Thursday, May 9, 2013

What It Feels Like...

My house is like one of those carnival attractions where you walk through this maze of fun house mirrors and everything looks distorted, you feel disoriented and it can be difficult to find your way around.

The end.

Basically, that does sum it up.  You can't imagine what it feels like to be me.  I am heartbroken.  Tired.  I am pregnant.  Joyful.  I am still an on Mommy duty 24/7.  Exhausting.  I am married to a man who lost his first son.  Challenging.  I am heartbroken.  Heartbroken.

I don't know how this "I lost a child" thing is really supposed to look.  I hear so many people saying, "I don't know how you're standing up!" or "I would just want to go to bed and never get out if it were me."  So many of the options and the ways that people assume they would handle it if it were to happen to them... are just not how it looks for me right now.

Sure, I don't like to answer the door.  Yes, it's true that I don't want to answer the phone.  I definitely don't want to socialize or go to the grocery store.  But I still have to wake up and get Brian dressed and fed and drive him to school... and three hours later I drive him home.  He asks a thousand questions - one leading right into another - and I try to answer every one until I finally have to say, "Let's be quiet for five minutes."  And he says, "Why?"  And then we are back to the beginning.  He still wants to read and play and he still needs to be bathed and kissed.  And every night, the three of us climb into Gavin's bed to read a book.  Then, we all take our turn tugging gently on the "Invisible String" hanging on the closet door.  Brian always goes first.  He closes his eyes, pulls on the string and says "Goodnight, Gavin.  I love you."  Then it's my turn.  Then Daddy's turn.  I could never, because of my own grief, deprive this sweet child of days like these.  Even though I'm not as animated as I was a month ago, I'm still here... present... and in love with Brian.

Finding out I was pregnant was - at first - like a sucker punch.  The timing seemed like a cruel joke.  All those years that we were trying and trying.  Then, we stop trying - we give up - I give away ALL of our baby things.  To know that I was pregnant on the very day Gavin died was just too much to take.  But then, on the other hand, we were both thrilled... overjoyed... filled with hope.  The early days, during the viewing and the funeral, many people hugged me and looked into my eyes with great concern.  "Please take care of yourself," they would say.  I wanted to reply, "Trust me.  I will.  You have no idea how I will."  I also had to go to the bathroom so bad and stood there through 400+ people which, I'm thinking, should qualify me for some type of an award.  These days, I am trying to balance pregnancy exhaustion with Brian's "I am never tired!" attitude with grief with pregnancy paranoia with trying to just stay calm and believe.  I am determined to BELIEVE this baby BORN in December.  If all goes well, Brian will share his birthday month and become a big brother all at the same time.  I am BELIEVING this baby born.  I got another glimpse of "Project Hope" this morning and all is well.  Growing appropriately, heartbeat strong, and looking like I'm a little over 7 weeks along.  I'm just going to believe.

I have heard and read that marriages take a hit after the death of a child.  That divorce rates, which are already ridiculously high anyway, go up 10%.  This is not... and I repeat NOT... an option for us.  Ed and both realize something important.  We both lost a son.  But each of us lost something different.  We both had a unique relationship with Gavin and because of that, we will grieve for him differently.  It takes an extraordinary amount of patience to sometimes put your needs aside to help someone else.  I might be in "box throwing in the garage" mode while Ed is in "I need to cry and talk" mode - but sometimes we need to postpone our need to sit with the other.  And that is just fine.  And sometimes we need space - and we need to remember it's not personal to the other person to say we want to be alone.  It's a dance - and we're constantly trying to keep it smooth and not step on each others toes.  I am devastated for Ed.  He misses his buddy so, so much.  Ed loves big - and hard.  He often got choked up just saying goodnight to the boys.  This is a very hard time for him.  And Ed struggles with how to help me, too!  I don't often talk things out much.  I save it for my writing.  When I write everything out - almost stream of consciousness - it's my therapy.  It always has been.  I write and write and write and then walk away feeling lighter.  It doesn't really matter what comes after - the feedback part - because my writing is rather selfish.  It's all for me.  I have always felt that writing is so much better than a conversation.  If I sat across the table from someone and spilled my guts - it puts an unspoken pressure on the other person to "say" or "do" or "fix" something.

The truth is... no one can say or do or fix anything.  Gavin is dead.  And he has left us here to learn how to survive in a way that will completely honor him.  Any other options will not be entertained.

Tomorrow will be yet another hard day.  It is the three year "birthday" for our precious daughter, Darcy.  Brian and I will go shopping in the morning for three pink balloons... one for Daddy, one for Mommy and one for him.  We'll also get a cake and have our own little birthday party.  No, I'm not in the mood... and no, I don't want to celebrate... but it's not about me.  Not tomorrow, anyway.  So, we will eat cake.  And sing Happy Birthday to Heaven.

That is what it feels like.



44 comments:

  1. While my pain is not as deep as yours I lost our daughter at birth in November and all of what you say resonates so completely! Prayers for you!

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    1. So sorry for your loss Alyvia, but your pain is as deep as Kate's.

      Everyone who grieves, grieves deeply. Please don't feel a need to diminish your own pain.

      Sure, Kate has had more than a fair share of pain and heartbreak and my heart and love goes out to her in oh so many ways... but so too does it go out to you and anyone who is struggling to cope with the loss of any loved one.

      Allow yourself to feel, hurt and grieve and know that one day you will see a reason to smile.

      Love to you and yours from me and mine here, downunder. xx

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    2. Beautiful words Vicki ♡♥♡♥

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  2. Your writing tonight feels like therapy for me, if that makes any sense. After just losing my dad a month ago, I strive to honor him as well. <3

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  3. If, after everything you have been through, you can believe and hope, then I, who have only witnessed it vicariously, through your blog, shall believe and hope with you. With all my heart.

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  4. I just think you are so beautiful! =D xoxox

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  5. Oh, sweetie. I cannot even possibly fathom the roller coaster you are on. All I can do is let you know how much we are loving you and your family through the generosity of your blog. We lost our baby girl, Addison Love, nearly two years ago. Had she lived, her birthday would have been February 9th. She's have turned on this year on 02.09.13. I wear an amethyst ring in honor of what would have been her birthstone. I am so sorry for your losses, and I can only hope for all the best for the future of you and your beautiful and loving family.

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  6. There are words that define loss, Widow, Widower, Orphan...but for those that have lost a child, we..we have no term, no definition. We are our own elite club that has a membership cost that no one should pay. I'm 17 years into being one of those members, My Jon had 2 liver transplants. I've read your blog and cried and prayed for you all and I will continue to do so. So I would welcome you to the club, but this club sucks.

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  7. I thought I was crazy not wanting to go to the grocery store after our son died (we were fortunate to have him 16 years). So glad I'm not the only one. You know how EVERYONE says, "IF there is anything I can do...."? Maybe sending them to the grocery store would be a good idea. Wish I would've known, then, it was "normal" because I would've done that!! Gives others a chance to help and keeps you from having to endure that for a bit longer.

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    1. I keep you in my thoughts daily and HOPE that we will all be celebrating the arrival of Project Hope in December. Kate-thank you for sharing yourself, you say it feels selfish, but trust me when I say that those of us on the receiving end feel like it is anything BUT selfish. I am selfish for watching and waiting for your updates each day. So that I have a fresh view on your moment to hold onto and visualize positive comforting healing energy flowing to you and Project Hope and Ed and Brian too. Your precious Gavin is not with you in the physical sense, but I feel him all around you..and all around us. I think he had too much good to do in this world and his one little human body just wasn't enough for all that good. So now he is free - to be everywhere. I got my Be The Match-National Marrow Donor Program packet in the mail yesterday. I will complete the tissue sample tonight and send it off tomorrow. This I am doing in honor of Gavin...since I had long ago registered as an organ donor...but felt compelled to do something that I could to be of service NOW. Know that there are so many of us out here that you do not know, that are forever changed by your sweet Gavin and your bravery in telling and continuing to tell your story.

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  8. Kate, My parents lost my brother 39 years ago. Not a day goes by that their hearts do not feel the pain of their loss. However, their marriage got stronger, the dance you speak of is performed all the time and this year they will celebrate 46 years married. You and Ed are working through it on your own terms and that is wonderful. My Dad always said that he cried and mom just kept plugging. They grieved and did things their way together and it worked! My sister was born 362 days after my brother died. So I was a big sister like Brian. I am so awed by how your celebrate the lives of your children. That was something we did not do. It still hurts me. I will start this year on my brothers 42nd birthday and honor him with a balloon and will send one up for Gavin as well!
    Thank for sharing your journey it is helping me heal.. I hope it is supporting your healing as well!

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  9. Hands hovering over the keys searching for the right words. Wanting to "say" "do" "fix" something. I will just leave it with this, we are rooting for you -- all of you - on earth and in heaven.

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  10. I will believe, I will keep Gavin and Project Hope in my heart, I am very very sorry for your loss and send my deepest condolences to your family. I'm sorry I have no eloquent words but only send you well wishes in your time of grieving and healing.

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  11. Sending you hugs and love...even though I am a stranger several hundred miles away. Grief is difficult and personal....wishing you peace and comfort as you navigate these days.

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  12. I'm just at a loss for words. My heart aches for you. I read your posts and I cry and I think about my babies and I cry even more. The dignity, the grace, the AMAZING way you are coping with it all just astonishes me. Kate you are an amazing woman. I pray for you and your family every night. And I will pray that everything goes well with the baby. With love from Iowa.

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  13. My first born daughter died when she was just an infant 12 years ago. I was told later by my mother that she and my mother in law had a conversation about my husband and I and that they hoped we would make it. This was immediately after our daughters death. I never knew about this statistic then, that the death of a child makes or breaks a marriage. We needed each other so badly at that time that nothing like that was even an option. Our grief seemed to take turns. One day I’d have a hard day and the next day he would. It was so strange how it worked out like that. We were each others’ rock and we made it through. I think a marriage needs to be strong before tragedy strikes to make it through. You have that! God bless you and your husband and all your children.

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  14. I don't know what to say except you are extraordinary and amazing. I know Gavin is with you in your hearts and minds forever and is smiling down on you from heaven and saying I had the best mommy ever.

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  15. Sending you, Ed, Brian and Project Hope love and prayers--wish there was something I could do to take an ounce of your heartache away--sorry that I am unable to do so.

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  16. Everyone handles loss differently and no one should ever label someone else's grief or grieving as right or wrong. That being said as a mother I can't imagine being in your situation but if I ever was faced with such things I would hope I could be as brave and strong and full of love and life as you are. I believe loss never goes away but that in time we learn to accept it and live with it. The way you honor the children who have passed and the son you have now is an incredible inspiration to so many. Thank you for sharing your sorrow, love, and hope. It makes all of us better people and shows that their are truly amazing people in this world. Xo

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  17. I watched Gavin's 1 year video today. It was beautiful. He is beautiful. I continue to pray for comfort for you.

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  18. Immense.....immense love, sorrow, gratitude, fear, anger, loneliness, honor, emptiness, joy and responsibility just to name a few of the many feelings you are MORE than entitled to. Feel them embrace them and let them go one at a time on your own journey to redefining who you are. Because at the end of your journey it will always bring you back to the core of who you were created to be.....A woman loved by many, near and far. Rest easy tonight knowing you are loved and just as your love carried Gavin we will carry you.

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  19. Sending up prayers as you navigate your grief journey. It isn't an easy road. I'm watching my daughter navigate it right now -- 13 1/2 months after losing her son to SIDS. Just take it day by day, hour by hour and minute by minute if you have to. You are loved and supported - hang in there.

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  20. As soon as I read "I give away ALL of our baby stuff..." That was me. I would see items in the basement or garage (strollers, etc) and I'd just get bitter that we were dealing with secondary infertility. So I freecycled all kinds of things -- carseats, stroller, baby clothes, bottles, you name it. Some things I couldn't part with -- blankets, stuffed animals, newborn clothes -- but a lot of it went. Then I found out that I was pregnant (shocking, to say the least) and you would NOT believe all the people who GAVE us baby stuff. College friends, colleagues, family. People ask what they can buy for our baby (2 weeks old now) and there is LITERALLY NOTHING she needs. Right now I hope you feel overwhelmed with PRAYERS and loving thoughts... until, someday before you know it, you are overwhelmed with baby items. :)

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  21. Love and prayers! You are a beautiful soul with the most amazing heart! God Bless you and ALL your family!

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  22. You never cease to amaze me with your grace and poise through this difficult time. My prayers and thoughts are with you.

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  23. Your honesty is truly beautiful...

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  24. I am sure that hearing that you are amazing and incredible a million times a day is strange when you feel like an egg about to crack. I don't know what it takes to be amazing and incredible under these circumstances. I know that you are a pioneer to most of us because you are speaking of something we have never faced. We are in awe of your brutal honesty and it makes us (well, me) feel as though we are put here to overcome, together. You have created a community (so yes, amazing and incredible). I think of you, Ed and Brian and I say a prayer for your ray of hope. I am counting each day as a step toward that ultimate reward, that day in December. So many people are rallying around you and wishing you well. Which in itself is pretty amazing and incredible, just like a little boy who made so many things possible.

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  25. There are no words of comfort when you lose a loved one. I have learned through the loss of friends & family that no loss is the same and so I wil not speak of knowing your pain or loss. I can say that the deepest loss that i felt was when my father took his own life. There was one thing I read that really resonated with me during my loss and I hope that hearing it may help you as well.

    In the days following the loss of my dad I searched for comfort in others experiences. I found an article that spoke of a woman losing her husband. Everyone always says it will take time to get over a loss and time to heal. This woman's friend told her that she didn't have to get over it. It was a part of who she was now and that she will always have lost her husband. Time couldn't change that. Reading that made me realize that it wasn't about getting over the loss of my dad or moving on but rather learning what my (as my mom's friend calls it) "new normal" was. Life is forever changed by the loss of a loved one and there is no getting over them or that loss. They will forever be a part of us and who we are. The love, life and loss will have always changed us.

    Hugs, Love, Thoughts & Prayers.

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  26. Just to say I'm thinking of you here in London. I don't have any words of wisdom but I wish you and your family the best in these hard times.

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  27. Never mind what grief is supposed to look like grieve in your own way and in your time personally I think you're dealing with your loss remarkably well. I pray for you, Ed, Brian and baby every day twice a day.

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  28. Grief is hard. And I know I lost my sweet boy Gabriel Issac five years ago when he was 9 days old. He had Edward's Syndrome also known as Trisomy 18. It was a miracle he lived as long as he did. Gabe was a fraternal twin to my beautiful 5 year old daughter Leah Ruth. I can gauge what Brian is going through and what you are through with Brian because my older daughter Elizabeth was 4 when Gabriel died and Leah was born. It was hard for her having 1 baby not 2. Though obviously the relationship was not as close as Brian's and Gavin's she felt a connection to him. I'll pray for you tomorrow, anniversaries are tough. And every day I'll pray for you, Ed, Brian and "Project Hope". Much love Kate, much love

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  29. You are an inspiration and a true spirit of strength. You may not realize it at this moment but your words help so many.

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  30. Carry on warrior. Those are the words in my heart this morning. Carry on warrior.

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  31. Wish I was there and could hug and hold and help. (That is, if I knew you in person of course). Been reading. Been praying. And will continue.

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  32. Everything you just "said" really, really, really, really SUCKS!!! I feel your pain. I felt your pain many years ago and will probably feel your pain again in the years to come. I'm one of those crazy people that believe all these gut wrenching, heart exploding life experiences make us stronger. You are a warrior and you're getting stronger. It's just gonna suck for a while. Sigh.

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  33. Kate - I watched Gavin's one-year video yesterday, and as beautiful as he is, I was struck by the absolute joy in your face in every single shot - sometimes subdued, sometimes beaming, but always, always with such joy in your eyes.

    Gavin's death will probably never, ever be okay with you. It is SO not okay with me. But yes, I think you are doing it very right by living and thinking and breathing a little more forward every day even when things are not okay. And the fact that you are moving forward without leaving Gavin behind is so beautiful.

    People always say special kids are given to special parents, but I think special kids have a way of making pretty regular parents special.

    Devastation seems to do an either or to marriage; usually it desimates a marriage, but there are a precious number of us where devestation strengthens a marriage, gives it more dimension, makes it more crucial to the spouses. The way you talk about your hubby indicates you are one of the precious few. Marriages like that move mountains.

    I pray for you and your baby every day. If there was something I could say to make things better for you, I would search high and low for it, but I know what is is and no words will change it, and thus lies the problem.

    Your hope is contageous.

    Thank you.

    Alyson

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  34. God Bless and hold you in his loving care. I know there are no words to help, and I know I am a complete stranger... I do relate to your writings in so many ways, as I have also lost a son and then exactly 10mo. later I delivered my next. Then 10yrs later, we made the decision to adopt a special needs child. Just wanted to say that I understand... not exactly as we all have our own struggles, but I do have a sense of understanding and I feel for you as I remember the feelings you speak of. Heart hugs!

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  35. I so want to hug you - for your losses but also for your gains. Gaining the moment in your relationship where you faced the most horrific thing a parent can go through and making you stronger together. That's such a rare thing these days. I have seen so many special needs parents end up in divorce - because it got too hard. My husband and I had a talk while our son was in the NICU for what seemed like forever. Divorce is not an option. And we have had to discuss the possibility of losing our son several times, and its a very real possibility, so for me reading your grief is what my nightmares are made of. That awful dream that plays over and over in my head - all of my fears. And I am so sorry that you have to feel it for longer than when you are asleep. But to know that you have a marriage that can literally withstand ALL - today is amazing. I am so glad you have each other, because while it doesn't make the hurt go away, it will help both of you grieve. To know that you have a place of safety in the arms of each other. And for that I am thankful for you to have.

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  36. May God give you the strength you need each day to push forward. May he hold you close and guide you. May your precious baby bring you joy in the days ahead that are unbearable. May God keep your patience strong as you love Brian each day. When crawling into bed is not an option may you crawl into the loving arms of Jesus. You doing an amazing job and thank you for sharing yourself in your writing.

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  37. I am praying for you and your family and your baby. I have faith and hope and expectations for your baby.

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  38. Kate, I've never commented before (as I am a newer reader), but feel compelled to in this case.
    We lost our son Griffin on April 7th this year, after complications following his open-heart surgery (he had a congenital heart defect). He was only 2 days shy of being 5 months old. So, obviously, you writing of your grief resonates me in a big way because I am right where you are right now.
    The part about your marriage holds especially true, though. Like you, we knew before Griffin had *actually* passed away, that he would. It was our decision to remove support. But before we did, we talked about how we were not going to let this event, this unimaginable loss, destroy our love for each other or turn us into "different" parents to our 2.5 year-old daughter. So divorce, for us, is not an option either. As difficult as it may be sometimes, to watch the other fall apart when we are in "distracted mode", we have to be patient with each other and allow the other to grieve THEIR loss. It is definitely a daily dance that we do and I'm hoping that it gets easier with time, but for now all we can do is LOVE each other.

    I think of you (and Project Hope) every day.

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