Sunday, May 19, 2013

It is still his

In 2012, when we found out that Duncan would share his birthday with our fourth-born, it was easier, emotionally, to push the significance of that to the back burner, and say, “we’ll just figure out what that looks like next year.”

Well, guess what?  It’s next year.

And, undoubtedly, I have been wrestling in my spirit.  May 19 is James’ birthday.  His FIRST birthday.  It’s a big deal.

But May 19 is Duncan’s birthday.  And has been for FOUR years.  This is a day that has been sacred to me and to my family.  So while I am indeed emotional that when I pick up James out of his crib on Sunday morning, he will have turned that magical corner from baby to toddler, I can’t help but feel that Sunday is still more about Duncan.

You see, I actively love and parent James EVERY DAY.  EVERY day is James’.  And Seth’s.  And Erin’s.  EVERY day I am actively their mommy.  Doing and being and working for them.  Acknowledging them.  So while their BIRTH DAY is a chance to pause and celebrate the day they came into this world, I don’t think the day itself is as significant for them as it is when it comes to Duncan.

May 19 is the ONE DAY a year that I feel an impossible desire to be actively aware of him.  To celebrate him.  To remember him.  It is his day.  It is HIS.  Not his alone, but his, predominantly.

At least this year.


This is hard.

I don’t know what May 19 will look like in the years to come when James is aware that it is his birthday.  I hope he is as easy-going as Seth and Erin; they don’t care if they are celebrated on their ACTUAL birth date.  As long as there is cake and balloons and presents at some point, they’re good.

But for now….

For this year….

For today….

I choose to make it about Duncan.

Gregory 11

Do you see it?

We had portraits taken in March.  I hadn’t shared this picture yet because I had grand plans to have prints done in time for Mother’s Day.  (FAIL.  Oops.)  But, it’s time.  Because it is a perfect picture.

That is my quartet.  My three sons and my sweet girl.  This side of heaven, that photo is the closest I will ever get to having my children all gathered together.  I adore it.

My big boy, who breaks and mends my heart a dozen times a day.

My bean.  The girl I didn’t know what to do with, but who is my brightest joy.

My baby.  The caboose that healed the piece of me that thought the “baby brother” dream had died with Duncan.

And my precious, missed-every-day miracle, right there in the mix.  Those one-pound-1o-ounce footprints, right in the middle of the beauty that is my children.

I realize this post has been poorly drafted.  Execution hasn’t been my strong suit as of late.  But it is my heart.  May 19, 2013. It’s Duncan’s fourth birthday.  Today is about him.  About how he changed me.  My marriage.  My parenting.  How he made me a better person.  Wife.  Mommy.  Friend.  Today is about him and all that he was and all that I’d have wanted him to be.   He is so loved, and so missed, and if the only way I can shout that out is in this little corner of the blogosphere, than so be it.  This is me shouting…


Happy birthday, baby.

I miss you.

I wish you were here.  I wish I were making you a birthday cake and sticking a bow on a big boy bike and changing sheets on a bunk bed that was yours and yours alone.  I wish I had known on that night four years ago how much I’d miss you today.  I would have done some things differently.  I’m glad that I have the IDEA that I’ll have eternity to “make it up to you,” and even more glad that I know the TRUTH that it won’t matter, once we are finally together again.

I wish the swing set Gramp-e just bought had to be bigger, to accommodate 4 swings, not just 3.  I wish I were preoccupied with keeping you from climbing trees instead of picking one out to plant for you (here in Ohio).

I wish I’d told you just one more time that I’m sorry I wished you away.  I wish I’d planned better for our time with you.  I wish I’d taken off the onesie they put you in so that I could see your tiny feet.  I wish Wednesday morning had taken a little bit longer to come, so that goodbye didn’t have to be said so soon.


Wishing won’t make it so, and that’s okay.

I know you are in the best place.  I know that while I may have failed you during those days in 2009, I think I’ve done a pretty bang-up job where you are concerned since then.  People know I’m your mommy.  I take every chance I get to speak your name and honor your place in our hearts and home.  I love you, Apple Jack, and so do others.

I would give almost anything to go back and hold you for just one more moment.  But until Heaven reunites us, know you are forever in my heart….

I love you.  I love you. I love you.  I love you.



Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Rock Star

I was standing in my kitchen earlier today, and this image flashed on my computer screen:

I had Pandora open on my browser, and as I stared at the picture, the familiar sounds of "na-na-na-nah-na-nah-na, I''m gonna start a fight!" met my ears.

Earlier this week, I read through some of Duncan's story, and one of the lines that most struck me was from the Labor & Delivery chapter:
I pushed – twice only – and the doctor announced, “he’s perfect.  He’s beautiful.”  And Jim wiped his eyes, and reached for the scissors, and cut the cord that had carried, and then failed, Duncan’s life.  We were no longer connected, my baby and me, and my head fell back on the pillows and my mind went blank.
And then, in that post, I went on to write that in the darkness, I heard a refrain:
So what, I'm still a rock star;  
I got my rock moves,  
And I don't need you.
And guess what?  
I'm havin’ more fun,  
And now that we’re done  
I'm gonna show you,

Tonight, I'm alright,  
I'm just fine…..
I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.
I have heard this song countless times, both before the birth of my sweet son, and in the four years (FOUR YEARS!?) since, but as I read what I'd penned during the catharsis of his story-telling, I saw them in a completely new and breathtaking context.

I began to associate the line "...and I don't need you" in the chorus with what I'd written about Jim cutting the umbilical cord that night: "We were no longer connected, my baby and me."

And with that new association was one of the sweetest moments I've had since that night.  Up until this point, it had been hard not to focus on the I-failed-him/my-body-failed-to-sustain-him aspect of Duncan's death.  But now.  Oh!  The peace that flooded my heart with once again seeing and believing the truth that he doesn't need me any longer, for he is in a far better place than here on earth!  For even with all the love I have for him, I'd still be raising him in a broken and hurting world.  He would still be human, and would still sin, and would still need to come to the knowledge of a just God and the saving grace of His Son.

But my sweet boy has never known the truth of this world, only the wonder of heaven, and the words in this chorus took on a whole new life for me this week.  Can you hear him?  Can you hear him whispering to me that night, and on so many nights since?

Mommy, guess what?  
I'm havin’ more fun, (more fun that you can even imagine!)

And now that we’re done
(and it's okay that we're "done;" you did your job for every day you carried and loved me)  
I'm gonna show you,

Tonight, I'm alright, (better than alright, even!)
I'm just fine…..

I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.  I'm just fine.
(Finer than you could ever dream for me.  I'm perfect now...!)

Oh, dear can't imagine the moment of revelation I had sitting in my living room Tuesday night.  Seriously.  I'm still in awe of the gift of this new "translation" of this song.  (Granted, I'm not stupid; the other 97% of this song does not in any way fit the context of my new interpretation!  But, still.  I can't undo the fact that this is the song he was birthed to, so...there you have it.)


I just felt that I should share this.  I know recent posts -- and most likely, in a few more to come -- there is predominantly sadness and missing.  Because, oh, OH, how I miss him.  I hear Seth talk about his baby brother (ie, James) and my throat aches with the unsaid words, "but he wasn't your first baby brother."  I can't not wonder who he would have been, what he would have looked like, who he would have taken after, what he would have loved to do.... I can't help but still feel that I have a family of 6, and he is the absent puzzle piece.


He is alright.  More than alright.  He's just fine.

And I will be, too.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


This is how I'm feeling today:


Deflated. The sun is shining behind me, but I can't help but note the dark skies ahead.

It's coming home from a party to find a text from my mother that reads, "Grandpa in congestive heart failure.  In ICU.  Will keep you posted."

It's Duncan.  Today is the 14th.  The 14th was the last day that I know that I know that I know I felt him kick.  Tomorrow is the 15th, and the 15th marks the day that I KNEW.  I just knew.

It's Seth.  It's his recent obsession with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and his new "I'm gonna kill you with [insert whatever weapon du jour]" vocabulary.  It's the age, I guess.  But it's so dang hard.

It's James.  And the final days of his babyhood slipping away..... ***sob***  It's that only 4 of the 12 families that RSVPed "yes" to his birthday party actually came, and, yep, here come my insecurities of "I, and now we, don't matter."  Blergh.

It's Tiffany, and her ankle, and my inability to fix it.  It's also watching her meet people and make new friends...and it's unavoidable that there be some who have lacking social skills, and inadvertently confuse her and upset me.

It's a recent break-in around the corner in our subdivision, and the feelings of helplessness that stirs up.  And the reminder that sometimes it is just stuff.  And sometimes, it is SO MUCH MORE.

It's the stupid scale, and numbers that are going the wrong direction despite healthy choices and only minor cheats (with leftover gluten and dairy free smash cake, no less!).

It's May.  And yes, while May means birthday celebrations and Mother's Day and Memorial Day ushering in summer....for me, it's MAY and the connotation is too great to even voice.

I want to come back and do justice to Erin and her third birthday, and of course James' and his wonderful celebration and just his first, amazing year, in general.  Yet....I'm in my quiet place, and I think, like each year, it just needs to run its course and play out how it will play out.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

My parallel life is in Durango, CO

So, y'all.


I've talked about, praised, and linked to her before.  Because she is all sorts of funny and honest and awesome and there are few women more special to me on this across-the-miles-together mommy journey I'm on than she.

She wrote something today, and it is pretty close to verbatim to what I could write about Seth.  I alluded to it yesterday (with the whole "why I want to look him in a tower" reference).

So....since I'm out of original material today, getting all cake-frosted and having giant punch balloons pop in my face and all, I'm just sending you over to her.

Read. Appreciate.  Pray for her.  (And me.  And every other pre-school momma you know with a firstborn son who, OMG, is a hot mess 9 times out of 10 these days.)

And then go back and read some of her archives. Because, seriously, y'all:  FUNNNNNY.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Random mid-May word vomit

  • May 9: one year ago today, I had my maternity pictures taken, and was blissfully unaware of the drama that was going to unfold the next day, and in the days to follow.  I can honestly say, it was the last day that things were "normal" for me, and I'm feeling a little melancholic at that revelation.
  • Seth's independence and fearlessness is going to get him kidnapped and/or killed.  It is a legitimate fear of mine in recent days.  He has taken to wandering off in stores, leaving the house with no preamble, riding his bike across streets and down through the subdivision.  Please, don't judge.  We are working on finding a solution that doesn't involve locking him in a tower room.  Lord knows, he'd just find a way to dig out/repel down/mentally transport from it, anyway.
  • I'm second guessing our decision to have my tubes tied during my c-section last spring.  With James' fast-approaching birthday, I'm painfully aware that my days as a mother to an infant are numbered.  And it's not even that I adore the newborn baby stage; it just feels uncomfortable that I'm going back to a world of tampons and heating pads instead of pregnancy tests and prenatals.
  • Tiffany sprained her ankle -- and I use the term "sprain" loosely, as we are still waiting on X-ray findings -- and I'm completely preoccupied with her discomfort.  I want to just make it better, and I can't, and it is a new place to be in for me.  I'm not her mom, so I don't want to hover and belittle and make her feel anything less than able to handle it herself, but man.... even moreso than when Erin had her surgery or when James has had to endure testing, etc., this is a "boo boo" that doesn't have an easy fix or a known end date.
  • Jim and I are ships passing in the night, if that.  I have vague recollections of kisses goodnight and goodbye, but mostly, we are exchanging texts and emails regarding all the various details of the balls we have in the air right now.  I'm not sure what we can do in this particular season to reconnect and/or stay connected, but it, too, is weighing on my heart.
  • I'm feeling very restless when it comes to all things Duncan related this year.  I don't know what to do/what I want to do to honor his birthday/homegoing.  I know I don't want to ignore it, but I don't know how to approach it, either.  I hate so very much not being near his tree.  So much so that I'm seriously thinking maybe we need to discuss burying his urn and getting a marker....?  I don't know.  I'm really sad that I don't have a "place" to go here in Ohio that feels like "his."
  • Random projects and "wants" around our house have me feeling impatient.  I want to fence the backyard, power sand and repaint the front bench, update the chest in the kitchen, make a Lego table to Seth, do something with the builder grade mirror we removed from the upstairs bath, hang the magazine holder in the master bathroom, get our office clutter under control.
  • I'm disappointed that I'm taking the time to blog tonight, but not "write," because I'm at that "I don't know where to start" point, and so I'm just throwing words on the screen in an attempt to clear my head.
  • Speaking of clearheadedness.....I haven't had it in a while.  So fuzzy.  Everything has been so fuzzy now for a few months, and I don't know if it is just sleep deprivation, the diet change, or what.
  • I had dreams about killer tornadoes, unmanned garage sales, and premature births last night.  Have no clue where those came from, and don't have the mental reserves to spend to figure it out.   Actually, just typing that out gives me some insight, and not in a good way.  The mind is an amazing thing, but man, sometimes, it's just too powerful for my liking.
  • I learned the definition of the word altruistic this week.
  • I felt like a complete yuppie (yuppy?) when I designed and ordered "mommy cards" earlier today, but (a) Tiffany said they're cute, so there's that, and (b) I'm quickly entering a realm of existence when, apparently, these type of things are necessary.  Oy.
  • I owe a friend some editorial input on her professional bio.  I need to do it.  I want to do it.  But, man, I just want to sleep.  Or watch the 5 DVR'ed episodes of Glee that are waiting downstairs.
  • I've been thrilled to learn that the Giant Eagle generic brand of Cap'n Crunch is gluten free.
  • I baked three batches of brownies for James' birthday party today, and have washed my hands countless times, and now they feel all dry and yucky.  Anybody have a recommendation for a good hand cream?
Okay....I don't know that I feel any better, but at least some of what it floating around in my head can now be floating around in yours, too.  Generous, aren't I?

Friday, May 3, 2013



It's a magical number today.

My third-born turns three years old on the third of May.  It is her golden birthday.  And my mind boggles that the day has come.  Weren't we just floating away into the Cumberland River?  And here we are....

I realize I should be captioning these photos, but, man, what I see as her mother -- her mommy -- looking at each of these is hard to put into words.

It's so much more than "Erin loves her chocolate milk."

And, "Erin is all about rainbows these days."

It's more than "I wear you's pink stipstick."  It's time in the morning, even when the morning hasn't made time, to spend a minute in the bathroom with my girl, whittling away at the Mary Kay tube of Fancy Nancy, and watch her try to blot her lips "just like mommy."  It's pausing to realize that she is truly my mini-me, watching and mimicking my every move.

It's more than "Erin is an artist at heart."  It is that you are passionate about what you love.  Color and pattern and beauty, and you see it in so many things, and you create it where it doesn't naturally exist. ;)

Oh, Erin, two was a tough year, little miss.  We gave you a baby brother for your second birthday, made you start preschool, moved you to a big girl bed, potty trained you, stuck you in the hospital for a week...

And you were a rockstar.  A dramatic, angelic, often (literally) snotty, adorable 21 pound handful.

You are an amazing sister, daughter, friend.  Your favorite people in the world are your family, plus Mr. Doug ad Tiff'y. You are still shy around most people, but I love that innocence.  You amaze me, sweetheart.  You are everything and nothing that I imagined, and I am so lucky to be the one who is your momma.  I won't always be your favorite, or your best friend, but I'll always be your biggest fan.  You are the brightest star in my sky.  I love you.