Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Healing Waters...

I had a plan for Gavin's 7th birthday.  It was clear to me - and simple, really.  I was going to send Brian off to school, stay in my pajamas all day and mope.  And cry.  Cheesecake eating was optional - but likely.

But one day, while watching Hope thoroughly enjoying her bath... splashing and laughing and smiling...
...I was reminded of another little water baby of mine.  I knew what I had to do - and I knew my original plan wasn't going to cut it.
One of the last fun trips we took with Gavin was to the Adventure Aquarium in New Jersey.  He shocked us on that day.  It was crowded and chaotic, but he insisted on walking.  As Ed pushed the empty stroller, Gavin held my hands and walked almost the entire way through the aquarium.  It was incredible - and we'll never forget that day.

On Sunday, I told Brian that he wouldn't be going to school the next day... that I was taking him to the Aquarium with Hope so we could celebrate Gavin's special day.  He was so excited!
It accomplished a few things.  It got me out of the house and out of my head.  It celebrated Gavin around water, which was one of his favorite things.  And Brian and I had fun reminiscing about Gavin as we walked around.  I found myself smiling...even laughing.  A much better plan, indeed.

Here are some fun pictures of our special day...
"Mommy!  Get a picture of me showing Hope the penguins.  They are so adorable!!"
I convinced Brian to come out of his shell.  *wink*
I'm not going to lie, the day was not without some hippo sized healing tears as we remembered sweet Gavin...
...but at the end of the day, Brian declared that it was the "Best Gavin Day Ever!"
It was fitting that a birthday without Gavin was followed by a day celebrating Hope.

Our little girl is ten months today!
Ten months in and I still have - "wait, what?  I have a daughter?" moments.  She truly is the joy of our lives.  Hope is sweet, easygoing, sleeps well, eats well and is such a happy little girl.  Even better?  Brian adores her more than we ever could have predicted.  He's protective of her, loves to play with her and gets excited when she does something new.

Gavin, Brian and now Hope all have collections of Angel Dear lovies.  Brian slept with a bunch of them in his crib at all times...and he still has the same ones in his bed.  Hope is attached to hers, as well.  One of her favorite things to do in her room is to reach her arm into her crib and pull them out.
"I GOT IT!!!"
I'm still using the massage technique before introducing her to foods.  I've added Orzo Pasta, soft crackers with peanut butter, mandarin oranges, cantaloupe and today she had lentils for the first time.  They were a hit!
The last several days have been a roller coaster, emotionally.  Wanting to turn my back on everything and retreat into my own grief.  Forcing myself to leave the house and finding myself having...fun.  And then spending today staring at our beautiful little girl who, just ten months ago, was dropped from Heaven.
I love getting to know this beautifully mysterious child.  She proved to us ten months ago that grief can lead you to hope even when you don't think it's possible.

If you're wondering what is going on with this blog - am I quitting, am I not? - I made a decision.  I really struggled with this, but in the end - I couldn't quit writing entirely.  It's too important to me, personally.  And I love keeping this record of my children's lives so they can look back at it one day - perhaps with their own little ones.  But, it will definitely be different.  I'm not going to pressure myself to write because I "should" or "have to" - ever.  I may write every day for a week - and then I may not write for two weeks!  Thank you for dealing with my ambivalence... and, as always, for caring about our family.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Would've, Could've, Should Be...Won't.

I should be excited to shower Gavin with attention and presents and balloons and laughs tomorrow.

I should be writing a post that says things like, "Wow - what a year Gavin had!" or "Can you believe that Gavin did this this year?"
I should be obsessing about what special "birthday outfit" I should have him wear to school... or wear in Mommy's photo shoot.  Or - whether we should play "hooky" and have a "Love Bomb" day instead.

But I won't be doing any of those things.

I feel like screaming into the sky - YOU TOOK HIM TOO SOON!!!!!!!  He could have accomplished so much more.

He would have continued to have a great life.  Gavin never wanted for anything - we made sure of it.

I feel like screaming into the sky - YOU TOOK BRIAN'S BEST BUDDY!!!!!!  

My heart is torn in two daily for our sweet little boy who every night still tugs on that invisible string before going to sleep in Gavin's bed.
I can only imagine that their relationship would have changed and developed as Gavin grew.

I feel like screaming into the sky - YOU TOOK MY FIRST BORN CHILD!!!!!!  MY SON!!!!  MY BABY!!!!!
But screaming into the sky only releases my rage - much like throwing boxes in the garage.  Gavin isn't in the sky.  We believe - and teach the kids - that Heaven is everywhere.  Everywhere we are, he is.  Anytime we want to talk to him, he will be right there.  The idea of Heaven being way up in the sky is too far for me.  I can only imagine how far it feels for a child.

But even though Heaven is everywhere - it isn't close enough for me.  I long to hold him, kiss him, hold his hand and walk beside him.  
The worst things you can say to a grieving parent are "platitudes" like "He's doing everything and more in Heaven!" or "He's better off with God!" or "You'll see him again!"  Coincidentally, they are often some of the best things you can say, too.  But because you never really know where the heart of a grieving parent is at any particular moment... the best things you can say are:

"I'm so, so sorry."
"I can't imagine how you feel."
"I'm so, so sorry."

Last year was a little easier because it was closer to when he was alive.  I had an idea of what he might have been doing - what kind of progress he would have made by then.  This year?  Not so much.  I'm sadly realizing that from now on Gavin will need to remain frozen in time.  To make up in my mind what he "might" be doing at 7 years old... or 14 years old... or 20 years old... it's all too depressing.  I shouldn't have to "make it up."  I should know.

But since I don't, I have this much to go on:

Gavin would've been seven tomorrow.
He could've enjoyed a great birthday weekend and I would have made sure I got tons of balloons and musical toys.
He should be here to celebrate with us.
But he won't.

I feel too far away from our first hug.
And I feel much too far away from our last.
Seven would have looked good on you.  Happy Birthday, Bugaboo.  I miss you so much.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Just Between Friends...

If you've been around for a while, you know that twice a year I buy and sell at the "Just Between Friends" Consignment Sale.  Lucky for me, it's five minutes from my home - in Oaks, PA!  Actually, it's in the same Expo center where I held "Gavin's Playground Party!"

I was in line before 9am and was armed with a list and a plan.  I had dropped off my sale items the night before and did a walk around with my camera phone - I took pictures of everything I was interested in and then came home to research it.  Then I created a list of everything I wanted to go for - in priority order.  As soon as I walked through those doors looking calm and mature... I grabbed a shopping bag and RAN!!  (I wish I was joking!)  I'm so happy to say - I got everything I wanted!

Here are the items I chose (in no particular order)...

I couldn't resist this adorable wooden walker.  I really have no idea what these go for - but I am SURE it's a lot more than FOUR DOLLARS!!!  Seriously - I bought this for $4.00.
Hope is really into her little doll.  The one Brian picked out for her the day we told him he was going to be a big brother!  I'm thinking this THREE DOLLAR little baby cradle will be a lot of fun around Christmas time.

I HAD to have this desk with an attached hutch and pin board.  Had to.  There's not a mark on it - it looks like it was put together (better them than me!) and never used.  The lowest price I could find online (unassembled) was $169.00.  I bought it for $75!  I envisioned creating a homework station for Brian.
When he got home he LOVED the idea and got started on his homework right away!  Now we just have to find a kids desk set.  Anyone know where I can find an ink blotter and matching pencil cup for kids?
This is another gift for under the tree this Christmas.  I'm sure by then Hope will be able to use a ride on toy like this.  Sure, there were girly ones - but we have a special bond with the "Laugh and Learn" puppy.  Most of Gavin's toys were from the Fisher Price Laugh and Learn line.  Hearing those songs and that voice again will definitely bring some smiles to our faces!  It sells new for $40.00.  I got it for $15.00!
Sometimes when I'm walking around the JBF sale I forget that Gavin is gone.  I will spot something and think - "Gavin could use that for (insert any therapy here)!"  or I'll see a toy and think - "Gavin would love that!".  I still do it - and then my stomach drops.  It happened when I spotted these two Ikea high chairs.  I knew they would make great feeding chairs - or activity chairs - or therapy chairs.  The one on the left was $5.00 and the red one was $8.00.  I don't need either one.  But tomorrow, Gavin's former physical therapist, Miss Wendy, is coming to pick one up to deliver to Gavin's old classroom.
I have a shopping cart cover - but I'm frustrated with it because it doesn't cover the sides far enough and Hope can pull it off, exposing the cart.  I should have stuck with what I knew.  We had matching "Floppy Seats" for Gavin and Brian and we loved them.  So when I saw this bright and preppy Floppy Seat - perfect and clean - I had to have it.  They go for $50.00 - and I bought it for $10!
Our Star Wars obsessed student will love waking up to a brand new, in the box, $8.00 Darth Vader alarm clock!  
And speaking of Star Wars, Brian loves these Lego Star Wars sets.  Each of these sets are about $20.00 and I bought each one for $12!  Brian will be excited - either for his December birthday or for Christmas!  
I got this Snugli backpack carrier for $20.00.  It will be great for days we don't want to use a stroller for Hope and it even has a built in canopy to shield her from the sun!
I was psyched to find a cheap walker (in a cute pattern!) for Hope to use outside on the driveway!  It was only $10.00.
Brian is going to LOSE his MIND when he finds this Star Wars Millenium Falcon - with three figures - under the tree.  It was $15.00.
This might be one of my FAVORITE buys.  You know we love books around here - and I have a one sided book display in both the kids rooms and two in the playroom.  I've always drooled over the double sided book displays on wheels.  It sells for over $200.  I bought it for $80!
I already moved it into the playroom and it frees up room!
These two (perfect) costumes are a ways away for Hope.  But I couldn't pass them up for our dress up box.  Not for $8.00 each!!
Also for under the Christmas tree, this adorable rocking caterpillar for Hope's room.  It was $8.00!
And, finally, shoes.  I bought four pairs of shoes for Hope (one pair of new Stride Rite sneakers I forgot to photograph) for $22.50!  The pink and white shoes are by "See Kai Run" and are brand new.
I had so much fun and I'm so happy with my purchases!!  If you live in the Philadelphia area, you can go to the sale starting tomorrow and through Sunday, September 28th!  If you're thinking - "Eh.  All the good stuff is probably gone" - that couldn't be further from the truth.  This is the biggest and best sale yet.  Especially if you're shopping for clothes... baby equipment (strollers, high chairs, swings, pack and plays, etc)... and Halloween costumes.  But they have everything!!!!!

Follow THIS link to get more information and find out how to get yourself to the sale!  You won't be sorry.  You know I never write about things like this - except for JBF.  Twice a year, this is my "thing."  It makes me so happy.

Hope to see you there!

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