I had another post planned for today, but I wanted to write this out before it got lost in the others.
My house and I have had an up and down relationship. Yes, you read that right. The house I live in is sort of it’s own… entity. I’ve had a lot of spooky things that have happened throughout the years I’ve lived there.
In 2019, the house got so bad that I had to get it blessed. Honestly, it was a really scary time to live at my house. I considered moving, but wanted to try everything to stay there. Since then, it’s slowed down a lot. But, there are days, like this morning, that bring back that eerie feeling.
Back to this morning.
All night, I was in a deep sleep with really vivid dreams. So, when I woke up before my alarm, I was a little drowsy.
I opened my eyes and it looked like my living room light was on. Then I heard two things. The first was Max breathing and sounding like he was getting pet. Remember, he gets excited and when he gets attention, he sounds different (that sounds strange, but animal owners will understand). Then there was this squeaking. I thought it sounded like Mila’s one dump truck toy, but I had picked up the toys last night. So she must have found it and started playing with it again…
It’s not unlike her to get up and play with Max in the morning. She can reach the lights and knows where her toys are stored. I relaxed thinking it was just her.
Until, I felt someone move in bed beside me.
I turned my head to see Mila in a deep sleep. So, it wasn’t Mila out in the living room playing with Max and her truck.
After that realization, I involuntarily let out a sigh.
The truck stopped squeaking and a few seconds later, Max got up and ran into my room. I was afraid someone had heard me wake up and left, but I didn’t hear any footsteps or the door open.
Instead of getting up, I just laid there for a few minutes more.
There was no way Max could get the truck out of the bin and how could he make that squeaking sound. Maybe that sound was just in my head. I had been dreaming all night. It had to be explainable because my house has been so calm.
Before I got out of bed, I told myself that the truck was put away and I was psyching myself out.
When I walked into the living room, her yellow truck was flipped on its side. Just like it had been played with and put back down. Cold chills instantly went all over my body.
I know not everyone’s a believer, but it felt like there was someone in my house or Mila was playing out there. It’s the strangest feeling to not know what happened out there, but I know the toy was being played with and Max was getting attention.
No matter what anyone things, it definitely had to be a spirit or ghost. I didn’t feel threatened. It literally felt like a child was in my living room waiting on me.
Let’s just say, I’ll be burning sage in my house later tonight.
Three nights ago, I had a scary incident. I still have the bruises on my arms to remind me what happened.
Since it’s happened, I’ve been unsure if it’s a loss mom thing or a general parent worry. Either way, I wanted to share it with everyone who reads this little blog because you’ve followed my family’s story this far.
So, I have a barn door for my bedroom door. The doorway is in between my bedroom and living room. My mom and I built it and it’s pretty heavy and sturdy. It’s fallen off the tracks a few times, mostly when I’ve been messing around with it and no little living thing is in the way.
The other night, Mila and I got home later than normal. Max was super excited to see us. As I’ve stated before, he can get a little hyper.
I fed Max and gave him a bone to calm down. Afterwards Mila and I walked into my bedroom and I didn’t latch open the sliding door. Max figured out we weren’t in the living room anymore and took off to my room.
While he was running, the door was shutting. Mila was going toddler speed and was only a few steps in front of the door when it happened.
Everything that happened next was in slow motion.
Max tore through the door and knocked it off the track. I saw it pop off and lift up. Then it started to tilt.
I yelled for Mila to move. All my anxiety could just imagine the door smashing into her.
Of course, she was frozen because she didn’t know why I was yelling. The dog looked scared… probably because it hurt a lot and he knew I was upset.
As it falls more slowly and everyone’s still froze, I had to jump into action. When I took that first step, time caught back up.
I threw my arms under the heavy door as it neared Mila. Somehow I kicked her to safety too.
The door landed on my wrists and forearms. There’s cuts and bruises, but nothing I can’t handle. Mila was upset and the dog was too, but everyone was safe.
After it all happened, I just kept thinking of what could have happened.
Whatif I was in the laundry room and didn’t see it happen?
What if I didn’t catch it in time?
How serious would it have been?
Would she have gotten badly hurt?
What can I do tomake this safer?
Even though everything turned out ‘okay,’ all those questions scare me. I don’t know what I would have done if she had gotten hurt.
I think after losing a child, the thought of losing another is always right there.
Anxiety is always in me. When I’m not with Mila, it skyrockets because I can’t be there to save or help her. It’s exhausting to always keep worrying and thinking of the bad.
These cuts and bruises on me remind me that she is safe and I’m doing my best.
I’m never going to be able to protect her from everything; I’m just learning how to manage that.
Do you overthink situations like this? Or can you just put it in the past?
At the beginning of the year, I made a jar to document the good things we experienced that week. It’s been fun reflecting, but knowing Mila, she has to make it a little weird.
That’s just what toddlers do!
I will admit, this one is more cute than weird, but I thought it’d be perfect to share with Valentine’s Day coming up.
Mila has had the same thing that makes her happy every week… ME!
When I go to our jar, I date it, then make an “M” for what makes her grateful. Then I ask her what made her happy this last week.
The second time we did it, she just said, “you.” I thought it was the cutest thing ever.
When it came to ask her again, she replied with the same thing. Admittedly, I felt a little bad. I was writing down things I wanted to remember at the end of the year, not just Mila or Jensen. Maybe it was a fluke of her just saying me?
On the fourth week, she said, again, said I was what made her most happy. Still feeling sad, I asked her to elaborate and she said, “playing with you.”
Since that fourth week, I haven’t re-asked her what made her happy and accepted this cuteness.
As much as she loves Pizza, her grandparents, Max, and Mickey Mouse, I always find it a little weird that she consistently chooses me as her happiness. Of all the things in the world and her lame mom is her answer.
Honestly, I’m going to love looking back and remembering that I made her smile for weeks in a row. I know one week she won’t say me and that’s okay.
For now though, I guess she’s just a weirdo, with a big heart for her mom.
Kids have amazing imaginations and Mila is no different. She loves to pretend, which makes me happy that she’s so creative and playful.
Sometimes though… she takes it to the next level.
Her favorite thing to pretend to be is a dog. Normal, right? Every kid goes through this stage. It’s fine. But, every morning as of lately, she goes and gets Cookie Crisp and says it’s her dog food. I fill up her bowl and she’ll eat it all.
That’s one way to get your toddler to eat!
Then, she took it one step further. After asking for a bowl of milk, I figured she’d just put her ‘dog food’ in there. Nope. She had to make me laugh and do this.
I wanted to post this yesterday, but, like this story, my Christmas was filled with Mila. This was my final story for my creative writing class this year. I’m proud of it and I wanted to share it with all of you.
I hope all of you had a very, merry Christmas. Enjoy.
My eyes blink open and everything seems so bright. The morning air feels chilly as I search for her in bed.
I realize she’s not here. Being alone can be so scary.
In the mornings, I typically love to cuddle up beside her. She is my safe place. Anytime I’m cold, she warms me up. When afraid, she shows me there’s nothing to fear. The mornings she’s not here, I try to tell myself she hasn’t gone too far.
The longer I wait in her big bed, the more I worry she’s forgotten about me. I let out a little whimper, then I call her name wondering if she’ll hear me.
I hear the sweetest voice coming from the bedroom. Her footsteps start silently and get louder the closer she gets. All morning I’ve been up preparing for this moment.
It’s still snowing outside, as it has all night. My coffee has long been cold, but the hot chocolate on the stove is at the perfect temperature. There are only crumbs on the Santa plate and the milks all gone in the reindeer cup. All her presents are wrapped in shiny, red paper with big bows on top. The fairy lights around the living room and the Christmas tree are shining bright.
There will never be a perfect moment, but this is as close as it’ll get.
She’s running through the doorway at this point and there’s only one thing I can say.
I can’t believe my eyes. Santa came and left presents at my house, just for me. The cookies Mama and I made are all gone and it looks like he loved the milk we left him too.
Mama is smiling at me as she holds her arms open for a hug. This is the safety I was looking for this morning. I look up at her and smile. She looks beautiful with the lights twinkling in her eyes. I tell her Merry Christmas back. I’m still in shock. Santa brought presents and I can’t wait to rip this paper off of them. Mama and I are going to play all day.
When she puts me down, she pours us hot chocolate and I guess I should take a drink first. It tastes extra chocolatey with peppermint! Maybe Santa left some for us.
“Santa brought me presents and hot chocolate!”
The only thing I can do is smile at her. Her innocence and awe of everything in the world has impacted me more than she could ever imagine. She sees the magic around us and I wouldn’t want it differently.
I wonder if she notices the dark circles under my eyes or that my hair hasn’t been brushed. Wrapping presents all night while trying to be quiet was no easy task.
She asks if she can open them up and I nod at her.
With every quick rip of the wrapping paper, she smiles even bigger. The presents she wanted and circled in the Amazon toy book are now in her hands. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her smile bigger.
I pull out my phone to capture this moment.
Mama pulls out her phone again. I don’t know why she’s been on it so much lately. We have plenty to do here, but I say cheese as loud as I can. Can’t she understand that Santa has brought me these presents.
I go back to unwrapping. In the background, I hear her tell me if a present is from her or someone else I know. Between each gift, I look want to figure out how I can get them out, but Mama just tells me to give them to her.
We’re back to being a team.
She gets the first present open and it’s something I’ve never seen before. There’s still presents under the tree, but when Mama explains what this thing does, I want to play with it.
I run to get my snow coat, pants, and shoes. Mama gets my gloves and hat. She puts them all on me and I run out the back door.
The cold air stops me in my tracks. No wonder why I was so cold this morning.
There’s more snow than there was yesterday and it keeps falling. Where is my mama? She will love all this snow.
“Come on, Mama!”
This surprise gift caught her off guard. It’s one I don’t think she’s even ever seen one before. Her face when she saw it out was priceless.
She hurried outside and I have to get warm quick.
I’m moving more slowly than normal; the tiredness form the night is wearing me down. She’s yelling for me as I slip some boots on and wrap my big, winter coat around me. I rush out the door as she’s saying my name more.
It’s so bright out. The fresh snow is crisp under each step. There’s beauty all around me, but I can only look at her.
I lay her gift down and almost naturally she jumped on top of it. The rope feels rough in my hands, but I hold on tight. Its blades cut through the snow and her laugh somehow fills our whole backyard.
Who knew an old school sled could bring a toddler so much fun?
Time went by so fast. All I could hear was her yelling to go faster. I went as fast as I could for as long as I could. When I looked back, her cheeks were red and I knew it was time to go in.
“Let’s go get warmed up.”
My cheeks hurt from smiling and maybe cause it’s cold outside.
Mama scoops me up from my new toy, a sled. Instantly I’m warm again. We go into home and I remember something important.
I try to squirm out of my mama’s arms, but she’s holding me tight. Somehow, I kick enough for her to let me down. She’s saying something to me, but I don’t listen. This is way more important and my mama needs it right now.
Santa didn’t forget about me this morning, but I didn’t see him bring anything for her. She needs to know she’s been a good girl too.
In my room, under the rainbow Christmas tree, I uncover a pretty box. Then I run out to her.
She’s so impatient. As soon as I get her in the house, she has to run off. Now she’s running back in here. There’s something in her hands.
Quickly, she pulls my hand to the couch and as I sit, she puts a box in my hands.
There’s a tag addressed to me in her writing. The present is wrapped with a lot of tape. She looks so proud of her little surprise to me.
I don’t even need to open it. Whatever is inside will be my favorite gift of all time.
This Christmas morning has been full of perfect moments. The dark circles under my eyes feel like they have vanished and the cold has left both of our bodies. I never want to forget this.
She is my safe place and always makes me feel warm. Anytime I’m afraid of what’s going to come next, she helps me realize there’s nothing to fear. She’ll never know how thankful I am for her.
I open the present from her and without even seeing it, I wrap my arms around her and she squeezes back.
When I was in the hospital, all alone, after Jensen has been born, I wondered if his death was a horrible cosmic joke God or some higher being was playing on me. I was angry and sad. The thought of being able to laugh or smile wasn’t even there.
That first week home, it felt like I had huge ear muffs on that mumbled the voices around me. My sight was narrowed like when horses have their blinders on. The world was tumbling inside me, yet it looked ‘normal’ on the outside.
I didn’t know what being numb felt like until he died.
On the day of his funeral… a feeling I wouldn’t wish on anyone crashed all over me. I didn’t want to believe I woke up and today was my child’s funeral. It’s not something you want to accept. I know I sure didn’t. With all my power, I tried to keep stopping time and even trying to turn back. When I got dressed and looked in the mirror, I realized this was the outfit I’d wear to say ‘goodbye.’ I hated it and I’m not even sure what happened to those articles of clothing.
If someone would have told me in that moment I was looking in the mirror that I would laugh later that day, I probably would have wanted to punch them.
His funeral was something I needed. There was a lot of singing, which Jensen would have loved. Our family was there. It felt comforting and horrible at the same time. I think you wouldn’t know this feeling unless someone very close to you has died.
With all the people there, one who said he was coming wasn’t there. I didn’t notice it during the service, but afterwards I did. Obviously, I checked my phone and had missed calls and new text messages from him. There was a miscommunication between the both of us, I admit I wasn’t very clear because my mind was spinning so fast. I told him to come to the lunch that was prepared for us and we’ll talk when he got there.
I heard the door open and my friend’s footsteps coming in. He sat down at the table I was at with my mom and dad, I’m not sure who else was sitting there. I told him the funeral was as nice as it could be and he was nodding intently, I could tell he felt really bad for not making it.
Then he said, I went to the wrong funeral.
He explained he thought Jensen’s funeral was at the funeral home, not the church. When he went there, there was a lot of people, but he didn’t see me or my family. He was confused, but just thought they were consoling me somewhere else. Through a conversation with someone who was there, he found out he was at a woman’s funeral who died of cancer and at that point he realized he was at the wrong place.
After hearing the story, I just started laughing. I’m sure everyone who didn’t hear the story thought I was just snapping completely. How insane would it be to just end up at the wrong funeral? I just imagined how uncomfortable it would be to go to your best friend’s son’s funeral only to be at a completely different person’s.
It was the first time I laughed since he was born and it did feel like a little bit of medicine.
I’m not sure the next time I laughed, but with time I didn’t feel guilty. Guilt is one of the hardest things to juggle after losing your child, amongst the obvious. There was so much guilt about smiling, laughing, or even having a good day. It’s almost like if someone saw you in an okay mood, they might think you were ‘over it.’
The thing is Jensen wants me to smile and laugh; just like any child would want their parents. As soon as I realized I don’t have to explain or validate my feelings to anyone else throughout my grief journey, the more I was able to focus on what got me through the days and weeks and months.
That first laugh helped and it still gets me to this day.
One of the scariest things about starting up school again is that dreaded question: do you have any kids? I’ll never not share Jensen to someone who asks. So my answer is always yes, I have a son. I am so proud of him and his life, I’ll share more about him if they press on. The part that scares me is their look of helplessness when I say he died.
Admittedly, I’m just doing online classes right now, but it still gets brought up. Instead of not mentioning him, I tell our story. It’s shaped me into the person who I am today and he has inspired me to go back to school.
I wanted to share with you all how I introduced Jensen to my classes. Sometimes it’s hard to find the right words to say, but maybe this will help someone else.
Honestly, I was nervous that I would get negative responses. I didn’t really think I would, but there’s always a fear of hurtful words after you share something so vulnerable. Instead, I was welcomed with supportive comments. I was so thankful and happy I could share Jensen with others who don’t know his story.
Somehow, I wonder how I’m strong enough to keep sharing and going on. I think of Jensen and what he’d want for me, but also being able to share here with you all. You’ve given me the strength to keep telling my story and advocating for all our children. Everyday I live hoping to change the world into a more sympathetic and understanding one. It starts with all of us sharing and letting others know it’s okay to grieve. Just like it’s okay to talk about our children (and family members) gone too soon.