Thursday, August 30, 2012

"I Am..."

The boys started a new support group last night.  Tears, the group that we love so much and find so much comfort with, has started a children's program for little ones who have lost a baby brother or sister.

Last night, after the parent meeting was over, we went to pick up Colton and Aidan and Jack from their group.  The two older boys were very eager to share some poems they had written while we were gone.  I have gotten their permission to share them with all of you as well.

Needless to say, they both brought tears to my eyes and warmth and pride to my heart.  **Brynna, you are loved and cherished by your big brothers.  But I know you know that.**

"I Am" by Colton Finnegan

I am a brother who lost a sister.
I wonder if she looks down at me.
I hear her laughs in my dreams.
I see her in my thoughts.
I want to see her again in life.
I am a brother who lost a sister.

I pretend she is following me.
I feel like she touches me.
I touch her in my dreams.
I cry when she leaves.
I am a brother who lost a sister.

I understand that I will never see her again in this life.
I say, "I love you, Brynna."
I dream she is here.
I try to remember the good times.
I hope I see her again.
I am a brother who lost a sister.

"I Am" by Aidan Finnegan

I am sad about my sister.
I wonder if she is happy in heaven.
I hear her say, "good morning" to me.
I want to see her.

I feel her in my heart.
I cry when I am scared.

I understand I'll see her again.
I dream of her.
I hope I will see her again.
I am sad about my sister.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

This Juxtaposed Life....

Ours is a juxtaposed life.  And it's hard to live.

So sad about so very much loss.  But on the other hand, blessed with so much.

Three boys, that in my estimation, hang the moon, a husband I've had the privilege to grow up alongside, and a love for all of them deeper than any ocean.  Such blessing.

But right there, right there next to all of that "goodness," is indescribable sadness and sorrow.  The grief of losing our baby girl, our only girl, our sweet daughter Brynna.  What undefinable heartbreak.

How do I live this juxtaposed life?  Fitting two unlikely halves together in a feeble attempt to make my heart whole.  It doesn't really make sense.  This situation is nonsensical.

On any given day, it may be the sadness that has the wheel.  Taking us for a ride on the bumpy, dark, unforgiving, unrelenting road called grief.  The next day, we may have a respite and be able to focus our attention on our living children, our sweet boys, Colton, Aidan and Jackson.

And we have no choice, no say in the matter.  The days, the hours, the minutes, they are what they are. We cannot dictate or dissuade the sadness, it just comes.  We also cannot stop our hearts from yearning for happiness and growing with love.  So mixed up is our life.

So we just keep on, continuing to rise each morning attempting to make our way through each uncertain day.  Some nights we fall into bed and lay our weary heads down in prayer that "tomorrow will be kinder".  Other nights we go to sleep with just a sliver of reassurance because that day has proven "more doable" than the one before.

At times it's enough to make a person crazy, this juxtaposed life.

I hate not having her.  I love having them.  I am heartbroken.  My heart is healing.  I am sad.  I have moments of happiness.  I feel weak.  I am becoming stronger.  I cannot stand.  I am standing.  I can't do this.  I am doing this.

This is a crazy life.

You Can't Win With Me.

August 29, 2012                                                                       1:40 p.m

*taken from a grief blog on the internet:

If you say to me “How are you doing?” with such sympathy and meaning in your voice, I reply “I’m fine” and brush you off, because to talk about my loss with you today is just too painful.
If you see me and don’t mention the loss that is consuming my thoughts, I think you don’t care enough, or are too scared to mention it for fear that you might upset me.
You can’t win with me.
If you say “I’m sorry your baby died,” it is hard for me to reply to that.
What do you expect me to say?
I want to say “I’m sorry too!” or “It’s too awful.” I want to scream “It’s not fair!”
But I won’t because I don’t want to upset myself today, not in front of you.
So I reply “Thank you.”
That thanks means so much more than that.
It means thanks for caring, thanks for trying to help, thanks for realizing that I’m still in pain.
If you don’t know what to say to me, that’s okay too because I don’t know what to say to you either.
If you see me smile or laugh don’t assume I must have forgotten my baby for the moment, I haven’t, I can’t, I never will.
Tell me that I look good today.  I will know what you mean.
I’m getting good at picking up unspoken cues from you.
If you see me and think I look upset or sad, you are probably right.
Today might be an anniversary day for me, or some event might have triggered a wave of grief in me.
If you don’t say anything I’ll think you don’t care about me, but if you do say something, it might make me feel worse.
You could try asking if I want to talk, but don’t be surprised if I say no.
You can’t win with me.
Don’t give up on me.  Please don’t give up.
I need your attempts, however feeble, however trite you might feel they are.
I need your thoughts.
I need your prayers.
I need your love.
I need your persistence.
I need all that but most of all I need to be treated normally, like it used to be before all this happened.
But I know it’s impossible.
That carefree, naive person is gone forever, and I am mourning that loss too.
So you can’t win with me.
~ Jane Warland

Sunday, August 26, 2012

What to say? What to do?

August 26, 2012                                            9:37 p.m

Dear Brynna,

I don’t even know what to say. 

Today you should be with us turning 10 months old.  You should be super mobile, crawling all over and pulling yourself up to standing and then scooting around, smiling, holding onto couches and tables and everything else you can get your little hands on.

But you’re not.

And I don’t even know what to say.

What am I supposed to do with the knowledge that in just two short months, 60 days, your first birthday will be upon us?  I should be thinking about invitations and decorations, all things pink, and what flavor to make your cake.  I’m supposed to be figuring out the perfect outfit for you to turn 1 in, and Daddy and the boys and I should be shopping for your presents in the next several weeks.

But I’m not.

And I have no idea what to say.

I miss you.  All the time, whether awake or asleep.  I miss you as the sun goes up, and still more as the sun goes down again.  All day, every day.  All night, every night.

The pain of losing you, of not being allowed to love you the way were planning to love you, is too heavy.  It’s so much more than anyone should have to bear.

I don’t know how to do it, and I don’t want to do it anymore.

I want you to come back.

I want you to be here, doing all the things that you were supposed to be doing, making our lives busier and crazier… and better.  

I want a second chance to make this right.  I want to pick a different ending.  I want a “do- over”.  I want this pain and sadness and suffering to end, and I want to hold you and kiss you and love you the way a mother is supposed to be allowed to love her daughter.  I want you to grow up in front of my eyes, and not just in my heart.

I miss you, Brynn.  And I don’t know what to do.


Thursday, August 16, 2012

A Pair of Shoes

A Pair of Shoes

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes. They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes, and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in this world.
Some people are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don’t hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by before they think
about how much they hurt.
No person deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of these shoes I am stronger.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a parent who has lost a child.

- Author Unknown

(the original poem was written from the perspective of a mother, but I changed it just a little to reflect the perspective of either a brokenhearted mom or dad. Steven and I feel the loss of Brynna every day)

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Torn, but Hopeful.

I feel torn.  Never before have I had to talk myself into sitting down and writing.  Today is different.  I have known for about a week now that I have something brewing inside of me that needs to get out, but I have been putting it off and putting it off.

Here we are.  Today marks nine months since our baby girl died.  I don't really know what to say.  I don't really know what to do.  I feel torn.

Torn between the intense sadness of our life's situation, and the desire to be happy again.  How do I reconcile those two things?  I have never previously considered that a person would actually have to feel such conflicting emotion simultaneously.


I miss Brynna with all that I am.  To be forced to move through this world without your child is torture. Around every corner looms the possibility that you will be taken out at the knees with a memory or an experience.  Forced back to the starting line of your sorrow.

Going to the grocery store or the bank is no longer safe.  There are babies, and little girls and pregnant women everywhere.  My heart breaks to see the happy ones cuddling their daughters, and my heart also breaks when I hear mothers complaining about being pregnant or about something their daughter did or is currently putting them through.  How I wish I could switch places with these moms.  All of them.  I would so very happily take the good with the "bad".  I wish I had the luxury of butting heads with Brynna, or being "tired of being pregnant."

I am torn.  Do I attempt to walk back out into the land of the living or do I stay safe, wrapped up in my blanket of sorrow?  That's sounds weird, right?  To feel safest in the sadness?  But it's true.  This has been our life for nine months now.  I know how to be sad.  I know how to ride the waves of grief.  I know what I need in my saddest moments, to look at her pictures, sit in her room, rock my sand baby, sleep with her nightgown, cuddle the boys and Steven closer.  What I don't know is how to be a "happy" sad person.


I don't want the advice from outsiders.  I don't want platitudes or condolences or promises that it will "get better".  But I also don't want outsiders to disappear.  So torn.

I do feel myself, ever so slightly, emerging.  And that scares the living daylights out of me.  Does emerging from our cave of despair mean in time I will lose all perspective?  Does it mean I will lose even more of the slippery grip I have on the memory of our daughter?  I want to be happy but I am so protective of my sadness.  Protective of my grief.

I am torn.  About so very many things.  Work.  Relatives.  Friends.  Where I stand as a woman, a mother, a wife.  The list goes on...

But there is one thing that feels certain.

For seven months now, I have delved head first into educating myself and our family on adoption.  Many months ago, I wrote to Brynn and told her that her Daddy and I felt that might be where we end up, and I asked her if that would be okay.  I felt torn between cherishing the memory of our sweet daughter and seeking future happiness for our family.  Would it be "too soon"? Would we be trying to "replace" Brynna?  Would we be able to handle the hurdles that come with committing ourselves to something this huge?

What I recognize now, however, is that there is no reason to feel torn about this.  Because Brynna has us by the hands and she is leading us to her little sister.  I know this.  I feel this.  Because of our sweet baby girl, we will have another sweet baby girl.

Steven, the boys, and myself have decided to go forward with our plans for adoption.  We are currently saving the money it will take to bring our next daughter home.  Much of the money we had, has been used to pay medical bills, so the saving may take some time, but we are confident adoption is in our future.  I will sit down and write more about all of this another day, but for now please keep us in your thoughts and prayers as we trust that the love we have for our cherished baby Brynna will lead us to her baby sister.

Today marks nine months.  I miss my daughter.  I feel torn and unsure about so very much in our life.  But one thing I know is true.  She touched our hearts in ways we have yet to discover, and she is going to lead us, one painful step at a time, into our future.  And it's going to be beautiful.

Dear Brynna.

August 1, 2012                                             

Dear Brynna,

I love you.  A few days ago you turned nine months old.  Where does the time go?  I wish you were here with us right now.  I know you know that though.

Your three brothers are with Grandma and Grandpa this week.  They offered to have them come stay at their house in Kelso, and the boys were so excited to go.  I know if you were here, as you got older, you would love spending time with them too.  They are wonderful people. 

I have to go to work today from 4-9 p.m and I am not sure how that’s going to go.  I have been picking up shifts here and there and I am making it through them somehow, but it is very hard.  Everybody at work knows about you and misses you and is so sad for our family.

Daddy and I are really putting our energy into saving enough money to bring your baby sister home through adoption.  I feel you more than ever leading me by the hand and by the heart.  I know this is going to be a long, very emotional process, but I feel you and I know you’re going to help us find her.  You’re such a sweet girl, Brynn.  And your brothers and Daddy and I love you so, so much.  Thank you for continuing to work on healing our broken hearts.

Was that you the other day while I was taking a bath?  I was reading a book about adoption and all of a sudden I smelled you.  It was amazing and out of the blue, but there you were.  I put my book down and inhaled deeply over and over again, trying to take in as much of you as I could.  My eyes got teary and I said, “hello?”  Did you hear me?  Did you feel my heart swell with love?  Do you know how much it meant to me?  I love you, kiddo.  Thank you so much. 

I have to go get ready for work, but I just wanted to say hi and that I miss you.  Nine months has somehow passed since you passed away, and I have absolutely no idea where the time has gone or how we have gotten from there to here, but I love you as much today as I did the day you were born.  I carry you with me in all that I do, and I love you.  Til the end of time and then one more day after that, I love you.


One Foot In the Light

July 31, 2012                                             11:29 a.m


Nine months have passed since we laid you to rest
Since we last kissed your head and held you close to our chest. 

I move slowly through each day, one foot placed painfully in front of the other,
Walking empty armed through this world, a daughterless mother. 

I know you are there on the wind, just a whisper away. 
I can feel you and hear you, a hundred times through the day. 

But I long for you here, alive in my embrace. 
Is it selfish to feel the need to bring you back to this place?

This sadness is the deepest I've known in my life. 
And I am trying each day to keep at least one foot in the light. 

Out of the heartache, one step from the pain,
Because if my whole self gives in, what will remain?

I will lose everything I live for, everything that is good.
We are suffering a loss that no parent should. 

Please know you are with me,
Entwined in my soul, and engraved on my heart,
Never separate from me, never apart. 

I will love you through all of this heartache and every ounce of the sorrow. 
Through all of today, and each and every tomorrow. 

I remember and cherish you despite all of this pain. 
From now until forever, in my heart you remain. 

(I'm not sure who the artist of this sculpture is, but I find myself going back to this picture over and over again.  Hoping that when I am down on my knees missing my girl, she is there with her sweet hand on my head.  I love you, Brynn)