Wednesday, August 14, 2013

What It Feels Like Four Months Later...

If a stranger walked into my home, they might not notice at first.  Framed photos line shelves... toys fill the playroom... artwork is displayed in the window above the child sized art table.  But if they really look, they will see the signs.  Two urns on the mantle... grief on the faces of the parents... a lonely wheelchair with the name "Gavin" embroidered on the seat sitting lonely in the corner.  And if they take a wrong turn and end up in the room formerly known as the "Dining Room" they will find a shrine. They will then realize, "Oh, somebody must have just died!"  It looks like we just got home from the hospital or the services... still... four months later.  The many photo boards sit against the wall.  The quilt that was on Gavin's hospital bed - folded on the table.  The many, many prayer shawls we received fill every chair. Mementos and cards and empty thank you notes that at this point may never be filled...

And on the floor below?  Gavin's backpack.  The backpack that should be filled with new school supplies for his first day of Kindergarten.

The first couple months were a whirlwind and a blur.  I was caught up in all the activity, allowing my mind to stay occupied - and detached.  Meals came... cards and gifts piled up on the dining room table... people met us with sad, devastated eyes - we were "the family who's little boy died."  I filled my days trying to remind myself to breathe... to eat... and worked very hard to keep Brian occupied and happy and bathed.  So many things happened... and so many things arrived... and so many people did kind things for us that it all became bunched up together and mixed up.  Now I look at something around the house and can't remember for the life of me who it was from... and if I wrote it down... and if they ever got a thank you note.  In those first couple months it felt easier to be strong.  It felt easier to answer emails and encourage the masses that wrote to me looking for a reason to be strong in their own lives. It just felt easier.

While the first couple months where a blur - the last couple months have been a brick.  To the face.

Maybe it's that Fall is around the corner.  The first hints of Fall were always a happy reminder that Gavin's birthday was coming soon.  

Maybe it's that I'm five months pregnant and, no matter how hard I try to believe - I still fear that Hope will be snatched from me.  I was 5 1/2 months when I delivered Darcy after her cord stopped acting like a lifeline between the two of us.

Maybe it's that I'm pregnant - period.  Pregnancy can bring out some wacky emotions that you just can't predict.

Or maybe, just maybe, this is grief.  The rise and fall of grief... the unpredictability of emotions... the positivity one day - the rage and anger the next - the anxiety and tears the next. Grief is tricky and, left unattended can do a number on you physically, emotionally, spiritually... and, unless you're living alone in a cave, it can seep into your relationships and threaten everything that once was.  Or continue to break what never was.*  

(**don't read into that - I'm talking generally**)

The truth is - four months later - is that I feel like I can't keep up.  I am so happy for all the eyes that are on my blog - but not for the reasons you might think.  Not for sympathy... not for attention for me... not for adulation.  Not for any of that. I'm happy because people are getting to know Gavin.  People are hopefully reading back to get the whole story and learning things that were taught to me along the way. Maybe they've needed a safe bed for their child and stumble across Gavin's Courtney Bed.  Maybe they've been struggling with feeding issues and stumble across all the great information I learned from Dr. Thompson.  Maybe they're dealing with a peanut allergy and learn more about our experience with NAET.  For all of that, I am so, so happy.

But with all the attention comes a lot of expectations.  Let me rephrase that.  It comes with a lot of what I perceive as expectations.  And I have a fear that I won't live up to those expectations - whether they are real or perceived.

Take, for example, the emails.  I do love getting your emails and I'm always extremely humbled when people trust me enough to share their very personal experiences and stories. Many of your stories just break my heart and touch me deeply. Some of you write with just your story.  Some of you write with lots of questions on top of your story.  But each of them, I feel, deserves a response from me.  I'm pretty sure that's why you wrote in the first place.  But if you could see my "flagged" list of emails that deserve responses - you might faint.  I am seriously in the weeds. And as of right now... I just can't.  There is no way I'll catch up and be able to reply to all of you.  For that, I am so, so sorry.  I feel like I have such little energy these days - I'm bone tired from pregnancy... stress... grief... being a Mommy to a very active, very talkative, very playful, very curious, always hungry little boy.  My extra energy needs to be reserved for two things right now:  my family and my rest.

There are times that people recognize me - or us - when we're out in public.  It's so awesome to meet each of you and sometimes your children.  But there's something you should know.  I'm actually pretty shy... and sometimes, socially awkward.  When you approach me, if I seem aloof or quiet - it's probably because I'm nervous.  I'm not sure what to say - what you need me to say.  I walk away thinking, "Well, they were probably disappointed."

Where am I going with all of this?  Everywhere and nowhere. I just need to write - like I do - thinking and typing and not filtering - to paint the picture of what it looks like for me.  On this day, exactly four months ago, I shockingly said goodbye to my first born son.  My other half.  My Bugaboo.  Everyone has moved on and gone on with their lives, as they should. But it's hitting me now in a way that it hadn't then.  I am grateful for the things that are helping me.  Writing.  Brian and Hope. Weekly visits with Brian to see Dr. Trish.  And soon I might be adding a grief counselor.

I've been thinking lately - because of the way I feel - do I still believe the things I said in my eulogy to Gavin?  And the answer to that is - absolutely.  Grief doesn't erase everything. I spoke these words from my heart in front of hundreds of people...

Gavin was sent here to this Earth to work through us to inspire others.  To change people.  To open people's hearts to endless possibilities.  To inspire hope and healing in even the hopeless.

...and I still believe it.

It's just that sometimes the person he is inspiring hope and healing in is his Mommy.  

And that's what month four looks like. 

Thank you for reading... for caring about our family.  I'm humbled that you all keep coming back.


  1. Gavin really has touched so many hearts. So many that never knew him. His strength and your strength will bring hope, courage and comfort to so many for decades to come. I'm sure of it.

  2. No expectations. We love you.

  3. Hugs to you. Save your energy, everyone understands.

  4. Don't put pressure on yourself to respond to people. Just know that they wanted to reach out to you to let you know you are not alone, even though I'm sure sometimes it feels like it. Take care of you and your family. Everything else is just "extra".

  5. I fall in more in love with your Gavin every post and my heart aches for you and your incredible loss. You're in my prayers Kate. Please like others have said, don't be hard on yourself, take the time you need and people do understand. Take care.

  6. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. (((Hugs)))

  7. I need you to know that I think of your precious little boy everyday and many butterflies in this world!

  8. Grief is a lengthy winding journey. Be gentle to yourself, and give yourself grace.

    I have loved getting to know your beautiful son Gavin (and your other precious children) through your blog. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  9. I could never imagine your pain, the pain of losing a child. But I can somewhat relate to the whole being pregnant while grieving. My mom passed away in December of 2009 and we were extremely close so it was very hard and there are still days now when I miss her. I think of her every single day, never a day goes by that I don't think of her or talk to her out loud (although I only do that at home). But then in August 2010 I found out I was pregnant and it was the most wonderful thing and also the most sad since I wouldn't be able to share it with my Mom, my best friend. So like I said while I can't imagine your grief I do understand how hard it can be to be pregnant with those crazy hormones and still be grieving. Just know that you have a friend in me and I think of you all the time.

  10. What a beautiful, special post. Thank you.

  11. For me the act of writing and sending a letter is not about a response. When I write to someone, I want to make a connection. I am often, in fact responding to something in my letters to others. I think many of the people writing to you are not seeking responses, but are, instead, responding to the things you have evoked in them. None of them wrote to put pressure on you (I know you aren't saying they did!! I realize you're saying you feel the pressure because you have such a full inbox!)

    Here is an idea, though. I've seen several blogs with forum areas, because a community wanted to connect to each other in more than just the comments. Perhaps you could start a private (as in you have to sign up to join) forum and invite people to submit and respond to each other's stories within that limited community. The pressure you're feeling might then be distributed among many, and instead of pressure, it might instead become a series of evocations with you as a supportive center who doesn't have to respond to everything but can chime in as you feel able and compelled to.

    Of course, I say this with absolutely NO idea how to set a forum up (though there are probably readers who could do this for you, too) or how much work there might be in maintaining it.

  12. I'm glad you're giving yourself the freedom to not respond or write thank yous. There's so much on your plate already. I know you want to acknowledge everyone, but they'll be fine. And if they're not, they'll move on, which is best for everyone. Freedom to you! Freedom to grieve, to rest, to play.

    I think there is an inherent awkwardness in the encounter between blogger and stranger, too. There are some who just assume moods are the same as it was something was written. Others who assume it's better to not mention the hard things, others who bring them up too quickly. I have been on both sides- as a fan of blogger during a surprise encounter and as a blogger. I am awkward both ways! I fumble and mumble. xoxo

  13. Grace,energy, peace, and prayer from me to you.

  14. I seriously doubt anyone would be disappointed meeting you! I would love to run into you on the street and even if you didn't say a word to me, I would probably want to talk your ear off about Gavin and you could just listen. :)

    Try and not be so hard on yourself. No expectations are coming from take care of yourself and your lovely family. Be well.

  15. Nobody expects you to answer them.
    I don't know you except from what I read on your blog. But I cry for you. Scratch that. I sob my heart out for you.
    You are so very strong and wonderful.
    No one knows what to say during times like this. I think it's like a kind of silent understanding.
    People want to comfort you. But there is no real comfort.
    Yes life does go on for everyone. It has to. You've had to for Brian and for Hope and for your husband. However it doesn't mean that you aren't allowed to grieve.
    Everyone grieves differently. And there is no time frame that is right or wrong.
    Take your time.

  16. I love reading about Gavin. I tell people about him and his wonderful family all the time. He will be remembered and will continue to touch many lives. God Bless you and Brian, Hope, and your husband.

  17. this is for you:
    all love ~ nathalie ~

  18. I am amazed how you keep getting up and put a smile on your face. Your strength is undeniable! Grief takes time and I have never experienced children let alone death of a child. I personally see you writings as inspiration. Remember one day at a time and even one hour at a time. Your family and yourself are number one not anyone else. Sending love and light.

  19. Hugs and prayers for energy and peace for you.

  20. Holding space for you, and your family, today and always. <3

  21. Don't be so hard on yourself & try not to worry about how others feel you should or shouldn't be acting/responding. Pregnant, and not just normal pregnant but scary pregnant & grieving not just Gavin but Darcy as well. And a grief counselor would be a great help.

  22. And I'm humbled by your honesty. You share all depths of a mother's love, grief, joy, hope. Another grieving family wrote...."we remember our loved one often in a thousand different ways: in the morning, in the night, when we look at the stars, a special date, a song, a place, a smell, on Monday, on Tuesday, at lunchtime". Please allow all YOUR remembering to soothe your heart and make you smile. May God's will be done in your life and in your family's lives.

  23. I wish I could hug you and hold your fears for a while so you can just rest - peacefully rest. I do know a bit about grief (a young husband - not a child [which has to be worse]). You are in a very normal space of grief right now - the point where is dawns on you that Gavin is gone, really gone. That sounds funny, I'm sure, to people who has not lost someone so close but the first few months you (we) are taking care of others or putting our feelings on a shelf for awhile - maybe to cope. ???

    To reiterate what others above have said, please, please do not worry about answering notes, emails, anything right now. Everyone (!) understands and only wants you to take care of what you need to ~ you, Brian and Hope.

    You mentioned that you are thinking of grief counseling ... I can only add here that, that is what saved me. It was Christian based and I did both one on one counseling and group counseling.

    Love, love and more heartfelt love to you.

  24. Found your blog just a few weeks ago (through a friend who has also known loss) and now I visit often. I feel such fondness for your family. And especially for Gavin, whom (as you said) I have come to know and admire through your beautiful blog. I am praying for you each day (as are countless others, I'm sure.) You are wise and strong and beautiful. You are an absolutely amazing mother. Sending you much love and care and hopes that you will continue to give yourself whatever rest you need.

    p.s. I hope you won't worry a whit about those unanswered emails or whatever responsibilities you feel may be upon you. People really do understand. Your writing here is a great gift, because it shines with your honesty and your character. Seems to me you need only be YOU. And you are uniquely talented at that!

  25. I love this blog. Her recent post was exhausted mom meets grieving mom. I thought I might share.

  26. I look forward to reading everyday. You are a incredible woman for enduring what you have in your life. Not just the last four months, but your whole life. And the fact that you choose to write your thoughts for all of us to read is amazing. And you should give yourself credit for the wonderful, amazing job you are doing. You share, teach and even cry for us. And for that I'm truly grateful. You inspire me to look at things in a different way. and so does Gavin

  27. I wanted you to know how much you inspire me, how everytime I look at Gavins picture I smile, sometimes without even knowing I am. You have taught me so much and so has gavin. He continues to teach me everyday. I wanted to say thank you for all you have done for me so I made you something and wanted to mail it to you, please dont think I am some crzy stalker I assure you I am not! I felt like God spoke and I did what was in my heart.

    thank you so much

    Ps. can you email me an address so I can get my gift to you?

  28. Your blog has so much information and emotion for all of us that in some point were or are looking for answer or similar stories ... Your THANKS and replays are here already and we appreciate we can acces to you. Lot of love and hugs from Swiss land.

  29. Our son was stillborn three weeks before your Gavin and I find that my grief is similar. At first there was the raw shock and pain, but I felt strong and now...I don't feel strong. I feel so sad and empty and wanting for our baby boy that I have a hard time accomplishing anything. Grief is overwhelming.

  30. I've never commented but gave been reading for a little while. I think you are so brave and strong. Thank you for sharing during this very difficult time. As for the emails that need responding and the thank you's that need writing? I think people would understand if you let them slide. Just keep on keepin on. Prayers for you and your family.

  31. No two ways about it. Grief sucks. Take the time you need. It's been six years for me and I still have days when I break down and cry and it feels like it happened yesterday. Thank you for sharing with us. Know that you are loved.

  32. I just came across your blog, like thousands of others. Thank you for sharing, my heart breaks for your loss. I too just started blogging about my daughters journey and am amazed by your story.
    no response expected. thanks

  33. Oh my dear lady... all my love....

  34. Some people become Angels when they leave this Earth. I've always felt Gavin CAME to this Earth an Angel. He was here an achingly short time, and while here, he changed and taught his family and friends so many things about grace, perseverance and love. After his death, however, his reach and influence have been international, and profound, in the many different ways he has touched people. This continues and continues and continues. As terribly difficult as his loss continues to be for your family I have come to believe your Gavin was born for this purpose.

    I am horribly sorry that your little boy is gone. First and foremost, that's what he was...your little boy. But, I thank you, with all my purpose, for the privilege of knowing his story, and for personallly growing from the love of your family.


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