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. 

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Empathy.

Before I begin this post, I want to show the difference between empathy and sympathy. I think a lot of people think they’re the same thing, but they’re very different from each other.

empathy – the ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

sympathy – feelings of pity and sorrow for someone else’s misfortune.

The first time I thought I understood what empathy really meant was in college. I remember the professor telling us her sister’s story; I won’t tell her story, but it deals with the loss of a child. My professor said to feel empathy you had to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and somehow understand those feelings.

Then she said, ‘I could never imagine losing a child, therefore I can’t have the full understanding of empathy for her situation.’ Continue reading

Sunrise.

The crisp morning air welcomed me as I stepped outside, hot tea in hand. As I sat down on my cool porch, I noticed clouds covered the sky. There was no way I would be able to see the sun light up the sky in all it’s brilliance. I was disappointed as I realized I wouldn’t be getting the beautiful colors that we would expect from a sunrise. But I sat and waited waiting to see the sun poke through as I let hustle of the world go on around me. I thought of the morning Jensen was born. It was the last time I watched the sun say hello to this side of the earth.

As I impatiently waited for the perfect shot to capture my grief and love for Jensen this morning, I asked him just to give me just a little light today. One minute later, Leo was meowing loudly from the window. I walked over to calm him down through the screen and he stopped. I looked back to where I knew the sun would be rising and saw just the perfect amount of light. The sunrise I dedicated for Jensen was in turn dedicated to me by a special little boy in heaven.

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Gnadenhutten, OH – 7:22am

Continue reading

Father’s Day.

Three months ago I was planning Mother’s and Father’s Day gifts; Father’s Day more in particular. I imagined getting baby and navy blue paint to put on Jensen’s feet and showcase them in crafts for Anthony and my dad. A canvas and a mug for them both, with touches of Jensen everywhere. Of course they would get a picture of them and Jensen in a frame, I would fill all our walls up with Jensen’s face. We would get fun little first Father’s Day cards for Anthony and a grandpa card for my dad. It would be the first of many perfect Father’s Days for our little family.

Instead, I broke down at Hallmark. Well actually my breakdown started in Hallmark, then I ran to the bathroom in the mall to really get into it. I felt pretty pathetic sobbing in the stall, everyone in there had to hear me. At first I was okay. The cute cards got to me a little bit, but I was focused on the ‘adult’ looking cards for my dad and Anthony. Then it all happened too fast for me to comprehend at that time… Little kids came running in, right in front of me, picking out the cute cards I had my eyes one. They excitedly picked out their favorite cards having their mom read them out loud to them. Their smiles lit up the room. Except for the spot I was standing. I stood their paralyzed with my tears building up. Somehow I kept it composed long enough to buy my cards and run.

I’ll remember to just DIY my cards for the next occasion or order them online.

But this post isn’t about me, nor is this whole day. It’s about the two amazing fathers I was blessed with in my life: my dad and Anthony.

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My dad, my superhero.

This is my favorite picture of my dad. I know you can’t see his face and I know I have a thousand pictures of him and I together, but this is the one. My dad has always been my biggest cheerleader, my protector, and the best guy I know. Everyone says that about their dad, but it’s true for me. Even when I’m so mad at him I can’t even look his direction, I still know I would be able to go talk to him about anything. He’s the first person I call when something truly does not go right because he makes it better. My childhood was a dream and it’s because I had him, well mom helped too.

I can just remember when I was first pregnant how scared I was to tell him. For some reason I thought he would be disappointed or mad. I remember puking up water on the stairs before I told them and he came along to help clean it up. He never asked me if I was or pushed me to tell him. When I did tell him, he just smiled and said, “I’ve known all along.” He was there to find out Jensen was a boy and was always wanting to know how my appointments went. When we found out Jensen would most likely have Down syndrome, he told me Jensen was loved no matter what. The moment Jensen was born, he was in the room. He talked to Jensen and held him. He cries with me and listens. Jensen is so lucky to have him as his grandpa. We even got him a #1 Grandpa grill spatula.

There’s no rulebook on what to do when your daughter’s son is stillborn or what to do when your grandson is stillborn. My dad has had a tough role to play since Jensen has been born: grieving his grandson and watching his daughter crumble to pieces. Through it all he’s been so gentle, patient, and kind. He’s handled losing Jensen with such grace that I don’t think I’ll ever have.

I’m so blessed to have the dad that I do.

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A+D=J

On our way up to stay with Anthony on New Years Eve, I cried. It was funny, Jensen was kicking and dancing away all day. I remember feeling every kick and just crying for some reason. Halfway up, I called Anthony and just kept saying I didn’t want this year to end. It was such a great year; I graduated, I met Anthony, I bought a house, I got pregnant, and he was my Jensen. Anthony listened, as he always does, and just reminded me we were going to meet the best part of our future. Our Jensen was to be born in April and that I should be happy because we were going to have so many good parts of 2016. He calmed me down, made me laugh, and we took this picture.

Let me tell you, Anthony is my rock. On day one when we found out about our little Bebe, he was scared, but excited. Through all the good news and the bad, the multitude of appointments, and all my pregnancy hormones, Anthony was right beside me. He read Goodnight Moon and Go Dog Go to Jensen and made sure I took my prenatal vitamins every day. When we got bad news, he told me it would be okay and Jensen was still our perfect boy. We went to baby class together, did the baby shower registry, and planned every last detail. I tried my best to prepare him for our little bundle, but I could never have prepared him for Jensen’s passing. Nor could I have prepared him for this grief that is so woven into our every day lives.

Anthony’s first Father’s Day is without Jensen physically here. It hurts me. We shouldn’t have to spend tomorrow without Jensen, he should be almost three months old. I know he would have been the best daddy in the whole entire world and at the same time, he is.

There’s a difference in parenting when you’re a bereaved parent. We can’t physically hold Jensen or feed him, but we parent him in all other sense of the meaning. Anthony loves Jensen, cares about his legacy, and still does everything he can for him. Sometimes my grief and I take over our relationship, but he’s right here to help. As I’ve said before and will always say, Antony is my rock. I know Jensen is so proud of his daddy. He showed it every time he would hear Anthony’s voice and feel his presence.  As much as I know how proud Jensen is of Anthony, I know the love between them is so strong and so endless.

My two boys. My perfect little family.

Related to Father’s Day, I submitted to Still Mothers a post I wrote about Anthony and his grief. I’d love, if you haven’t, for you all to go read it. I’d really like to say it was an honor to have them publish it on their site and let my family’s story be seen by so many other people. The post, in short, is really about a bereaved father’s grief and how society really needs to take in account that these dads really are hurting too. That not only a mother has lost a child, but the dad too. Click here if you want to check it out.

I’d like to wish all the fathers out their a Happy Father’s Day, especially my dad and Anthony. All you guys out there fathering your own, not your own, or just being that father figure in another’s life has so much impact on this world. To all the bereaved fathers out there, I see you. I see your grief and I want you to know you are as much as a father as any other father. You love and care for child while they’re waiting for you in heaven. You are not forgotten nor should you ever be overlooked. Your child loves you, that you should never forget. If you know a bereaved father, tell them Happy Father’s Day. That will mean more to him than anything on this day.