Sunday, April 28, 2013

My Mask

The glue holding my mask firmly in place has gotten stronger over the last 10+ months.  Early on, my mask had a shelf life of minutes.  I could only keep it on in spurts and it fell off easily if I hit a bump, the wind blew in the wrong direction or the flood gates opened.  But over time, the glue has strengthened.  It takes a strong gust or a significant bump to completely knock my mask off.  It is getting to be fairly water resistant.  The problem with my mask however, is that wearing it is still just as exhausting as ever. 
The mask hides what I feel on the inside from the world but it doesn’t take away the pain I still feel every day.    That’s the problem with the mask.  It doesn’t keep me shielded from the hurt.  My heart still aches and every day I am forced to continue my life without the best part of it.  No mask will ever help me forget what I am missing.  It may help others feel better, but it doesn’t bring me any peace.

I’ve been finding that I keep my mask on so tight through the week so that I can make it through work and my daily routine that I try to repress the pain.  At work, I work I force myself to push through and I force my thoughts to other places when they wander.  I get through most days at work fairly well.  But slowly as the week progresses, the pit in my stomach grows and grows.  Saturdays generally are full of busy tasks to get myself out of the house and keep my mind busy as well.  But as Saturday continues, the glue holding the mask on wears thin.  And by Sunday, my mask is all but off.  Sundays are the worse day for me.  The reality of another week gone catches up with me, guilt sets in and I generally lose it enough to make up for the entire week.
This weekend the guilt has hit me hard.  I’ve forced myself to be so focused at work and busy at home that in the last week I visited the cemetery only twice.  I feel like I am continually forcing my thoughts to anything but Avery so that I get through each day.  I feel like I don’t think of her enough.  I feel like my mask is keeping me from remembering her.  I feel like a bad mom. 

How do you find a happy medium?  When I didn’t wear my mask, I wasn’t able to work, I didn’t leave the house, I didn’t function at all.  But now, my mask allows me to function but the guilt is tearing me up on the inside.  How do I function but not feel guilty?  I wish there were a GPS to help me navigate this road I am being forced down.  I’m not doing so well on my own. 

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Butterfly

I was honored to attend our cousin, Shelby's 9th grade reading this week. The students were tasked with writing and performing a poem. Shelby wrote of her bond with Avery, a cousin she only met via I-Message. I am still in awe of the talent of such a beautiful, young woman. I am so proud of the young woman she is becoming and so proud of my Avery who continues to touch the lives of those around us. Again I am reminded that Avery's memory will continue on as she watches us from above.

written by Shelby Beach

She started as a caterpillar;
a tiny, nearly complete creature,
growing and developing
until metamorphosis took hold.
The wings she grew were
a bright, vivid pink
so different from the others.
Treasured and adored.
She symbolizes love,
and the whole hearts
of those who crossed paths with her,
whether it was during
the nine months in the womb
or the six days she spent with us.
Because, you see,
this is no ordinary butterfly.
This is my butterfly.
The one I watched
grow and develop,
who was a princess
to the family that was mainly princes.
Who defined for me
unrefined beauty,
and just how capable my heart is
of loving someone,
though even someone so new,
and so small.
The trouble with butterflies though
is their time spent in the garden is short.
They come along,
Jump from flower to flower,
Family member to family member,
Pollinating so as to
Bud something within our hearts…
Then they fly from us
as quickly as they arrived.
She landed on Earth,
captivated everyone simply by existing,
then, using her ornate wings,
ascended to the angels.
But there remains the memory
of the caterpillar growing,
breaking free of the cocoon.
There’s always her,
emerging as a beautiful little girl;
her perfect, tiny features,
though stolen from my eyes
too soon.
There's always her.
As long as these live on,
I will continue the life she began,
until the day we can fly together...
pink wings,
connected by a blue sky
and a cousinly bond
that will never separate us.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Right Path

In a moment the path you thought you were on suddenly forks. On the right path the gravel is smoothed out, there are some bumps but they are spread out making it easy to navigate. On this path the sun shines brightly through the tall, strong trees. It's not always sunny on this path but the rain doesn't come frequently and dissipates quickly. There are birds chirping, flowers blooming and butterflies fluttering in the breeze.

The other path is overgrown, clearly less traveled. The pathway is full of sharp jagged rocks, deep holes and many steep hills. The trees are thick and the sunlight is blocked out by the storm clouds that always linger. Weeds grow and mosquitoes swarm on this path.

The fork lies in front of you. Do you go down the smooth path or the dark path? Common sense would tell us to take the right path. This is the path I decided to take. But what would you do if as soon as you decided to take that path you were stopped, forced to take the other path?

The path you want more than anything lies before you yet you aren't allowed to take it. It's within your grasp, you can feel the sun on your face, warming your insides. You can hear the birds singing, bringing a smile to your face. And you can see the butterflies dancing, giving you hope. But you cannot enter.

Both paths lead you to your destination. A predetermined place unbeknownst to you but to get there you are forced to take the dark path. You fight with all of your might to take the right path but it is out of your hands. You beg, plead, cry out to be allowed to take the right path but cannot. Others enter down the path with no problems, joyful and happy.

You are extradited to the dark path. You are forced to carefully navigate through the deep holes, the jagged rocks and the many hills. This path leaves scars and bruises. This path is painful. This path is exhausting. All you can think of is the path YOU want to take. You hate this path. You resent those on the path you desire. This path separates you. This path sets you apart. By taking this path, you will never be the same. The glimpse of the right path fills your thoughts and its all you desire, so you continue to battle, slowly forcing yourself over every hill, pulling yourself out of every hole and watching your wounds bleed and slowly scab over just to be ripped open again and again.

This path is not my choice, it's the one I've been given. I hate this path but I'm not a quitter so I will push on. I'll slowly find my way. No matter how long it takes, no matter how many times I bleed, I will continue my path and I will forever be changed because of this journey.

I don't know where this path leads but I will continue on my journey and I will never forget the glimpse I saw of the right path and I will hope that eventually this path will cross the right path.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

They melt my heart

Today I want to recognize Avery's awesome cousins. She has the best cousins. And even though they are young, they each still remember and love her. Today after church they all came to the cemetery with us. They helped me arrange new flowers for her and spent time exploring the older graves. They find it so interesting reading dates from the 1700's on the stones. I often wonder what goes through their heads, especially when it comes to Avery. They were supposed to teach her baseball not visit her grave. They are still so innocent and often say and do the sweetest things.

They truly melt my heart.

Today, Tanner who just turned 7 was baptized. Tanner is the cousin with the softest heart. He loves encouraging others and hates seeing people upset. Before he was baptized he told his Papaw, "I'm excited I get to go see Avery in Heaven one day." He also likes pink iced donuts because the pink reminds him of Avery and wants a tattoo of Avery's name just like my husband.

Tanner has two brothers Vaughn and Cannon who also talk about Avery all the time and they wear their pink polos often in memory of her. For Easter they all left cute handwritten cards to her at the cemetery.

Then there's Jackson and Tucker. They were the last two, other than my husband and I, to hold Avery. Jackson is only 3 and loves matchbox cars. He now has a pink one that he calls his "Avery car." And even when not paying attention to the conversation, if he hears Avery mentioned, he asks, "baby Avery?" Tucker loves Avery too. He's helped write her name in the sand at the beach and in cars for us. And has helped Papaw pick out flowers for her, he found baby's breath to be appropriate, after all she is just a baby.

Did I mention, these boys melt my heart?

All of these little guys remember their littlest cousin who they all only met twice. If you ask where she is, they will tell you she's in heaven with Jesus. I often wonder over the years how this will affect them. They've watched us fall apart and slowly start to pick up the pieces. They've cried at her funeral and now play around her grave.

For the longest time I worried people would slowly forget her. After reflecting today over how much her cousins think of her, I'm reminded yet again that forgetting her will be impossible for anyone to do. Today I'm thankful for these little guys who melt my heart with their love for their little cousin.

Tucker, Cannon, Vaughn and Tanner (Jackson not pictured)

Thursday, April 18, 2013

See You Again

Most days I can control my breakdowns. I can talk about Avery without the tears falling from my eyes. I can tell her story to strangers and remain strong. I'm at a different place than I was just a few months ago. I'm stronger. But there are times when something completely knocks me down.

I heard a song yesterday for the first time and the tears were instantly soaking my cheeks yet I couldn't bring myself to change the station. Every lyric weighed heavily on my heart. It brought me back to my memories of the day Avery left us and the day of her funeral; when I was forced to say goodbye. But at same time, I found comfort because I know I will see Avery again. She is my light, my stars, my tomorrow and one day we will be together forever. What a song.

See You Again-Carrie Underwood

Said goodbye, turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone
Faded into the setting sun,
Slipped away
But I won’t cry
Cause I know I’ll never be lonely
For you are the stars to me,
You are the light I follow

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again

I can hear those echoes in the wind at night
Calling me back in time
Back to you
In a place far away
Where the water meets the sky
The thought of it makes me smile
You are my tomorrow

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again

Sometimes I feel my heart is breaking
But I stay strong and I hold on cause I know
I’ll see you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, yeah yeah

I’ll See you again, oh
This is not where it ends
I will carry you with me, oh
Till I see you again
Till I see you again,
Till I see you again,
Said goodbye turned around
And you were gone, gone, gone.

Sunday, April 14, 2013


Maybe it's that Avery's 6 days of the month have just come to a close and I spent them extremely busy at work and I feel like I pushed my thoughts and emotions down deep during those 6 days. Or maybe it's the fact that her birthday is right around the corner. Whatever the cause, today the anxiety is creeping up. I felt it as soon as I woke up. I tried to get ready for church but I want sure I could handle keeping my mask on around others. I wasn't sure I'd be able to keep myself together if someone came in with their baby. The feeling is suffocating. I don't want to stay home but I don't know if I can handle the inevitable triggers if I go out. My head is spinning, my chest is tight and my heart is heavy.

I HATE this. I hate feeling like its better for me and those around me if I just stay home. I HATE that 10 months later, these days still exist. I HATE that I even have to have days like this. They should be full of happiness. Not this. And I hate knowing that so many beautiful women I've met on this journey have days like this.

There is no point to this post I guess. I'm just having a bad morning and needed to get it out.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Illuminate: Letter Hunt-Embrace

My goal over the next year is to embrace life.  The past 10 months have taught me that no amount of planning can keep your future going as you imagined.  A year ago today, I would have told you I would be planning a one year olds birthday party, I would be entering into toddler territory and I would be mothering my daughter.  So much can change in a second, a minute, an hour, a day, a week, a month, a year.
This past year has left me battered, bruised and scarred yet I’ve survived.  I find it hard to hold on to hope that things will go as I imagine, I find it hard to trust that things will be OK, I find it hard to look forward to anything, I find it hard to imagine my future.  In the last 10 months, I feel I’ve lost so much of who I am.  Some parts I will never find again but others are slowly coming back to me.  I can see beauty again and smile without guilt.  It’s hard to look to the future because I am so afraid of being hurt again.

A year from now I would love to have the joy back in my life that Avery brought to me.  I would love to have a sibling for Avery to watch over.  I would love to get to be a mom again.  There is A LOT standing between me and where I would love to be.  To get to that place, I need to face my fears and embrace them.  I need to embrace the fact that I am not in control.  I need to embrace my faith and turn my worries over to God.  I need to embrace hope, hope that I will feel that joy again.  I need to embrace my sorrow, tears and grief as reminders of my deep, never ending love for Avery.  I need to embrace every joyful time and the challenging times. 
A year from now, I hope to be able to look back and say that whatever the year has brought me, I have fully embraced each second, minute, hour, day, week and month that I am given.  Whether or not my life looks the way that I imagine, I hope to embrace every moment for the good and bad.  We are only given one life, and the only way to fully live it is to embrace every moment. 

Saturday, April 6, 2013

He misses her too

10 months ago today was the best day of my life. I held my daughter for the first time and life was perfect. For the last 9 months and 3 weeks, my arms have been empty. Every night since June 12th I've slept with the pajamas and blanket Avery wore the last night she had here on Earth. Instead of leaving the hospital with her that morning, I left with these two things. No matter here I go, these items come with me. I feel secure with them in my arms.

Today, when I woke up instead of folding and placing these items on my dresser, I folded them and placed them on my pillow. This afternoon, my husband came out of our bedroom to ask if I moved them close to where the dog was sleeping. Confused, I replied I hadn't touched these items since the morning. He called me into our bedroom to show me why he asked. Our dog was cuddled up with her pajamas and was resting his head on her blanket. The craziest part was that fact that he wasn't laying on my side of the bed on my pillow where I last left the items. He had somehow moved them to my husbands side of the bed without unfolding them too much.

He looked sad and peaceful all at the same time laying there with her pajamas and blanket. He misses his sister too. It was heartbreaking and heartwarming all in one. Either way, our sweet dog made Avery's 10 month birthday a day I shall not forget.

Thursday, April 4, 2013

Inside the thoughts of this grieving mom

One thing that seems to be a constant on this journey is how easily I can become angry, bitter and jealous. I become infuriated at life and at this unfair world. It doesn't take much to push me over the edge and to someone outside this babyloss community, these thoughts may make me seem crazy. And I probably am, but these are where my thoughts go so often these days...

When I hear the woman in front of me at the cashier in Target tell the cashier she needs to wait at least 5 years longer to have kids when she thinks she's ready because kids are nothing but money pits (while she's carrying a designer bag and wearing lots of jewelry)...

...I think how I would gladly have money pit at home and that this woman doesn't deserve the blessings she's been given if she's going to be so ungrateful. Grief is a money pit too at least children enrich lives.

When I am forced to watch a beautiful little girl playing with her father, who gave up parental rights so that he could do drugs, and now gets to see her when its convenient for him...

...I think how it is complete bull shit that someone who can't get their act together gets to have the best of both worlds. He gets to see her when it works for him, gets to live the awful life he wants and oh yea, he now has another healthy baby at home. Seriously?!? WTF. I find it hard to bite my tongue.

When I see on Facebook parents complaining over and over and over again about their fussy children and lack of sleep...

...I think about how I would gladly wear bags under my eyes and have an extra large coffee every morning to have Avery be at home fussy and keeping me awake. I would love to actually have her in my arms when I cannot sleep instead of my memories of her and that awful day keeping me awake. I have bags under my eyes and nothing to show for it.

When I hear parents complaining about their lack of adult time...

...I want to scream! I was ready to give up adult time, girls nights and dates. I would do anything to NOT just be with adults.

I know many would say that had Avery still been here these things wouldn't bother me. And to some point that is probably true. I know I may sound judgmental but this is how I honestly feel. The loss of a child changes the way you look at everything. As much as I try, these type of things get under my skin. I end up angry, cursing and normally sobbing. This is my life. These are my thoughts. And as crazy as they may be I cannot help my bitterness, anger or jealousy.

My hope is that if you are on the same journey and feel these things too, you'll know you aren't alone and if you haven't experienced a loss this will give you a little insight to the thought process of a grieving mother or at least this grieving mother.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Illuminate Week 3: 100 steps

This week’s lesson involved taking 100 steps and creating a photo wherever it is you end up.  This assignment forced me to open my eyes to the little things that are before us every day but easily overlooked.  This assignment has helped me to continue to find beauty in everyday life.  My 100 steps generally were within my own home/property.  All taken on different days.

Today, I am grateful for…

…the ability to find beauty all around me, there was a time not so long ago that I could find no beauty in life;

…the symbolism in the items I photographed in this assignment, I like to think of them as gifts from Avery;

…taking this course which is helping me branch out, think outside the box and allowing me to put my energy into something which is truly helping me heal.

"Never lose an opportunity of seeing anything that is beautiful; for beauty is God's handwriting - a wayside sacrament." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson

A heart rock found on the sidewalk.  Taken with my I-phone
3 heart leaves found in the rocks in my front yard, one for each of us in our
little family.  Taken with my I-phone.
A cardinal and it's nest, in my backyard.  I had never
noticed the nest until the bird flew in front of me.
As I took the picture, my husband said, "you know
they say cardinals are signs that your loved ones
are thinking about you." Didn't know that.  Thanks
Avery!  Taken with my point and shoot.
My dog's perspective on life.  He's always taking in the beauty of life. 
Taken with my point and shoot