Four

Four. Today you should be turning 4. There should be balloons and cake and presents and a trip to one of your favorite places. I wonder what that would be… There should be lots of giggles and hugs and sweet birthday wishes for our getting so big too fast birthday boy. Instead I’m here, just missing you like every other day. Wishing I could give you the biggest birthday hug and tell you how much I love you and that no matter how big you are getting you will always be my baby while I cover your sweet face in kisses that I’m sure you would do your best to wiggle away from. Someday, just know we will have a lifetime of hugs and kisses to makeup. I love you, my sweet boy. I miss you. Happy 4th Birthday!

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The Cardinal

Tuesday night, after work, on my way to pick up Madeline from daycare, I found myself in tears.  I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that I have to pass two cemeteries on my way home each day.  The cemetery where my Joshua is buried and the cemetery where my Grandma Jones is buried (along with my Grandpa and cousin).  Most days I have to really just focus on the road, staring straight ahead, and refusing to let my gaze linger over where I know they are.  It takes a lot to not want to stop every day and just linger.

So on Tuesday, I let my eyes drift over to where I knew they were and the tears fell hard.

These days, I’m mostly good.  I usually have a moment or two that nearly breaks me each day, but I am generally able to hold it together.

Then there are days like Tuesday.  Days where the weight of the loss is just far too much to bear and the grief washes over me and I find myself torn between a state of shock that this is really a part of my life and just complete devastation that this is part of my life.

Grief is such a strange thing.  It is constantly changing shape and form.  Some days it is easy to push aside and other days it comes at me with hurricane force winds and knocks me down.

I changed the channel on the radio.  Maybe a change of song would help hurry this grief storm along.

“I am not alone
I am not alone
You will go before me
You will never leave me

In the midst of deep sorrow
I see Your light is breaking through
The dark of night will not overtake me
I am pressing into You
Lord, You fight my every battle
And I will not fear”

I was nearly to Madeline’s daycare now.  I really needed to pull myself together.  I couldn’t very well go inside with tears running down my face.

That’s when I saw it.

A bright red cardinal.

Right there in the middle of the street.

It’s been awhile since I’ve talked about signs from Joshua, but Tuesday, that cardinal, that was him.  I just know it.

2 Years Without Him

I’m sitting here watching the Academy Awards with Patrick and Madeline. My mind keeps flashing back to 2 years ago, sitting in the hospital room, absentmindedly watching the Oscars trying to feel “normal.” We ordered pizza and sat there staring at the tv. I let the mix of pain meds and Xanax take over and fell asleep somewhere in the middle. All I wanted was to get out of that hospital. To get away from that nightmare. I wanted desperately to feel normal.

Thing is nothing has ever been “normal” since this day 2 years ago. This is one of those days that I wish I could just black out on the calendar and pretend it doesn’t exist.

But it does.

Two years ago this morning, I held my son for the first time and the last time all at once. I watched my sweet husband do the same.

I woke up this morning and the scene looped in my mind. I could almost sense his tiny weight in my arms. I could smell his sweet baby smell and feel his tiny head of hair against my cheek.

I’m grateful that I can remember what he looked like. What he felt like. But, oh, how those memories hurt.

So tonight, like every night, I remember Joshua and try to remember that the pain is great because the love is great.

Two Years

Dear Sweet Joshua,

Today you would be 2 years old.

I want nothing more than to be planning a birthday party. Probably TMNT themed thanks to your dad’s influence. I want to bake you a cake and watch you blow out the candles.

I want to spoil you with presents and shower you with kisses as you giggle and try to wiggle out of my arms.

I want to hug you tight and tell you the story of how you were born.

I want to watch you play with trucks and cars and pretend that you are Batman here to save us all.

I want to tell you how much I love you and hear your sweet voice say that you love me too.

My sweet angel boy, I want you to know how proud I am of you. Maybe that seems silly to say, but I am. I proud of you. You, in your short 36 hours on earth, touched so many lives. Your footprint may have been tiny and your life far too short, but your impact was huge. Your life mattered and I will make sure that it continues to matter so long as I am breathing.

My child, my son, I love you. I know these days it seems like I am so busy with your little sister, but there has yet to be a day or a moment where I am not thinking of you.

Sometimes I think she sees you. She will stare and babble and giggle at nothing for several minutes. I like to think it’s you coming to play with her. I do pray that it’s you she is seeing. I will make sure she knows all about you, dear boy. You are, after all, her big brother and that is a very important person for her to know.

This last year has been harder than the first without you. This year we watched your little sister grow and play and smile and say mama and dada all of the things we wish more than anything we could have watched you do too. Madeline has made losing you feel even more real.

Sometimes I dress her in onesies and jammies that we had bought for you. I hope you don’t mind.

I love you. I love you. I love you, sweet baby. I miss you so very much. My soul aches and longs to hold you in my arms and cuddle you close.

Happy 2nd Birthday, Joshua Patrick.

Have your Great Grandma Jones bake you a cake today. I bet the birthday parties in Heaven are amazing.

Love you always and forever,

Momma

Surviving

I feel like this week is going to suffocate me. I see those dates on my calendar and I just want to hide under the covers until March.

I’ve been feeling these days coming for weeks. Now they are here.

How exactly do you honor your child’s 2nd birthday when he is not here to celebrate it?

So far the fear and dread of this year feels worse than last.

It’s like getting to know Madeline has only further shown me exactly what we missed with Joshua.

Dear Lord,

Just get me through these next few days.

There Should Be More

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All my life I was raised to be grateful for what I had. This was especially true at Christmas. I may not have always gotten every gift that I had on my wish list, but my mom worked hard to ensure that my Christmas was always magical.

I know we live in a society that is always seeking more and I certainly don’t want to raise my daughter thinking that more gifts is what makes Christmas special. I want to teach her what is truly important about this season: Jesus, family, and love.

That being said, this year I can’t help but wish for more.

There should be one more stocking hung with care.

There should be one more pair of Christmas PJs carefully picked to match baby sister’s.

There should be cars and trucks and blocks wrapped in pretty paper with blue bows.

There should be more laughter and noise filling our house.

There should be more little foot steps running down the hall.

There should be more beautiful chaos, more excited voices, more bright eyes all aglow.

There should be more sticky fingers covered in icing and sprinkles as we decorate cookies.

There should be more sweater vests and bow ties.

There should be more.

I am so grateful beyond measure for our Madeline, but there should be more.

There should be Joshua.

So for those with aching hearts, missing your child, your parent, your grandparent, your spouse, your friend, I give you permission to wish for more this year. Be grateful for your blessings, but it is okay to acknowledge that your greatest wish is just one more moment with that missing piece of your heart.

I pray you all have a beautiful and peaceful Christmas and that 2015 is full of many blessings and joy.

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Just Barely

I’m barely hanging on.

I know this.  It’s been like this for months.  The weather got cold and suddenly it felt like February 22nd all over again.  I feel like I’m stuck in my own awful version of Groundhog Day.  Reliving those moments over and over again every time I’m alone for a minute.

I cry in the shower.  I sob in the car.  I just can’t shut my mind off no matter how hard I try to refocus.

I am so thankful for our beautiful daughter, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss our son with every breath I take.

I’m sure its the rapidly approaching winter and the holidays that it brings with it that have worn me down.

Thanksgiving 2 years ago was the day we announced that we were having a boy. This Christmas has me acutely aware of what we are missing.