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.