Monday, June 10, 2013

The Cool Heaven Trick...

I'm back.

After a short break from writing... I am back.  I needed the time.  Actually, I needed some time with my husband... just us... and that's just what we did.  

Miss Katja came over Saturday morning, thrilling Brian and relieving us.  Ed and I took off for a nice overnight in a hotel.  I even got my hair done for the occasion - which was totally pampering.  And then I enjoyed a nice dinner with my handsome husband.

Ed even had a surprise up his sleeve.  He shocked me with an anniversary band.  "To honor everything you've been through as a Mom... and to honor Hope," he told me.  And, not so coincidentally, the ring had FIVE small diamonds across the top.  We don't do these kinds of things - these extravagant things.  It was such a surprise and made me feel so 'lifted'.

The truth is, we needed the time away.  Away from the house filled with Gavin.  Away from caring for anyone but us, even for just a night.  Away from the day after day routine that is both comforting and suffocating.

But guess what.  Just like many parents that are enjoying coveted "alone time," we talked mostly about our children.  And we shed many tears over the turn of events in our family.  But it was still time and we were grateful to spend it together.

I've been thinking about our summer plans over the last few days.  We're hoping to go to the beach as a family a few times - Gavin's favorite place, for sure.  Hopefully the urn we are having custom made will be complete soon and we can collect Gavin's ashes to bring home... and to the ocean.

I'm also hoping to sign Brian up for swim lessons at the YMCA and maybe soccer on the weekend at a local kids gym.  I want to find ways to keep him busy.  I've had lots of suggestions to schedule lots of playdates - which is obviously a brilliant idea.  But here's the brutal and honest truth... with playdates, especially with kids I don't know well, comes socializing.  Obviously I would have to put on a face and be social with the Mom.  I would never be comfortable just dropping him off with a family I don't know, so that's not an option.  I'm usually not "rude-sounding" like this... but right now I know my limits.  I just don't feel like having to make conversation right now.  With anyone.  It's just the truth.

The other truth?  I've been having serious anxiety.  Like the kind where I have to remind myself to breathe during the day.  It's so frustrating!  The week ahead has me filled with anxiety.  Today I met with the videography team that taped Gavin's funeral.  They wanted to talk to me about the direction of the one video they are making - an inspirational video about Gavin's life which will live on my blog once it's completed.  They will also be giving me a video of Gavin's funeral in the next several days.  I'll also place that on my blog for those who'd like to see it.  The prep leading up to the meeting - gathering videos of Gavin over the last five years - was a very difficult and emotional task.  I had thought the meeting was going to be difficult, too, but was pleasantly surprised.  They are investing so much of their own emotional energy into making this right and honoring Gavin's legacy.  I am so grateful.   That was today.  Tomorrow is my next glimpse of Project Hope with an ultrasound.  Wednesday we are going to DuPont Hospital.  I'm talking to a pretty large group of doctors, nurses and more - almost all the people that have cared for Gavin over the last five years.  Especially the people from the PICU that were there for his final days.  I am overwhelmed that so many of them said yes!  I know how busy all of them are so I am beyond grateful to have this opportunity to say thank you to everyone at once in such a special way.  I am also terrified... but keep reminding myself that I gave a freaking eulogy at my five year old son's funeral.  That's just about the hardest (and the worst) thing you can do - and if I can do that, I can do anything.  Then Friday the three of us are headed down to The Gift of Life Family House to meet with them and choose the room that they are dedicating to Gavin.  It's an overwhelmingly emotional week.  Topped with the anxiety of waiting for the phone to ring with Project Hope's genetic testing results and gender reveal.  Whew.  Breathe, Kate.

The truth is, we all really miss Gavin.  A lot.  It definitely doesn't get easier, that's for sure!  I think God slows everything down initially so you can survive - literally survive - the first few weeks.  Then it all slowly creeps back in... not too much too soon... just slow enough that you can have a gradual sinking into sorrow.  I have to say, God has been very considerate of our emotional, mental and physical needs.  Definitely a pretty cool trick on His part.  Ed and I find ourselves crying a lot more - which isn't a bad thing, unless you're in the middle of a restaurant.  But what do we care.  Brian has become a tad more clingy - which made me slightly afraid of leaving him overnight, but luckily he was great and had SO much fun with Katja.

This afternoon Brian and I were sitting on his bed (in his old room) and reading a stack of books.  Suddenly he jumped up and pointed out the window.  

"Look at that!" he said.

"Look at what, buddy?"  I asked.

"Look at the tree!  It grew!!  Soon it will grow and grow and grow SO tall that Gavin will be able to climb down from Heaven when he's not sick anymore!" he excitedly explained.


We had a chat about how Gavin won't be coming home from Heaven... but how he's not sick at all there... and how being dead is forever and permanent... and we went through Gavin's death again, like we do nearly every day... and I told him a cool Heaven trick.  Do you know the cool Heaven trick?  I told Brian that if he just THINKS about Gavin... or talks to Gavin in his mind... or tells Gavin he loves him without even using his voice to do it... that Gavin can hear and see everything.  That, kind of like the video monitor we have where we can see and hear into a room, there's the BIGGEST video monitor in Heaven.  And Gavin can look at it all the time and hear and see and be all around you.

While it might seem torturous from the outside looking in - that I have to constantly talk about Gavin's death to our four year old son who is desperately trying to grasp the concept of what it means to be dead... it's not.  To me, it is a beautiful and unexpected gift.  Brian is very wise and I feel grateful that he is trusting enough to ask these difficult questions and share his thoughts the way he does.  And each time I am re-telling the story of Gavin dying... I feel a part of my heart healing.  Each time I tell Brian that Gavin is right there with him... that Heaven is everywhere... that Gavin can hear him... I believe my own words more and more.

I guess that's another cool Heaven trick.  
I hope they keep coming...


  1. I just think you are amazing. Simply put. You are raw, honest, loving, kind and managing through the darkest of days. You put some much into perspective and I am so thankful to be part of this journey of hope-even on this very superficial level. You just are so very special. Allyson

  2. oh
    heaven is everywhere
    gavin is everywhere

    kate, take care of yourself
    breathing with you all

  3. you once said you were trying to read all your emails
    I can not imagine how you can find time to read some of our posts--such trivial thoughts
    but I guess we are all on the same page of good thoughts

    1. I do read all of my blog comments as they come through my email, making it much easier for me. I try to read all of the FB page comments - but that gets very hard to keep up with. And I do read all of my personal emails. It means a lot to me that someone would take the time out of their own lives to care to write to me. I may not have the chance to respond, but I see them!!

  4. you have inspired me to take more pictures. I am going to try to take a picture everyday this summer--a snapshot of a life
    thanks for so much inspiration

    1. There are some great daily picture taking apps on smartphones. I've been using PicCal since October!

  5. You are an amazing writer, mom, and wife! Good luck with your busy week -- sending you lots of good thoughts and prayers.

  6. god bless you and your family...believe in the cool heaven trick gavin walks beside you and your family every day:)

  7. You and your family are simply amazing...every post leaves me in tears...the good and the bad kind. I pray that one breath at a time, you will find peace and healing. God bless you all.

  8. Yowza! What a week! And yes, Kate, you CAN do anything.
    I love that you are so open with Brian about death and Heaven.
    I try to do the same with my kids b/c it just wasn't talked about when I was a child and it always seemed scary to me, now even as an adult.
    We said a prayer for you all at church on Sunday, and a little baby special one for the peanut you are growing!! : )

  9. Big hugs from Ibiza, Spain :)

  10. I found your blog only shortly before Gavin's passing. This week will mark 5 years since we said goodbye to our son Noah, who died just before he turned 9 months old. You are so right about the haziness of the early days of grief and how it slowly seeps in as "the fog" clears. You write and share so beautifully and I am grateful. I remember clearly those days of not feeling social and experience them less often now. The best thing someone told me is that someday your thoughts will be first about your son who LIVED and not as your son who died. It is a promise, and it does come, though it isn't there every moment. I hold that space for you as friends did for me and pray for your comfort as you walk this journey. Blessings to you and your precious family.

  11. Kate you are amazing.... You & your sweet family inspire me... Brian is the luckiest little boy!!!! And project Hope!!! Cannot wait to hear the results... We are all here for you & cheering you on.... Thanks for sharing your beautiful Gavin & Brian with us... Much Love & Prayers from Orlando!!! XOXOXOXOXOX

  12. I find myself looking for your posts to find out how you are doing :) Always hoping that you continue to find strength. You are a stranger, that has made a place in my life. At first it was the tragedy of Gavin's death, but now it is the hope and life that you share with your words and the resilience to carry on.

  13. Thinking about you and your family. Wishing you sunny days and peaceful thoughts. How thoughtful of Ed to get you that beautiful ring. I know you cherish it.

  14. Ive never posted...had seen your blog many month a ago and wow..i dont have words. Tears. I was given a star to write a name on in our was for raising help ill kids. I know not same conditions but for some reason...all i saw was gavin. I wrote his name down and hoped you woildnt mind. it was such a quick thing and all i could do was release tears for your lil guy as i wrote his name...your amazing and i felt unworthy to write share. But i wanted to say finally...your im sure you know. Touches many. Hugs,lM sry for typos i have a disorder.

  15. So glad you were able to have some time away with Ed. You both needed that. What a surprise he gave you! I bet it is beautiful ring.

    Your little Brian has such a sweet soul. My heart clenched when he said that about the tree. I love the cool Heaven trick. It's comforting to believe they hear us. :-)

    Thank you Kate for being so open with all of us.

  16. My husband died when my kids were 2 and 5 (in the World Trade Center, yes, it's me again!). I told them the whole truth from the very beginning, of course in a developmentally appropriate way....and I will never forget the YEARS of them saying, "tell me that story about daddy again"...I will never ever forget that. You and your husband have been sorely tested and have been amazingly graceful, intuitive and just so on target with Brian ... I have no doubt that he is an emotionally healthy (and extremely cute!) boy. We are all rooting for all of you!

  17. I'm so happy you had a getaway and also so glad you are back. Just breathe, just like you always do. Your soul sat with God. So you both know you can get through this. And Brian?....well I believe that who we are at 4 truly is who we will be at 40. He is a remarkable boy and will be a remarkable man thanks to you, Ed and Gavin. So many people thinking of you. Xoxo -sheila

  18. You're amazing! Period. I know you may not feel all the time that you deserve those words, but you do. So get used to it!

  19. Even though my son died one and a half years ago (hard to believe) I found this post so comforting. My daughters who were 3 and 4 when my son passed away, also asked many questions and had a difficult time grasping the permanence of death. The innocence is so bittersweet, poignant moments that are almost break your heart. Continuing to keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

  20. I love your way of finding something social for Brian that doesn't also require you to be social. I absolutely 'get'that 'not wanting to talk'. And I can't imagine how awkward a playdate would be without conversation between the parents, even if the other parent was totally understanding. I don't think anybody resents your solitude and need for it. And I'm SO happy you and your husband got a chance to go away and be together and grieve alone together and be happy alone together. What a wise man to splurge on something with such extraordinary value. Not monetary, though I'm sure it wasn't cheap, but emotional. You're a good team.

  21. Kate- I LOVE the cool Heaven trick! Thanks for sharing....

    Im so glad you both got away, I think you needed it. AND what a special thing Ed did for you with that ring! I have a ring with stones for my boys and I proudly wear it everyday. They know they are thier stones and are proud that I wear it too! Brian will love the symbolism!

    Take breaths. Many many breaths this week. You will get through it.

  22. I love this through the TEARS!

    And I hope for you too - so very much.

  23. You are so wonderfully brave and strong. Probably you don't always feel that way, but you are. Wow.

  24. Again I read your post with tears in my eyes. You, Ed, and Brian are always in our prayers. Please take care of yourself the best you can, if the anxiety gets to be too much, please talk to/see someone. I'm glad you and Ed had time to be present for just the two of you. God bless you all and know a lot of love surrounds you from all around! xoxo

  25. Dear Kate,

    Heaven has many cool tricks. So glad you are seeing them. :-D

    Our eldest son died shortly after birth, but we kept him present in his brother's and sister's lives much the way you are for Brian. Our Gavin made the trip to heaven 23 years ago, but his siblings remember him and even talk to him, at times.

    This is what one of his siblings had to say about him on his 20th birthday. May the smile bring you a different form of hope...

  26. Holy smokes. What a week. Good luck with it all. Especially the visit at the hospital. I am sorry that you still have to do such hard things.

    For whatever it is worth, I think the smartest thing you can do is to know your limits. If you aren't up for conversations or if some social settings trigger the anxiety you are dealing with, then you are smart to give yourself that space. I have struggled with anxiety at times myself and it is frustrating (and annoying). I hate it when I rationally know that it is "just" anxiety, but can't calm my pulse or that stop that skittery feeling. Trust me, if I could put my finger on exactly what triggers my anixety I would avoid it like the plague. Be well.

  27. Hey someone who is recovering from ante and post-partum anxiety with my last pregnancy, I just want to say that sometimes our anxiety is not all emotional. It can also be chemical, and pregnancy hormones exacerbate this. You are dealing with a trauma; on a lesser level, so was I, as a cancer survivor. Your OB can help. And the anxiety can lessen. Please if it gets really bad, think about talking to your doc? I am sending you all me Zoloft enhanced good thoughts and prayers!

  28. Hi Kate. I just wanted to comment here quickly. I'm still catching up on your blog as I started from the beginning when Gavin first got sick back in April and as you know, life sometimes get in the way. I just wanted to say that I agree with you 100 % in the fact that talking about the person that you've lost is one of the best ways to help your heart heal. We just lost my sister in law 2 months at the young age of 39 and it hurts beyond belief....especially given the fact that we didn't always see eye to eye. It breaks my heart to see her 2 boys (13&11) and her daughter (not quite 5) having to go through life without their mother. It has always helped me to talk about the person that we lost to ease the pain and I do it now as much as I did it 14 years ago with my own girls when we lost my father in law.

    Thank you for sharing your story and emotions. And for showing the world that it is okay to cry, br angry, yell and just be normal.

    Colleen B.
    Upper Darby, PA


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