Friday, December 30, 2016

Thank You Heather Spohr and Finding Purpose

After I wrote my blog yesterday I wandered over to "The Sophrs Are Multiplying" and read Heather's entry for the day. Heather Sophr is a brilliant writer and someone I feel I know even though we have never personally met. I began following her story back in 2008 when I found out I was pregnant with Jude. About a year after I followed her story she lost her daughter Maddie, ironically also in April. I watched her grieve through her blog much like I have done. In fact I remember reading a post she put up about reading obituaries after her daughter passed and I have done the same with Jude. I would read Jude's tribute and look at the others that passed as well. I found a poor little boy drowned on the same day Jude passed and his services were held at the same facilities the day after Jude's funeral. That must have been a horrible weekend for the funeral home and the church. I have no idea why I would want to even read that information but I was drawn to it. Maybe it was my own way of wondering why little ones suffer and trying to find some answers in the universe. Without knowing it Heather's posts from all these years have helped me since I lost Jude. She taught me that being expressive and open about my feelings can help heal some of the broken lines within my soul. 

Yesterday Heather helped me again. As I read her entry I began to shed a few tears, She touched on a subject that Mike and I have both discussed. Neither of us would prefer to be on this Earth without Jude but we made a decision to live for him. We also live for Emily but we feel like Jude would want us to continue our lives in the best way possible. I am sure we will eventually live for ourselves again too. I will admit I have been wallowing in grief and in a very dark spot but I believe that is perfectly normal the first year or two after losing a child. Actually I don't think you ever heal from losing a child but you can find happiness and meaning again. So last night I began wading through my cedar storage chest looking at memorabilia of Jude's only to stumble upon so much more. I am a pack rat and I save anything that seems special or from the heart. I began opening cards, drawings, and more items that people have sent over the course of Jude's life. I began crying realizing how much everyone truly did love Jude and how much he impacted their personal lives. I had hand written notes from my grandmother, drawings from Emily, and even a large birthday banner Gina made for Jude with a personal message written on the back. It was humbling and truly touched my heart.  

Last night I got on my new treadmill and walked two miles while watching, "The Crown." My diet starts on Monday which consists of zero wine or sweets and I am already a little sad! However I figure I am searching for away to find happiness again. Heather mentions finding purpose in her blog and that's also something I have been searching for. In the midst of grief running a mundane life of getting up, going to work, coming home, and doing it all over again can be taxing. I am eternally grateful for a good job but I feel there is something else out there. I am not sure if that's adopting children, continuing to write, or what my purpose is but it's out there somewhere. My goal is to find it. 

So thank you Heather for blessing my life from afar.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Christmas And A Princess

I know people are wondering how our Christmas was and I have taken a few days to find the proper words for the blog.  On Christmas Eve we had multiple people over to our house to celebrate the holiday and complete a lighted balloon release for Jude. Emily captured the blinking lights in a photo she took. 

As we set the balloons free everyone was in awe at how high they flew and how the lights were easily seen. We knew others would see them and we hoped they would make them smile. I know Jude was smiling. 

Christmas day was more somber. It wasn't just Jude's loss but the fact that he always had a loss of sorts because he could never truly enjoy stockings or Santa. He deserved to have a good Christmas with family gathered around, movies, gifts, and more. However I soon realized Jude could enjoy love and that is the true meaning of the holiday. So even though we missed him dearly we remembered the good times and after shedding a few tears we all smiled. Our little family went to see Star Wars Rogue One that day because we are huge fans and we truly enjoyed ourselves.  We went to the Movie House and enjoyed lounging in the seats and eating wonderful food. We also left a very nice tip for our adorable waitress who truly seemed to enjoy working the holiday and had a beautiful festive smile. The rest of the day was spent fairly quiet and reflective. 

With the mention of Star Wars I reflect on the loss of Carrie Fisher. The thoughts are split in my loss forum between being incredibly sad for her family and being angry a celebrity receives so much attention, when the loss of our children is so great. I am one of those that is sad and feels for her family. I posted on Facebook that I am a 70's child. In 1977 my dad took me to a drive in theater to watch my very first movie and I was introduced to Princess Leia and Luke Skywalker. I loved the entire move and when The Empire Strikes Back came out I watched it 14 times in the theater. This was back when your parents could drop you off at the movies and know you would be safe.  I wanted to be Princess Leia and even though there is a plethora of princesses offered by Disney now the only Princess I ever dressed up as was her. My two icons were Leia and Wonder Woman. So even though it's not even close to losing a child I still felt a loss of my childhood and therefore I felt very sad. Then yesterday we hear Debbie Reynolds her mother also passed. A legendary actress herself that accomplished so much in life. I think the loss affected her heart and with her age that led to the stroke. I feel for her family and the tremendous loss they must be feeling. I can understand why her heart hurt so much that her life just ended because the pain sometimes feels unbearable. As evident by Mike's heart issue, grief can try to kill a person. So Debbie sing a little Charlotte's Web to my son if you don't mind. He loved that movie and we watched it so many times together. Thank you both for so many amazing childhood memories it is much appreciated. Traveling Mercies. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Dream

I dreamt of Jude last night which is very rare. I like dreaming of him but this one had a bit of a sad ending to it. I was in this large place with a lot of people around and two little boys asking me about skating. Jude's nurse was near us and I saw another person in scrubs pushing Jude in a hospital bed down a hallway. Jude was upset and crying out like he used to and thrashing about. I told the nurse I was afraid he would fall and she assured me the aid pushing the bed was very good and wouldn't let that happen. So I began walking towards the bed and said "Ju Ju Bean!" in a loud happy voice. Jude sat up with the biggest smile and said, "MAMA!" The aid looked surprised and said, "well that's new." Suddenly Jude fell forward and I went running towards him because I was afraid he would hit his head but Jude caught himself with his hands. Jude could not do that when he was alive. I hugged him tightly and he hugged me back. We were both very happy. Then suddenly I remembered Jude was gone and I asked him, "Do they let you play in heaven?"

Jude just smiled at me but then he was gone. I was left sitting there holding a sheet crying very loudly for him. I woke up with tears running down my face and missing Jude. The dream was oddly comforting and sad all at the same time. I am not sure what the dream means if anything and I am sure there are parts I am not remembering. I am rather emotional today because of it. Like I have said before you have good days and bad days and this seems to be a so so day. 

I will post pictures of our balloon release for Jude that we are doing Christmas Eve. I am asking everyone to light a candle for Jude this weekend. 

Merry Christmas. 

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Christmas Cards and Emily Too

I wanted to take a moment to thank several people. We didn't do Christmas cards this year for obvious reasons. I would normally send out cards every year with out family's picture on them but this year I just couldn't. Anyway, I have received some cards at my house and I have noticed that people have gone out of their way to go get cards that do not have pictures. I am grateful for any card, but I still thought it was so thoughtful. They took the time to realize that seeing a bright shiny happy family with younger children could hurt during the holidays. I was amazed at the thoughtfulness. I could see some of their cards on their regular Facebook but our card was hand selected, how kind. I just sat there in tears each time we received one just amazed that people are so thoughtful. Some had even been handmade. 

This morning I had another adorable picture of Jude on my Facebook memory feed and it made me smile. 

Sometimes I wonder if Emily has truly grieved for Jude. Being a teenager I think it's hard to remember just how very close they were but I am sure she deals with her emotions in her own way. Emily was so incredibly excited when I was pregnant with Jude. When he was born she couldn't wait to hold him, feed him, change him, and do all the big sister things that come with being a member of a family. I know a lot of that was stolen from her. In fact when Emily talks about the day Jude was diagnosed it rips your heart out. She will tell you how she came home to a very dark and quiet house and how she realized our lives would never be the same again. We all know that Emily ended up turning a negative situation into a positive but what most don't know is all she did behind the scenes. Jude LOVED Emily, he would literally track her voice around the room until he spotted her and give her the biggest smile. You could sense he just trusted her and knew of all people Emily would never hurt him. She would never stick him with needles or force him to do anything the adults had to. They had an unbreakable bond between them. She would sit and sing to him for hours when they were little or read him books until he fell asleep. She loved giving him bath's and would talk to him in her little baby voice. As Jude grew his care became more complicated and Emily learned all she could to help him. I could literally leave the room to go take a bath and Emily could handle seizures, feeding tubes, oxygen level issues, vomit, and more. As she got older I could leave her at the hospital with him while I worked or ran home to shower. She could tend to him and accurately update nurses on his situation when they did their rounds or signal them in case of an emergency. Recently we were all in the car on our way home from eating and I began thinking about Jude and tried to fight back the tears.  Emily asked me what was wrong. I told her it wasn't just losing Jude it was the guilt that her childhood was ripped from her. She said, "Why on Earth would you feel that way? Who else can say that they had someone so amazing as their brother. Someone I would want to be exactly like?".  After that Mike and I were both wiping away a few tears. I have no doubt this Christmas is difficult on her too but she doesn't let it show. She insisted we continue marching forward with normal traditions, she is like our Christmas cheerleader.  Thank you Emily for being you! As you always say,  

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Being Sad

I think I have started this blog one hundred times today but I stop each time wondering how my words could accurately convey my feelings. I am not sure they ever will but I am going to go ahead and write for therapy today. So this is more to help me and I appreciate your patience. Before I was an insurance agent I went to college to become a counselor. I didn't finish but had many classes to educate myself on the human mind and emotions. I know most of the clinical terminology and treatments for depression. I also know that despite available pills, oils, and other various items available you just sometimes have to feel. You have to feel the raw pain and the struggle before you can come out into the sunshine again. Despite the list of well wishers and advice givers people sometimes just have to deal with their own bag of troubles. I miss Jude but I also miss the boy Jude should be but the stroke took that from us and him. I should be buying holiday gifts for an eight year old boy and watch his excited face when Santa came to visit him but I am not. I never will and it sucks and it's okay to admit it's hard. 

Depression feels like big rocks that have been piled on top of a board you are laying under. Most people cannot understand the nasty pit of grief because it's hard to understand and take yourself to that level unless you have actually been there. It's ugly though and sometimes additional rocks are added to that pile making it even heavier than before. It's not wanting to get up in the morning and feeling like your swimming in stagnate water because life seems a bit annoying.  I seem to be lashing out at people more lately too. After a few glasses of wine last night I booted one of the animals that was being annoying off the couch and Emily called me mean. I don't blame her..........she is right. I am thankful she has patience with me. Anger, frustration, and a short fuse are all common complaints grieving parents talk about.  I see Facebook posts from people complaining about things that seem trivial to me in comparison to losing a child and it just makes me angry. The reality is I know their issues are real issues and they are dealing with life the best way they can and they have a right to be upset. See when going through something like losing Jude individuals know what's right but sometimes your mind just doesn't want to listen. My co-worker again mentioned today she doesn't believe we give people the proper amount of time to grieve in America. We give maternity leave but what about if the mom loses that child she took leave for? Then what?  It took 9 months to make that child but grief should only take 5 days? It seems a bit absurd to me but we all have to live and need money to live on. 

So what's the solution? I keep marching on. That's what you have to do. You take one day, one hour, and one minute at a time. I have decided I will cry when I need to and treat myself and others with kindness. I have started working out too and hopefully that will improve my mood. However 30 minutes of the Country Heat workout last night made me want to punch a baby bunny in the nose. I also try to keep humor as reflected in my prior sentence. I think of special ways to honor Jude and I am always on the look out for signs he is still with us. I say no to many events outside of my house because I am in my comfort zone right now but I still go out. I still hold functions, I still go to work, and I still love my family. I write in my blog, I light candles for Jude, and I share my memories when I can. These things make me better and that's all we as humans can do, just be better. 

One day, one hour, and one minute.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Your Year In Review

Dear Facebook - 
Although I generally love your cute little video's and applications you come up with the year in review makes me want to hurl something. It makes me so happy to see all the photo's of the last year which encompass many of Jude's illness and funeral, not. It makes me even more happy to see how great everyone's life is and how happy everyone is. Actually that part does make me smile but I cannot help feeling jealous of their happiness. If I sound like a scrooge, well whatever.  - Love Jenn

Emily has sent her college applications off and I know she was so nervous about receiving responses. She sent applications to Arkansas, Alabama, OU, OSU, and Texas A&M. Her number 1 is A&M and I hear they are always the last to respond. I can happily announce her first acceptance letter from Arkansas arrived Tuesday. Then yesterday she was accepted into the University of Alabama and into their nursing program. We will see which others she receives and she will make an announcement some time next year. I cannot believe she will be going away. I know she will only continue to grow and inspire others but my house will be very quiet without her. 

We have decided to spend Christmas with our little family at home. We will have breakfast and spend time with Emily before she goes with her dad and then we will venture to see Jude. We feel it will be an emotional day and that we will feel drained and prefer not to drain anyone else. However we are having a balloon release for Jude on Christmas Eve at our house where we hope to spend time with family and friends. 

We appreciate everyone's continued support. Saturday night nurse Allan has invited us over for dinner. I am truly looking forward to seeing him and giving him a big hug! 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

8 Years

It's been eight years since Jude was diagnosed. Eight years ago since we learned our adorable bouncing baby boy wasn't going to be the child we thought he would be. Eight years since we learned what an amazing blessing the child was we actually had. 

Eight years seems like yesterday.