The Curiosity of Dreams.  

I had a dream.

Honestly, I was afraid to tell a lot of people because I didn’t want anyone to think I was crazier than I already am. It was two nights ago and although it was comforting for me, I tried not to look at it as a sign. In it, I dreamed about a man who told me Jensen was happy, always with me, and loved laying in bed when I was there. The man was so real and sure of what he was saying, I have never met him before, but I trusted him. When I woke, I remembered every detail of what I dreamed, the room I was in when he told me, what he looked like, and most of all his words.

As I laid in bed thinking of what had just happened, I finally decided to check my phone to see what was going on in the world. I saw that I was tagged in an Instagram post and checked it out.


@thefivefacetsofhealing

Now, I try not to go looking for every sign I think I get, but this was too coincidental.

They are never far from you, no matter where you go. 

The man in my dream had told me Jensen was always close. I always knew he was near, but it was just some sort of validation I needed this month. Maybe another birthday gift from beyond. I went along with the rest of the day and didn’t really think about it more, until this morning.

Last night, one of my best friends and I went out to celebrate and just be in the moment. As I have said, it’s my birthday month and it’s just nice to go out and savor the night for what it is. She ended up sleeping over since we got back so late. This morning, she wanted to tell me about her dream. She kept saying it felt so real, like it happened just as we were talking.

In her dream, she dreamt we were having a sleepover with her daughter. It came to the part of the night where we were laying in bed and we started taking pictures. Her daughter was on her and we were smiling and laughing. After we were done taking pictures, she flipped through to see them and noticed another smiling face laying between us. She saw Jensen and instantly knew it was him. He looked to be around sixteen months old, just enjoying the sleepover like we did. It was him laying in bed with us, like the man said he liked to do.

I got cold chills. The man’s voice repeated what he said in my mind. My second validation that Jensen was letting me know he’s happy with his smiles and was laying there with us.

Jensen always seems to let me know he’s okay; this month especially. I feel like he’s been cheering me on and wanting me to have the best birthday I can possibly have. Sometimes I think the signs he brings me makes me insane, but I know deep down he wants to me to know.

Our children gone too soon can reach out in amazing ways.

How I’ll be Celebrating Jensen’s Twenty-First Birthday. 

This past weekend, my parents took my brother and I to Tennessee. It’s always bittersweet to go on family vacations or getaways; I constantly see the missing piece. Of course we find ways to incorporate Jensen when we go somewhere. At the beach we write his name or I’m taking pictures of his footprint. When we knew we were going to Nashville and Lynchburg, I was weary of how to make a new memory with him that was unlike I had before. 

In Nashville, we didn’t really have to opportunity to do anything besides walk around and eat (and drink). I was determined to do something special for him the next day in Lynchburg. When we first got there, I was so amazed by the Jack Daniels’ distillery. There was so much to look at and learn more about. Within the first twenty minutes, I found this huge visitor registration book. 

It was a perfect way to put Jensen’s name in the book and in their database. Other people could see and read his name. I scribbled our information down and was happy to leave his mark there. 


We began our tour shortly after signing this book. The grounds there were so beautiful. It was way bigger than I imagined and I had butterflies following me throughout the entire time. Everywhere I looked, they would be floating by my head. Jensen and Hux telling me hello, we’re always here with you. 

After our tour and tasting ended, a bunch of us went to their bottle shop. When I learned they could engrave on the bottle I wanted, I had an idea. This is another way I could incorporate Jensen, now and in the years to come. I picked out my favorite tasting whiskey and what I wanted engraved on the bottle. 


I bought my son his first bottle of whiskey at fifteen months old. That would sound like something a horrible parent would say, but knowing our story it makes sense. His bottle is to be open and drank on his twenty-first birthday. Not a drop until then either. Which seems like a long time from now, but this is how I can parent and keep his memory going. 

Honestly, it’s crazy to think I’ll be grieving for that long. That on his twenty-first birthday he won’t be here, or any until then. One year without him felt like a slap in the face. Missing him will be forever, but somehow by planning this one, tiny detail of that day made me feel loved but. 

In these little moments, I can do something for Jensen. They let me bring him alive again. This little bottle of whiskey will give me something to look forward to on his big day, twenty years from now.  

Life after loss has been a dysfunctional mess, but days like these are so much sweeter than I could ever have imagined. 

May We All Heal | Future

We’ve made it to the end of this May journey. I can’t believe the month’s already over, it feels like it just started! Another month of loss and love down and a whole lifetime to go.

Today’s prompt is ‘future,’ but I’ll get to that in a little bit. I want to reflect on the May We All Heal Project and talk about what I took from it. It is so beautiful every time there’s an opportunity to come together as a community and share parts of our journeys. We’re able to learn so much more about each other, our different paths of grief and healing, and (my favorite part) about our children.

For me, there were prompts I loved to write about and others I dreaded the day I saw the prompt list. Even though I spill my heart every time I write, there are still parts I’m afraid to talk about. Hmm, I guess afraid would be the wrong word. Sometimes I’m afraid of opening up a part of my grief that I didn’t know was there. Which sounds absolutely ridiculous, but that’s how it is.

There are always talks about triggers.

I find myself battling a wide range of triggers every day. It was no different this month. Coming off Jensen’s birthday and all the emotions that came with his day, May was hard. I’m exhausted by the grief and really making myself think hard about each prompt helped, but it was draining. In truth, I keep comparing this to Capture Your Grief in October. I loved that project, but I remember right around halfway, I was beat. So many emotions going into the holiday season and being at the sixth month mark, it was hard. For some reason I thought May We All Heal would be easier on me?

Altogether, I think this experience was helpful to me. I was able to connect with different moms than before, which was nice. It’s always heartbreaking to me to know there’s another mom that is in pain, but I’m glad we’re all here to help each other.

That’s kind of my take away for this month.

Now to the future…

As always, I like to plan for the upcoming month. It helps me keep track of where I am. I have a name project I want to do this next month, which will be fun for me. That’ll be here in a few days, so keep your eyes out. Father’s Day is this month, which is different for me since Jensen’s dad and I don’t really talk anymore. BUT I have my family and my dad to celebrate and I know Jensen would want to be there for his grandpa.

There’s also a big surprise I have for you all. I’m not sure when I’ll be filling you guys in on it, but maybe this next month? Very nervous about it, but I hope it’ll turn out well.

As always, I’ll be writing (not everyday) and sharing on Jensen’s page (everyday). No matter what happens in life, I’ll always share this journey with you guys. Jensen is the biggest part of me and I want to continue sharing him with the world. Everyday I live my life for him. I’ll continue taking the steps he’ll never take and that’s how it is.

He is mine and I am his, forever and always.

May We All Heal | Quiet & Light


 

Quiet and light… Two completely opposite words that are used to describe my life after loss.

I hate the quiet. It reminds me of the fullness and nothingness in the room after Jensen was born. The same quiet plagued me in the following weeks and even now of not having my child in my arms. A house that holds a one year old should never be quiet and yet mine is silent at times. I could get lost in the quietness of absence. It almost reminds me of darkness and how alone I actually am.

When I got home from vacation last night, I sat down in my bed with Jensen bear and Jensen’s urn. Everything was silent. I thought I had gotten to a point where the quiet didn’t bother me. Usually, it allows me to think or at least organize my thoughts. Yet, last night was so different. The familiar feeling of dread blanketed me. My thoughts, instead of organized, were flying through my mind, chaotic and without any order what-so-ever.

Then the tears fell… and they kept falling.

This life after loss, it’s not for the fainthearted. There are times where all you want to do is scream, why me? Why is my house so quiet and not full of Jensen’s giggles and footsteps? This isn’t fair.

That’s how most of the night went. When I realized I wouldn’t be falling asleep anytime soon, I went and got my candle-lighter. Jensen’s flame came alive and lit up the room. I saw the flame dancing and a calmness filled the room. The light tore through the quiet, through the darkness.

In my loss world, light and quiet are on two different ends of the spectrum…

The quietness feels a lot like those early days and reminds me the emptiness that’s in my house. 

The light, it leads me. It represents the love Jensen and I have for each other. I search for it when the quiet and darkness wrap me up. 

Light and quiet. Love and loss. Good and bad.

 

May We All Heal | Broken

broken – violently separated into parts, shattered

My world stopped when I heard those words. His heart had quit beating and I was thrown, violently, into a different dimension. When I looked down at my body where he was housed, I didn’t see the brokenness I felt. If I could have looked inside, my heart would have been in pieces. This body would have looked mangled to anyone who saw me. 

That’s the hard part with grief and mental illness, others can’t physically see it like a broken bone. If they did, they would understand. They could see my heart constantly bleeding out and how it’s trying to heal itself too. 

In Japan there is an art form and pottery repair called kintsugi. I’m sure you’ve seen the descriptive picture. It’s when there is broken pottery and instead of hiding it, gold powder is used to mend it. They don’t hide where the pottery is faulted, they show its beauty. 

In the beginning (and even now on my bad days), I didn’t think this pain and brokenness would ever amount to any beauty. How could the loss of my son be anything but horrible and ugly? The immense weight of his loss hasn’t gotten lighter by any means, but I have gradually became stronger. 

The pieces of my broken heart are still being put back together. Heck, there will always be a Jensen sized hole there. Yet, as they are being placed, there is something more beautiful than gold repairing my heart. The love I have for Jensen and his whole being holds and mends my heart. There isn’t bright, shiny gold, but his name and light. 

Yes, I am broken, but I’m also healing. 

May We All Heal | Love 


In Jensen and I’s story, love is such an integral part. It waltzes with the loss and pain in my heart. Both of them trading the lead depending on the day. The dance is beautifully tragic, but such is this life after loss. 

Love has been my light, anchor, raft, glue, and whatever else it needs to be. Without it, I would never have made it this far. 

During the course of the day, I tell Jensen I love him, probably a hundred times. It comes out freely. I have never tried to stop myself from saying it or feel bad once I do. It’s the truth, I love him more than anything. Sometimes it happens when I pass his picture or a flash a blue and orange comes along. Each time I say it, the words escape in the world. It has to listen to our love story. 

Because that’s exaclty what our story is: a love story. Not the romantic one, but the most earthly and natural one; the story of a mothers love. 

We all know how our love story started, the plot twist of it, and how it’s progressed to this point. What we don’t know is what comes next. No one knows what happens next, but if I had a crystal ball, it would be full of love. Nothing that happens in the future can steal away this love I have for my little boy. 

Love is what makes the world goes round. 

Love glued my fragile heart back together. 

Love is what has led me to this point. 

Love created Jensen. 

Love is what continues to tell his story. 

Love never ends, not even in death. 

May We All Heal | Celebrate

We celebrate to honor our children. 

We celebrate our motherhood. 

We celebrate because of the love we feel. 

We celebrate to let others know it’s okay to say their names. 

We celebrate the time they were with us. 

We celebrate because we know they would want us to. 

We celebrate so they’re never forgotten. 

We celebrate because they lived. 

We celebrate our children because after all, they will always be ours. 

To Anyone with a Fragile Heart:

I want you to know you’re not alone.

Since my son, Jensen, was stillborn last April, I’ve found myself living with a heart that has been hastily taped together. There have been so many moments I didn’t believe I would be able to make it to the next. My heart felt like it was going to collapse and it still does to this day.

Lately, I’ve collectively felt what has been happening around the world. This could be you reading right now whose baby has tragically died. I know this journey you’re facing because I’m living it every second. This past few months I’ve seen so much loss. From the tragedy that happened in Manchester earlier this week to the person in school that doesn’t think their life is worth living. Even the people who are being mentally, emotionally, physically, and sexual abused. I feel like I’ve been extremely empathetic to every story I hear.

I’m sorry to each person this has happened or is continuing to happen to. I see you. It breaks my heart that you’re feeling this pain.

I will never be able to take your pain away, but if talking helps ease it, I’m right here. There have been times I’ve felt lost, but knowing there was someone who listened, that wanted to help strengthen my heart made me feel less afraid. Less fragile. It is terribly vulnerable to talk about your demons, but opening up and releasing those feelings can let someone know how to be there for you.

Please don’t ever feel alone in this world.

Here’s a little secret. To some, I’m a fellow loss mom or a substitute teacher or the girl down the street. In each of these roles, I’ve heard your story and feel everything that’s going on in your  life. When I see you struggling with your relationship, loss, or even yourself, I want to run up and comfort you. The worst is or has happened and left you broken. Each time I see you I want you to know you can come to me because ultimately we have lost part of the same thing.

Through each and every of  our difficult unbearable journeys, we have lost a huge part of our innocence. Nothing will ever change or bring that back. We now see this fragile world for how it actually is: broken.

The glue holding the world together is you and me and our relationships we build to strengthen each other. We’re able to help each other pick up the pieces. We are each others shoulder to cry on. when we are connected we become stronger. We fit in this beautifully, fragile community of survivors.

You are never alone.

You are so wanted

You make an impact on this world.

You are loved.

Remember, I’m always here for you.

Love,
Danielle
Jensen’s mom

May We All Heal | Ink


The permanency of his loss will be written in ink in my story.

In the beginning, it felt like God has just taken his pen and broke it over Jensen’s death and the months following. The blackness and finality of stillbirth blinded me. Even though there were moments of light, like I explaining yesterday, the world around me seemed messy and dark.

Just like an ink blot.

I can’t tell you how many times I though, ‘if my life was a book, this part of it would be solid black.’ Would me and everyone in my life only see the mess of grief when we looked back to these pages?

It hurt. I wanted to clean and erase his death. In place, I wanted to rewrite his beautiful birth with him screaming and being put on my chest. Instead of the unending silence and pain, there should have been pages full of how he grew and was thriving outside of the womb. Not this.

My motherhood was so fragile during those ink-filled pages. I tried to use that very ink to make it seem more real, more tangible. Tattoos soon scattered over my body. I wanted him to know he’d alway walk with me through life. Since his footprint has been on mine, he has walked so many steps with me. He has to be seen. My motherhood needed to be seen, so the Celtic knot of mother and child was placed on the back of my neck. But most of all, I want people to ask whose name is scribbled across my wrist, so I can tell them all about him.

I did it and it helped me heal.

Not even God could erase this ink from me, just as I will never be able to erase His.

Being able to feel like he’s physically connected to me made me really look at our story. Instead of just seeing that scattered ink across my book of life, I saw the pages full of Jensen. All two-hundred and sixty-six of them. They are written in beautiful cursive writing full of loops and love. These are my favorite pages in my book.

No one can EVER take those pages from me. Jensen and I have been connected from the moment he was made. His pages will never be erased or forgotten.

It also let me know that the blank pages after the ink splatter are waiting to be written in. Just as I have made Jensen’s mark on me, I can forever continue having pages full of him in my future.

He’s not here, but I won’t allow him to be wrote out of our story. He will always be my son and I’ll continue writing his pages.

The permanency of his legacy will be written in ink.

May We All Heal | Communicate


We used to communicate through kicks and pats on the belly.

Sometimes even through music and feeling you dance to your favorite song.

You heard me whisper how loved you were and how I couldn’t wait to hold you in my arms.

The way we communicated was my favorite.

Then it all went away.

Instead, we had to learn how to talk in different ways.

Writing letters and waiting for you to join me in my dreams.

Seeing you paint the sky blue and orange just for me.

No matter how much we communicate to each other, the message is always the same.

I love you. I miss you.

Please come back home.