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Jim

About a year ago I wrote about Carol, one of my grief share counsellors, who lost her battle with cancer. Mark and I had the privilege of seeing her at uptown art and painting a picture with her. A picture that we still have in our home. Carol and Jim also made us a “goody” basket when they found out we were pregnant with Emery. She hand knitted a hat and put tons of other stuff in there. The hat still sits on our window seal in the kitchen next to a Maxwell poem. I got a call the other day that her husband, Jim, another one of my grief share counsellors had passed away. He chose to take his own life. If there is one thing Carol taught me, it was that it’s ok to be angry and ask why, and she made me feel normal in having both of these feelings. No matter how many years pass you’re still allowed to have angry days and you’re allowed to ask why. This is what she taught me and let me feel at peace with. The one thing that Jim did for me was after a grief share session that I was having a very hard time with, head in my hands and ugly crying, he pulled me aside and said “even if you knew why it wouldn’t change what happened.” In that moment something made sense and he was sadly right. Him and Carol had lost one of there four sons to suicide so they understood the question of WHY more than anyone.
Jim’s funeral was held at Scott’s Funeral Home (a lovely place). Coincidentally that is where Maxwells ceremony was held. As you could imagine it was tough to be there but I wanted to show my support, so I went. Maxwell did not have a showing so Jim’s was not in the same room as the funeral, which was a relief to me. But it was just a hallway over, so naturally I felt the room that Maxwell had last been in calling to me, and what do I do….of course I walk in there. I’m alone, the room is empty and yet I still see the room how it was, how it had been when Maxwell was there, all of the pictures, the blanket, the angel statue, his sleep sheep, his favorite blanket…How it looked when I demanded to see him before everyone else got there and my sister urging/sadly warning me not to move the position of his blanket, Mark pacing back and forth at the doorway while I knelt down by his place of rest and spoke to him as if he were still in my arms.
I will forever remember Carol and Jim because they were both right. It’s ok to be angry and ask why because you’re going to have bad days, it’s inevitable. Jim was right, even if I knew why it wouldn’t change the fact that Maxwell isn’t here. Carol and Jim were such a huge part of helping me and Mark through our grief and I will never forget them and what they did for us. Heaven is lucky to have such great souls and I am at ease knowing they are there with Maxwell.
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Memories

The other day I watched a video on Facebook where kids were blindfolded and had to figure out which women was their mom from sense of smell and touch alone. Naturally, I cried watching the video because each child picked their mother and it got me thinking, will Maxwell remember me? Will he remember my smell, my touch, the sound of my voice?
I remember him so vividly, even though sometimes I worry I’m forgetting him. One memory that comes to mind right now, is when he would wake me up in the middle of the night for a feeding (every 2 hrs) and I would try so hard to not make eye contact with him (because that’s what the books said) and every time he would catch my eye and start smiling, either on his own or through his bottle and I remember thinking…you win. You win my sweet baby and I would smile back at him with every fiber of my being because in that moment he was my smile, he was my whole purpose of being. All I wanted, in my mind at the time was sleep, but with his sweet, unforgettable smile, he made me realize that I was exactly where I was supposed to be and doing exactly what I was supposed to be doing. He was my everything, my purpose in life.
I can only pray and hope that when it is my time, many years from now, my Maxwell will be waiting for me and he will know me without seeing me. He will know me from my smell, my smile, my touch, my laugh, the way I used to hold him, my voice, the songs I sang to him. I pray he remembers me in every way I remember him. I hope it’s like seeing an old friend…you haven’t seen them in years but you pick up right where you left off. Fingers crossed.

Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Stuck

It’s been a while since my last post and a lot has happened. Unknowingly I took time away from the blog after the holidays and then the anniversary of his passing to give myself a break. You never realize how much energy it takes from you until those months have passed and you feel like you can breathe again. It was harder this year than last and maybe that’s because I have Emery now…so last year I was able to be sad or feel blah without feeling guilty but not this year. This year I was torn between being sad for Maxwell and happy for Emery and then, right on queue, guilt for feeling both. My guilt and blame seem never ending at times (most of the time).
Yesterday, I went to the movies with a friend to see Insurgent… I’ve been waiting so long for this movie and once in the theater and a little into the movie I realized this was going to be a hard movie to sit through. For those who have seen it you’ll understand when I say Tris’s guilt and blame were palpable…to me this is what the movie revolved around and if anyone is ever wondering how I’m feeling all you have to do is watch this movie. At the very end Tris has to fight herself in a simulation to past the final test, her alter ego, and her alter ego keeps provoking her to fight. She points out her insecurities and how no one will ever forgive her or love her for all that she has done (parents died for her and she killed her friend to keep from being killed in the first movie). At the end she forgives herself for everything that she has kept on her heart and releases that burden. In therapy the other day I broke down to my therapist saying, “I wonder how freeing that feels to finally forgive yourself.”
Sadly I may never know how that feels but I’m working on it.
I think with every milestone Emery passes it makes me so so happy and relieved for her but heartbreakingly sad for Maxwell. Why wasn’t it this easy for him? Every day I’m torn in between what my heart is missing (Maxwell) and what fills it up (Emery). I know I will eventually find my balance and every night I pray and thank God for both my sweet Emery and sweet Maxwell but today is not so easy and all I can do is hope that tomorrow is different.
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Laurie - Hello Paige! I wish I had a huge eraser and could just swipe it across and wipe out all the guilt you feel and carry. I can promise you that no blame or guilt should be carried by you when it comes to the precious beautiful life and love you gave to Max. You loved him with every part of your being and that has not changed. I can’t imagine the pain that you carry, but I pray that you will be able to let go of the guilt. Max, is watching in spirit and he is free from all the struggles and hardships that we endure on this planet earth. He knows the immense love that you had for him and my belief is that he wants you to be HAPPY, for you to live this life on Earth as happy and joyful as you can be. We have our lives to still live on this plane and to honor him is to do that with love, compassion, joy, humor, and peace. You DESERVE that and carrying guilt is only you punishing yourself when there is no reason for punishment. It’s ok to let go of the guilt. Emery is your angel here on earth and Max is your angel above, both deserve your happiness. I will be keeping you in my prayers always and I am so inspired by your openness and sharing of your life. Love you girlie!

Christmas

A couple of weeks ago I put up our prelit tree and then just left it. I didn’t stretch out the limbs to make it look pretty and I didn’t put any ornaments on it. I just left it. I felt like I had done my part in putting up some holiday cheer and I didn’t want to do anymore. After a couple of days I felt like the tree was taunting me, challenging me, as if I wouldn’t leave it looking like that. So to show the tree I meant business I told my husband we didn’t need to buy Emery or each other any gifts this year because she would just want the wrapping paper and boxes anyway. A few days after I said this, I found myself growing increasingly angrier, but at what? You would think by now I would know but the optimist in me wants to believe it’s something completely unrelated. Per usual I was wrong and it wasn’t unrelated. What is it about the holidays that leave you feeling more alone, less whole and vulnerably raw? I’m never not aware that I’m missing Maxwell, that a part of me is and always will be gone, but it’s magnified during the holidays. The holidays are making it harder for me to find my happiness, the happiness that was starting to be routine for me.
The day I buried Maxwell it was cold, light dusting of snow and sunny. Of all the things that I was hoping that day wouldn’t be, sunny was one of them. It just didn’t feel right to me. I needed it to be cloudy, dark and gloomy; not sunny. Today I woke up praying it would be sunny and to my dismay the sky was covered in a blanket of clouds. I needed it to be sunny today. If there was anything other than Emery to help me out of this awful, anxiety, sad filled mood it would be the warmth of the sun. It would’ve made me feel like Maxwell was watching over us and smiling down and instead it just reiterated that something was off with the day; not complete. Today I feel like the empty hole in me is visible for everyone to see. Most days I feel like I hide it well but not today. Today I feel as if I could give up because that’s how hard this day has been for me.
A couple of Sunday’s ago the prelit tree won…even it knows me better then I know myself. I put Emery in her pack-n-play and she watched me decorate the tree and once I was finished with that I went shopping and bought Emery her first Christmas presents. It was a very hard trip for me but with some help from my family I got through it, just like I’ll get through this day.
A part of me hates that I will make it through the day because I don’t feel as if I should but the other part of me is glad the day is almost over. I can only pray that each Christmas gets a little easier or I’ll get better at keeping the hole I have covered up. I thank God and Maxwell everyday for Emery because they know on days like these it is the only thing that keeps me holding onto the hope of tomorrow and the hope that tomorrow will be better than today, and that I will be better than yesterday. Today I hoped and prayed for a sign from Maxwell and I feel as if I didn’t get it or maybe I did and was just too overwhelmed by sadness to see it. Either way I miss him and I miss my family being complete. I bought Maxwell a gift and have yet to take it to him because I don’t know if he will like it. What if I got the wrong gift? I know I’ve said this before but I hate to have to guess at what my son might like.
Tomorrow I will take it to him and sit and talk to him. I’ll tell him about Emery and about Christmas morning and tell him I can’t wait to see him again. It will seem like forever for me but I know it will only feel like a moment to him, which I’m thankful for.

Merry Christmas Maxwell- love Mommy, Daddy, and Emery
Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Break

September and October are finally over and I finally feel like I might get a break from my ongoing anxiety and stress. No sooner did I feel relief from those two months finally passing that it dawned on me, the Holidays are coming, one after the other. So my short reprieve was quickly blown away and replaced with overwhelming anxiety, sadness and fear of the unknown. How will the Holidays play out? Will they be different because of Emery or will they be just as hard as last year? As I let my mind keep going down a path I knew I shouldn’t, I ended up feeling like this is never ending, there is no light at the end of this tunnel because it will always be one thing after the other. I will always miss Maxwell and wish that things could be different.
Thanksgiving was the first Holiday I took Maxwell too, so the last week leading up to it was very hard and as time passes I notice my “ques” quicker. I get giddy and am outwardly happy and excited to anyone and everyone as if I haven’t a care in the world and then I get nervous/shaky, as if I just took an Adderall to stay up and study for my final exams. Every time an important date is coming up I get like this and I think it’s to try and hide how I’m truly feeling on the inside and somehow protect myself from the inevitable. When you think about this it’s kind of silly because nothing I do can protect me from how I’m going to feel because you never know what triggers you or when it will happen…luck of the draw, if you will. I spend a majority of my time bracing myself for things I think should and will happen that never do and then get blindsided when they do happen. It’s hard to explain.
My sister said to me this weekend that she doesn’t know how I do it and that she can see Maxwell every time she looks at her sweet baby. Then she asked me if I see Maxwell in Emery? My instant reply was no, not at all. Then I tried to explain that, in my mind the two do not coexist. I’ve talked to my therapist about this many of times and I will try to explain it now. To me, Maxwell and I happened another lifetime ago, when I was someone else, someone I knew, and now Emery and I have happened. I’m not the same person as I was with Maxwell because a part of me is gone and it always will be, so to me, Emery and I exist in a different time. So I truly don’t see Maxwell in Emery because they are two different people and so am I in a way and maybe on some level I don’t want to see him in her because I want them both to have their own identities and maybe this is my way of preserving that, while also separating things in my mind so that I can be happy for Emery and continue to move forward for her. If I could have them both in the same lifetime, to watch them grow and play together, I would give up anything, but sadly, no matter how hard I pray this isn’t in the stars for me. So to answer my sisters question of how I do it, it’s simple, I don’t… At least I feel like I don’t.
Grief is an internal struggle everyday that most people won’t see because the one thing about grief that no one tells you, is how alone you feel, no matter how great your support system.
Grief is unique to that person and what they feel is unique to them. So when my sister tells me how strong I am it’s hard to believe her because I don’t feel that way on the inside, but I try very hard everyday to be happy for Emery and I honestly try to find things that make me happy. Emery is the biggest factor for me and I’m so blessed to have her in my life. She is my light at the end of the tunnel and my saving grace, simple as that. I will try to keep that picture in focus as I battle the upcoming Holidays and the anniversary of his passing, followed a couple days later by a not so happy birthday.
If you are struggling through grief please know you are not alone and my prayers and thoughts are with you.

Until next time xoxo

FL&R

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Kelly - I love you. I think you explain your grief very well and although I’m sure many people cannot relate (me being one of them), I certainly know there are many who can. You are a beacon to a lot of people going through now what you went through then and those people may not see light at the end of the tunnel but reading your posts could change that. Even when it’s patronizing to hear, stay positive and remember that every day that moves forward is not a day further from Maxwell, it’s a day closer to him because you’ll see him again someday- after you’ve done your motherly duties with Emery of course (and any other child you may decide to have in the future- if any.)