My Promise To You.

Capture Your Grief, My Promise To You, Pumpkins

In the days before your silent arrival, I wrote you a letter. I remember crying while writing it because I knew it was just the beginning of me writing letters to you. My plan was to keep these words secret from you throughout your childhood and give them to you as a surprise on your eighteenth birthday. As I wrote, I was trying to imagine what you would look like the first time I saw you and how you would be years down the road. During these thoughts, you wiggled around in my belly and I just kept encouraging you to keep dancing along. All of these movements reassured me for what I thought was a promised future.

These words were full of one promise I’ll always keep.

The letter I wrote on that day is my favorite that I’ve ever written. There was so much innocence and positivity in every up and down stroke. Even when I told you I expected you to break my heart and challenge me as you grew. I wanted you to know that no matter what you did, your mother would always be there for you. That no matter what trouble or ‘bad’ thing you think you did, I would right here to help. I told you I would be your lifelong cheerleader who would embarrass you at every turn, but I knew you would always be appreciative of those times.

To be honest, I forgot about this letter and a lot of other things when you were first born. My mind blocked a lot of those precious moments in the beginning. It wasn’t until the first time I was home alone at your grandma and grandpa’s, with just your urn and flame flickering away, that I found this letter once again. In that moment, I wanted to throw the notebook across the room. I would never get to embarrass you in the ways I wanted or I would never know what you’d look like at age eighteen. All the letters I had planned to write were gone and they were filled with different words now. Each up and down stroke was still filled with innocence and positivity, but the writer who was reading into her past had changed.

Change.

It flickered in my mind just as quickly as your flame. Each motion reminded me of the pain I was constantly feeling. My whole world has fell apart, Jensen. You are no longer physically here and that absence crushes me. I remember in those moments of sitting there with your letter in my hands, that my soul was tugging from two angles. The first was cold and painful. It was always right there. In those days, it was really the only thing my body could process, so I welcomed it. Yet, there was something else in that moment. The second pulling, which was warm and inviting. It was the promise I made to you each day you were in my belly and it’s the promise I continue to make to you even in your death.

My promise to you, Jensen, is love.

Love is the only promise that can never be broken. I promise to love you with each breath I take. It is the only thing you ever felt on your time here on earth and it’s what you continue to feel in heaven. My promise to you is not only to love you, but surround myself and your memory with love that everyone will be able to see. It’ll be the way I can survive through tomorrow, the holidays, and each day I encounter. My promise of loving you makes my world continue to turn.

I miss you. I love you.
I promise you I’m doing my best.

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Give Away Your Love.

Real talk.

I wasn’t feeling love, kindness, or any sense of compassion today, especially as the evening rolled on. Honestly, I was doing well the majority of the day. Then talking about costumes through me off. There was this bitterness of little ones trick-or-treating and adults dressing up for parties. Halloween is just the kickoff to celebration days. My body is starting to feel this pent-up emotion of dreading the holidays and their cheery music.

Yesterday, I was planning on what Random Acts I wanted to do and decided on flowers and popcorn for Redbox. Flowers, since I feel like Jensen would want to pick me flowers and gift them to me for my birthday. I also ALWAYS have flowers here and have many live plants in my house. Then I wanted to leave bags of popcorn at Redbox stations because it’s Halloween and people love scary movies. I have a ton of popcorn at my house, but there are times I run out and it’s essential to keep your mind occupied during horror movies.

I had hoped I’d be able to actually hand out popcorn to people renting their movies, but I couldn’t. Social anxiety swept over me. My eyes would not stop watering, especially because I forgot my wallet at home and only noticed it when I was checking out for my flowers. That didn’t help my mood… at all.

But, I knew I had to do this today. I felt compelled to carry on and spread kindness in Jensen’s name.

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Maybe you’re wondering if I came home and felt good about what I did tonight. Did the bitterness of the evening and tears go away? I wish I could tell you that I feel a hundred percent better in my attempts to make at least one person smile tonight. Some pain has alleviated from today, but I’m still said that I didn’t get to take Jensen’s trick-or-treating tonight and I know I can’t take him Monday. It hurts that I don’t get to surprise everyone with what his costume is. Then I think about all the little footprint crafts I had planned or the cute frames to put his first Halloween picture in…

On nights like these, coming home is rough.

Yet, I’ll keep surviving and living the rest of my days for the ones he’ll never live. Tonight that’ll be with my new bottle of wine, steak, and scary movies.


If you’ve found this page from one of the cards from the flowers or popcorn, comment here and leave a picture. I hope Jensen was able to make you smile tonight!

Forever.

“I cannot tell you how thankful I am for our little infinity. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. You gave me a forever within the numbered days, and I’m grateful.” –John Green

I’m so grateful for the forever you gave me. It’s my favorite one of all time.

When our forever together ended, I knew another would start. One that I never could have prepared to take on. This forever consists of little moments full of you and me finding the strength to continue on. It is intertwined with loss and even more love. I’ll keep pushing through until we spend our real forever with each other.

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Forever I’ll be your mom. Forever you’ll be my son.
Forever I’ll love you.

#WhatHealsYou

When someone breaks a leg (literally), healing could include surgery, rest, and physical therapy. It could take years for the deep pain of the break to feel like it was almost back to normal. Sometimes, the person might even have a limp for the rest of their life. No matter what you’ve done to heal the leg, it’ll never go back to what is was before.

In a crazy way, that’s kind of how grief and healing after losing a child works.

Obviously, one is physical pain and the other is a lot more complicated than that. But, it’s easier to explain something familiar to an unfamiliar situation. Instead of healing a broken bone in the ways I’ve said, for grief I’ve found ways to soothe myself, I rest a lot, and I go to therapy and support group throughout the month. Shock has fizzled out and there are days were I can feel something else besides deep pain.

I can’t tell the future or how my journey of grief and healing will go. There’s not a right way to live after losing a baby. If we keep on the analogy of breaking someone’s leg compared to grief, at physical therapy a person has to find what makes them want to learn how to walk again. Some like the bike and others like the treadmill. With grief, I’ve had to find things that are gentle on my heart. Those soothers are hard to find when everything looks so bleak, but they’re there… I promise.

For me, it’s a few things.

Leo and Poe can make me smile when I feel like nothing else can. They give me motivation to get up every morning and feed them to start my day. Leo gets himself into crazy antics almost every hour, like jumping on top of the shower curtain. Poe, who usually doesn’t want to be held, will come sit on my lap and let me cuddle on him everyday. His purrs are so loud and deep. They both let me care for them in a way I didn’t think I would ever care for anything again.

Hot tea, reading, and writing have saved me. When I can’t stop crying or when I can’t relax enough to sleep, I go to these each time. The aroma of the tea calms me, reading occupies my mind, and writing gets out all my thoughts. I’ve said over and over that it’s been therapeutic to me and that has been so healing. During those times, I feel like time stops and quickens at once. Getting lost in time is sometimes the only thing I know how to do to help.

Human connection. A huge generalization, but so important. I couldn’t imagine being locked up or stashed away somewhere completely alone. Friends, family, and the loss community have been there in different, but important healing ways. There’s understanding from those who have walked my shoes, encouragement and literally being dragged from places by my family, and a sense of trying to understand from friends. Even though grief is so individual, knowing I’m not alone in this journey through all the facets of my support, have helped me soothe and heal.

The last and most important is Jensen and love. I can’t imagine my life without Jensen being in it, which is probably weird to say since he’s not physically here, but he’s all around me. There are days when the only word that helps me is his name; I write it over and over again. I think of all the days I had with him and how the days were filled with joy. Seeing his face each and everyday calms me. He is all I’ve ever wanted. When I look at his urn with his candle lit, I feel a sense of peace. Warmth floods the room and it feels a lot like love. A mother and child’s love is unbreakable. Sometimes I can imagine it wrapping around my heart and trying to put the pieces back together. Love is what makes my world keep turning. It’s what allows me to get up in the morning to feed Leo and Poe. It’s what flows in and out when I read and write. It’s why human connection is even there. More importantly, it’s all Jensen knows and has.

Love is what heals me.

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I Am.

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The following words were written at 2:11am this morning. I couldn’t sleep at all last night with the whirling of thoughts and words in my head. In attempts to show what grief looks like at all times, I’m not going to edit or change anything I said last night. You’ll even see the scribble out of one word and the underline of another.

I wish…

I wasn’t writing this. I wish loss never happened. I wish Jensen was sleeping silently soundly in his crib. I wish wishes came true, then I’d bring our babies back for you and me.

I remember…

Only hearing 4:25 and feeling something I’ve never felt before. I remember the emptiness when I arrived home. It took place where Jensen had made his home for the past thirty-eight weeks and two days. That emptiness spread from his sacred spot and traveled in my veins to my heart, my brain, and even to my toes. I remember the second that emptiness and numbness turned to unbearable pain, that still hasn’t went away.

I could not believe…

Those six words that came out of the doctor’s mouth. Even worse, I couldn’t believe the confirmation of them with the silence of his birth.

If only…

I knew what I do now. Maybe I could have saved you. If I couldn’t have saved you, I would’ve changed the moments after your birth. If only there were one kiss or sweet whisper of ‘I love you.’

I am…

Jensen’s mom. I am on a raft of love in the sea of grief. I am Danielle and I’m learning how to journey and survive life after loss.

 

Consciously Becoming.

Danielle before didn’t realize how terrible this world could be. Of course there were bad things to happen to her, but not to the magnitude of a child dying… to anyone she knew. She was carefree and loved adventure. If an opportunity arose where she could go somewhere, anywhere, she wouldn’t look back. Maybe she didn’t have her life figured out completely, but it was okay; she had the whole future.

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This was Danielle with Jensen, she felt like her life was starting to fall in place. She was happy and planned her future for her son. In this picture she was in Gettysburg and Jensen was just now moving. Which made her really sick, but she smiled with every movement. She planned on teaching him all she could about the world. There were times where she was scared because she didn’t know exactly what was going to happen, but she knew they would make it through. She was hopeful. Jensen made her feel like she had her place in the world. At the moment in the picture, she was on top of the world. Nothing could bring her down. Danielle was consciously becoming a mother each and everyday. Everything was right.

Then, it all changed when his heart stopped beating.

Danielle after Jensen is still a mother. I’m in survival mode every second of the day. Some days I don’t understand how I’m still alive and it doesn’t scare me to have those thoughts. I don’t want to welcome the upcoming days or listen to the clock ticking. Almost all of me is broken and then there’s a tiny bit of my taping myself back together. Most of the time I’m confused, but I’m working through it.

In this moment, I’m tired. I haven’t wanted to do anything all day, yet I had to. My heart feels like it’s beating really weak. I keep smelling Jensen’s candle, which makes me smile and want to cry at the same time. This is normal and how most things are for me lately. In my mind, I look like a Picasso painting. Some part of me wishes I could draw so I could show others how I think I am, but I can’t. My hair is fluffy from my shower and I honestly look like a new mom, without the baby physically here. I’m probably a mess to the outside observer, but like I said, I’m surviving.

Jensen’s death has changed me, not for better or worse. It just has. I can’t be carefree anymore, not that I haven’t tried. My natural ability to plan everything has just went out the window. I would say I don’t have any fear. It’s my belief that fear comes from being afraid to be harmed or killed. I just don’t find anything to be as scary as what’s happened to Jensen. My scariest day in my life has already happened, what could be worse? Here comes that bad karma my way.

It’s hard to imagine me being Danielle before Jensen now that he’s gone. There are times I wish I didn’t know this pain, but I wouldn’t give up not knowing Jensen for that. Maybe I wish I could have a little part of the carefree attitude back. What do I mean by that? I want to be able to go somewhere without fear of having an anxiety attack. It’d be nice to be able to accept any opportunity given to me without the fear of being judged or second guessing myself. Maybe that’s ignorance and maybe I want that innocence back. But I would still have it if Jensen never died.

With all this pain and heartbreak, I still love myself in a different way than I knew possible. I love my strength for being able to get up everyday, even when I don’t think I can. I love that my body was able to grow and nurture Jensen. I love seeing my feet when I look down because they remind me of his. I love that even through pain and heartache, I can still smile and even laugh. I love that I can allow myself to feel and grieve. I love that I’m not giving myself an endpoint to be done with this all. Most of all, I love being Jensen’s mom.

Through all my life experiences, I’m consciously becoming the person I’m supposed to be, even if I don’t know who she is.

Sounds, Seasons, & Scents.

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Fall reminds me of Jensen.

The smell of the crisp air and the leaves changing from green to red to orange. He kicked me for the first time last fall. I remember that quickening and fell more and more in love with him. When I would walk and have the leaves crunch under me, I’d always press on my belly so I could feel him more. Usually when I’d place my hand there he’d float by real quick. The doctor always had a hard time finding him because he would be rolling in there. But I was able to see and hear his heartbeat every few weeks. It was perfect. This time last year, I was blissfully happy with how the world was turning around me.

I’ll never forgot those moments in my life and the fall will always remind me of them.

This summer I felt him with the waves of the water. He’s in every movement with nature. From the gentle breeze of the wind to the wings of a bird flying around. I get lost in my thoughts when I’m outside, not listening to anything and thinking of him. It’s all the dreams I wish I would have had with him there; raking up all the leaves and having him jump in them, getting dirt everywhere, and being soaked from the rain. In those moments I’m out there, I can just let them flood into my mind.

Music was always Jensen’s favorite thing. No matter the song, he’d literally dance away. His heaven is probably songs playing nonstop. There would be no silence or stillness around him, nothing like the way his body came into the earth like.

When I connect with him and his memory here, I listen to Of Monsters and Men. I’m sure when people are walking by my house they hear it playing loudly and me singing along. That’s what Jensen and I would listen to in the car, with the windows down. I felt they sounded like sweet lullabies to calm him. But when he wanted to dance, I’d put Usher on. He would move all around when he heard Usher. On the days where I can smile, I’ll put that on. It helps me enjoy it more when I can imagine Jensen’s spirit dancing all around me.

Pearls of Wisdom.

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Today marks two-hundred days since Jensen’s birth.

It’s a crazy feeling knowing how many days have passed and comparing it to how I felt when I was two-hundred days pregnant with him. I can remember it like yesterday, but it feels so long. From then to now, I’m a completely different person. Which is completely understandable and it’s okay to just be this person I’m becoming.

But that’s another topic coming up on Capture Your Grief.

There’s so many pearls of wisdom I’ve come to know. I find comfort in E.E. Cummings poems and works. I’m constantly reading Lexi Behrndt’s blog, Scribbles and Crumbs. Emily Long’s books are always at arm’s length away from me. Every morning I read posts from Still Mothers and Still Standing. Those are just a few that are popping in my mind right now. Yet, they all bring me wisdom and comfort, even in the smallest ways. They let me know I’m not alone and many words that I’ve read have expanded my mind. I wish I could go and thank every single person that shares their story. It’s so brave and helps so many.

The past week I’ve been rereading and reflecting on a lot of what I’ve written in the past two-hundred days. There are so many words I’ve written that I forgot about. Just like the quote in the picture above, ‘It’s okay to just be.’ That would be my advice to anyone that has lost a child. Just being is sometimes the best we can do. No matter what you have or need to be in that moment, as long as you’re being gentle with yourself and protecting your heart.

Tonight I have planned something special, just something small. I’m having a little fire and writing Jensen a letter from me. Then I’ll throw it in the fire and have the smoke deliver him my message of love. I’ll be the best mom I can today, that’s all I can do to just be.

Relationships.

Today I’ve been reflecting on relationships that have begun and ended since losing Jensen; both so important to my grief journey and support system. There were moments today where all I wanted to focus on was what I don’t have and others where I could only think about what I’ve gained. They kept twisting and pulling at my heart. I had to take a break from these thoughts and started to do things to heal my heart. Then, I looked across the room and saw the relationship I’ve worked on every day since I could remember.

The relationship with myself.

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Picture from my lovely shoot on October 15th with Eloise’s mom, Abigail.

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Gratitude.

Some days I can’t stand thinking I have gratitude for anything in this world after it took Jensen away. Maybe it’s clouded from the rain or the darkness that has settled in me this evening. Instead of delving into my thoughts, I want to make a list of all the reasons I’m grateful. My mind can’t go any deeper than that tonight.

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I’m grateful for you reading this and saying Jensen’s name quietly to yourself.

I’m grateful for my family and the support they give me.

I’m grateful for this path I’m on, even if I don’t understand it.

I’m grateful for my beliefs and how they keep me grounded.

I’m grateful for the loss community for never letting me feel alone.

I’m grateful for all the pictures of Jensen’s name I receive.

I’m grateful for noise, so the silence doesn’t pull me back.

I’m grateful for the rain as it waters Jensen’s tree.

I’m grateful for Leo and Poe, as they let me be the best cat mom to them.

I’m grateful for the happiness I once had.

I’m grateful for pain and it’s ability to push someone to their breaking point.

I’m grateful for my motherhood.

I’m grateful for the candle’s flame dancing just out of my reach.

I’m grateful for the first time I felt his kicks.

I’m grateful for every picture I have of him.

I’m grateful for his love of chocolate milk, that I still drink to bring back a part of him.

I’m grateful for the thirty-eight weeks and two days I carried him.

I’m grateful for the chubbiest cheeks I’ve ever seen.

I’m grateful for his button nose and pouty lips.

I’m grateful for his curly blond wisps.

I’m grateful for his memory and those who remember him with me.

I’m grateful for the courage he brought me.

I’m grateful for his signs.

I’m grateful for the love that constantly guides me in the right direction.

I’m grateful for being able to carry the most gentle soul and being able to learn all about him.

Most of all, I’m grateful for Jensen.