Monday, December 23, 2013

Filling the hole with Love

I came across this video from Oprah's interview with parents of Sandy Hook Elementary leading up to the first anniversary.  I can't fathom the loss that those parents feel, can't imagine what it must be like as this first anniversary approaches.  These parents are so inspiring....

The hole in my heart is sacred and it can never ever be filled.  But it can be and it is, covered with love.  It needs to be protected because it is so very sacred and special to us.  Cole is so sacred and special to us.  By covering the hole that losing him has created with love we are protecting his memory and making new memories to share him, share what his life is about, with others. "So you protect it and grow"... oh how true this is.  Growing, changing, becoming more empathetic and compassionate, helping others...all of this is growth that builds love.
These parents are so right... our job as those left behind after a loss is to make our hearts bigger then the loss. You can't live your life in the past or in the tragedy. You can't focus only on what is gone.  You must carry on through love.  There is only one way to do that... you have to make your decisions out of live your life with such love for others...for all others...that nothing can get into that hole that is left behind and dig it deeper and deeper.

Love really is the answer.

Sunday, December 22, 2013 greater thing

One of my favourite scriptures of all times is 1st Corinthians 13

13 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in partand we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes,what is in part disappears. 11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.

In the past I only focused on the common verses  1-7, 13.  Then I learned more and also focused on the first part of this scripture.  Knowing the love of Jesus helps me to understand that without love you are sunk.  You can be the smartest, most prophetic person going but if your prophecy, if your wise words do not come with love, aren't shared because of love then you might as well talk to a wall.  You can be a person of strong faith, profess your dedication to Jesus, do your acts of service and live a life that seems dedicated to the Lord but if you don't truly love everyone in your life then you aren't worth the paper your 'great acts of service' award was printed on.  So many live their lives like this... doing what they think is right and good but still having feelings of unforgiveness in their heart, feelings of anger towards someone, bitterness inside of them etc and because of this they truly do not know Christ.  
You have to let it go, you can't dwell at all on any of that.  You need to forgive and love, love and forgive.  It's just that simple.  
I had never really studied the last part of this passage until recently and I think it speaks so clearly of how important love is, how everlasting love is.  Everything else will fall away. Let's face it, life changes, people change.  I recently had an encounter where I was purposely left out of something.  I was hurt and I posted on facebook about it.  I felt like I was back in public school and was the kid left alone in the playground with no one to play with.  I felt like I was back in highschool where people might talk behind your back, share things about you and stare at you when you walk by but no one shared what was wrong, what started a problem etc.  I also felt the rush of recent memories of things that had happened in my life where I things changed... people stopped calling, stopped inviting us over, stopped dropping in, stopped, stopped stopped... yeah, it sucks.  It took me a lot of time to and analyzing but I would harbour a guess that a lack of empathy, compassion and understanding would be the reason for this.  Some of that is the change in me after I experienced loss but since the 'being left out' had been happening since before that I knew that wasn't it.  It would seem that people want to judge, want to decide how you should live your life and even more so, people find it easier to walk away from what they don't understand, especially when it involves mental health issues then to say 'I have noticed this' or 'I am concerned about this' or 'Is there anything I can do to help, do you want to talk about it'. 
So anyway, after I posted abot it I had two things that came out of that...I learned that I very much not alone in this feeling... the feeling that so many others could relate AND that I should watch what I post as the original person not only saw it but saw fit to send me a short and terse message and then walk out of my life for good (as in blocked me on facebook). 
So how does this all tie into my post on 1st Corinthians 13???  Like I said, Love Remains...everything else falls apart...sometimes literally...or it falls away...but not love. It's always there.  We grow, we change.  We live a life with trials, passion and adventure but when it's all over we aren't left with anything... except love because nothing matters if we don't have love. 
This is the advent week of Love.  I don't have a lot of posts for it...or much time...hello Christmas vacation!!!  But what I know that will be in my heart this week is that there is nothing greater then love, nothing fills us more.
And just cuz I found this to be the sweetest display of what a gift unconditional love is I decided to leave you with this video clip from Charlotte's Web.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Bring back the Joy

In the hours after we learned Cole was gone I wondered if I would ever feel joy again.  My world was dark, the darkest I had ever experienced.  Knowing Cameron was still alive really didn't bring me much comfort.  Gradually that changed so that I could see a glimmer of light, a glimmer of joy creeping into my darkness, into my heart. But those moments were pretty short lived.
My first true moments of joy in that first week came when we learned that Cameron had a wonderful prognosis.  Now I do know now that Dr. Ryan actually gave us the 'best case scenario' only view of what he thought the prognosis was.  He knew that was what we needed to hear, he knew that on that day, a mere 6 days before Christmas (5 years ago yesterday to be exact) that our trip to Toronto in a crazy snow storm needed to be only about finding that joy.  (he has since told us that he never imagined Cameron to be the healthy, energetic, completely uneffected child that he is). 
And that was the start of feeling joy again.
As I said, it was Christmas time and my boys, then 5 and 2 were PUMPED.  They had no idea how broken our world was, no idea the true sadness that mommy felt...though Brycen did say daily 'mommy you no cry today, you no sad today right mom'.  Those words could start or stop tears...all depended on my mood. 
But those two boys with their smiling faces, their laughter, their innocence...that brought me out of my funk and helped me find joy.
I think my kids were likely where most of my joy was found in those first few months.  How can the smiles, laughter and love of children not bring you joy? 
I think I also learned to find joy in the support of others.  The calls, the meals, the visits, the favours, the food (oh did I mention that already), the gifts for all of us but most of all, the listening and the words of support, comfort and love that were shared...those were joy filled moments.
In the healing times that truly took the next two years of my life I also found great joy in helping others.  Sometimes it would be the opposite...I would read stories of TTTS cases so similar to mine and yet with 'perfect' outcomes and I would be angry (admittedly I do very very occaisionally still feel this way) but for the most part I was filled with joy when another family beat this dreaded disease.  I was also filled with joy when I read words of appreciation from others for the sharing of my story, for the hope and support I gave them. It was like Cole's little life had so much more meaning when those moments happened. 
I also found great joy in planning the knowing I was using this life lesson to better the life of another baby just by bringing funds to Mt. Sinai to help. 
And my greatest source of joy... the lives all of my children but especially of Cameron and Cole.  Knowing that I had created those lives out of love, struggled, experienced trials and grown and grown and grown...changed, blossomed... just knowing that my kids did that for me has and forever will, bring me such joy. 
Where do you find joy?  Think about it, pray about it, ask God to reveal it to you and never, ever, give up searching...there is always something out there that brings more and more joy to someone.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Joy Comes in the Mourning

I was doing some research and came across this ariticle.  You can find it here if you are curious about the source but it is from a website called Hope for the Mourning...what an appropriate title.  I just thought I would share this today (cuz I admit, I am tired, it's been a long week and I don't have the brain power left to come up with much original work LOL) and then wrap up the week of joy tomorrow with some to the things I have done to find my joy again.

Find Joy In God

God wants all of us, even grieving parents, to find joy in God. Jesus himself told His disciples that the reason for his teaching was for our eternal joy. In John 15:11, Jesus told his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” Rather than finding joy in circumstances, we ought to find our joy in God.
Following my oldest son’s death, I re-examined every aspect of my life to determine where I find joy and happiness in my life. Is my joy from my job? But what happens when I lose it? Is my joy in my hobbies, my athletic pursuits or my entertainment? What happens when I lose my sight or my ability to run or walk? Is my joy in my spouse and children? What happens when my child or spouse dies? How will I have any ability to carry on in life if all of my joy was centered solely in my child or spouse? To the extent that you use your life circumstances as the sole means for joy in your life, I believe that you are living in a dream world, for sooner or later the fa├žade will come crashing down, and you will have nothing left. What of joy then? Where will your joy come from then?
If we focus on the objective truth of God’s great love for us, demonstrated in Christ, then we can have a joy sufficient to overcome the melancholy that accompanies our mourning. In Colossians, Paul says to the church, “May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:11-14.
Outside of living in the hope of eternal life through Jesus Christ, the only way to break out of our melancholy would be to try various means to either (i) forget your circumstances as they relate to your deceased child and his or her history or (ii) convince yourself that you never really loved your now-deceased child all that much, or that life is not that big of a deal. But these are short-term “fixes,” of avoiding the grief, and will only work so long as the circumstances are right. These methods of dealing with melancholy are “dark” in the sense that they are not grounded in objective truth. To the extent that these methods work for you it is only because we turn off the lights and, in living in the dark, are able to, for only a short time, avoid the plain objective realities surrounding our child’s death.
In the Bible, we see several men who centered their hopes for joy in God, not their own circumstances. One of these was King David who, as King of Israel, led the Israel through its greatest, most successful years. But rather than focus on his own significant earthly successes as the source of his happiness, David tells us that it was God that ultimately brought him joy. In Psalm 27, David says, “One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.” Psalm 27:4. David said, “I say to the Lord, ‘You are my Lord; I have no good apart from you’…The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; you hold my lot.” Psalm 16:2,5.
The Psalmist Asaph understood that, ultimately, only God could give him true, full, everlasting joy. When everything else in life fades away, when everyone else dies, and even when we die, God will still be there for us. In Psalm 73:25, 26, Asaph writes, “Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”
The Apostle Paul, before he became a Christian, had reason to take pride in his circumstances. He was a zealous Jew, even persecuting the early church. And yet, following his conversion, he considered all his background“…as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord…I count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith—that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.” Philippians 3:8-11.
There is nothing we need more following the death of our child than joy. But in order to have sustained, lasting joy, the object of our joy must be eternal. If the suffering you have experienced has soured the taste of anything that used to give you joy, you ought to examples of Paul, Asaph and David in finding ultimate joy in God. No earthly joy tastes as sweet as a joy centered in God. Psalm 34:8.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Find the joy in your life and let it take you home

I went on a hunt to find a video for this theme of joy connected to loss.  I found this one from The Bucket List and at first I thought it wouldn't work.  But the more I thought about it the more I realized how perfect it is.  We have to find our joy or we will never find home.

Dear Edward, I've gone back and forth the last few days trying to decide whether or not I should even write this. In the end, I realized I would regret it if I didn't, so here it goes. I know the last time we saw each other, we weren't exactly hitting the sweetest notes-certain wasn't the way I wanted the trip to end. I suppose I'm responsible and for that, I'm sorry. But in all honestly, if I had the chance, I'd do it again. Virginia said I left a stranger and came back a husband; I owe that to you. There's no way I can repay you for all you've done for me, so rather than try, I'm just going to ask you to do something else for me-find the joy in your life. You once said you're not everyone. Well, that's true-you're certainly not everyone, but everyone is everyone. My pastor always says our lives are streams flowing into the same river towards whatever heaven lies in the mist beyond the falls. Find the joy in your life, Edward. My dear friend, close your eyes and let the waters take you home.\

Find the joy...follow that stream and let it take you home. We are all part of the same river and if we allow ourselves to find our joy, find the things that give us joy and bring us to a place of peace and love we will make it home...

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Joy and Grief Intertwined as One

I had another post planned today and then a wonderful friend (our prior minister actually who officated both Cole's memorial and Cameron's dedication and baptism) sent me a great article last night that I thought I would share.  I am going to simply cut and paste but if you'd like to see the original source you can find it here. 

The God of Joy and Grief

It has been almost ten years since we stood at the altar of an old Baptist church, June sun shooting through the glass stained blue and green, downtown traffic buzzing outside of the thick, wooden doors. We lifted our voices while we squeezed our hands and felt the words to How Great Thou Art sink into the choir of hundreds of friends and family.
They were all present in their finest clothes to witness the joining of our lives. I remember how easily the lyrics left my lips, how they nearly floated out of my nervous smile. They rang loud and true while the ancient organ hummed low beneath all that joy rising in song.
Just a couple of weeks ago, sparks from the fire popped into the black sky over our backyard. Bare hands, shaking from the fall crisp held plastic cups of red wine and glass bottles of amber beer. In camping seats and wooden lawn chairs, on top of coolers and criss-crossed on the brick patio, friends gathered around the hot blazes as my husband poked a stick to stir the flames.
They came to remember. They came to support. They came to pour their tears into our cupped hands, the perfect and only offering.
It was a night to feel the grief of losing our little boy two years ago. And our voices cracked with deep sadness as we whispered the words of that same hymn, How Great Thou Art. The strumming of the guitar could just barely hold up our fragile song.
I felt it on the altar that afternoon in June so many years ago. I felt it in our backyard that night in October.
The deepest places are an invitation to touch the holy.
And I wonder sometimes why it is that those moments of grief, of despair, feel like they are scraping right up against a mystery hinting of joy and peace. How can it be that the same song, the same old, ancient hymn could cause a heart to bleed the same hot tears on the altar of marriage and at the service of remembrance? I don’t know for sure why the wall between joy and grief feels at times more fragile than lace, with holes to peer through and catch a peak of the other side.
But I wonder if that razor’s edge between grief and joy is the holy ground where we most smell the new milk on the Infant’s lips while touching the bright red spilling out from the side of the Christ.
I wonder if these deep places, these hallowed out spaces, are where we bow down next to the manger and catch a glimpse and get a touch of God among us.
I wonder if the reason that we ache with joy the way that we ache with grief is simply because they are two sides of the same coin. Right in that thin space between them is where we find ourselves fully in the presence of Love Come Down. It is where we worship like the first time, as they did that night in Bethlehem thousands of years ago.
So as we crawl to the manger this Advent season, let us remember the moments when we most knew that we were in His presence.
Let us remember the times when our bellies hurt with pure laughter, and the times when our throats closed up with true sadness. Let us remember when we felt our hearts falling apart, and when we felt them brimming over.
For those are the times that we have kneeled low and touched the skin of the God who knew joy and grief.
And it was all worship.
May we never leave those manger moments without the words, How Great Thou Art, spilling out of our broken and redeemed hearts.

 This article was just so powerful to me and so true...especially joy and grief being two sides of the same coin...almost like you can't have one without the other. For me it's like the joy and the grief are one of those money trees where the trunk is all twisted up and intertwined and is actually two trees that became one.

 I can't help but be sad and wish things were different and yet I can't stop myself from being so very at peace and joyfully amazed at all that has happened because we lost him. I can't help but miss him and ache for him to be here and yet feel such joy at the thoughts of him with our Lord...and the knowledge that we will meet again and gather together, my son and I, in His presence.
How Great Thou Art and I have a love hate relationship too! I used to love singing it, even when I didn't comprehend how great God is and then I began to associate it with Cole's memorial service and I would fall apart hearing it. Now I listen deeply to the words and cherish them.
My soul does sing, I am in awesome wonder... God is so great!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The Season of Joy????

For most people who have experienced loss, the first few Christmas's after their loss are hard.  Even if the loss isn't of the human kind...maybe it's divorce, maybe it's a change in homes, in jobs, in relationships. Celebrating Christmas with that change hanging over your heart is hard. When there is a loss or change in our lives our traditions change and that change is so hard. 
But when your loss is actually at Christmas time the struggles seem even more great and it seems to take an even longer time to move past the triggers...they are EVERYWHERE!!!
Our loss was 12 days before Christmas and to be honest, that Christmas is a complete blur.  I have no idea what I gave anyone for gifts.  No idea what I got for gifts.  I do remember where we celebrated because I can remember sitting quietly in each of those houses, in a corner, hoping that my lack of joy wasn't pulling anyone down. 
The next year went better but it still was so damned hard to feel joy when all I could think was I should be buying two of this, I should be pulling two sets of Santa jammies out, I should, I should, I should... everything was a reminder. 
It has gotten better for a few reasons I think and today I thought I'd share some thoughts on how to bring the joy back to this season.
Open up your heart and your eyes too.  There is so much that you miss when you close down due to loss.  Smiling at even the smallest of things, opening your heart the tiniest connection you make with someone and not letting yourself feel guilty for it...that will bring you forward baby steps at a time.
Allow yourself to feel all the emotions...the joyful happy ones but the sad and painful ones too. So often we push those feelings that are 'negative' in nature down so we don't upset others, bring everyone down.  The thing is that all of those emotions are normal and expected.  Those who don't appreciate that are not worth worrying about and those that do will surround you with love and support and help you through this.  No one can be happy all the time, no one can feel joy all the why should you have to.
Make New Traditions - or in my case, let go of the idea of the tradition you had planned to have (the two boys in matching pj's, two boys in matching Christmas outfits, one on each of Santa's knees, unwrapping matching toys etc) and start a new one.  No one said you have to continue to go to church on Christmas Eve.  No where does it say you have to hang stockings on the fireplace.  Find something new to do and maybe make it something that you can honour your loved one with.  Buy the gift or gifts you had planned to buy and donate them in their memory.  Go for a walk or drive to enjoy Christmas lights instead going to church where the atmosphere, songs, memories etc might just be too overwhelming. 
Say No or Take a Timeout
Creating new traditions is part of healing.  When you lose someone you love your heart's not in it. You don't feel like doing it. And it can be anything from family gatherings, to shopping, to putting up a tree or to even celebrating all together.
Do what feels right to you and if saying 'No, I'm not coming' or 'No I'm not doing that this year' feels right then don't beat yourself up over it.  Maybe you just need a break from it all and maybe that break is vacation somewhere warm.  Do what you can but if you can't...then don't.  Instead find joy in doing smaller things that don't involve so many feelings and memories. 
Honour your Loved One - There are so many ways you can honour your loved one and make them a part of the season they are missing.  Light a candle, put ornaments on the tree, make a donation in their name, make their favourite foods or if it was a child you lost early in their life (before they developed likes or even began to eat) make the foods you craved from the time when you were expecting them.
Go to the cemetary or a place that is symbolic for you...for us it's Cole's garden... and have a heart to heart with them.  Share what is going on in your life, connect with them on a spiritual level. 
Share memories, talk about your loved one.  Since they can't be with you fill your life and others with stories of them...even for those who died before they were born.  Share the stories of when you found out about their existence, share the kicks you felt. 
Maybe there is a way you can be invovled in something that is honouring to them.  Perhaps there is a charitable event that connects you to them something to get involved with that event or organization.  Doing what we do for Mt. Sinai has been so empowering and so joy filled for us.
Discover Small Joys - Sometimes it's the little things that can turn a day around...  I found this online and thought it was good advice.. "As the holidays unfold, tune into small joyful moments. When you hear the laughter of children, focus on how good that feels. When you eat a piece of pie, really taste it. In the moment, it tastes so good -- and in that moment, you're outside your grief. Also, look for opportunities to laugh. When you're laughing, your brain produces endorphins to boost the immune system. Give yourself permission to find things that make you laugh".

It takes time and set backs happen all the time.  Forgive yourself when they do and don't feel guilty when you find yourself feeling joy.  Our loved ones would never have wanted us to not enjoy the times without them.  Most of all, be gentle on yourself and remember you only human...a grieving human. 

Monday, December 16, 2013

Joy...unspeakable Joy

Joy To The World (Unspeakable Joy)"
Joy to the world, the Lord is come
Let earth receive her king
Let every heart prepare Him room

And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven and nature sing
And Heaven, and Heaven and nature sing

Joy to the world, the Savior reigns
That all their songs employ
While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat the sounding joy
Repeat, repeat the sounding joy

Joy, unspeakable joy
And overflowing where no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never lets me go

He rules the world with truth and grace
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness

And wonders of His love
And wonders of His love
And wonders, wonders of His love

Joy, unspeakable joy
And overflowing where no tongue can tell
Joy, unspeakable joy
Rises in my soul, never lets me go

One of my favourite 'new' Christmas songs. The birth of Jesus fills me with joy, the salvation he brought to our fallen world fills me with such joy and such hope.  His love fills the earth and my joy fills my soul.  The joy, like Jesus and his love, will never let me go!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joy in Sadness, Joy in Loss…REALLY????

Week number 3 for my project focuses on Joy.  Every time I have to write about joy in relation to loss I cringe and, if you note the time, I obviously don’t jump up out of bed to get writing this one first thing in the morning!  
I mean, seriously, who puts joy and loss in the same sentence.  Who can possibly put connect these two things with any form of sincerity??? 
Well I hope the answer to that is me but I am not so sure.  Not so confident in general these last few days (still reeling from Fridays drama and my disappointment) and certainly not convinced that I can share anything worthwhile on this subject. But here’s to trying.
When someone passes away at an old age, after living a long and eventful life, we can usually admit to grieving with joy.  I mean if they lived a wonderful life, accomplished great things and made a life long impact on the world then it’s easy to grieve with joy, with happiness, with acceptance.
But a child…really…not much joy in that one!
Or is there???
When you think of your own life do you only think of all the things that have gone right, been perfect?  The times that were only happy, only positive, only filled with laughter and love.  If you answered yes to this then I would some of whatever you are taking cuz that is GOOOOOOD medication! 
Life is not perfect, life is not only happy and positive.  Every person’s life has it’s challenges.  Every life has it’s fill of sadness, of meanness, of jealousy, of hate, of rudeness, of failure…. I could go on and on and on.  The point is that life here on earth is not perfect.  No person is given a life without challenges. 
We live in a world filled with sin, of strife and of evil.  From the moment that Adam and Eve took that first bite of the apple the world has been filled with evil.  There is not way around, no way to avoid it.  Some people may seem to have it better or worse then others but no one is immune to the evil in the world. 
But my son didn’t experience any of that…not one single second.  He left this world before any little boy ever took his toys, ever called him stupid, ever pushed him down or punched him in the nose.  He left this world before he failed a test, fell and broke a bone, had an accident with his parent’s car and got grounded for weeks.  He never experienced frustration, anger or jealousy.  He never knew the pain of a broken heart. 
My son left this world to know only a perfect life.  He lives in paradise. He has many friends, his world is filled with laughter.  He’s in perfect health.  His life is full of…well of joy. 
I know that everyone who has lost a child has experienced so many of those things…sadness, anger, frustration, jealousy, depression… the list might be endless.  But our child, if lost before, during or shortly after birth, never really experienced that.  They never knew anything but a perfect world.  They never knew anything but joy.  From all the encounters I have read about from those who have been to heaven and come back (my two favourite books on this subject are ‘Heaven is for Real’ and ‘The Boy who Came Back from Heaven’) there is no sadness in Heaven. Our loved ones don’t really feel the sadness that we feel from the separation we have from them. 
And even though those much loved children who passed days, weeks, months or years after their life began may have experienced some of these things, it was not a lifetime of them and they no longer experience any of the negative things, any of the trials, that life brings. 
And as hard as it is to say goodbye, as hard as it is to move on, as hard as it is to accept the loss of a loved one, the knowledge that their life is absolutely perfect now can, and should, bring us a sense of joy.  It’s not a joy we ever wished on us and we can certainly say that we would have rather found it another way, it is a joy all the same. 
Getting the point where you can feel that joy…well that’s a blog post for another day (or two or more). 

The joy of the Lord is my strength.

Nehemiah 8:10 

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Journey of acceptance and peace

So yesterday didn't turn out at all the way I wanted it to and was likely, in many ways, the worst 'angel day' we've had in 5 years.  We got up super early to drive to Toronto to meet with Dr. Ryan and present him with the $6275 we raised this year.  It didn't seem like it was going to fall together earlier in the week but I had convinced Geoff to come with us if I drove so he could rest before he went in to work last evening.  And so off we went to Toronto.  And less then an hour in we were in a very minor one was hurt or was there ever really any danger to any of us... but the car was not driveable and the trip had to be cancelled.  I was a mess.  I was so sad, so angry, so disappointed.  It took me hours for this feeling to lift at all. But it did and I can appreciate now that there will be reasons why my prayers weren't answered the way I wanted them to be and that I just have to open my eyes and my heart to them.  I did have a big cry last night out in Cole's garden as I light candles and talked to him...

And felt so connected to him. Sad, maybe a bit lonely, wishful...but so connected.  And it was a nice end to a really crummy day.

So now on to the last post for this week....

On the first day of this week of peace posts I talked about what peace is for parents who have lost a child and how it's sort of a search for acceptance.  Acceptance is likely the hardest thing to do in the journey of a grieving parent. Some days it feels like you just can't.... you can't 'accept' that your child is gone and there is nothing you could have done to stop it.  You can't 'accept' that this to be your life.  You can't accept that life can go on in some form of normal.  And sometimes it's even just as 'simple' as you can't 
accept that your child is dead.  For me that was hard enough to swallow in the first few days and weeks after that awful ultrasound.  But that is part of the stages of grieving...where you deny that it's even happened.  
But the acceptance that is the hardest to adjust to, hardest to understand, the hardest place to get to is the acceptance that this is the life that you have been given and it's for a greater reason then you could ever imagine. It's such a hard place to come to...the realization that your life is changed for the better.  I mean really, how can that be?  How can living without your child be better.  How on earth can you get to a point where you say it's not just ok, it's's beyond,'s the most amazing life in spite of the fact that your child is not living on earth with you and maybe even that it's the most amazing life BECAUSE of the fact that your child is not not living on earth with you. 
That one is hard to swallow at times.... my life is better BECAUSE Cole is not living in our house.  And I am sure it will come as no surprise to anyone that I am not always in that place of acceptance because, damn it, it's not what I want and it's not fair!!!
But looking at my life, I do know it's true...even if it hurts and even if I wish that I didn't have to go through all that I did in order to be the person I am today.
Losing Cole changed me forever.  Initially some changes very well seemed for the worst.  The sadness, the depressions, the fixation on loss, on stories of loss, on connecting with others who have lost and in feeling, no actually being, so unconnected to those in my 'real life'... all of those things sure don't feel like changes for the better.  
But as time goes on I can see where the loss of Cole, where Cole himself, has lead me to become such a better person. Initially it was changes in the area of empathy, compassion and kindness to others.  Not to say I wasn't these things on some level before but after you lose someone you see the world and others loss, struggles and needs differently.  I also became much braver about speaking out and speaking up about loss and how to treat others who are going through.  Everyone seems to be sure of how you should move on, how you should cope, what you should and should't say.  Now I realize there is no right and wrong way to cope and move ahead but there sure is wrong ways to support someone.  I realize now that talking about it is the best thing you can do and no one should ever encourage someone who is struggling to cope with a loss to 'not post that', 'not say that' or 'not live in the past'.  The process is so individual.
 I would never have dreamed that losing Cole would bring me to such a place of advocacy, support and empathy for others going through TTTS.  I could never have dreamed that I would meet so many families going through TTTS but more then that I could never have dreamed I would have the impact I have had on these families.  When I read what others write to or about me, when I am told of the difference I've made I find it hard to respond, hard to process.  It has just come so naturally to me.  And that is part of the change for the better that I know would never have happened if I had not experienced the loss of Cole.  Sometimes you just have to have been there, experienced it, in order to help.  
But the biggest thing that makes my life better because my child is not living on earth with me is that through the process of grief, the process of healing, the process of coping I learned to lean on the Lord.  I learned to put my trust in Him. I learned see trials as a way to draw closer to God, to trust him more, to persevere in order to grow closer to Him.  I came to understand God more and more.  To understand somewhat why bad things happen...well maybe more why the don't happen (not because you are being punished, not because you did anything wrong, weren't good enough, needed to be stronger, because you are only given what you can handle, because God needed another angel in heaven, because, because, because...).  I learned to accept that there really isn't a reason that we'll ever find but that only God can get us through it.  Only through a relationship with Jesus will we be able to find our way back to the 'land of the living'.  From the start of my loss journey I had a relationship with Jesus...I just didn't see it for what it was.  I look back at the things I wrote before I truly came to the Lord and realize that I was so much the same in how I processed what had happened, how I coped and found hope.  But being truly born again made me realize that I could handle what life brought me because in each and every step Jesus was there and through a growing relationship with him I would come out on the other side.  I began to understand that accepting that I am a sinner, will never be perfect but have forgiveness is essential to living again.  I began to understand that loving Jesus and trusting him would make my life so much easier.  I began to understand that living my life the way I was, selfishly at times, negatively at times, without trust at times (I could go on and on and on here) was not honouring to a God who had done so much for me.  And the most important thing I realized...I could get to heaven to see my son again if I would accept all these things and live my life the way God wanted me to...not the way I wanted to.
Do I wish it didn't have to be this way, do I wish the journey hadn't been so painful, do I wish I could have this life and still have Cole here on earth with me? of course I do.  But all of it has brought me to a place that I love being in and for that I can embrace and accept that this life is better BECAUSE my son doesn't live on earth with me.  

Friday, December 13, 2013

Peaceful Memories

Five can it possibly be five years since I last felt Cole move.  How can it be five years since I heard those horrible words...'this baby doesn't have a heartbeat.  I'm sorry, your baby has died'.

These memories can take me to such horrible places of unrest but they are vitally important because they keep me connected to Cole.  When I forget that day then bit by bit I forget what it was like to have the good memories.  Bit by bit I forget Cole.

I have some amazing memories that do bring me peace.  I remember the day I learned that I was having twins.  I was scared, I wasn't overjoyed and yet at the same time I was so excited.  I remember the first time I felt them little butterfly flutters.  It was 15 weeks maybe.  It would be weeks and weeks before I felt true kicks and punches and when they came they were so amazing because there were so many... four hands, four feet...they can really make an 'impact'.  Cole was always busier, on ultrasound and in movements too.  For those that know Cameron I am sure this shocks you that he was actually the calmer twin! 

The morning after surgery, five years ago today, I woke early.  The sun was just beginning the rise so the room was darker, shadowy.  I hadn't slept well and was uncomfortable from the surgery.  I rolled onto back and felt this huge, strong kick from the place the belonged to Cole.  And I smiled...just what I needed to feel... my baby was still alive.  When Geoff awoke in his cot beside me I shared my news with him and we both were so happy, so relieved. 

Around 11:00 we went to Sick Kids Hospital via the underground tunnels to have a fetal echo cardiogram.  And the laughter we shared with our porter about how many boys we would now have and the sports teams we could build was the last innocent moment of happiness I have had. 

A few minutes later my world stopped, my dreams were shattered..I was forever changed.  I have such vivid memories of the man who told us this.  What he wore... jeans and a grey sweater.  What he looked like... dark, grey hair, in his 50's.  I can remember the orange colour of the walls in the room, the way the bed felt below me.  I remember seeing Geoff's face, seeing it crumble like mine.  I remember rolling over to the wall and wailing.  I remember the silence, the defeaning silence.  No sound of a heart beating, no comments from this doctor, nothing.  Just silence. 

Once the doctor was done he sent us out to a waiting room while he made some calls and arranged for the porter to come back. I remember looking over the city, the snowy rooftops, the people down below, the Christmas decorations and I remember thinking 'what a friggin joke, Christmas, miracles... who are you kidding'.  The walk back to Mt. Sinai was horrible.  We walked by so many people who must have wondered what this pregnant woman in pink pj's in the wheel chair was so upset about.  I am sure many tried to imagine what awful news we had just heard. 

And I remember waiting... for Dr. Ryan to come and see us, for my parents to arrive, for the next procedure to begin.  Wait and cry. Cry and wait.  I felt so hopeless and helpless and so very alone. So devastated that I would never meet this much loved child.

And the next day, the memory that sticks out most in my mind... driving back into Monkton realizing that our lives were forever changed and it had only been 3 days since we left town.  And our comments to each other...'we need to do something to give back to this place, to help other families to not experience this hell we are living'.

And now, five years later, we will travel back to Mt. Sinai and we will give back, we will help raise hopes through the funds we raised.  At this point it looks like we should well exceed our goal to bring our 4 year total of money raised through our efforts at fundraisers and through the efforts of others who have donated to mark special occaisions or as gifts in honour of our boys to $20 000.  Our plan for this year's funds is to use it for a brochure to help other families know where emotional support and financial assistance can be found, to begin a fund for financial assistance to pay for bills while in Toronto (hotels, food etc) as well as to put some towards projects that Dr. Ryan wishes our support for. 

Now 5 years later I assitant to administrate 2 TTTS facebook groups to help support those going through TTTS and those coping with loss of one baby to TTTS. I am also involved with awareness campaigns through twin groups on facebook groups and those groups are changing the face of TTTS, they are changing the awareness that expectant mothers have, they are changing their knowledge of how often they need to be seen and what tests need to be done.  I think, just maybe, they are helping to save babies lives.  From someone who thought, within an hour of knowing one of her twins was gone that she never, ever wanted to see the twin stroller she had purchased just a month ago to someone who frequently chats with mothers expecting healthy identical twins, I know I have found a 'piece of peace'. 

In 5 years I have peace in the knowledge that Cole is with Jesus.  I picture him in Jesus' big rocking chair, singing songs, reading stories and getting snuggles from our Lord.  I picture him running with the wind at his back, through the streets of heaven towards the gates, towards me as I approach them at the end of my life. 

Now 5 years later I tell his story, even those horrible parts above, with pride, with hope, with love, with joy and most of all with peace.  He is at peace and he is my peace. 

Happy 5th Angel Day my sweet boy!  What a wonderful time of year to be with Jesus...celebrating his birthday and the hope that brought to the world.  Happy 5th Angel Day Cole and thank you so much for all that you have given the world and all that you have inspired in me. I love you!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Images of Peace

Today I am just leaving you with some images of peace and some amazing quotes.  I most especially like the one like the one that speaks of peace not being a place free of noise, trouble and hard work but of peace being able to still your heart despite all of that. 
This week has been all about that for me.  Remembering, crying, wishing and yet still being able to quiet my heart and find the peace that this little boy has given me, the rainbow after the storm that he has become.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finding Peace thru Learning

So today marks the beginning of these anniversaries that I hate.  I posted this today on facebook....
Five years ago today I left my house for work and then some appointments to check on my twin babies completely oblivious to the ticking time bomb inside of my womb.
Five years ago today I heard the words Twin to Twin Transfusion Syndrome and my world was tilted on it's edge.
Five years ago today I met the amazing staff at Mount Sinai Hospital and, although I was scared I knew that this life saving procedure was in the hands of very capable doctors and felt reassured that my sons would be ok.
Five years ago today my life was forever changed.
In two days we will honour the lives of our sons and remember the day that we learned one of them would not come home by travelling to see this man, Dr. Ryan, and present him with over $6000. Please consider donating to our cause in honour of Cameron and in memory of Cole.

It's hard for me to believe that it's been 5 years.  Even harder for me to believe is how much my life has changed and how much knowledge I have gained in 5 years.  
And that's what I want to write about gaining knowledge of what happened helped me find peace...and how that might help you too.
Five years ago yesterday I had only vaguely heard of TTTS.  I knew someone who's nephews had been born over 16 weeks early because of it and knew that one of them had died.  I knew it had something to do with the size of the babies not being the same and maybe something to do with fluids.  I didn't bother reading that section of the twin book, it wasn't going to be me so why did it matter???
In the days that followed the events of 5 years ago I learned much much more about TTTS.  Unfortunately what I learned then made me so much less peaceful, so much more guilt ridden... and that lasted for a long, long time.  

On The TTTS Foundation website I found this...
Confirm at First Ultrasound (Hopefully by 12 Weeks)
 1. Is the placenta monochorionic?
 2. Are the babies the same sex?
 3. Can you see the dividing membrane?
 4. Is the placenta anterior or posterior?
 5. Do the cords have 3 vessels or 2?
 6. Are the cords fully attached to the placenta?
Ask at Weekly Ultrasounds (Starting at Week 16 to Delivery)
 7. What is the largest vertical pocket of fluid for each baby?
 8. Can you see the bladder of the donor baby?
 9. What are the weights of the babies in grams?
 (every 2-3 weeks)
10. Are the dopplers normal for both babies?
11. Is the heart of the recipient baby enlarged or thickened?
12. Does the recipient baby have hydrops?
13. What is the measurement of your cervix, is it long and
 closed or thinning or dilated?
14. Is the smaller baby growing at the same rate?
15. What is the fundal height?

And I raised so much guilt...there was so much I didn't know.  I never asked any of these questions really.  I had no clue I should have had ultrasounds every week... the rate I had them (every 2.5-3 weeks) was pretty much unheard of in most of the twin sites I was a member of.  I knew there was one anterior placenta and that's about it.
I read other things on this site that made me feel more uneasy at all I hadn't done.  Didn't go to the right doctor, didn't have ultrasounds often enough, didn't lie on my left side or do bed rest when possible, didn't drink 3 boost or ensures a day.  All of these things seemed to be what others had done..others that still had both their babies.  It was so hard to live with myself at times.
But then I had to take myself back to what I did know, the facts that I did know for sure that were gathered and presented 5 years ago tonight.
* I had not had ultrasounds every week but I had them every 3 weeks or less and in every one the boys were a similar size and had similar fluid levels.  I did ask about size discrepancy as at one point they were 5 days apart in size... the doctor smiled and humoured me I think... 5 days difference was nothing to worry about at all, if they became more then 25% different then they would be worried.
My boys, at diagnosis, were almost exactly the same weight. Cole, our recipient, was actually 45 grams less and since he was the one getting the extra they knew that TTTS had not been happening long. 
* My boys had fluid levels of 8 cm and 0.5 cm.  Cameron had no visible bladder.  TTTS causes excess fluid to build up in the recipient's sac and causes the donor to be shrink wrapped in their amniotic sac.  Cameron was getting there but Cole was not in excess, not technically.  We were barely a stage 2 for fluids though we did have doppler readings for Cole that were concerning enough to move us to stage 3. 
* I was asked repeatedly if I'd noticed any rapid weight gain...I had almost none, maybe 0.5-1 lb per 10days to 2 weeks. Did I have any pain on one side? No.  I didn't feel like I was going to burst either and I hadn't noticed any decrease in movement. 
Our doctors assured us that these answered showed that TTTS had not been happening long...we caught it early and we could fix it.  Cole had some very minor heart concerns but everyone was very confident.
And I guess that is why the news of two later was such a shock. That is why I went back to all I didn't know, all I didn't do.  There was no peace in that.
After my water broke I had a lot of time to ponder what had happened and I had a lot of time to research and learn.  I learned terms like olyhydraminos, polyhydraminos, MCA dopplers, umblillical dopplers, learned about pocket sizes, cord insertions and what a velamentous cord insertion was.  I began to ask about placental share when I was told that about 1/4 of the placenta in my body was rapdily deteriorating but the rest looked good.  This helped but I still came back to those protein drinks, that left side rest, those frequent ultrasounds.
On the day the boys were born I asked to see the placenta.  My doctor, a fellowship doctor named Hayley, was amazing.  She showed me where the laser had ablated the vessels, she showe me how far off Cole's cord was and she showed me how little of the placenta appeared to be his... it was dark and almost rotten looking but Cameron's side, over 3/4 of the placenta, looked healthy.
In the months after we finally came home I really struggled.  I needed to understand what happened, needed to know we had done all we could.  I was very fortunate and was able to get a copy of all my antenatal records from Stratford General as well as all reports, including the surgical one, from Mt. Sinai.  I read them, over and over and over.  Some of it made sense but much of it didn't. 
By this point I had come to rely on my friends at Fetal Hope to help me make sense of many things both while I was in hospital on bedrest and after I got home.  Lonnie had me fax all the reports to him and he went through them page by page and told everything that was there.  It became very clear when we read them that all that could have been done ahead of time was done.  There were no signs, there were no reasons to suspect the cord insertion issue, Cole grew fine all along.  It also became apparent that when they got inside of me they knew they were dealing with a different scenario then they had thought from the ultrasounds.  There were more vessels then they figured, they cord insertion looked really bad.  Dr. Ryan did a septostomy in the dividing membrane so that he could be 100% certain that all vessels were ablated and written as a reason...'due to the severe velamentous nature of twin a's cord we felt it necessary to do a septostomy to follow all vessels and ensure all connections were indeed ablated'.  I think he knew...
And so my learning curve steepened. Now I knew about my own case and how little chance that anything being done differently would have changed our outcome for the better.  But did I understand what it all meant and could I apply it.
I began to research all that I could on TTTS, cord insertions, mono-di twins, tests like MCA dopplers, cord flow, IPS screening and nuchal folds... and what having different results in mono-di twins might mean. I learned about fetal anemia and intrauterine blood transfusions (yet another rare procedure we had done).  I learned about average rates of progression (there really isn't such a thing), I learned about the recommendation for ultrasound from other websites/foundations.... 10 days to 2 weeks is much more standard.  I asked foundation founders, doctors, nurses and nutritionists about protein and more specifically boost and ensure.  I asked Dr. Ryan about this subject a few times over the years and he's given me some great info on the subject, confirmed the findings of other medical professionals and so I felt VERY comfortable with the fact that I didn't need those, that they would not make a difference to anyone really
I began to gather a group of online friends (and later this week I just might do an up to date count but at last count it was over 175 of my 700 friends were TTTS related) who understood all these terms and were eager to learn more.
And in time I felt comfortable enough sharing my story with others and actually answering their questions.  I found peace in what I knew, I found comfort in the knowledge I had gained.

There will always be questions, always be a few what ifs but all in all.... knowledge is power and knowledge is peace.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Chosen to Carry

I Will Carry You
There were photographs I wanted to take
Things I wanted to show you
Sing sweet lullabies wipe your teary eyes
Who could love you like this?

people say that I am brave but i`m not
Truth is I'm barely hanging on
But there's a greater story
Written long before me
Because he loves you like this

So I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All my life
And I will praise the one who's chosen me
To carry you

Such a short time
Such a long road
All this madness
But I know

That the silence
Has brought me to his voice
And he says

I've shown her photographs of time beginning
Walked her through the parted seas
Angel lullabies no more teary eyes
Who could love her like this?

I will carry you
While your heart beats here
Long beyond the empty cradle
Through the coming years
I will carry you
All your life
And I will praise the one who`s chosen me
To carry you
I had heard this song once before but never looked up the words.  I actually read about the writer of this song in a blog that a friend sent me.  This was the post that made me sit back and really think... If you don't click on the link, that's ok...there is a lot of reading to get to the part that really hit me hard.  We plan our lives, we sketch them out.  We make plans. But sometimes those sketches aren't the reality or sometimes what we sketched and what the finished product are have similarities but oh so many differences. 
After reading the blog and relating so much to it I decided I wanted to find out more about this amazing writer.  And guess what...she has identical twin girls!  Imagine that.  What a coincidence!
But it wasn't her twins that brought her to write this song.  This little one that she writes about was born first I believe...the twins were her rainbow babies. 
After reading through these words, after listening to this song I am left in tears but in so much peace.  I did have so many dreams that were shattered that day.  Dreams of photos I planned to take, dreams of clothes they'd wear, toys they'd have, places they'd go (where of course everyone would notice that they were identical twins).  I miss Cole so much at times that it physically hurts.  And I can relate 100% to the line 'people say that I am brave but I`m not Truth is I'm barely hanging on' because that is exactly how I felt for so long. 
And what got me through, what helped me move past the darkness, the sadness, the lonliness.... the knowledge that Cole was with Jesus and that he chose me to carry him.  I was allowed on this journey for reasons I couldn't possibly fathom at the time.  I was given this amazing 'twin mommy' gift but I was also given a gift for comforting others, for helping others, for finding ways to raise money to help others. I found peace in that. I found peace in the knowledge that Jesus was with Cole but he was also with me...heck he was likely more with me then he was with Cole.  When fell down, he picked me up. When I wondered away, he brought me back.  When I sobbed and held my pillow tight wishing it was my baby, he dried my tears and gave me 3 other boys, one who looked just like the one that he holds in his arms to shower with hugs and kisses. 
I will praise the one who chose me to carry Cole for I know that he has great things in store for me and for my child.  I can find peace in that. 

Monday, December 9, 2013

A Little Piece of Peace

Before I had lost a child I took peace for granted.  I took those good times where your mind is, for the most part, free of burdens.  Times when you just feel content. Times when the world seems to be on an even line and you aren't falling off of it.  Times when we are relatively free of pain and feel calm and perhaps even fulfilled.  We can take deep breaths and reflect on the blessings in our lives.
But after you lose a child you feel shattered.  Nothing seems right, nothing seems fair.  You often feel like you are falling as well as failing. You are constantly looking for answers as to why this happened to your child.  'What did I do wrong?  Where do I go from here?'.  Your innocence and naivity has been stolen.  Nothing will EVER be the same again.
Sometimes, ok very often in the first year to two, and occaisionally now I wish for the old me.  I wish for the life I had before.  Before I knew this pain. Before I questioned everything.  Before I had so many doubts about life.  And I wondered if I would ever feel peace again.  Would I ever have moments where I didn't think of Cole with a heartwrenching ache?
The answer, for me, is yes. Yes I do and hopefully if you are reading this and thinking the same thing you will believe me when I say 'yes you will too'. There are many secrets to this that I wish weren't so secret, that I wish others had shared with me.
One of the keys to feeling peace again is understand that you will never be the person you were before...and that's ok.  It's ok to not be innocent, it's ok to not be carefree.  It's not ok to beat yourself up when you do let a ray of light into your darkness.  Expecting to feel like you used to feel will just set you up for failure...and for feeling like a failure.  It is guaranteed to make you feel like you have fallen into a pit of despair, into a darkness that has no light.  Expecting to return to the person you were before is holding you back from becoming the person that this journey in your life. Does this mean you can never feel joy again?  Does it mean you will never be at peace again? By no means.  It just mean that you have to find a new way to find this peace.
Some things that I have learned that help is to hold on to the moments when you do feel peace. When you feel even a glimmer of hope, of joy, of happiness grab ahold and don't let it go until you have appreciated it for what it is...a moment, even briefly, where you didn't feel like you were falling off the world. Peace comes in pieces, in moments.  It may not last like it used to but you have to celebrate it when it is there. 
Understand and even appreciate that we, as bereaved parents, know that peace is no longer simple and innocent.   We have experienced suffering, we have experienced devastation.  We understand it first hand and we see life so much differently because of it.  We used to take for granted those little moments that made us smile, those times when all was quiet and beautiful and we thought of peace as being the times in our life when all seemed 'right', when all was going our way.  Revel in those little moments now, appreciate them for what they are..a simple kind of peace that comes from inside ourselves and is very powerful.
Let it out and find a way to release the feelings, the stress, the tension.  Loss is all consuming and you need to find a way to self comfort.  Perhaps that comes in walking on the beach, watching a sunset, reading a good book, running or working out, creating artwork...anything that can help you release some of the tension that your body is holding onto is a must.  It's called cultivating inner peace and is a very proactive way of dealing with the inner storms of grief.
Be patient and gentle with yourself...and with others too.  You aren't going to bounce back, your world has been shattered beyond belief and picking up the pieces takes time.  And no one should expect this to happen over night or even in a short period of time...but some will.  People don't understand until they have been there and, although it's hard to cut them slack, you will find it much easier to deal with them if you remember how thankful you are that they can't relate to your pain.  You can try to explain but don't expect them to 'get it'.  Find people who do get it and vent to them on the bad days. 
And along those lines, expect set backs. Expect things to set you off... birthdays, celebrations, milestones, anniversaries...those are obvious but expect things like pictures, songs, smells, people and even places to send you backwards at time.  Don't push it away, don't hate yourself for going backwards.  Remember that finding peace also means coping with these reminders.  I also like to think those reminders are the times that those we love and miss are telling us they love and miss us too.
Forgiving is a very, very big part of finding peace.  I had one particular person that I was so very angry with when we lost Cole.  At the suggestion of a counselor, I wrote him a bit of a nasty letter and never mailed it.  She suggested doing this as by hanging on to unforgiveness you really can't move forward.  Though I felt better after the letter, I realized months and maybe even years later that I still held unforgiveness in my heart towards him.  When I finally let go of it I was amazed at how much peace I felt. 
Count your blessings and don't feel guilty when you do. You can feel sad and happy at the same's ok.  It's ok to feel sad but also to appreciate the things in your life that really are an amazing blessing.  I think this is especially true and so very important when you have lost one of your twins or multiples.  Those survivors really are a blessing and just because you miss their twin doesn't mean you don't appreciate that...and vice versa too. 
Allow yourself to laugh again, even if it's in a dark humour sort of way.  Find the things that make you laugh out loud and do them...often! 
To allow silliness, lightheartedness and the space for laughter is to allow a natural, healing process that leads to peacefulness.
Above  Don't stop doing things that you enjoy, don't stop living.  Each step you take forward is a step towards peace.  Going backwards once in awhile is going to happen but don't ever stop living. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Peace in this week of remembrance

Hmmmm.... how did peace fall on this week?  Two years ago when I did this same project the themes went Hope, Love, Joy, Peace AND the anniversary of the worst day of my life fell in the third week.  Gee... let's celebrate Joy at a time when I felt none, when I thought there was absolutely nothing to be joyful about or rather no joy I wanted to talk about.  But I did it, I found things to write about, found joy to share.
And now this year, after pulling the theme list from some random Christian website, I have changed the order and this craptastic week of memories falls on the week of Peace.
Ironically that was why I started this project 2 years ago in the first find some peace in the days that are so hard. And it worked then, just as I think it will work this year...I just have no idea how to express where I have found peace or to even think today what I can possibly say about peace on Friday.
Peace has a lot of meanings....
noun: peace; noun: the peace
  1. 1.
    freedom from disturbance; quiet and tranquility.
    "you can while away an hour or two in peace and seclusion"

    • mental calm; serenity.
      "the peace of mind this insurance gives you"

  2. 2.
    freedom from or the cessation of war or violence.
    "the Straits were to be open to warships in time of peace"

    • a period of this.
      "the peace didn't last"
    • a treaty agreeing to the cessation of war between warring states.
      "support for a negotiated peace"

    • freedom from civil disorder.
      "police action to restore peace"

    • freedom from dispute or dissension between individuals or groups.
      "the 8.8 percent offer that promises peace with the board"
  3. exclamation
exclamation: peace
  1. 1.
    used as a greeting.
  2. 2.
    used as an order to remain silent.

I am not even sure which is the best to describe peace when it comes to the loss of a loved one, especially a child.  It is the mental calm you seek but it's not necessarily serenity.  As a matter of fact, many days all I want is to NOT have serenity, not have a mental calmness.  I wish, with all my heart at times, that I was at my wits end like many of my twim mommy friends, most especially Cole's namesake, Noah Cole Sawyer's mom Tara is with her twin boys, striving to find my sanity after a day with twin 4 year old antics.  I guess the same would be said for the freedom from disturbance, quiet and tranquility...though that it was I seek around here a lot with my 3 wild boys, I wish, often, that it was 4 wild boys and most especially two wild boys in matching pj's that I can't wait to put to bed so I would get some 'peace and quiet'.
And though the other meaning of peace doesn't really apply either, the meaning that deals with war, with political peace, with 'getting along, it does have some application to the peace you seek after loss too.  Inside a grieving mother there is a war going on.  Sometimes it's a war of emotions, when joy fights to overcome sorrow, which then causes guilt to try to overcome happiness.  I think this is a war that is fought between the enemy and the Lord inside of us at times.  The enemy wants nothing more then to steal our inner peace and our joy.  And as a grieving mother all I wanted to do so often was scream 'SILENCE'  to all that inner turmoil...just as the definition of peace is given in the exclamation form.
As I explore what peace after loss looks like for me and share how it has happened in my life this week I think I will have a better grasp of how to define peace when it comes to loss but for now I will say this.
It is all these things above and more.  It is calming your mind mentally and finding a place where the voices of doubt, of anger, of disbelieve, of guilt, of jealousy, of bitterness and most of all, of sadness,  stop being the voices you speak almost all the time.  And it is a ceasing of the inner wars that these voices create.  It is silence you seek. It is the end of the disturbance you seek. It is the end of inner war.  But most of all it is some sort of acceptance.  At least for me.  It's not the obvious 'I accept that my child is dead' type of acceptance.  That was hard enough to swallow in the first few days and weeks after that awful ultrasound.  But that is part of the stages of grieving...where you deny that it's even happened.  No, I mean the acceptance that this is the life that you have been given and it's for a greater reason then you could ever imagine...and it's ok, it's's beyond,'s the most amazing life in spite of the fact that your child is not living on earth with you and maybe even that it's the most amazing life BECAUSE of the fact that your child is not not living on earth with you.
That one is hard to swallow at times...but I'll get to that later this week.
Thanks again for joining me on this week. And I thank you all ahead of time for the support you will offer me this week.  It will have it's tough moments...I am teary right now, feeling the lumps in my throat and the ache in my heart that this week always brings me. I wish, so much at times that I didn't have to have this project to do, that I was too busy chasing my crazy twins to have time for this.  But this is my life and getting through this week each year is part of it and part of who I am.  So thanks....for being here, being there wherever that is, for your support, your comments, your love, your laughter, your hugs, your smiles and most of all for just being a part of this journey that is my life.