I’m not going to lie…

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling. My heart hurts so bad. I hold on and find joy in my days for Alice and Tom but in the quiet moments, like nap time and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, I sit paralyzed with my reality.

I miss Anna and Abigail so much.

No sugar-coating or telling you that time heals ~ my heart hurts the same today as it did on Oct. 21, 2013 when the sun came up and my girls were gone. Actually, I think my heart hurts worse today ~ it’s been so long since I’ve held them.

This is a very long road.

I’m working through it all, taking care of myself and trying to balance my life so that Alice and Tom get the best of me. I won’t lie though, it’s hard, very hard.

I sat down to share that I wrote another post for Portland Moms Blog today. This is what came out instead.

I miss my girls.

summer 2013

How many more sleeps?

This post was originally posted in March of 2014 and reposted today because I miss my travel partners.

plane

“How many more sleeps till Nana’s house?” The question asked hundreds of times in past 7 years.

Anna would always be so excited about our pending trips back to Ohio. She loved visiting Nana and Papa, so much that as a toddler she would announce to the entire plane “We’re in Ohio”, upon landing in Cleveland.

During these many trips across the county we developed some really fun games, learned how to not kick the seat in front of us and found that novel toys and new Wonder Pet videos were the key to a day of traveling. We also had many discussions about what the “little bag” was for. Anna, in her 7 years, never once got sick. For her the barf bag was more of a means to make an awesome hand puppet to entertain her Mama.

In 2011 Abigail, Anna and I made a trip to Ohio for spring break. I knew that it was going to be one of many trips back East that the three of us would take during this time. I promised the girls that we would try to get back every year during the Spring to see family and to go on a little adventure together. They loved that idea. In the Fall we were already planning our March visit to Nana and Papa’s new house.

During that very first trip I knew that Abigail was a little nervous. She had never really flown without her dad before and although she was really comfortable with Anna and I, I knew that she was probably going to get a little home sick. I felt so blessed to have her with us and to introduce her as my daughter. Anna was excited to show her Nana’s house and to introduce her to Isabella.

On the first leg of our trip all was going according to plan until Abigail looked at me, a little green, and said she wasn’t feeling well. I knew this was going to turn from a joyous plan ride to a smelly, yucky, barforama real quick. I can deal with a lot of stuff but one thing I can’t deal with is someone throwing up, not even my own kid. So here I am, in a very confined space about to experience something I knew was going to make me gag. I was hoping she was just imagining that she was sick, you know when kids just feel a little woozy and nothing really happens. This was definitely not the case as she was starting to convulse a bit. I looked at Anna, eyes wide and said, “quick Anna, give me the barf bag.” Anna promptly reached into the pocket in front of her and grabbed the hand puppet, I mean barf bag.

I put it up to Abigail’s face and, as she held it, I rubbed her back saying a little prayer, “please God, don’t let me barf.” Abigail did get sick but I never saw it, everything went into the bag. When she was all done she looked at me and said, “I feel much better.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I was so proud of her that I stuck out my hand and gave her a high-five along with telling her she was a rock star. We all laughed and continued to give the high fives every time we retold the heroic story of how we, all three of us, worked as a team to make sure the barf went in the bag.

I’m smiling as I type, thinking that my girls are giving each other a high-five as I retell the story.

Our first trip back East as a threesome was amazing. My family loved Abigail as their own and the cousins bonded as if they knew each other since day one.  My heart was full each night as Abigail would give my dad a big hug and say, “good night Papa.” I know his heart was full of love too.

We did have some issues with delays on the way back home but ended up in a fancy hotel in Chicago. Every trip since then my girls would pray that we would have delays so we could jump on the beds in Chicago again. Such great memories of our adventures together.

spring 18 spring 6spring 32 spring 13 spring 21spring 30

This week my heart has been heavy. I’ve been struggling to pinpoint the cause, worried that maybe it was due to bringing Linus into our lives to soon. I’ve talked with friends about their spring break plans, I’ve watched the weather change as the sun beams through our windows and sensed the spring fairies presence as I watch the tulips and daffodils starting to take form in the front yard.

This morning the reason for my heavy heart dawned on me.

This week, Anna would be asking over and over, “how many more sleeps Mama till we go to Ohio?” I would be replying in single digits. We would be dusting off the suitcases and I know that both girls would have a pile of their favorite clothes sitting neatly on the floor waiting to be packed. They would ask if I was secretively putting together a goody bag for the plane and secretively I would be.  They would want to sleep in the same room, something they loved to do when something exciting was approaching.

We would all be so excited!

My heart is heavy because I want to hear Anna ask, “how many more sleeps Mama?”

100_0258

Photo taken by Anna on a trip to Ohio.

As for bringing Linus into our lives too soon. He is our healer sent from God and I truly know this to be the case. As my heart is heavy, he fills it with Joy. I’ve watch all week how this little guy has brought happiness to those he comes in contact with. Our community, our close friends and especially Anna and Abigail’s friends needed Linus. We needed Linus. He brings a smile to everyone that comes in contact with him and that brings a smile to my face.

I just wish my girls could snuggle with him, he’s a good snuggler and so are my girls.

The Pain

The pain is indescribable, the desperate feeling of wanting something so bad and knowing that it will never be again in this lifetime. The problem that you can’t fix.

The pain grips me tight as I come out of a daydream and my reality sets in ~ they are not here, they are in Heaven.

The pain of isolation ~ even when you are surrounded by people who love you and care, grief is still very isolating.

The pain and sadness I feel for Alice as I watch her grow ~ she will only know her sisters through photos and stories.

The pain and exhaustion that waves over me as I watch the first leaf prematurely fall to the ground in front of their tree ~ It’s almost that time of year again.

I hurt.

I miss my girls so much.

girls and dolls

 

“Alone Time”

Alice and Tom are asleep upstairs. When she awakes in the early morning hours he takes her upstairs so I can sleep, uninterrupted, for a couple of hours. When I get up I usually find them asleep in the rocking chair.

Tom and Alice sleeping

I whisper, “are you good?”

With eyes closed, he smiles and nods yes.

My heart melts.

With some time left on my “alone time” clock here I sit, blank page in front of me.

To left of my computer I have my favorite picture of Anna and I ~ cheeks pressed closely together (our favorite photo pose). It was taken the 3 days before she went to Heaven.

I’m glad I didn’t know that was going to be our last photo together.

cheeks

Photograph by Nicole Zena Photography

I was getting photos taken of Sampson and I knew I wanted some of the three of us, the way it was in the beginning ~ Mama, daughter and their big old dog.

Sampson was getting old and struggled getting in and out of the car. It was his last adventure away from the house and I knew we had to make it a good one. We brought a loaf of bread because we both knew that he would do anything for bread. Anna picked off pieces trying to get him to look in the direction of the camera. I can still hear her laughing because a loaf of bread was definitely more than enough to keep his focus.

I can still hear her laughing.

I look at our photo everyday and I can still feel her face pressed against mine. I can still hear her laughter as she danced around holding a chunk of bread. Sometimes I worry about the time that has passed since this photo was taken. I worry that one day I  will no longer hear her or remember how she feels. That wave of fear knocks me off my feet and brings me to my knees.

In those moments I beg God to never allow that day to come. I beg Him to always allow her and her sister to be close and for me to remember and feel.

Today, I hear her laughter and I am grateful.

 

Settling In

I told Tom yesterday I wanted to write a blog post hoping that in doing so he would keep me accountable to sitting and writing. There is so much I want to write about.

Instead, I found that snuggling up on the couch with him and our little girl was what we all needed. Writing can wait.

This past week has been beautiful in the way life should be. We are settling into a rhythm that feels so familiar in so many ways but one that also brings to the surface a new set of emotions.

Leaving the hospital was very hard, the last time we left the hospital we were saying goodbye and embarking on a journey neither of us wanted. As the nurse took my blood pressure for the final time I was teary trying to calm my heart of the emotions that were taking over.  I didn’t want a reason for them to make me stay a bit longer but I also was very scared about stepping out into the world with a life I was now responsible for ~ so many emotions.

The nurse put her hand on mine knowing of my heartache and told me it was perfect ~ we were free to go.

Since we have been at home I can’t help but feel that Alice is surrounded by so much more than her parents love for her. She is comforted not only by us in this space but also by her Heavenly Father and her sisters that I know sent her to us filled with secrets.

This morning, sitting in the space we have created for Alice to get to know her sisters,  I sat and prayed out loud for her. When I was finished I then talked with my girls (as I do often), asking for them to watch over their sister from Heaven. At that moment Alice opened her eyes and gave me a little smile ~ the kind newborns give after filling their belly with milk and feeling completely comfortable nestled against their mama’s chest. The timing was perfect for my heart ❤  She knew, as her sisters do, what her mama’s heart needs. That little smile was an answer to my prayers and a gift from all of my girls.

The Interim

I’ve avoided this space for a couple weeks ~ not because the words aren’t very present in my mind, but because my list of things to do has been so long that I haven’t found the time ~ something I’m a bit frustrated with because coming to this space is very important to me. I know in the weeks (maybe even months) to come arriving here will be sporadic  at best, but just knowing I have this space means a lot.

This morning I woke up with almost all of my “before the baby arrives checklist” crossed off and thought to myself, today would be a good day to write.

Here I am.

In two weeks (or less!) I will have a little baby in my arms…such a crazy thought. Sometimes I still can’t believe this is where we are, in our 40’s and parents to a little one.  The emotions that come with this fact are overwhelming to say the least. I feel so blessed by this life growing inside me but I will honestly say I don’t think I’ve ever been so scared either.

I’m not scared about being a mom, I have nine years of experience, but I am scared about the emotions that I will feel the moment when she is placed on my chest, when the physical pain of childbirth is washed away and I’m looking at our child for the very first time. I’m scared of what those feelings will bring, both a tremendous amount of joy and a tremendous amount of loss for the children I so long to be face to face with again.

For the past couple of months my PTSD has come in the form of the exact moment on October 20th when I realized Anna was gone. That exact moment when my eyes saw the white sheet being placed, the exact moment when my mind began screaming and the moment my heart completely broke forever. In that instance my life stopped.

Soon I will have a moment which is the exact opposite of the one I had on October 20th, a moment when life will begin as our little girl, breathing, is placed in my arms.

The deep suffering of the loss of the love of my life and the overwhelming Joy of a new soul to care for will collide in that very moment ~ the thought of those emotions coming face to face overwhelms my heart and my mind.

This week my counselor shared with me a blessing written by John O’Donohue. She said as she read it she couldn’t help but think about Tom and I, and our journey. It definitely speaks to my heart and the feelings I have been having lately.

For the Interim Time

When near the end of day, life has drained
Out of light, and it is too soon
For the mind of night to have darkened things,

No place looks like itself, loss of outline
Makes everything look strangely in-between,
Unsure of what has been, or what might come.

In this wan light, even trees seem groundless
In a while it will be night, but nothing
Here seems To believe the relief of the dark.

You are in this time of the interim
Where everything seems withheld.

The path you took to get here has washed out;
The way forward is still concealed to you.

“The old is not old enough to have died away;
The new is still too young to be born.”

You cannot lay claim to anything;
In this place of dusk,
Your eyes are blurred;
And there is no mirror.

Everyone else has lost sight of your heart
And you can see nowhere to put your trust;
You know you have to make your own way through.

As far as you can, hold your confidence.
Do not allow your confusion to squander
This call which is loosening
Your roots in false ground,
That you might come free
From all you have outgrown.

What is being transfigured here is your mind,
And it is difficult and slow to become new.
The more faithfully you can endure here,
The more refined your heart will become
For your arrival in the new dawn.

What is about to happen in our lives does not make me want to run and hide. I know God is working ~ I feel it in my heart and in my mind. He brings me to those deep places of suffering in order to transform me and draw me even closer to Him. I trust Him with every ounce of my being ~ how couldn’t I? Knowing, feeling and seeing the kindness and love that He has poured on me through my life. I have no doubt that there will be something so beautiful that happens in the depths of my own soul the moment I come face to face with our little one, I just wonder how much more my heart can take.

I trust God’s plan.