#8daysoftrust

  When Leo died, Zach and I had no choice but to put all of our faith and trust in God. We knew that trusting God’s plan would be the only way that we could survive (or try to survive) losing our son. 

From April 11 to April 19 we had no real idea of where Leo was physically or spiritually. Those eight days required more trust, more faith, and more strength than I ever knew I could muster up.  April 19, 2013 marks the date of Leo’s funeral.  I am certain it was Christ who carried me through those eight days and that it’s Christ who continues to carry me now. 

Following our #26DaysOfLove project I’m  doing a #8DaysOfTrust project.  Over the next eight days I will pay attention to and document the times and moments where I see God impacting my life. These will be moments where I’ve given my trust over to God either mindfully or just out of habit and He shows himself to me in a real and tangible way. 

This project is to honor Leo and the way that he inspired me to surrender and turn everything over to the Lord. 

Advertisements

3 years

Hi Leo,

Today is your three year angelversary and I miss you just as much today as I did three years ago. 

I have learned to recognize the signs and symbols you show me to remind me that you’re still around, but I still miss your physical presence and being able to be with you each and every day. 

I’m doing my best to make you proud so that, when you and your friends are looking down from heaven, you can point me out proudly and say, “that’s my mom. She turned her pain into something amazing that brings healing to others”. 

I know you’re here with me. I can feel you. 

Thank you for that. 

Love you forever,

Mom 

Happy 3rd Birthday!

20140410-214450.jpgHey buddy,

Today is our birthday!  It is a day of celebration muddled with sadness and regret.  It’s too painful for me to think of all the things we would have done if you were still alive…but it’s equally painful to ignore those thoughts.

There is a space in my brain where you still exist, where we haven’t lost out on a single moment together.  In that space, you have a bedroom, drawers full of clothes, shoes thrown around the closet with no pair to be found, toys everywhere, Legos on the carpet near your bed, and a blue Spiderman toothbrush for your cute little baby teeth which haven’t fallen out yet.

I let your hair grow out and you sit patiently, playing with your dad’s old superheros and supervillians, while i lovingly brush through it and try to detangle your blonde hair after bathtime.  You love dinosaurs and your favorite food is eggs with ketchup, which i find revolting.  You call yourself Leo the lion and roar at your sisters until one of you gets mad and a little fight breaks out, inevitably ending in tears and running to me for comfort and reassurance.

You are just as handsome as the day I met you and sweeter than I could have ever imagined.  You adore your sisters and they dote on you.  You admire your daddy and hope to be just like him, except you want to be a soldier and not a teacher.  You fiercely protect your baby sister from the thievery of her older sister Lily, who entertains herself by trying to swipe her toys.

You love when I read you the Cat in the Hat at bedtime, especially the part where the fish sees the mom coming and Cat cleans up the house with his cleaning machine.  You secretly wish you had one so that you didn’t have to clean up after yourself.  And the best part of the day is when I lay next to you, kiss your forehead, neck, and cheeks to hear you laugh and giggle, and I give you a huge hug, telling you how much I love you, how blessed I am to be your mom, and how proud you make me.

I remember the last time I got to kiss you goodnight…it seems like forever ago.  It’s been too long since I’ve seen you.

Today, you would be 3 and I would jokingly tell everyone that I lost count of my own age when I had you but that I am 31 years older than you.  I wouldn’t be at my desk crying because you’re gone, I wouldn’t be at the cemetery releasing balloons and wishing you’d come back.  I would be celebrating, laughing, smiling, and enjoying every moment with you.

And that’s exactly what I intend to do.  Even though you’re gone, I will celebrate, I will smile, I will laugh, and I will do my very best to enjoy every moment because I know you’re here.  Your body may have died, and I’ll mourn that loss forever, but you’re still here.  You’ll blow out our candles with me, you’ll protect your sisters, you’ll play alongside all of us, and you’ll lay down next to us when we sleep.  I know, stronger than i’ve ever known anything, that you never really left us.  You are and always will be a part of my family, a part of every adventure, a part of every dull moment, a part of everything.

Happiest of birthdays to you, my sweet son.

I’ll  love you forever,

Mom

 

 

Miss you

Leo,

I miss you. 

I can’t stop thinking about you.

I want you back.
I feel so alone sometimes.  My brain echoes with the horror of finding you lifeless in our bed.  That moment haunts my every thought.  

When do I get to see you again?  Why can’t I fill my head with memories of kissing your sweet chubby cheeks?

…believe it or not, those memories are actually more painful for me than the one of you not responding to my CPR efforts.  I think it’s because I want more and I can’t have it.  I don’t want more CPR, more investigation, more hospital, more blood…the horrible memories can stay right where they are; in the past. But I wish, so badly, that i could kiss you again.    

I’m so heartbroken. So.heart.b.r.o.k.e.n.

So broken. 

I love you doesn’t even begin to describe the depth of the fire the burns in my heart for you and your sisters, but it’s the best I’ve got.

I love you,

Mom

Ducks

Leo,

Have you ever sat by the water’s edge and watched the ducks swim around?  I know you and I didn’t get to do that together, but maybe there’s a pond in Heaven that’s filled with ducks near the playground where you run around with your friends.

They seem to just glide across the water, so calm, so serene.  But if you were to put on goggles and watch what’s happening below them, you’d see that their little webbed feet are totally submerged and they’re paddling like a giant crocodile is after them.

Sometimes I feel like a duck.  I seem okay…calm even, but underneath I’m running a marathon which has no end.  Today, I woke up feeling full of sadness and regret.

My grief is changing, it’s fading away, and when I look at what I’m left with I’m brought right back into that tiny consultation room off to the side of the Emergency Room where we were told you “expired”.  I’m overwhelmed with a sense of “what now?” just as I was the day you died.  But this time it’s filled with regret.

I feel like my life is a mess.  I’ve accepted that I’ll always be sad and I’m okay with that (what choice do I have!).  But when I let the grief evolve into what it’s trying to be, I am stuck wondering if I have made the right choices for myself, for my family, since you died?  I feel so unsettled, so unanchored, ungrounded even.

I’ve been praying a lot.  Not even looking for answers but hunting for any small space where I find peace.  One thing I’ve realized is that, quite a bit of the time, I find solace in food.  I find a moment when I feel busy with something that I know I can easily accomplish, something that fills me up, that distracts me…but it’s all an illusion.  And what am I left with?  I’m left physically carrying the weight of my grief.

And our home.  We worked so hard to buy our first home in 2008.  Then when you died, when life hit the reset button, we sold and moved as quickly as possible.  I think the entire sale and move took a month.  We abandoned everything that was familiar in search of comfort, in search of old familiarities that didn’t remind us of you because thinking of you meant thinking about your death and all of the trauma that we endured that day.  Was it the right choice?  At the time, it was the only choice.  I couldn’t live there any longer.  But now we’re left renting; each year wondering where we will go next if we go anywhere at all.

And we have spent so much money in desperate attempts to feel alive, happy, something…anything!  We travel to get away from the ghost of the life we once had and the sadness of the life we have now.  We long for what we can’t have and then we turn around and try to bond with our girls because we feel guilty for grieving our loss and not focusing on the beauty that remains.

So today, overwhelmed with sadness, regret, and wonder; I have to ask myself…

what now?

I love you, my beautiful son.  I wish you were still here.

Always,

Mom

Capture Your Grief – Day 13 – Regrets & Triggers

Leo,

I could sit here all day long and tell you of my regrets and the things that trigger my grief;  I could probably come up with a few hundred more in that time, but I don’t think that going through my list of painful memories will move anything positive in me.  The smallest things can trigger a reaction in me; fire trucks with sirens on, loud beeping sounds, seeing a baby in an outfit that you never got to wear, certain songs, driving by the hospital in Chula Vista…there are so many. 

Yesterday, I was driving home with two of your sisters in the car, listening to the radio as we normally do, when I experienced a moment of absolute heartbreak. Heartbreak that I hadn’t felt since the week of your death. 

The song was about a bad relationship and the girl was singing about how they didn’t hold each other in their darkest hour.  I instantly thought of your dad and how we relied on one another to survive losing you. We didn’t just hold each other in our darkest hours, we carried one another, we pushed, pulled, dragged, and ran with one another. 

And that’s when it happened. Heartbreak only takes a second to occur and thoughts can come together so fast that you sometimes don’t realize you were even thinking something until it has already formed. 

I’ll never, ever forget the moment your dad woke me up the morning of your death. It was about 1:30 in the morning and he tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Angela, wake up.  There’s blood on the baby’s face.”  The lights were out but the moon was shining bright and we always slept with the blinds cracked open.  I could see blood near your mouth and my mind was on overdrive.  I had cut your fingernails the night before, it couldn’t be a scratch; maybe a bloody nose?  Your dad handed you over to me so I could fix whatever was going on. He turned the light on as I rushed you to your changing table. Blood.  There was more blood, on your blanket, on our bed, on your face.  I unswaddled you as fast as I could and your dad said, “Please tell me the baby is breathing.”

What?!!

I hadn’t thought to check, but when I did…you weren’t.  You weren’t breathing and you wouldn’t rouse.  You know how it all ends…so I’ll stop here.  But, as I was driving with your sisters yesterday, thinking about how your dad and I leaned on each other in our darkest hours, a conclusion formed out of my thought cloud. 

I failed your dad. 

When he handed you to me, he was expecting me to fix the problem. He trusted me, he believed in me, and I couldn’t save you. 

I failed Zach. I failed you. I failed my family. 

I tried so hard to breathe life back into you, literally, but it didn’t work. Instead, your death sucked the life right out of me!  What do I regret?  The biggest thing I regret is not being able to save you. 

When this thought crystallized, I felt an earth-shaking heartbreak. I mean, my chest physically hurt so badly that I had to press my hand over my heart. I couldn’t even cry.  It was a slow tear that hit me so hard, so deep, that I would venture to say that my shadow has a rip in the place where my heart should be. 

I am broken.  I am vulnerable.  I am so beyond any words that our colorful and vast vocabulary could ever attempt to describe. 

All my love,

Mom
#captureyourgrief

#whathealsyou

#regretsandtriggers

#survivingSIDS

  

Capture Your Grief – Day 12 – Normalizing Grief

Leo,

Sometimes Your older sisters will hold a funeral for their favorite baby doll. They will find shoe box, pick all the flowers in the yard, hold a service, tell a prayer, and lay their sweet baby to rest.  Sometimes they’ll sing a song or tell a story about their baby’s life and how they wish they could have saved her. 

Heartbreaking as it is to watch, it’s also beautiful. Grief has become part of who they are. They have felt the sting of death but know the depths of life. They know it’s okay to feel sad, to speak your name, to remember you.  They don’t just believe you’re in Heaven, they say they’ve seen you. 

It was always a priority to normalize your death and to remove the fear that has the power to cripple us.  It’s not easy, but we do it. And each little funeral reminds us that we have done a great job helping your sisters understand, as best as their age permits, what they are going through. 

Always missing you,

Mom

#captureyourgrief

#whathealsyou

#normalizinggrief

#survivingSIDS

  

Capture Your Grief – Day 11 – Glow In The Woods

Leo,

Today’s subject is focused on groups or resources that helped us out, early in our loss. Your dad and I actually had a tough time connecting with others in San Diego who suffered a SIDS loss. We went to some local support groups, a therapist, and church, looking for someone, anyone, who could tell us that we would survive this. 

I have to say that God placed some amazing friends and family in our lives who, even though they hadn’t lost a child to SIDS, were so incredibly understanding, empathetic, and so wanting to help us however they could.  We would later learn how many of them had lost babies at different stages.  We also connected with three of our pastors at Journey Community Church. Tic long, Ed Noble, and Bill Yaccino had words of comfort that your dad and I still live by to this day. 

One day, I received a Facebook message from founder Lindsey Henke inviting me to contribute to her online magazine called Pregnancy After Loss Support (PALS). Becoming a follower of this site, and contributing to this site has shaped my grief and has allowed me a safe place to openly share my journey. 

We are part of a tragic community, but we are in it together. 

…and I’d trade it all to have you back. 

Love you forever,

Mom

Www.pregnancyafterlosssupport.com

Www.journeycommunitychurch.org

#captureyourgrief

#whathealsyou

#glowinthewoods

#survivingSIDS

  

 

Capture Your Grief -Day 10 -Words

I started writing letters to Leo the day after he passed away. I kept them private for a little while and I found such a closeness and so much comfort in each letter I wrote. I decided to create a private blog where I could safely store my letters and go back and read them some day to see how my grief moved in me. 

One day, a stranger commented on my blog and that’s when I realized that my letters could be healing to others too. So, I publicly shared http://www.survivingSIDS.com. 

My blog is a place where I share my grief in a very uncensored way. I don’t think it’s right for me to hide my sadness, anger, confusion, hope, acceptance, and faith.  I needed other grieving parents or friends of grieving parents to see only the truth, so that they could try and better help themselves or their friends.

I hope my words ignite a fire deep within you and I hope my words inspire hope, faith, and trust. 

#captureyourgrief

#whathealsyou

#words