Friday, December 27, 2013

The bizarreness of Christmas cards.

I have received both thoughtful and thoughtless Christmas cards since Eva died but this one takes the cake.


Christmas Relief


It is with relief that I bid adieu to another Christmas. While not so gut wrenchingly painful as the last two years it it still awful to miss Eva and be joyful. Christmas is okay now, which is a vast improvement on terrible, but still...

Three things made it easier. 1) time. 2) opening Eva's stocking of memories and weeping over memories I had forgotten but which were gifted back to me. 3) the fantastic coffee table that Mike made for our family, which I have wanted to have in the living room for so long. A table for the kids to colour, Lego, puzzle on and have Eva in the midst of our living space. Not just on a shelf.

Without further ado, here it is...







Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Not the worst Christmas.

I'll admit, this is not the worst Christmas of my life.

I am enjoying it, with an asterisk.

But it feels like a betrayal to Eva to enjoy something like Christmas without her. How can I possibly feel joy when my child is dead?
I feel like a rotten mother to Eva when I can enjoy celebrations here on earth and I feel like a rotten mother to my earth side kids when they don't have a mother who is present because she's weeping over the one who is missing.

It's a sucky lose-lose situation and I'm sad. Sad that my family can never be complete again this side of heaven. Sad that it's Christmas Eve and I always found Christmas Eve to be the most magical night of the year. And I still feel that magic this year* but there's something missing. Someone missing. And I anticipate the Saviour's birth* but it's all so different without all my children here.

And my heart goes out especially this year to those families enduring their first Christmas without their child.  K thinking especially of you and your little R, with Christmas and his birthday so close together. Wish I could give you a real hug.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Squeezed

I'm being squeezed lately. Squeezed by opinions. Squeezed by my overwhelming sadness of Christmas without Eva. Squeezed by my foot squeezing itself into my mouth. Squeezed by rumours. Squeezed and wrung out and done in. As much as I write here I don't even write about it all. So much is so ugly and I don't want to lose anymore people in my life.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

December 15 2013

Here we are again. Another 15th. My grief counsellor has reminded me that anger is a secondary emotion. Today anger was a secondary emotion to heartbreak. We cut down our Christmas tree today. A tradition we began the first time we had to celebrate Christmas without our princess. It's the beginning of another festive season without her and my heart was broken again. To complicate things I volunteered our family to do an advent reading today and light an advent candle at church. Oh, and it was the candle of joy. Joy? Honestly, sometimes I have no idea what I am thinking.

So we cut our tree and I snapped some pics of my kiddos enjoying the snow. And I kept thinking that our little Eva should have been in there this year for real. Three years old now she could have made the trek with the boys...

And I just feel so heartbroken that once again I am stuck having to enjoy another Christmas without my precious girl.

Today Nathan is 8 months and 1 day old. If he were Eva tomorrow is when she was first admitted to the hospital and the beginning of the end began.  So far I have no reason to believe he will be admitted to the hospital tomorrow. But I did take a couple of cute pics of him today, just in case.


Saturday, December 7, 2013

Some bad poetry for you tonight.


Two years on
And I should be movin' on
Rainbow baby on my hip.
No more tears, or so they say.
But grief lasts longer than sympathy.
And I've reached the limit...
Where my grief has lasted longer
Longer than other people wished
But how can I forget
That smile, those lips
One cheeky tooth just poking through
And I make people twisty
With my truth.
Cause my grief has lasted longer
Longer than the sympathy others can muster
And it`s not going to end soon
And you`ll see me around
And you`ll wish you didn`t know me
So you wouldn`t have to say you`re sorry
So it`s okay if you don`t care anymore
Cause I do. I always will.
And, no matter what, she`s always my little girl.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Tears

Tears are never a sign of weakness. Tears are always the sign of an open heart- Ann Voskamp.



 
 
...missing you tonight...

Monday, December 2, 2013

A bit of Christmas

Christmas preparations are underway here.

I hate Christmas.

I used to love Christmas.

Now I love my children but do not love the jolly ness of it all.

I am just plain tired of honouring Eva.

What I want to do is love her, hold her, discipline her, encourage her, cheer for her...

What I get to do is honour her with my life. What a load of crap that really is.

Meanwhile, we prepare for Christmas with cookies, advent calendars, candles, wreaths and decorations...all of which sound so jolly don't they? And yet all of which are but a shoddy covering of the REAL meaning of Christmas. Christ. Christmas.

I still love what Christmas represents. I just don't love the everything else.

I miss you Eva.



Here are some ideas for bereaved parents to keep their child involved in Christmas.

- Hang their stocking on Dec 1st and during the advent season write down a memory of your child (even if it is a memory of your pregnancy if that's all you have). On Christmas Day when everyone is opening their stockings you can open up your child's full of memories.

-Hang a special ornament for your child (or make one-making things is so healing).

-Sponsor a Compassion Child in your child's honour. (We are planning to do this in the next couple years with the same birthday as Eva).

-Take a 'family photo' of your stockings hanging all together.

-Build a 'snowman family' with your child represented and use that for your Christmas card this year.

-buy gifts your child would have loved and give them to a women's and children's shelter.

-And especially if this is the first Christmas you are celebrating without your child and people have the audacity to send you a Christmas card wishing you a merry little Christmas and all the best for a fantastic new year with no mention of your child then please don't feel bad if you decide to go ahead and have a small bonfire with aforementioned Christmas cards.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Blind

I've asked my kids a few times in the past weeks if they would like to have another baby (fyi: I'm not pregnant, but in the past I've enjoyed hearing my kids talk about possible future siblings). The answer has always been no, no, no. I couldn't figure it out because my kids have always wanted more babies and Samuel, especially, absolutely LOVES babies.

This morning, at breakfast, it came out that the kids thought that in order for us to have another baby, our sweet Nathan would have to die.

Oh, my God, no wonder they don't want another baby.

How could I have been so blind???

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Burn

On Friday, Samuel accidentally got pushed onto our wood stove. He held out his hands to stop from falling onto the stove and burned both his palms.

He is fine now. He was in a lot of pain when it happened and was screaming and screaming. Burns HURT. I did everything right...kept his hands in cold water, put flamazine on and colloidal silver spray...Tylenol for the pain as well as arnica for the trauma. But I felt so out of control. My heart was racing and I couldn't help the pain my child was in. I remembered the pain Eva was in and how there was nothing I could do then either...

I've known that losing Eva doesn't give the rest of my kids a free pass from death but, on some level, I thought maybe it might, kinda...but that night I really realized that Samuel could easily have severely burned his face instead of his hands or that he could get run over by the bobcat clearing snow or that he could, well, just die in his sleep...

I won't live in fear but that night was scary in the potential what if's it brought back to me...

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Yearning

It's not the sadness that hurts so much. For truly I am not sad all the time.

It is the yearning. The longing for the unreachable that eats me up and spits me out.

I follow many babyloss and childloss blogs in my new found 'community' where I am understood better than I am by friends who share coffee with me.

It is the yearning for my daughter when I wake up in the morning that creates an ache in me.

It is not sadness over her death. It is the yearning, the longing...there are no words to explain that longing...always there...always dogging me...yearning yearning yearning...

Many of my fellow bloggers appear to be doing better than I. Many appear to be doing worse. How is it even possible to judge 'better' or 'worse' when dealing with the worst pain in the world...when processing the unthinkable.

I still can't believe sometimes that I had such a precious girl and that she should be THREE now. Three and cheeky. Three and cute. God, three!

And I yearn...but I yearn more for the baby than the little girl. I wish for the little girl but I yearn for the Eva I held in my arms. The 15 pounds of preciousness. I yearn for that girl. To hold her in my arms and snuggle that 15 pounds.

Oh, to hold you again my precious one.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Mine


I was watching some of the few home movies we have of Eva yesterday.

God I miss that girl like you wouldn't believe.

I know that there are many who are missing their children but Eva was, well, MINE.

And I'm so ready to just have her back already.

Friday, November 15, 2013

November 15th

Eva would be 3 years 1 month old today.

She would be a sparkling little girl, with a mind of her own, going by her personality as a baby.

She would have thick brown hair (going by her brothers' hair).

It would be cut in a little shoulder length bob with bangs, going by my taste in little girl hair.

She would have dancing blue eyes.

She would have a scar on her chest.

I would hold her close and breathe her in, knowing we almost lost her in 2011.

Ah, alternate universe, how you taunt me?

Miss you so much my little princess Eva.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Seven months

Nathan is seven months old today. He is already moving so much more than our Eva ever did.

How could I not have seen that she was weak? How come I did not push harder right at this point?

At seven months I was worried about Eva's lack of weight gain. We had an appointment in two weeks with the paediatrician.

At 7 months my mommy radar was bleeping ever so quietly. But, never in my wildest nightmares did I think that she would be in ICU one month later and dead two months after that.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Surreal

I had a moment of unreality yesterday. It was surreal...like an image overlapped on what could have been...

I walked down the hall and bent down to pick up Nathan who was sitting on the floor. I had a glimpse of the fact that he could so easily have not been here at all...and without Eva, he almost certainly wouldn't have been.

One of those moments where you wonder how the future would change if you could go back in time and change the one thing that was your heart's desire.

My life is often surreal...

...when I give away Little J's size 3 clothes instead of keeping them for Eva.
...when I nurse Nathan in the night and marvel at his perfection.
...when I get up (again) when he is crying and think that Eva would be sleeping for sure.
...when I set out the dinner plates and sometimes (yes, still) put out the wrong number of plates.
...when I take Little J to a girls only party that I should have taken two girls to.
...when I whisper good night to my child in heaven.
...when I weep while driving and (yes, still) can't believe this is my life.
...when I hear of other people's miracles...and smile through my unshed tears for their good fortune.
...when I count my blessings, and one of them is missing, though she blesses me nonetheless.
...when I open the door and forget, for the slightest of moments, that she is gone.
...when I order those stupid family stickers, and need to make sure to get one with a halo.
...when I am surprised by joy and forget again that she is not and will never be here to share it with me.
...when I contemplate the sheer magnitude of the years ahead of me on this green earth.
...when I head count in the van and there is always a sense of unease, as if not everyone is there...and that's just it, not everyone is and never will be again.
...when I look at all those happy families around me and marvel at the fact that they get to keep all their children.
...when I hold Nathan in my arms and he smiles the sweetest of milky smiles at me and I love that smile beyond words...and I know he could go at any time.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Too risky.

The reason I have not been posting is because it feels too risky to my heart these days. I like to be real on my blog. I don't want to sugar coat here like I am able to in real life. I don't want to paste on the smile here that I am able to in public. Here is where I bare my heart in grieving Eva. Here is where my thoughts always return to her. Here is where I connect with other parents walking a similar road.

And that smile you see in public? It's not always fake or sugar coated. There is REAL JOY in my life. It's just that my very REAL SADNESS is also there. My joy and grief; they hold hands, always...I don't even really know how to adequately express this hand holding to those who don't know, with clarity, exactly what I mean.

But this much is also true. In the early, raw, black, bottomless pit days of losing Eva I told people about this blog. I invited people to read it. I felt like I NEEDED everyone to know how heartbroken and devastated I was over losing Eva. As if the more people who knew about her somehow validated her life, and my feelings. I still am heartbroken but back then there was NOT ONE OUNCE OF JOY. Now I can honestly say that joy is back in my life. But I'm still sad too. No matter how much healing Nathan has given me. No matter how much joy I can have in a day, when the sun sets and I go to bed, she is still dead. And I am still rent with grief. My grief for Eva is not me living in the past. It is a reflection of her value and my love for her.

I digress, so, I invited people to read here. Yes I did. And mostly I have not regretted it. But in one instance I have sincerely regretted it. Someone who (it feels) has stood in judgement over me from Autumn (doesn't Autumn sound so much more lovely than Fall?) 2011 onwards. Someone who has never commented on my blog but who reads it often enough to make a remark here and there. Someone who should have a semblance of an idea how much it sucks to have a dead child, but who has never cradled the lifeless body of their own precious child in their arms (and I would not wish it on any of their lovely children). Someone who is the recipient of my in real life pasted on smile.

And this leads me to why I'm not posting so much. As time has (unfathomably) moved on from the most horrible day in August 2011 I have found that I just really don't NEED anyone to read this. It is not a reflection of my value or of Eva's if people read this blog or not. I just want to be real. I want other bereaved parents to see that I am still breathing two years later. I want people who truly care to read my blog. People who would like to reach out to a newly bereaved parent and have a semblance of an idea of what to say (or not to say). People who would really like to know how we are doing but not out of morbid curiosity...And I can't be real with this someone because they would not communicate with me in real life when there was a real problem.

If someone can be so hurtful in real life, it makes me wonder what they think in private as they sit there relaxing with their healthy children around them drinking a cup of tea and thinking...hmmm...let's just pop in and see how Em is doing these days....we won't support her in real life, but let's just pop in and see how Em is managing two years from the death of her child...oh my, she is not doing well...she is really not getting over the death of her child...how could she be so attached to that baby...Eva was only 10 months old when she died...oh my, her other children still talk about Eva...they must have an unhealthy relationship with their dead sister...Em must just push it on them all the time...oh, they're doing a Ride in honour of Eva...good grief, some people will take anything to the extreme...and they hang a stocking for her! Land sakes, they are really heading for the loony bin in that house...and a pink candle too...you have got to be kidding me...and she has Little J now, and Nathan, how can she still be harping on about Eva all the time...*you'd think she should be grateful for the children she has...*

For clarity's sake no one has actually said all these things to me all in one go. And I'm not claiming this to be real it's my 'twisted' imaginings of what I contemplate this someone to be thinking of me...so you can understand here that it's pretty darn hard to be real when someone who I think is thinking these thoughts about me is reading here and who I have to face in real life, with a clenching heart every time we cross paths...

A note to most of my dear, in real life, caring readers, I am grateful for your support, for your presence in my life, and, especially for how you mention Eva's name, unprompted...thank you.

*And, oh my word, I am so incredibly grateful for the children I have. So.Incredibly.Grateful. But my heart whispers in the background of the joy and the gratefulness...I still miss Eva...I still miss Eva...

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Who cares?

The thing that bothers me the most about my grief is that it's all about me.

What I want to do is an update on Eva. The update I would do in an alternate, happier, reality.

How things are progressing, how we're all adjusting to living in the city or something, to be closer to medical care, how Eva is managing after surgery, how much we enjoy staying at RMH when were in Edmonton, how her birthday party was, how we went to galaxyland with all the kids...etc...

I don't give a crap how *my* grief is. My f-ing grief never ends. Sure, it's lighter, easier to bear...etc...etc.. But it's always there. Just there. And what I want is Eva. Plain and Simple.

I still find myself surprised sometimes that this is my life.

So full, and yet so empty.

So good, and yet so bereft.

I could go on and on...

And, I'm tired of writing about *my* grief, *my* anger. I'm tired of writing and I know people are tired of reading. Everything I want to write,  I've written before. The regurgitated feelings of grief and sadness and despair and hope. You've heard them all before. They're still there. Lighter, yes. But still the same on so many levels. And who wants to read the same thing all over again, and again...

Who even reads anyway? Who even cares...If I don't?

oh, and then there are the people I wish didn't read. The ones I can't stop unless I make the blog private, which I don't feel like doing...although it is a consideration.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Expectations

Some of our biggest disappointments in life are unmet expectations. We expect something for Christmas. We expect our children to master reading easily. We expect to wake up in the morning. We all have different expectations. And when they are  unmet or broken we are met with disappointment instead.

Disappointment sounds like a minor emotion with sadness, anger and grief being much larger. But disappointment can also be huge. It can be minor like being disappointed you didn't get a ticket to a concert. But it can be HUGE too. I was devastated when Eva died. But I was also disappointed. Disappointed at not having my daughter to love and hold on earth. Disappointment goes hand in hand with sadness, anger and grief.

One of the biggest changes in me since Eva died is my change in expectations. I used to expect that my children would live.

Every time Nathan wakes up from a nap I consider it a miracle, and I am thrilled to see his smiling face again.

This morning he is napping, and for longer than usual. I went in to check on him, hoping to see his chest rising and falling. It was. Thank God.

But my expectation no longer is that my children will live. Nor is my expectation  that they will die. The biggest difference is that my hope is that they will live but I do not expect it as arrogantly as I once used to.

I don't think it's right to expect them to die but nor is it completely true to expect them to live. No matter how my society expects its children to live.

I have now joined the ranks of mothers around the world who hope and pray their children will live but who do not ,rather arrogantly, fully expect them to.

Can you tell the difference?

Even you, non-bereaved parent, who may read my blog?

Can you tell the difference?

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

girls only

Little J was invited and attended her first girls-only birthday party. Another milestone without Eva and another dagger in my aching heart.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Third Birthday in Heaven


As the third birthday of my girl draws to a close I remember the days leading up to her birth and the joy of her birth. The sweetness of holding my only daughter. I remember how she changed my life. How I looked forward to shopping with her and finally, finally having some pink in our house.

Today was more sweet than the last two birthdays have been. Although I wish more than anything it was more of a day to enjoy than endure. The sadness that is always with me burns more brightly on these special days. How I would love to have my three year old girl blow out her candles rather than the rest of us as we sing "happy birthday" through our tears.

Today we adopted an as yet to be named cat from the SPCA. This cat was born on Eva's birthday last year and was brought into the SPCA on Nathan's birthday this year. She was just waiting to be adopted by us. It was something really nice and special to do on Eva's birthday. Cause we want to get her a gift...but what can we buy her that isn't just more stuff on a shelf. There's so much I wish I could get her and so little I actually can...

The as yet un named birthday cat!
 
 
We had a 'party' at home which consisted of a crappy store bought roast chicken with leftover mashed sweet potatoes and sliced kohlrabi. However...drum roll please...I also picked up some artichoke hearts to put on the table. I LOVE artichoke hearts and I always cook my kids' favourite meal on their birthday. However, Eva never had a favourite meal (other than breastmilk) so I have deemed artichoke hearts her favourite food. Get it, hearts...for our heart girl.
 
We had angel food birthday cake for the third year in a row for her. Angel food cake for our sweet little three year old who is flying with the angels.  We sang her Happy Birthday through our tears and blew out her candles.
 
 
And here is part of her cake with her third 'growing up girl' on it. Cause it's not just the Baby Eva that we miss so much, it's also the cute little three year old we wish for...

Happy third birthday in heaven my sweet Eva...miss you so much. Mama.

*for whatever reason I am not able to get the picture vertical and am too tired to keep trying but, well, you get the picture I'm sure...
 
 
A special thank you to Trisha for the sweet, sweet little book you sent. It brought tears to my eyes as I read it to the children at the table...and it was so nice to have a gift to unwrap for Eva...
 
 
 
 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Wind of Heaven...

There is a saying that goes the wind of heaven is that which blows between a horses ears...I had that on our Christmas card one year another lifetime ago...

Today is Thanksgiving Sunday here in Canada. We didn't host a Thanksgiving Dinner this year. It's the first time I haven't hosted Thanksgiving Dinner since we have lived in this house. It was immensely relieving and cowboy church had a Thanksgiving potluck that filled that Thanksgiving Dinner empty spot in our bellies.

The weather this afternoon was gorgeous. Crisp and fresh but warm enough for just a sweatshirt...I saddled up my horse and took her out. She was ornery and I had to work her quite a bit at the beginning. I thought the whole ride was going to be work, work, work. But then I decided to lope her up and down a fence line. That turned our ride around. At first I was a little hesitant. I hadn't loped her since before Eva was born. I had a hesitancy. Wondered if I could do it.

But I loped her and it was marvellous! Up and down and around that field. And the more she loped the bigger my smile got until I my whole face was a giant smile. A smile I know for one hundred percent sure hasn't been on my face for 2 years and 2 months. The feeling of being on a smooth running horse is the closest I have ever come to what I imagine it would feel to fly. Flying.

And then I thought of Eva. My littlest girl. My girl who flies. Who soars. So if it really is the wind of heaven that blows between a horses ears then I was there.

I rode down to Eva's trees and watered them then rode back to the house and gave Samuel and Vincent each a ride on Soula. They loved it...and so did I. Samuel is getting to be not so cuddly anymore but he snuggled right up in front of me as we squeezed into the saddle together and I put my arms around him and held him close. Breathing him in as I wish I could do with his little sister.

Good thing he's a skinny kid.

Thankful* is poking it's head through this Thanksgiving. Rather than just devastated.


*And for those of you wondering about the asterisk by thankful, well, that's my new made-up word. It' s that the loss of Eva permeates every emotion. Thankfulness, joyfulness...I can feel those emotions but they are not the same and she is still missing. So it's thankful* rather than thankful. Still thankful, but different.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

A peace that surpasses all understanding

I've been at a loss for words the past few days.

With the death of my friend's daughter, Selah, it seems like Eva's death and the darkness afterwards have just caught up to me. And my words feel trivial.

Selah's funeral was yesterday in Uganda. Her parents posted pictures on facebook and her memorial video as well as the eulogy that her dad and mom read.

When I prayed for a peace beyond all understanding for them I had no idea what it would really look like. It appears that Dave and Janna have showed me a peace that surpasses all understanding in how they are grieving their precious Selah.

I did not have that peace when Eva died. Or did I? Maybe in the beginning I did. But as time progressed I struggled more and more with anger. I let that peace go.

The grace and strength that Dave and Janna have showed the world is truly extraordinary. Extraordinary because that grace and strength is God given, I know. I hated it when people called me strong after Eva died. Because I knew that I possessed no strength. And anything I did have was a straight gift from God.

I know that when Eva died my heart was shattered and I wept every single day for eleven months. I somehow skipped one day at 11 months and then wept every single day after that for the next several months.

A few things stuck out to me when Janna was remembering her Selah. One was that before her daughter died she thought that if one of her children should die she would sink in to a grief that rendered her insane and unable to care for her other children. It's amazing how God keeps us stepping one foot in front of the other when the unthinkable happens to us. Before Eva died I never imagined any of my children dying but if I had I would have been sure that I couldn't survive. Now I am equally as sure that I could survive the death of another one of my children. Survive. Barely. But, yes, survive. Because now I know God doesn't give you the grace to accomplish something until you are called to endure it.

The other thing that stuck out to me was something I had already been thinking about but Janna was able to articulate particularly well...that 34 days with Selah was enough. Not because that's all she wanted with Selah but because that's all God gave her. And that had to be enough. Because God knows what he is doing, even in the storm.

To quote Ann Voskamp Peace isn't the absence of the dark it is God's presence in the midst of the dark.

And that is what a peace that surpasses all understanding looks like. God. God's presence in the midst of the darkness.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Vincent is SIX!

My sweet super creative son is SIX!

He is the boy I am often fearful for. He is such a daredevil. SO thoughtfully creative but rarely thoughtful about safety.

I love you so much Vincent and cherish every moment I get to hold you tight here on earth.

Happy 6th Birthday my son!

Vincent enjoying time with his littlest bro!

Proud to be 'driving' at Sunnybrae!


Getting ready for Eva's Ride!
 

Asleep during evening chapel at Sunnybrae.

And, a classic Vincent...scooting in front of the camera when I'm trying to take a picture of someone else. Love that smile though and Theodore looks pretty happy anyway!

Walk to Remember 2013


On Sunday we went to the first Walk to Remember in our city. It sucked. It was nice. But it sucked. I hated having a reason to be there. But it was nice. Many people there that I knew, unfortunately.

My grief counsellor was there and gave a short little speech. It was weird you know. He probably knew piles of people there.

 
A long, sad, honouring walk to remember...

 
Our family with my friend, D and her daughter K. K was really Eva's only friend and it meant a lot to me that she came out with her mom.
 
  


And when we let the balloons go it felt a little like letting Eva go again. It always feels that way when we let balloons go. And, as I watch the balloons float away, the distance from me to her feels so vast. Heaven feels so, so, so far away.

And yet, when my time comes I will be there in an instant.




Saturday, October 5, 2013

All the pretty little babies...

When Eva died I felt like the only lonely person on the planet whose child had died. Sadly, that wasn't true and I have met and been blessed by some of the best people I wish I never knew since her death. However I am astounded by how many children I know of who have died in my life and in my small town...

Here they are...all the pretty little ones running through the fields of heaven that I have known and interacted with them or their parents in real life and knew them outside of the loss of Eva.

Graison Y (stillbirth), Eden C (stillbirth), Travis R (1 year), Kelly M (9 weeks), Danny M (stillbirth), Teagan B (1 year, cancer), Braedon F (3 years, hit by a vehicle), Emily P (11 days, heart defect), Wyatt A (3 years), Eric M (stillbirth), Thomas P (4 years, cancer), Faith P (stillbirth), Selah M (1 month, heart defect).

And there are more. I know there are. The unseen children we once carried under our hearts and now carry in our hearts forever. All the pretty little babies...

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sweet baby Selah.

Another sweet baby has joined Eva this morning.

I prayed for sweet Selah all week as she went from seizures to infection to cardiac failure to respiratory failure to hope and then finally to her last cardiac failure and joined Eva in Jesus' arms.

My tears are falling heavily this morning as I know the darkest road her parents are walking right now. All while living on another continent from their family.

I never felt really hopeful about her outcome here on earth and never prayed for her healing but rather for a peace that surpasses all understanding for her family. I try to ignore the feelings of dread when I see a newborn. I look at all babies and wonder if they too, will die. And leave their parents bereaved and bereft. So when I had those feelings for Selah when she was born I avoided them because I feel dread and joy at the birth of every new baby.

But when Selah got sick I felt sick to my stomach with dread and pre-emptive grief for this family. I blogged yesterday about healing and I could not join in people's hope for her life (here on earth). But she is healed. She is healed and perfect and whole in heaven. And her parents are left to stumble blindly through life wondering how this can possibly be true. How can they have just held the most perfect girl only to not have her to hold anymore? And my breasts ache for Selah's mom as she works to dry up a milk supply she worked lovingly to get to feed her precious baby.

And still I am left here grieving, and trusting. Trusting God in the awfulness of life and in hope for the sweet day we see our children again.

Join me in praying for a peace that surpasses all understanding for the family of sweet baby Selah Shalom, whose very name means peace.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Why bother praying anyway?

Throughout Eva's sickness people prayed for us. People prayed for her. Some well-meaning people prayed fervently and told us that she would be healed. That they were praying as if there were no other possible outcome.

Eva died.

But she lives.

We didn't hear much from those name it and claim it prayer warriors afterwards.

Were we not righteous enough for our daughter to live? Was God not listening to our prayers?

He was.

Now there is another sick baby in our lives. Prayers are being poured out for this child. People are praying 'unceasingly'. Some of those people are the same people who prayed for Eva.

This child's parents now feel that they have heard from God that their girl will be saved. That Jesus will be glorified through their daughter's healing. Hmmm. I want their daughter to live. I hope their daughter lives (here on earth). I don't want her parents to walk the darkest road of doubt and heartache and pain and anger. But I can't claim earthly healing. The only healing I can claim is heavenly healing. Where God will wipe away every tear and there will be no more pain. That is the only healing I can claim.

Eva died. But she lives. Hope has come from Eva's life. And her death.

Something that has stuck with me over the last couple of years are the words of Paige Beselt in her book 40 weeks. That when we pray for healing what we are actually saying is that heaven is our second choice. Shouldn't heaven be our first choice for our children?

Why is their daughter being sustained by the Father's hand? Was/Is my daughter not sustained by the Father's hand?

Is it only by his grace that their daughter lives? Where was his grace when Eva was sick?

The truth is that his grace is there for this precious child of God but it is and was also there for Eva.

The thing that gets me so much though is that if this girl is healed (on earth) then everyone will say 'oh, praise the lord, our prayers worked'.  Praise the Lord? Yes! Our prayers worked? No! God worked. But God worked in Eva's life too. He didn't hang her out to dry. He just didn't work in the way her mama wanted him to work. I wanted him to save her body for me. He took her home instead. If God takes their little one home it's not because he didn't work. It's not because prayers didn't work. It's because it was her time. Easy to say. Much, much harder to live. Trust me I'm living it every day. And it's practically impossible to live it.

And I hesitate to pray for healing. Rather I lift up this family in prayers for a peace that surpasses all understanding.. Because the road ahead is long for them. It is long regardless of the outcome.

I was given a book (thanks Maureen) a few weeks ago Alive and Well  is written by Diane Knight. Diane's son, Justin, died at the age of 17. When Justin was in ICU Diane prayed for God's will to be done but she didn't pray for healing for her son. Oh, she wanted him to be healed. But she prayed for God's will to be done because God's will is always best. Sometimes he relents and answers our prayers in the way that we want rather than in the best way but the outcome is always much worse. She uses an example from the bible where the people prayed for a king like the other nations had and he relented but the king was a tyrant. And the people suffered. How much better they were before the answer to their prayer. I sometimes wonder what Eva's life would have been like had she lived. Would it have been great or would it have been awful? I'm pretty sure that her life is way better in heaven than it ever could be here. It's me whose life sucks. It's me who grieves my precious daughter. It's me whose left with shards of glass and pain in my hands. Cutting my hands and my heart.

And that brings us round to the question that haunts me often. Why pray anyway? Why bother if God is going to do whatever he wants to do anyway? But I tell you I felt the prayers sustain me as I walked down the hallways of the hospital when Eva was so sick. And that memory comes back to me often as I struggle with 'why pray?' Also the bible tells us to pray. Prayer is good for the soul. Prayer is good for our relationship with God. Prayer more than just asking God to do stuff for us and expecting him to perform like a trick dog. Because he is bigger than that. And I cannot understand him. And I don't pretend to have all the answers. But I know God loves me. And knowing he loves me is enough.

Meanwhile I continue to pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding for this precious baby and her family so far away. Knowing God holds all of us in the palm of his hand.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Honour.

A mom whose blog I follow whose son was killed in a horrible car accident recently wrote this.

This is why I refuse to be a victim and why I am choosing to be a survivor.  I refuse to live my life that way...REFUSE!  That's no way to honor Colum.  I honor him by moving forward and by trying to live happily and I'm doing my best everyday.  I'm still sad, it will never go away.  But I'm honoring him.

These words spoke to me. They spoke to me through my grief and into my heart. She wrote it so well. Cause every smile and every 'okay' and every joyful moment with my children honours Eva.

It's hard to explain you know. Hard to explain to those who don't know, with clarity, exactly what I mean.   Because choosing to honour Eva doesn't negate the pain and tears and grief I have over losing my precious daughter.  Doesn't negate the huge hole in our family where Eva should be. Doesn't negate the goodnights I whisper in the darkness before I go to sleep.

I miss you little girl. I love you and I miss you and I honour you.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Why my kid?

And it still hits me in the guts some days. Why?

Why did MY kid die?

Nothing pretty for you today.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

A dream and a miracle.

a) Whenever I meet a new little girl I hesitate to ask the mom what her name is. When I do ask I always hold my breath, hoping against hope it is not Eva.

Today at the playground Little J was on a swing and a little dark haired girl was on the other swing. She was just a little younger than Little J. Her name was Eva. And there they were, the girls in my dreams swinging side by side. My dreams of sisters. One dark, one fair. 8 months apart. Swinging, swinging, swinging. My dream. 

b) A true miracle happened today. R and I have reconciled. Not just reconciled superficially but reconciled completely. R is the last person I thought it would be possible to reconcile with.

Praise the Lord. It is only through him that this was possible.

Praise the Lord for the letting go of anger.

Praise the Lord for his mercy and his gifts.

I know we should never compare our insides to other people's outsides but I am amazed. Truly amazed that this was possible. Amazed.

Friday, September 20, 2013

The tattoo...

Yesterday I turned 36. 36. I was 33 when Eva died. This is my third birthday without my precious daughter. And she should be three less than a month from now.

I have been thinking about getting a tattoo for Eva. I thought it was something that would maybe happen in 10 years or something...and whenever it happened it would be the right time.

But it happened yesterday. And I'm lovin it...My heart on my sleeve, so to speak.

My first birthday without Eva was 35 days after she died. I didn't even want anyone to acknowledge the day, let alone wish me a happy birthday. I didn't think I could EVER be happy again.

My second birthday was slightly better because it certainly could not be worse (barring losing another one of my precious children). We did a few things and it wasn't terrible. If you really care feel free to read about it here.

This birthday we were in Edmonton for doctor appointments. Nathan has an ear infection and Samuel went for his yearly check up with Dr.C.

We brought some phone cards and blankets to PICU and we stopped by Ronald McDonald House for coffee and cinnamon buns. They were delicious. I cherish RMH because there I am remembered as Eva's mom, for a short time. She is remembered by some and others have no knowledge of the precious girl that once almost crawled there. No lie,  I am often jealous of some of the miracles running around that place.

After that we went to Oddball Tattoo and Silver Dave tattooed a permanent reminder of my sweetest girl. I like having her right there. In my sight, all the time.

 
Wearing my heart on my sleeve.


Monday, September 16, 2013

Small Gifts on the 15th.

The 15th is a Sunday this month. 25 months. 25 months! I find it surreal. I wish it was unreal. I wish we were gearing up for a three year old birthday in a month. Ah, wishes. And the unreality of them.

I hesitated going to church on the 15th. The 15th is a minefield and so is church sometimes. You never know who is going to say something at church and I wasn't sure I could handle anything beyond a casual good morning on the 15th.

However we went. And the first song we sang was Come now is the time to worship. It felt like a small gift from God. I hear you in the small things he said I hear you in the big things too.

Small Gifts.

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are, to worship
Come, just as you are, before your God
Come

One day every tongue will confess
You are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose you now

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Oh, come. Just as you are to worship
Come just as you are before your God
Come

One day every tongue will confess
You are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose you now

One day every tongue will confess
You are God
One day every knee will bow
Still the greatest treasure remains for those
Who gladly choose you now

Come, now is the time to worship
Come, now is the time to give your heart
Come, just as you are to worship
Come, just as you are before your God
Come

Oh, come.Oh, come.Oh, come
Worship the Lord.Oh, come


Small Gifts.  Thank you.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Sweet Baby Peter.

Yesterday Nathan and I missed the birth of Holly's beautiful baby boy by 20 minutes. It went SO fast that the first birth I was invited to attend came without me. I was disappointed to miss it but was SO happy to be the first (other than mom and dad of course) to meet beautiful Peter Jeffrey.

When I was pregnant with Eva I did my doula training. I loved birth then and I love it now.  I had planned on starting taking on clients when Eva was between 18 and 24 months old. I was really looking forward to it. And then she died. And I couldn't LOOK at a baby, let alone a pregnant woman or a birth.

But Nathan, sweet little Nathan, he healed my heart towards pregnant people and babies and birth. All of a sudden, I was excited to see a birth. To see the love of a new mom towards her precious newborn. All of a sudden I wanted to be involved with birth more (and not just as an active participant).

I was so excited that Holly wanted me to be at Peter's birth. But things went fast. I got the call to come at noon (they were already at the hospital, Holly was at six, I had four kids to organize and I live out of town). I learned some lessons...I wish I had asked if she wanted me to come over when I talked to her in the morning. I wish I had phoned instead of texting her in the hours before noon. But lessons learned and I can't wait for the opportunity to assist another mom in the future.

 I was still so happy to be able to help Holly after the birth. Help with taking some photos. Help with being a support person for Holly to lean on as she walked to the shower. Find clothes, socks, soap for her. It was an honour and a privilege to see sweet little Peter as such a new wee one and to care for my friend in this way.  I wish I could have rubbed his mom's back and squeezed her hips but I feel like I wasn't there for a reason. And the birth went as it was meant to. And I'm okay with that. I feel like I'm being given the gift of slowly joining that world.

And this isn't something I'll be able to do regularly and often because, let's face it, Nathan is 5 months old (today, hooray) and I have another 4 older children to care for. But I hope I can gradually help more moms.

I was so glad I has my little Nathan because Holly is my awesome friend and I was able to be fully happy for her and for Peter. Fully happy with no twinges of jealousy. Fully happy. And I'm so glad lil Peter is here now. And I love him.

And as an aside, I love love love Peter's name. Peter is the name of Matthew's (Peter's dad) older brother who died when he was two days old.  This type of honour warms my heart in a way it would have never before Eva died. Because Samuel wants to name his first daughter Eva. And I often worry about what his wife will think if she really doesn't like the name. This warmed my heart because I can imagine very well how it would have brought tears of joy to Matthew's mother as she got the chance to call another little boy Peter and see him live past two days old. I know that I will never think Samuel's (possible) Eva is my Eva but I know it will warm my heart to have a living little Eva running around with some of my blood in her. Can't explain the joy I have in Peter's name!

Sweet baby Peter

Nathan and I helping Peter's dad with Peter's first bath. Nathan is the chillest baby ever if he's in a carrier and Peter was so relaxed in his bath. Those two are going to be friends. I know it.
 Too bad all those towels are in the way and we can't see Peter.
 
 
*I have Holly's permission to share this story and these photos here.


Thursday, September 12, 2013

Getting old...

I'm starting to 'get' why old folks like their old hymns in church.

I walked down to the back pasture today to go get one of the horses for the farrier.

As I walked, I held Theodore's hand,  carried Nathan in an ergo while Samuel and Vincent rode bikes ahead of me...Little J opted to stay in the house reading books. I sang a song that had been so meaningful to me in my early walk with Jesus.

Come, just as you are to worship.
Come, just as you are before your God, Come.
One day every tongue will confess you are God.
One day every knee will bow.

Come, just as you are before your God, Come.

I loved this song then and I love it now. I love the imagery of everyone coming to Jesus. Coming just as we are. Coming in our work clothes. Coming in our Sunday best. Coming in our tattoos. Coming in our shorts. Coming in our pretty dresses. Coming with our dirty faces. Coming in the morning of rejoicing and coming while we struggle through the night. Coming in our poverty and coming in our riches. Coming just as we are. Covered in snot and tears. Coming with anger. Coming just as we are to Jesus.

I see him there with arms open wide.

But I'm getting old. I know it because I haven't heard that song in church for quite awhile. When I first became a Christian (Sept 9th 2001) it was sung all the time. I bonded with that song and I've sung it many, many, many times. As I walked to the back pasture, in the gorgeous sunlight with the wind rustling in the trees and surrounded by my earthly children I sang it out loud to God. To my kids. To myself. And I felt joy, even as I cried a little.

Because, I can come to Jesus. I can come to him at anytime. I can come to him in my tears and in my anger. He wipes my tears and embraces me. He does not judge me for grieving my precious daughter for too long. He loves me and he embraces me 'just as I am'.

And I wish I heard it in church more often now. And I 'get' why old folks want to hear those hymns again. They bonded with those hymns like I bonded with this song.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

The Good Life

I'm living the good life. 

So much in my life is simply good. So much.

Eva's death is the One Terrible Thing that has happened in my life. But the magnitude of her loss is just so great it overshadows all the goodness in my life.

I keep writing this blog because when Eva first died I was at a loss to find a babyloss or childloss blog still active over two years old. I wondered what my grief would look like in one year, two years, three years.

I want to be a lifeline here to bereaved mamas searching and wondering if they will even keep living till tomorrow.

I know you don't want to. I didn't. I wished to die in those early days. Honestly, some days now I still do. But the pain is far, far less. The missing, wishing, wanting and loving. Oh, those are still there, and more. But the pain, well, it's far less gut wrenching.

Now I am dealing more with the fallout of that first year. I still care and wonder exactly what I did to A that was so terrible she completely stopped talking to me.

I still wish there could be true reconciliation with K in my church. Wish to know why she felt it so pressing to tell me how I was grieving wrong three months after Eva died.

I still wonder why R felt it necessary to take upon herself the duty of excluding Eva from our family calendar.

I would love to sit down and just have a frank discussion with all three of these women. Because, for the life of me I cannot understand their behaviour. I would like to know what they're thinking. To agree or disagree but just to know why they would act that way. I am learning, however, that no matter how much I want that, it will not happen. I would like to stop caring. But all that is a part of Eva and of her death is just so big. I just can't let it go like I may have been able to at other times in my life. I don't know why I care. Because A, K, and R are minuscule. They are NOTHING compared to losing Eva.

But they still breathe while Eva does not.

This post was not to be about those three that continue to haunt me. It was supposed to be about how really good my life is so let's get back to the agenda shall we?

I want to move forward a little with this blog. Talk more about Samuel, Vincent, Theodore, Little J, and Nathan. I've tried. But every time it seems like this is my space to parent Eva. My space to give her space in our family.

Eva has no spot at our table. She has no bed. No bedroom. No toys. She does have a shelf. She does have a room in my heart and soon a tattoo on my wrist. She also has this blog.

So, while I often feel like 'moving forward' to my simply good life sometimes. Eva draws me back. My love for her grows while my ability to parent her diminishes. It's been over two years since I held her. Over two years since I did anything for her, physically. How can we parent our dead children? Because, parent them we must. They are ours. They are our children, and love continues on.

But I want you all to know that life can be simply good again. Probably, one day, it even will be good again for you. Unfathomable I  know.

Try not to burn down relationships, as I have. However, sometimes burning down those relationships can leave room for beautiful, healthy new growth amidst the wreckage. Bizarre but true.

It's easy to say you don't care and those jerks are just not worth your time...but the truth is (for me anyway) that I do care. I care a lot. But...my life is still good. And sometimes I can't believe how really good it is. How lucky I really am. Despite that huge loss that overshadows everything.

I am so lucky to have had a daughter named Eva. I am so lucky to have held her precious body alive. I am so lucky to have her smile to look forward to in Heaven. I am so lucky to have her three older brothers who remember her and love her. I am so lucky to have sweet Little J in our lives. I am so lucky to have chubby Nathan peering at me from his/Eva's highchair. I am so lucky to have Mike who works so hard. I am so lucky to have a functional relationship with my mom. I am so lucky to have had the true friends that really stuck by me through the darkest time in my life. I am so lucky to live where I do. I am so lucky to be living the good life. Yes I am. So lucky indeed.



Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Baby Shower

A few days ago I went to the first baby shower I have attended since Eva died. A baby shower for a baby girl, no less. I hardly knew anyone at the shower and most had no idea about Eva. I'm not quite sure what I was thinking when I decided to go. But I do love this baby girl, so that helps.

It was a strange shower, to say the least. From questions as to how many children I had to which I answered 'altogether, six' (and there was no follow-up so I guess whoever asked me that thinks I have six) to comments about a screaming baby there sounding like she was dying. Eva died so silently, I would have done anything that day to hear her scream like that child did. The silence of death is deafening. My dark sunglasses came in handy again that day.

I never had a shower for Eva but she did receive many gifts, as the first girl after three boys. As the gifts and clothes were passed around it felt like a little piece of my heart chipped off with each exclamation of how cute everything was. I had so many cute clothes for Eva. Clothes she never wore. I hope this little baby girl lives to grow into all the stuff she received that day.  But there is always the green eyed monster in me who jealously wishes wishes wishes that Eva would have lived to wear all the clothes she never did. I touched nothing at the shower. I ate snack food. I chatted meaninglessly with random people. I held it together, but I was crumbling within.

Thank God I had Nathan with me who I was able to cuddle and hold close when the missing of Eva got so intense. Thank you God for Nathan.

It continues to astound me how I can converse with people. How I can ask about their children. How I can listen to their replies. How I can function daily and that no one can see my broken heart. It screams within me but is silent to the world. And I know this. I don't let it loose to the world anymore. I don't sit sobbing on random park benches. And when my broken heart is acknowledged then sometimes I am embarrassed and hurry the conversation on or sometimes I cry and hate myself for giving strangers that power over me. And yet I crave her name be mentioned. I crave people to acknowledge her. I crave that others miss her too.

This life, sometimes it just feels like a joke. A cruel joke.



**Tracy I know you read my blog. I just want to thank you here for commenting about how you thought Nathan looked more like Eva than the other kids that day in the insurance office. I didn't really know what to say then, but it meant a lot to me. That you were not embarrassed to say her name. And, especially, that you brought her up first. Thanks.

Friday, September 6, 2013

A Simple Child

I keep going back to this over and over again. I'm posting it here because I feel like the artist has captured the physical expression of the grief we have for our children who have died more accurately than any photograph ever could.
 
Miss you so much Eva. More than words can say. My heart is rendered afresh.

Struggling

I've been struggling a lot lately.

Struggling so much that I don't even know where to start anymore...

Sometimes I feel like I'm drowning in it all...


Struggling with the passive-agressive ignoranceof A, who used to be my friend.

Struggling with being excluded by A in our small homeschool peer-group.

Struggling with feeling like I'm back in grade six and not invited to the party.

Struggling with my emotions.

Struggling with feeling like I should be feeling better.

Struggling with holding it all in cause, after all, it's been two years since Eva died.

Struggling with the fallout of holding it all in and then it all comes gushing out inappropriately.

Struggling with just plain missing Eva so much.

Struggling with wishful thinking as her third birthday approaches.

Struggling with looking pretty good on the outside while completely falling apart on the inside.

Struggling with the fact that this will never go away. She will never be not dead on this earth.

Struggling with all the years that lay ahead of me without her.

Struggling with the fact that in order to see her again I will have to say good bye, for a time, to my children living here.

Struggling with life and how much it sucks so often.

Struggling with other three year olds and how much I wish mine could be almost three too.

Struggling with being misunderstood.

Struggling with how to respond.

Struggling with staying away from A and yet wanting to resolve what's going on.

Struggling with my motivation...do I really want to resolve this or do I just want to prove a point now?

Struggling with wondering if it's even worth it...why salvage relational garbage anyway?

Struggling with my marriage as we grieve our precious daughter in different ways.

And through it all struggling with my sadness and anger always, and learning to lean on the Lord through my struggles. He is the only ROCK in uncertain times.

Still, struggling.  There is no free pass.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Princesses

On Sunday, Theodore and Little J were gifted some new-to-them princess dress up clothes. Now I have two little princesses running around. How fun.



Eva, my darling, would you have been a princess too?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

To love life again?

To love life, to love it even
when you have no stomach for it
and everything you’ve held dear
crumbles like burnt paper in your hands,
your throat filled with the silt of it.
When grief sits with you, its tropical heat
thickening the air, heavy as water
more fit for gills than lungs;
when grief weights you like your own flesh
only more of it, an obesity of grief,
you think, How can a body withstand this?
Then you hold life like a face
between your palms, a plain face,
no charming smile, no violet eyes,
and you say, yes, I will take you
I will love you, again.

― Ellen Bass


For me, maybe one day?

Not yet.

How about you?

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Wild things

Today I am especially remembering Mira and her lovely mom and dad.

Mira, Eva, Emily and many others are eating cake in heaven today as they celebrate Mira's second birthday. Wish we could be there. Wish more that they were all eating cake down here instead.



Yesterday I had a crazy, crazy day.

I'm getting our stuff ready for school. Getting supplies. Photocopying. Preparing our classroom (aka kitchen table).  Organizing what the school year will look like. Wondering if things will improve this year. Happy with what I've got ready. Excited about what this year will look like. The classic back to school (and August is almost over) hopefulness that will greatly wear off two weeks in.

But I'm a wreck. The kids were WILD in Costco. I felt crazy. I know I looked crazy. And, as we were leaving the story, Vincent dropped my latte on the floor. Man, he could have dropped any of my groceries and I wouldn't have cared as much.

Theodore turned four on May 21st and he's, well, he's four. And he has a four year old attitude to boot. Little J is still 3 and a half but I can see the four year old in her coming out too. Samuel is seven but sometimes he's just a crazy man and there is some deep-seeded hurt going on in his heart. Vincent is almost six and he's growing up. Sometimes he impresses me with how mature he is. The next minute he's swinging from the rooftops. Nathan, well, Nathan is perfect but in Costco yesterday he wasn't happy either. Crying, fussing...and there was little I could do for him.

So there I was with five children and feeling glad that I wasn't obviously pregnant (for the record, I'm not actually pregnant at all, obviously or not) because that would have attracted even more attention. You know, the crazy pregnant woman who obviously doesn't know what birth control is and who already has more then she can handle. Well, I know what birth control is and we're not doing it. And most of the time I have a grip on my crew. But the thought that saddened me the most was that there should have been SIX wild things in Costco yesterday. Eva should be almost three years old with a cheeky attitude. Eva would not be a baby anymore. God, how I miss my lil almost three year old wild thing.



Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On big families...

We have a big family. So big in fact that we bought a huge, ugly, white van, that I love for its spaciousness.

That being said however, it often feels like people who hear about Eva don't seem to understand what a great loss she is, even though we have 5 other children (counting Little J).  It seems like we have so many that she is just one more or less and it's not that big a deal really...

It seems like it's a bigger deal before people know about Little J. Cause without Little J, then Eva was/is our only daughter. Then the magnitude of our loss is comprehensible...but once Little J enters the picture then, well, Eva is just one of many.

But I tell you, that's BS. Eva may be one of many. But I am thankful for each and every one of my children individually and as individuals.

Not one of my children, but Samuel, is the spitting image of his dad.

Not one of my children, but Vincent, is so creative he scares me with what he will think of next.

Not one of my children, but Theodore, is so kind and  loves on dolls and stuffies so much, with his tender heart.

Not one of my children, but Little J, loves to hug and kiss so much.

Not one of my children, but Eva, had sparkling eyes and a glowing smile that everyone was attracted to.

Not one of my children, but Nathan, has the power to heal my heart in the way that only Nathan can.

Each of my children are individuals, and the loss of one is a significant and huge loss. Eva changed our hearts. We weren't going to have anymore children. We weren't ever going to meet Nathan. But Eva changed our hearts. And with changed hearts we approach the future. Mourning and missing our daughter but anticipating, with hope, that there will be more individual children to meet because our one special, precious daughter, who we miss more than words can say, lived and died.

Please don't lump her in with the many. She is unique and special. As are each one of my children and as are each and every child on this green earth. Breathing or not.

Monday, August 26, 2013

August 26th 2013

Two years ago today the body of my gorgeous baby girl became ashes.

Ashes. Ashes. We all fall down (and weep).

I hate thinking about what her body endured in life to stay and I hate thinking about what her body endured in death to become ashes.

The rational part of me knows she felt nothing as the skin melted from her body. As her hair was singed (probably the first part of her to be in flame). As her bones succumbed to the heat and crumbled. The mom part of me would nevernevernever let that happen to my child. How could I let that happen to my child? And I weep.

I hate today almost as much as I hate the 15th. I hate that this was the last time I held her beautiful body. Christians will tell me that her body is merely a shell (and I agree) but, you see, I loved her body. I loved her ears and her toes. Her hair and her eyes. Her belly and her soft shoulders. Her eyebrows and her mouth. I loved every.single.inch of her. And I miss her body. And my body remembers the weight of her in my arms. The feel of her against me. And I miss her. Miss the only daughter I ever nursed. The daughter who once shared a body with me only to leave me behind.

Eva my darling, my dear, my precious, my sweet. All the sweet things I want to whisper in your ear...all the moments of joy and sweetness I want to share with you. All the love I want to lavish on you. All the everything that I miss...where are you?

Two years of ashes. Two years of ashes.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Tired

I'm tired. Tired of this blog. Tired of delving into the emotional turmoil that is my life to write about it on this blog. Tired of feeling. Just plain tired.

I wish I didn't have these feelings to write about. I wish I was just like most of the other mamas out there. But I'm not.

Today at church someone got my sons mixed up (easy to do and no harm done) but later said to me, laughing, 'you have too many children, I can't keep them straight'. I didn't know what to say. Cause I don't have too many children. No matter how many children I have I will never have too many nor will ever have enough. It's just one of those things.

We just bought a new van. It's HUGE. It's white. There's loads of space. I love it! But there's always not quite enough car seats in it. No matter how many fill it.

See, there I go again. Delving, digging. hurting. I'm so sad that this is my life. That there is always someone missing. That, no matter how joyful I feel, I can never share that joy with Eva. Never give her a taste of the sweetness. Never show her something new and see her delight.

Nathan is growing (as he should be) but he is reaching and grasping and wanting....and every day he is more and more like his sister. Every day he gets closer to what were the last days we had with Eva.

And I can barely bear it. The pain of remembering how little time we had with her.  I'm tired of the pain. Tired of missing her. Hasn't she been gone long enough now...haven't we endured enough time without her now...can I have her back yet?

Saturday, August 17, 2013

tiny And HUGE

The two year anniversary of Eva's death has now passed me by. I am in the two month season now where Eva never drew breath.

I could tell people were praying for us for the last couple of days cause it wasn't too terrible.  Also, I was taking my placenta capsules and eating chocolate to keep the depression and anger from devouring me.

I thought I was doing ok. However, I have noticed a pattern. As soon as I think, ok, I've got this handled then a curveball comes my way and I am buried again.

My kids were their usual annoying, loving, awesome, curious, mischievous selves and I found myself yelling at them for nothing. They just enraged me with their normal kidlike behaviour. At least I found it in me to apologize to them and ask their forgiveness. Cause even when I'm irrational I can tell I'm not being fair to these kids I love so much.

It's just that I love Eva too. And damnit, I want her here too. And I'm sure she'd make me mad too but I wouldn't be grieving like I am now. So I'd be more normal (ha, but still). I know I'd still yell at my kids but I wouldn't be so enraged about the death of my precious daughter.

I'm being brutally honest here folks and if you're standing in judgement of me yelling at my kids and thinking I should just be grateful for the kids I have, well, you're right. But, thing is, I AM grateful for ALL my kids. And let s/he who has never yelled at her/his kids cast the first stone.

Her death sucks and no matter how many blog posts I can write about the good things that have come from it the reality is that they are tiny compared to the magnitude of Eva's death. (Except Nathan, he's HUGE).

Thursday, August 15, 2013

August 15th 2013

As the second anniversary of the worst day of my life and the best day of Eva's life draws to a close, I am left with incomprehension.

Sure, I know that Eva is dead. I know that I am bereaved and bereft. But I still am incredulous that this really is my life now. Is my daughter really, absolutely dead? Is this not some continual nightmare that has gone on for far too long and surely I should wake up by now...

This morning was overcast and grey. It rained. I enjoyed the rain. The tears from heaven that joined mine.

Today I checked out of life. I blocked the calendar off and decided on nothing other than planting another tree. A tree is all I can do for the sweetest girl to almost crawl on this green earth. We chose a variety of ornamental apple that has delicate pink blossoms in the spring. Pink, of course, for Eva. The other tree we have for her is a flaming maple that is gorgeous in the fall, around her birthday. Next year it will be a weeping willow, maybe. Seems appropriate anyway. A tree for every year she has spent in heaven. A tree for every year our hearts have beat without her. A stupid tree.

My heart is so raw and close to the surface today. Like I have no ribcage. But today was bearable. It had to be. I had to bear it. There was no other way to get through today other than to bear it. And, truly, I would not want to skip it. I checked out of my regular life today but I checked into my pain. I checked into my grief. I checked into my love for Eva. I bore the giftings of the day. Painful as they are.

I was exhausted today. An exhaustion I remember from the early days of grieving. I was gifted with time for a nap in the afternoon.

I was gifted with flowers from a neighbour who remembered Eva. Truly, the only gifts you can give me now are your memories and your prayers.

I went for coffee with my mom today. A special moment to remember the daughter and the grand daughter we both love so much. I was surprised that the world continued on. But of course it did. It always does. Whether our hearts are broken or not.

I took no photos today. No photos of the tree or the planting of it. I don't know why. I was just too sad to take photos of a tree. I hate that I have a tree when what I should have is a daughter.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

What year is this?

Where has the time gone? How have two years passed me by? How is it possible that we have had the time to wail in the deepest agony, cremate our child, undergo surgery, struggle to conceive, conceive and bear a child...who is now already four months old?

Almost two years. Two years. Two Years. Two YEARS. TWO YEARS!

I'm sure I will relive those words over and over and over again every year, only changing the two to three then four then five. It makes me sick to think of all the years without Eva that lie ahead of me. It nauseates me.

I still have trouble comprehending that we are in the year 2013. I am often surprised to see the date with the year written somewhere or to hear it in conversation. I am surprised to hear that people have held down jobs for so long...jobs they didn't have when Eva was alive. Sometimes I feel shell-shocked...a part of me continues to live in 2011. A part of me just cannot comprehend that it's possible that my life has continued and my daughter's has come to an abrupt halt.

We had Eva's (2nd annual) Ride on Saturday. I couldn't believe how those children have grown so much and Eva is still 'Baby Eva'. My heart breaks with missing her and yet I continue on. One day at a time. Without her. And Nathan was only a tiny ball of cells at Eva's Ride last year. This year he helped to cut the ribbon.

Sometimes, when I look at Nathan, I feel blessed beyond words but I still feel that my life sucks. It just sucks so much. And it's good.

 
Our family on earth getting ready for Eva's Ride 2013.

 
Nathan and I cutting the starting ribbon.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A brief summary to be expounded upon at a later date (maybe).

I have not blogged. Not because there is nothing to say but because there is so much to say I haven't been able to wrap my mind around a post. Here are a few tidbits of the last few days. I will go back and recapture them later. Right now as we are heading into the 2 year anniversary of missing Eva my heart and soul are just plain sad.

1) RMHNA Home Away From Home (for dinner) hosted at our church but put on entirely by two fabulous House folks, Kristi and Linda, who hold a special place in my heart for many reasons. The food for the dinner was donated by a local grocery store. I helped a little with prep but was mainly there from the church. Nathan was his usual good natured self as he rode around in his sling smiling at all.

The dinner time itself held many emotions for me. Joy at the interaction I was able to have with so many House families. Past and present. Surprise at how many double strollers were in our little country church. Jealousy that some people have their miracle children still walking with them. Jealousy that we are not a House family anymore. That we have no reason to book regularly in at the House anymore. Pain mixed with joy upon meeting another Eva (for the second time since she died and both times at our church). Sorrow for another family who will probably one day be walking a similar road to ours. Overwhelming love for my children and especially in the loveliness of Nathan. Guilt that I still have children. Guilt that I have a rainbow baby. Loneliness because Eva isn't there.

2) Eva's Ride. It was an enormous success. We raised money for RMH. We remembered Eva. But when the ribbons are put away, when the hype is over, when the ride is over and the bikes are put away...She is still dead. And that fact that never changes. That fact that I can do nothing about breaks my heart over and over again. How many times will my heart break and heal over and over again?

I still cry out to God 'why me?' when I know that there are others who suffer far worse.

3) An amazing visit with the P family who came from Minnesota with their children for Eva's Ride. Joel, Mike and I treeplanted together a lifetime ago. The visit was a time of sharing, laughter, remembering and a photograph of two families with a pile of children but still there are two missing. I could almost see Eva and Emily rejoicing in heaven as their moms finally meet face to face. They left this morning and with them the artificial buffer to my grief. Today has been very sad as we continue on our daily walk on the twisty road of grief and love and missing Eva.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Everybody suffers.

One of the giftings I received with Eva's death is the awareness of how many people have suffered, are suffering and will suffer. This is not something I wanted.

I am more acutely aware of others' pain now. I can spend time just BEing in their pain without making it my own (I have plenty of my own). I am not afraid of pain and ugly grief. And when I say to someone that nothing in this world is perfect until heaven or that we are all called to walk our own twisty road, everyone knows I don't say those words lightly.

I hear about other people's dying children and my prayers for them are not superficial and my tears for them are true. My prayers are never for healing anymore. They are for a peace beyond understanding for the mama and the papas and the children, whatever the outcome may be.

I know that this is a gifting. Not a gifting I would ever have chosen. And had I known what was coming I would have kicked that gift to the curb in the terrible wrapping it came in and never let it touch my life. But that's not how gifts work. We don't know what's in the package till we open it.

With Eva's death there has been a whole lot of terrible and I am still working on my anger towards some people. Sometimes I wish to shout their names from the rooftops and list their iniquities for you all to see. How many people would shout my name from rooftops if they could? How many people have I hurt? We will all account for our life one day.

I hope to hear 'well done, good and faithful daughter' when it is my turn. Will I? Will you?

With Eva's death there has been a whole lot of good too. I have met people I never would have met. I physically yearn for heaven. I have been allowed to enter into the suffering of so many. I have had people's hearts open to me in ways I never could have imagined. I have been given the gift of sharing in people's pain. The pain they NEVER would have told the old, obliviously happy me.

I sometimes long to be that person again, only if it could be with Eva. But I do not long to be that person without Eva. That silly person is gone from me.

I have seen so much growth in my life with the loss of my precious girl. Just to be clear here, nothing, NOTHING, could make her death worthwhile, but there have been giftings amidst the agony.

Now I know. Everybody Suffers. One way or another. Everybody suffers. But everything will be made perfect in heaven. I can hardly wait.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Eva's Ride in SIX days!

This Saturday coming up is Eva's Ride. You can view pictures here of last year's Ride.

If you are interested in pledging our children as they ride to remember Eva you can click here.

Life is interesting, crappy, horrible and good in August this year. Organizing Eva's Ride is a huge plus for me as it gives me a chance to say her name and have her life acknowledged.

I wish so much she had had the chance to grow up and be a young girl, teen, mother (but maybe not teen mother:), grandmother...all those things that are shaping my life. I wonder who she would have married...and who he will marry instead, if anyone? How many lives have been touched by hers, but how many haven't?

It's so complex it makes my head hurt on top of my aching heart.

And, bubbling just beneath it all is impotent rage in August. Impotent rage that can do nothing but gnash it's teeth and sob for all that was and is and could have been.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Ninety One

We went to Mike's grandmother's 91st birthday party today.

How some people get to be 91 and some don't get to be 1 is beyond me.

We walked in there and I hated coming to this family gathering without my little girl.

I hated that people talked and cooed and played with all the other kids and no one gave even a thought to Eva. Although maybe they gave her a thought. Who knows?

But I did manage to squeeze her into one conversation. I felt better then and able to function once her life had been acknowledged once.

Also, shit, I hate August so much.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Breastfeeding and World Breastfeeding Week.

For world breastfeeding week I have tallied up the total months (and counting) that I have breastfed.

11 months plus 11.5 months plus 12 months plus 10 months plus 3.5 months equals a total of 48 months. I have enjoyed feeding all my babes but never tallied it up before. That's 4 years of breastfeeding (and counting).

When Eva was in PICU I pumped and pumped and pumped. Took domperidone, blessed thistle and fenugreek to keep my milk up. She was fed nothing for days and then started on fortified breastmilk through a tube in her nose. Our milk took up an entire shelf of the breastmilk freezer in PICU.  When we left PICU there was a whole boxful moving with us. When we were discharged from the hospital and heading to RMH and then home we took loads of milk with us. There was so much it felt like an easy commodity to get. But I knew it wasn't. I spent time without Eva to get that milk out. I woke up in the night to pump. My breasts hurt from pumping and I am totally counting those weeks as breastfeeding weeks even though they were really breast pumping weeks. It was harder to pump than it ever had been to breastfeed.

It took several days to get Eva back on the breast after she was allowed to try again. I was so sad to hold her close and give her a bottle of pumped milk when I longed to breastfeed her again. She was going to be our last child and I was sad at the thought that she would never breastfeed again. But she did! Oh what a little trooper!

When my little girl died so suddenly and the bottom dropped out of our world she was due for a feed. It had been several hours since the very last time I had nursed her (on the side of the road as we drove to Edmonton around 3:30 pm August 15th 2011). My breasts were engorged and painful. I woke up in the morning with milk leaking from my breasts and no baby to drink it. I pumped. But I hated it. I hated seeing Eva's milk flowing from me as if she was still there. It felt like it should have instantly disappeared since the little drinker was gone from me.

I spent two weeks at home drying up my milk supply. I wore breast pads to my daughter's funeral. The milk leaking from my breasts and the painful engorgement was salt in the fresh gaping wound of Eva's death.

World breastfeeding week is here and I am so glad it's so much easier to be a breastfeeding mama these days but my heart goes out more and more these days to the mamas who wish beyond anything their babies were in their arms to breastfeed. Those mamas who are drying up milk meant for a much desired baby. Those mamas who are pumping and donating in their child's honour to a milk bank.

And what did we do with the supply of Eva's milk in our freezer? Well, first I wanted to donate and even tried but at the last minute I backed out. I just.could.not part with Eva's milk because, while it originated from me, it was most definitely hers. Ultimately we donated the milk to a friend of a friend with an infant who needed human milk but could not get any.

Secretly, however, I still have a couple of vials of Eva's milk in our freezer. It sits next to the bags of Nathan's milk. It's beyond expired but feels like a physical rememinder of my girl. So I glance at it now and then and remember the only daughter I ever had the privilege to breastfeed.

So my heart this week is with those mamas who wish they were breastfeeding, but who aren't. The women who are uncelebrated. The women who are quietly avoiding another week celebrating 'the mother'.