Monday, March 26, 2012

Sweet Benjamin

As we come up on 7 months after losing Luke, I am continually amazed that we are still standing.  It is only through the grace of God that we continue to move forward.  We have had a very special week, but it has taken a lot out of us.  Last Wednesday was another night of counseling for the kids and the support group for Keith and I.  Keith stayed home with Sarah and the boys and I went.  It helps us all, but I come home so tired.  Thursday we spent a beautiful evening at Riley at a memorial service for all the kids that had died a Riley around when Luke did.  A room filled with families that will be ever changed... it was a well done service.  Keith and I were proud to stand when Luke's name was read.  We were struck that this will be the only time that we will hear his name be called in a list- no graduation from high school or college. We usually do not spend much time or energy on what could have been, but that was pretty blatant. Forever stuck in time at 8 years old.  Benjamin sat on my lap and stroked my head as I cried.  He was so tender and loving.  He was sad and touchy on Saturday and I took him on my lap and begged him to tell me what was wrong. He kept saying "nothing" which is not unusual for him.  I gave him some suggestions and I finally said, "Are you missing Luke?"  He got quiet for a little bit and then said in a quiet voice, "Yes".  This has been the first time that he has been able to put together that he was feeling sad because of losing Luke. He has had such a hard time putting together why he feels the way that he does.  It hurts my Mommy heart that he has such a hard time grieving and letting it out.  Our neice and nephew were visiting on Friday and were able to attend a Sock Hop that the student council at the kid's  elementary school put on. They did it as a fundraiser for Make A Wish in memory of Luke.  The kids looked great in their 50's style clothes and were so cute.  They did all kinds of group dances and even had a hula hoop contest!  Luke was a really good hula hooper! He would have enjoyed that part! Keith's brother and his wife and kids stayed for dinner and the kids got to play together. Our neice and nephew spent the night with us on Saturday and we all  had a great time.  Our nephew (who is only 9 months older than Benjamin) spent the night in his room which made him so happy. /He has not gotten used to sleeping alone yet.   Sunday morning Keith's sister and her family joined us at church. We watched the Music/Arts/Drama performance that the kids put on twice a year. The kids used to be involved when Luke was here. It was excrutiating to watch and I had to leave. After I got myself back under control, I was able to watch the rest. It was great and the kids did a wonderful job.  Some memories are just too painful at times.
Last night at work three of my families were really grieving and needed a lot of TLC.  To be honest, I am a little weary of dealing with grieving people- I get a little sick of myself sometimes.  Thankfully I have tonight off.
Samuel has decided to try the track team and school and I hope that is something that he will enjoy.  He looked great doing the warm ups and I am really proud of his effort.  He has been rather uncommunicative lately and really in his own world.  I would love to live in his world for a day and truly see how he looks at the world and those of us in it;
We have recently spent way too much money on our "free" shelter cat, Winston Churchill. We have had him for a year and just had him declawed, and he needed most of his teeth removed.  He was shedding so badly that while he was under, we had him shaved.  A clawless, toothless, and hairless cat.. He is a sight to see! HE has been a "lemon" since the beginning, but we love him anyway...

Thursday, March 8, 2012

The Best of Me

We got to a place called "Brooke's Place" twice a month for grief counseling for the kids.  There is a parent support group that meets during the kids session which Keith and I attend.  We have only been three times but the kids have enjoyed it.  I was so encouraged today with Samuel.  He has been so quiet in his expression of grief for Luke and I have been worried that he has not been able deal with it.  The staff at Brooke's place helped him make a memory box which he really got into. Tonight he wanted to fill it, so we went through Luke's things and he chose many special things to fill the box and called it his "precious memories".    He chose 5 pictures to paste on it of Luke.  He placed it on his bedside table so he could see it in the morning when he wakes up.  Then Benjamin took one of Luke's wooden boxes and put a few special things in it himself.   My heart aches for those little boys and what they have lost.  I thought that Sarah would be harder for me- that they never met.  But in truth I have had much more trouble adjusting to the boys.  They were an incredible set of three. Luke brought out the best in both of them and was a champion for his brothers. I thought that I was meeting their specific needs and looking at them as individuals. I was rather enjoying them as a unit, my "pack of puppies".  The easy and comfortable relationship they shared with each other was beautiful and seamless.  I am so proud of Samuel and Benjamin for doing the best that they can to establish a new relationship with each other- it just hurts my Mommy heart.

Last February when Luke was so sick, Keith and I talked only one time about the logistics of Luke dying.  We chose a funeral home, decided what to do with his body, and decided that we would do everything that we could to continue to have joy in our home. We then decided not to have that conversation again until we needed it.  I felt peace knowing that those decisions were made and that we would not have to make them again.  I decided then that I would not bury the best of me with Luke.  I gave it to him when he was alive and I owe it to Samuel, Benjamin, and Sarah to continue to be the Mom I need to be to them.  Those babies are the joy of my life and I do want them to continue to lose. They have suffered enough.  That being said, the hole in our family and in my heart feels so big. There is not a moment that I do not feel Luke's loss. I read in a book an interesting analogy that really feels true-  when a leg is amputated, the wound will eventually heal.  You may even walk again- but you are always missing a part of you and your gait is never the same.  I pray that the rawness of my grief will heal into something more manageable, but the Erin I was died with Luke.  I am a work in progress of the women I am to become. I am trying to take the best of what I was and learn to be the best I can be. Facing the day to come takes so much energy and making the choice every day to move forward is hard.  The kids keep me going.  Sarah is so healing for me.  She is nothing but love for me- her hugs and toothless grins soothes my aching soul.  She felt everything I felt when I carried her and has kept me going after her birth. Making sure Samuel and Benjamin feel loved and cared for motivates me to keep going.  I am trying.

We marked a year a few days ago of the day that we brought Luke home from his lung transplant evaluation. We had no idea that we would lose him in 5 1/2 months.  We felt such joy that day- seeing all tree boys tucked in their beds. We were so thankful that he was alive and so proud of how strong and brave he was.  We knew then that we had seen a miracle. We had time to enjoy him, spend one more summer, and in retrospect, say goodbye. This was God's continuing gift to Keith and I.