Beautiful Mysteries.

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The sun is just starting to peek through the curtains beside my bed. I lay there, waiting for the day to start. Thoughts rush through my mind of what all I need to do and how messy the house has been. Then I hear it, the tiny steps sneaking into my room. I stay still because the next part of my morning is my favorite.

He climbs up the bed and lays right beside me. I pretend to sleep by closing my eyes and then feel the tap on my shoulder. His impatience builds up as he starts playing with my hair and whispering in my ear.

“Good morning, mommy. I lub you!”

I tickle him and give him a big kiss. The sound of his laughter fills the house. In that second there isn’t anymore worry to what needs to be done during the day or how messy the house is. I take in his big smile and his dirty blond hair, just a little bit too long. His eyes are squished up as he laughs. He throws his head back as he laughs and then when he stops, he gets serious. Every time he gets serious he asks for one thing…

“Mommy, I’m hungry. Can we have ‘nana pancakes?”

His eyebrows raise, waiting for me to answer. Before I get the words out of my mouth, I smile, and he jumps off the bed and runs to the kitchen. One more big breath and stretch to start my day. Sometimes I don’t even get that, he’ll plea for me to come in and I can’t say no to him. As his sits on his chair at the island, I can see his black and white pajamas are getting a little shorter. He’s growing faster than I can keep up with.

He helps me mash-up the bananas and stir in the eggs. When I pour the cinnamon in, he yells ‘STOP,’ whenever he feels like there’s the perfect amount in the bowl. I ask him if he had any dreams last night, while I pour the batter in the pan. He speaks with his hands and his voice gets louder and louder as he explains them. His imagination grows along with him. He finishes explaining each and every character in his dream, just as I flip the last pancake on the plate.

I place his in front of him. He gives me the look as if I’ve forgotten something, but I know what he wants. His pancake needs cut so he can easily eat them, but he usually asks me for a specific shape. This morning he wants triangles and he’ll get them. He smiles as he eats each one of his triangle banana pancakes.

“Mama, you are the best nana pancake maker!”

The morning continues with him playing under his tent as I pick up after him. He’s so curious and inquisitive, but I answer each question he asks me. I see him figuring out the world around him and as I’m in awe of this little human who is all mine, my mind keeps going back to one though. This is my heaven and I know as he grows, there will be one day where these mornings cease. For now, I will soak up every second of him at this age.

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Five Months.

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I usually don’t talk about Jensen’s big hands, just his perfect feet. Sometimes I don’t have the words to describe each of his features, in my mind they’re each just so perfect that there are no words to encapsulate him. This past week, I dove into Jensen’s drawer and looked over his hospital folder. These big, bear hands just reached for me to look more closely. I never realized how ginormous they were until the last time I saw them. We also printed off a few of his pictures to hang around the house and the one that sits next to Anthony really shocked me. His hands looked bigger than they do on his prints. They’re chubby and really long actually. You can’t see that in the prints, so you’ll just have to trust me. Those hands would definitely be bigger than mine. I hope he’d give better high-fives than me too.

Five whole months. He would’ve been using his hands so much by now. Holding his bottle, gripping my fingers hard, and probably flailing them around. I’m sure they’d be right by his face all the time, just like he had them during all the ultrasounds. He would for sure be a thumb sucker, but that’s okay. I can just imagine how he would have grown by now and I would be seeing this beautiful boy with his hand in his mouth and slobber everywhere. Then when he’d get our attention he’d just give us this ornery, big, gummy smile with his hand still stuck in there. I can just picture it…

Honestly, I didn’t imagine me being able to make it to the five month mark without Jensen with me. Sometimes I think my heart is so broken that it’s going to stop too. Kind of like how older couples die just months between each other. I feel like that’s going to be me. Everyday I’m amazed that I wake up, feel it beating, and can get out of bed. The pain of outliving my child stings with every breath I take. I try to fill the house with him each day so I have a reason to smile. Most times I wish I could just stay on my couch curled up in my blanket with all my candles on and just be. Not doing anything, but being warm and present. Those days are necessary most of the time, but I have to get up. I have to work and try to keep living the fullest life I can.

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To Danielle at Twenty-Two.

Happy twenty-second birthday. This birthday will bring you joy and hope for the future. It will be busy going to a football game, spending time with your most loved ones, and choosing baby names. Today you found out you are carrying the most precious gift in the whole entire universe. At that second it turned positive, you knew this year for you would be completely different from any before. You would start counting down the days to important pregnancy milestones and planning for the rest of your life. Soak in this happiness, this will be your last birthday that you will be able to freely smile with meaning.

This year you will grow and not just your belly getting bigger and bigger. Your love will grow and be greater than anything you thought was possible. The pride you have for you family and son will burst from the seams. There will be a light in your life that grows with every single beat of Jensen’s heart. He will grow and as you watch him dance across that screen, your smile will grow at each visit. Your little house will have a ceiling and walls up, even a nursery. Instead of your mind focusing in on a single person’s house, it will grow suitable for a small family. Everything around you will be nurtured for the future you came up with, as you woke up on your twenty-second birthday.

November will be the happiest month of your year. You find out the little baby in your belly is a boy, your Jensen. He sits there just like Dad does on the couch. He isn’t shy about being a boy and you’ll soon find out he cooperates for everyone when you ask him to. Even when he’s being the most stubborn little boy for the nurses, when you ask him to move he does. The love you have for each other is unbreakable. You find out his heart is strong and he has hair; the only two things you asked for when you found out you were going to have a baby. Even though you didn’t think you would see Jensen twice a week while you were pregnant, you will be so thankful for that time with him.

There will be so much happiness and love in this year, you will be on the greatest high in your life. Collect those moments as they come and never let them go. You will have bumps while you’re pregnant that you’ll never think you can get over. They are not important. You would’ve got through the, but you didn’t think anything worse could happen. You could never have imagined the alternative. Instead of listening to almost everyone around you, you’ll fight for Jensen. Just as any mother would. No matter the challenges placed in front of you, you will always do what’s best for Jensen and you.

Then comes April. At this point in the year, it’s gone so perfectly. You will be so ready for his arrival, just getting a few more things the weekend before. In the second day of this month, you will joke how you feel like Jensen won’t wait to come out for very much longer. You will be surrounded by Anthony and your family. Love will pour in that weekend. Everything will feel just like it has, until you walk in the doctor’s office on Monday, April the fourth. This is when everything changes. The joy and happiness that you felt on your birthday, this day one year ago, will vanish. Your hopes and dreams will go away and you have to say goodbye to the one, little person that brought you so much light.

On April fifth he is born. You find out he did in fact have hair, looked exactly like you, and never once brought you pain. He’s a perfect baby at seven pounds one ounce and nineteen and three-quarter inches long. All ten fingers and all ten toes are there for you to count. His big cheeks and button nose would have scrunched up to boast a big smile. You made him with love and he looked so peaceful. The day will be static, even as your twenty-third birthday comes. I can’t tell you when that day comes back clear. It hasn’t yet, there’s a chance it never will.

I’ll be honest with you, Danielle. The days, weeks, and months that follow his birth are hard. You’ll plan your son’s funeral, tears come more freely than smiles, and the light is impossible to see. It will hurt to breathe and nothing will scare you anymore. I wish you never had to meet death this year. This isn’t what you wished for as you blew out the candle on top of your sundae. You’ll wish to go back in time, something you never did before. Depression will creep up, self-doubt will happen, and all you will be able to do is survive. There will be people who don’t understand this and you’ll feel alone. A loneliness and emptiness will eat away at your everyday. There will be darkness.

Somehow, you will keep surviving.

Jensen, even in death, is your light. He and all the memories you have with him will keep you going. There’s not a lot of smiles in the last few months of your twenty-second year, but when you do, it’s when you remember him. Many will tell you to find some light in your life and somedays it’s just a flicker. Jensen’s light is so strong, but sometimes grief is pitch black. When you feel like giving up, search deep down. You’ll see his light. No matter how pitch black it is, Jensen’s light never goes out. He never hurt you when he was here and he would never leave you in the dark.

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I want you to know that grief does not get lighter, we become stronger. This pain and darkness does not go away. You just learn how to live with it. There will always be an absence in your life, but his presence was so great. Through this year, soak up all the light and happiness you can. Even now, as this year is coming to its close, I would never wish it away. I would never want to forget all this love and each day Jensen was with us. I can say that even through this darkness and pain.

This year you will become a mother of all mothers. One who does not hold her son in her arms, but in her heart. Forever.

Love,

Danielle at almost twenty-three.

Day of HOPE Prayer Flag Project 2016

When you drive by my little grey house with black shutters, you’ll be welcomed by a big pallet chair, flowers, and a big signs welcoming you. Everything is very monochromatic, besides the flowers and one flag that hangs to the right of the chair inviting you to sit. This flag is different. Even though it’s oddly out of place, it feels like it’s right where it should. It hangs behind an angel that sits and protects the house. When the wind blows the frays on the bottom dance. Each part of the flag tell a story and as the frays dance in the wind, it also tells a story of love, loss, and hope.

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Space.

Near the end of my pregnancy, I was in hardcore nesting mode. All of Jensen’s clothes were washing, the diaper bag in my car, his car seat set up, the house almost ready, and I counted how many packs of diapers we had over and over again. I had to know we were prepared for Jensen and his first nights at home would go perfectly. An unrealistic expectation, of course, but I had to be sure I thought everything was good enough for him. Even though the house wasn’t done, his nursery and where he would be was all set. My world was revolving around he would be, his space.

As all moms do, I put him before myself and didn’t really care how my space would be. If he was content, I would be happy with whatever. I put myself on the back burner, not that I would have changed a thing looking back. Even after Jensen was born, I was still obsessed with his space. I couldn’t comprehend his space having to change or how it would impact me. His nursery isn’t set up, the swing isn’t in the spot I knew it would go, and his pack-n-play isn’t peacefully sitting in my bedroom. It’s been a week and a half since we moved in and I’m still looking at all those places. All the places he needs to be.

It’s okay I can’t put those places where he should be out of my head, I’ve had to refocus on how he is incorporated in our home. His urn is always in the room I’m in. It might sound crazy to you, but I do move his urn around the house. I have an ultrasound picture on the wall right beside his footprints. His silver J will be hanging in my built in bookcase. Jensen’s bedroom still has his colors on the wall, navy blue and orange. I’ve planned on ordering more remembrance items to display in the house. Every item that I bought with him safely in my belly has a story. I’m still making space for him and probably always will.

Yet, this week I was motivated to make space for me. Space to collect my thoughts, journal, and remember him in. It might technically be classified as a space for him, but it’s intent is for me. In my Mothering Your Heart workshop, we’re focusing on space. Again, I am so thankful for the loss community to help me manage my grief and help me along through this process. It’s helped me realize everything I’m going through is ‘normal’ and okay how I process it. I think space is different for everyone. For me, I had to physically make space to feel like I was connecting to Jensen. My house is so new to me and there’s no where I can really retreat from everything. So I had a huge motivation factor to help push me make space for Danielle. After 38 weeks and 2 days of pregnancy and a little over two months of grief, this momma needed a place to tackle grief and honor her baby.

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That is my safe place. Yellows to brighten my day, words to help me think positive, and comfy seats to welcome my thoughts and emotions. All things to try to make each day a little more bearable. Safe from triggers, negative energy, and loss. It’s the one part of the house I didn’t have planned while Jensen was with me. That spot was supposed to house his pack-n-play. I wonder if he would like the yellow? Or would he be mad that I created this space for me? Sometimes I see it and feel guilty. I would never have bought this little space if he wasn’t here…

I second guess every move I make now that he’s not with me. Doing everything for him came so naturally. Now refocusing my attention on myself just feels wrong. My brain is at constant battle with itself. I don’t want to move forward, but I know the whole world keeps spinning. The whole world is trying to pull me along, but I want to stay stuck. Staying stuck thinking about my little Jensen is much more appealing than playing along with everyone else. I try to play along, then I retreat. I have to create this space for my reality. My two yellow chairs bring me comfort and give me the space I need to retreat from the world.

Jensen would have loved my space. He would be so happy I’m making space for myself and trying to care for my heart. I know he guided me to all the elements that occupy this little retreat.

Oh little love, how I wish I could still have you here. I’d much rather be creating space for the both of us, making sure everything was perfect for you.

Move-In.

Almost one year ago, I bought my very first house. The three bedroom house needed a lot of work, but I was more than excited to do the complete tear down. I pictured where everything would go and what room would be what the very first second I walked in. It was going to be my very first house and all my own. This little three bedroom home would be the start of my future.

Three months after buying and tearing it mostly down, I found out Jensen was growing in my belly. My very first house all on my own became a house all about the baby. Every room I was imagining a lifetime of memories: first bath, first steps, first day of school. It was all unfolding. The back left bedroom would be the perfect nursery. It had a beautiful window that outlooked the backyard. It was nice, big, and full of personality. That would be my little baby’s room.

All during my pregnancy, we worked on the house. In my head it was closer and closer to the perfect family house. Our little guy loved to come work on the house. The sounds never made him upset. It was like he wanted the house to get done and he loved the work. I can remember being eight months pregnant working, not too hard, but trying to get everything perfect for him. Everyone was helping me out, not letting me lift things too heavy. I would tire easy, then his little kick would get me through the tiredness. He was just as excited to be in here. When Jensen was Jensen and not a little girl, the planning really started. We painted his room blue and orange on one wall and put wallpaper with squares up on the rest. I painted the closet grey. The curtains navy blue with orange accents everywhere. The grey crib with the bright orange and dark blue would welcome his sleep every night. It was unraveling so perfectly. Our little family home would soon have baby Jensen to house.

Then came the smack.

We didn’t get to bring Jensen home. His crib wouldn’t be welcoming his sleep every night. We wouldn’t be able to give him his first bath. His first steps wouldn’t happen here. The floor wouldn’t have little footprint smudges everywhere. All the hopes and dreams for the future ended all in that one second. My little, perfect family home of three became Anthony and I’s home filled with dreams of Jensen that would never happen.

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Our first night, officially staying in the house was Tuesday night; Jensen’s eighth week in heaven. I was so excited to finally stay in this house that I’ve practically tore down and rebuilt. It was so relieving to see all the hard pay off. For it to finally mean something. For our future to be starting. I’d like to say blood, sweat, and tears built this house, which it did, but it was built on the foundation of love and dreams.

The house is filling up with furniture, wall decorations, and kitties. It’s still filled with love, hope, and dreams. Every wall is the color I wanted it to be. The floors are exactly what I pictured and the kitchen came out way better than I expected. All the decorations look exactly how I wanted to when they go up. Anthony and I smile at each other while the cats are running around. We’re trying to play ‘normal.’ An outsider looking in would believe this is the perfect little starter home for a young couple.

I guess our reality is hard for other’s to see. It’s hard to see a baby that isn’t here physically. They don’t see the little, blue urn with two silver birds on it and the candle that’s usually is burning. Our decorations with J’s, his name, and the ultrasound pictures would have people believe the baby is on the way. The boxes in the basement full of Jensen’s would let them wonder why we didn’t have them back in his nursery. No one wants to think of the bad.

In all honesty, I wish I could tell you my first night here at the house was great. I wish I could tell you it’s all that I imagine and that everything feels perfect. It’d all be a lie. That first night was so hard. I saw where Jensen should be every time I turned my head. This house has an emptiness that cannot be filled, not that I’d even want it to be filled by anything else. I couldn’t fall asleep, it felt like the first night after he’d been born. It was quiet even with the tick of the fan and the television on. I guess the first night here in the new house was a way I stepped into my new reality that I’ve been trying to fight back.

Move-in day is the next step in this horrible grief process. It’s apart of the acceptance step in the rational part of my brain. I see his nursery, still blue and orange with the playful wallpaper. The backyard that the window frames begs to be looked at by anyone that walks in the room. My memories from when Jensen was here floods me every time I walk in there. It’s the stillness of the room with the flood of internal emotions that takes me by surprise every time. Jensen’s room will always be that.

I was afraid I would resent this house and his room because he wasn’t here. It’s hard because he’s not here, but so is every single day. I pray every day for strength and courage to go on. This first night I prayed I would make it through even though it hurt so much to be here without him. I dreamed that night of Jensen and being in his room together. Jensen knew how much I loved this house. We built it together. In the midst of his absence, love is still shining through.

Love will keep me in this house. Love will keep me on my feet.