Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Dimensions of Christmas.

Christmas was okay here, although I'm relieved it's over now, for another 11 months.

We had a tree. We had stockings. We had presents. We have Jesus.

But Merry Christmas stuck in my throat. Only one person was wished a Merry Christmas from me. A person who understands that Merry Christmas comes with a cost.

Many people wished me a Merry Christmas but all I could muster in response was "thank you, you too".  Have they so quickly forgotten? Is my facade so effective that I look like someone at least 50 people can wish a Merry Christmas to, unflinchingly?

On Christmas Eve, Mike and I got the video camera out to record the stocking madness in the morning. We looked back over the videos in the camera and there was Eva playing with cups and grabbing her little toesies...and if I could throw myself through that screen into the world that still held my darling I would...

And then Christmas morning and it's gifts came and the one gift I would do anything to unwrap was still not under the tree. Again. And never will be.

But we do have another gift and that gift has a name now, be s/he girl or boy. I'm sure most of you know that if the baby we are hoping to welcome in April 2013 is a girl her name will be Hope. But of course there is the likelihood that this baby is a boy.  And if he is a boy, his name is Nathan (we have been known to change our minds at the last minute, but, for now, if he is a he, then he is Nathan).

Hope Eva Christina? or Nathan Evan?

Nathan, appropriately enough, means Given or Gift. The whole story of this name will be made clear on another post, another day. Suffice to say that the Gift is not lost on me as we yearn this Christmas. Yearn for Eva. Yearn for heaven. Yearn for Jesus.

Come Lord Jesus, Come.
 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Amaryllis. Part II

I just felt it was important to give you an update on our Amaryllis. You might remember my previous post, The Amaryllis.

The sequel is that we planted the bulb anyway, and, at Vincent's insistence we also stuck the broken stem and flower in the pot of soil.
Amazingly, out of the dry and broken bulb a new Amaryllis flower grew. Every day we saw it grow and grow.

To our astonishment, the broken off flower began to blossom as well, yesterday.

The blossom only bloomed for a day, and not fully...and now it's gone.  The new flower is growing strong and hasn't blossomed yet.

I can't help but see the metaphor here. Eva was broken. Eva bloomed but for ever such a short time.

The other flower is growing strong and isn't blooming yet. It is growing out of a dried and broken heart. 

And it is growing still.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Oh Christmas Tree!

We cut our tree today.

If I don't look at the widget detailing the months and weeks and days without Eva I wouldn't remember the exact number.

When my children were born I counted their time with me in minutes then hours then days then weeks then months...and sometime after their first birthday I couldn't keep track of exactly how long they had been with me but it felt like forever and a moment. They were just born but they also had been with me for always.

When Eva died I counted my time without her in minutes then hours then days then weeks then months...and now that it's a few months over a year it seems like forever and a moment that she's been gone. She just died and my heart aches for my little princess but she's been gone for so long. She has spent more time breathing the air of heaven than she breathed the air of earth. I miss her, oh how I miss my little darling.

And today is another 15th. We cut down our Christmas Tree. We hung our stockings. We hung our special Eva stocking but there will be no excited little Eva digging into her stocking on Christmas morning.

And today I also remember and honour the children who died in the school shooting in Connecticut. More parents enduring their first Christmas without their children. Senseless deaths and I grieve for the world I am bringing my children into.

And still we found joy in cutting down our tree and drinking hot chocolate in the forest. 

Miss you my special girl. Miss you so much my little sweetheart. I love you always and always you are in my heart. And while you were not in the photos today if my heart could have been exposed, you would have been there, shining through.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Christmas ideas for parents of kids in heaven.

One of the things I regret the most not buying for Eva when she was alive was a little doll. Now it hurts extra much to see little girls toting those little baby dolls around. I was planning on buying her one on her first birthday...but she never got to celebrate it here and sending a doll to heaven is pretty impossible.

I follow some other dead kid blogs and some had some neat ideas about remembering their little lost loves over Christmas.

This is what we are doing:

We have a small 'Eva tree' in the living room just for her. On it there is already a snowbabies ornament of a baby with wings. I wanted this last year but couldn't find the perfect one and then found it in July. So that is her 2011 ornament. The year she got her wings. This year I found a little mom and baby doll. The baby doll is perfect and I made it into an ornament. It will go into her stocking and I will finally give her the doll that my heart has been aching to give her for the last 16 months.

The 15th of every month is our special 'Eva day'. It's not something I make a huge deal out of every month but I don't make plans for that day either and I try to do something enjoyable like ride my horse or go for a special coffee, or something on that day. Last year on December 15th we were only 4 months from losing Eva and every 15th, every day, was excruciating. We just happened to decide to do something nice on the 15th and we went to cut down our Christmas tree. We decided to make tree-cutting and stocking-hanging on December 15th our special Christmas tradition on Eva's Day. So this Saturday we will be packing a thermos of hot chocolate for the kids and tromping out to the Saddle Hills Road to go cut down a sparse Christmas tree and then hang our stockings on the banister. Waiting for Santa (or mom and dad) to fill our stockings with goodies to open on Christmas morning.

And speaking of stockings, I got a small stocking made for Eva that matches our other stockings. She did have one Christmas with us before she died so she had a full size one but I am going to take that one over and she will have this new one that is partially made from a pair of her cute little pants. In it we will put her ornament as well as memories of our princess. So the stocking will be filled with her over the days leading up to Christmas and sometime on Christmas Day we will open her stocking and remember her.

If you have not lost a child and you think this is over the top I urge you to think momentarily how you would remember one of your children should they die.  Would you just be happy and full of joy on Christmas, only getting gifts for your living children, or would you try to include ALL your children in celebrations, however that may look...

Monday, December 10, 2012

The way it seems.

This smile is difficult to maintain. I'm going politely insane.

Rufus Miller in All on a Christmas Day

Friday, November 30, 2012

Educational.

I am constantly surprised by who reads my blog.

Today I took Samuel and Vincent to a skating party.

There was a mom there who I used to know quite well and see on a semi-regular basis. We were never really close, nor were we distant. Today we chatted casually and she told (surprise) that she read this blog.  She has never commented so I had no idea she was reading along here and there. By reading my blog she probably knows me better than most IRL people know me.

She told me it has been scary to talk to me for fear of saying the wrong thing and that saying nothing felt safer. I can understand that now. But in the early days of losing Eva I used to get so mad at people for staying in that 'safe zone'.  Why should they get to stay safe when I had to deal with all the tears, snot, heartache, pain, grief, horror of losing my child?

Apparently, now that I'm pregnant, and have something to be joyful about it's easier to talk to me. Hmmm...not sure how I feel about that but the me that has come a long long long way from the me who couldn't say Eva's name without tearing up, can understand it. And it makes me glad that I wasn't pregnant a month after Eva died, like I wanted to be.  Because the hope of a new baby doesn't eliminate my grief. The hope of a new baby is happy but it certainly does not eclipse the loss of Eva.  And I'm glad nobody had the 'out' of being happy for a new baby in the early days after Eva's death. And that they weren't able to sweep Eva under the rug with joy for a new baby.

A fellow bereaved mom lost her son in October 2011, less than two months after Eva's death. The day after she buried him she found out she was pregnant. This was joyful news indeed, and, honestly, I was a little jealous at the time. But it gave other people an 'out' to be happy about a new baby and not validate and grieve her precious son. And then her sweet baby died in the womb a few months later. This mom has been served a double-whammy of grief and pain. I often feel so so sad for her. And yet, she seems okay on the outside. But so do I. And I know that okay on the outside can still mean a sobbing mess at home in the shower. And my heart aches for this mom.

The mom at the skating party told me she found my blog 'educational'. Now I've thought of my blog as many things. A place to get my feelings out. A place to truly remember Eva. A place to connect with other bereaved parents. A guiding light for newly bereaved parents to follow as they navigate the darkest road. But educational? Interesting. I wasn't sure how I liked the taste of that word in my mouth. Educational.  It sounded so cold and formal.  But educational can be okay too. Can even be good.  And while the best education in bereavement is to travel the darkest road, I wouldn't want anyone else to walk it.

I am often amazed at the gifts that have come in this package that nobody wants...there is more on this topic later as I wrap my mind around the sermon that was preached in my church last Sunday.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

The Amaryllis

I bought an amaryllis bulb last week from our postmistress, to support Huntington's Disease.

It was going to be beautiful, much like my daughter. And I thought it would be neat for the children to watch it grow.

We took the bulb out of the package and as I was reading the instructions I dropped it on the floor. The living part of the bulb broke. The boys tried to fix it by sticking it in the dirt. I explained to them that it was broken and I couldn't fix it. It was broken like Eva's heart, and mommy couldn't fix it.

I got so sad when I broke that bulb. There was no reason for my grief. It's just a bulb, really. Just the potential of a flower. But that potential broke on my kitchen floor and I got really, really sad.

Unlike Eva's heart, I could probably buy another one. But somehow that feels wrong. I want another one. Would like to see the flower bloom in the middle of winter with the children watching.  But going out and buying another one feels like betraying the bulb I broke. And this is just a flower...why am I feeling this way?

And maybe there is a correlation here. Letting little J into my heart feels like a betrayal to the girl whose heart broke.

Maybe I needed this bulb to break to see what is in my heart. 

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Christmas Tea

I've known for weeks now that tonight was coming. The Christmas Tea. One of my favourite Christmas events every year. I have been blessed by The Christmas Tea for a decade now.

The last time I went to The Christmas Tea was 2 years ago. I had tiny little 2 month old Eva with me snoozing in her carseat. Our first mother/daughter event. I was so excited to bring her with me to The Christmas Tea because it's a grown-up ladies event (nursing babies allowed). I remember thinking that this would be the only Tea that she could come to till she was 14.

Two years ago I was so happy to have my first daughter. Two years ago my friend Paula was joyfully pregnant. I remember her happy, radiant face. In January 2011 her wee son, Eric, died and was born. The joy left Paula's face. I haven't ever really seen it again. In August 2011, Eva died.  It seemed like I would never see light again. My constant companions were only tears and complete heartache.

Tonight was pretty good, considering. I sat with Isabelle, my mom, and Holly. We had a great time. Enjoying snacks and the play and dessert. Mmmm.  Eva accompanied me again this year. On a pendant around my neck, and in my heart.  It's a good thing I didn't go last year. I could not have stomached all the cheeriness.

At The Christmas Tea I had two memorable encounters. One happened when I was re-filling (yes re-filling) my delicious hot chocolate, there was another woman also re-filling hers. She was chatting to some other ladies and didn't say hello to me. Not really a big deal there but if you consider that the last time I went to The Christmas Tea I counted her as one of my best friends, she was at Eva's birth, and her son is one of the only boys my son wanted at his birthday party, then it would be surprising.  She walked away without acknowledging my presence and as she left I said "Helloo A".  I sickened myself by saying hello when there are so many other things I would rather have said.  But I also didn't want to be part of the total ignoring of me that she has done since February 15th 2012, so 'hello' it was. Since Eva's death there are some friends that have gotten much closer to me, there have been some that have slowly drifted away through their choice, and sometimes mine. But there is only one that I can say I know the exact day I had a conversation with this person. The exact day our friendship ended. And that is something I might blog about another day, it's been on my mind alot.  Today is not the day. Today is about The Christmas Tea...and this inadvertent meeting was part of the Tea, unfortunately.

The other memorable encounter was I met a woman who had taken a parenting class with me when Eva was a baby. She came up to me all happy and excited and said "Do you remember me from Love and Logic? You have a Vincent. I have a Vincent..." Yes I remembered her, and her Vincent. I was a little cool because she obviously had no idea that Eva had died and I didn't know how to gently break it to her in this room full of merry women. But tell her I did and she asked me what had happened. She was emotional and kind. And then she said she had to go now and cry. I let her go but later went down to the bathroom and sought her out. We had a nice chat in the ladies room, where most meaningful conversations happen.  She told me that she had a sister who had had a stillborn baby due to heart complications (you know your bubble is burst when people you barely know tell you about other people's dead children, but there is a comfort to me in hearing about those children. I am not alone).  She thanked me for being real and I thanked her for asking about Eva. I can't help but compare that very real conversation with an almost-stranger to the complete ignorance of someone who used to be a close friend.

Part of the play was about friendship and how we need to be forgiving of others because there is so much to miss out on if we're not. I thought about A. Do I need to be forgiving of her? I have forgiven her. For dropping me at the darkest time of my life.  I have forgiven the woman in my church. I can't hold on to my hurt and anger but I hate the churning in my stomach when I see either one of those women. I wish A hadn't been at The Christmas Tea tonight. I wish I hadn't seen her there and been snubbed once again. I wish I didn't care.

If you had told me last year that I would go (and enjoy) The Christmas Tea I would have never believed you .  Never thought that joy could cross my doorstep again. And that I could even tell someone about Eva's death without breaking down into a sobbing, weeping mess.  But it's true, what they say, the pain lessens and though Eva is with me every moment of every day, on the peripheral of everything I do. She is with me and the pain is not so intense. How is this possible? Only God knows.

Nettie (the almost-stranger) told me that her sister would say that at least one of her sons had a perfect upbringing.  It's true, in many ways.  At least one of my children is having a perfect upbringing. Can you imagine childhood in heaven? I wish I was there.

And so, with this night behind me, another milestone without Eva has passed. A Christmas Tea without my daughter and without the anticipation of having her come to The Christmas Tea with me when she is 14. Good bye dreams of my daughter. Good bye hopes of seeing you grow into a young woman.



Thursday, November 22, 2012

Considering

Sometimes the words well up inside me and beg to com out.

Sometimes there is silence.

I have been doing well lately, considering.

Considering. To me that word is invisibly tacked onto every sentence.

Considering that my daughter is still missing from every moment in my life.

I am getting a stocking made for Eva. A smaller version of the ones the others in our family have. She has a full-size one but a smaller one seemed more fitting, somehow.  I am mailing a  pair of her pants to the stocking lady. She will cut them up and use them as decorative trim on the stocking.  I held her pants one last time before I put them in the envolope. Remembered the cute little bum that filled them not too long ago. Caressed them and sealed the envelope.

And yet, I am doing well, considering.

I was in Superstore yesterday. I joked with the cashier.  I smiled at someone in the line-up. And I could not believe this was me.

I remembered last year in the months leading up to Christmas. We were only 3 months from losing our princess. I could not look at anyone. I could not smile. I could not joke. I could barely get it together to feed my family.  I cried every.single.day, for hours.

So I guess I really am healing...really am doing well this year, considering.

And there really is only one sourse I can credit for the healing. Jesus. I have been meeting with Jesus at prayer meeting every Wednesday since September. I can honestly say that it is not just praying. Not just talking, talking, talking. It is meeting Him. Giving him take my pain, my fear, my dissapointment. Taking it and filling the void with His light, His joy, His love. His love for the least of these.  And I cry almost every time I go to prayer meeting. But I am being changed. Being transformed.

And, joy of joys, last time I saw Eva dancing next to Jesus. Saw her twirling in a pink dress. Not clearly, but it was my Eva. The Eva I want so, so, so badly to hold.

I often wish the veil would lift, even just for a moment. And I could race to heaven and hold her, kiss her, hug her. Breathe deep and smell her. Smell the sweet fragrance of my daughter.

And that is one of the gifts that Eva has given me. This yearning for heaven. Everything here is temporal. Everything there is eternal. And that is what I`m living for. Eternity. And I can`t wait to go there. Can`t wait to behold her. Just. Can`t. Wait.

But, wait I must. And do my time here on earth. Raise my sons to be godly men. Raise little J as a precious daughter. Praise God for our little hope baby and pray for more lives being transformed for eternity.

And I know today is Thanksgiving for my American friends. And I know how hard the holidays are. And I know I will have a hard time with Christmas but I am thankful to have shared my life, however briefly, with my little princess.  And I anticipate sharing eternity with her. Holding her so tight that all the questions will be washed away.

And while the tears flow I know that I am still doing well, considering.

Considering Eva is dead but also considering she is alive. Briefly with me and forever in heaven. Considering I will join her one day. Considering that Jesus has paid the price and given me the incomprehensible gift of eternity with my daughter.  Thank you.

And always considering that I miss her here on earth with every single breath I take.





Thursday, November 15, 2012

Finding Joy

November 15th 2012. 25 months old. 15 months without you. Unbelievable.

Yesterday I had such a good day. It is worth writing about because they are so rare. I brought the kids and Isi into town and left them at McDonald's eating breakfst while I had an appointment. When I came back an hour later everyone was happy and relaxed and getting along. Nice.

I exchanged a pair of boots I bought 2 weeks ago for a different size and now they were on sale! $40 savings! Yeah!

I went and saw our little hope baby on the ultrasound and the tech was so nice (very rare around here) to let Oma and all the kids come in and see baby wiggling around on the screen (Mike couldn't come as he was in meetings in another city).

I went to Costco, Sears, and Superstore with 4 tired kids and fed them lunch on the go. They were well-behaved. Are these really my children? Isi was even bored in Superstore as I was reading labels for too long. Bored never happens when you're in a grocery store with 4 children 6 and under, 2 of whom are skipping naps. Crazy? Maybe. Bored? Never.

And when I came home I threw a frozen pizza in the oven for supper and made a yummy salad to go with it. I checked the messages and Mike got an earlier flight. He would be home for supper! Yay, now I could go to my prayer meeting. And he walked in the door to a hot pizza on the table. His favourite supper.

I got the kids into pajamas and left for prayer meeting.

This meeting is no ordinary prayer meeting. We meet with Jesus every week and we talk with him. We laugh, we cry, we sob, we deal, we heal, we listen, we pray. It's intense. This meeting was so joyful.  We laughed out loud till our cheeks hurt. We cried but laughed through the tears. I saw an aspect of Jesus' character that I never knew before. His Joy! And the joy of the Lord is my strength!

I've always gone to him for healing, for comfort, for guidance. But never for laughter. But God created laughter. Why would he not want for my to find Joy in Him?

And through that night I remembered something about Eva. She was Joy. She was the only baby to smile in PICU. Kids never smile there. They scream. They cry. They are in pain. And Eva did all those things, but she also smiled. My little Eva was Joy. And she sparkled Joy.

And it's okay for me to feel Joy too. Through my tears I can find Joy. And it's okay.

Today I made pancakes for breakfast with yogurt and blueberry sauce on top. Delicious. I rode Soula down to Eva's trees and was happy to see her little pinwheel that we put up for her birthday was a burst of colour poking up through the snow.

I rode back and allowed my mind to be with my little princess. My little joyful princess.

I'm crying and smiling here as I write this.

I wish for each and every one of you a measure of Joy today. A gift from my joyful little girl.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Empty arms.

Yesterday I accompanied my mom to the vet to put down the cat she has loved for 20 years (that's longer than I lived at home). 

When Billy died my mom sobbed over her body. I was not close to the cat but I really love my mom and seeing her crying and in pain, pained me.. I understood, a little, how she has felt all these months as she helplessly watched her daughter grieve over her daughter. I could rub her back but I could not comfort her.

My mom knows that Billy is a cat and not a daughter or a granddaughter but the fact remains that there is still grief. Still pain in losing a creature that shared in a part of your life for so long.

Being there with my mom brought me back to the ER and seeing Eva's life slip away. The vet said something interesting... She said that the animals that are not ready to go, fight death but those that are ready just slip away...Billy slipped away. Loved by my mom until her very last breath.

Eva died. With doctors fighting for her life every second leading up it. Eva slipped away. Loved by her mom until her very last breath. 

And when it was done. When Billy breathed her last breath my mom's tears splashed down on Billy' s fur and she whispered that she was sorry to the cat.

And when it was done...when no one was trying to bring Eva back. I wailed, and my tears splashed down onto Eva's face as I scooped her up and held her close. I told her I was sorry I had failed her. So so so sorry. For all the mistakes I had unknowingly made...for not being able to save her...for failing her...

And the vet brought a blanket to carry Billy to the cold room in the back.

And a nurse brought a handmade blanket to our room to wrap our still-warm but fast growing cold daughter in.  A blanket that stayed with her to the morgue.

And, just like that, we left the clinic. Left Billy's body there and walked away with empty arms.

And, just like that, we left the hospital. Left our precious daughter's body there and walked away with empty arms.  Left her behind to go on ahead of us.

We walked away with empty arms. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

Good bye, Bright Spot.

For our family, the one bright spot of Eva's illness, was Ronald McDonald House. The boys were welcomed there. The House is bright and cheery and kid-friendly. The staff is generous with their time and love. The House is for families with seriously ill children. Children like Eva.

When we went to get our fetal echo done last week we stayed there. We stayed there because we were in town for baby's heart and because of our history. We got good news at the echo. Baby's heart looks good. When I relayed that to the the house manager, she was so happy for us and she brightly said "good, now you can't stay here anymore'. And I know it's good news that we can't stay at RMH anymore. But it's another loss too.  The loss of our bright spot.

I feel closer to Eva at RMH than I do anywhere else. RMH, for us, was all about Eva. There was no gardening, or piles of laundry, or schooling to do. It was RMH and the hospital. The hospital and RMH. The staff at RMH knew our daughter better than most of our friends did. And also, I had the expectation of visiting RMH on a regular basis, with Eva, for heart checks every few weeks, for a long, long time.

And, not least,  we were staying at RMH when Eva's heart stopped. She collapsed in the bathtub at RMH. Resuscitation was attempted on the floor of the front hall of RMH. The ambulance that took her to the hospital where she died in ER picked her up from RMH. RMH is full of Eva's Life and her Death. So, saying good bye to RMH is hard. Harder than I thought it would be. It's another loss. Small compared to the magnitude of losing Eva. Of course, we are welcome to visit-and we will.  But it hurts to say good bye to the only place that was truly just for Eva.

I can't really explain it but I know that many of you will understand the loss of the people, places, groups that belonged to our children. The little losses amongst the biggest Loss.

Friday, November 2, 2012

fetal echocardiogram day

We had a fetal echocardiogram today for our little hope baby.  It went well.

No obvious structural or functional fetal heart disease. Symmetric four chambers and symmetric and normally related great arteries and arches. Normal cardiac size. Normal ventricular inflow. Normal fetal heart rate and rhythm. No ectopy. Good biventricular systolic function. Recommend repeat assesment in 10 weeks. 

The doctor who performed the assesment knew us and knew Eva and her medical condition. She was kind and it was nice to see a doctor that knew Eva. She said she'd relay the news to Eva's cardiologists. That they would be pleased.

But no little hope baby is going to replace our little princess. My one and only little girl, who died.  I can't help but think that this little one is a baby that would not have existed without Eva's death. This little person who is wholly and completely his or her own person is the child we told God we didn't want.  How strange to put a 'face' to our sweet little one. A face we never would have known... I still can't wrap my mind and heart around this strange emotion...I don't even know if there is a word for this.

Monday, October 29, 2012

There are pillows in heaven.

My father in law had heart surgery several years ago. He was given a heart shaped pillow to hold when he coughed after the surgery.

This same man is also the grandfather of my children and he made beautiful pillows for our boys. Individually created with each individual grandson in mind. He came over and gave them to the boys. He also had a package for little J. My heart was already feeling tender when I knew there would be no gift for Eva. Of course there is no gift for Eva. But it hurts anyway...and when little J opened her gift it was also a pillow. A heart shaped pillow from his heart surgery years ago. That just sent me over the edge because I know, without a doubt, that had Eva lived, that pillow would have been hers. Hearts have been special to us since her heart surgeries.  More meaningful since she died of a broken heart weeks after her own heart surgery.

I haven't had really bad days in a while so I guess I was due for one because that pillow sent me over the edge and down into the pit of despair and grief for the entire day. I had to leave the room and I went and cried and cried on my bed. Vincent (5) came into my room and cuddled up with me and asked me why I was sad. I said it was because Eva wasn't here to have a pillow. "Don't worry, mommy, there are pillows in heaven" he said "there is everything there as there is on earth but not the sun or the moon". How I love my sensitive little manly boy. So tough and tender. And I'm sure there are pillows in heaven. I don't grieve Eva's lack of pillows. I just want her to have a pillow here with me.

It sounds so simple. Eva's not here to have a pillow. But it breaks my heart over and over again that she isn't here to have a pillow. That she isn't here to smile and laugh at me. That she isn't here to grow up and tease her brothers. That she just isnt' here.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

My invisible daughter.

I am often surprised by who reads my blog, and who doesn't. People who I think 'should' read it don't and others who I thought wouldn't, do.

I posted on my blog about Baby Hope about a month before I mentioned it on facebook, and then it was pretty low-key. So those IRL people who read my blog knew about Baby Hope before anyone else. Although, it wasn't planned that way, it was interesting to see who read and who didn't.  I'm not hurt anymore, like I used to be, when I would tell someone about this blog and they wouldn't read it. Now it's pffft, whatever.

But I guess there's still a part of me that is irritated that they can so easily leave the sadness. That they can just forget about it whenever they want, or pop in and read a couple of posts, dose themselves with grief and then pop back out to their shiny, perfect (or not so perfect) lives.

I've noticed that my IRL readership has dropped off. Those people who read when it was a dead-baby novelty. But maybe the grief isn't as exciting and fresh anymore. Maybe it's just boring, you know. The baby is still dead. And she will never be coming back (if she did-that would sure boost my numbers, I'm sure).

I have also noticed, that my online readership has gone up. People who are finding my blog through other sites and have come meandering over here to find that I am still here. Writing, over a year later. That the grief is still there. But it's softer. Not so harsh and ragged. I can breathe. And I guess it's encouraging in a way that I found other blogs in my early days. And there are also people who read now who are further along their path than I am. Those that have lost a child several years ago. Those whose blogs I find comforting and also maddening. WHY are there so many dead children? And WHY didn't I know about this until my own child died? WHY is our society so silent about our invisible children?

And speaking of invisible. I really like that term. My invisible daughter.

Yesterday at Costco a lady commented on the 4 children with me and were they all mine? Yes. And were the two in the cart twins? No. 8 months apart.  Oh really! And how I must be so busy. I hemmed and hawed because, well, I'm not busy enough. There is one missing. I have another one. I have an invisible daughter.  I want to scream that sometimes. Eva is missing! missing! missing! That is when Samuel informed her of everything. That little J wasn't really ours until she was adopted and that we actually had 6 kids. 6 kids! (as she counted the four with me). Where were the others? Then Samuel stopped. He doesn't like to talk about Eva being dead to strangers and I won't push him. But, no worries, Theodore picked it up from there. There is Baby Hope in mommy's belly and Eva in heaven. Oh.

Right now I have 4 visible children (including little J) and 2 invisible children (including Hope).  I like that better than what I have been saying. Living children. Because Eva is alive. She is more alive then you or I am. More alive than my boys running through the halls. But she is not visible to me. The substance that I long to hold and hug and kiss and admire is not there but Eva is still there, just invisible. And one fine day she will be visible to me again. And how I long for that day.

I love you my beautiful invisible daughter. Until the day I set my eyes on you again. I will always love you.


Friday, October 19, 2012

A gift?

Paramedics and doctors tried to resuscitate Eva for 45 minutes before she was 'officially' declared dead.

I was with her for every single one of those 45 minutes. They stopped at 45 minutes because that is the limit for severe brain damage. And after she died I wished and wished and wished that I could have her back. I would take any amount of brain damage. I would do anything to hold her living, breathing body in my arms.

But what if they had been able to resuscitate her and she had been severely brain damaged. I know of parents, personally, who had to choose to remove life-support from the children they loved. What would I have done if faced with that horrible 'choice'. If she had never been able to take a breath on her own. If I never saw that sparkle in her eyes ever again?

I don't know what my choice would have been. Would I have chosen to remove life-support? Would I have chosen to keep her breathing with machines and no sparkle? I don't know. I never will know the answer to that question because I didn't have to live it.

But sometimes, sometimes...I wonder if there was grace in the way she died. So quickly. So suddenly. So perfectly.

And sometimes when I take my boys to swimming lessons I see children with severe difficulties.  I see children that are loved but I wonder if 15 years from now as I pushed Eva in a wheelchair to her tailored-aquatic-program where she could be weightless in the water for a while and I could have a break sitting on the side of the pool...would I think back to August 15th 2011 and wish that she had died that day instead of being trapped in this body with no sparkle in her eyes?

I don't know what I would wish for. I am not living it.

All I am saying here is that sometimes we look so much at the 'what could have beens' that we really want (like all my living children all together happy and healthy) that we don't look at the 'what could have beens' that we might not want (like Eva brain damaged and overweight in a wheelchair, with bad teeth).  It's not pretty these thoughts. Not pretty at all. And I hate even imagining this kind of possibility for Eva.

I'd rather imagine the happy ending I wished I had like her pulling through and being a miracle. A miracle with sparkly eyes and a huge smile. A walking, talking, swimming in regular swim classes miracle. But the truth is that the other is also a possible 'could have been' after 45 minutes of CPR. 

What would she have been like? The truth is I won't ever know. What is she like now? The truth is she is a beautiful child of God and she is beautiful in heaven. And, as much as my heart breaks for missing her...sometimes I wonder if her death was a gift. I feel almost sacrilegous writing this. Because how can the death of my child be a gift? (A word of caution here to my readers: never, never, never suggest to a bereaved parent that the death of their child is a gift-don't even suggest it to me even if you read this blog- because it's one thing to question it myself as I search for a glimmer of meaning in her death and it's wholly and completely another for someone else who doesn't understand the depth of my longing and grief to suggest it is a gift).

Of course, the best alternative would be for Eva to never have needed CPR at all but that is another path for another life. A parallel 'Life of Em' so to speak where my children are all alive and getting into mischief. A life, I know, that is possible, with God. But not the life given to me *sigh*.

But I do know of one gift that Eva has given me already, through her death, and that is the gift of Hope.
16 wks 3days of Hope.
We love Hope already and are grateful for the gift that s/he is already to our family.
We hope to meet Hope in April 2013.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

My mum is a survivor

There are words in this poem that are true. I found it beautiful to read and maybe some other mums might find it comforting too.

My Mum Is A Survivor

My Mum is a survivor,
or so I've heard it said,
But I can hear her crying at night
when all others are in bed.

I watch her lay awake at night
and go to hold her hand.
She doesn't know I'm with her
to help her understand.

But like the sands on the Beach,
they never wash away...
I watch over my surviving Mum,
who thinks of me each day.

She wears a smile for others....
a smile of disguise!
But through Heaven's door
I see tears flowing from her eyes.

My Mum tries to cope with death,
to keep my memory alive.
But anyone who knows her
knows it's her way to survive.

I know that doesn't help her...
or ease the burden she bears.
So if you get a chance, go visit her...
and show her that you care.

For no matter what she says...
no matter what she feels...
My surviving Mum has a broken heart
that time won't ever heal.


author unknown (if you know who to credit please let me know and I will credit the author- thanks!)

Monday, October 15, 2012

Eva's second birthday.

Today we celebrated your birthday here on earth little princess.

The day wasn't so bad. We even had joy today. We ate angel food cake. The kids opened presents and we had a couple of visitors. The worst part of today is exactly that it wasn't so bad. I just wish it was full of JOY only.

The oblivious joy at you turning two years old.

How was your party in Heaven my dear?  What is the cake like there?  Or is the celebration bigger on your heaven day?

We put a pinwheel by your trees this morning. We sang you happy birthday. We ate cake. We opened presents. We had balloons. The only thing missing was you my sweetheart.

...and for those who were wondering. The newborn/birthday gift for Eva and I is a small white and pink newborn bracelet.

I put it on the mould we have of your hand. It fits perfctly and is gorgeous. I wish I had put it on your living wrist.

Fewer tears this year than last year when I couldn't even stop crying as the boys sang you happy birthday. But I didn't make your cake again. I can't make angel food cake and, besides, it would have been too salty anyway, from me tears.

I miss you always my darling girl.



Sunday, October 14, 2012

Anticipation.

In the days leading up to my children's birthdays I always seem to reflect on the days leading up to their actual births.  I remember how heavy I felt and how I eagerly anticipated meeting my child.

Today is the day before Eva's birthday and I do the same with her. She was 12 days late and kept us all waiting on our little princess.  I would have been induced on the Saturday but she came of her own accord on Friday.

Today I went shopping by myself. I bought a little growing up girl for her. I can't believe this is the second one I've bought. I can't believe that this is the second birthday we will be celebrating without her. 

I also bought an angel food cake. This is just what I happened to buy, in the deliriousness of last year, but angel food cake seems appropriate for our precious girl in Heaven. And as I walked out of the same store as I walked out of last year holding this angel food cake for my dead girl. I put it in the truck and I broke down sobbing. How I wish that instead of buying angel food cake I was working on a homemade cake for her. A flower or a butterfly or a ladybug or whatever. Something colourful and fun for my little two year old.

Instead I am buying angel food cake.

I wanted to have presents at her party too and there are only so many presents you can buy a child who doesn't need or want anything at all.  So I bought stuff for the boys and sunflower hairclips for little J. I took so long deciding what small thing to get them all because my eyes kept going over to the girly toys I wished I was perusing instead, in anticipation of Eva's birthday. 

I also had one large regret over something I never bought for Eva when she was a newborn. And, so, because she never grows, I've decided to get her one for her second birthday but also as a newborn gift. Strange I know. But, trust me, nothing is stranger than birthday shopping for your dead child. And because birthdays need surprises I won't be telling you what it is I bought for my little princess (and me, really) for the celebration of her birthday tomorrow.



Monday, October 8, 2012

Thanksgiving road

Up here in Canada we just celebrated Thanksgiving weekend. My mom, Mike's bro and wife, another friend visiting from Germany, and Mike's mom and dad as well as our kids were here for dinner tonight. It was a nice time with family. It was good. Really good.

The kids made 'thankful pumpkins'. We also wrote out on the chalkboard things we were thankful for. It was a preciour time and I'm thankful we had that time together.

Mike's dad often visits us and is usually melancholy or sad. This is why: Mike's mom has very advanced Parkinson's disease and recently moved into a care facility. This has left Mike's dad lonely without his life partner of the last 50 years. Today was a happy day for him. He brought his bride with him to Thanksgiving dinner at our house. I could tell he was just so happy to have his wife and both sons and most of the grandkids around him at the same time.  We took a picture of Grandpa and Grandma and the grandkids (Samuel held a photo of Eva).

I thought how amazing it would be if I could have just one day with my Eva. I watched my father in law's happy face and I thought about how I would be just beaming if Eva could join us too.

I was also told today about some negative aspects of my personality.  It is just such a piss off how people can be so nicey-nice to my face but then be such gossipers behind my back.

Most of the time I'm glad my friends and family read this blog (not always, but they do). Once in awhile I wish I knew it was just bereaved parents who read it. Bereaved parents who totally get how all-encompassing the missing of my child is.  That I can't just stop mentioning her. That missing her won't 'wear off'.  That I don't even want it to wear off. That lighting a candle for her at Thanksgiving dinner is never going to stop. That if it bothers them for me to talk about my daughter who is dead, well, how much worse is it for me. Because, for me, it never never never goes away. She's always dead and I'm always here without her.

It never stops.

So you, with your opinions about me, keep em to yourself until you've held your dead child in your arms. And if that day, God forbid, ever comes then I'll hold your hand as you weep. I'll listen to your rage, anger, bitterness, grief, regrets...and how no one understands you anymore. Because I've walked that road.

And unless you've travelled the road I'm walking on ahead of me, or with me, or behind me then, please, don't even attempt to tell me you know how my shoes feel.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Vincent's 5th birthday.

Yesterday my second son turned 5. Not only did Eva never have a first birthday, she never celebrated Vincent's birthday with him.

Vincent was 3 when Eva died. Now he is 5. I hate how my kids are growing, growing up, up and away from my girl. She is always a baby to them. Even though she should be turning a happy two on the 15th of this month (and for a double whammy there, the 15th is also pregnancy and infant loss day, oh joy).

I miss her so much. Not only do I miss the baby she was but I miss the almost-two-year old she should be. I miss seeing her smile in wonder at balloons. I miss seeing her push a bowling ball down the lane at her brother's birthday party yesterday. I even miss potty training her. I miss the mom I used to be who could laugh all the time. Now I cry every day for the sweetheart that is not with me. When I was making Vincent's cake (a turtle) I wondered what kind of cake I would have made for Eva. A flower or a ladybug, probably. Samuel said this morning that we should have a butterfly cake for Eva's birthday. He's right.

At Vincent's party all the kids got a balloon in their favourite colour. I also bought a pink one for Eva. When we left the bowling alley Samuel wanted to send his balloon to Eva. We let it go and up, up, up it flew. As I watched it go Samuel said that it wouldn't really go to heaven. It would pop when it got really high *sigh*. But as I tried to follow it with my eyes as it got smaller and smaller and more and more unreachable it was painfully obvious to me how far away it was going and how there could be no way I could just jump up and grab the string. Tethering it to earth once more.

I so often wish things were different. Some days more than others.

And here I am the day after Vincent's golden birthday (5 on the 5th). And so often yesterday I couldn't help but think that a golden birthday is another thing that Eva won't get to have.

15 on the 15th.

I can only imagine the beauty she would be.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Recovery.

It's been a pretty good week here in our part of the world, considering. On Wednesday I went to a prayer meeting and met with Jesus in a way I haven't before and it stuck with me for the rest of the week. On Friday I went to an Above Rubies Retreat with my friend, Holly. We had a long drive together and a good weekend as we learned alot and had a time of rest as well.

But, still, there was something niggling at the back of my mind and I wondered, not for the first time why it bothers me so much when people who are not bereaved parents talk to me about healing or recovering. Yet, when a bereaved parent talks about healing or recovering I know what they're saying, and it's just fine with me.

And recently, I think I've figured it out.

As far as I can tell, the words 'recovery' and 'healing' in the mouth of a bereaved parent is a different word than in the mouths of people with all their living children. It's simply a different language. And unless you've travelled to the country of Devastation then you cannot ever speak the language...and, well, trust me, you do not want to travel to that country.

And why is this worth a blog post you wonder...

Well, partly because I am recovering.  I am having more bearable moments than terrible, awful ones. I am able to grocery shop for thanksgiving dinner (and even know of things I am thankful for). I am able to chat to people that I meet, and they would never know that I am missing my daughter with every heartbeat, as I talk turkey and sweet potatoes with them. 

But when the conversation turns to how big other people's kids have gotten and how hard it is to keep track of all the kids, well, then I have to go. And, sorry, but neither is a Happy Thanksgiving on my plate, or my lips.

And as a little side dish of sad cuteness in our home-I had a friend over with her baby son for lunch.

Theodore said to her 'we have two babies in our family-one in my mommy's belly and one in Heaven'.

Thankfully this friend already knew about both Hope and Eva.



Thursday, September 27, 2012

Does anyone know?

Can someone please enlighten me as to how to stop following someone else's blog. I know it's possible. I've even done it before but my brain got tucked away for the winter.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Okay on the outside, broken on the inside.

I went to a breakfast with the church women this morning. I allowed them a glimpse into my broken heart during prayer time.

As I drove away I kinda regretted the things I said and the things I left unsaid. I am becoming increasingly aware that if I really share my brokenness with people that are not bereaved parents, I appear slightly nuts.

Why can't Em step forward, move forward, from this trauma? But how can I step forward when stepping forward leaves my little girl behind me? I have heard of other bereaved parents who have, over time, managed to move forward by keeping the love and leaving the pain. One day I will too. Carry the love with me always and leave the pain. But, right now, the pain is so intertwined with the love that I just can't untangle it.

I have been severely hurt by someone in our church and, while it was a relief to me that this person wasn't at the breakfast this morning, the whole experience has made me hesitant and a little afraid to share my heartbreak with my church. I drove home regretting letting others see the pain that is in me. Regretting some of the things I said and wishing I had said other things. Lighter things that would have effectively hidden  some of the rawness of the hurt and the brokenness.

I know that most of the time I look okay to people now. I usually keep my tears confined to the shower, or the car, or a select few trusted friends. A good way to describe how I am right now is mostly okay on the outside and broken on the inside.

How many people walk around every day okay on the outside and broken on the inside?

Do you?


Thursday, September 20, 2012

Surprised?

It appears I have surprised a few people with my statement about being pregnant in my last post. So for those of you who missed it I would really appreciate it if you read the post below because it details my mixed emotions and the trepidation I have about this little one more than just a simple announcement does.

Here's the link.

http://www.aftereva.blogspot.ca/2012/09/a-tale-of-two-heartbeats.html

Thank you dear readers.

Em

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy? Birthday

Today I turn 35 years old. I am officially AMA. Advanced Maternal Age. And I'm pregnant. Hmmm...

Last year my birthday came 35 days after Eva died. I told my husband I wanted nothing to do on my birthday. I wanted no Happy Birthday. No cake. No present. No recognition whatsoever and nobody better utter the word Happy Birthday to me because there was no way my birthday could ever be happy again.

This year my mom bought us tickets to Stuart McLean and the vinyl cafe (the show isn't actually till the end of October, so that's nice). I still feel strange about Happy Birthday. This is not a happy time of year. These are the 2 months that Eva did not share with us. And the terrible grief of last year leaves an indelible mark on everything.

But I let Mike take me out for supper last night. To the Taj. The same restaurant we ate at for my birthday 2 years ago. I was hugely pregnant with Eva. In a way these two months are the two months we lived without Eva. But they are also the two months that I was very pregnant and anticipating her arrival. The little girl I had always hoped for.

Today we had birthday apple pie for breakfast. We put one candle in for each one of my children and, at Samuel's insistence, one for me too. My children are my richest gifts and blessings. Each child, and I, blew one out. Two were left burning. One for Eva and one for Hope. Samuel blew out Eva's and Vincent blew out Hope's. Samuel laid claim to Eva's candle for years to come. He sure loves his little sister.

I don't know how my birthday will change in the years to come. But I have a feeling it will always be kind of sad. It just falls smack dab in between Eva's death and her birthday. I'm glad the day is finally here because now it's almost over for another year again.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Emotional b.s

I have a problem.

My daughter died.

I hate that my daughter died.

But I also hate the fallout that has happened because she died.

I hate the emotional b.s I'm put through because of her death.

I hate that it took the death of my child to smear the paint off the pretty picture I had painted of some people.

I'm glad I know the truth. But it's hard, you know. Hard to deal with more emotional crap.

And so that this post isn't comletely negative I also want to say that I'm grateful to those friends who have seen me through the worst year of my life. Those friends who have given me mercy and grace and persevered in holding onto a friendship with me even though it involved crying every time we saw one another. Those friends who haven't dropped me like a hot potato, only to re-appear after a year thinking that I'm the same person I was 13 months ago.

Thank you dear ones. I'm so thankful for the gifts of friendship, tears, mercy and grace that you have given me.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

Luxury

Because I can't physically cry 24 hours a day.

Because missing you is so intense sometimes, and softer othertimes.

Because I can't hold you like I want to every single day.

Because the 15th is extra special and extra painful.

Because you were born on the 15th and we were so happy to have a girl.

Because you died on the 15th and we were so shocked and devastated to lose our girl.

Because you are something sad that happened to us last year, to almost everyone else.

Because you are missed every single day by us.

Because your absence is so painfully obvious to me.

Because you would be 23 months old today.

Because I know you would be saying words now like mama and dada.

Because my heart is broken with grief over losing you.

Because I can see joy in the leaves changing colour this year.

Because you once breathed the same air I breathed.

Because now you breathe the air of Heaven.

Because you will always be my little girl.

Because of all these things and so so so much more I am going to quietly do something happy on the 15th. I am also allowing myself the luxury of thinking of you more on the 15th. Letting you into my thoughts more because the 15th is a sacred day to us. The 15th is Eva's Day.

Today, for me, for you, for us, I indulged in the luxury of joy by going to an antique auction with Oma. We didn't buy anything but we looked around at all the neat old stuff. We also enjoyed the leaves turning beautiful colours.

And this evening we went down and watered your trees. The maple is all sorts of beautiful reds right now. Gleaming in the crisp fall air.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Welcome Home

When we were driving home on Sunday night it was raining but I could tell there was sun up ahead. And reading metaphors into everything these days I thought about how we were driving from the storm into the sun. How the storm was behind us and the sun was coming.

And then I thought that this storm will never end. I can heal as much as possible. I can give my pain to Jesus. I can go to as many parties for dead kids as there are. I can hang out with other bereaved parents. But Eva will always be dead. Sometimes I think, well, hasn't she been dead long enough? Can I have her back now? But it is never to be. Until the day I die, my little sweetie is seperated from me. And that storm will always be with me, no matter how many sunny days lie ahead.

The rain ended about half a mile before we turned onto our road. We drove up our road and turned into our driveway where the most beautiful rainbow I have ever seen greeted us. It started behind our house and ended on the highway. We could see both ends of it and it was a double rainbow. It felt to us that Eva was saying 'Welcome Home'.



And one day she will welcome us Home once again, and on that day the storm will really be behind us and sunny days will truly loom.

Monday, September 10, 2012

A party for dead kids.


And we're home.

Home from a really emotional weekend.

When Eva got sick we had 2 encounters with paediatricians. Paediatrician #1 (Dr F) saw us and told us to increase Eva's iron intake and to come back in a month ( He was going on vacation). 2 weeks later she was in PICU. I had booked a follow-up appointment for sometime in August after she got sick and got better but before she died. When the doctor's office called me to confirm her appointment the following day (by that time she had died) I told them she had died so we wouldn't be needing the appointment. The girl on the phone gasped and said sorry and hung up. I never heard a peep from that paeds office ever, ever again. I am actually still livid  a little angry that they never even sent a card or bothered to acknowledge her death at all.

Paediatrician #2 (Dr M) saw Eva a few times in the city. Stopped in at her bedside every weekday morning to make sure I understood her care. Hugged me and kissed my daughter. Called us several weeks after her funeral and made an appointment with us to go over her autopsy and to make sure we understood it all. He has a 'wall of angels' in his office of all the patients he has had over the years who have died (he only sees high-risk kids ,therefore, many die). The contrast between Dr F and Dr M is like night and day. Dr M is above and beyond while Dr F is below and below.

Dr M has a heart of gold. He cares about his kids and he cares about their families, like no one I have ever met. Dr M's partner still sees our healthy boys and it's re-assuring to have a doctor we can trust. Dr C is not Dr M but she was hand-picked by Dr M to follow in his footsteps and, while the shoes are giant she is gifted in filling them.

During the summer we received an invitation to Dr M's home for Sept 8th. A Spiritual Gathering for remembering our beloved, dead children. I didn't know what to expect but it was amazing to say the least. To be at a party where not only is no one surprised when we talk about our dead children, we are expected to talk about our dead children. Where everyone has a dead child. There was also child-care available for living children. It was just simply amazing. Truly amazing.

Everyone had a chance to light a candle for their child and to talk about him or her while a photo was on the overhead projector. It was so healing to be in a room full of bereaved parents. A room filled with many, many tears. Laughter too, and the spirits of so many children. I think I used up a whole box of tissues while I was there. And there was a teepee where we could write messages to our children, or whatever we wanted. There was a dance presentation and a release of butterflies as well as doves. I just couldn't believe it. It was intense and overwhelming and beautiful. And I am thankful. Thankful we found Dr M who cares about the Life and the Death of his kids.

A friend of Dr M said to him one day that only he would throw a party for dead kids. And it was. It was a party. A very personal party of tears and of joy. Of remembering the children everyone seems to want us to forget (or at least to stuff away in the sock drawer).

Dr M knows what he`s doing...

A party for dead kids...you say.  How odd... Yes! A party for dead kids.






Friday, September 7, 2012

At Ronald McDonald House again.

Yesterday we drove into the city.

I will likely never be able to do that drive without memories of my girl flooding me.

We shopped for toys for the magic room at Ronald McDonald House. We checked into our hotel and I took the big boys swimming.

No one looking at us could tell that a part of our family was missing, ashes at home on the bookshelf.

And this morning we took the kids to the paediatrician. Being in that office was very hard. I felt like I was skating on thin ice and my tears were right below the surface. About halfway through our time there the ice broke and Samuel asked me why my face was getting red. And moments later I could not hold the tears back any further.

Afterwards we went to RMH and had lunch and just spent some time here. I feel so close to Eva at the House. She spent so much happy time here. She collapsed in the bathtub here. Attempted resuscitation was done on the floor in the front hall here. Our life changed forever here.

And now here we are with our three boys, little J, a little Hope, and dreams of Eva. Treasured memories of the missing girl in our family.

While we were here a woman who works at the House came up to me and said she was so happy to see us visit. She said she will never forget our Eva. She was so happy all the time. She said Eva was one of her favourites. And when I went to the back office to give her this blog address she showed me Evas bookmark that she keeps in her office. I cannot begin to explain how meaningful it was to me that someone whose name I could not remember, but now will never forget, remembered Eva so well.

We put up our tree on the donation wall here. And we brought our toys to the magic room. And we gave them the money from Evas Ride. And we left a piece of our heart here.

And tonight I am meeting up with a mama whose baby went to Heaven only 6 weeks after Eva did. We will share coffee and tears. I am glad we are meeting at night so the darkness will obscure our tears. And onlookers will not notice the two mamas crying in the corner.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

some days...

Sweetness,

Some days I just miss you more. Some days my heart aches for you more than other days. Every day I long to hold you but some days the missing is much worse.

Today, my dear, is one of those days. And I would do anything my dear just to hold you now.

I love you so much my darling,

Your mama.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

A Tale of Two Heartbeats.

I'm telling you now this will be a long post. So if you want to go grab a cup of coffee for the read, go ahead.

In February 2011, when Eva was an apparently healthy 4 month old, Mike and I decided that we were permanently done with having children. We thought we knew best and that the future held 3 handsome sons, 1 beautiful daughter and  might possibly include Mike's niece as another precious daughter, through adoption.

In June 2011 our beautiful Eva got very sick, very fast and we seemed to lose both girls at once. Eva to the PICU and little J back to foster care.  Death was on our doorstep throughout the summer of 2011. I never felt certain that my girl was going to be ok. In August it seemed that Death had retreated and was no longer knocking on our door.

We came home and rejoiced in our beautiful, breathing daughter.  And what a blessing she is. Death, however, was no longer knocking at our door. We thought he had retreated to the world of 'other people'. Instead Death came into our house and made himself at home. He settled in for the long haul and on August 15th 2011 he took our precious daughter from us.

On August 15th 2011 our little girl's heart beat normally for the last time at 8:30pm, in the bathtub as she smiled at her daddy. Her official time of death is 9:15 but her last true heartbeat before her heart ruptured was at 8:30pm, in her daddy's hands.

When Eva's heart stopped beating my world crumbled and I felt so completely hopeless. I wanted something to hope for. I wanted another baby. Nobody could ever replace Eva. Nobody. But babyhood seemed to have been snatched out of my arms so suddenly and violently that I was sent reeling. I was still nursing Eva when she died and the next weeks were also painful as I worked to stop the flow of the milk that I had spent so long trying to keep flowing throughout Eva's stay in the PICU.  I had been looking forward to growing out of babyhood. Looked forward to selling the exersaucer and other big 'baby items' at a garage sale. But, oh, when babyhood was snatched from my arms, I longed to hold Hope. Longed to feel the weight of a baby in my arms. I couldn't hold anyone else's baby without crying desperately. Looked with envious eyes at other baby girls and held close the clothes of my dead daughter.

When Eva went to Heaven I suddenly understood so much more clearly the sanctity, value and eternity of Life. Eva was dead. I could no longer hold her physically, although I longed to do it more than anything in the world.  But, Eva was still my daughter. She would always be my daughter and that would never, ever change. She is there in Heaven. She is still my daughter. Only she is in Heaven. Her being in Heaven and me being here on earth doesn't change the fact that she is my daughter. Always and forever, she is my daughter. And I long for the day that I will hold her close to me again.

For months I couldn't reconcile in my mind the fact that we had a daughter whose name meant  'Breath of Life' who died so young. How was this possible? And I wanted to be pregnant. I wanted a little Hope in my belly when everything seemed so hopeless around me. And we couldn't. And we never could again. All because of a permanent decision that we made back in February 2011. Back when we thought we could see the future and all the good things it held for us.

And then, in January 2012, we changed the course of our lives once again. We reversed a permanent decision. And I hoped and prayed for another heartbeat in our lives. And I thought the meaning of Eva's name would be fulfilled in siblings that would never have had life had our little 'Breath of Life' never lived and died. Had her heart never stopped beating. And the weeks passed, and the months passed and every month was hopeless once again. Almost more so because we had the possibility of Hope. And as the months passed, it seemed that God had taken everything from us.

We used to take our fertility so for granted that we thought we would just cut it off and throw it in the garbage. How stupid. If there was one thing I regretted it was that permanent decision we made back in February 2011. We did our absolute best with Eva. We advocated for her. We prayed for her. We fought for her. We loved her. We held her. We slept with her. I pumped milk for hours and hours and hours in the PICU for her. But our fertility, and the hope of life for any other children. That, we threw in the garbage, like so much detritus. The lives of our future children were of no value to us.


And Eva changed our hearts. Sweet little Eva with her sparkling eyes and glowing smile. She changed our hearts and they will never beat the same again.  How terribly sad that Eva died. And I will forever mourn the loss of my beautiful, sparkly baby. But, oh , how much sadder the loss of the children that we couldn't have because we put no value on their lives. And I grieved for those children too, and the loss of Hope.

And then one fine day in July 2012 Eva's name was fulfilled and, all of a sudden, there was a little Hope in my belly. The third week of July was strange for me, as I absorbed the fact that maybe, just maybe, there would be another heartbeat in our family. Could it really be? Was it true? And my heart beat a little faster as I thought about it.

And then I woke up in August and my heart wrenched and I missed Eva afresh with every breath I took and having Hope took me off one rollercoaster and put me on another. And then my best friend lost her baby, Caleb, at 14 weeks gestation. And I grieved for him. I knew how my friend was hurting and I ate Tear Soup with her as she had eaten of my batch of Tear Soup last August. And then my mom had chest pains and I was certain she was going to die, because that is what I expect of August. And then another friend lost her sweet son, Uriah, at 20 weeks. And then a mama I met at a garage sale told me of her Sweet Baby Kane that she lost in June at 18.5 weeks. And then Mike's aunt died. And then I learned of another loss of a baby in our church at 10 weeks. And then another loss from someone else at 8 weeks. This last baby had a very close EDD to our little Hope. All this in the terrible month of August, when I am reliving the weather and the moments of Eva's last days with us and then the terrible, terribleness of the early black hole of pain and grief over losing my sweet daughter.

And I thought, it seems so hopeless. We will never have another living baby in our family. And then I went to have an ultrasound and I saw that little flickering heartbeat at 169bpm on the screen and I thought that, whatever happens, Eva's name has been fulfilled. There is New Life because Eva lived and died. There is Hope. And each Life is a miracle and a blessing and fully deserving to be celebrated and we want to celebrate the Life and the heartbeat of our little Hope. Because there are no guarantees and we don't know what the future holds. And so we celebrate the Hope that we have and while we hope and pray for the outcome of a living baby with ten toes and ten fingers and a strong heart that beats and beats and beats much longer than my heart and Mike's, we also celebrate the fact that Hope exists at all. And we thank God for the gift of Life.

And still I couldn't share Hope with you in the month of August, but today is September and September feels like it can have Hope in it. September feels better and Vincent announced at a gathering yesterday that there is 'a baby in my mommy's belly'. And soon we will tell our church family. And they will congratulate us and I will quiver a little when they do because this heartbeat would not have been without the loss of our Sweet Eva's heartbeat. And my heart aches for Eva still...




Sunday, August 26, 2012

Ashes, Ashes...

Ring around the rosie. Pocket full of posies. Ashes. Ashes. We all fall down.

Today marks the one year anniversary since my daughter's body became ashes.

Mike carried her in her little basket and put her in the crematorium. I screamed. I screamed. How could we be doing this to the child we loved.

That whole evening I thought about her. I thought about her flesh melting from her bones. The little heart necklace made of metal getting hotter and hotter and burning her sweet flesh. Her bones getting so hot they could not take it anymore and they crumbled beneath the heat. Why were we doing this to a child we loved.

I`m glad we did so much ourselves even if it was horrible and painful. Dressing my dead child is one of the worst things I have ever done. Holding her hand while she died was worse.

Samuel picked out the dress that she wore. He always liked to pick out her dresses and this was something he could do for the little sister he loved so much. Turns out he made a good choice. He chose one with a matching hat and we kept the hat instead of cremating it so we could remember the pattern of the dress she wore. The only other time she wore that little flowered dress was to a friend`s wedding in the spring of 2011. Before our life turned upside down and inside out.

So Eva is cremated. Burned. Ashes.

All of my sweet baby, scraped up into a little pewter horse that was meant to be a piggy bank for a living girl, never an urn for a dead one.This little horse sits on Eva`s shelf. Next to her picture. Unless people look closely at the engraving, not many suspect that this little horse holds a piece of my heart.

And today, one year later, here I am with all my impotent RAGE burning within me as not one single person remembered that it was the day Eva was cremated. The last day that I held her body was a year ago today. I looked at everyone with their smiling faces and not one person remembered. I probably wouldn't have remembered either, if it hadn't been my daughter.





Thursday, August 23, 2012

A Ray of Light-part 2

I know many of you are wondering what our ray of light is, so I will try to tell you a bit about it.

There is still so much that is confidential at this time that I can only give you broad strokes.

We have had, at one point, 2 living little girls in our home, although I only ever write about the one I miss so much. Our sweet Eva.

When Eva got sick and was hospitalized, the other little girl, who is a relative of Mike's, couldn't stay with our family due to regulations. This was probably a good thing as our family was in shambles last summer.

Eva died in August but we decided that we still wanted to open our hearts to this little girl, J.

J moved back in with us in October 2011. I kid you not, it has been very, very difficult to parent and love someone else's little girl when mine is so obviously missing.

Also, my empathy for her bio parents went out the window. I would cut off my arm and run naked through the streets if it meant getting my girl back. I would do anything, anything, jump through all the hoops, if it meant I could hold my darling again. So when people say they want their child back but then don't jump through hoops to get her back, even if those hoops are unfair, then my empathy is gone, gone, gone. I don't care what your life was like as a kid. There comes a time when you have to take responsibility for yourself!

The possibility of adopting J has been on the table from the beginning but it was very distant. Therefore, my heart also had to remain protected and distant.

In July 2012 we found out that the possibility of adopting little J just got significantly more real. That's when I knew that she would likely become our other daughter, but it was still a matter of time.

We had to wait 30 days for her parents to appeal, or not, the court's decision. 

We have waited the 30 days. We have not heard from anyone whether there was an appeal or not. I have talked to the bio mom who says they have not appealed. I'm going to choose to believe her.

I am going to post this in hope and faith that all will be ok. And, if it's not, I hope I have not divulged too much here.

I also feel like I need to add here that little J in no way, shape, or form eases my grief about Eva. In many ways it has actually complicated my grief and made it harder as it feels like other people think we have a little girl anyway, so Eva seems to matter less.

More about our Ray of Light to come when I know more...

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

A little ghost.

There has been a little ghost running around my house for the last few days.

We have friends visiting. Their daughter is 2 months younger than Eva and petite like she would have been.  We used to nurse our babies together when they were itty-bitty. We were both so happy to have a daughter.

We were at the beach with our families a few days ago and there were my kids and there was little M running around and it was like Eva was there with us. Not the imagined Eva that accompanies me everywhere but actually right there.

I know little M is not Eva but it's like a ghost anyway. Normally I can see little girls around that are close to Eva's age and I can seperate them into the 'not my daughter' category. Look at them for a few moments and reach inside my chest to grab my heart and wrench it a little but know that even if my daughter had lived she would have looked different than those other little girls. They are not my daughter.

But little M twists my heart in a strange way as she struts around in her tiny jeans.  As she plays naked in the sand. As she throws her bowl of food on the ground whilst sitting in Eva's high chair at our table. The high chair we've kept because we like it so much and because we like to have Eva's chair at the table and because we know so many people with small children that it gets used alot-and stabs me in the heart almost every time cause we should be using it for Eva and finding another solution for these other kids. Whew! Run-on sentence.

And yesterday I picked her up for the first time and she squirmed to get away. Definitely not my daughter. I held her for a few minutes and she stared at me with angry eyes that gradually shifted to laughing.

Not my daughter, but a little ghostie nonetheless.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

One year down.

And here we are. Unbelievably. 1 year 1 day since my little girl died. And it still sucks.

Yesterday was exhausting. But ok. The kids watched Cars: the movie in it's entirety before noon.

Although somewhere in there I also read them stories and coloured trees with them and made hot cocoa.

 I spoiled them. Because I wanted to spoil Eva.

They asked for stories. I read em stories. They asked for hot cocoa. We got out the hot cocoa in the summer. They wanted to eat lunch outside. We ate lunch outside. Partly it was easier to just do whatever they wanted than to say 'no'. Partly I wanted to read to Eva, make hot cocoa for Eva and feed her lunch outside so they got spoiled because I couldn't spoil their sister.

In the evening family came over and we planted 2 trees for Eva on our property. 1 flowering plum that is gorgeous pink in the spring and 1 flaming maple which is gorgeous red in the fall, just in time for Eva's birthday.

We had a hot dog roast afterwards. And marshmallows. And Owen wanted another one when he's only allowed one. I told him he could have Eva's. Another sweet concession.

All in all, considering what a super crappy day it was, it wasn't too bad. Strangely enough.

And now we enter the two months where there are no memories of Eva, other than me pregnant, and last year's wailing grief.  But I remember being pregnant with her. And I remember the anticipation we had to meet our first and only daughter.

Who knew that a scant 10 months later she would be lying cold in my arms in ER. Who knew my baby would die in a room full of 10-15 medical personnel and that they would be unable to save her. Who knew I'd be screaming her name and begging God for my daughter. Who knew I'd hold her in my arms and yell out to the nurse 'she's breathing' only to be informed that those are dying gasps.

And so here we go again. Entering year two without my sweet girl. And it still sucks and hurts and sometimes I'd like to punch someone. But who? Who?

One year down. How many more to go?

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Eva's Ride




Today was a sweet day, well, bittersweet anyway.

When Eva was hospitalized she had to stay 5 hours away from home. Ronald McDonald House was there for us with a home away from home.

For the past few weeks we have been organizing a bike parade, to raise money for Ronald McDonald House, in Eva's honour.

Today was the day!

So many people came out with their decorated bikes and their smiles and support. It was so amazing to see.

A couple of bikes stood out in particular, for me. One ridden by our pastor and one ridden by a friend's little girl. Abigail's bike had a picture of Eva on the front to decorate her bike. The only time this morning where tears came to my eyes was when I saw that little picture. I wish so much my own little girl could have been riding today too.



Pastor Brian`s bike was a hit with all the kids (and grown ups).
     

Abigail and her bike.



Mike`s dad spent alot of time with the grandkids while we were getting ready!





Oma helped out too, and enjoyed some coffee, thanks to Dale`s thoughtfulness.




Water was donated by Co-op Marketplace.

Diamond Willow Restaurant donated 300 hot dogs and buns, and a chef to cook them up!




 Here`s the chef just waiting for the crowds...


Butterfly, the therapeutic clown from our local hospital came out with her cotton candy machine! So there was plenty of food, water and cotton candy for everyone! Yum!


 

Friends Katelyn and Owen getting ready for the big ride!



Sunflowers for our little sunflower!



...and they`re off!



Theodore on his motorcycle




Vincent pedalling hard with his training wheels



...and our biggest boy, Samuel, racing the loop as many times as he could!



Two friends, Meranda and Alana, organized a sidewalk chalk drawing area for tired riders! So fun!


My favourite girl`s name in this photo.



The star of the show, we miss you so much sweetie.



We raised over $4000 for Ronald McDonald House Northern Alberta!



Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beauty from Ashes.

So I have a confession to make. This is not an idle confession, even though it may appear that way to some of you.

The pain hurts a little bit less now than it did 11 months ago. But I clutch at the pain and hold it tight as if the pain will keep me close to Eva or Eva close to me. Because pain is all I have to hold onto. Losing Eva is pain. And I know that Eva is also life and love but it feels like a betrayal to her to not have the constant pain of the loss of her. As if holding onto the pain will bring my treasure home to me, somehow.  But nothing, nothing will bring my little princess home...Not the tears I cry for her daily, not the joy I have in holding her living brothers, not the Hope we hope for, and not the ray of light who is building a room in my heart.  Nothing. One day I will go to her, and my prayer is that when I go to her, she will also come to me...

But nothing will bring her home to me now, and only God can heal my heart.

Now there is the real question. Do I want God to heal my heart? Do I really want to let Him in and let Him heal me? Or do I want to hold onto the pain of losing Eva? Who would choose pain over healing? Ah, knowing with my head and truly giving it up to Him are two completely different things. Completely.

And I am not ready. Not ready to give my pain to the One who can heal me. Not ready to hold onto love and let Him take the pain of her sweetness. Not ready to see the Beauty from Ashes. No, not ready. Not ready to rejoice in other people's daughters simply because they were created by God. Not ready to look at little girls and not wish that mine was playing there too (and yet there is a subtle shift here because now I can (mostly) wish my daughter was there as well as when all I could wish before was instead of - ah, who knows the dark thoughts on the surface of my mind as I watch your innocent daughters play). Not ready to see the Beauty from ashes. However I am ready to admit that there is a possibility of Beauty from Ashes. Not ready to dance among the ashes (never will be) but ready to admit to the possibility that there is Beauty to be found amongst the ashes.

Ah, ashes. That is another topic in and of itself here. The ashes that are and are not my daughter. The ashes on our bookshelf that elicit both sympathy and repulsion from others. Ashes. Beauty from Ashes. Is it possible? Can there be beauty from the death of such a sweet one? Can there be true joy again? Not just the fake happiness that I put on like a garment for everyone else to see when inside my heart is black and swollen with grief.  When inside it clenches and squeezes with love and pain and desire for a child I will never hold again, as long as I draw breath.

Is there room for true joy? For true beauty? From Ashes?

Saturday, August 4, 2012

This time last year...

This time last year...this time last year...this time last year...this time last year.

This thought has been a constant companion for me for the last year. This time last year Eva was born, this time last year we were happy, this time last year Oma gave Eva a necklace for Christmas, this time last year I was worried about Eva not gaining weight, this time last year we took her to a pediatrician, this time last year we were in PICU, this time last year we were doing the work-up for a heart transplant, this time last year we had hope, this time last year we were living at Ronald McDonald House, this time last year the doctors let us come home (home!!!) with Eva (oh the joy of it!), this time last year we took Eva to see her brothers play soccer, this time last year we took Eva to church again, this time last year we picked Saskatoon berries with our friends on our land...for the life of me I cannot remember if I gave Eva a taste of a Saskatoon berry fresh from the bush, and warmed by the sun (one of the best tastes on earth). I don't know why I long to know if I gave her a taste of the Saskatoon berries or not...it just seems like something I could have done, but might not have. I remember thinking that ,oh, she would have lots of time to eat Saskatoon berries, so I think I never gave her a taste...

This time last year my circle of friends was much larger (and smaller) than it is now. I had friends that have left me, or I have left them, or we have left each other. Unable or unwilling to chart new territory with the person I am now.

But, oh, I have new friends too. New friends that are united to me in the grief and grieving of their children. Old friends that have stuck it out with me and who are much larger in my life than they were before. Before I was the me that I am now. The me that looks very much like the me I used to be but who is no longer that person.  And so this time last year...the future looked so much more promising than it does this time this year...and yet there is also Hope.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.  (Jeremiah 29:11) and so I choose to trust the Lord. Choose to follow Him and give Him my heart. And while this verse is very difficult for me to wrap my mind around when my daughter died. My daughter died! Why my daughter Lord? What plans for a hope and a future did you have for her? Where is her hope and future, O God?

But she is in Heaven and is more alive than I am. Angels tuck her in and she has playmates as she waits expectantly for her mom to come Home to her. She is not missing me, it is I who am missing her, missing her more than anything in the whole world...

How I long to hold you and kiss you my sweet, how I long for your smiling eyes and to give you a Saskatoon berry that the boys had picked for you. The boys miss you so much too, my treasure.

And still I choose to trust. As difficult as it is. I choose to trust. As shaken as my faith is, as sinking as I feel, I choose to trust you Lord.

That through all this craziness You know what You are doing, as impossible as that feels. Because often I wonder, God, do You really know? Because, God, there is so much hurt and pain in the world. So many people crying out to You and yet you appear to be silent? Why God, Why? And I know I'll never know the answers to these questions this side of Heaven and when I get there will I even want to know? And so, until Heaven, I choose to trust. In my weakness and in my despair I choose to trust. When I am weak and beaten, when my enemies rise up against me I choose to trust.