Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Remembering James

I had these grand plans months in advance of going on a hike in his honor with friends and family and just conquering some sort of mountain in symbolism of the mountain it has been in coping with his loss.

His anniversary fell on a Sunday and then other plans got thrown in the mix and I realized that I probably wasn't going to want to hike or summit anything at 32 weeks pregnant. So I cried and tried to imagine doing something....anything that felt right to mark the anniversary.

I asked for suggestions on facebook and was met with most of the usual that I had come across in my internet research. Many release balloons, lanterns, eat cake. None of those felt right to me, to us. I don't want to watch something float away all over again, even if it does contain words of love reaching higher and higher. I didn't want to bake a cake, to me cake represents celebration and I can't celebrate losing him. Maybe I can eat cake on behalf of him someday, but not this year, not yet.

 Instead we started off the week planting some seeds that hopefully with bloom into beautiful flowers. We went as a family and while Kyle chased Max around the garden department I spun the display of seeds looking at all the colors and hoping that even though it was VERY late in the season, some might still bloom. We settled on two wildflower mixes, zinnias, forget-me-nots, and a wild sunflower mix. We returned home and tilled the soil, removed the weeds, and together we planted some carefully. We threw the wildflower seeds though, tossing them in far reaching crescent moons.

The rest of the week was spent focusing on Max's third birthday which was a beautiful happy day. That child is light and love and pure joy and we celebrated his existence with gifts and homemade cake and a Spiderman balloon.

I held my breath the rest of the week, walking around my thoughts on tiptoes. So many memories flooded back into remembrance.

I remember the way the nurse in the ultrasound room held my hand when we all knew and words were unspoken. She gripped me with the love of humankind.

I remember the peace our midwife brought into labor and how she didn't leave once he was born and her shift was over. She stayed and talked with us about our lives and her life and I remember she wasn't afraid to laugh with us, as strange as that sounds. In shock, our emotions were all over the place and there were moments with James in our arms where we laughed. I am happy with did.

I remember my breasts filling with milk. They ached, they were heavy and it made me SO SO mad. On top of it all there was that and it seemed cruel and unfair. I remember focusing on it so intensely, that I realized I had to just let it go and once I did, my milk was gone and dried up.

I remember kind souls calling funeral homes so I wouldn't have to. I remember others dropping off flowers and cards unexpectedly in moments of darkness and I would open the front door and there they would be, little rays of light.

Mostly I remember singing to James in a moment of pure aching. I started to sing "I am a child of God," a song I had sung to Max when he was born. I started singing and Kyle joined me and for a moment he wasn't dead, he was just sleeping, calmed by the voice of his parents.

There are many precious moments, moments I ache for and often detest returning to. Memories, while cherished, can be painful.

We spent the Saturday before his anniversary in the temple. Due to scheduling, Kyle and I had not gone together in a few months and it was the best decision we made all week. Every time I have been in the temple since James' death I have cried; tears of bitterness, tears of sorrow, tears of peace and comfort. I didn't cry this time. There was a peace and comfort and a knowledge attained that afternoon that brought so much solace to our hearts as we remembered the promises we had made with God and the promises He had made in return.

Sunday was rather uneventful. We were in Seattle and the sky was covered in a foggy haze and drizzled rain gently, cleansing the landscape and streets, making the leaves shine. I remembered him all day, imagining what it would be like in that alternate universe I let myself escape to sometimes. It seems happy there, but who really isn't my reality.

My reality has seen lows, but I feel like I understand happiness better now because of it all. So yes, I would be happy with James here in my arms, but even though he isn't here here, it doesn't mean that happiness can't exist in this reality. Because it does and I understand more completely now that true source of happiness and how to maximize it and grab hold of it and relish in it.

For all that I have, for all that I have lost, I am happier than I have ever been. All because he existed.

Friday, July 18, 2014


-Radiate light at home and beyond; bringing love, truth, peace, and joy to those around me.-

This is a personal mission statement that I crafted earlier this year as part of the joy equation, a course that seeks to help those who feel they are in a quarter-life crisis. I will be honest, I didn't finish the course. I started it in Arizona and we moved three-fourths of the way through the equation and I just wanted to take a break from all the heavy thinking and I just never started it back up. BUT! That doesn't mean that I didn't gain anything from the exercises, just that I never got to the goal setting part of the whole course. The course encourages you to think deeply and analytically at your life, to consciously discover what it is that you love to do, are scared to do, what is holding you back from living your fullest life. 

So I crafted my mission statement and then let it all fizzle, but it was there in the back of my mind, a constant reminder that I really wasn't limited by my circumstances.

Flash forward to this week.

Waves of sorrow as I remember losing James all over again. His death brought depth into our perspective as a family, to the way to want to live and spend our time and over the course of the year we have struggle to come to terms with that new perspective. This week, today in fact, we are remembering that a year ago there was no heartbeat and on Sunday we will remember that a year ago we got to hold him and sing to him for a little while. All of those memories are flooding in and forcing me to take a look around at where we are as a family and where I am personally. Am I living as authentically as I can be to the truths that I have discovered and learned this past year?

Honestly, the answer has been no. Part of me understands that I have to be patient with time, circumstances, and the extension of myself to do all that I know is possible and part of me is disappointed, knowing that I can do better, be better, live more authentically. 

Last night I prayed for direction, remembering to seek guidance from above. As I finished my prayer and settled into to the comfort of my bed and the blasting of cool air, I started thinking about my writing.

I have found great comfort in writing on this blog, knowing others are reading my voice. I have also been scared to be completely open or to write about hard topics for fear of being criticized, misunderstood, or hurting someone's feelings. I love when someone tells me they enjoy my blog, my writing, and that it helped them in some way. I love knowing that friends are sharing it with others who are struggling or hurting, I love imagining that light of common understanding spreading across the internet. But my fear has overwhelmed me and kept me from believing in the power of my words, my thoughts, my voice. My writing, opinions, and thoughts are not perfect, but the fear of their imperfections needs to stop.

I want to start writing more openly, honestly, and consistently in this space. I want to improve my writing, my ability to share my ideas and radiate light. To do this, I need to believe in the power of my words and ideas. I want to meditate upon, write, and share my journey, my struggles, questions, discoveries, and joys! Not
just about losing James, but about being a mother, being a woman, being a convert, being me. There is no shame in sharing our stories, however imperfect we feel they might be.

Trying to improve, to grow, to become better, even when trying and failing or trying and getting nowhere is brave and worth the effort, always.

So I hope that you will find more of me in this space and I hope that you will read with open hearts and minds, remembering that our journeys, experiences, and perspectives are our own. But just because they are ours doesn't mean that no one else will understand or gain insight. Sharing our stories brings strength and unity to this world and most of all, it brings light.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

My Pregnancy Reality

I remember before I was ever pregnant, back when thoughts of my own family were just daydreams I totally and completely idealized pregnancy. To me, it seemed pregnancy was glowing women with perfect, rounded bumps joyfully awaiting a new, cozy bundle to enter their arms and life.

That daydream first splintered when I was pregnant for the first time and experience a miscarriage at 8 weeks. I had no idea that those dreams could be so quickly ripped from me and replaced with such heartache and dashed hopes.

Gratefully we were able to become pregnant again with Max and more cracks in this pregnancy fantasy began to show. My days were shadowed with overwhelming nausea. Enough to keep me in the fetal position on the couch as soon as I got home from nannying. I rarely threw up, thankfully, but I hated feeling so useless and sick all the time.

As soon as I passed over that nausea phase, I realized I had the ability to do things again. Except, I couldn't. I didn't realize how limiting pregnancy was. From don't eat this to don't do that to can't go there. It felt claustrophobic and I was anxious for that baby in my arms both to meet him and to just eat a cold cut sandwich again!

Obviously, I realized the trade off was worth it. Nine months of limitations was nothing for the happiness that came when Max arrived. I realized it was SO worth it.

Then I went through those nine months. Nine months of doing my best to stay healthy and informed and preparing and then just like before it was all ripped away. This time though, it happened after I had made all those sacrifices. All those sacrifices for empty arms.

This is where my thoughts are this pregnancy. I so badly want to focus on the joy of this baby and I try every single day to visualize and mentally chant, "This baby will come. This baby will be healthy and full of life."

But it is so hard for me to believe that now. You see, to accept the reality of this pregnancy, I had to accept the fact that I could put in another nine months of my life, sacrificing my body to grow another all for it to end in sadness again.

Maybe that is depressing, but for pregnancy after loss, that is now my pregnancy reality.

Ultimately, faith is the only thing that allows for glimmers of that joy that I see other expecting mothers expressing so easily. I have prayed often for peace and comfort and gratefully, I have received it. I have received the knowledge that despite whatever the outcome of this pregnancy is, that choosing joy is ALWAYS possible.

Choosing joy is another post entirely, one that I will get to I am sure. But for now, I guess I felt it necessary to help others understand the reality of this pregnancy that I am experiencing. I can't say that I have perfect knowledge that this baby will arrive alive in my arms. I can say that I have faith that Heavenly Father loves me and cares for me and wants me to be happy. However my life continues to play out, that will ALWAYS be true. It will be true if this baby arrives safely and it will be true if I put in another nine months for empty arms all over again.

So yes, I still dream and imagine this baby arriving joyfully, tearfully into our family, but I cannot expect that. What I can do is know that God is aware of me, He knows me, and I trust in Him. I know that all that I will experience, "shall by for [my] good" (D&C 122:7). This alone brings me comfort: knowing that my willingness to accept the pains of this life joined with His power to help me overcome all of that pain is what allows me to experience pure joy. Joy that is made more real because of my awareness and experience of sadness and grief.