Monday, June 27, 2011

A milestone never reached...and my 100th post.

     I started this blog in October, as a way to record my thoughts and emotions after my daughter died.  Never, in a million years did I think I would be sitting here, writing my 100th blog post.  And how appropriate that my 100th entry be on her 10 month birthday.
     This day has hit me hard, but I'm trying to look at the positive side of things.  So, I've decided to write down all the things I've learned since losing her.  If not for her existence, I don't believe I would have seen any of these lessons.

1.  Unconditional love.  I've learned to both recieve and give.  This is a new concept for me, to love unconditionally.  I've always been very guarded with my heart, but she opened up a whole new side of me. 
2.  Survival.  10 months ago, a piece of me died when she left me.  10 months ago, I thought I couldn't go on without her.  Yet, here I am.  I AM surviving, even if there are days when it doesn't feel like it.
3.  Dignity.  I have often questioned the existance of diginity in my loss, along with strength, but its there, no matter how small.  I've held my head as high as I can while swimming through my grief.
4.  Strength.  Again, something I question.  People keep telling me I'm such a strong person, but am I really?  Or has she taught me how to be a good actress?
5.  Generosity.  Above all Addie has shown me generosity.  At the time I felt I was most alone, she helped me find many mommas just like me.  I have seen how generous this community is and the despair seemingly disappears in the light of this community.  Although we've all been through hell and back, the generosity still exists.  There is good in the just have to find it and she did for me.

     I've said it before and I'll say it again:  if I could go back in time, I wouldn't change a thing about my pregnancy.  I am so grateful for the time I had with her and the lessons I've learned.  As much as I wish I could change the outcome; to come home with my daughter, I know I can't.  I'll take what I can get, even if that is just a few pictures and a lifetime of memories that fit into 39 short weeks.

Addie girl,
     I miss you, I know it's been awhile since I've said that, but I do.  I MISS YOU.  I keep wondering what you would look like today...wondering if you would be playing with Miss Layla or cutie Aaron at their first birthdays.  I should be planning your first birthday, but instead, I don't know what I'm gonna do.  I keep asking myself how I can miss someone so much when I never had the chance to meet I could love you without you even taking a breath.  And how is it that I can continue to live my life without you?  I MISS YOU.  I LOVE YOU.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My Small Miracles


     I am once again joining Franchesca for her Small Miracles blog hop.  I have a few small miracles I'd like to that has certainly given me a big reason to smile, but all of them have definitely lift my spirits this month.

1.  My new tattoo.  I know tattoos aren't for everyone but I love my other 2.  They all have special meaning for me, but this one trumps them all.

It is life size and on my back, just below the nape of my neck.

Side by side comparison of the tat and her actual footprints.  The
artist did an awesome job at keeping the detail in her prints.  I couldn't
be any happier...well, I COULD but not with the tat. It's exactly what I wanted.

2.  Addie's gardens.  Yes, I said gardens as she has several dedicated in her memory.  They are all starting to bloom and are so beautiful.  It's a wonderful thing knowing I can see something grow in spite of not being able to see her grow.

3.  Camping.  Now that summer is here, we spend almost every weekend on the Potomac River.  Good times with family and friends...nothing beats that.

P's toy...he loves his Dodge Ram 2500 PowerWagon

Eating fresh steamed shrimp with great people!

Our awning lights are butterflies...would you expect any less?

The camper on the right is ours, the left one belongs to my mom and dad.

4.  Road trips.  We went to Kentucky a few weeks ago for a family reunion.  It was nice seeing everyone, but sometimes I felt as though people were whispering about me.  Maybe I was just being too sensitive, I don't know.  Still, I got in some good bonding time with Nic, my newest nephew.  I can't wait to have one of my own.  I never realized just how being a mom comes naturally to me.  I hope that one day I'll get my chance.  Here's some pics of the weekend:

Baby Nic

5.  As always, I am thankful for the man in my life.  If not for P, I wouldn't survive.  He makes me smile, he makes me laugh, he makes me look at life in a whole new way.  I'm so lucky.
He had a mouthful of shrimp...he's gonna kill me for this one, lol

Monday, June 13, 2011

Right where I am...9 months, 2 weeks and 3 days

I have decided to join Angie and her Right Where I Am project.  Angie thought up this project a few months ago as a way for BLMs to connect and to talk about "...where you are in your grief and what it is like now, so new people can get an idea of the experience of grief further down the road, and so people further down the road can reflect on how far they have come in their grief."  So, here goes...

Here I stand on the cusp of my daughter hitting the double digits.  She's been gone longer that she was with where am I in my grief? 

That's a hard question to answer. 

Some days I can smile easily, I can tell people I'm okay and mean it, I can think about her and smile.  Some days, it's almost as if she is still here with me.

Some days I swear I can still feel her kicking me and squirming. 

Some days I almost feel brave enough to go in her room.

Some days, I feel so close to her, especially when I'm digging in her garden.  I smile every time she sends me a wink.  More often than not, its a butterfly.

And, on the other hand, some days I just want to quit.  I'm tired of acting like everything is OK.  I'm not OK and I never will be.  I'm tired of faking it for all of my acquaintances, although, faking it has gotten much easier since I changed jobs.  when I hear my coworkers complain about their children I just want to scream "Cherish your don't know what its like!"...but I don't.  I'm anonymous...and I'm not sure I like it.  I tired of sucking up my emotions...I'm tired of plastering a fake ass smile on my face.  Yet, I do it every day.

Why doesn't anyone talk about her anymore?  Is it that they wish she never existed?  Why don't they mention her to me?  On a recent weekend trip, I mentioned my daughter's name to a family member and they just brushed it off.  That cut deeper than any knife ever could.  Do people just want to forget her?  Do they want me to get over it?  More importantly, am I expected to get over her death?

Sometimes I expect people to say, "You're not over it yet?  Its been almost a year, don't you think its time?"  Sad part of it is, I almost expect to hear it come from a family member and not a friend.  I don't know why I expect this.  Is like I'm trying to prepare myself for the worst.  Like I'm trying to plan my answer for such a question.  But, why in the world would a family member even say something like that to a grieving mother?

Some days, in a haze of grief, I wonder if I was ever a mother.  Yes, I carried and loved a child for 39 weeks and 5 days.  But, how does that make me a mother.  My grief plays tricks on me...sometimes I KNOW I'm a mom, yet other days (like Mother's Day), I once again feel like I'm on the outside of an exclusive club...

Some days, I just wish I could stay in bed and cry.

Some days, I wish I could go back and insist that the doctor take me seriously when I said she wasn't moving as much.

Some days I wish I would have called the doctor sooner.

Some days I wish I would have gone into labor early.

Some days I just wish for the life I had before she died...I miss the old me.  Don't get me wrong, I would NEVER say I regret being pregnant with her because I DON'T regret it.  I just miss being the happy go lucky, carefree, optimistic person I used to be.  What I regret is not having her here with me, not being able to share my life with her and to share her with the world.  Most of all, I regret not being able to keep her safe.  Why couldn't I keep her safe...why did I have to fail at the most important job I've ever been given?  That guilt, like the grief, never goes away.

Some days, I just wish I could hold her, even just one more time, and tell her how much I love her, how much she was wanted, and how much she is missed.

My grief will always be there, will always rear its ugly head when I least expect it.  No matter how long you've been gone, Addie, there will always be that hole in my heart that was carved by your soul as you left us.  You carry that piece of my heart with you, always in your own.

Another sweet little girl turns 1!

Sending lots of love and hugs to Miss Mikayla on her first birthday.  You can read Mikayla's story here and, while you're at it, read more about what her amazing mom, Melissa, is doing in Mikayla's honor here.  Mikayla, please keep a close eye on your mom (and dad and big brother, too!), especially today.  Send them a wink to let them know that you and Chase are always there, even when it seems you are so far away.

Friday, June 3, 2011

The OTHER day I will never forget

     June 3 has a double meaning for me, but is certainly a day I will NEVER forget. It is the day my life was spared and also the day my new life began.  Many of you have read Addie's story where I mention being in a car accident, but I rarely elaborate.  Well, I will today because it is an important day.  Today is the 6th anniversary of that accident; but, more importantly, today is also my 5th wedding anniversary.  Truly a day I will never forget...a day full of scars and memories that will last a lifetime.
     June 3, 2005 started out like any other day.  A coworker and I were attending a training class that day and would be making the 4 hour trek home later that evening.  We had arrived at our training conference the night before and spent some time on the beach (yes, my job paid for a trip to the beach, lol!).  After a long day, we started on our way.  Since we had taken my vehicle, I volunteered to drive.  I liked to drive anyway.  We were nearly home, less than 15 minutes away in fact, when I saw headlights in my lane and jerked the wheel to the right.  That is the last thing I remember clearly.  My coworker said I screamed...but all I can remember is trying to get out of the way.  In a haze, I remember feeling like I was hanging upside down and sometime later I remember being strapped down, not able to move my head.  But i could still see my left leg.  It was in traction.   It was then that I knew how serious all "this" was.  But, I still didn't know exactly what "this" was.  I vaguely remember being put into an MRI machine and I remember seeing my boyfriend's mom just before being wheeled down a very bright hallway.  I woke up late in the afternoon on June 4 with a tube down my throat.  The nurses removed the tube and began asking me if I remembered what happened.  From somewhere near me I hear Patrick's voice.  I didn't remember what happened at that point, but it suddenly came rushing back to me.  The first thing out of my mouth was, "Where is Elaine (my coworker)?"  They all told me she was fine.  Treated for scrapes and bruises and released.  I, however was not so lucky.  I had sustained severe orthopaedic injuries on the left side of my body.  My femur was broken just above the knee, a butterfly fracture.  My lower left arm was shattered, my doctor was not sure he was going to be able to save it, and my humerus was also broken.  I also sustained a broken right wrist and many lacerations.  I was lucky not to have a head injury or internal injuries.  Still, I was devastated.  My doctor, the wonderful man that he was, told me I wouldn't walk again for at least 2 months, and would spend the greater portion of the next 6 months in a wheelchair.  He also said he would try his best to fix my left arm, but that nothing was guaranteed.  He also explained to me that I was now the proud new owner of orthopaedic implants, a rod in my left leg and plates and screws in my left arm, that would likely remain there for the rest of my life.  Two days later I underwent surgery again.  The doctor was a miracle man and put together the puzzle that was my left arm.
      I spent 2 weeks in ICU, 2 months in the hospital, 4 months living at my aunt's house (she has a handicapped accessible house), 6 months in a wheelchair, endured 5 separate surgeries and 2 years of physical therapy.  Turns out that I was hit head on by a tractor trailer.  It was estimated that he was driving 65mph on a 55mph road, plus it was raining.  The driver finally admitted he hadn't been paying enough attention and was laughing at a joke when he hit me.  He was well over 8 feet into my lane and I had no chance of missing him.  My life was spared that day, why, I don't know.  If you are sensitive, please stop reading now because I am about to post some pictures.  They aren't pretty, but I promise I won't post the really nasty ones.  These are only pictures of the vehicles, no people.

1995 Kenworth tractor

The accident ripped off the front drive axle

My 2001 Ford Escape...or what's left of it

This car saved my life...I honestly shouldn't be alive.

      Throughout all of this, Patrick never left my side.  He was there with me in the hospital as much as possible.  Since we weren't married, he couldn't use his own sick leave to stay with me, so he took vacation days.  He did things for me that I never had to ask him to do and did it without complaints.  He helped me bathe, he helped me to the bathroom, helped me with my therapy.  His loyalty never wavered.  I really did have an epiphany...I realized just how much I loved this man.  We had been together for 4 years prior to the accident and I think we took each other for granted.  Not in a bad way, just that we were very comfortable together and never felt the need to go the next step.  But after seeing all he sacrificed for me, I wanted to spend the rest of my life with him.  The way he "proposed" is so Patrick.  We were heading back to my aunt's house after spending the day at my aunt and uncle's river lot when he says, "So when are we getting married?"  We told our parents about our engagement over the next week.
     We tossed around several ideas for our wedding.  We thought about having a destination wedding in Hawaii, eloping to Las Vegas.  But, eventually we settled on a small, outdoor wedding with just immediate family.  We just didn't know when.  Finally, I said, "What about June 3?  Its certainly a day we will never forget.  It has a lot of meaning, to me especially."  And, it was set.
     On June 3, 2006 I walked down the aisle to marry my best friend.  I WALKED!  Just a year ago I had thought this feat impossible, but, I walked.  I walked alone, no one to help me, a statement in its own right.  Here I was, beginning a new life with the most wonderful man.  He grinned at me as I walked toward him.

Concentration...don't want to trip of course!
My first time in heels since the accident.

Can you tell this is a staged kiss?

The rings

My bouquet, with the addition of wild flowers from my nieces

The beginning of our adventures as Mr and Mrs

     I really did marry my best friend that day, in a ceremony that was just right for us.  We chose to have a very small, intimate wedding with just our parents and people who were instrumental in helping us survive the prior year.  The wedding was a perfect end to a rough year, and the perfect beginning to a new life together.
     A card that I got in the mail from my in laws really says it all:  "Marriage is a funny thing...right when you think you have it all figured out, something happens to make it grow and change and you get to figure it out all over again.  Laugh or not, it keeps things interesting.  Then, one day it occurs to you that the "figuring out" is what makes marriage so good.  Working together, looking forward in the same direction, bumping into roadblocks and finding a way around--sometimes feeling like everything is trying to knock you off course--it's that very stuff that makes a relationship stronger.  Funny...frustrating...crazy...wonderful...and uniquely yours."
     I don't necessarily believe in soul mates, but I honestly believe I have met the man with whom my soul loves.  There is no question about how much I love this man.  I would give my life if I knew it would save his.  In tragedy, we have grown closer, stronger.  Losing Addie has strengthened the bond we have.  He has stayed by my side, no matter how bitchy, moody, nasty or just plain rude I am.  And I know I haven't been the easiest person to live with.  I am so glad to have found him.
     So, on this day of anniversaries, I can honestly say I am thankful.  Although my life has been a rocky road, and I've asked myself more than once, "Why me?", I can honestly say I am so very grateful.  I am grateful to be alive, grateful to have met and married Patrick, and grateful for the triumphs and tragedies we have endured together.  Most of all, I am grateful for the family we have created, even if that family isn't physically together.  Five years together and many more to really knows no boundaries and can truly conquer all.
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