Month 11: Grief has a mind of its own

2017, Family, grief, loss, Lucas, Toby

Grief has a mind of its own. It has a way of rearing its head at a time that catches you with your guard down. It leaves you alone with your thoughts and deeply sad. Grief over these last four weeks has been quite harsh. Moments which have remained frozen or numb in my mind are starting to resurface and rather than the very familiar sting that comes daily with memories, they hit hard, take away my breath, and bring flashbacks of that nightmare of a day that robbed Toby of his future, robbed us of raising our second little boy and forever changed our lives.

I am a planner. I like to be prepared. I don’t like to be surprised. Caught off guard. Taken out of my comfort zone. The reality of the last 11 months have proven – none of that matters. Life doesn’t care what I have planned.

With my mind continuing to try and plan, prepare, guard the remaining part of my heart that is somehow still beating, I’d convinced myself that I would know the hardest days coming – Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, our first trip away without Toby, Easter, Mother’s Day, May 27 – Toby’s First Birthday, Father’s Day. Each month has not only brought a heart breaking milestone of counting the months that Toby has been gone from our arms, but it has brought a holiday or special day for our family where our beautiful baby boy is missing. Each month I’d make it to the 28th and think “Ok, I don’t know how we did it, but we made it through that heartache. Now what’s next?”

All of that planning, guarding, circumventing, retreating, do you know what it was doing? It was taking all of the heartache, anger, pain, and loneliness and pushing it down. Like a heavy weight pulsing while the giant below grows stronger.

I made it till July 17. My 34th birthday. Then the tiny line that was holding that weight – it snapped.

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July 24, 2016

I woke up last Monday when my alarm went off for work. When I opened my eyes, Toby’s face stared back at me from the frame on my nightstand. My eyes got warm and tears ran down my face. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I wanted to close my eyes and go back to last July 17. I got up and went to pick up Toby from his bed. His big blue eyes wide and his beautiful smile let you know he loved seeing you. God, I want that feeling back. That feeling when you pick up your children and hug them so tight and say “I love you so much.” Hoping they can feel through your bones just how much love is in your heart for them.

We have a hand full of videos of Toby. I can’t watch them too often because they send me into the darkest pit of grief that I struggle to get out of. The one video is from my birthday last year. It’s me, holding Toby, and Luke sitting beside us. They’re singing me Happy Birthday. I’m smiling. Both my boys with me. They are so beautiful. I couldn’t stop watching it on Monday. I couldn’t stop crying. I didn’t even have to close my eyes and I could vividly see moments from one year ago. I knew that I had dressed Toby in a blue collared onsie and Luke had his island shirt on. We went to lunch together and later after dinner had ice cream cake.

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July 17, 2016

By the end of the day Monday the only thing I wanted to do was go to the cemetery. My routine way to and from work passes by cemetery each day, allowing me the opportunity to stop. Monday I needed to be there. I can normally make it to his grave before I start crying, that day, I only made it through the cemetery gates. I could hardly lift my body out of the car. My feet felt cemented to the ground when I tried to walk. I felt like it would be easier to just stumble down the hill.

I sat at the foot of Toby’s grave, my hand running over his name on the stone, and I cried. There was so much sadness exuding my body. My fingers tried to pull his name from the stone. It was in that very moment that the real, raw emotion of being a grieving mother appeared. It caught me completely off guard but I didn’t care. I had been carrying so much of this inside of me, even through my writing, discussions with others, and changes in our daily routines, it didn’t matter what I had done or had been trying to plan for.

The overlap in time since Toby’s birthday has been harder than we expected, if that’s even possible to say. We are continually tripping over landmines – memories that you wish didn’t have to hurt so badly.

It hasn’t just been the nights that are the worse. There have been days where 11 months of searching for Toby have hurt so badly over the past six weeks. There are days when I feel like I’m watching myself. There are times when I look in the mirror and I don’t know the women staring back at me. A local news station ran a story on our family last week – talking about our family’s grief and how we’re trying to use our pain to educate others. I was watching the segment and listening to the words and there was a part of my mind that was thinking “how heartbreaking.” – How does my mind continue to register moments that are so unreal? I still get sick to my stomach when I say “Our son Toby died.” Those words rock me to my core when they are coming out of my mouth.

There was a picture in the segment that was on the screen for a few seconds. I was holding Toby. Sitting in the recliner in our den. I remember taking that picture. I remember that I was going to delete it. We hadn’t slept that night. Toby was wide awake in the chair watching me talk to him. I took our picture and he looked right in the camera. I sat on the floor watching the segment play on the news and all I could do was stare at him. Dan, sitting beside me said, “He’s so beautiful.

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July 2016 – Toby and Mommy

I don’t know where 11 months have gone. I’m afraid I’ve missed so much. I hope Luke knows how much we love him and I hope he knows what an amazing big brother he is to Toby. I worry that we haven’t done enough for him.

I spent some time with him this weekend, just Luke and me. We were taking a walk around our neighborhood Saturday evening, he was chatting about everything. I love to listen to him talk. The things he says amaze me and make me so proud. I was watching him walk and he was stopping at every rain puddle, taking the biggest leap and jumping to make a splash. He would smile and walk to the next one. Out of the blue he said, “Mommy, Toby loves Heaven.” We weren’t even talking about Toby, or Heaven, or the sky, or being sad. He didn’t pause or even look up at me when he said it.

It’s those moments. Those reminders from Luke. Those are the reasons that I got up from Toby’s grave on Monday and went home to my family. To my husband and son and our two boxers who know, feel, see, and hear the pain that we have experience over the past 11 months. To the only house that Toby knew. To the four walls that hold every single second of our beautiful son’s life.

I left the cemetery on Monday and went home. Dan and Luke had cooked dinner for me. We sat down at the dining room table, all the blinds were closed both in that room and the adjoining living room. We said prayers and started to eat. I was looking at my plate and out of the corner of my eye, I caught something on the ceiling in the living room. Dan saw it too. We looked at each other in amazement. I looked at all the windows, trying to find a reason for what was happening. I couldn’t.

I was able to get a few moments on video before it stopped and vanished.

 

To me they look like flapping wings. Do you see it?

We sang ‘happy birthday’ and ate ice cream cake. Just like we did last year.

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July 17, 2017

To my beautiful boy. I find myself searching for you every single day. I think about what it would be like to have both you and Luke in tow with me. I cry every day. Some days from moments that I’m ready for. Others, because I catch your smile or see a mom trying to juggle two boys and it crushes me. I want to feel you in everything I do, Toby. I want to be able to feel the warm sun and hear your soft coos. I am so desperately trying not to lose any part of you in our life. I need you to be here. You are our son. You are Luke’s brother. I don’t want anyone to forget that. I need people to understand that.

I believe that Toby is with us. Every. Single. Day. I believe that he is watching us. Keeping us safe. Sending things to make us smile, or laugh. He laughed a lot with us, even for how small he was. I’d do anything to hear you laugh. I believe you visit Luke and that he can see you and hear you, in ways we can’t even imagine. These thoughts, they help me. But they also frustrate me.

I am scared to death of August. I am scared to death of what the grief and anxiety will do to my mind, to my heart. I am scared of the resurgence of flashbacks and triggers and raw fear that will overtake my conscience. I have found a way to deal with those moments, when I’m standing on the edge and that enormous wave of grief is gaining height and speed, barreling towards me. I have to do something that connects me to Toby. I have to immerse myself in a project. Work on his foundation – The Little Fox. I have to do something with Luke that we would have done together.

This mother of two journey, that is now my life, is difficult. Talking about it helps me. Doing something in your memory helps me more.

I hope you can see that, Toby. I hope you can feel all the love that Mommy and Daddy have for you. We cry because we can’t have you here in our arms. Because you’re not physically here with us. Because this day each month is not getting any easier. Because we’re scared and heartbroken without you.

The Opportunity to Speak

2017, Creating Change, Family, grief, Joy, loss, Lucas, Parenting, Toby

We are overwhelmed with emotion from the last 24 hrs. When we started rallying the troops, nearly seven weeks ago, we had no idea the imprint we could make.

This petition is out there and making strides because of the initial efforts of Barry Kluger and Kelly Farley, and their children who died. We are standing behind this petition and making an effort to try and push for local, state, and national representatives to listen to WHY this is important.

Seven weeks ago I saw an opportunity to use the platform we have been building in Toby’s memory as a way to educate other’s about the lives of grieving parents, by supporting the Farley-Kluger Initiative to amend FMLA.

Two weeks ago, Jennifer Tomazik from WPXI-Channel 11 called. She told me that she had been reading my blog and had been referred to us from a friend who told her about what we were trying to do. She asked if we’d be willing to talk to her – about our family, Toby, and the bill to amend FMLA – because she saw a story that the community and families in our region could relate to, and hopefully help.

This was a big decision for us. Don’t get me wrong, we have been talking and sharing and advocating in support of others, but this opens our lives and our son’s lives to the world. We all know how social media is – it can be a powerful tool. It’s frightening to be so open and so vulnerable.

Over the past 24 hours our phones, email, the blog and social media have been flooded by amazing people who have shared our story, advocated for others to read and sign the petition, and offered their support. It has been remarkable and overwhelming.

Farley Kluger Initiative_24hrs

Yesterday when we sat down to talk with Jennifer, that discussion opened wounds wide-open and the emotions for Toby have come flooding back. Dan and I sat together and watched the segment last night, with Luke yelling at the TV “that’s me and Toby!” We’ve read a lot (not all) of the notes and comments that have been sent to us. We’ve cried as we watched Toby’s beautiful face on TV and online and we’ve shaken our heads in amazement as to the amount of people that have taken time out of their day to listen to our story, offer their support for Toby’s death and our family’s grief, and also sign and share the petition.

Again, THANK YOU – to every one of you that have done something. Those words, thank you, will never be enough, but it is your words, support and actions that help us know that what we are doing is making a difference and that Toby’s life, although too short, will make a difference in the lives of others.

Toby Stern

I wanted to give a little update on the Foundation, because there have been some questions and inquiries over the past day. We have spent the last three months talking with other non-profits, professionals that assist in creating non-profits, board members of non-profits and continually soaking up all this information. This is a big decision for us and an educational one, at that. We want to make sure that however we decide to proceed, that we are comfortable with it and that it is reflecting what Dan and I, as Toby’s parents, want the foundation to be and grow into. There are a lot of moving parts at this point and once we are ready, we will gladly share all of that with you. There will be opportunities to help, volunteer, donate, fund-raise, and most importantly share with your networks. The Little Fox | Toby’s Foundation is taking shape and we look forward to its launch in the near future.

I would be remiss if I didn’t take a moment to thank WPXI-Channel 11 and Jennifer Tomazik. Thank you for taking the time to learn about our family, about our circumstance and most importantly about Toby. Your efforts to talk with us and share our message turned into a beautiful tribute to our son and an amazing platform for the Farley-Kluger Initiative. Also, you’ve extended your resources for help on future endeavors and interest in supporting The Little Fox, and for that Dan, Lucas and I are so grateful.

WPXI Visit_July 20 2017

We hope by way of WPXI’s story, more doors will open to connect with the media and interest is peaked to support the efforts of the Farly-Kluger Initiative. We welcome the opportunity to speak with anyone about this grassroots effort and our family’s story.

Before I go, I’d like to ask for three things from our readers:

  1. If you have not signed the petition to amend FMLA, please visit: www.farleykluger.com and do so today.
  2. If you have already signed the petition and would be willing to take 10 minutes to write a letter to your local representative, please visit my blog post from last week here: https://ourhappyplaceandco.com/2017/07/13/next-steps-farley-kluger-initiative/
  3. If you are not doing so already, take a moment and “follow” our website/blog. At the bottom of the website there is a little [+] button; click that and then click the blue “Follow Our Happy Place & Co.”

 

Here is the link to the segment that aired yesterday, July 20, on WPXI-Pittsburgh’s Channel 11.

http://www.wpxi.com/news/top-stories/local-family-petitioning-law-to-include-parents-grieving-loss-of-child/566361587

 

Month Ten – A Mother of Two 

2017, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

I can feel the memories coming before they are even in my mind. My heart hurts. My throat gets tight. My eyes begin to well. I know it’s going to hurt like hell, but I embrace it, because it’s embracing you. It’s an embrace that I don’t want to let go of. With each month that passes, there is new pain, different pain. Things that were not triggers before, they rip the wound wide open now.

Luke talks about you more and more. About how things are “mine and Toby’s.” We love that he talks about you, but it is a continual dagger to the heart that you are not here.

“This table is perfect for me and Toby,” said Luke when we brought this home the other day.


We miss you, Toby. We say it everyday, but I don’t think we can say it enough. There are pictures of you everywhere in the house. Some of the ends have started to curl and it makes me so angry. It’s the reality of how long you have been gone. I stood at your crib the other day and when I picked my hand up I saw part of my handprint. I didn’t have even a second to let the pain come, but tears flowed. It is so painful to watch the world continue to move with you not in it. I hate how the numbers continue to increase – days, weeks, months, seasons, holidays. They push us back, but some days, I can feel us pushing harder. Challenging the pain. Trying to push the door open to let the memories back in, bringing only joy with them. We hope.

One year ago, Toby at one month old.


I went to a new gym the other evening. Walking in I was nervous. It’s new introductions, new people. New me. At the end of the class the instructor was acknowledging everyone’s great job and she said, “Give a hand to Katie! It’s her first class with us. She chases two babies around all day and she did awesome!” 

Wow, talk about reality. I was standing facing the mirror when she said that and I just watched my face. I didn’t even feel like I was making an expression, but my eyes shocked me. Looking at my reflection made me want to cry. My first thought was, “Yes, I chase my two boys. One around the house and one in my mind. Every day.”

I’ve lost my identity over the past 10 months. Really, I lost myself August 24 when you were taken from our arms. But it’s only recently that it is visible to me. I don’t like the new me but I am very aware of the reality that I will never be the person I was before August 24. When you were in our arms. When I sang you to sleep and you woke up in the wee hours with the biggest smile on your face just to see me or dad. God, I want those moments back, Toby. I want you back. I can see your face at 2am and I hope that’s what it looks like when we see you again in Heaven. Excited, loving, happy. 

You continue to be in every moment of our days. The song on the radio. The way the sun shines through the clouds in the evening. The verse in my evening prayers. The numbers on the clock. The voice in my heart. 

People may think I sound crazy when I say this. And maybe I want to subconsciously hear these things, but there are moments during the day, when my mind is just blank and I’m staring at something or thinking about a decision we have to make and that’s when I feel it. Deep inside, there’s a subtle thought that enters my mind “I’m right here, mommy.” I swear it’s you, Toby. Guiding me. Assuring me. Holding me. Letting me know you are close.

I have seen many things the past week that refer to angels among us. Pray to them. Listen to them. They are closer than you think. They are talking about your path while you are resting

I can only imagine the beauty of your face, now that you are in Gods presence. You were such a beautiful baby and always calm and happy. The people who are fortunate enough to have you as their angel, Toby, have been granted more love and joy than they will ever know. Daddy, Luke and I, we know that love, we know that joy. We cling to it every single day when we talk to you and pray for your presence. 

Toby’s baptism day – August 14, 2016


Thank you for working with God to clear the path for mom and dad. We know you have a hand in what is given to us and what is diverted, each hour, each minute. We hope that you are proud of what we are doing in your memory. We continue to talk with people, discuss our hopes, tell your story and above all, say your name, Toby. We continue to make sure you are somehow a part of everything that we do and we hope that when you see us, you can feel the love for you, my sweet boy.

We love you, Toby. ❤️

This butterfly was on my windshield when I got in the car at the gym the other evening. A message from my Toby 🦋

The Farley-Kluger Initiative – Parental Bereavement Leave

2017, Creating Change, Family, grief, loss, Parenting

www.farleykluger.com

Grieving Dads: To the Brink and Back

Over the last 10 months I have come across other grieving parent’s stories, whether at in-person meetings, from acquaintances that know someone who has lost a child, and through online forums and blogs supporting the bereaved community.

There have been parents who’ve had to return to work three days after their child has died – THREE. Three. Some were given 7 days and for the employer, that seemed gracious. Other parents who weren’t mentally ready have been given an ultimatum – with the end result being the loss of their job. Some have chosen to quit their job because the pressure of being back into a position and being at the top of their game was what was expected, but not anything close to what they could handle.

I cannot even fathom these situations. I hardly remember the weeks following Toby’s death. I didn’t drive for almost a month. I avoided the grocery store like the plague. Even just stepping out into our yard what a feat because I was petrified someone on our street would stop to talk to us, not knowing that Toby was no longer there.

We, Dan and I, have been blessed that the concept of returning to work was not on a 7 day time clock. That was one prayer we didn’t even know to pray, but an answered one that we now thank God for continually.

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Today’s FMLA allows (up to) 12 weeks off unpaid for the birth of a child, adoption of a child, care for a sick family member or an injured service member. There is nothing for parents whose child or children have died.

In 2011, grieving dads Barry Kluger and Kelly Farley started the Farley-Kluger Initiative to Add Loss of a Child to the 1993 FMLA, in honor of their children, Katie and Noah Farley and Erica Kluger.

Any parent or guardian who is employed needs time to grieve and return to work to organizations they are loyal to, in the best condition possible.

In honor of those who have lost children or know someone that did, please take a look at this petition – SIGN ITSHARE IT – and ask our leaders in Congress to put aside differences and show compassion for those that grieve now and those that will in the future.

www.farleykluger.com

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Here is an excerpt for the letter that I wrote to accompany my signature on the Farley-Kluger Initiative petition:

“As a bereaved parent who lost our infant son, Toby, nearly 10 months ago, I support the The Sarah Grace-Farley-Kluger Act/ The Parental Bereavement Act of 2017 and the efforts to modify FMLA to include any bereaved parent who is in need of the support and benefits that are outlined in the Family Medical Leave Act. Bereaved parents should be allowed the time to resurface from this life-altering event, or at least get to a place where going to work helps bring some sense of normalcy back into their lives, and not have to rush back into it before they are ready. There is no healing from the loss of a child, but requiring parents to return to work because they need their salary and benefits to continue to support the everyday needs of a family is just wrong. I encourage you to give this issue serious consideration for those of us who now, and in the future, will be living with children in Heaven.”

As we continue our initiative of incorporating The Little Fox, a primary focus of our work is to build support and education around the lives of bereaved parents. The Farley-Kluger initiative hits right on the head of these issues that are a passion of ours and something we want to be able to support and CHANGE. Just like I said a few weeks ago “uncomfortable conversations create change.”

This is just one step to creating that societal change. And, it’s a big one. Please be a part of making this happen!

Disclosure: While we are very much in support of this amendment to the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, we want to make it clear that following Toby’s death we were blessed to have employers that allowed us the time that we needed and supported our family.

Nine Months

2017, Family, grief, loss, Toby

My Sweet Toby,

We miss you so very much. I have spent this past week fighting the flashes of time. Fighting the pain that each memory brings. I have tried to prepare myself for this very week. But, as with the last nine months, there is no way to shield my heart from the pain that comes with the love we have for you, our son.

We continue to have people tell us that you are in the best place. You are taken care of. A place more beautiful than we can imagine. You are smiling. I believe you are, but that does not make me want you here any less. It does not make me smile without crying. My heart still breaks because I cannot hold you.

I cannot believe it has been nine months since I held you. It makes me angry that it has been that long. I miss you. I want to know if you miss us, but I don’t want you to be sad. I don’t want you to wonder why we can’t see you or why we don’t talk to you if you’re right beside us in spirit.

It makes my heart ache to think that you are here, but I can’t see you or hold you. I’d give anything to give you a hug and a kiss. To sing you to sleep or turn on your music box on the crib and watch you watching the fish swim. We haven’t been able to turn that on since you died. I stood by the crib just the other day with my hand on the button, but I couldn’t do it. I was afraid of what would happen if I turned it on.

I’m sorry that Dad and I have not been as strong this month. We are having a really hard time accepting the reality of you not being here, especially with your first birthday being three days from now. We love you, Toby. We try so hard each day to be strong for you and for Luke. You boys are our reason for taking another step. We try to do hard things every day, not because we want to, but because we know you would want us to.

We feel you with us. We know from what Luke says that you are with him often. We ask the angels to take our love to you. To tuck you in each night with hymns, kisses and sweet dreams. We pray that the last nine months have been filled with beauty, grace, love, and happiness for you. That you have been able to provide joy and smiles to many, as you travel the path that God has paved for you. One that we don’t understand, but one that we are trying to trust, through the unimaginable pain.

We hope you hear our prayers, Toby. We hope you feel us missing you and know that while we count the months that you have been gone from our arms, we see them as days closer to the time that we are reunited with you in Heaven. We love you more than you could ever imagine, Toby. No amount of time will ever change that. We miss you more than you will ever know.

love, Mommy

Was always so curious, even at a few weeks old.

❤️

Sequential Why’s and What If’s

2017, Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

I hate this day. I hate going to bed the evening of the 23rd of each month. I hate waking up the 24th of every month. My motions and routine are clouded by continual flashbacks of August 24th. I can see the events of that day play out in my mind. Every step I take this day, of the last eight months, I am constantly questioning life.

What if we would have left earlier that day? What if we would have been later? What if I hadn’t gone to work? What if Dan had not been at school? What if I wouldn’t have changed Toby’s outfit at the last minute that day? God knows I have idea why I decided to change him in the first place. What if? 

Luke is at the “why” stage of his toddler years. The last few days have been a constant barrage of questions. As he was quizzing me on the way to daycare this morning with sequential why’s, my mind drifted. I thought, if I could have a day with God, I would probably sound just like Luke.

Why did you take Toby? Why could he only be here for 12 weeks and 5 days? Why did you give us this perfect, healthy, beautiful, happy baby and then take him away with no explanation? Why couldn’t you let me tell him good-bye? Why did you take Luke’s little brother? Why do you keep placing circumstances right in front of Dan and I, that to us, seem like nothing but slaps in the face? Why do we have to live our lives without him?

Why? Why? Why? Why? 

The months of March and April proved to be an emotional roller coaster. Things happened, but provided no answers for why Toby died. His headstone arrived and was placed at his grave, unbeknownst to Dan and me. While it is beautiful, just as we hoped. Seeing his name on it, bring so much emotion and sadness, it’s exhausting. The emotional wounds re-opened, the trauma resurfaced.

I am, we are, dreading the month of May. It will begin the months that will overlap with the time that we had him here on Earth.

With the weather getting warmer and the time changing, I have been trying to run again in the evenings. It hasn’t been going well. I go about a mile and my legs get very heavy, my hands start to sweat. I stare at the ground directly in front of me and I hold the tears in for as long as I can. Until I just give up. I shouldn’t be running alone. He was with me, in the stroller, right in front of me – staring at me while we ran. I would talk to him, ask him if he saw the trees or the birds. Tell him what was around us or how far we had gone. He would smile at me. I would smile back. Now the space in front of me is empty. It’s a constant reminder that I will never see him smile again.

August 18_Running with Mom

Running together at the park, August 18, 2016.

I pray. Every. Single. Day. He is smiling. I pray, that he sees Dan, Luke and me smile and that he knows behind each smile is a wish and an ache that he is was here with us. This constant ache in my heart that no amount of joy will ever take away.

Toby, we miss you more than any words or actions could describe.

God, why can’t you just bring Toby back to us?

Little Pieces of Light & Peace

2017, faith, Family, grief, loss, Toby

As Lent began, I searched for my focus for the next 40 days. I was looking for something that I could “do” that would help me in my grief, but also something that would help provide little pieces of light and peace. When we moved into our house last year there were two cardinals that would fly into the tree in front of our window in the family room. Every time we saw them we’d always hurry to the window “do you see them?” we’d say to Luke, as one of us was holding Toby in our arms. It was a moment of the day that made us smile. Last week I was sitting on the couch and something caught my eye at the window. I looked out and it was a cardinal, by itself, sitting in the tree. I hurried to the window to get a closer look at him, there for a split second, and then he flew away. There are many articles that say cardinals are visitors, angels, from heaven. It made me wonder, were the two that visited us over the summer watching over Toby? And the new visitor, this spring, is he alone for Luke? Or is that Toby visiting us?

We went away to the beach a few weeks after Toby died. In the mornings, the sky had these beautiful clouds with strong rays of light streaming down and reflecting on the ocean. Looking at it made me wonder what that sight was like from Heaven. How beautiful that must be. Can you imagine being able to have a seat and see any spot in the world? I cannot, but just the thought of that takes my breath away. Being able to have a place to sit in Heaven and look over your entire family? That is truly amazing.

I picked up a prayer book from church at the start of Lent. It has a short daily reflection and a few excerpts from Jesus’ journey to the cross. The focus of this prayer book is just that, prayer. How we pray. What we say to God. What we ask of God. His expectations for us.

Through these reflections, the Blessed Mother’s journey through this time have been front of mind for me. She is a grieving mother. She is a strong mother with the utmost faith in God. How did she do it? Through these first 20+ days of lent, I’ve found my focus. The Blessed Mother. I am laying my grief, anger, tears, sorrow, emptiness, loneliness, a longing to hold my sweet Toby in my arms and kiss his face, and the missing sound of TWO sets of tiny feet running through the hall upstairs, or our sons innocent laughs that we will never hear because they can’t play together. All of this. I’m laying at her feet for Lent and trying to join my grief to hers.

This 24th of March marks seven months. Those of you who have continued to follow in our journey through grief, through the loss of our beautiful son Toby, I am sure you are able to see some of our highs AND lows. And while there may be more of the latter, I continue to work on finding more of the former. It is so hard. Too hard to put into words. Too hard for many to understand the struggles we face, daily. The judgement, not said, but felt, to be happy, trust, move forward, accept. It is intense and paralyzing. I know, indisputably, we do not take a thing for granted anymore. I will be the first to tell you that prior to Toby’s death yes, I did take things for granted. So while I may not look like the most grateful person when you see me, I may not smile as much as I did, the depth of my gratitude for everyday moments runs deeper than you know. For I know, more than most, how quickly my greatest blessings can be taken away. How one, “Have a good day” kiss or “I love you” can be the last. I know the immeasurable pain of being robbed of ONE of the TWO greatest joys of my life.

As the seventh month anniversary comes at the mid-way point of Lent, I am noticing a change in myself. A loss of the pause when a stranger asks me about my children, because I don’t want them to be uncomfortable. The urge to be able to talk more about our loss and our joy with Toby for the time he was here. The desire to find ways to shed light on grieving parents and the societal pretense to “not talk about it” because it’s too uncomfortable. The bad days are still so dark and the worst moments still come at the drop of a hat. I continue to work on the acceptance of that. My prayers are different and the way I talk to God has completely changed. I continue to pray that when Toby sees Dan and me, he knows that the tears we are crying or the anger that causes us to curse at the sky is because the hole in our hearts for him is so big and each day without him is so hard. That there are just no words – only tears. I continue to hope that one day, through my actions, rebuilding, and finding a purpose on this journey I did not choose for our family’s life, that I can proudly say “Let me tell you about Toby. He is the one that showed me how to love beyond all measure. How to survive the unimaginable. How to live life for him.”

I am not there yet, Toby, but I’m working on it. Continue to hold my hand and my heart, sweet boy.

A New Endeavor

2017, Dan, faith, Family, Lucas, Marriage, Parenting, Toby

I have spend the last few weeks very focused in prayer. That was one of my small goals for the year. It has been normal in these times to also talk to Toby. Tell him what is on my heart and ask for guidance or some sort of sign as to whether or not I should even be carrying whatever it is that is heavy on my heart and mind.

An opportunity presented itself at the beginning of January as a way to help our mission of being a voice for grieving parents and parenting through the loss of a child, while also offering the chance to work with some amazing people. View the video below to see what door has opened for our family (video is ~10mins).

 

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