My total for everything was $268.42.  And wait...I ended up selling 117 items and making $281.38!  So, I came out $12.96 ahead!  Ha!

More than all of that, it is such a fun experience.  I love seeing my "JBF Family" and watching a community of women come together to create such a wonderful sale.  The sale helps so many people who don't want to pay retail.. can't afford to pay retail... have multiple children, foster children, grandchildren - you name it!  AND... if you don't want to pick up your unsold items (I didn't!) they are all donated to a local charity who is extremely grateful to receive them.

That's a wrap, folks!  I'm already looking forward to the Fall sale next September.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Winter of My Discontent...

I remember sending her emails... asking her random questions about what I should do.  Almost as if she was the expert on how to handle losing a child and how to handle a remaining child's grief.  She lost a child, too, my friend... and her other child lost a sibling.  I turned to her when I was faced with a dilemma - hoping she could tell me what to do.

She didn't.
Actually, she wouldn't.

She replied to me with love, but my questions always remained unanswered.

It was the best and most loving thing she could have done.  Each time an email response came into my inbox, I would catch my breath with anticipation.  The answer!  It was near!  But as I read her words and realized she was gently and lovingly refusing to tell me what to do... I would always exhale and think, "Right.  She's right...

This is my journey to walk."

And so it is.

This Winter, my journey has been more difficult than ever.  I have been functioning just fine - and smiling and happy - and handling homework and Hope-work and playtime and even remembering to water the plants.

I've been taking care of myself and remembering my mantras: Remember to eat, remember to not drink, remember to take your vitamins, remember to sleep, remember to breathe.  And never skip dessert.  (very important)

But for some reason that I can't explain - probably because there is no rhyme or reason to life or grief - I have felt like I've been floating through cement for months.

It hasn't helped that we've had one illness after another since December - but it's more than that.  I've just been... let me think about the right wording to use.  I don't think "lazy" is the right word - because that would mean I was doing something wrong.  I don't think "depressed" is the right word either - because I don't believe that grieving automatically means that a person is depressed.  I got it.  If you're offended easily, skip this part.

I just haven't been able to give a shit.

If there's a choice between cleaning up the house or sitting on the couch and watching mindless TV when Hope is napping?  It's an easy decision.  

If Ed calls me from work and says, "What are we doing for dinner tonight?  Want to order something?" I automatically say yes.

I have avoided socializing because I just don't feel like trying sometimes - to make conversation, to worry about what to wear, to be "on."

Many nights after the kids go to bed I think, "I should really write a blog post.  It's been a while." But I just didn't have the mental energy to think or to type or to tell this truth about not giving a ... you know.

I've been in somewhat of a fog at times and read emails or texts or open mail... and then completely forget about them.

Cement.

But you know what?  I'm really okay with this.  While some might think "red flag! red flag!" - I don't.  If I spend too much time over-analyzing this time in my life - or thinking that I need something to "fix" me or "help me" or "change me" it will lead me down a path of feeling like there's really something wrong with me.  And there isn't.

My journey after child loss is mine... and mine alone.  It's not easy.

Everything in life is fluid.  Ever changing.  Sometimes life takes us to a destination unknown and we have to find our way out with a map that only we have access to.  We can try to borrow other people's maps - but we may end up in the wrong place.  There's always that chance.  It may take longer - especially if you were never good with directions, like me - but finding your own way out is always wisest.  There were times in my life when I found myself in a destination that was less than desirable - and I tried to pretend I wasn't there... fight the reality... hurt those around me because I wanted out of there so bad... blame others for me winding up there in the first place... and it ended up nearly destroying me every time.

Basically - I didn't feel my feelings... or simply realize that I could ride out ANY wave and come out on the other side if I just braced myself and kept my eyes forward.

It's always best to keep your eyes looking forward.

And so it goes...

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Door Stopper...

We created a special spot to measure the boys - on the door jamb leading down to our basement. 

Brian loves to watch his growth and gets very excited when he moves up a notch!
In hindsight, we wish we had started doing this sooner.  We could have watched Gavin and Brian racing to the top together.  

We started these measurements on January 28, 2013.  Gavin measured 40" tall. Brian wasn't far behind at 39 5/8".  

Gavin's first and last measurement.  
He was dead 76 days later.

I went back to that day on my blog - hoping that I had taken a photo of Gavin getting measured that day and posted it.  I didn't.  But I love what happened that exact day and the next.  You can read it here.  Gavin had just received his new orthotics - with the Superman logo all over them.  He needed them because he was doing so well WALKING... something so many thought he wouldn't do.  I couldn't wait to get to the hospital the next day to see his Orthopedic doctor so Gavin could show off.  The next morning, in Dr. Gabos' exam room, Gavin walked right across the room to him.  Dr. Gabos told me after Gavin died that that exact moment was one he would never forget.  A career highlight.  
He had always said that Gavin had the lowest tone of any baby he had ever seen - to see him walking was just a miracle.  

That day was also a photo shoot at the hospital with a professional photographer.  They were going to use Gavin's photos on their website.  I will always treasure those photos... especially this one...
I remember the day that Ed measured Gavin for the first time.  I felt so proud that he stood there - so tall and sure of himself.

This little piece of wood is one of the most valuable pieces of real estate in our home.  We love it so... yet, every time we open the basement door - it stops us in our tracks.  It makes our stomachs drop.  It's the ultimate door stopper.

We continue with the tradition - as we do with most things.  We marked Brian's height on his fifth birthday, his first as a big brother - and on his first day of Kindergarten.  If we ever move, we might try to figure out how to pry this door jamb from the wall.  
It's funny how it's always the little things that stop me in my tracks - the door jamb, hearing one of his toys as Hope is playing with it, feeding her some of his favorite foods.  These things are bittersweet - as I love anything that reminds me of our little boy.

As you know, my favorite consignment sale is coming up this week - Just Between Friends.  This time around I used a "valet service" that they offer - meaning I collected the things I wanted to sell and handed them over to someone to take care of the pricing, tagging and delivering everything to the sale.  I'm so, so grateful that this is offered - and that I took advantage of it!  It saved me so much time and energy.

There were some things that I didn't want to sell - but didn't want to hold onto - but didn't want to donate to a stranger, either.  Like this little ensemble.  Brian wore this shirt to his brother's funeral... and the entire outfit again for the big fundraiser I had on the one year anniversary of Gavin's death.  It just holds too much 'specialness' - so it will go to a special little guy in our life that may wear it for Easter this year!
Going to the Just Between Friends sale is always bittersweet for me.  The biggest draw for me each season was the toys.  I loved to constantly rotate toys in the playroom to keep things interesting for Gavin.  So each sale I would sell toys - and buy new ones - it was almost like a perfect trade!  Since Gavin's death, I STILL walk around forgetting and pick things up thinking, "This would be perfect for Gavin during OT..." or PT or Speech or... for fun.

But I continue to go with joy in my heart - for Brian and now Hope.  We look forward to getting some fresh toys - and unloading ones we once loved.  Brian has already given me a list of things he hopes I find:  "Magic Tree House" books, Star Wars toys and a tent.  I'm going to hope I don't find that tent.  He has this crazy idea to try camping.  Hate to break it to ya, Brian - but roughing it for me is staying in a motel instead of a hotel.  He'll learn.

If you're local - or willing to make the trek! - I'd love to see you at the sale this week.  It is honestly one of my favorite community events.  I've made friends through this sale and look forward to seeing familiar faces twice a year as we all come together to make it a huge success.  I really think that this sale is going to be the biggest and best one yet.  And I'm sure, once again, I'll find the perfect thing for Gavin.  And this time, when I do, I'm going to buy it and give it away.

Here are the details if you want to come join the fun!  If you have never been, prepare to be overwhelmed in the best way.  If you are having a baby, you could literally leave there with almost everything you need.  You could buy an entire season's worth of clothes for your kids.  You could find toys and outdoor playsets and bikes and even - ugh - tents.  (Did I mention I'm not that outdoorsy?)

March 19-22
Greater Philadelphia Expo - Hall C
100 Station Ave, Oaks 19456
(If you went to Gavin's Playground Party - it's in the same expo center!!)
Thursday and Friday: 9am-8pm
Saturday: 8am-5pm
Sunday is half price day - most items will be an additional 50% off!  8am-3pm

Head to the JBF website for more information and how you can get in free.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Courage To Find Significance in the Everyday

A few weeks ago, I was contacted by a lovely woman from my area named Stephanie.  She messaged me through my Facebook page and wrote...

Hi Kate! I am a member of MOPS of Trappe (Mother of Preschoolers). If you are not familiar with MOPS, we are an international organization that is a place for mothers to connect, and bond over the most amazing journey we will ever experience; motherhood! A mommy is eligible to be a member of MOPS until her youngest child enters kindergarten, and then she “graduates!” I was new to the area before having my daughter, and it was amazing how the journey of being a mom can connect so many different women, even though our experiences are all vastly different. Each year MOPS international sets a “theme” to help us plan our meetings and social events throughout the year. This year our theme has been “Be You Bravely.” We have spent the year looking at how we can be the best mothers, partners and women in our daily lives that we can possibly be. This isn’t always the easiest thing to accomplish, yet each mommy is trying her very best to be herself bravely every single day. Our monthly meetings vary from having speakers, to doing community service projects, and some months we just make fun craft for ourselves! Imagine that, just time for Mommy?!

Several members of our leadership group were talking about the fact that we follow your blog, and how we feel that you are truly living our theme, and are a wonderful example of being YOU bravely as you go through the amazing adventure of being a mommy! We wanted to extend an invitation to you, and ask if you would be interested in coming to speak to our group of mom’s at our March meeting, about your experience as a mom, and how you go through this journey “bravely.” 

Our coordinator let me know that MOPS international sent our discussion topic for March and it is "courage to find significance in the everyday." This is just a topic they encourage us to explore during the month along with our overarching theme for the year. I thought this actually might help you! Your blog definitely gives the impression that you and your family try to look for the beauty and significance in day to day routines and events, so this might help you when you are thinking of what you want to say. Truly whatever your heart leads you to say when you think of our "be you bravely" theme or the idea of ""courage to find significance in the everyday"is exactly the right thing to say! 


My first thought was to check that she was sending this to the right person - which is what I think every time I get a note like this.  Surely they sent this by mistake.  I'm not a speaker!!  People, there is a reason why I hide in a computer and type!!  

But then - I said yes.  ACK!  I said yes.  I wanted to say no - but I didn't.  The topic was centered around bravery - how I could I wimp out?!

I spent a lot of time stressing about going.  What to wear?  Should I bring Hope or have someone watch her?  If I bring her, would she let me leave her in their nursery?  Would I feel okay with that? Would I get lost?  That last one wasn't a question, really.

Well, this morning - some of those burdens were lifted off of me and others added in their place. Brian woke up with a stomach bug and needed to stay home from school.  I looked at Ed.  He looked at me.  He spoke first - "It's okay - I can work from home."  I felt so relieved that I could still honor my commitment to Stephanie and the MOPS group.  Ed stayed home with Brian and Hope - and earned "Husband AND Father of the Year" - and it's only March!

In true form, I got a little lost - but I wasn't late!  Whee!  Stephanie was waiting at the door to greet me and couldn't have been sweeter.  She told me she moved here from Virginia - away from her family - and joining this group was a way for her to meet other Moms.  Holy brave, I thought.  As we chatted I noticed women milling around and chatting it up with each other and I thought - seriously, all of these women are so brave.

Soon it was time for Stephanie to introduce me - and when I got up there, I had to confess.

I just had to tell them how brave I thought all of them were - just for being there!!  I told them that I am a pretty shy stay at home Mom - and I mean that literally - like I LITERALLY STAY HOME!  The fact that they JOINED a group like this - and show up - and socialize - especially Stephanie that moved here not knowing anyone and joined by herself - that, to me, is brave.  I was standing in front of them a nervous wreck.

I also had to tell them that I had a vomiting son, a super active daughter and a saint for a husband that I'd need to get home to shortly after my speech.  I didn't want them to think I was rude for leaving early - but Ed needed to work!

Before I share my speech with you, I want to thank the ladies of this MOPS group for inviting me this morning.  I wasn't there for very long, but I was deeply impacted.  I connected with three Moms that were very open with me.  I was forced to write - which I've been lazy about or too busy to do lately.  I had a reason to wear makeup and "dress up."  And it completely forced me out of my comfort zone - which is basically anytime I am in a social setting!!  But most of all, I was able to share about Gavin and how he changed me.  And organ donation.  If one person considers becoming an organ donor after this morning, I will be so grateful.  The group's leader came up to me at the end of my speech and gave me a gift - the best gift a Mom can receive - something for her kids!  She went out of her way to buy specific books... knowing our children love books.  She even bought a Star Wars book for Brian, which really cheered him up when I got home.  They are also making a donation to Gavin's Trust Project!!  I did not expect anything - so all of this was such a nice surprise!

The themes I worked with were "Be Bravely You" and "Courage to find the significance in the everyday."  Stephanie secretly snapped the pictures and sent them to me this afternoon.  I'm posting them so I have proof that I had a day out of pajamas. 

**********************

The first thing I’d like to do is to congratulate all of you.  I was told your theme for this year was “Be Bravely You.”  Well - you’ll likely be recognized nationally for overachieving with that theme.  There is NOTHING braver than inviting an introverted stay at home Mom who spends the majority of her day talking to a baby, who is also suffering from severe winter cabin fever and who is not in any way, shape or form a public speaker... to speak today!  Truly - there’s nothing braver than this.  So round of applause to all of you!!!
Every family, every Mother and every Father and every child, especially, has a story.  Our story is complicated and I could truly stand here for two hours just going through the basics. 

I’ll tell you about the chapter of our story that changed ME the most.  It spans five years and it starts in 2007 with the birth of our first son, Gavin.  


I should tell you - before Gavin was born I had traveled the world as a flight attendant... done a lot (not all of it good!)... seen a lot... conquered a lot.  When we decided to become parents, I was READY!  I mean, I was a nanny for a few years, had over a dozen nieces and nephews and lots of babysitting experience, was even "red cross certified" as a teenager - AND - I had read just about every parenting book and joined lots of “expecting” forums on the internet.  I was ready to be a Mom - I knew it ALL and I was going to ROCK IT!

Then Gavin was born.  And all of that went out the window.  

It was evident the second he emerged that something was wrong.  The silence in the delivery room told me that.  But we would never know just what WAS wrong - he would always remain undiagnosed.

We brought him home and it was clear to me that I was starting from zero.  I was a Mom who knew nothing - with a baby who knew nothing - and we were forced to learn all of it together.  

My life was not filled with “Mommy and Me” groups or “Baby Yoga” or even “MOPS” groups like this.  I spent my days with therapists in and out of our house - hour drives to the hospital for doctor visits - and sometimes, scary hospital stays where we feared we would lose him.  

I was at zero - and it was the best thing that ever happened to me.

I was humbled on a daily basis.  Watching this little child work SO hard for every little action - and slowly conquering his own mountains - was humbling.  It quickly became apparent that I might have been supplying care - and love - and the therapists would help him learn - but we were all just supporting players in Gavin’s one man show.  

He was the star.

Gavin was 15 months old when his little brother, Brian, was born.  If I thought that I would feel differently about mothering this new child - I was wrong.  I think because Gavin had to work so hard for everything... it gave me a different perspective when I looked at Brian.  Everything Brian did naturally seemed MIRACULOUS to me!!   OMG - he can breastfeed!  OMG - he can sit up alone!  I would sometimes just sit and watch Brian in awe - and so would Gavin!  Soon, Gavin worked even harder to keep up with his little brother.  He couldn’t speak, but he said so much to all of us!!

I have this philosophy about life that I want to share with you.  Each of us has a soul, obviously.  I'm sure you've met some people that made you question that - but for the most part, all of us do have souls.  And souls are ageless.  So, let’s just say that your Grandmother dies when she’s 100.  And you die when you’re 100.  Well, when you meet up with her in Heaven - she won’t appear to you as a decrepit 200 year old!  She’ll meet you as the ageless soul that made up the best parts of who she was.  She’ll meet you as love - as warmth - as wisdom.  You won’t see age... or color... or anger... or disability... or even gender.  None of that will matter. (Which makes me think - it shouldn't matter on Earth, either!  Shouldn't we all communicate and love and see each other soul to soul?)

So then imagine your own soul sitting with God before you’re born.  Imagine if the two of you, together, map out the blueprint of your life.  You get to choose what lessons you’ll learn, what messages you’ll deliver, what your mission will be once you’re on Earth.  You’ll arrive with a clear purpose set out for your life.  It’s up to you to put aside all the distractions which can come in the form of tragedy... disability... depression... whatever.  Your job is to put all those things aside so you can accomplish what you were sent here to do - to learn - to teach - to overcome - to be the person that God - and YOU - chose to be.
If you can imagine that for your own life - then imagine it for your children.  I have.  Feeling like each of my children sat with God and chose their own path?  It was a life changing moment for me.  It was the moment that I saw them as my greatest teachers.  As little humans with their own thoughts and feelings that were just as important as mine.  So many of us feel like we parent AT our children - we are there to teach them, discipline them, tell them what to do - where to go - how to act.  And there is a place for that!  But, how often do we stop and just sit with them... just observe... or listen... or deeply respect the things they want to tell us, however “silly” they may seem to our adult ears. 

My children were the greatest gift to me.  I had to let go of everything I thought I knew - I had to let go of my ego - my expectations - and let them show me who they were.  I am just a passenger on their journey - and I find myself learning so much along the way.  My greatest wish is to always treat my children’s thoughts, feelings, dreams, passions - even if they aren’t what I expected for them - with respect.  Just as I would hope those closest to me would treat me.  

So, I told you that this chapter spanned five years...

A lot has happened between Brian’s birth and now.

In 2010, we had to deliver a daughter we named Darcy when I was 5 1/2 months.  She died of a very rare type of cord accident and was placed in my arms hours before Mother’s Day.

We put her ashes in the tiniest urn we placed on our mantle and in a locket I wear around my neck... and we continued to live.  We even continued to try for another baby - hoping to have a sibling for the boys.  We tried the old fashioned way and the new fashioned way.  I tried injectables and invitro and even used an egg donor - nothing worked.  We took it as a sign - obviously we’re slow learners - and gave up.  I gave away or sold all of the baby things that had crowded our basement.

 And we continued to live again.

Things were going well.  Brian was in school - and Gavin was in school - and he continued to blow us ALL away meeting some MAJOR milestones.  He started to make a connection with a communication device - and he also started WALKING!!!  This was such a HUGE deal.  Early on, doctors didn’t even think he’d sit up... ever.  Here he was walking across rooms.  I’m sure you can imagine our elation.

Then - on a beautiful April day, out of a clear blue sky, Gavin’s temperature went from normal - to dangerously high.  It triggered a seizure - called a “Febrile seizure” - that was so severe it stopped his heart.  In the emergency room, they made several attempts to revive him... and did... but he was not going to make it, they told us.  Our little family of four huddled together and we said goodbye.  But then - he seemed to improve - enough that they could put him on a helicopter and fly him to the hospital he had known his whole life.  My husband and I got in our car and the hour long drive seemed to take a week as we attempted to chase the chopper.

We were able to spend four more days with our little boy.  But we knew his journey was going to end.  Those four days were a gift.  We never left his side - took turns sleeping with him - I was able to bathe him - Brian was able to come in and spend time saying goodbye, which was so, SO, important - and we had time to arrange to donate his organs.

Gavin was pronounced dead on April 14th, 2013 - my 43rd birthday.  He was 5 1/2.

In a twist of fate... that morning before the official pronouncement by the doctor... I woke up next to Gavin feeling very calm and peaceful.  My husband was sitting in the corner of the hospital room.

“I’m pregnant,”  I told him.
“You’re crazy,” he replied.
“I’m telling you - I’m pregnant.  I’m sure of it.  And I know it’s a girl - and we have to name her Hope.”

Hope was born - or dropped straight from Heaven, as I like to say - in November of that same year.

Since Gavin’s death, his story has been shared worldwide through my blog.   People have gone back to the beginning of my writing - when he was an infant - and read his entire life story like a book.  I get mail from special needs Moms that I’m able to help with my experience.  I get thank you’s for writing about things we did or tried to make Gavin’s life easier - that have helped other children.  Because I shared all of it - even the seemingly insignificant things at the time - people have been helped. I have received thousands of messages from people who have become organ donors - or have started conversations in their home about donating their children’s organs if the worst would happen.  

The fact that I wrote it all down... simply shared the every day, seemingly insignificant parts of our life... is no accident.  Nothing is by chance.

A lot of people ask me how I can go on after losing not one child - but two.  They wonder how I can remain positive.

I’ll tell you.

Gavin’s death - and Darcy’s death - they didn’t happen TO me.  
Their lives happened FOR me.

They were each sent here on their own journey.  To teach, to inspire, to affect change in others.

Take Gavin.  This little child - a mystery to everyone but God - slipped down from Heaven, never spoke a word, and left this world just as mysteriously.  Yet he managed to change his family profoundly during his life - inspire thousands with his determination and “odds-defying” progress - and then continue to change thousands more after his death.  

I'm confident that HIS mission was accomplished.

It is very difficult to move on after a devastating loss - especially the loss of a child.  But I continue to choose courage - every day.  And I encourage you to do the same - to look for the significance in the every day things.  It won’t be hard to find.  And I can tell you one thing for sure - it’s often in those every day, seemingly insignificant things, where life’s greatest lessons are hidden for you to find.  If you have trouble - here’s a tip.  When you get in the car to go home today - look in the rear view mirror.  You might be in the drivers seat... but those little ones you see in that mirror?  They hold the directions.

**************************
If you are local and would like to check out this particular MOPS group, they are in Trappe, PA.  You can click HERE to get to their Facebook page for more information.  They are also having a big children's consignment sale this weekend - March 13 and 14 - you can support the group and support your shopping habit at the same time!  Click HERE for more info on their sale. 

One last thing - thank you for your concern for Brian!  He'll be home from school again tomorrow... but he's perking up a little tonight.  Is it Summer yet?

The end.



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