Friday, December 23, 2011

Sarah's Baptism

My wonderful sister in law, Elizabeth, did a beautiful job with pictures from Sarah's baptism. I did not bring my camera, but she has posted them on her blog, "Life with the Mendenhalls".  She always captures such beautiful moments.  Sarah's day was filled with our wonderful family and a deep sense that our sweet baby girl is here for a purpose- she has brought such joy to our family.  Much needed distraction.  I remember with such love the days that Samuel, Luke, and Benjamin were surrounded by our family for their baptisms.  Keith and my promise to raise the children in the church and the chance to commit their lives to God was and is so important to us.  Sarah was so sweet in her dress that my Mom got for her. So thankful for all the support from our friends and family.
We have had three family Christmases already.  We did okay, but it is so hard.  It feels so obvious that we are not all here. Luke's absence is deafening.  It is very important to Keith and I that holidays remain good for our children and nieces and nephews.  We can still enjoy each other as family and have a fun time together.  But the energy it takes to keep it all together right now is draining.
Merry Christmas to you from our family!  Erin

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Samuel Butler, MD

Bless his heart, Samuel over the last three years has tried really hard to diagnose Luke.  He has many different theories on why his blood vessels got so crazy. He always asks if I think that his theories are right and I never know what to say.  He was really thinking about it last evening and spoke for at least 30 minutes about his latest theory.  Benjamin said something interesting to me last night.  We were talking about Luke and I asked him what he does to help him feel better when he is sad about Luke.  He said that he thinks about him, but then said that that made it worse.  He also told me that Samuel told him that it makes him sad to talk about and remember Luke. The boys have done so well but there is more circling under the surface than we know or see.  Hoping that we can continue to help the boys with what they need as they need it.  My heart breaks for them. I know how hard this has been for me to process, and I am not a little boy. We have actually had a good couple of days. It has been busy.  Our furnace stopped working, but thankfully we just needed a new "mother board" instead of a new furnace. That will be eventually, but we are hoping to hold off for as long as we can.  That was one cold night in our house!  Down to 55 in the house!  Sarah slept right through it, but Samuel was not pleased to take his jammies off and get dressed!  I have decided to go back to work on schedule- my first shift back (again) will be the 21st.  I have tried to put some things in place to support going back and I think that it will be a good thing in the long run.  Blessings, Erin

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Four Stockings

Looking at my hearth tonight with four stockings hanging.  I did get my shopping done for the boys and made the mistake of putting some things in their stockings so I would not lose them- finding myself very forgetful lately.  Benjamin has already peeked!  I could not even tell I put anything in them, but 6 year old eyes can!  He really does not like surprises. I have found a couple of really good gifts for Benajmin and Samuel and I think they will be excited.  Not sure if buying an electric spark scooter for a 10 year old with autism was a good idea, but what the heck! I got him a new helmet.....  It has been really hard not to buy anthing for Luke.  I found a great art set that he would  have liked and a set of little drawers to put all of his treasures. Fisher Price is rereleasing some of their classic toys so I bought Sarah Jane a few things that I played with when I was little.  She is still a little young for them, but it is exciting to have them ready for her.  I have also been collecting these toys for her called "Lalaloopsy".  Luke and I watched a lot of TV when he was in the hospital when he was not feeling well, and we saw commercials for these dolls over and over.  It was our joke that they were the most girly thing he had ever seen!  He would pretend to gag but would smile the whole time.  I have been buying them for Sarah for later to give her from Luke.
Luke's stocking is empty and will remain so. Just another little piece of him that is left behind. All the little 8 year old stuff that he loved surrounds us here. Rocks, bags of twigs, a glass jar full of rainwater in the garage. coins, half finished journal, unfinished books, flash cards from a spelling test....  insignificant little things in the regular world.  Makes me wonder what I would leave behind?  What could you tell from me if you went through my room? Most of his things we have not packed up. Not sure when that will feel right.  We are letting Benjamin decide about when we move Luke's things out of the room they shared.  I can't make myself take his backpack off the hook that he put it on the Friday before he died.  I cannot bear to throw away his bag of bagels and tub of cream cheese  from the fridge that he was eating his last week.  I know that little boy is in my heart, but I cannot let go of the material things.
We are going to see my niece and nephew (Grace and Nathaniel) sing at their preschool tomorrow and are really looking forward to that.  We find so much joy from our 7 nieces and nephews.
Enjoying the moments that are good and doing our best through the hard moments. I am so easily overwhelmed right now that I have to be careful. So thankful for some time off of work.  I will need to make a decision soon when I want to come back and have to make sure that human resources can accomodate the leave,  My managers have been wonderful and so supportive as have my coworkers. Doing the best I can right now to take care of myself so I can be present for Keith, the kids, and my family.
God bless, Erin

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Facing Future

On my last blog, I alluded in the title to the 3rd grade concert, and then did not comment about it. So forgetful right now....  The third grade did international music selection for the fall concert. Luke's class chose to do  Hawaiian song about pineapples and dedicated it to Luke. They were so cute and we were so touched.  Then the entire third grade sang a song at the end in memory of him.  It was a very special night.  I wa overcome with the thought that Luke would have loved the whole evening- the dances and songs from different countries.  I know that heaven is better than anything here, but there are so many things on earth that Luke would have enjoyed or wanted to be a part of.  He had been asking to go to Chuck E Cheese for the whole summer before he died. We never took him that summer and we passed it today. Reminded of the things on earth that Luke did not get to do- but I try and focus that where he is now is so much better.
We returned from Disney World on Tuesday. We had a great time! The boys had a blast. Benjamin was tall enough this time to ride everything that he wanted to. He and Keith used our park hopper and did all four parks in one day riding all the big roller coasters. It was so special to let the boys choose anything they wanted to do for three days. Noone wanted to see Captian Eo with me (the Michael Jaskson video from the 80's) so I was a little sad about that.  Keith and I did sneak a little snuggle on the Finding Nemo ride....  We were flooded by wonderful Luke memories. We took a trip with my side of the family in May of 2009- Luke had started with the bleeding the Novmeber prior.  We had some hard moments, but we wer filled with fun memories and told many stories about what we had done with Luke.  Coming home was very hard though.  It was nice to focus completely on the big boys. We were anxious to see Sarah. Very hard to be away from her.  But she was in great hands. I think between my Mom, Dad, and Gramma, she was never put down. She is one loved little girl.  The trip to Disney was pivotal for me in that it validated to me that we could still have fun and enjoy time together. Benjamin was so funny and relaxed and he and Samuel did really well together.  Things were also more fun with Luke around and we missed him.  He loved roller coasters and he and Luke would have loved to ride the big ones together.
I am so sad for the boys right now.  So sad that they lost their brother. Keith is wise to counsel me that his influence on Samuel and Benjamin has helped make them the people that they are.  They were lucky to have him as Luke was to be their brother.  I still think of them as a group of three and have found it so difficult to only see two.
I am struggled with a lot of sadness and especially anxiety lately and had a pretty good meltdown on my way to work on Friday. Spoke to my manager and I am going to take a few more weeks off work. I can back too early.  I am a little embarrassed that I am having so much trouble keeping it all together, but I realize that I need to take better care of myself right now and acknowledge gravity of what we are all dealing with.  New baby, lost son, survivng siblings, the holidays, and being a nurse that deals with death and grieving people.  I have discovered yet again that I am not super human and have put up my white flag.  Thankfully I work with incredible people and managers who are all looking out for me.
It has only been three months since Luke died, but I feel like it has been an eternity.  Part of me wishes that time would speed up, but every passing day takes me farther away from I time when I had Luke in this world.  I can still hear his voice, feel the weight of him on my lap, and his hand in mine. So afraid that will go away in time.
Sarah continues to be a joy- sleeps through the night, coos and smiles...  I thank her everyday for being with me every day of Luke's last 8 months- good and bad. And I thank her for the joy she brings me now.  We have walked this journey together and for that I am so grateful to her.
Benjamin scored two baskets at his basketball game on Saturday! So proud of him!  My cousins, Kari and Dawn, went with us to see the Muppet Movie today and we all just loved it. That kind of humor is what Samuel loves!  It brought back so many fun memories for me of being little and watching it with my parents and brother.
Facing future... Our life without Luke will always have a hole. I miss him with every part of my soul.  I would be an idiot though if I did not see what I still have.  I am so thankful for the people in my life and a Father in Heaven that is always teaching me and molding me into his image.  I feel like he is refining me and continually making me look around me for ways to be thankful.  I hope when I can get my feet back under me I can figure out what God wants me to do with Luke's story and the story of our family.  Right now I just want to make it through the day.
The holidays have been hard.  We bought a second tree this year- it is actually a palm tree with lights on it.  We have some special Christmas ornaments on it that are for Luke and Benjamin put pictures of all the boys on it also.  Remembering Christmas' past- facing our first Christmas with him.  But, it is Sarah's first. She is our gift.
Trying so hard to move forward- Facing future...