There's no tragedy in life like the death of a child. Things never get back to the way they were.

Dwight D. Eisenhower

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Good days...Bad days

My baby in the fall leaves...what a happy little guy.

Well, I started this post on you will see, but I just finished it this morning...

Saturday. A great day to reflect on another week that has flown by, it seems. Each day that passes is a day that takes me further away from the Mark of my past to the Mark that I will see once more in my future. Excruciating and exciting at the same time. This life would simply be pointless if we didn't have the promise of Heaven. In fact, as I drove this morning, I played "Finally Home", by Mercy Me, over and over again. It is one of a few songs that can get me so excited about Heaven that I can forget how painful life is right now...even if it is an escape for only a few minutes.

This "one day closer" to eternity is also a day closer to when we get to meet our new daughter. Now, if we could just come up with a name! Yes, it will start with the letter "M". :)

The week was a mixture of emotions. On Wednesday, I had such a good day. Macy and I went to story time at the library, then we played with friends and family at the park and even had some arts and crafts time at a place here in town that provides that for the kids once a month. Normally, I wouldn't put myself in such a position since there would be little boys that would remind me of Mark. This day, I decided to take the chance. And, what was so amazing about this day was the fact that I was able to hold myself together. I am pretty sure that it was the first time since Mark died that I was able to be around other toddler boys and not end up frozen in grief, unable to function. I was around little boys all day long! Honestly, seeing them play and hearing them did bring me the same stabbing feeling that it always does. It actually wasn't easy at all. But, I am so thankful that I am beginning to be able to move through those moments of intense pain a little more quickly that before. And, in between those sad times, I was able to enjoy the company of those that I was with instead of sitting in a fog and wishing that I was at home.

I really did have a good time and I felt refreshed and a bit renewed after we arrived home.

And then, there was Thursday. After such a great day on Wednesday, I was feeling like things were starting to get "easier" for me. It happens every so often from week to week. It was exciting to have had that small bit of relief from the constant sorrow. Throughout this entire last year, if at any time the pain eases a bit, I hold on to it with everything that I've got...hoping that the "okay" feeling will last longer than it did the last time it came around. So, that was how I felt in the early morning.

Later in the day, I was cleaning out some of the many, many things that have accumulated in Mark's room, which we now use as our multi-purpose room. We have long since put away all of his toys and clothes, although we left it painted the cute blue with the tractor border on the wall. We also have a shelf in there with some of his special things. I don't see us changing any of that any time soon.

So, anyway, as I was sorting through the big box that I keep all of my children's special pictures, cards and all of the other things that they create that I cannot bear to throw away, I got to the bottom and found a stack of Mark's things that I had not seen in a long time. His sonogram pictures when I was pregnant with him, the papers that he got from his doctor check ups that have his weight and height, the hospital bracelet that I wore when he was born and even a picture that he colored in Sunday School a few months before he died. Needless to say, I lost it. Big. So big that I was actually hyperventilating from crying so hard. I even went outside and screamed...something that I haven't done in a long time. It all just caught me off guard and it left me feeling so vulnerable and weak. Lately, I have dealt with the grief in small doses...each day, a little here and a little there. This was more like the dam broke and I was being flooded with feelings that I couldn't control.

And so, this is how it is. For me, and for so many who have lost someone so close, although I can really only speak for myself. The smiles in public may come a little more easily, but they are still a way to cover the sadness. I am grateful to now know how to help those in my situation...I only wish that I could have learned this lesson in some other way.
Looking forward to Heaven,

Tuesday, September 8, 2009


I actually just found this picture from last summer's vacation. I love it. I am usually behind the camera.
We were at the Grand Canyon and I wouldn't let Mark down, lest he fall of a cliff! I guess that they can't fence the whole thing!

Mark was hardly ever without his pacifier...we didn't care.
My two handsome boys!

This is our "Mark the Shark". We loved that nickname for him last summer. We found these super cute lifejackets and just had to have them. A shark for Mark and a goldfish for Macy.
This is a really difficult picture for me to look at since he was wearing this lifejacket just minutes before his accident. It reminds me how much he loved the water.

Mark was the best little brother ever. His sisters sure do miss him.

What I wouldn't give to be able to give him more "joosh", as he called it, and look into those beautiful brown eyes.
I miss him.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The good...and the not so good

I'll start with the "not so good".

This has just been a cruddy week. Not as though there are any especially great weeks anymore, but there are different levels of what can be considered cruddy. Even when everything in day to day life is going as well as it possibly can, grief doesn't leave...pain doesn't take a vacation...thoughts don't turn off and tears don't dry up. Cruddy.

The only exception to this "not so good week" was Maryanna's 9th birthday on Tuesday. I was reminded all day how our lives changed forever as we became parents for the very first time 9 years before. As anyone who has children knows, the blessing of parenthood far surpasses almost all else in this life.

I am reading a book titled, "Beyond after losing a child". It was written by several women who have all lost children. Reading this and so many other books is a great comfort to me, as are the blogs that I mentioned in my previous post. I read the words on the page and can hardly believe that they describe me in almost every way. They can say the things that I would like to be able to tell my friends and family when I am asked, "How are you?". When I try to describe all that races in my mind, I don't even come close to being able to convey it to others.

For example, here is how these women describe a small part of their grief...

"We were filled with rage and yet we felt hollow. Our eyes brimmed with tears and yet they were empty. We could scream but speech came rarely, if at all. We were in excruciating pain and yet we were numb. Our self-esteem was beaten down and our trust shattered, but there was no one who could console us. There was no place to feel secure. We tried to crawl inside ourselves, but even that afforded us no place to hide. It was if our very being died along with that of our children. We were and remain forever changed."


"The anguish of losing a child pollutes every close relationship. It seeks to destroy our ties to our spouses, to our remaining children, to our parents, to cherished friends, to everyone close to us. Each tie is torn to shreds and brutally examined under a high-powered microscope before it can be pieced back together. In some cases, the pieces will never again mesh and the bond will break. Those relationships that survive will be forever changed because we are changed. We are never the same people we were before the death. The person we become has to learn anew to love and live with those we loved and lived with before, or perhaps to go a separate way. The death becomes a giant black hole in our midst."

I find almost all of this to be very true in my situation. All, with the exception of the strain on my marriage and with my surviving children. In other words, my husband, the girls and I all grieve at different times and none of us are emotionally stable enough to help anyone else in the family, but we have not turned on one another...instead, we now feel safer with each other than I thought was possible. The love that I have for my husband has multiplied. We share the same hurt and the same loss of the son that we love so much. We share in the same hope and promise that we will be reunited with him in the future. Mark's death is definitely not what I would have chosen to strengthen my family and marriage, but God knows.

More thoughts...

As a matter of theology and Bible interpretation, in all of these months, I have not been able to decide what I will believe about Mark's accident and death. Just an accident due to this fallen world that we live in and our imperfect nature? Or, God's will, plan and purpose for our sweet Mark to only be here on the earth two years?

Well, for today anyway, I have decided. I have decided that God knows this emotional torture that we are going through. And, I cannot believe that God would let anyone go through this unless it was a part of His plan and purpose. Even though I believe that God gives us free will to make our own choices and make our own mistakes, when it comes to the finality of death, I think that God is the only one who can make that decision. Even when it comes to evil...murder, etc. Somehow, God is in charge and I choose to believe that Mark was only supposed to be here for two years. No matter what we did or didn't do, it was Mark's time to leave for reasons that we may never know until Heaven. I can accept this more easily that God just allowing it to happen and bringing good from it, even though it wasn't in His plan.

In my case, I choose to believe this so that I can let go of blame and guilt and try and find forgiveness. For myself and for all of my loved ones who were there at the time of the accident. The player in my head that never stops can come up with a new scenario each and every day that will go through another "if only she...", "had he not..., or "we should have...", etc. I can't live with it anymore. And truly, I wish it were as easy to turn the player off as I can make it sound as I write it, but I know that it will take time. In fact, I have to choose every day what voices to listen to and what to believe. Some days it is easier to believe the truth than others.

Well, on to the "good".

Many of you who read this blog actually know me and my family and see us on a regular basis. Some of you know us, but rarely, if ever, see us. And, of course, some of you have never met us. So, this will only be news to some.

We are, by the grace of God, expecting our fifth child in November. Yes, only two months from now. I have had a difficult time deciding when and if to post the news, simply because it is so bittersweet. Bittersweet is an absolute understatement at that.

After Mark died, Joe and I prayed and prayed about whether we should try and bring another child into this world. Our love for children is so great and we knew that it would be such a blessing, but, when? So soon after our loss? Should we try and "heal" some first? Would that even happen? So many questions that really didn't have a good answer.

Mark was my baby...the diapers, the pacifiers, the 24/7 of it all. As that was ripped away from me, all I wanted to do was fill it...anything to ease the pain. The thought of having another baby was about the only thing that brought even an ounce of comfort. Having a child that we would love every bit as much as our other four...and being able to look at that baby and know that he/she wouldn't be in our lives had Mark not died was a glimmer of hope. Since we couldn't have Mark back, we were desperately trying to force ourselves to begin the process of moving on.

So, here we are...about to have our 4th girl! And, no, we have no idea what we are going to name her. :) It is hard to find the balance between missing Mark and looking forward to a precious new child joining our family...those are new issues to deal with in addition to all that deals with Mark's death. However, there are no regrets in this decision and we have found joy in the anticipation of her arrival...especially her sisters! They live for the daily kicks and squirms from my growing belly.

I only wish that somehow, the arrival of our baby girl could somehow erase the pain of losing her brother...I know it isn't so. The happiness and grief will continue to co-exist for the rest of our lives.

And, as I have read several places, when you experience the worst that the world has to offer, your capacity to appreciate the good in increased. So, I anticipate that there won't be many moments that I take for granted anymore. For that, I am thankful.

Thanks for reading,

Mark's Mommy