Our Blessings

Friday, December 28, 2012

Christmas Eve

3 years ago on Christmas Eve, 2009, I wrote this...

"it is currently 19 minutes into december 25th, and christmas is officially over for me. what a relief. i made it through the christmas eve service, with minimal tears and a hefty dose of denial. as we were walking out the door, john and i opened the mail and found a gift card to applebees from his cousins. and they were open, so that's where we had dinner after church. christmas dinner at applebees for bereaved parents: perfection. the waitress placed the food on the table, and john put ketchup onto his burger. as i poured sugar into my coffee and picked up my fork, i said, totally as if i was in passing conversation, "thanks for the food, happy birthday, i'm sad, amen," made eye contact with john, and we both laughed. that was that. when we paid the bill, it was completely covered by the gift card, so all that was left was to tip the waitress. john gave her all the cash in his wallet, which turned out to be just short of a 100% tip. he said, because it's christmas eve, and we know how it feels to work on a holiday. he also heard her saying her boyfriend was in iraq, and that she was a student. sometimes, i wonder how john's big heart doesnt just burst out of his chest. he's so very kind. i dont know how i can manage to be so blessed and so lucky, and yet so unlucky at the same time."

Just a few days ago on Christmas Even this year, we went to Applebees again, after church service again, because it was the only place open.  Who would have thought in my misery the last time we were there on Christmas Eve, that we'd sit at a table adjacent to the first one... this time with our little rainbow baby with us.  She was in rare form.. a massive grump, a little toddler grinch who hadn't had a nap that afternoon.  She had a few bites of an appetizer but was so tired and having one mini-tantrum after another that I had to take her to the car to calm down, with the suggestion just to get the rest of the meal to go.  It was frustrating sure, but I will take a grouchy toddler any day over that childless parenting miserable grief.  Our waitress also seem frazzled, not because of our grinch, but because apparently there was another table giving her a hard time. Over jalepenos, as John overheard.  Jalepenos, really?!  that's your issue?!  it's Christmas Eve!  3 years ago we sat here miserable because our baby was dead, not because they were out of jalepenos.  Tell me about a real problem.

When we returned from the car, Glory had calmed down and was eating little pieces of chicken with her bare hands right off the top of my chopped chicken salad with mango corn salsa... go for it my baby girl!  you can have as much of Mommy's salad as you want.  I will go without.  Because all I wanted for Christmas was her, anyway.   The only thing missing was my 3 year old.  Only.  Only that enormous hole in my heart.

The bill was around $30.  And John left $30 for the waitress.  100% tip again.  Just like last time.  For the crying, for the mess, for the jerks wanting jalepenos, for having to work on Christmas.  I still wonder how his heart doesn't burst with all that kindness.  And how mine doesn't burst from the constant overwhelming pull of heartbreak versus pure joy.

Saturday, December 22, 2012


Those Mayans got nothin on my bible.

Yesterday here is what happened to us instead of the world ending: my SLR camera fell down a flight of spiral stairs in the Biltmore House while I was trying to carry my stroller up.  Smooth move.  Broke completely in half.  It still works, you just have to kinda hold the lens in place.  And, while we were gone, a tree fell into our backyard and broke the fence, including the gate.  It is a miracle that the dogs were still there when we got home.  Unless they went out for an adventure and we didn't know it.  Thank goodness they weren't hurt from the fall either!

My precious Katie-cakes... Mommy misses you so much, and I am sorry it turns out we didn't get to meet again yesterday.  Sleep tight and keeping waiting for me.  Kisses to the sky for you every day, you are still mine.

Monday, December 17, 2012

just anxiety

It's been a long time. Such a long time. I feel like I need to update the look of this thing.. the music player doesn't work anymore, some of the links and photos are broken. I feel like I need to write tonight but I don't even know which blog I should write on. There was a point where I had so much to say, that I had 3 blogs. I am saddened that I haven't written to Kathlyn since her 2nd birthday. It doesn't matter though, and I know that, because I talk to her every day, multiple times. My heart is still just as broken as it was 3.5 years ago; I feel her absence in everything I do, everywhere I go, with every breath I take, but I just don't use writing as an outlet like I used to.

 Today is Monday. On Friday, a crazy, heartless psychopath broke into an elementary school and killed 26 people, 20 who were children. Although really, the other 6 people, they were someone's children too. Some of those adults were really young. I know the teachers who died were in their 20s, though the administrators may have been in their 40s or 50s. But I wonder if THEIR parents, in the angry stage of their grief, will resent the "this is such a horrible thing, ESPECIALLY because it was children!" Those adults I'm sure had just as many loved ones as the children. Of course it is extra sickening for innocence to be attacked, I'm just saying, the families of those 6 adults will have just as much heartbreak.

I just read this comment on the bottom of an article on yahoo - "The breaking news portion of this event is over, now begins the media's seemingly ghoulish delight in rehashing a horrific event from every possible angle. Leave the people to mourn their dead in peace." It's so true. and after you see what I've been through this weekend, you may possibly scold me for reading an article at all.

On Saturday, I started feeling sick and weak, and I had this horrible episode which almost brought me to the emergency room. I was terribly short of breath, lightheaded, with a tight chest and racing heart. It was terrifying. when you have a 1 year old though, it's not that easy to coordinate a trip to the ER. do I drive myself, while John stays with her? does he drive me, and we bring her? that's the worst idea. ask someone to watch her? that would have been the best idea, but I wasn't sure I really needed to go or not. so I went to sleep. I slept for hours, basically the rest of the day and all through the night and all morning and afternoon into Sunday. I still felt weak, but no more chest tightness. all day I still felt so shaky and weak though, with short bouts of shortness of breath. I felt like I couldn't get out a sentence. bending down to pick up a toy exhausted me. we managed a trip to get some groceries, but I was feeling so bad while we were there, that we drove past 2 urgent care centers on the way home; they were both closed. so I slept another 3 hours after we got home, and decided (with the help of 2 good nurse friends who turned out to have the exact same opinion) just to call my regular doctor in the morning. at the doctor, my exam, numbers, and chest xray were all normal, except my blood pressure was 144/92. the other day i actually had it checked and it was 100/62. big difference! so it's anxiety. "just anxiety." fantastic. I used to feel this way all the time after Kathlyn died... quick heart rate, lightheaded, tight chest, short of breath.. definite panic attacks and i do NOT want to feel that way all the time anymore.. it was awful.... except now i also have this weakness which im not sure where that's coming from. the doctor said maybe with this "dose of reassurance" that there's nothing wrong with my heart and lungs, maybe i can feel better.

I know EVERYONE is shaken by the shooting but the reality is, children die every day everywhere. crime occurs every day everywhere. I have had that reality spit in my face that we cannot protect our children no matter how much we love them or how much we try. there have been lots of platitudes about how now there are 20 children who will never graduate, never get married, never have children of their own, but that is the same for all the rest of the children who died on Friday in this country and around the world and every day since then. i am NOT NOT NOT taking away the grief of those families or the severity and horror of this event. they have a lifetime of sadness and struggle ahead of them, i can tell you that from personal experience. but as that other commenter stated, maybe we should let these people mourn in peace and not bombard them with media. it has caused my PTSD to surface and show it's ugly face. ironically, the appointment to see my medical doctor caused me to cancel my weekly appointment with my therapist, which is probably what i really needed.  my heart beats fast for those families, children, and staff of that school. PTSD will rule their hearts and minds forever now too.

 Death Barged In
 by Kathleen Sheeder Bonanno

Death barged in
In his Russian greatcoat
slamming open the door 
with an unpardonable bang,
and he has been here ever since.

He changes everything,
rearranges the furniture,
his hand hovers 
by the phone;
he will answer now, he says;
he will be the answer.

Tonight he sits down to dinner
at the head of the table
as we eat, mute;
later, he climbs into bed
between us.
Even as I sit here,
he stands behind me
clamping two 
colossal hands on my shoulders
and bends down 
and whispers to my neck,
From now on, 
you write about me.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

air above water

I don't know if I ever posted this on the blog... it was from 9/28/10. I was pregnant with Glory, and thinking of Kathlyn, as always.


underwater she breathes,

she blooms,

without light,

with sound, with love.

in transparent silhouettes

she is photographed,

bloming perfection, love

hopes, dreams.

light of heaven becomes her

not the light of earth as expected

gentle, comforting sounds and touches

love even more eternal than a mother's.

above water

i can't breathe.

with sunlight

i no longer bloom.

all i hear is the cries of

brokenhearted mothers

struggling to breathe

to walk

to understand

to be understood.

we failed

and we were failed.

succeeding only at loving our babies.

leaves turn

snow falls

cherries blossom

birds take flight.

i breathe,

a different air than before,

air above water,

air she never felt.


she breathed,

occupied the space

under my heart

with love.