Thursday, April 11, 2013

I am starting to get angry again.

Let me tell you who I am.  And who I am not right now.

I am not the minister's wife who should know everything without being told.

I am not the best friend for people who gives selflessly.

I am not that nice neighbor who is going to smile when you say I have three children, instead of the four I have already told you I have.

For the month of May I am the woman who held her son, sang "You Are My Sunshine"  to him, and directed that the breathing tube be taken out of his mouth.

The month of May is my month.  My month to reflect and remember my time with my son.  And I am protective of that.

Let me be selfish in May.

I may or may not be showing up to church in May - and I am OK with that.

May is my time.  Our time.  Please respect that.  Please stop putting outside expectations on me for May.  They just aren't my priority next month.

Please be extra kind to me next month.  Don't avoid me, just be nice to me.  Remember what May is for me, and for my family.

Perhaps May won't always be this way, but for now it is.  For this first May it is.  Truthfully, I don't really care if people like it - it's not about them.  It's about my mother-son relationship for me.  And that is something I will protect loud and proud.  Perhaps this is a heads up to tread carefully from now until June.  Mama bear is out.

May holds 14 days of anniversaries of medical related interventions to save my life and Ethan's life.  Holds Josh's birthday - the day we were all sick with that Norovirus that happened 12 hours prior to my water breaking.  Holds Mother's Day.  Holds Ethan's birthday as well as the anniversary of his death.  Holds much of my joy, and all of my pain.  So May is already topped off with emotion.

Lately I've found myself giving selflessly to others - and feeling honored to do so.  At the same time, I am beginning to feel maxed out.  So May is my time for self-care.  Please respect that.  Perhaps refrain from asking me to do extraordinary things for others, and ask if there is anything you could do for me.  Or for my family.

I've just reread this post - I told  you that I am feeling angry again.  But I feel better after writing it down.

Friday, April 5, 2013

Bring it on vs. Not just yet

I'm missing my baby tonight.  Supposed to be 10 months old right now, not 10 months gone.  Or, if all had gone smoothly, almost 8 months old.  That's when babies typically learn to crawl you know.  And believe me, I am blessed to know these milestones because I am a mother.  4 pregnancies, 4 babies in 4 1/2 years...that defines the mom in me.  It's what I've been doing for the last 5 plus years, having and raising babies.  And they've been the hardest and best of my life.  So, yes, I know when children are supposed to be rolling over, smiling, sitting up, crawling, standing, walking, self-feeding, sleeping better at night, and on and on.  I don't know everything...that's not what I am trying to convey.  Rather, the largest part of me is being a mom.  So it is impossible to switch off the "Ethan should be crawling this month" or the "Ethan should be running by now" thoughts.  They are ingrained in me, as natural as filling my kids' milk cups in the morning.  Much about being a mom is habitual.  Habits die hard.  Harder than it was for my son to die, I guess.  God, how awful is that...

Generally I've been feeling OK.  Typical caveat here.  I am never OK.  But I am learning to simultaneously live while grieve - a tricky feat many days.  We have adjusted beautifully to our new home and community.  I am surrounded by many loving people.  We hosted Easter and it was wonderful.  Full of the lively Gray moments that define our blessed chaos.  I've been working hard on our yard, getting it ready for Spring.  Even given some thought to planting a lilac bush to remember Ethan by.  The beautiful lilac blooms carry sweet memories for me, and bring about smiles.  Maybe we'll plant one once we can afford it (I have no idea how much they cost yet, and am still paying off medical one day I guess).

Spring is here, in the New England way.  This week we had a flurry of snow flakes and today was almost 60 degrees - with Monday hoping to reach 70.  I've always loved Spring, but this year I feared it.  Because Spring brings May, and all of the shit anniversaries along with that month.  Poor Josh, his birthday is in there too.  Mother Nature offered just enough snow and power outages to override my fear of Spring approaching with the anticipation of warm breezes and playing outside.  It's April now, May is less than a month away.  Sometimes I say "Bring it on May, bring it on."  Other times I say, "not just yet, not yet."  Time has a funny way of not listening to me, of doing its own thing anyway.  Very similar to my toddlers actually.

My grief remains tidal.  I've been living in the low tides lately, and that's been appreciated.  But some high tides are rolling in, I can feel them.  The sound of the surf is getting louder, and the erosion is stronger on my soul.  A good friend is about to have her baby this week.  I'm so happy for her, and her family.  Yet I can't stop myself from wanting that for myself.  Not just wanting a healthy pregnancy and baby, sure - that's part of it.  But wanting to live in that world where babies don't die again.  To be able to anticipate the birth of a child, without the real fear that a tragedy could await.  And if I am honest, I still get jealous when friends announce the healthy births of their babies.  And the leaving the hospital with their babies in the car seats - that one kind of kills me.  Tears automatically come when I send a note of congratulations to them.  It's unavoidable.  Also this week, my close friends' twins (born 3 months prematurely) are likely being discharged from the hospital.  A glorious day.  I have been praying for this day to come for them, for a billion reasons.  One of which is so they don't have to feel the pain I breathe.  And this day is fast approaching.  I am scared that the wave will knock me down.  My Major Depressive Episode is well under control by now, and I am scared that the next month or two will take me out again.  I know much of it is out of my control.  All I can do is keep up with my self-care regimen.  But it's scary.  To think of feeling so awful again.  I don't want to feel like that anymore.  It was really, really bad.  I'm crying as I simply reflect upon my depression during the first six months after Ethan died.  It was bad.  I know I am strong enough to do it again, if I have to.  But I simply don't want to.  So here I am praying that I grieve without being triggered into another Major Depressive Episode.

God help me, please.

Monday, April 1, 2013


As I sit down to write this post about two of my sons, and about the love and growth they inspire in me, I am grounded.  Jackson, our 3-year-old, is yelling "Fred, Fred, Fred..." over and over and over again.  You see, it's bedtime and he loves our dog and is calling him to his bed.  Quite loudly I add, with his 5-year-old sister and 1-year-old brother in the rooms next door, also trying to fall asleep.  I find it ironic, humorous, and all the hallmark emotions of a mother of a young child.  As I sit to document and share a beautiful story of Jackson I find myself muttering "I'm gonna kill 'em if he wakes his siblings."  Quickly catching myself and saying that's not true.  But perhaps, he might be found on the side of the road with a "free" sign hanging loosely around his neck.  (This is the nature of my mother-son relationship with Jackson.  Full-on everything.  Full-on love as in a post about Jackson's compassion.  Full-on excitement.  Full-on tantrums.  Jackson lives life fully.  And I am blessed to be along for the ride, exhausting as it can be.)

If you've been reading this little blog, my journal actually, you will remember that I wrote about Jackson's intimate relationship with Ethan.  In case you haven't read it, you can do so here.  Jackson is the one in our immediate family who has communications with Ethan.  Reciprocal ones, that is, of a clear nature.

I just have to add that I can still hear Jackson talking upstairs, and am practicing my patience and reminding myself that I promised Ethan his life would make me a better mother.  Hence why I am not yelling for Jackson to go to sleep right now.

Jackson speaks of Ethan often, in normal conversation.  To him, having an angel brother seems to be a normal thing.  Sad, yet beautiful.  And today a funny thing happened.  My friend Dee messaged me (you may want to check out the link above if you don't remember who Dee is in reference to all of this) asking me to ask Jackson about all of the blue Easter eggs.  They had something to do with Ethan I guess, she said.  Dee knew that Jackson and Ethan had communicated about them.  Caroline was at Kindergarten, Ryan had just gone down for nap, and Jackson and I started talking about how fun Easter was.  I asked him what Ethan thought of Easter.

"Ethan had eggs too."

"What color were they?  Because I know you had blue eggs."  Jackson only took the blue eggs, ending with a basket full of them.


Now Jackson quickly segued on his own, with no prompting into the following discussion.

"Ethan visits me when I'm napping."  Said in the cute 3-year-old, slightly high-pitched tone voice of a little boy.  "He comes down from Heaven," (gesturing with his right hand from the sky to his body) "when I am in my room.  Mom, did you know there's a Baby Heaven?  And a doggie Heaven?  And a people Heaven?"

"Really?  That's amazing Jackson."

"Yeah, and Ethan's in the Baby Heaven.  Because he died when he was a baby."

All I can think of is that my 3-year-old's account of where Ethan is mirrors the account that Dee gave me, back when she had met God and Ethan during her brain surgery.  This Baby Heaven, well, Dee said there is just such a thing - and she saw it to the left of God.  My sweet E has been telling Jackson all about Heaven?  I believe it.  I've been around Jackson long enough to know when he is being genuine or not.  Or stretching the truth.  My gut told me this is Jackson's truth.  So our conversation went on.

"Jackson, when Ethan visits you, can you see or hear him?  Or do you just feel him there somehow?"

"I can hear him, and I see his face."  He's giggling here (again reassuring me that this is genuine, he was really reflecting upon his experience with Ethan) as he tries to describe what he looks like.  "He has lots of faces," and Jackson tries to indicate something with his hand around his own face.  It was evident he was struggling to use our language to describe what Ethan looked like to me.  Yet another reason I think he was telling the truth.  If he was simply making this up he probably would have told me about a more traditional human face.  It was time for Jackson's nap so we wrapped it up with perhaps he could draw me a picture of what Ethan looks like sometime.  To which he agreed.

I relayed this conversation back to Dee, who then told me that she had seen this conversation between Jackson and Ethan.  Jackson picked all of the blue eggs, so Ethan could have the green ones.

You just have to listen.  Are your ears open?  Mine are, with a little help from Dee and two of my sons.