Saturday, December 26, 2015

Filling the hole....

This amazing photo of my complete family was given to me this Christmas. It was taken by the talented Katy Kauth and edited by a friend of hers when I expressed to her how much I wanted a picture with all of my boys. 
I know that many people can't understand how important this photo is to me, why I would want it or why I would share it. There is no way to explain it except to say it fills a tiny bit of the hole that has existed in my heart since the day my boys were born and I wasn't able to see them together. I will always feel like part of my family is missing but having this picture helps me to visualize the completed version.
Being able to see what my family truly looks like fills my heart with such joy.

Friday, December 25, 2015

Christmas Reflections and Messages from Heaven

As this day of joy and hope wraps up I am feeling reflective. I went into last night feeling very emotional. It had been a rough few days as a mom and capped off with a very bad afternoon of trying to get ready for today with my whole family lazing around.

I felt unworthy of anyone's love and sure didn't feel like reading out the poems I adapted (see below) as the memorial candle was light. But God gave me the strength to get through it with ease just as He gave me a clear message from Cole. During the candle ceremony we sang Silent Night and during the first verse only I bawled like a baby. I had such a clear image of Cole in a calm and peaceful night scene snuggled up and 'sleeping in heavenly peace'.

Initially I felt tremendous sadness but suddenly my candle seemed to glow brighter and my heart felt lighter and I knew Cole was telling me he was missing me too but that he was at peace and I needed to be too.

And for the rest of the service, though tears came again a few times, I began to feel such peace come into my heart. Pastor Jeff spoke about those of us who don't feel worthy of God's love needing to see that Jesus accepts us for who we are and forgives us for all we think we do to make us unworthy. I knew then that God knew my heart was burdened and he humbled me to admit my fears, worries, mistakes and sins.

I felt such tearful joy by the end of the service. I still felt like part of my family was missing (though I'll share that I have a wonderful gift that I was given yesterday to share that helps to fill this particular void...and I will post that in the next few days) but I felt a clarity about this. I knew that God was telling me it was ok to miss Cole and that Cole misses me too. He is in a place of heavenly peace and I can have my own earthly version of this heavenly peace by just opening my heart to Jesus.

And the rest of the night went off without tears (or any other negative emotions or visits from nasty mommy LOL). And today was a day without any deep sadness at all. I am so very blessed. I have the love and support of a man who has walked through all of this with me and who has stood beside me, and I beside him, through some very difficult personal moments. I am blessed with the love and adoration of 4 beautiful sons. And most of all, I am loved by a forgiving and humble God.

Merry Christmas to all on earth and in heaven. May the peace of heaven surround you all whole you sleep.

Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees,
Around the world below.
With tiny lights, like heaven's stars,
Reflecting on the snow.
The sight is so spectacular,
Please wipe away that tear.
For I'm spending Christmas,
With Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs,
That people hold so dear.
But the sounds of music can't compare,
With the Christmas choir up here.
I can't tell you of the splendor,
Or the peace here in this place.
Can you just imagine Christmas,
With our Savior, face to face?

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.
So be happy for me dear ones
You know I hold you dear
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift
From my heavenly home above,
I sent you each a memory
Of my undying love.
After all love is a gift
More precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
In the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other
As my Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessing of love
He has for each of you.
So have a merry Christmas and wipe away that tear.
Remember I am spending Christmas
With Jesus Christ this year.

I'll ask Him to light your spirit,
As I tell Him of your love.
So then pray one for another,
As I lift you eyes above.
Please let your hearts be joyful,
And let your spirit sing.
For I'm Spending Christmas in Heaven,
And I'm walking with the King.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

A Gift for an Angel or a Gift from an Angel

Well another year of reliving is almost over... it usually takes til around Dec. 19th (the day we found out Cameron was going to be ok) for the darkness to lift completely.  For the most part, though, I don't think people would think of it as a time of darkness.  I don't think I show that side, I don't think I live under a cloud of sorrow for those 8 days...but maybe people would disagree. 
This year December 13th fell on a Sunday and this meant I spent part of the day at my church...a place that brings me such great joy and hope.  By some divine plan, this year I was asked to sing on the worship team on Sunday.  I knew it could prove to be a challenge to be up in front of the whole congregation (of 350 or so) on a day that I felt so vulnerable and so I rose early so I could get my tears out and my emotions under control.  I wrote my annual blog post about this day, had my big cry and felt ready for the day.  Being on the worship team was awesome.  It was a distraction but it was also joy building.  I love to sing and I love to praise God this way so this seemed like the perfect thing to do on this day.  Pastor Jeff had a wonderful sermon on hope and what that means to Christians...

Romans 5:1-5

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we[a] have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ,through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we[b] boast in the hopeof the glory of God. Not only so, but we[c] also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Passages like this have always spoken to me because I feel like this is the story of Cole...and of Cameron, Jodie, Geoff, Zack and Brycen.  We suffered but we perservered.  Our perservernce brought about changes in our character that no one, especially us, could have anticipated.  And it was that change in character that brought us to a feeling of awareness that there were greater things out there.  That God had a plan for us and Jesus could and would forgive us for our sins and give us eternal life....where we would once again be united with our sweet son Cole. 
Paster Jeff also spoke of what hope means at Christmas...and how we can share our hope in Jesus with others.  There were many ideas shared but the general theme was giving of ourselves so that others could feel hope.  And so, that afternoon, we started a new tradition.  We went  as a family and shopped for a gift for Cole.  We picked out something we knew a 6 year old boy would love...because we have a six year old boy who offered great suggestions.  We purchased this gift out of love and we brought it home.  Late that night we wrapped it up as a family and we talked.  We talked about all the things Cole would have loved about this gift and how he would have played with it.  And then we placed a name tag on it that had been chosen from an 'Angel Tree'...well from a list of boys and girls whose parents just aren't able to provide the Christmas they wish they could for their kids.  And we blessed it and lovingly placed in a special place awaiting it's delivery to our churches Christmas Blessings event committee. 

And so the day was a really good one for the most part. (we'll just leave out the part where the kids would not stop fighting long enough to get this done until mommy got tired of yelling and became very quiet and's amazing how quickly they get back on track when they realize their mom is hurting)  It had it's moments but for the first time ever my kids, especially Cameron, talked about Cole with curiousity, hope and peace. Cameron is at an age where he expresses that he misses his twin brother often but it is rare that he seems's more of a matter of fact statement then an emotional state.  They loved our new tradtion and it's defintely something that will happen each year.  Buying a gift for Cole it's something that is heartwarming and heartwrenching but it feels so right.  It almost felt like a gift that Cole was giving us rather then we were giving him or the little boy who will receive it.
I know that he is forever with us and this tradtion seemed to give us just one more connection to him.  I will live each day for this child who lives in my heart and this is just one more step in seeing him and his presence in my very existence.  He may not walk this earth but his footsteps will be felt by others. 
I found this quote and just felt it was the best thing to leave this post off with....
As long as I can I will look at this world for both of us, as long as I can, I will laugh with the birds, I will sing with the flowers, I will pray to the stars, for both of us. - Author Unknown

Sunday, December 13, 2015

The Thing About Forever....

This morning I set my alarm with the intent of getting up and going for a morning walk and a mourning walk.  I am sad, today is a sad day, let's get that part out of the way.  I planned to come back and put some thoughts on paper and then prepare for my day...simple right???
But instead I woke feeling no desire to go anywhere and just wanted to remember and cry.  And so I have been.  Remembering those moments 7 years ago when my world changed.  Remembering how I woke up that morning so full of optimism.  I woke to kicks from Cole.  I know I did.  I know he was alive when I woke up.  I know he greeted the day with me that day.  I am guessing he took that moment to say goodbye and left left us forever.  Gone.  Before he ever took a breath.  Gone.  Forever.
And yet not gone.  He left behind a perfect memory who looks just like him and he left behind a legacy.
In looking for some inspiration for something to write today I came across this quote from a book called The Thing About Forever by Sarah Dessen.  I think it's a book I need to read....
“That was the thing. You never got used to it, the idea of someone being gone. Just when you think it's reconciled, accepted, someone points it out to you, and it just hits you all over again, that shocking.” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever

And that truly is it.  You never get used to it.  This year has been exceptionally hard for me in this way.  I think I thought I would be more used to it by now.  That the pain would lessen. The gut wrenching feeling when I think of those days 7 years ago would be lessened, maybe even gone.  That I would be more used to the emotions that come about this time of year.  That I would miss him less, remember him and this day with a greater sense of peace.  That I would just be 'used to' him being gone. But that 's not happening. Today I feel like it's December 13, 2008 all over again.  Like I'm hearing those words "I'm sorry this baby is dead.  This baby has no heartbeat" all over again.  And I'm weeping all over again.
I feel like I haven't reconciled it.  I haven't accepted it.  I am experiencing it all over again and it is shocking.
I miss my son, I miss the joys of expecting twins.  I miss the anticipation of the memories I thought I would be building over the last 7 years.  I miss you so much Cole.
Now don't get me wrong.  We have built some amazing memories over the last 7 years that would not have been possible if this day had not happened.  I am so very proud of the things that we have done in the last 7 years to honour this little boy who left us so soon.  I have built a legacy that I am proud of.  I know I've changed the lives of others because of the change Cole made in me.
And maybe, 360 or so days of the year, that makes it easier.  But this time of year, today especially, it doesn't make it easier and it doesn't lessen the pain.
The Thing About Forever is that it's....Forever.
Forever my heart will ache on this day.
Forever my heart will break again on this day.
Forever I will cry on this day.
Forever I will wish things were different on this day.
Forever I will remember every minute of this day.
And Forever I will miss all that should have been on this day.

In my search for inspiration I also found this from the same book....
“Some people, they can't just move on, you know, mourn and cry and be done with it. Or at least seem to be. But for me... I don't know. I didn't want to fix it, to forget. It wasn't something that was broken. It's just...something that happened. And like that hole, I'm just finding ways, every day, of working around it. Respecting and remembering and getting on at the same time. ” 
― Sarah DessenThe Truth About Forever

And I guess that is the thing.  Some people can move on and be done with it.  Some people think I should do this.  Some people wonder how I can dwell on this so much 7 years later.  Almost all of those people have never been through anything like this and they don't get that each and every day when you've lost an identical twin your loss slaps you upside the head.  It doesn't EVER go away....and that's really is.  Better to have loved and lost than to have never loved at all right?  Right?  RIGHT!!!!  It really is right.  It is ok that each day Cameron reminds me of my loss, of our family's loss.  Because without that constant reminder we would have nothing.  And Sarah Dessen is so right.  I don't want to fix this pain, to fix it and forget it.  It's not broken so it can't be fixed.  My heart might be broken but my life without my son isn't something that is and so it can't be fixed.

It's just something that happened and it is a hole in my life that will be there forever.  It can be filled with love, with joy, with memories, with legacies, with tributes, with honour and even with peace.  But it will never be completely filled over and it will be something I work around forever.  This hole must be respected and remembered because it existed.
He existed.
He exists.
He is my son and he exists and I will never stop....
Never stop loving him.
Never stop missing him.
The Thing About Forever is it never stops.
The Thing about my love is it never stops.
The Thing about Forever....

I miss you Cole Edward Ryan Tummers and this day is yours....Forever.....

Friday, December 11, 2015

Fearfully and wonderfully made

Psalm 139:13–14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Today marks the seventh anniversary of the day my life changed forever. But today I don't want to remember what happened in the afternoon of December 11th 2008. Today I want to remember what happened from September 20th 2008 to December 11th 2008. I want to dwell on the memories of being told I was expecting identical twins. I want to focus on the joy that it was to know that God had given me these two identical little beings to grow in my womb. I mean think about it. What an astronomical, amazing miracle it is that one egg can split into two perfect little beings.  And God chose me to have that happen. He chose my body for Cameron and Cole to grow inside of. Pretty amazing.

I remember the day I learned that I was carrying twins. I wasn't exactly happy and although I was worried and scared and freaking out, I was also filled with joy and excitement. I told everyone I saw, showed my ultrasound to all I met and basked in their excitement for us.

I'm not sure exactly when I felt the boys move for the first time but I think it was around 16 to 17 weeks. It wasn't intense movements but it was more than I'd ever felt this early in a pregnancy.  It was like constant butterflies, tiny flutterings that reminded me of the miracles inside of me interacting with each other. It was coolest feeling ever.

I think some of the greatest memories I have were the ultrasounds I had... watching my two babies interact with each other inside of me. Cole was my mover and shaker. He would kick and wiggle and just be crazy inside and Cam, surprisingly enough,  was always pretty subdued and laid back. He took the kicks from his brother and he just lay there and moved around.   It's kind of interesting to me given how crazy busy Cameron is now. Makes me think that Cole's energy and spirit really does live inside of his twin's body.

Initially in my twin pregnancy I actually wasn't gaining weight or getting any bigger.  Before I knew I was carrying twins I thought something was wrong.  That's why I think the news was the biggest shock of my life. I went into the ultrasound almost expecting they were going to tell me something was wrong with the baby because I felt so different than in previous pregnancies. Turns out I should feel pretty different because there was two babies.

Anyway, I probably didn't change the shape or size until about 15-16 weeks and then all of a sudden it was almost like an explosion. My brother Josh was getting married around that time and I had gotten a dress altered to be made smaller for me because I had lost some weight. The alterations had been done after I found out I was pregnant but before I knew I was carrying the seamstress had allowed some room for growth.  When I back for my final fitting two weeks before the wedding at the dress actually needed to be let out. Along came the day of the wedding and low and behold the dress was uncomfortable because in 2 weeks I had grown again and now it was too small again!!!

That year was one of those years where Thanksgiving was really really warm and I struggled to find maternity clothes at only 16 weeks pregnant that would fit over my growing belly for the family gathering we had.  I still look back at that and think wow at 16 weeks I already needed to have maternity pants and shirts on. Crazy.

I was a of an obsessive planner when I was pregnant with the boys. I needed to figure out all the details. Could I work fill time or would childcare be nuts...that was my first focus. That was the very day I found out and before I made it to Teeswater 2 hours after finding out I had already calculated 4 different scenarios!
Next came the stroller dilemma. I spent HOURS online looking at different ones and trying to find used ones.  We even took our then 5 and 2 year olds to babies are us to put them in double strollers to find the best one. It was actually my first (and in the end, only) twin product purchase.
My next obsession became bedrooms. Funding a second crib was pretty easy but trying to figure out how to put the older boys together in the smaller of the two bedrooms was a challenge. I actually designed bunk beds with storage in them and began trying to convince Geoff and his dad to make them!

And speaking of obsessions...breastfeeding....that was my greatest fear. I never worried about the health of my babies. Never feared preterm labour. Nope. greatest worry was how on earth do you nurse two babies at the same time.

As time went on and my babies got bigger I began to feel more and more movements...usually from baby a's side...Cole's side. Like I said, Cam was very laid back inutero. I loved feeling them move and could hardly wait for the movements to be strong enough for Geoff to feel.

I remember telling people I was having twins and being beyond excited. It was just so amazing to be carrying two babies. I got uncomfortable but it felt so worth it.

Our greatest focus seemed to be on gender. I have read through so many of my 'memories' posts on facebook over the last month or two and atleast once a week there was a post on gender. We pictured matching clothes, matching Halloween costumes, toys in pairs and all kinds of things like that.  Excitement grew and grew as did my belly.

Today I just feel so blessed that I took this journey. I won't lie and say my emotions aren't still up and down but I am trying to focus on the time before those fated 4 letters/words came into my life.

The irony that this scripture crossed my path this morning is not lost on me. Seven years ago this morning was the very last time I was living in blissful twin pregnancy naivety. That afternoon I learned my babies were sick and our journey in the world of TTTS began. Today I remember that God knit my boys in my womb and they were, and are, wonderfully made. I want to remember the wonderful works they are and forget, for today, the pain that exists after that diagnosis.

Psalm 139:13–14
13 For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Unspeakable Joy, Unsettling Sadness

This morning I went out for a walk for the first time in a few weeks. Usually I listen to worship music but this morning I decided to listen to Christmas music. I found myself admiring the beautiful Christmas lights while I listen to O Holy Night and Silent Night. My heart was filled with joy at the excitement of Christmas almost being here.
But then, suddenly, I found myself with tears streaming down my face as I walk the streets of town. I thought about Cole and I thought about our journey. I thought about this week and where we're at and I just couldn't believe how suddenly sad I felt. I don't understand how I can feel so happy and so sad in the same moment. I don't understand how I can feel so excited and so upset at the same time. I just don't understand myself this week.
Seven years ago about today, or so the doctors figure, twin to twin transfusion syndrome began in my body. They know that it was around this time because Cole only had eight centimeter pockets of fluid and the boys were about the same size. Normally in twin to twin you see one big baby and one small baby you see one with a lot of fluid well above 8 centimeters and one with none. Eight centimeters is the minimum fluid amount needed by a recipient to even be considered TTTS.
Because we only had eight centimeters the doctors were very sure that it is only been happening for 3 days at best that puts us to seven years ago today. Seven years ago today my body started dysfunctioning on me. Seven years ago today an onslaught happened to my body that eventually stole my child from me. I hate it ithat it still makes me so angry  because I also know that it led me to become who I am today. How can these emotions to be all twisted up together? How can I feel so many conflicting emotions at the same time?
I love Christmas, I always have, but I find myself not even wanting to celebrate sometimes.  I don't want to be joyful when my heart is so sad. I don't want to be happy when I'm so angry.
I prayed this morning for God to help me to get through the next few days without so many mixed up emotions but I think he's trying to tell me that the mix of emotions are oka. That it's part of who I am and part of what this journey is about. Learning to be the new me has taken me, well 7 years,  and I'm not done yet. I am nowhere near done yet. But then again maybe I won't be done until I get to the other side. When I hold Cole in my arms again and I see his beautiful face then I will be done. Then it all makes sense. Until then I guess I need to accept that mixed up emotions are part of who I am.

Pray for me please friends.  I fear sometimes that I'll cry in front of the wrong person.  I know it's a silly fear but its one that eats at me at times too. I never know what people will think of where I am 7 years later...
Thanks for reading.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Another year, another season

It's been so long since I wrote anything here and I really don't know why. Many times I've thought of a post I should write, many times I've come across a great inspiration...only to get put off by some distraction or another.
And now another holiday season is upon us and that means another season for my heart, another time of remembrance.
In one week I will be reliving the very last hours of my son's life and this year I thought I could get through it without my usual blogging project...without forcing myself to find blessings and gifts in my life after, and because, I lost my son.
And tonight I realized I can't do this. I can't go on pretending I am ok because I am not. I miss my son, I've missed him since the day he left us nearly 7 years ago and I truly love and hate this time of year.  It is so damned bittersweet to know that your life is inexplicably better because you know the devastating loss of saying goodbye to your child. I often tell people how much my life changed for the better after I experienced losing Cole but tonight that just feels like a complete line of BS that I feed people so they don't feel sorry for me. Tonight I feel sorry for me. Tonight I feel sorry for my whole family.  Tonight I feel sorry most of all for Cameron.
He feel asleep in my arms tonight in a pose pretty similar to the one below. At almost 7 that rarely happens.  He feel asleep with his head on my right arm and side of my chest with his hand on my heart. The irony wasn't lost on me. That is where his twin should be and where his twin will live forever.
Tonight I cried, sobbed, for the first time in a very long time. Tonight I pulled out my surgery reports and my presurgical ultrasound reports and I reread the clinical final moments of Cole’s life. I remembered and I relived it all.
Tonight I am thinking of this season I am in and I am praying for comfort in the days ahead. I am praying for signs that my son knows how missed he is. I am praying for signs of the connection he has with us. I am praying that no one will forget him this year. And selfishly I am praying that no one will forget me this year.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015


Ecclesiastes 3: 3-8,

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:
    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Life comes with seasons.  It's not just the weather that occurs in a pattern of seasons but our lives do too.  In the last few months I have read a few books that have reminded me of this theme and I've been wanting to write about this for awhile.  I guess it took the season of winter, a snowy day where school (work) was canceled to give me the time to get to it.
Life begins with spring.  It's the birth of new things.  New life, new adventure, new joy and new hope.  It's a time where we anticipate the future, where we marvel at the wonder of life and find amazement in the newness of so many things.  We begin to make plans, we begin to think ahead and wonder about the future.  We ready ourselves up for the adventure we are about to take. We pray with thankful hearts, with anticipation and happiness.
Summer comes in the form of that adventure.  We spend our time having fun but we also spend our days working hard at times.  We set goals and strive to meet them.  We gather with family and friends to celebrate the beginnings of new life together, to celebrate the years of life loved ones have had together.  We find great joy in being together with friends and family, of taking trips and holidays, of relaxing and enjoying our time together.  It is easy to be thankful, to praise God for these good times.  It so easy to see the goodness of our lives and that makes it easy to say thanks. 
But all too soon fall arrives.  It's time to get back to reality, to get back to work and to prepare ourselves for another season to come.  We wind things down, we put things away.  We wrap up loose ends and we prepare for quieter times. We prepare for moments that we anticipate are coming and we reflect on our recent adventures.  We see the colours around us change and we watch as signs of life begin to go through their own changes.  We are saddened to see these changes coming and we don't always feel like being happy, like being grateful. 
And then winter arrives.  Cold and dark at times, bright and sunny at others...but almost always colder then what we remembered, then what we are prepared for, then what we want.  We long for warmth, for sunny days, sunny times.  We look fondly at pictures of the fun times of gone by and wish we could go back.  We think we'd like to venture outside but we take a few cautious steps out and we retreat back, intimidated by the cold, afraid of darkness and frigid temperatures. Sometimes we feel like winter will never end, like we'll never be out of this deep freeze, like we'll never feel the warm sunshine again, like there is nothing we can do to get out of the depression winter brings about.  We long for happier times but we can't see how we'll ever get there again.  
But then, ever so slowly, the days get a little longer and a little warmer.  The snow starts to melt, the days seem less dreary, less intimidating.  The sun warms the ground and the snow begins to melt just as it warms our hearts and the ice around us begins to melt.  
Soon you can feel spring in the air and you are filled with hope. 

It's not just that life is like this but really that life IS this.  We begin with life, with birth, and we go on an adventure.  In the end life slows and eventually stops.  But as it stops, new life begins.  But it's not just the life cycle that changes like the seasons but things in our life also have a season, we have seasons.  
One of the hardest seasons for people to negotiate is the winter...the lack of hopeful times, the memories of happy times you can't get back, the fear that the darkness will never end.  We long for change but don't know how to bring it about.  We long for the sadness and trials to be over and we fear they never will be.  
Grief and loss are part of winter.  Sometimes it is the loss of a loved one but sometimes it is the anticipated loss of that loved one...the time when a loved one is dying and there is nothing we can do to stop it.  We watch their life fade and we long for happier times, healthier times.  Once they have passed we just want to go back to summer...why can't we just go back to warmth, happiness, sunshine.  We look around us at all the mountains of snow and wonder how we'll move it or climb over it.  We feel so alone at times, so lost.
But as with the season of winter, the season of grief does end.  Spring does come.  Hope can be found.  We discover we aren't alone.  Not only are their friends and family there to comfort and support us but God is always there too.  When we are ready, God reaches into the bleak winter of our hearts and he plants the seeds of life flowers.  Those flowers take root, they push out the darkness, the cold, the bleakness and they bring in the warmth of spring, the sunshine and light, the hope of new life.  The chunks of ice and snow gradually melt into puddles of joy and laughter.  Winter is long, the season of grief is long and indescribably difficult but new life is budding, waiting to bloom.  Sunshine prevails, embrace it's hope and let's it's warmth bring joy into your life.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

A Time of Tears

I wrote this post on facebook a number of weeks ago and really thought I had posted it here.  I decided to back date it today to when I was wrote and share it anyway as I think it's good to reveal those moments in your journey where you feel like you are slipping backwards.  It shows the heights and depths of grief, that grief isn't linear and there are ups and downs, forward steps and backwards slides.  This was a backward slide....

Just finished me a heck of a good cry...and those who know me and my story know, after 6 years, I don't have sobbing fests anymore.
It came from reading an account of a parents final goodbye to their medically fragile child in a book called Life is a Gift. It was heart wrenching and the part that got me the most was when the mom talked about how much she appreciated that God gave her those final days, that time to prepare herself for the goodbye and her daughter for the hello to Jesus.

I remembered our goodbyes to Cole, the dreams we shared with him, the tears we wept, the regrets we had. This author talked about how much she knows she was blessed to have her time and how awful she feels for people like me. 

"I realize not everyone is granted the luxury of time when it comes to seeing a loved one die.  There are those who, with one horrific phone call, have to come to grips with the reality that life is gone.  There are those who never get a chance to say goodbye and all those other things we still want, and need, to say."

 And it just brought it all back. I want that time back, I want to say goodbye before his heart stops, I want to hold him as he takes his last breath, as the angels come for him. I want to tell him about Jesus and all he'll do growing up with Jesus, the angels and loved ones gone before him teaching him instead of me. 

I am raw, I am a mess and I am 12 days from their birthday... Which rarely affects me but I know God has something He needs me to come to terms with this year for their birthday.
I turned the page and saw this image and wept again... but slightly more hopeful this time...

Jean Keaton Teach Me To Walk 

I know that my son learned to walk with the Lord at his side.  I know that I will see him again.  I know he is in such a better place then this broke world.....but sometimes, in my weakest, most broken moments I just don't care, I just want him back with me.

Post Note:
I will share now, 15+ days later, that this year's birthday was a wonderful one because I allowed myself the freedom to feel all the emotions I could have.  I had some tears, I remembered a lot from that day that I think I had suppressed.   But the most interesting thing about this year, the part that I think God was preparing me for, was Cameron's growth and realizations.  He told me often that it was Cole's birthday too.  He told me that Cole got presents in heaven, the same ones he got here.  He assured me that Cole was happy with his cake and his party.  He also has begun talking about Cole like he is with him all the time.  He says there are 2 Coles in his class (one of his best buddies names is Cole) and that Cole loves going to school, loves Mrs. F and Mrs, N.  I am not sure a few months ago that my heart could have handled all of this from Cameron but today my heart sings because I know that my twin sons truly are connected, truly are living in each others space, truly are together forever. 

Saturday, January 3, 2015

When Concern becomes Judging Interference

Recently I experienced a situation that has sent me through a huge gamut of emotions. It came at as 2014 came to a close and left me questioning the choices I've made over the last 6 years. 
In the end I knew that raising my kids the way we have is something I don't now, nor do I think I ever will, regret. I am proud of who each of them are because of the empathy and compassion our journey has taken us on. However it really has left me thinking about the things ‘well intended’ people say and day, why they do it and how to tell who really is sincere. 
Feeling judged is not something new to me.  I think I might be a bit more oversensitive to it as I have spent much of my life feeling like I don’t measure up in some way or another. 
But this was different.  Because this time someone was questioning an area of my life that I know, with 100% certainty, that I have grown from in a positive manner and was also an area I would never wish on anyone….and yet I know I am a better person because of it. 
I am guessing for some the unsaid subject here is obvious but for others maybe not so.  Without recapping the entire thing, I will say that some fairly harsh words were shared via text to me regarding how I ‘act’ around my children regarding the life and death of Cole.  Words like “ not healthy to be keep Cole 'alive´ with photos, charms” and “the constant talk of Cole and the 'twins' is not doing anyone any good” along with advice such as ‘grieve inwardly and keep him alive in your heart forever, but his memory needs to remain there” were just some of the many things that were said to me.  And maybe if it stopped there it might not have been so, well hurtful, but when things like saying one of our kids has a difficult 'prognosis' because Cole is actively discussed and idolized in our home (more info on this later) or worse yet, directly saying that when Cameron gets a little older that our ‘keeping Cole alive with photos and constant discussion’ may make him miss his twin brother and become deeply disturbed because he feels he is responsible for Cole not being alive and that he doesn't feel complete without him”….well that is just taking it beyond anything I could ever imagine that someone who is concerned would say and becomes entirely a judgement of how I have lived each and every day of my life for the last 6 years.  It’s beyond caring and borders on cruel (and that is toning it down from what was said and shows how little time that she spends with us or has talked to us about what happened as she doesn't realize that we could never paint a picture like that for Cameron since he was actually giving all he could to Cole, not taking anything from him and therefore didn't have any part in 'killing his twin brother')
But I really, truly wanted to give this person the benefit of the doubt.  I mean she really spends very little time with us so if the brief window she sees paints this picture then there must be a problem.  Except when I talked to those who do spend time with us often, who do know my children and have seen them ‘in action’, who have heard us talk about Cole with love, with hope, with peace and love and in a positive light…when those people told me that they have always admired how we include our children in all aspects of life and death, how we show our kids what life is real, crap happens and then life must go on and we must grow from our trials and that Cole’s little life mattered then I know that the ‘real’ people, the true friends and almost family they are ones painting the true picture of my life.
But again, I still wanted to give her the benefit of the doubt and I wanted desperately to understand why anyone would express things in such a way.  Was it out of concern and an offering of advice? Was it judging?
Through some research today into the definitions of ‘advising someone’ vs ‘judging someone’ it is my opinion that to be advised requires a search for answers, as in someone has asked for advice or indicated a desire to have advice shared, (whether or not we act upon it). Whereas judging someone is to have fault cast upon us, (whether or not we've earned it).
And since I didn't ask for advice nor indicate I felt I needed any but certainly had lots of fault for  'openly discussing and worshipping Cole in my home' at the sake of children's mental health then I guess this is a definite case of judging.
And the more and more I looked into this, the more reading I did and the more praying I did, the more I realized just how unfair it is to judge anyone.

Matthew 7:1-5 

“Judge not, that you be not judged. For with the judgment you pronounce you will be judged, and with the measure you use it will be measured to you. Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when there is the log in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.

I know that the person that shared this with me felt she was sharing her concerns for my children’s well being but in the end she really was just passing judgement on what she felt was ‘a huge life blunder’.  I am guilty of this in her life too I am sure.  Thankfully I never chose to share this.  Was it because I didn’t feel I had the right or because I lacked the courage? I am not sure.  Mostly, I think, I realized that I had not walked a mile in her shoes, I had not lived in her home, spent enough time with her and her family etc to even feel I had a right to make a decision.  Obviously this sentiment wasn’t shared.
I did share this experience with many other twin loss mommies and almost every single one of them was outraged that anyone would feel inclined to say such things to someone who had lost a child.  Though I felt an immediate rush of support, just as I did when I shared it with friends here, I realized that I wasn’t alone, that many other people had experienced the same ignorant, ill founded ‘advice’….or judging. 
People don’t seem to understand that it isn’t their job to ‘interfere’ or ‘meddle’.  It isn’t their job to tell us how to grieve.  Most of all it isn’t their job to tell us how to live after loss.  I say it that way because I don’t feel like I am grieving, I don’t feel daily sadness, I don’t feel a huge sense of loss, don’t act depressed and don’t live with shrines and reminders of all we lost in any room in my home (there are no photos of Cole or even representations of Cole and Cameron together posted anywhere in my home)   The only job that the family and friends of those who’ve experienced loss have is to love them, unconditionally, genuinely and sincerely. 

1 Thessalonians 4:11

 And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you,

Now that is not to say that there aren’t times that intervention is necessary. I researched many psychology websites in preparation for this blog to see what ‘professionals’ had to say about what is healthy and what is not.  This is what I learned….
Crying, mourning, talking about loved ones, having mementos, doing things to honour them/remember them, celebrating them, expressing how you feel, taking as much time as it takes etc….those are all normal and healthy ways to grieve and to live after loss.
Ignoring, denying, never talking about it, handling it alone, rushing through it, becoming anxious or depressed, hoarding, engaging in risky behaviour (drinking and drugs are the obvious here but there are lots of others), becoming a victim or an abuser, becoming controlling, over or under eating etc…those are all very unhealthy ways to live after loss 

And since I was researching I decided to look into what the experts say for siblings…

Involve your children - find ways to let your children participate in things as much as possible, such as the planning of activities for a funeral or other memorial events, making up a photo board or a memory scrapbook.
Encourage memories - encourage ways to help them remember the who has died – and to celebrate their life. This can be an ongoing part of their lives, as they will always feel a bond or link with them – even after years. Their grief journey will slowly help them to realise their sibling has gone forever, but finding ways to remember them will help continue the special and precious relationship they have together. Studies show bereaved children are significantly helped in this way.
Now I am sure that there are some people who think that because Cole was never ‘known’ by his siblings that they have no memories to cherish, no relationship to hold on to.  Well unfortunately it doesn’t work that way.  My sons were so excited that their mommy was having twins. They are very aware that Cameron has a twin brother who looks exactly like him. It’s pretty hard to ignore what stares you in the face each day. 
I also came across this and I knew this is exactly what happens in the homes of everyone child who has lost a sibling….

Be aware that it is not unusual for a child’s grief to resurface, or even to surface for the first time, a considerable time after the death. This happens as they journey through
happened many months or years later. Be patient and understanding of this and answer them honestly. At any stage, if you feel concern about any particularly extreme reactions or behaviour changes you have noticed, contact your doctor, nurse or health centre, a counsellor, a social or community worker, a youth worker, or local family support agency.

And thankfully we are getting help for one of our kiddos who is struggling with a few issues…some relate to this loss and journey but some are very much genetic and learned behaviours.  But in case anyone wonders what I shared that started this whole thing in the first place…well sadly but understandably to some anyway, one of our sons has expressed that he feels that his baby brother died but that his sibling got a baby brother in Cameron.  This saddens me and yet I also know that he could very easily feel the same way if Cameron wasn’t a twin…when you have 3 living kiddos someone is bound to feel left out. 

Anyway, I think what this whole thing has taught me is that no one has a right to judge another person’s grief, loss or coping process.  If it becomes a situation that is life threatening to anyone then for sure, get involved, get help.  It has also taught me that, though I have never expressed my judgement of this person and how she has lived her life to her, I have to others and I have no right to do that.  I don’t even have a right to judge to just myself.  As natural as it is, it is neither helpful nor right and is something that God is not ok with.  The whole ‘people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones’ comes to mind but even more so this comes to mind…

John 8:7

When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let any one of you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.”

So what should you do if you are in a situation like this… LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  Spend time with this person.  Don’t make a hasty decision or judgement. Talk to them, let them share their loved one with you and see how they really are doing. Listen to them and try to understand why they share their loved one the way they do and maybe even how they see how it affects their family.  You might be surprised.  Maybe they do need your help, maybe some sort of intervention, some type of counselling etc is needed.  But be cautious how you share your concerns and be very certain you know what you are talking about. A brief glimpse into their lives does not qualify you to make any observations or decisions.  And unless you are really close to the person and have the kind of relationship with them that entitles you to even have an opinion on their daily life…well shut the heck up!
Realize that you are not them, that you have not walked in their shoes (nor carried two babies in their womb). ..and even if you have had a similar experience, every person is different and will handle things differently.  Remember this is their family and they have a right to raise them the way they feel is best.  Who are you to decide what should or should not be said or done? You aren’t living in their home, you didn’t carry those children in your womb, you don’t see how they interact with each other every day. 

And above all, stop judging.  I know that not all who read this can appreciate that I turn to the bible for advice but this one speaks loud and clear to me..
 1 Corinthians 4:3-5
 I care very little if I am judged by you or by any human court; indeed, I do not even judge myself. My conscience is clear, but that does not make me innocent. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore judge nothing before the appointed time; wait until the Lord comes. He will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and will expose the motives of the heart. At that time each will receive their praise from God.

God is the only one who can judge, who can pass judgement.  He knows the reason why things happen the way they do.  He knows what is in the hearts of everyone and will bring it to light, expose it.  For me, I truly believe God wants me to use Cole as a vessel to help others and that the faith I have found because of loss is to be shared.  I am not to hide Cole away in my heart but rather to share what losing him has taught me. He is to be a part of my family...because he is a part of my family. 

I can’t reiterate enough, no matter how concerned you may be, no matter what you feel should be done different, be careful and tread lightly when you do approach situations that could be so easily construed as judging…. Otherwise you may find yourself having forever ruined a relationship.