Sunday, April 19, 2015

Happy 6th Birthday, Chase Allen Pearson

We celebrated you on Tuesday and I have to be honest, we were quite sad.  There is never going to be much happiness in celebrating your birthdays and there's nothing anyone can do about it.  We drove up to the mountains and bought the most perfect balloons six balloons.  We each wrote you a message and we found the most perfect place to let them go.  But it was hard.  It's always hard letting go and I feel like I have an eternity of it with you.  The wind carried the balloons and it was hard to tell where they went before they were lost in the blue and white colors of the sky.  Reese was sure his balloon got held up by a treetop and popped and it absolutely crushed him.  His heart broke…for you…for him…for his balloon.  It was out of my control again and all I can do is watch, and love with all my heart, the kids that I CAN hold in my arms.  We miss you Chase.  Our hearts ache every day because you aren't here with us.  But we hold you in our hearts and will never stop remembering and loving you.  And we continue on only because we all know that we will see  you again someday.  And we will hold you and hug and kiss you and there will be so much love.  More than any of us can even fathom.  Here are a few pictures of our day celebrating you.  I hope you got our messages and maybe you can somehow let Reese know that.  And hopefully you had a cupcake with us, too.  Happy birthday sweet boy.


Thursday, April 16, 2015

What 6 years feels like

If you would have asked me what it feels like to have a six year old before Chase was born, I would have told  you, that it is such a long time.  Six years old is so big and I want them to be 2 again!  But Chase came and my perspective is completely different.  Most likely due to circumstances, but six years seems like yesterday.  I remember it clearly.

Chase's birthday was yesterday.  He turned six years old in Heaven's arms.  Not mine.  And it has been hard.  I had been thinking about this day for the past week.  My pregnancy with Chase kept popping into my head.  Him moving inside of me.  That I had read that his DNA is still in me.  That I was such baby for not being able to carry him longer.  That he was born five days before Reese's birthday and he should have been born five days after.  Still, my life would have been crazy planning two parties so close together, but it should have been the other way around.  Patric and I were fighting on Easter and it reminded me of the big fight we had on Easter the days before Chase came.  Deciding to tell Emma about the Easter Bunny because I needed help.  I was such a big baby.  And I went to bed the Monday night thinking about the night before Chase was born.  Crying myself to sleep because I was taking God's work into my own hands asking for an induction so I wouldn't have to endure 12 more days of the discomfort.  Why couldn't I have just rode it out?  Hugging Owen a little tighter as my tears and fatigue set in, I finally slept.

I looked at the clock Tuesday morning and saw 7:21am.   I felt a punch in the gut as I thought of 7:21pm that day six years ago and the madness that ensued.  I remember what seems like every little detail of the horror that unfolded.  Why didn't we just demand a c-section earlier?  I knew somewhere inside of me that all that blood I lost all day long was not right.  I knew it wasn't.  Why didn't I call him on it?  And when the baby's heart beat was lost, the fear in the doctor's voice as he said we were going into surgery.  NOW.  Those details, the little ones, that I so often block from my mind as they try to resurface.  I was trying to recall every single one.  I wanted to let everything come back.  It felt like yesterday and I could see it in my mind all so clearly.  The out-of-body feeling that haunted me so heavily after Chase was born...I let it come back.  The feeling of floating around the room hearing the voices...then the cosmic blackout.  And re-awakening.   Knowing/feeling not pregnant anymore. Wanting to know....was it a boy or girl?  Where is the baby?  How is he?  And seeing him the first time.  When they wheeled his isolette into my room so I could see him before they life-flighted him off.  Those eyes that looked at me and my voice that sounded so comforting, even to me, when I spoke to my child for the very first time.  He was mine.  But what happened?

I'm shaking even as I type these words.  But I remember being in a state of shock for the next several days.  Not knowing how I was even living under all the stress and worry and fear.   And so many more little details that happened over the  next few weeks continue to haunt me...but I feel like stopping here.

Because I'm realizing again that I'm on my own right now.  This journey is a lonely one.  No one who has not lost a child knows your life or how your thoughts are controlled.  The new normal that six years ago, I thought would eventually grow old.  But it doesn't.

Several  years ago, way before I had kids, I had a friend where I worked who became very close to Patric and I.  She was almost like our adopted mom in some ways.  She had lost her son to a drowning accident when he was 2 years old.  I remember her saying it the first time and thinking how horrible it would be to lose a child.  I don't remember her talking about it much at all but I do distinctly remember her telling me that even then, it was like it had happened just yesterday.  And her eyes welled up with tears that she struggled to keep in.  Of course I didn't know what to say to her and I don't remember it coming up again.   But I have thought about her a lot since I lost Chase.  We don't keep in touch anymore but as I am now six years out, I know that these memories will never fade.  I still think about Chase every singe day if not the first thing when I wake up, then he is the last thing I think about as I fall asleep.  And several times in between.  That will never change, for the rest of my life.

I guess what I was reminded of this year was that this journey is solo.  And by that I mean for me and my husband and my kids.  Only we celebrate Chase and think of him as much and deeply as we do.  No one else does, even in mine and Patric's own families.  My community of BLM's support me every year and give me comfort because they are on the journey too.  But no one else does.  At a point of my life when my relationships with my own siblings and parents have become distant and broken, I am reminded of this again.  That I am in a club I was not invited to.  A place that I can never leave.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

A moment in time

I'm just trying to freeze time here….but I had to post this picture.  It's the end of the year and I have been posting more to the kids' individual blogs recently and not this one and I felt this was totally worth taking the time to write about for this space.

The kids are out of school and we have nothing going on today…just four days out from Christmas.  They've all been doing their own thing and I've been playing with Owen but asked the kids to play with him somehow….and this is what I got.  A long time family tradition of theirs.  They started this years ago when Reese was probably Owen's age.  Actually, the girls played this even before they started including Reese!  But they "divvy" up their stuffed animals and give them names and characteristics and play.  For hours.  The stuffed animal pile has certainly grown over the years and it was so fun listening to them dump these out and remember things about them.  Telling stories where they came from or something that had happened with a certain one.  This is something they get pretty serious about and what means the most to me is that they are doing it together…even Owen.  (We'll see how long it lasts!)  THey'll have memories the rest of their lives about this time together.  I just hope they keep doing it so that Owen will have memories of it, too.  I love seeing my kids all together and I always imagine Chase in the middle of it all.  I know he would be loving it.  

These are the times.  Times I wish I could freeze.  I listened to Owen ask his sister to sing the Jingle Jingle song to him this morning and when she did without hesitating because she totally adores her little brother, I saw a flash of the future.  I saw my kids sitting down talking at a dinner and saying how they loved how cute their little brother was and how much fun he was.  And I can see Owen saying "yeah, right" and not remembering what they were talking about because he was too little.  They will continue to make memories I know, but they won't be like these or like the old ones.  I can't make Owen remember our life before Colorado, those will be memories just for the older three.  I'm afraid I'll be sad that he won't be able to recall those times like they will one day, but I know there will be many that he can from these days forward. 

Such is life.  It moves on.  Time never stops, no matter what one hopes for or wants.  I'm just thankful for these moments that I can freeze a memory in a snapshot…one that will spark conversation and recollections years down the road when they are adults. And we will all remember when….

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making mistakes

I've never claimed to be perfect. I'm far from it quite honestly.  But when my actions/behavior doesn't provide the kind of example I wish to give my kids, I try to be honest with them and let them know where I have failed them.  If they don't see me fail and try again, how can I expect them to do so.  And if I have expectations of honesty and ownership from them, they need need to know they should expect the same from me.  

This came about when I posted a picture on Carly Marie's #captureyourgrief for Pregnancy and Infant Loss month and stated that I had two miscarriages between Reese and Chase's births.  Both of my girls were hurt by this because I had not told ever them about the miscarriages.  They felt this was private information that I had shared in a public way and they were hurt I hadn't confided in them before doing it publicly.  At first I was focused on explaining to them how I use the CYG project to post and read other's sharing of their experiences.  I thought they misunderstood my use of the social media tool and was trying to explain my intentions.  And I also felt that them not knowing about the miscarriages was a result of their age appropriateness on the topic and when they were old enough I would have told them, though I may have been too late.  At first I didn't see the implications of my post.  But after hearing from my oldest about it immediately after I posted and then later seeing how upset my second oldest was, I thought long and hard about it.  

And I felt horrible.

I couldn't believe that I was so thoughtless as to not have the piece of mind to make sure they had known the information I was posting about.  It was insensitive and stupid on my part and I should have known because I, too, have been hurt by learning personal information about loved ones in such a public forum.  I knew I owned them a heartfelt apology. Any further explanation of my use of social media or intentions for the post were futile and insignificant.  What they needed to hear was that I messed up.  Big.  And that I should not and will not post something that they don't know about without telling them about it first.  I couldn't believe I had done that--something that I was so angry when I had been "treated" that way both someone else.  

But that wasn't the end.  I am so thankful that it wasn't because what I learned during the rest of our conversation was probably one of the most important things I needed to know as their mother.  

Karly was upset because she said I have always done that…posted things that she didn't know about Chase.  And while I was again, focused on explaining how the miscarriage information was not related to our experience with Chase at all, I was missing the boat.  She said that we don't talk about Chase at all.  

That was a pivotal moment--because we talk about Chase all the time.  Even Owen knows Chase's name and that he's his big brother and will say "hi Chasey" when he sees a butterfly.  But what she meant is that we don't ever talk about what happened with Chase and how all of that….the whole tragedy happened.  And she was right.  I had been waiting til they were old enough and ahd questions to explain to them what happened.  About two years ago I had a long talk with Emma in the car after she asked me some questions and I told her what I thought was too much.  Partly because I didn't want her to be scared for me and partly because I knew she wouldn't understand the medical side of it all.  But she asked and so I told her as best I could.  We cried and talked about it for some time until we were able to move on.  Karly is now that age and I told her that I would answer any questions she ever had and that I don't mean to NOT talk about it and that there is nothing I would keep from her.  But the thing is, Karly's not the type to come right out and ask the questions.  And I told her talking about the events surrounding Chase's birth and death are all very painful so it's kind of like catching both people in the same mood at the same time in order to start the conversation.  But it opened my eyes to the fact that I needed to make sure and take the time to fill in the blanks for her and explain some things.  Part of me feels like a complete failure for not doing this for her but part of me is so completely thankful for the fact that I know this and we had this conversation and I have the opportunity to do this right…..not letting this past and never talking about it and then when she's 30 years old being upset with me for not feeling like she was ever told why or how her baby brother died. 

 When I was much younger than her, my parents were divorced and my step dad stopped picking us up for visitation.  Since we lived in a new town, my mom made us keep it a secret (that we spent weekends with our dad) and lie about it to anyone who asked, like she was trying to extinguish all of our memories like the ashes of a smoldering fire.  And eventually anger rose up inside me at her for trying to act like none of it ever happened.  I don't want my girls feeling that way about what happened to Chase.  I don't want there to be any secrets from them.  They deserve to know the truth and what happened and now they are old enough to handle it. I want them to feel like they can ask me anything.  I asked Emma how much she remembered of what I told her two years ago and she said not much really.  I told them that's because it's pretty complicated and as you get older and learn more it will make more sense.  And more questions will come up at that time and again, I'll be here to answer any of them.  

We talked about some of the things but we didn't go into all of it because it wasn't the time or place.  That was a talk that needed to be started at the beginning and what we were doing at the time was throwing snapshot memories out at a time.  I started to realize how different their memories were than mine….even as fresh as my memories seem.  They were so little when Chase was born; it's just so hard to believe it.  And quite honestly I want to be sitting down and prepared when I hear what their specific memories are because it's a lot for me to handle, too.  Karly told me her worst memory and it broke my heart--when she walked into the kitchen and found me on the floor by the trashcan crying.  This conversation was about letting me know that they are ready for more information and want to hear things about the day he was born and I am so SO thankful for that.  I know Chase is part of this and helping me through this every day and making sure I handle this right.  I almost feel like if this hadn't happened tonight that we were headed down that path…..of not talking about "it" and that leading to never talking bout it and then them being grown adults and never knowing.  Because they didn't ask and I didn't tell.  Maybe that wouldn't have happened but nonetheless I had a wakeup call and am grateful for that.  

My girls are awesome.  I am so lucky to be their mom.  I hope and pray every day that I don't mess this up.  Because of my shaky relationship with my own mom, I work so much harder on mine with them.  They already know I make mistakes.  But they know I will fix it and be honest with them and that's all I can do.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

All for one

These guys are definitely siblings.  They fight about as much as they get along, but when they get along, it's music to my ears.  I love listening to them converse, interact and play together.  Owen imitates everything Reese does and kicks up everything to the Nth degree just so he can be heard or noticed around here.  And if he's lucky enough to get their attention, and if they are all in a good mood, I love to be the fly on the wall.  

As I've said earlier, how my kids interact and get along is one of the most important things to me as a parent.  I love the fact that the girls are so close in age and even though there's a gap that shouldn't be in between the two boys, they have each other.  Chase being here would make it perfect…in a different way.  But right now they have each other.  Some days they get along and some days they fight.  But as they get older, this will tilt toward getting along more and more and their relationships will change, become even more dependent and more unique.  They will have each other always, no matter how many miles are between them.  Distance will not matter.  They will always be close in their hearts.  

This is my hope and dream, anyway.  I grew up a different way and, thus, not all of my sibling relationships are the close knit type that I wish they were. Actually, they are very distant relationships nowadays.  I didn't work on closeness as a kid, because….well, because I was a kid and so were they and we fought a LOT, just like siblings do.  But there was no working on that relationship and bond encouraged by my parents.    They officiated (sometimes literally--we used sock 'em bop 'ems), but they never tried to make us bond--especially across the gap in ages.  They'd get us to stop fighting with punishment, but that was for their sanity.  There was no "working on relationships" when we were kids.  Things were just they way they were and you got used to it.  My older sister and I are super close today but we weren't always.  We had some major disagreements and fall-outs as adults.  But we worked things out between us over time and have a very special bond.  For the other two sisters, one is completely out of touch and the other relationship is one-sided and hindered by my mom despite her opinion.  But this is all part of what helps guide me and be motivated in encouraging a relationship between my own kids.   In the end, though, a mutual desire to be close was what bonded me with my older sis.  That and we are closer in age, too.  Going through life's milestones (college, weddings, babies, etc.) together certainly facilitates closeness, when both individuals want that.

That's why I do what I do with my kids.  I so often am looking into that crystal globe trying to imagine what things will be like between them as adults.  We even talk about it amongst all of us.  "Reese will be the type to not call or anything and so I'll  be really close to his wife and that's how we'll stay in touch," Emma says.  "Owen will always be the loudest," Karly says.  And so go the predictions….  I try, though they seem to do it on their own, to bridge the gap between the age differences.  But I strongly feel that the way I teach them to get along with each other now will affect how they get along when they are independent.  I tell them I can't make them be best friends.  But I can show them, as I do with my closeness to my own sister, how important those bonds are.  And then I have to let them try it on their own.  They have to see that when they reciprocate on this relationship, it will grow.  I don't get involved on all of their arguments (there are toooooo many).  And there are days when I get sick and tired of officiating.  I remember my mom saying that.  But I do my best to talk to each of them in private about all their siblings and what role they play in our family and how we will all be here for each other.  Always.  And how incredibly important that will be later on in life, in so many ways.  The boys are definitely different than the girls on this whole relationship thing, but I truly see this being important to my boys as adults.    

I'm not saying this is going to work and that it will all be like I hope it will be.  They will piss each other off.  A lot.  And sometimes it will be a big deal. A really big deal.  But I try my best as their mom.    It's not all I do, but it's part of what I do.  I foster their relationships as often as I can and instead of fixing their problems, I make sure one of their siblings fixes it for them when possible.  And when they fall ill, I see the result of this…

A couple of nights ago Owen had a really quick allergic reaction to something, I'm not sure what exactly, and his eyes got red and puffy and watery and he was crying and we were all concerned.  None of my kids had ever had this instant of a reaction to something or this bad of a reaction so I was even caught off guard.  To see the care and concern come out of each of them, was incredible.  Karly wanted to go to the hospital with us if we took him in (I called the hotline first and this took a while so we didn't know what we would need to do).  Emma helped with him and Reese tried entertaining him with toys and giving Owen some of his own toys.  It reminded me how delicate their little hearts are.  How all sibling rivalries are put aside and all they cared about was his well being.  It broke my heart all over again to remember the pain these guys went through watching their baby brother die and how little they each were themselves.  And how much they care…which makes them fragile, whether they are sick or worried about someone who is sick.  

This is why I want them to be close to each other.  I want them to always be there fore each other and know the importance of this.  And I think Chase has a large part in helping me make sure that happens. He has taught them so much in their short lives and he continues to every day.  Owen knows he has a big brother in heaven and I know he'll have questions one day for me that will tear me inside out…  But it's who we are and it's part of our lives.  And it's part of them realizing the importance of each other in their lives and I'm just hoping that this, along with my efforts, will forge that bond between them and continue growing at the incredible rate it is.