Family, grief, loss, Parenting, Toby

Lately, I’ve been trying to reflect on the last six months. The reality of six months makes me so incredibly angry. The months of September and October, I have no recollection of. Lucas turned 2 on September 4. I have two moments of that day that resurface in my mind – the first – standing on the deck, it was so hot, our family singing happy birthday to him; the second – standing in the kitchen looking out into the backyard as our nieces and nephews ran down off the deck to play. I remember blinking, leaning toward the window, thinking “someone’s holding Toby.” Waiting for one of our parents to walk down into the yard with him in their arms. But no one came. Now, when I look out the kitchen window, that’s the memory that plays in my mind.
There was a good stretch of time where I was finally sleeping. These past few weeks I’ve been waking up multiple times a night. I woke up one night last week, while Dan was away for work, and I swore I heard crying. Not Luke’s cry. It was a baby, the softest whine. I opened my eyes thinking I would see the monitor. Nothing. Darkness. And the sound was gone.

The waves of tears and uncontrollable crying have been replaced by a calmness that I absolutely hate. I feel numb again, like I did in those first weeks. I hate it. I feel guilty that I can’t cry when I feel like I need to. But then there are moments it is all I can do. I am sad, depressed, angry – nothing anyone says is the right thing.

I never experienced pain or loneliness until Toby died. You think you experience pain; you think the loss of someone you love is beyond words; you think people understand. We don’t. I unfortunately can say this, because I’ve been on both sides of this. 

You have no idea the pain of a grieving parent, unless you are a grieving parent. There have been many days this past month where my emotions are so bottled-up, feeling hurt, lost, and alone – the tears come when they come and there is no choice but to surrender to those feelings, because I don’t have the strength to stop them. 

I said before that six months makes me angry, and most days it does. When I look at the calendar or the date in the bottom corner of my computer, I instantly think another day away from you. My arms hurt. I feel the pain inside and out and then, like another wave of emotion, I feel guilty. How should I feel? Do people look at us and think we should be moving through this grief more smoothly or quicker? Am I being the best mom I can be for Lucas? People say, It will get better; time will help; it won’t hurt as bad.

Yes. Yes it does. It does hurt as bad. As bad as August 24. The flashes in my mind on any day are enough to knock the wind out of any mother. On a bad day? They’re a nasty nightmare. The sound of an ambulance siren. The lights, even if I close my eyes, the red and brightness, flash and I can’t breathe. Some routes home, I look out the window sometimes and feel like I’m not even moving, but the feeling in my heart and stomach is the same from that afternoon. There are no words for it.

Others say things, intending to be helpful, but aren’t. I’m trying to learn to take what is, and leave what isn’t.

The weather the past few weeks has gone from 30 degrees and snowing one day to 60 degrees and sunny the next. I think these glimpses of spring, of warmer weather, are bringing emotions with them. As much as the past six months have been unbearable, I’m starting to feel anxiety for the next six. Toby’s birthday. June. July. August. One year. Vacationing without him. Going back to the pool and parks where we spent 12 amazing weeks as a family of four.

Some have said to us, I don’t know how you do it? I really don’t know either. Some days we just don’t. We don’t leave our house. We stay inside with Lucas and our dogs, Murray and Theo, and do whatever we feel like doing. I used to long for those days, when we could enjoy the boys together. Laugh. Play. Sing. We still have those days, but now I long for Toby to be there with us. Sometimes when I close my eyes, my wish is that I’ll open them and he’ll be right there in the swing. That’s a still that’s in my mind. The still of his face in the car the morning of August 24 when I was taking our boys to daycare. He was smiling and laughing at Lucas. I hate hitting the light on Rt. 22. That’s the still that’s in my mind, except when I hit that light, I almost feel like I’m watching my life. All the lights, people, fast moving vehicles – they haven’t stopped, or even slowed. But if I look right or left, there’s no sound, there’s no color. It’s just still.

 As I continue to write, while it helps sometimes to get the feelings out and on paper, I hope that it will reach someone who’s maybe feeling the same. Whether in the first year of loss or the tenth. People go through many struggles. The loss of a child is a big struggle. A big, traumatic, loss. There is no fix for this. To lose a child is to lose the very heart and soul of you. My prayer right now is that this darkness that has come back will somehow make way for a time that will fuel me, us, to do things we never dreamed we could do. All while keeping the memory of our beautiful, blue-eyed, boy alive. And even though they hurt, I pray the stills never go away.

Not a Cloud in the Sky

2017, faith, Family, grief, loss, Toby

There are some days I can stop here and have a million things to tell you and there are others when all I can do is cry. This grieving process is such a roller coaster ride. 

I went to get my haircut today and the lady asked me “what happened to your hair? It looks like it’s regrowing? Were you sick?” I frowned in the mirror. Yes, I lost a lot of it postpartum and then my son died, and I lost even more because my body couldn’t deal with it all. So it’s just starting to grow back. And then she said “I’m so sorry, sweetheart. Is this your son?” And reached for Toby’s locket around my neck. “Yes, that’s Toby.” Her response made my proud. “Tell me about Toby. He is as beautiful as an angel.” I talked for awhile today, to a stranger, who genuinely wanted to hear about my son and our family. It was wonderful. 

The last two days have been so nice outside. There are many small things that I pay attention to now. The morning my grandfather died in 2004, the rain poured. It rained for hours and the sky was black, even at mid-day. I remember my mom saying “It’s heavens tears. We weren’t ready for him to go.” The day that Toby died, the thunderstorms that evening were so strong. The thunder loud, cracks of lightning and the wind. I remember sitting there listening to it outside and now when I think about it, I feel like that was all my emotion happening inside me, but portrayed through the weather. I was in such a state of shock and so vulernably helpless. But I remember the way that storm made me feel, to this day. I think I always will. 

Our family lost an amazing lady this week, my grandmother. Friday morning there was this beautiful sunrise on the way to work. I remember sitting at a stop light and looking around at the sky and it was this beautiful blue color. Not a cloud in sight. Just clear, calm and beautiful. And then I thought “this is for Grammy.” She is now at peace, in a place where there is no worry or anxiety. The sun always shines, there is nothing to cloud your mind. 

Grammy holding Luke on his first Christmas

It is remarkable to me how when you really start to replay moments in your life, good ones and bad, there are many little things, details that we don’t notice at the time or we think have no impact, but they truly do. We all see and feel and believe in different ways. That part of this human life is truly amazing. Many do not realize it and I think some only do when they experience something that really causes you to slow down and watch what is going on around you. 

I am someone who did not do this until Toby died. Slow down, that is. There are many times now when I find myself in the middle of the grocery store just watching people. Thinking about them. Or listening to conversations I overhear and really reflecting on them. It is amazing how oblivious we are to so many things. It’s incredibly sad. People are missing so much of life and of people they love, because they’re rushing to the next thing. 

Dan and I have learned through the most heartbreaking experience that the next moment is not promised to you. Whether you are 89 years or 12 weeks. Our time here, with the people we love and who love us, is completely out of our control. What is in our control is the way we spend the time we are given and what we do. Take the trip. Make the call. Go visit your grandparent. Play the board game. Say your prayers at night. Talk about the weather with your children. Eat dinner together. Take your child to story time at the library in the middle of the work day. Believe me, you will be so happy you did. 

As I was leaving the cemetery today I had this vivid image in my head of Grammy sitting on the beach and Toby was in her lap. Toby always loved the water. 

I’m sure they will be spending a lot of time at the beach. Maybe take Toby to see the carnival lights at night, Gram. I have a feeling he would love the carousel. ❤