Friday, May 31, 2013

The sucky truth.

I walked into a store in my small town today. I am known there but not really  known. I was greeted with a 'hello' and then 'how's your baby girl?'.  I was so shocked I just answered the question with the reality of 'Dead'. I it really possible that this person really doesn't know that Eva is dead. Is it really possible?

Turns out she meant How's Nathan? Guess she heard we had a baby but the gender got mixed up in there somehow...then she backtracked and said didn't we have a little girl though...well, yes, sort of. Little J is not yet legally adopted nor is she , at three and a half, a baby either.

The thing that annoys me the most is that I know I've been called abrasive, too-sensitive, and callous in relation to Eva. And I hate how with that one word answer there is now more fodder...

I've just started being comfortable in my own skin again, when this happens. And I feel like I'm right back at the beginning again, but with more experience. And now I feel like I need to apologize or something for saying the truth about my baby girl. My baby girl is dead. And it sucks. Every day it sucks. But it's the truth. The sucky truth!

And now I'm exhausted with a headache. I've put a movie on for my earthly kids and Nathan is in the swing...if I'm lucky I'll get 15 minutes to recoup from this blow.

How would you have answered that question?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

A poem for you...

My friend Lena has a sister. A sister named Ruby. Eva's middle name is Ruby, after Lena's sister. Lena also had a partner who perished in an avalanche in 2003. I know she has shed many tears for Johnkim. Lena was also one of a handful of people who made it to see Eva in the ICU. She flew in from BC and spent one day with us. A lovely day. After Eva died she sent me this poem...

Do not stand at my grave and weep,
I am not there, I do not sleep.
I am in a thousand winds that blow,
I am the softly falling snow.
I am the gentle showers of rain,
I am the fields of ripening grain.
I am in the morning hush,
I am in the graceful rush
Of beautiful birds in circling flight,
I am the starshine of the night.
I am in the flowers that bloom,
I am in a quiet room.
I am in the birds that sing,
I am in each lovely thing.
Do not stand at my grave and cry,
I am not there. I do not die.

Mary E. Frye

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

What's worse?

What's worse...

A few days after Eva's death some teenage boys died in a horrible car crash in our town.

Someone told me it would be easier for me to lose Eva at 10 months old because I didn't have 14 years with her...

I tell you, at that time, I would have killed to have 14 YEARS with Eva.

What's worse...

I know so many moms who have had to say goodbye to their newborns without ever hearing their cries.

10 months compared to not one breath. How long we had.

What's worse...

A mama I know had 2 1/2 days with her precious daughter. How do you fit a lifetime of love into 2 1/2 days?

What's worse...

A 13 month old baby girl just died after much medical intervention.

What's worse...

A boy I know lost his fight with cancer at age two.

What's worse...

Nathan's namesake dropped in church and officially died the next day, at age 5, of pulmonary hypertension.

What's worse...

A 15 year old girl committed suicide last year in our community.

What's worse...

A 20 year old boy dropped dead at his parents' table without warning.

What's worse...

I'll tell you what the worst is. The worst is what you've grieving through.

When Eva died Mike told me he felt this profound loss of potential.

We knew Eva's voice but never heard her say mom or dad. We saw Eva's smile but never saw her take her first steps. We don't know if she would have liked ballet or hip hop or jazz...hamburgers or chicken fingers...a girly girl or a tomboy...a bookworm or computer savvy...there's so much we'll never know...

No, we didn't have 2 or 5 or 14 or 20 years with Eva. But there is so much we do have of her. We have 10 whole months of Eva. 10 whole months of holding her. 10 whole months of memories. 10 whole months.

Some have no cries, no breastfeeding, no smiles, no cuddling a warm baby.

We have so little and yet we have so much.

The main thing we have is our hope of seeing her again.  Being welcomed into heaven by our precious girl.

And when I look at Nathan I cannot imagine saying goodbye 8 1/2 months from now. I cannot imagine walking into our room and seeing him lifeless in his crib...and yet, I can imagine it. Too well, and daily.

How dare anyone compare the pain of losing a child? How dare people tell me that it's easier to lose Eva at 10 months than as a teenager? How dare anyone tell moms who have never heard their sweet baby cry that their loss is less than mine because they never really 'knew' their baby. There is no comparing what's worse...and don't, don't even think it...

Look at these two boys. One firstborn, one lastborn...what could be worse...losing Samuel at six years old with his dirty feet and knowing the sound of his laughter or losing his brother Nathan at six weeks old  with his perfectly kissable toes but never knowing the sound of his joy...what's worse...

Here is a random joyful moment from our photo shoot where, to Samuel's delight, Nathan wouldn't let go of his finger.
And one more thing, don't tell me you know how I feel because your dog died. I'm sorry your dog died. When I was 25 the dog I had had since I was 15 died and I thought it was terrible. But I'll tell you it was nothing, nothing compared to the death of Eva. I highly recommend you never compare anyone's dead child to your dead dog, no matter how wonderful your dog was.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Oldest and youngest.

When I look at my children now, especially Nathan, I am acutely aware that this might be the last moment I have with them. I breathe them them breathe and close the door as I pad to my bed. Often wondering if this will be the last time I see their chest move up and down in peaceful slumber.

Today we got some photos taken of Samuel (turning 7 soon), Theodore (just turned 4) and Nathan (6 weeks 1 day old). Choosing was impossible. Here is one of my faves of my oldest son loving on my youngest son.

Love you to the moon and back Samuel, Vincent, Theodore, Little J, Eva, Nathan...

Saturday, May 25, 2013

True hope.

Today I watched the funeral of Baby Hope Kolowski. It was livestreamed from Foothills Alliance Church in Calgary, Alberta.

I was saddened, encouraged and challenged.

It reminded me very much of Eva's funeral. They played two songs that we had at Eva's funeral.

Blessed be your name (which has been Eva's song from the first time I brought her to church) and With Hope by Steven Curtis Chapman.

As I mentioned in a previous post I have been following this blog for some time. Always with trepidation that this would be the time I opened the blog to news of Hope's death.

Her funeral service has blessed me beyond words. Her parents remind me of Mike and I although this is giving myself and Mike a huge compliment. Hope's parents are not a pillar of strength but a vision of being supported through the hardest time in their lives by Jesus.

I remember praising God at Eva's funeral. The anger came later. I also remember feeling touched by God at her funeral. Literally. The hand of God touched me. He gave me the strength to get up on stage and read a poem and a short tribute to my daughter. I remember shaking all over but managed to see the words I had written, through my tears.

Hope's life and death have impacted me. It has brought me back to my early days of losing and grieving Eva. But in a way that has also given me healing.

I watched the service for Hope and everything that was said about her from her captivating personality to her parents belief that she would make it through to her free smiles for everyone. Those were all things that were said and felt by many about Eva. I firmly believe that Hope and Eva are playing together with so many other children in heaven.

I have been told by others that my blog has helped them heal. I never understood what they meant until I received healing during Hope's funeral. I felt my anger slip away during her funeral. I am still sad. I still grieve my precious, precious daughter but my anger has slipped away and been replaced by trust. Trust in God that He knows what He's doing, even when all hell seems to be breaking loose in my life.

I have been going to prayer meeting every Wednesday since I was 12 weeks pregnant with Nathan. This prayer meeting has been of the utmost importance in my healing since Eva's death. Without it I'm not sure where I would be right now. But one thing that came to me over and over again at these prayer meetings was trust. Trust God. Trust. But how could I trust Him when He took my little girl from me? How could I trust Him?

One thing that was said at the beginning of Hope's funeral was a question "Will you still trust me even if I don't answer your prayers? Will you still love me even if I break your heart?"

Will I? Have I?

Hope's mom, Amy, has written a blog since Hope's diagnosis, in utero. Mending Hearts and Bending Knees. Hope's parents felt like knees would be bent in the fight to mend Hope's heart, and that, ultimately, her heart would be mended. What they never anticipated was that it would be the hearts of others that would be mended while bending knees.

It echoes a prayer we wrote at the very end of Eva's obituary. It is her family's prayer Eva's sick heart would bring many hearts to Jesus.

And I have not shown Jesus' love and mercy on my blog. I have shown my anger at the unfairness of my daughter's death but not how Jesus has carried me through the darkness and of the hope we have because of the gift of the cross. Because, truly, my hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' love and faithfulness.

Many of you know that when I was pregnant with our rainbow, Nathan, we called him Baby Hope, and had he been a girl, it would have been his name. I thought that a baby could give me back hope in such a hopeless time.

But true hope is built on nothing less than Jesus' love and faithfulness. Through Him I have true hope. The true hope of seeing my girl again. I hope you have that hope too. More than anything I hope that for you.

Should we ever be blessed to have another baby girl we will still name that girl Hope. But not because she is giving us hope but because of the hope we have in Jesus and in honour of a small warrior for God's kingdom. A small warrior named Hope.

 Thank you, Hope, for giving me back hope.

Thursday, May 23, 2013


I've aged.

I no longer look like the girl posing with the cute baby girl in my profile pic.

This will happen to you if you lose a child. Stress, fear, grief. All of it.

I clearly remember my cheeks drying out from all the salt tears that covered them most waking hours in the year after Eva died.

Those tears aged me. My aching heart aged me. I am old.

At first I hated every day that passed between Eva's death and the day I was in. Every day brought me further from my precious girl.

Now, I am happy to say good bye to another day. I am one day closer to seeing my girl again. One day closer to my death. One day closer to Eva.

And yet, it's just so hard to fathom too...the day I look forward to, the day I die will also be the day I say good bye, for a time, to the children I cherish here on earth. Another awful, unlivable juxtaposition. Goodbye and Hello.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hearts (here and in heaven).

I have been following a local blog for the past few months. A blog I have followed with fear, pain, trepidation,  some jealousy (to be honest), and hope. Today my heart is broken open for another mama. Another family now entering the darkest road. Walking the loneliest path.

I can just about hear the mama screaming and wailing on the kitchen floor. The sleepless nights to come. The hopelessness of the darkest grief. The regrets and the rage. The excruciating pain and the bottomless pit of despair. My heart breaks open for this mama.

Today is also Theodore's fourth birthday. How can he be four? A boy with a fresh haircut and an attitude. A preschooler in the fall. May 21st. May 21st. A day of celebration in our family and the darkest day for others. The juxtaposition never fails to rend my heart. How joy and pain can be so intertwined.

Someone smiled at me in town today. I remember that I wondered how people could possibly smile in the weeks following Eva's death. Didn't they know the most precious girl in the world was dead. How could they possibly smile? How? And today I smiled back at the kind smile coming my way. Who knows what pain this woman carried too...and she smiled at me.

My heart is broken open for this family. All this pain and still death. But in death there is life too. Life with the Father. And Eva is welcoming Hope home. Eva's and Hope's heart are both perfectly whole and beating in a perfect rhythm. Hearts breaking here and hearts healing in heaven.

Ah little girls, little girls...why did you have to go so soon...

Monday, May 20, 2013

The Ceremony.

I attended a blessing ceremony for some girls in our church, and Isabelle.

Beautiful girls. Girls I have known since before they knew how to read.

Girls I would have loved to be mentors to my Eva. Girls I would have loved my Eva to be like.

The blessing ceremony was sweet. The Dads praised and blessed their daughters. It was tender and beautiful. Most girls cried.

I did too, but not for the same reasons. Ah, girls, girls, girls. The bittersweetness of girls.

I've been thinking on it all day. What would Mike have said of you in 15 years my Eva, my darling. What would you have been like? How long would your hair be? Would you be happy to be homeschooled or would you be yearning for public school? Would you have a boyfriend? Would you cry when your dad blessed you? And as I watched those girls on the stage I was left with the wonderment of where you are...What does your Father in heaven have to say about you? What are you learning there?

Little J looked cute in her butterfly dress with chocolate cupcakes all over her face. One day she
might have a blessing ceremony. I wish you could be there too, and you will, in our hearts.

Always in our hearts. Always.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Trigger Shot

How are you?

I'm often asked this question right now. With Nathan hovering at just past the one month mark this question has hovered on many lips near me...

I usually say pretty good or okay or managing or tired. All of these answers are true some of the time.

While the answers are true they are not answering the question people are asking. People are asking me how I'm managing with a newborn and I am answering about how I'm managing living without Eva.  And they aren't answers that I want to give. One time I answered well, we're missing Eva always but we're doing really well with Nathan. I got a sigh and the question repeated what I mean is how are you doing physically since having a baby?

Oh, well, if that's all you're asking then I'm doing really great. I gained 20 pounds this pregnancy and already lost 25 pounds thanks to eating Trim Healthy Mama style while I was pregnant, and beyond. I got my placenta encapsulated and that has really helped balance my hormones after the birth. I had a touch of baby blues with every birth and I knew that this time I would be at high-risk for real post partum depression. I wanted to take every measure possible to avoid this happening.

But nobody asks me how I'm coping with watching Nathan and seeing Eva. Few comment on his physical similarities to his sister. I point out that his left ear is an exact wrinkly replica of Eva's. People only wonder at how I'm coping with Nathan. Nathan is doing great. He is doing his job. He is eating. He is sleeping. He is pooping. Most importantly, he is growing. Something Eva wasn't very good at. He's getting excellent medical attention. Also something that lacked in his sister's early life.  He nurses really well. Another thing his sister didn't. The similarities and differences in their lives abound.

He is loved and we are blessed (and paranoid) to have him. We are thankful for every moment we spend with him and he is not a little spoiled. 

But how are you...well, that's a question akin to asking me how many children I have...what are you really asking...what do you want to hear...please be clear. It's one of those loaded questions around here...and you didn't know you were carrying a gun, did you, until you pulled the trigger.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

I confess.

I confess. I confess I love Nathan. I love his chubby legs. I love his blue eyes. I love his brown hair. I love his double chin. I love his wrinkled ear. I love his ten little toes. I love his beating heart. I love his red colour. I love every single inch of him.

However, I confess, I simply adore Nathan's name. I love his name...Nathan Evan. I love introducing him to people and saying 'his name is Nathan Evan. Nathan means gift and Evan is in honour of Eva'. I have been allowed to say Eva's name more since Nathan's birth than in the past year. I have been able to say it without wigging people out with talk of my dead daughter. Because it's okay to talk about a living baby. It's just the dead ones that are off-limits. But when your living son honours his big sister in heaven, suddenly it's okay again.

I know this is a reprieve. A moment in time. And I'm savouring every second of it. A time when I can say Eva's name freely and openly without being labelled.  I'm drinking it in. Sucking the marrow. Cherishing the time. Savouring.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

May 15th 2013

I woke up this morning so sad and wondered why. It was only until a few minutes later I remembered, again, and not for the last time that it was the 15th again. Another whole month without you. And your gift is now 1 month 1 day old. So precious, and still alive.  But his presence doesn't negate your absence.

I read the RMHNA e-news this morning and it was good to see our story of the House there. So glad we were able to write our story, even though you died, and it's not a hopeful story for other families to read. How I wish it was. How I wish we were still travelling to the House every few weeks for your heart check-ups.

Meanwhile, Samuel asked me if we would all die together...then he said that if mom or dad should die first we were to wait for him to get there before we saw you. I don't think I can wait that long. When I die I want you to be the one to welcome me to heaven. I wonder so often what you are like. Are you a feisty two-year old or are you still 10 months old or are you the young woman you would have become on earth...I think you are two! Growing the way you should have on earth...

It's hard to imagine you so big and as time passes it will get harder and harder to imagine you bigger, my little pink girl. I miss you so much. Unbidden, and mixed with some joy, my grief for you never ends.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

One month

Our rainbow is one month old today. Tomorrow Eva would be 31 months old.

She has been gone from us for 21 months. 21 months! Seems like an eternity and a moment. How is it possible that she has been gone long enough for us to have another baby...and all the extenuous circumstances of his conception...

Had the doctors not made a judgement error on her heart surgery Eva would most likely have lived. However, had she lived she would have likely needed a heart transplant.

I often wonder which child is alive today because they got the heart that would have been for Eva.

I saw a girl once at RMH who was the same size as Eva who had just had a heart transplant...I had so much jealousy of this child that got, I imagined, the heart that Eva could have had. I know (trust me) that there is more to a heart transplant than simply size (but that is one of the factors).

My rational brain knows what my heart refuses to believe. Eva is dead. She is still dead. She will be dead every day for the rest of my life. And, even with a rainbow snuggled up in my arms, I will never, ever have all my children together with me in this life.

Monday, May 6, 2013

What is a rainbow baby?

"Rainbow Babies" is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn't mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

author unknown-if you know who wrote this I would love to credit him or her.

Pleased to introduce you to our rainbow baby...Nathan Evan.

Nathan and Eva.

At a garage sale on Saturday I visited with two moms I know well. One is a BLM who longs for her baby boy and the other longs for more children. I sat there with Nathan and I suddenly found myself being in the unenviable position of being envied. 

It was surprising and shocking. I never thought that could happen. Who would want to go through what we've been through but there is no comparison. We still have what many want. Children. I am blessed beyond measure with the children I have, while still longing for the daughter I'll never see until I get to heaven.

It's so hard to wrap my mind around the very REALness of Nathan being HERE and the utter gone-ness of my sweet Eva. And without Eva's death there would be no Nathan to rejoice over.

I love him without the guilt I thought I would have when I was pregnant with him. I love him wholly and completely for who he is. Nathan (Gift) Evan (in honour of Eva). He is Eva's Gift. And we're thankful. So thankful. While still missing our sweet daughter. It's a mind-warp.

Last night I has my first real panic attack about Nathan. He has a bit of a cold and was lying on my chest when he started breathing loudly and slightly laboured. I woke and could not go back to sleep. Listening for his every next breath. Waiting for it to not come. Wondering if I should go to ER. Wondering if I was going to become one of those parents always taking their kids into the doctor for every sniffle. Maybe they have a reason.

And my love for Eva is no less but there is something in holding Nathan that heals the wounded mama's heart in me. He heals the empty arms that longed to hold the weight of a baby again. He heals the breasts  that ached with milk for Eva, and now for him. He heals the part of me whose youngest child died. He is now our youngest child with a big sister in heaven. He has healed me more than I thought possible and yet my tears are still there for Eva. My heart still yearns for the day I will be welcomed home in heaven and my Eva will be there, smiling and waiting for me to hold her. 

Nathan and Eva-forever intertwined-Nathan Evan.

*Much love to you grieving mamas as you walk your own grief journey. And this blog has always been about my life After Eva. Nathan is now a part of my life after Eva. He will be part of this blog as well. I know this will cause pain to some mamas but I sincerely hope and pray for a peace that surpasses all understanding for all you mamas (and dads) as you travel this painful, lonely road.