Saturday, February 28, 2015

Fifteen Months!...

Hope has turned fifteen months old.  
Where, oh where, has the time gone??
I'll tell you one thing.  People up there knew what they were doing when they plotted and schemed to send her to us.
 There is no time for anything, let alone grieving, when Hope is awake.  
You can't blink!
My sister tells me all the time that I have been spoiled up until now.  Gavin and Brian were UNUSUAL in their behavior.  They would eat anything... go along with anything... stay in one place for longer than two seconds... apparently, they were like unicorns.  She claims that Hope is my first "typical" toddler... and I am leaning towards agreeing with her!!
She is so much fun to be with every day and really keeps me on my toes!  Right in front of my eyes she'll quickly scale the book display or open a drawer and start emptying it!  One day I turned my back for 10 seconds and she started to climb onto Brian's chair!  
I kept taking pictures with my phone to capture what happened next.
She was after his blueberries!
She's not quite at the point where she gets "no" or that things are wrong or dangerous... so I decided to teach her how to get OUT of situations that she gets herself into.  So now, if she climbs up the book display - she knows how to climb down.  If she opens the drawer - she feels like a big girl when I ask her if she can close it and she does!  If she climbs onto Brian's chair, she can turn herself around and sit down... and then turn herself around and go backwards to the floor.  I'm so impressed with her physical skills - and lack of fear! But, of course, I'm always right there with her - my heart beating fast.
We've been working on making different sounds lately.  She can say Mama, Dada, Baba, Doo doo and now... she can tell you what a doggie says!!  Check it out!

She also loves to dance, as you can see...

We play peek a boo... 
...and chase!

She loves to push her doll around in her cute little stroller.
And she loves playing and reading and even napping and sleeping in her room... which I am quite grateful for!  In that way, she is definitely like her big brothers.
I'm sure life will change when the East coast thaws and spring emerges, but we have spent many of our days just like this...
I'm sure other women are out with their babies in play groups and 'Mommy and Me' classes and lunching with friends.  And maybe that's healthier, I don't know.  But Hope and I have been homebodies, spending our days on the floor or in the tee pee or reading books.  I don't think I'd have it any other way for now.  The two of us are creating such a great bond.
This sweet little girl continues to bring such joy to our home.
And I'm sure her brother in Heaven is pleased.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

True Confession...

I have been trying to change the "About Me" section on this blog for the last four days.

Actually, I have been trying to change that section for over a year.

Gavin is dead.  There's nothing more permanent than that.

Yet somehow I can't bring myself to make it official on this blog.

So I've been frozen.  On my couch - with my computer on my lap - every night.  I got as far as changing my photo.  But not the words.  I'm frozen.

I try.  And I type.  And I backspace.

I let everything and everyone distract me.  I know what every single friend is up to on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram. I try some more and type less.  I dust.  (You know it's bad when that happens.)

The truth is I don't want to want to do it.  But I want to - and I hate that.  Did you get that?

The truth is: grief.  It's twisted.  And permanent.

One day... I'll make that change.  And it will be the right time and the right day and somehow I'll find the right words to make it not so bad.

But right now, if you'll excuse me, I need to organize my closet.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Meeting Momastery...

On April 10, 2013, the unthinkable happened.  Out of the blue I found myself in our local emergency room - standing over my son who was in full cardiac arrest.  They got his heart beating again, but told us we should say our goodbyes right then and there.  Luckily, if you want to call it that, they were able to stabilize him enough to call a helicopter to take him to duPont.

When the pilots walked into the room to get Gavin ready for the transport, I took them by the arms and begged them not to let him die on the way.  It wrecked me that I wasn't allowed to fly with him. It would have destroyed me if he died with in the air with two strangers.  The pilots assured me they didn't let kids die on their helicopter.  I wanted to believe them.

Ed and I got in the car to head to the hospital.  That time in between life and death - that helpless feeling not knowing if you'll arrive to find your son alive or gone - it was my own personal hell.  I was so desperate for anything - anyone - to help me.  In the car - in rush hour traffic just to make matters worse - I picked up my phone and sent an email.  This was it...

I only knew Glennon online and through emails.  And I, of course, was a regular reader of her blog, Momastery.  I knew she had many, many followers - and I knew she probably received requests all the time to share things and help people - and I had no reason to believe or expect that she would share my request for prayers - and, to be honest, I wasn't at all sure that prayers would work.  But she did share it - and by the time we got to the hospital it felt like the entire world was behind us.  We rushed up to the ICU where Gavin had been taken and... he was alive.

Today Ed and I were on that same road... but this time, we were driving to meet Glennon.  She was speaking at a church a little over an hour away from our home.  As we drove, I started to reminisce with Ed about that day in April.  As if it was right on cue, a helicopter flew overhead.  It felt, in a way, like a full circle moment for me.

Glennon had reserved seats in the front row for Ed and me, which was so thoughtful and unnecessary!!  The set up was very intimate - it felt like we were sitting in her living room.  

When she came bounding out from behind the curtain - 
- and got comfy and casual, it was clear why they set up the stage the way they did.  Glennon makes ALL of us feel (online AND in person) like we are old friends sitting in her living room.  What happened next was magic.  She talked... and talked.  She shared stories and wisdom.  She was open and honest and humble.  She is so, so humble.  Questions were thrown her way and she answered them effortlessly... eloquently... and energetically.  She is full of so much positive energy!!  After the event was over, there was time for everyone to meet Glennon.  
Ed and I had been sitting a couple chairs away from Craig, Glennon's husband, so we ended up chatting with him for quite a while.  You'll never meet a nicer, more supportive husband.  What a kind, kind person.  It was a pleasure to spend time with him.
Soon I was able to have some time with Glennon.  It was a hug that was years in the making.  
There was only one thing I wanted to tell her in person - the only thing that was important to me.  It was this...
I've had several people ask me if I still believe in the power of prayer - if I still believe that so many people sending positive thoughts can really change anything.  After all - there were thousands upon thousands of people praying and hoping and sending their thoughts our way that April day... yet Gavin still died.
I wanted Glennon to know that, to me, it meant everything.  That day I wrote to her from the car - all I wanted was for Gavin to live until we got to the hospital.  But we got even more.  Gavin lived for four more days.  Four more days that we had to process what was happening... to say goodbye... to bring Brian in to say goodbye... to arrange to donate his organs.  So yes... I do still believe.  And I'll forever be grateful that she chose to share that day and made us feel that we had the world on our side.  On Gavin's side.

It was a great, great day.

Well, there were some "not so great" moments, if I'm being honest.  I wasn't feeling great today.  You know when you have a cold and you just feel... out of it?  That was me today.  Yes... I am sick... AGAIN.  Couple that with my terrible shyness and I probably came off as a dud.  It's also hard for me to wrap my brain around people who are nervous to meet me.  I can assure you - I am generally the MOST nervous person in ANY room!!  At one point, Glennon brought me up on stage to introduce me and I was so embarrassed.  It was so unexpected and unnecessary!  Ed told me later that I looked awkward up there.  Thanks, Ed.  Ha!

I met some really lovely readers (and hopefully didn't leave an "awkward" impression on any of them!).  It is always a great honor for me to meet any of you.  The fact that you spend your own time reading and getting to know my family is extremely humbling to me.  One woman wanted to show me that she had a photo on her phone of her adorable children enjoying Gavin's fire truck in Ocean City.  I'm not sure I'll ever forget that moment.  I never know how to respond or react when I am approached (which is only a minute amount compared to Glennon - I don't know how she does it!!) but I want you to know that it humbles me.

We hadn't checked the weather before we left.  We ended up leaving the building and walking into a snowstorm!  Our trusty minivan got us home in one piece - but it was quite a ride.  The hour drive turned into a three hour tour with some scary moments when we could barely see the roads!  In the end, it was all worth it for an afternoon of "truth telling."

We're coming up on two years since the day the unthinkable happened to us and I reached out to Glennon.  Whether you have been here for years or came here the day that she posted - thank you.  Thank you for the prayers, for the positive thoughts.  Thank you for seeing us through Gavin's death... his funeral... my pregnancy... and the birth of Hope.  When the funeral was over and life resumed... you stayed.  And I'm glad you're here.

And thank you to Glennon and Craig... for caring about our family.  Today was a day I won't soon forget.

p.s. - If you haven't read Glennon's book, "Carry On, Warrior: Thoughts on Life Unarmed" - I highly recommend it!  

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Happy New Year, Take Two!...

Gung Hay Fat Choy!
Today is Chinese New Year - the year of the Goat.  Actually, the animal is up for debate this year between the goat and the sheep. But if you ask Hope - every day is the year of the Rabbit.  In particular, HER rabbit that she now carries with her most of the day.  Actually, she carries two rabbits - the pink one is hers and the blue one was Gavin's!
Our family doesn't observe any traditional Chinese traditions, but I am taking it upon myself to announce that this year, Chinese New Year is our New Year "Do-Over."

2015 didn't start off very well for us.  Constant sickness... Hope's trip to the Emergency Room... Stress... more sickness... are we moving or not moving... Brian's visit to the cardiologist... and more behind the scenes crap that wasn't worth writing about.
But we are taking back this year and starting over.

The decision is official:  we are NOT moving.  Ed's company, Shire, is moving to Lexington, Massachusetts - but we are not.  We gave it a lot (and I mean a lot) of careful thought and consideration but in the end, we just didn't feel it was a good plan to uproot our family.  We know that kids are resilient - especially Brian - but we just weren't thrilled about piling one more major life change and taking him away from his school and his friends and his home.  
Hope doesn't know any different, obviously, but it will be nice for her to grow up where her brothers did.  Not to mention, their only remaining grandparent, my Mother, is close by.
This means that Ed will be job hunting, which is stressful.  But he's pretty brilliant, if you ask me, so I'm sure it won't be long before someone snatches him up.

We also went ahead and planned a trip to Ocean City, New Jersey this summer!  It made us feel good to think outside the bitter cold and snow and plan for some summer fun.  Being in Ocean City is a sure fire way for us to feel close to Gavin and all the incredible memories we made with him there. The Ocean and the salt air have a way of making everything a little bit better.

As many of you know, I participate in a HUGE consignment sale twice a year - the Just Between Friends Consignment Sale in Oaks, PA.  The Spring event is coming up on March 19th and I'll be selling and, more importantly, buying!  I always get a lot of questions and emails about the actual sale or about consigning in general - so I thought I'd create a little series so you can follow along while I prepare (tagging Hope's baby things will bring tears to my eyes, for sure!)... shop... and sell!  I'll be posting here, on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.  Hopefully it will be fun for you - but it will really be a great distraction for me.  That is because....

We are getting close to April which means the two year anniversary of Gavin's death is just around the corner on April 14th.  Because we've been down the rabbit hole all winter with one thing after another, I didn't give much (or any) thought to creating an event.  If you remember, the first anniversary was pretty special with "Gavin's Playground Party."  Not only was it a fun night - and a HUGE distraction from our grief - 
but we raised over $60,000 for the all abilities playground at duPont Hospital!!  I'm feeling disappointed that I haven't had the time or energy to figure out a plan. I have a desire for all of us to come together to change someone's life - somehow, someway - maybe as a way to honor the way Gavin changed many lives... but I don't know who or how.  I'm still thinking...

If you celebrate Chinese New Year - I wish you a healthy and prosperous year.

And to those of you joining us in a "New Year Do-Over" - welcome!!  In my world, you can begin again anytime.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Do You Miss Me?...

"My son died," I find myself telling people who don't know or haven't heard.

Inevitably they say things to me like, "How are you still standing?  I don't know that I could survive that.  I don't think I would ever get out of bed.  I would want to dive into the grave with my child if they died."

And I always explain it the same way:  "Losing my son is the single most devastating thing that has ever happened to me - and probably ever will.  But hurting myself or giving up or wanting to die, too, would not honor his life.  I made a vow when he died that the best ways to honor Gavin's life were to live... and to not screw up his siblings.  He would be very upset with me if I ruined his brother and sister's lives."

So, that is what I am doing.  That is what WE are doing.

I have to believe that we are on to something.

As I sit at the art table and color... or make blanket forts... or play game after game of Chutes and Ladders...
...the giggles and the smiles and even the occasional cheating and making up new rules of a game make me feel close to you.
I remember sitting at the same art table playing with you.
As I chase your sister around the house and watch her get into mischief over and over and over again...
...I find myself quite amused.  Even when she's naughty.
I remember when you started "getting into things." But knowing how hard you worked to get into those things in the first place - a "mischievous moment" turned into a "miraculous moment."
In other words - you had a good excuse.  Hope gets away with it because - well - could anyone resist that face?!?
As I watch Brian and Hope play together... 
and as I see their relationship deepen and widen - 
I smile as I remember how close you and Brian had become.
He misses you so much.

There are a lot of things I can do.  I can play and I can love and I can mother your brother and sister with my whole and broken heart.

I can try to help others as much as I can to continue your legacy.  I can talk about you so Brian and Hope remember and know you.  I can love your Father.

I can remind myself to breathe and eat and not drink and get sleep and breathe and smile.

But there's one thing that I can not do.  I can no longer mother you with my whole being.  I can't cook for you... feed you... make you smile or laugh.  I can no longer take you on rides or play with you in the playroom.  I can no longer hear you giggle when I tickle you.  I can't plan for your future.  I can't hold you in my arms.

So as I rock your baby sister in your rocking chair or tuck your brother in at night...
I remember the nighttime snuggles we shared.
And even though I know you have plenty of loving souls to mother you in Heaven and I am sure you are so, so happy and free.  I wish... selfishly... that I could get the answer to the question that weighs heavy on my heart.

Do you miss me?
Do your arms ache for my embrace as much as my arms feel empty without you?
I just need to know that you miss me.

(I know it's very tempting to answer this question for Gavin... but please know that the only person I desire to hear the answer from is him.  One day... )

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