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Two Worlds.

I’m forever living in parallel worlds. This one and the one I hold near and dear to my heart, in my mind alone. The here and now, the real world… and the one where I’m constantly imagining your sweet face now. As 2 year old running alongside your sisters. 

The world where Juliette just celebrated her last day of school and the one where you are, getting excited for our summer shenanigans before you also start preschool. 

The world where Juliette will start her last year of preschool in the fall and the world where you’re alongside her, starting your first day of preschool in the same 3-5 year old classroom as her. 

The terribly imperfect world where I snuggle into bed at night with two perfect girls and the one I’m constantly longing for….the world where I’m snuggling with all 3 of my babies. 

Juliette wore your cape to school today. At Walgreens a guy asked what the “A” on it stood for. I said, “it was her brother’s first initial.” He muttered “was?” quizzically under his breath, while walking away. I caught myself almost yelling, “Abraham! His name is Abraham!” as that poor man picked up his pace. Maybe I am a crazy lady. An exhausted, two faced crazy lady living in two worlds. One where I say your name and people walk away… and one where I say your name and look down and you’re the one wearing the cape with the “A”.

The only thing I really know for sure is that in both worlds I am a fierce momma bear looking out for her young even if I have to yell your name across the store in this world. Also, in both… I love you. In the real world I pay for that love in grief of many forms. Sometimes fear, sometimes joy, anger, confusion, guilt and big huge ugly messy crocodile tears. But love is always present.

Most days are gentler to me now, but forget not…I’m here but I’m also there. Here in this world and there in the world that I don’t have to miss you.  

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Year Two.

Dear Abraham, 

Two whole years have come and gone without you, my friend. Fall reminds me of you so much. I can feel you in the air, smell you in the breeze. Juliette misses you, too. That precious 4 year old has made it her mission to make sure your baby sister knows you, too. (And everyone else she encounters when you’re on her heart) I remember like it was yesterday… you in my arms. You hadn’t taken a chest caving, audible breath in awhile. Your doctor knelt down next to me with her stethoscope and pressed it against your chest. The words she said have echoed in my mind for two years:

I’m sorry, he’s dead.” 

These two years have been the hardest of my entire life. When your daddy and I got married we were told that the first year of marriage is the hardest. If we could make it through that alive, then we could make it through anything. 

We came out of that first year with shining colors. Gold star for us, we were killin’ it as husband and wife. Our cute, healthy baby girl was the cherry on top of our picture perfect relationship, too. I like to think God made sure that first year was a cake walk because he knew the next year(s) we’d be just barely scooting along through the valley of death. Together. With Him hand in hand, ignoring Him, screaming at Him, but together nonetheless. 

When we lost you I soon learned the statistics of failed marriages/relationships after child loss–something like 80%? Don’t quote me, I could be imagining that. 

Anyway, I thought often about how on earth so many marriages crumbled after the death of a child. I had never felt closer to your dad in the months following your death. God was carrying us. Soon, we wobbled and fell but eventually regained our strength. We stopped always relying on God to carry us as we tried sorting out what was left of the pieces of our life. It takes an entire lifetime to uncover all the good, bad and just downright ugly of your partner, usually. Or so I hear. Your daddy and I were slapped in the face with it all in just two years. We know childloss. We know grief. But we didn’t realize until it was happening how much it would reveal about ourselves. How individual it was. We are the same people, grieving the same loss in very different ways. We’re the same, but we’re entirely different. 

We had both experienced loss before you. I lost my dad as a child, we’ve lost pets, other people in our families. But what they say is true–no loss is as profound as the loss of a child. Not a parent, definitely not a pet.. When we lost you we lost part of our hearts. A part of our hearts that had just been awakened, then 17 short days ripped right from our grasp. 

Well, I get it now. The statistic. The separation rate among the loss community. I completely get it. Then, I wondered how those couples weren’t clinging to each other. Now, I’m wondering what the secret is to the ones making it through together. Maybe they’re merely surviving. I’m not comfortable with just skating by. So we aren’t. We’re thriving and our secret is Jesus. But it isn’t easy. We’re both pretty stubborn asses to eachother sometimes. We sometimes would rather welcome Satan at the door than to admit we can’t do this on our own.  It’s such a rocky road getting to fully know eachother. God, bless my husband because I’ve got enough dirty baggage to fill the local dump. We always regroup, reconnect and pray together in the end. Oh, and counseling. So much counseling. Together and separate. Sometimes we leave our sessions happy and smiling and other times one of us walks home because the mere thought of getting in the car together is unnerving. This isn’t an advise column, but if you’re a loss parent (or even not) and you think you need counseling–YOU DO. Even on the messy days..

I think my biggest issue with admitting that I need help is the connection to you, Abraham. I feel like I’m blaming you for my issues, in a sense. That brings so much guilt. You were such a precious little light in our lives and your death left a lifetime of pain to workthrough.. I know you’re not to blame but I hate admitting that you brought anything but goodness to my being. I guess you didn’t, but the absence of you… These two years have been such a blur. On a positive… I’m two years closer to you. I don’t even know where this post was headed, honestly. No real direction. Just a reflection. I’ve come back to it a few times today between church and taking your sisters to the pumpkin patch…as bits and pieces of the last two years bounced through my mind. I just miss you. And sometimes I’m not okay. I’ll lie and say that I am. But God, I long to hold you. What is it about an anniversary or holiday that makes it so significant? So joyous or heartbreaking? Merely the passing of time? It’s a different day, after all. So why do the flashbacks and emotions come hurling back? Eh, I don’t know. What I do know is that I’ll see you again. And this isn’t forever. And that two years ago today my heart shattered, but two years ago today you opened your eyes to the face of Jesus. 

It’s been a long day without you, my friend. And I’ll tell you all about it when I see you again.

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Congratulations, Son!

Dear Abraham, 

Oh, how I’ve missed writing to you. I’ve been busy over at Pregnancy After Loss Support blogging weekly through my pregnancy. Your big sister makes it exceptionally hard to write more than one piece a week. I don’t know why I write to you thinking you don’t know what’s going on in our lives, I know you do somehow. I feel you. I write anyway, for myself. 

To say that my pregnancy after losing you was anything other than the second most difficult situation in my life this far would be a lie. I longed to hold you more than ever the entire 87….err…10 months I carried our sweet rainbow baby. 

“”Rainbow Babies” is the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it doesn’t mean the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.” 

I’ll give you a little insight in a nutshell about how the last 9 months have been: 

I wondered how on earth I could possibly love another baby after losing you. How I could possibly overcome the fear of losing this one, too. We got extensive testing done, a fetal echo of the baby’s heart and spent a lot of time in prayer with our Father begging Him for a healthy baby. Still, after reassurance that I was carrying a seemingly healthy baby I couldn’t overcome the feeling of unworthiness. I know my body didn’t fail you, I know my body kept you alive and this cold, cruel world is what killed you. Even knowing that I didn’t feel worthy of carrying a healthy child after losing you. It didn’t feel fair. I found it unbelievable when I was told I was. To ignore the possibility that this child could die would have been naive. Especially after being in the child loss community. So I’d take myself there often (probably the least healthy thing I could have done)… Would I be able to live if this baby died? I came to the conclusion that I absolutely would be able to, but I sure as hell wouldn’t want to for quite some time. 

Juliette misses you more than ever too. I hear her talking to her “Abey Bear” that has your picture sewn on the belly. It was ordered from Hug My Angel Memory Bear by some of my great friends for her birthday and it’s proved to be especially healing for her when she’s missing you. She’ll cry out to God asking Him not to make you die again, telling Him she’s crying and missing “her boy”. She wants to come visit you. She says “Jesus, take care of me like you take care of my boy!” It’s heartbreaking and heartwarming all at the same time to see just how much love a three year old can have for a brother that she knew for such a short time.

I found myself praying through my pregnancy silly prayers and wishing this baby would be born you. All-in-all, most of my pregnancy intensified my aching arms and my grief enveloping every aspect of losing you. 

However, my entire pregnancy wasn’t dark. Toward the very end of my pregnancy I started to hear and see John 16:33 everywhere. On cards, in emails, in my Facebook newsfeed, in my daily devotional, on the radio…Ev.er.y.where. I know it’s a pretty popular verse to begin with, but I hadn’t had it tagged as one of my favorites before this. It says: 

“I’ve told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

Hello, wake up call. I remember thinking, “Okay, God. I get it. I hear you! I’m finally listening.” I was letting the tribulations of this world (my worry, sorrow, anxiety, controlling personality, etc) overcome me. I absolutely can miss you, and can and should grieve, but where had my hope gone? Where had I gone? I had retreated to a dark and lonely place. What is this world anyway? It’s just a stopping point on our journey to home. It isn’t my home. You’re already home and here I am selfishly wishing you were here in this world where no day for any one of us is guaranteed. There are people being shot and bombs going off here and there you are enjoying the peace and the presence of Jesus face to face. THAT is amazing. I was letting all of my human emotions and busy mind cloud the peace that only lives within Jesus…where I clearly was not living all the time. I had become a run away, only coming back to Him when I needed something. It was from there onward that I started consciously focusing on bonding with the life swelling inside of me. I started reading to my bump like I did with you and your sister before you. I started documenting my pregnancy in photos and rubbing my belly when baby would kick, grabbing little feeties out of my ribs and just enjoying my pregnancy in general. I restored my hope in Christ and simultaneously realized just how much I already adored the tiny human in my womb. 

Something I had given up hope of ever happening (kidding…) happened on Thursday, November 12th. After being in “early labor”, “false labor” or “prodromal labor” (call it what you will) for 3+ weeks I went into active labor! Man, I was starting to think this kid was going to hitch a ride in my womb until Kindergarten! We got to the hospital around 2:30am on Friday, November 13th. Within 2 hours I had dilated from a 5 to a 7. By 6:30am I was dilated to a 9, bag of waters broken and our Rainbow was laid on my chest, screaming the most beautiful cry at 6:58am. It felt so healing and empowering to have an all natural, unmedicated and self controlled birth after the trauma of your birth and you being swept away from me so soon. Without further ado, meet your sister

Scarlette Jane Greer.

7 pounds, 15 ounces. 

20 inches long. 

 
 
      Beautiful, perfect and so, so loved. 

The minute I saw her face I knew she had been handpicked for us. Maybe not by you, but by God and just the thought of you being so close to God brings much joy to my soul. For all I know, God let you help. 

When I look into Scarlette’s soft, sweet eyes I see you there. I know she’s not you, and I’m happy about that. As unreasonable as I was when I was pregnant, I like to see my children in each other, but I like them to very much be their own person. And boy, is she her own tiny person. You and Juliette had dark hair that covered your head and she has blonde peach fuzz that only covers half her head. Maybe I’ll finally have a child that looks like me! She is so sweet and she’s perfectly filled my arms. I love her more than I could have imagined. She healed my aching arms, but she didn’t heal my aching heart. I didn’t expect her to. That’s a lot of responsibility for a little girl. I need to still feel you and feel for you. And I do. 

I am both the mom of a newborn again and a bereaved mom forever. The latter can’t be cured by the former. If anything it intensified it to same level of emotion you feel upon becoming a mom again. And let me tell you, with all of these hormones out of whack, said emotions are huge. My love for you and your sisters spans from earth to heaven. 

My heart is so full. I am so thankful for this precious new blessing that was well worth the wait. Scarlette will not live in your shadow. You wouldn’t want her to and quite frankly that isn’t fair and isn’t why she was brought to us. But she will know her brother, Abraham and how your presence and the grace of God helped sculpt me into the mother that I am and that I pray she always looks to for guidance and comfort. 

Congratulations, son. You are a big brother!!!

Missing you always, 

Momma

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You didn’t make me a mother.

Dear Abraham, 

Mother’s Day was hard. Harder than I expected it to be. I expected it to be just another day, but it wasn’t. It was the hardest day yet. It’s exhausting trying to mother a child you can’t see.

You didn’t make me a mother. No, God did. Your sister did. Juliette is constantly evolving and changing and in turn she’s consistently impacting my life. I don’t ever want her to feel like one of my children impacted me more than another. The truth is, you had 17 days out of the womb with me. You made an impact of a lifetime in those days. God uses Juliette to slowly sculpt my parenting, changing me day by day, week by week. But He used you like a freight train at full speed, straight to the heart. Your life and the days directly following were so surreal. While I feel like I was in a dream, I also know that’s the closest I’ve ever been to our Father. I remember faintly the actions I took in those days, but I remember clearly the feeling of lightness I had as if I were being carried. And I was being carried. I’ve never been comfortable being fully dependent on anyone, so the peace I felt while Jesus was carrying me is overwhelming and truly does surpass all understanding. Especially for me, someone so resistant to usually let anyone help me do even the smallest of things. The difference being that I didn’t have a choice. I could have hope or be hopeless, and I easily chose for Jesus to anchor my soul. Was there even another viable option? Not in my heart. 

People from my past look at me like… “Who in the world are you?” I’m not the person I was in high school, I’m not the person I was after high school either. Christ has completely transformed my life. I feel like some people look at me like I’m putting on a good show. In all honesty, from a non-believers standpoint, who can blame them? I was there once. Looking upon Christians like they were phonies. (Even AFTER I was saved, then later turned my back on Jesus. I had felt the Spirit move within me! I had seen Him work in my life and I felt the gaping hole in my heart from where I used to hold Him close. I was in denial.) I was so caught up in my “temporary self” that I had completely lost track of my primary self. That self that is always there, underneath all the worldliness. That self that should be constantly evolving into the person God intended you to be. Ya know? Or did I just lose you? It makes sense in my mind 😉 Then, I got pregnant with your sister and I looked back on those “phonies” and I knew I wanted what they had more than ever. I was going to raise her, and you in the truth and the light. Goodbye temporary self.


“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

The Holy Spirit needed a cleaner house to reside in. Not only did God give me a clean house, HE cleaned that house! How awesome is our God?!

I look back on my life (man, I sound old!) with nothing but praise and admiration for our God. He used you in a way that he could have used no other being in our life. Evil stepped in and broke your heart and He pulled you close and made you whole again, calling you His and calling you home. Talk about one heck of a “babysitter” until we meet again. The closeness I felt to Jesus when you died was so real and so completely evident that it was a deal breaker, I’m never turning back again. I may stumble (I will stumble) and fall, but I will get back up. Because I will see you again someday.

Honestly, though.. I’m scared to death. We didn’t plan on sharing our new pregnancy with anyone until it was so obvious you’d have to question if we’d be heading to the hospital that day. Not because this baby doesn’t matter or deserve to be celebrated. But because we weren’t even sure how we felt quite yet and we wanted this baby to ourselves for just awhile. We knew for a couple months before announcing. We have family with their panties in a bunch that we didn’t share sooner or that they found out on Facebook. I don’t care, honestly. When they have a baby that dies, then they can decide the right and wrong way to announce their next pregnancy. As for us, we did it the safest way. The way that guarded our hearts from answering the same, heart wrenching questions over..and over again. We were hoping by announcing we could feed off of some of the excitement for us.
Being pregnant again after losing you is like living inside your worst nightmare and you’re stuck there for nine months…trying not to let your anxiety control you.  But now I know that babies die. Not only do I know this, this happens in my world now. It’s real life. I wasn’t  guaranteed you and I’m not guaranteed that this baby will come home in my arms, healthy and alive either. I can’t help but give any mother who “just knows” her baby will be okay a sympathetic sigh. Sure, that baby will probably come home with you and it’s great to have hope, but honey, that baby wasn’t yours first. He or she was knit together in your womb by God. Whether or not he/she is fit for this world is also up to God.

Abraham, you won’t be forgotten. Your journey doesn’t end with this new life. You are irreplaceable. In short, it’s true, you didn’t make me a mother, but you made me a more aware mother. A more connected mother. A more involved mother. A more nurturing and loving mother. A better person all around. For that, I thank you. Your siblings will continue benefitting from your life forever, so they’ll thank you too.

I miss you more now than ever. With every ounce of my soul, I miss you. 

-Mommy
7

Somewhere over the rainbow, skies are blue…

 

“It is understood that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of any storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that we are not still dealing with the aftermath. It means that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and clouds. Storm clouds may still hover, but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy and hope.

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“Joy in hardship is weird.”

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My dear, precious Abraham,

I’ve come to a point in my sorrow that a lot of times I can barely handle myself. I put on a good front, I play a good show. Behind the scenes I think all could probably say I’ve hit rock bottom in my grief.

Lord, I pray so diligently that this is the truth. The only way is up from rock bottom, right?

It makes it so much worse that a couple of the people we have held so dear to us up to this point just patronize our daily grief and struggles. Saying things along the lines of, “it’s about time you get back to life.” Or trying to compare their miscarriages to the loss of you, our breathing, pulsing baby by saying, “we’ve been through it and we’re doing fine!” No, you haven’t “been through it.”

side note because I’ll probably never hear the end of it for that statement: I do believe a miscarriage is the loss of a child. I also believe after loving on, getting to know, rocking, nursing, singing to and finally listening to your child take his last audible, heart wrenching breath as his heart stops beating and body goes limp in your arms that a miscarriage would only but scratch the surface of the loss we’ve endured at this point. It’s selfish, I get it. But I wouldn’t compare the loss of my 17 day old to the loss of your 17 year old, so please, PLEASE stop comparing your loss to ours. You never know until you know. And Lord I pray you never know.

Is this your sign for us to let go of unhealthy relationships, Father? That prayer will remain in my heart until it’s crystal clear to me. I don’t want to let go of people we’ve held so close to our hearts, who would? I also can’t handle being put down for the way I grieve or for not coming around more. Honestly, though, who could blame them for getting upset? For the first few months after we lost you we did get out of the house. We were numb, we were in shock… We were just going through the motions of life. But that wasn’t our lifestyle then and it isn’t now. I guess a drastic, unexplainable change could set someone off. The struggle is real.

I often times wonder if I am unusually mourning. I’m not mourning without hope, though. I WILL see you again, I know this to be true. So am I really mourning your loss or am I mourning the time on earth lost with you? Mourning the gap that death divides. I mourn the loss of seeing you take your first steps, hearing you coo, kissing your owies, seeing you graduate and get married. I don’t know what heaven looks like, so maybe I won’t have to miss those things at all.
I’ve been watching “Call the Midwife” and watching all these babies be born. I find the difference in our generation compared to earlier generations so interesting. When a baby dies at birth then, I feel like, yes the mother grieves, but it’s looked at like a “dud” of sorts. There’s not an outpouring of support. For that I’m thankful for the generation I’m growing up in, so I shouldn’t complain over the few negative, unsupportive Nancies. I can’t imagine losing you back then. I still see the sadness of that generation leak into this time period when the older generations in my family don’t dare speak your name. They tell Grandma that as “just the grandparent” that her grieving has gone on long enough and it’s becoming sinful. They tell the people closest to me to also stop bringing you up so I can start moving on. It’s sad. Really, really sad.

Health is the greatest of Gods gifts, but we take it for granted. It hangs on a thread as fine as a spiders web. And the smallest thing can make it snap, leaving the strongest of us helpless in an instant. And in that instant, hope is our protector and love our panacea.” -Call the Midwife

I know health is not the greatest gift from God, but it’s one often taken for granted (by myself included)

I’m in a bible study picking through 1&2 Thessalonians by Beth Moore with a wonderful group of spirited women. While doing my first weeks homework a few weeks ago I stumbled upon this, which I adore: “Joy in hardship is weird. “Weird”, according to Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary, means ‘of strange or extraordinary character’. People who retain delight while walking through demoralizing circumstances are not normal. They are either delusional, detached, or, in the case of the new Thessalonian believers, engulfed by the Holy Spirit.” (Pg 27; Children of the Day)
When I blog I’m usually at my lowest point. I’m depressed, I’m anxious and I’m just downright sad. This isn’t me every day. I have joy, I have hope. I may not be “happy” but I am joyful. I’m engulfed with the spirt, though I may also be a little delusional at times 😉

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.” John 16:22

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Scabs.

I should probably have written today’s post in my own person journal. I’m actually editing it to add this right now because I feel so vulnerable pushing publish. I feel like a psychiatrist is going to show up on my doorstep after pushing publish and haul me away to be mentally evaluated. I continued on this blogging journey after Abraham died expecting no one to read this blog and I honestly didn’t care either way, I’ve used it as a way to reach out, help and connect with people. Exposing the ones that haven’t experienced child loss to the rawness and realness of it and connecting with the ones that have all the while praying that I’m not alone and I’m not going crazy and maybe they just don’t have it in them to express what they’re feeling like I do. Sometimes I’m just left wondering: is God really calling me to do this or am I enjoying it way too much? Is it really beneficial to my health? The conclusion I always come to is simply yes, He is or I would have stopped a long time ago..right?

Dear Abraham,
Fun fact you never knew about your momma: I was a scab picker. I was a nasty, grimey little child and I loved rolling with the boys. I didn’t grow up with my sister that is closest to my age. I actually didn’t know about her until I was 5ish. And Aunt Allie is 5 years younger than I am and let’s be real: when you’re a child, 5 years is a HUGE gap. I had Uncle Tyler to play with and all my cousins were boys. Making forts in the woods and having demolitions with our hot wheels and everything surrounding riding horses and playing on the farm was fun to me. If I was caught in a dress it’s because Grandma made me do it. My ultimate daily goal was to get as dirty as possible. Sometimes I got hurt. A lot of times, actually. Scabs. I loved scabs. There was some sort of instant gratification in picking a scab and making it bleed and watching it heal to just pick it again. A healing process that would take a week for most took weeks for me. I have tiny little scars to show for it all over my body (mostly my knees) now still at 23.
If I ever see Juliette picking a scab I’ll tell her to “knock it off, you’re going to scar!” just like Grandma told me. I actually only imagine that’s what she said. I don’t really remember, but I’m sure it was frowned upon.
I hate relating you to a scab but the analogy really hits home. The grief I feel from losing you is like a huge scab. I can’t seem to keep my grubby paws off of it either. Just as I start to feel “normal” I go ahead and rip that scab right back off and watch it bleed as I crumble. I’m not even giving myself the chance to heal. I long for the Abraham sized hole in my heart that you fit perfectly into to stay open. It’s not healthy. It can’t be.
Keeping you alive through For the Love of Abraham is helping immensely. I love helping parents in similar situations and I love the legacy we’re building. Mostly, I love saying your name every time I tell someone about what we’re doing.
Juliette has been asking so many questions about you lately, love. I have a love/hate relationship with all the questions, kind of like I had a love/hate relationship with scabs. It’s bizarre how much information a toddler retains.

J: I like Jesus.
Me: I pray you always feel that way.
J: I’m baby so Jesus come get me.
Me: Oh honey not all babies get to be with Jesus. Our Abey was special. We had to give him back to Jesus.
J: I want to live with Abey! I want him! Jesus!
Me: we’ll see him again someday. Abey died, that’s why Abey is living in Heaven with Jesus. Someday you’ll die and be with Jesus. Mommy and daddy too!
J: and grandma and grandpa!

I don’t think I handled that the best way, ya know by telling a 2yo she’ll die someday. But I want to remember that conversation forever.

For now, I’ll choose to live. For Jesus, for Juliette, for Daddy and for you.

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