Here I am sitting at my computer, with a to-do list a mile long and I can't stop thinking about Ollie. And today I think of him in a very heavy way... Annie had her 15 month check-up this morning... On our way out, I stopped to book her 18 month appointment. The nurse behind the desk, "Hmmm, let's see, we can do January 3rd?" That's the day Ollie died, "No!" "Or, we have a few appointments at the end of December... December 28th?" That's the day Ollie went into the hospital, the first day of his last week on Earth. And, there it is... grief almost 3 years after Ollie's death, hitting me hard like a bag of bricks... and my chest feels heavy. I see everything I saw that week, clear as day. I feel the emptiness. I can't breathe. And then I'm scrolling through FB in between updating GoogleDocs for our upcoming Ollie event, and I come across a post from a new angel Mom. She lost her Ollie to his congenital heart defect just a few weeks ago. Her pain is fresh. She's in a fog of grief... still trying to figure out how is it that her baby died and yet the world around her keeps moving, how can life possibly go on, still learning to cope, still trying to figure out how to make it through each day... it's SO hard... still trying to believe that someday she will feel happiness again... that's where I was almost 3 years ago. Her baby was born with a complex congenital heart defect and required open heart surgeries, tubes, medicines, SO many medicines, living out of the hospital, not being able to hold her baby for days or maybe weeks at a time, and after all of that BRAVERY, all of that FIGHTING for her boy, he died. So, she had to be brave again... she had to be COURAGEOUS! She didn't know she could be so strong! And, after fighting and advocating for her baby during his very short life and after LIVING through the pain of his death, she's having a hard day because she's afraid she didn't love on him enough while he was here... this poor grieving Mother ❤️... and her words cut very deep. The heart babies who are very sick are sometimes hooked up to machines that are keeping them alive... tubes that are putting life-saving medicines into their body, delivering oxygen into their lungs for them to breathe, pumping blood through tubes to give their heart a much needed rest. It's very scary to see your child like this. These babies are laying in their hospital beds in very critical condition and all you can do as a parent is sit at their bedside and watch over them... once you get a little more comfortable you may hold their hand, caress their cheek, run your hands through their hair. But you can't hold them. It's too dangerous... something may come loose, you may interrupt one of those vital tubes. And for some of us, we don't know it at the time, but these were the days leading up to our child's death... our child's death. Screw those tubes and wires! I should have been laying in bed, holding my baby, cheek to cheek for the last 5 days! I've been sitting next to Ollie in isolation garb, wearing rubber gloves with a mask over my face for the past 5 days... the last 5 days of my child's life! And I feel her very fresh pain the same way I did 3 years ago. This is grief. The pain of losing a child is a pain that you carry forever. I had a revelation and reached a turning point when I came across this quote awhile back, "The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not 'get over' the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same, nor would you want to." I often tell grieving mothers to try to think of their pain as a way to "feel" their child who has died. And this quote is what led me to this thought of "feeling" Ollie through my pain. And it was life-changing. I carried my pain differently after that... I embraced it, I cherished it, My pain was very tangible... Ollie was very tangible. My pain represents my love for him. My pain over his death will never go away... my love for him will never go away. My pain is part of me... Ollie is part of me... always ❤️ That's when my pain became a very beautiful thing to me. I've come to embrace that as a grieving mother, I'll carry a darkness inside of me for the rest of my life. I am not "normal". I am broken. But, through all the pain and despite the darkness, life is good, it feels full, it looks bright. Even as I sit here right now, by myself, working my way through these heavy thoughts in order to carry on, the sun is shining, the sky is BRIGHT blue, the birds are chirping, a breeze blows through windows, monarch butterflies are fluttering by, I hear kids squealing on the playground at the school up the street, Annie sleeps soundly in her room... I can keep going. Yes! I CAN KEEP GOING! The possibilities are endless... with love, all things are possible ❤️ I know several Moms very new to grief and they're having a really hard time and wish I could reach out to each of them and squeeze them SO tightly! You have a choice... and I pray that you choose hope. Hope opens a world of possibilities when nothing seems possible. There ARE brighter days ahead. This picture is a favorite of mine... this was Ollie and me... ALL the time. We'd sit on the couch and I'd hold him, feed him, rock him to sleep, hold him, feed him, hold him some more. Sometimes he was recovering from a surgery so I was just being very gentle with him, but then it kind of just became the norm. He always wanted to be held. And, thank GOD a million times for it! Maybe Ollie knew something that I didn't. I may not have been able to hold him as I would have liked during his last week, but for 13 beautiful, amazing, out of this world months, he was pretty much a permanent fixture in my arms and I can still "feel" him ❤️
On January 3, 2013, my 1 yr old son, Ollie, passed away. That's where my life "before Ollie" ends and my grief journey begins... My new normal, my path toward healing, my life "after Ollie". I'm a grieving mother who believes in hope. This is my story.