Thursday, June 17, 2010

giving thanks

These are thanks that are long due. Thanks I should have given the months following Kathleen's passing, but I was too consumed with grief, and then it never happened. It may be a boring blog to read, and the people I am giving thanks to may never read it, but it's a blog I need to write. If I forget any or don't mention you by name, please forgive me. Much of the first year is still a blur to me.

First of all, thanks be to God who put the right people in the right place at the right time, and who has carried us through the biggest storm of our lives. There were times when I wanted to give up, but I know He never gave up on me and continued to hold me and carry me and love me.

Thank you Orleine for watching Kaleb in the middle of the night as we rushed to the hospital.

Thank you to Athletee, the nurse who helped deliver Kathleen. You were a tremendous support and encouragement. You treated Kathleen with immense respect and care. I am forever grateful!

Thank you Christina for coming to see Kathleen. It touched me so much that you held her and spoke so beautifully to her. You will never know how much that meant to me.

Thank you Mark and Trent for visiting us at the hospital. Your support and presence was truly appreciated.

Thanks to all the people who sent us flowers, cards, text messages and who brought meals. It all meant a lot to us.

Thanks to those who contributed to paying for house cleaning. Thank you Rachel for arranging it.

Thank you so much Kelly for watching Kaleb numerous times, allowing us some time to ourselves where we could grieve and cry. Your continuous love and care was invaluable.

Thank you Jess for the cute little lamb and the beautiful poem.

Thank you pastor Steve! Your support, encouragement and prayers will never be forgotten. Thank you for arranging and leading such a beautiful funeral.

Thank you to the about 50 people who came to Kathleen's funeral. Your presence and support meant the world to us.

Thank you to Bells Beach Christian Church for paying for Kathleen's casket. We will never forget your generosity.

Thank you Elizabeth for hosting the reception and for everyone who contributed and helped make that happen.

Thank you Simone for being the most incredible friend during the hardest time of my life. You were always there for me, allowing me to pour my heart out, to be real. I treasured that so much. You were my haven. Thank you also for not forgetting her birthday, for the beautiful flowers.

Thank you Linda for your tremendous support, for being my mentor. Our talks about life and God meant so much to me.

Thank you Teresia for being an incredible friend. We have never met but our daughters passed on the same day and we will forever have a special bond.

Thanks to all my online friends. The mutual support has been and still is invaluable.

Thank you Emma, Pam and Kate for being so caring. It was hard for me to continue coming to playgroup but your presence made it easier.

Thank you Lisa for bringing me along to the Passion Conference. I know that it was God ordained and that I needed the encounter. I am very grateful to you.

Thank you Sarah for our coffees and chats together. Your friendship and encouragement meant a lot to me. You kept my faith strong.

Thank you Dawn for framing my daughter's quilt so beautifully. And thank you to the lady who made the quilt. I don't know you, but your gift is forever treasured.

Thank you Bec for the massage gift certificate. It was such a sweet and thoughtful gift.

Thank you to Carol, my counselor. My meetings with you were helpful beyond words. You allowed me to grieve, to feel what I felt for as long as I felt it. You taught me that grieving is the way to healing. Thank you for all your words of wisdom, about death, life and God.

Thank you to everyone from Empty Arms, my support group. How sad the circumstances that brought us together, how wonderful to be surrounded with people who understand. I appreciate everyone's friendship and continuous support.

Thank you to my husband, my best friend. I can never thank you enough for your love and care, for standing by me in the darkest of time. For loving me when I was far from lovable. I could not have asked or hoped for a better husband. Thank you!

Thank you to my son Kaleb. You did not grasp the tragedy, but you were always willing to give me a hug, or bring me a Kleenex. You made me smile.

Thanks to everyone who prayed for us.

Thank you!

The many candles lit at her funeral.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

at least

At least you have another child.
Oh how often I have heard that sentence.
Oh how I hate it.

It's a sentence that makes no sense at all.
One child does not replace another.
One child does not nullify another.

It makes no sense.
If you had two children and one died would you just say:
oh well, at least I have another child.
No, it makes no sense.
Unless you didn't really consider Kathleen a child.
But she was a child. My child.
Just because she only lived to be 19 weeks does not make her
less of a person, less of a child, less my daughter.
"At least it happened at 19 weeks and not 40" someone said to me.
What were they thinking?? What difference does it make? None.
But only those who have traveled the road truly understand.
I loved her from the beginning, and I still love her.

At least you have two beautiful boys.
Yes, my sons bring me much joy. Much happiness.
But my sons do not remove my longing for Kathleen.
They do not remove her memory. On the contrary.

Please don't tell me, at least you have another child...
unless you are willing to tell me
which one of your children would you have sacrificed
which one do you love less
which one

Monday, June 7, 2010

two lives

Sometimes I feel like I live two lives. One is private, one is public. One is real, the other partly fake. I say partly because on rare occasions my public life blends with my private life and becomes real. When I can be happy when I am happy, and sad when I am sad. Usually it is when I am with a good trusted friend, or another bereaved parent. But usually my public life is not so. There are times when my smile is sincere, and times when it is not. Public life can be draining. Sometimes it's just moments. Moments like being on the playground and seeing a girl that would be about Kathleen's age. Those moments can occur anytime, anywhere in my public life. Sometimes that moment becomes a day. Like mother's day.

Happy mother's day. It bothers me that everyone just assumes it's a happy day. For many it is not. For many it is the day they are reminded that they should be a mother but am not because their only child is in heaven. They feel like a mother yet no one sees them as one. For me it is a day where I am reminded I have two beautiful boys to be thankful for. It is also a day where I am reminded I should be the mother of a beautiful little girl. And I am not. It's a day filled with good moments, and sad moments. Good when I receive a card from sweet Kaleb. Sad when I think there should be one from Kathleen. Good when I hang out with my wonderful family. Sad when I hear someone say that my niece is the only girl in the family. When she is not.. But no one wants to ruin a perfectly 'happy' day by mentioning Kathleen. So her name goes unspoken although I think it a million times in my mind. And although I am sad I put on a smile. It's what I do in my public fake life.

Two lives. One is real, one is fake. But I choose to blend them more and more. My blogging is one way of doing so. This is the real me. A mother who has many happy moments. When she hears Kaleb's laughter. When she sees Kaden's big smile. These days there are many of those happy moments. But there are also my Kathleen moment's. My sad moments. I know my two lives can never fully blend. In blogging perhaps but not in the real world. It would be too selfish. It would mean tears on those so called happy days, like mother's day, Christmas, family vacations. So I put on a smile. I pretend. Because that keeps you happy. Because you want to be happy right?

So I keep smiling.
I live two lives.

First family picture after Kathleen's passing. It was a so called happy moment - everyone together and in beautiful Hawaii. But it wasn't everyone. Kathleen should have been a part of it. She should have been in the picture. It was a happy moment. But for me it was an overwhelmingly sad moment. Still I smile..

Saturday, June 5, 2010

safe, healthy, alive

Each night I say a little prayer. I pray that God will keep my children safe, healthy.. and alive. I used to just pray that they would be safe and healthy. I used to pray that for Kathleen while she was still in my womb. And she is safe (with Him) and she was healthy. Still she is not alive (although she is alive eternally). So now my prayer has changed.

Alive.. It's an uncomfortable word to say and pray. I can't think of it and not think of the opposite. Dead. It makes me aware that both are possible. At any time. All moms worry and fear for their children, but once you have lost one it only intensifies.

I try not to let the fear control me, not to hold my boys back. To let them be boys. Yet my heart pounds and my imagination goes wild. What could not have happened to my Kaleb when he rode his bike backwards down the patio stairs? Or when he fell from a bunk bed? It was only a few weeks earlier that I had heard of a boy doing so and breaking his neck.. So my heart pounds. My imagination goes wild. And then I thank God that Kaleb is okay. That he is alive.

I go to check on Kaden while he is sleeping. To check that he is still breathing. He is wrapped, laying on his back, the fan is on - all things that increases the risk of SIDS. Yet I know it can still happen and so I check on him. The other day I put my hand on his chest and felt nothing. Nothing! An intense fear grabbed me. My heart pounded. Or did it stop? My knees got weak. I thought I was going to collapse. Then he took a deep breath. And I thank God that Kaden is okay. That he is alive.

Fear is always there, lurking underneath the surface. It's always there but doesn't have to rule me. I know I can't control a lot of things on this earth. I can put a helmet on my boy but I can't prevent him from falling. So I pray. I can't control all things but I can look to the One who IS in control. The One who is all-knowing, all-powerful. He who can make all things happen, and prevent others from happening. He could have prevented Kathleen from dying. But he didn't. He could have prevented his own son from dying on the cross. But he didn't. God has his reasons. His own son's death had a purpose higher than anyone of us can imagine or understand or comprehend. I don't know why Kathleen died but I do know that all things can be used for good, if we let them. And I know that my children are really not mine, but God's - that He is gracious to allow us to be caretakers. So I take care of them the best I can and leave the rest in God's hands. I leave it up to Him to keep my children safe, healthy and alive.

So each night I say a prayer.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

babies on display

On a recent trip to Portland we visited OMSI science center. The last exhibition I entered was titled 'prenatal development'. I was drawn in as I wanted to see Kathleen again. Of course not my actual Kathleen but a baby at 19 week gestation. I felt a great need to remind myself again of how much a baby she was. I quickly passed the early gestations and reached 19 weeks. I took a picture. Then I turned my attention to another baby, gestation 23 weeks. I noticed the fine blond hair on his head. It was then I realized this baby was real. That they were all real. If I had taken the time to read the sign on the way in I would have known that 'the embryos and fetuses in this exhibit are real. They are presented here to offer an unique look at the journey each of us made from a fertilized egg. Acquired from medical universities and hospitals the survival of these embryos and fetuses was prevented by natural causes or accidents'.

I wanted to run. And I did. Only to return five minutes later. I was intrigued by the beauty, by the perfection, by the creation. How many chances in life do you get to see actual babies at these
different gestations? I only stayed a short while. I could not contain all the emotions inside of me. Emotions of sadness and sorrow. Someone laughed. I shed a tear. And left.

I wondered if the parents to these children ever knew their destiny? They were all collected before 1940. At least these days we get to hold our babies and have a say about what happens to their little bodies. Those parents probably didn't.. And I wondered how visitors reacted to this display? With disgust? With awe? I am not even sure yet of my own reaction. A huge part of me screamed that this is just wrong. That these little humans should not be on display, suspended in liquid. That it is undignifying. Yet seeing these little babies was so powerful, fascinating and thought provoking. It would be virtually impossible to see this display and not be amazed at the creation before you. As a sign said by a baby at 32 week gestation: “What started as a single cell has developed into highly organized systems of billions of cells”. How true - a highly organized system, formed by God, loved by God.

For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:13

I don't know if the display was right or wrong. I am not looking for answers either. My only hope is that someone may see this display and decide against abortion, from ending a life that should have been. How can you not when you see that little body, those perfectly formed little fingers and toes? Or maybe someone will have the opportunity to grieve a baby they lost but never got to see. Maybe models would have the same affect, maybe not.

I thought about posting my picture but I won't. If you want to see these babies you can - either at the exhibit or online. It will be your decision, not mine.

Would I want to see it again? I don't know. But for those who do see it, may good derive from it.