Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What it Feels Like When Two and a Half Years Go By...

It's been two years and six months and a few weeks since Gavin died.

It's been a long time - and it's been the blink of an eye. 

When I think about all that has happened in the time since my world came crashing down, I can get easily overwhelmed...

On the heels of losing my Father... I lost my son and, with him, the hopes and dreams and aspirations that I had for his life.
I lost part of my identity which was wrapped up in his care and needs and happiness and health.
I was unexpectedly pregnant and thrilled about it which was, obviously, emotionally challenging.
I was pregnant and grieving and parenting a little boy who lost his brother and trying to support a man who lost his son.
I lost people - Gavin's people who were in and out of our house on a near daily basis. Therapists and aides and teachers - all of whom became part of our family. Some still are! But the steady stream suddenly stopped - leaving an absolute void.
I look back and wonder (a lot) how I did what I did in those days, weeks, months - even the first year - after Gavin died. How did I give a eulogy? How did I not lose Hope (literally AND figuratively!)? How did I give speeches and hold a giant fundraiser and continue to write? 
I lost some friends and experienced a betrayal of epic proportions that I never saw coming.
As this blog grew and grew, things got weird. I would get emails - lots of emails - on a daily basis. The majority of them were lovely and thoughtful and encouraging. Many were people reaching out to ask for help or advice or tips. But boy... did the meanies, the judgers, the unsolicited advice givers - did I mention the meanies? - come at me from all angles. I even got obnoxious, hateful comments on my blog. (You wouldn't believe what people say to me - it's pretty shocking... when it's not so ridiculously funny) I finally had to start blocking people and monitoring comments, which I hated to do. But guess what? This blog is a chronicle of my children's lives... which means it's not up for critique or attacks or nasty comments. They will read this someday - and that is one of the main reasons that I started... and continue to write this blog at all!! I feel so, overwhelmingly grateful that I have Gavin's entire life in writing. How special it will be for Brian and Hope to read this someday and get an idea of what our life was like with Gavin... and what it was like in the days and weeks and years without him.

I really have wondered, as I look back at all that happened and all I accomplished, how I managed to do it all. And I think I know the answer. Adrenaline. You can never be prepared for losing a child - even if you know it's coming. And you can't predict how you'll act - what you'll say or do... especially when you have thousands of eyes on you. I feel like Ed and I were both carried by adrenaline in order to get us through the days leading up to Gavin's death... the actual goodbye... the organ donation... the viewing and the huge amount of people there... the funeral - decisions - all of it. I believe that people showed up expecting to see us wrecked - or showed up here expecting me to not show up at all or be whatever it was they "expected" was normal for a grieving Mom. It's hard to explain the adrenaline - but it got us through. It got me through for a long time. I expected to crash - there's always a crash in extreme cases like this. It didn't really come. Then I got worried and thought it would happen after Hope was born and be the worst kind of post partum there is. That didn't happen, either. 

But it did happen.

I noticed it about a month or so ago... and I'm still in it. Call it what you want - a crash, a slump, a funk... stuck. Maybe all of the above. But suddenly I feel it. We are happy in our new home and I show up for everyone and we play and read and do homework and dance. But I'm stuck in grief - I feel it. I don't care to be anywhere or do anything other than stay here, holed up in my new house, and play with Hope or listen to Brian's stories after school or eat Ben & Jerry's. I've had no motivation to write or decorate the new place or make plans or put on makeup or take the amount of photos I used to take or even get out of my pajamas some days. 

I haven't been me... and I know it.

I will be honest - with the blog posts so few and far between and with me being so unmotivated in general - I really thought that many of you would dwindle away. But you didn't. You're all still here. Even when it's boring you show up... and it's clear you still care about our little family. 

No matter what happens down the road, it will be a very cool thing to tell Brian and Hope about the days when I wrote about our lives... and how so many wonderful people were rooting for us along the way.

I'll get through this. There's no predicting how one's grief journey will twist and turn. I am desperately missing my son and my father and I'm not expecting very much from myself during this time. The laundry can wait - the writing can wait - the kids and the Ben & Jerry's can NOT wait, but they get a pass. 

Soon I will be myself again - or maybe even a better version of myself - okay, maybe not - but basically what I'm trying to say is this: Thank you for your patience and understanding and for not forgetting Gavin. 
He was pretty unforgettable...


  1. Kate, you do what you need to get through each day. I can't imagine what you went through 2 1/2 + years ago. I know when my sister died almost ten years ago at the age of 51.3 years, my mother was lost. She had lost her best friend. Even today there are still deep black circles under her eyes. So, Kate do what you need to: hug Hope tighter, hug Brian tighter, cry some, hug Ed, but above all take care of yourself.

  2. It is because of Gavin that I am studying to be a Child Life Specialist and want to do pediatric palliative and hospice care with a focus on siblings. It is because of Gavin that I stumbled across your blog and have told so many people about Superhero Gavin, his amazing brother Brian, and the extra special miracle that Hope is. I am so very sorry you and Ed lost a son and Brian his brother. In Child Life, one aspect of the grieving process is called "legacy building" and while his death is certainly not fair, look at all the good your Superhero is doing: the hope and ripple effect that continues his legacy. Gavin will never be forgotten. Please be gentle with yourself throughout this slump, Kate. There is no time limit on when you have stayed too long in it, and please know that your blogging family is here to support you in any possible way that we can. <3

  3. Oh Kate! I can not imagine your grief!!! There is no time frame for grief...take some "me time" for yourself. You are so deserving of it! As long as you are showing up for Hope and Brian -and of course Ed, you have nothing to worry about!! Gavin is watching over his "SUPER" family...I will continue to pray for you and your family!!! God bless.

  4. You're right, he is pretty unforgettable. I can't say anything for your grief and I won't try...but I can say, Gavin won't be forgotten.

  5. We will never forget Gavin, that's for sure. And I understand about the adrenaline, the momentum, and the crash...says the lady in her bathrobe right now. XOXOXO

  6. Kate, as much as I tune into your blog to read of your family, Gavin's legacy, Brian's resilience and "Hope" in every form of the word, I really come back to hear "you". How "you" absorb and reflect your world and then write about it is a gift. When you are silent, I quietly wonder how you are doing. Silence speaks so loudly when you are accustomed to writing on a (near) daily basis. So even when I check in on you and read between time since you last posted, I come back for "you". So please take care of yourself and do whatever you need to do. I have lived through some pretty minor "adrenaline rush/crash" cycles and the hardest part is when you don't see it coming. I hope you are leaning on a strong support system to push through these gray days. It is such a good feeling to know your readers just keep showing up! You've impacted a lot of lives, Kate. Time to be introspective and "grab your oxygen mask" and just taking one small forward step at a time...

  7. Think about you and your family daily.

  8. How wonderful you will be helping others because of Gavin. What a nice note and best of luck in your future.

  9. I hadn't been to your beautiful blog in over a year. For no particular reason - or so it seems! - you and your Gavin crossed my mind this morning as I drove my children to school.I made a mental note to "visit" your page. Imagine my grin when I read your words this early afternoon:

    "I will be honest - with the blog posts so few and far between and with me being so unmotivated in general - I really thought that many of you would dwindle away. But you didn't. You're all still here. Even when it's boring you show up... and it's clear you still care about our little family."

    Yes, indeed! We show up, myself included, and we care. You and yours are on my heart as I think of you and remember what you've shared about Gavin.

  10. Kate you truly are an amazing person, you just put into words what My mum, sister and I have been for the last almost 12 years. We are stuck and none of us have been able to put into words how we are or how to become unstuck total disclosure I think we are too scared to let go and move on in the grief process. I, and many others, have said again and again how grateful we are to you and Ed for letting us into Gavin and your lives, for allowing us to love you all, like our own family. I think all of us feel the same way, that your family is part of our own families, which means you're stuck with us for as long as you let us xo

  11. He IS pretty unforgettable Kate. Because of you and your writing Gavin will always be in our hearts. You are a wonderful woman...you are loved just the way you are, however your grief looks.

  12. He is not to be forgotten and you are not to be judged...we are all humans, some of us suffering extremely harsh situations and emotions and the least we can do is support one anothet, support you. Even from a distance...my love to you and your little family. A friend from Greece.

  13. You are one of the most remarkable women I have ever encountered. You are brave and strong and fragile all at the same time. I salute you for the way you love and cherish your family and the memories you have stored up. Bless you Kate Leong and all your family. They will be eternally grateful for what you have achieved and what you will still do for them.

  14. Your words inspire me. May God bless you and yours always.

  15. I often sit here in the comment section, trying to think of the words to respond to your posts, they always seem small and cliche. What I want to say cannot be expressed in words, only through a hug. And since I can't hug you physically, I'm sending my best one through the world of the interweb.

  16. Grief has its own timeline - my father has been gone for 15 1/2 years but two days ago something happened to make me think of him and he was in my mind all day and by the end of the day I was lying on my bed just crying because I missed him. My 10 year old daughter came in and asked what was wrong, and when I told her I was missing my Dad, she crawled up on the bed next to me, put her arms around me, and just cried with me - for a grandfather she never met, who died 5 years before she was born - just so I wouldn't be crying alone. We are all here, crying with you, so that you are not crying alone. Let the grief happen, it will ebb. Let the memories happen too - and keep those. Take care Kate.

  17. I haven't forgotten. Just wanted you to know. Sending peaceful vibes your way.

  18. Gavin is unforgettable and I promise you he will never be forgotten by me, my family, my friends and anyone else who knew him or had been told about him. I'm sorry you are struggling with grief but I just want to say that I will never forget your little superhero.

  19. You will never forget sweet Gavin. He is your son and part of you is missing and has left a hole in your heart. I'm sure some days are easier than others. No one can judge you for missing him! Sending hugs your way


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