Friday, December 31, 2010

Facing the new year without Juju

earlier this week i mentioned that i had been asked to be a guest blogger for The CJ Foundation for SIDS, and wrote up a piece about my thoughts on facing the new year without Julius. it was posted on their facebook page yesterday, so i'm going to post it here as well.


2010 is drawing to a close. And while most of the people I know are not giving the start of 2011 another thought, I, on the other hand, am always overcome with emotion when thinking about January 1, 2011.

2011 was sure to bring my husband and I many firsts with our son - his first steps, his first words (which I’m sure would have been “mama”), and his first birthday, just to name a few. And the realization that we will not be able to experience any of those moments with him is almost suffocating. Now I have to face 365 more days of heartache and pain. 365 more days of struggling for every step, and every breath I take. I have 365 more days to add to the already 80 days I have spent ripped away from my son - the little boy I grew in my womb for 40 weeks, spent 15 hours in labor with, and loved for four and a half short months. Not only that, but 2011 offers me the chance to continue to live my life marking the milestones of his death – the one year anniversary of his passing, the day that he would be gone for more time than he was with us, etc.

And though, I have all of these feelings of deep sadness, I do feel a bit of relief. I feel relief simply because January 1st brings the end of 2010. October 12, 2010 was the single worst day of my life, a day that I am still reeling from. I feel like I have been completely betrayed by 2010. And I am so happy to finally be done with a year that has brought me to so many emotional extremes. It also means that one of my milestones, my first holiday season without my son, is over and I can breathe a little easier. I no longer have to avoid the stores, the television, the radio, or going out in public (not that I really cared about any of those things anyway). Now I can focus all of my attention on making it through the next milestone day.

Then every once in a while when I think of the start of 2011, I feel a bit hopeful. Julius made my husband and me parents. He confirmed to us that we do have the ability to care for another human being. We were so scared of becoming parents, but we found when he was born, that being a parent is the most natural and fulfilling thing we have ever done. We loved every second of our brief time with him. So we are hopeful that 2011 also offers us a chance to expand our family, to make Julius a big brother. We are hopeful that we will one day get to tell Julius’ brother or sister all about their older brother who opened our hearts and changed our lives forever. We have also decided to put some of our strength, time, effort, and money toward SIDS research and awareness. And we are hopeful that 2011 brings possibility that they are 1 step closer to finding a cause for SIDS so that one day nobody will have to lose their child in this tragic way.

Regardless of all of these feelings though, the fact still remains the same - my son is gone. It really doesn’t matter what day it is, or what year it is, nothing will ever change that fact. Every day is a struggle for us just to put one foot in front of the other. Every day we are adjusting to our new roles as bereaved parents. All we really want is to have our son back with us. But since we cannot have that, we are forced to start anew in 2011.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

my new routine

i am always amazed how quickly the feelings of hopefulness can turn into feelings of despair. so amazed. and it really doesn't take much {or anything at all sometimes} to trigger those feelings.

this morning was no different than it had been the last 2 months. i started my day out the same, by writing my letter to Julius. i then started getting ready for work, got dressed, washed my face, brushed my teeth, went to the kitchen to make breakfast for myself, and pack my lunch. i went to start my car so it could warm up. i came in the house, said goodbye to D, turned around to my dresser, picked up a small, cold, heart-shaped urn, kissed and held it close to my cheek. and then it hit me like a ton of bricks................... NOTHING ABOUT THIS IS RIGHT.

i shouldn't be doing this. i should be kissing warm, fleshy, chubby {very chubby} cheeks. i should be packing the car with his diaper bag for daycare. i should be scrambling around the house trying to get everything together before he starts fussing for me to pick him up. but i'm not, i'm here at this place, at this new reality. kissing the object that holds the remains of my baby - all that remains of my baby. writing letters to him, begging and pleading for God {someone, anyone} to have mercy on me. going about life as if my pregnancy and my 4.5 months of motherhood was all some beautiful nightmare.

when all i want is my baby back...

**edited to add a poem that someone shared with me a few days ago {thank you, debbie}**

An Ugly Pair of Shoes
Author Unknown

I am wearing a pair of shoes.
They are ugly shoes.
Uncomfortable Shoes.
I hate my shoes.
Each day I wear them, and each day I wish I had another pair.
Some days my shoes hurt so bad that I do not think I can take another step.
Yet, I continue to wear them.
I get funny looks wearing these shoes.
They are looks of sympathy.
I can tell in others eyes that they are glad they are my shoes and not theirs.
They never talk about my shoes.
To learn how awful my shoes are might make them uncomfortable.
To truly understand these shoes you must walk in them.
But, once you put them on, you can never take them off.
I now realize that I am not the only one who wears these shoes.
There are many pairs in the world.
Some women are like me and ache daily as they try and walk in them.
Some have learned how to walk in them so they don't hurt quite as much.
Some have worn the shoes so long that days will go by
before they think of how much they hurt.
No woman deserves to wear these shoes.
Yet, because of the shoes I am a stronger woman.
These shoes have given me the strength to face anything.
They have made me who I am.
I will forever walk in the shoes of a woman who has lost a child.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

The Heart of Life...doing good in his name

a few nights ago, i was in bed listening to the john mayer song "the heart of life" {thanks for getting the song stuck in my head, kristin}. and though i had heard this song thousands of times {i'm a big JM fan, and have this cd}, it felt as though i was hearing it, especially the chorus, for the first time.

"Pain throws your heart to the ground. Love turns the whole things around. No it won't all go the way it should, but I know the heart of life is good."

the heart of life....good? these days i constantly feel like i'm being repetitively kicked in the gut by life. my infant son, my first born child is gone. how can it be good?

i've always been a bit cynical and skeptical of signs. i'm much more open to them these days because it is a way for me to continue to connect with my son. even if they are mere coincidences, i like to think that maybe everything lined up perfectly in the universe to allow me to receive or experience something. and it seems like every time i start to slip into sadness, i am sent a sign. for example, when i was laying in bed listening to this song, i, of course, started crying. and a few minutes later, received a text message from a friend telling me that she was thinking about me and Julius. she then went on to paint the most comforting picture for me of Juju and her mother, who has also passed away, together enjoying themselves in Heaven.

was that truly a sign? who knows. did it come at exactly the right time? absolutely yes. so the new me, the grieving mother me, is going to take this as a sign that Julius wants me to know that he's ok. a sign that God, through someone else, is trying to comfort me because he knows how much pain i am in, and He's sorry.

i've also talked about how in 2011 i want to do good, meaningful things. i want to "pay it forward." and as ms. franchesca so eloquently put it in her blog post today, i want to be on "the other end of compassion" Juju's name. i've decided that in 2011 i'm going to "host" a few giveaways myself. i'm hoping to do 1 each month. i've received so much from such compassionate people. and i hope that maybe i can bring a smile to another grieving mother who's heart is completely broken like mine is. i unfortunately know what the pain of losing a child feels like now, and i want to do whatever i can to soften the blow.just.a.bit.

i already know what january's giveaway will be. but i'm going to wait until the 1st to post it. they will definitely be different every month (btw, if you have any ideas for giveaway items, lmk). i'm not creative at all, so i will spare everyone the experience of receiving anything handmade from me, but the general themes of the giveaways will be honoring our little ones, and hope for the future. that's all that means anything to me anymore. i'm really excited about this, and about playing a part in someone else thinking that the heart of life is good. since i'm still struggling myself to believe that it is...

Monday, December 27, 2010

i'm still here...

i made it, fortunately or unfortunately {depending on my mood}, through my 1st christmas without my Juju. i'm still here, i'm still breathing, i'm still heartbroken. christmas day itself was not as painful as i thought it would be. but then again, it didn't really feel like christmas at our house, so it wasn't necessarily an added layer of pain that we had to get through. D and i stayed in, and it very much felt like just another day. we are so glad that we decided to forego celebrating the holidays this year like we had originally planned. staying home in our safe environment was definitely what we needed to do to get through this time. and thanks to the suggestion of a friend {thank you, andrea}, we lit a candle all day on christmas eve and christmas day for Julius. it helped me to feel as though he was always nearby.

this past week hasn't all been sad and painful. there have been some moments of light mixed in...

last week, ms. linda, the executive director at The CJ Foundation for SIDS,  sent me an email asking if i would like to be a guest blogger for them. she has been so very helpful and supportive to us during this time, and i was incredibly honored that she thought of me. the piece she wanted me to write about was my thoughts on facing the new year without Julius. i, understandably, have a lot {probably too much} to say about this topic, and was a bit stressed out about how i was going to organize all of my thoughts. but after working on it this weekend, i sent it to her this morning, and i'm looking forward to her posting it. i will post it on here after she's posted it {i don't want to spoil anything}. but again, it means so much that i was given this opportunity to honor my son.

i also finished my 1st journal yesterday. some of you may remember the post where i mentioned that i received a journal from some of my friends from my hometown {thank you, shelly and amanda}, and have written Julius a letter every day since the 1 week mark of his passing. well at 2 months and 2 weeks since i said goodbye to my son, i finished Vol. 1 of "Letters to Juju" {thanks for that name, fabby}. i skimmed through some of the earlier letters to him, and i noticed that even though i have made some progress with my feelings, i'm still very heartbroken, and very lost. the overall feelings of "darkness" are still there, but are now mixed in with some moments of hopefulness  - something that wasn't around early on. and today, i started my 2nd journal - Vol. 2 {thank you, michelle}. i think the quote on the front is especially fitting.

and the last thing that happened this morning is that i already reached my first goal mark of $1000 for Juju's memorial fund at CJ. i even increased my goal amount to $1500 {and got to gloat to D some more - again, it felt really good}. i am absolutely speechless at everyone's generosity. i definitely think it's a testiment to how many loving people are surrounding me, and how much my son is loved. he was only in my arms for 4.5 short months, but he completely changed my life forever. i again thank everyone that has donated {and who has even thought about donating}. thank you for contributing to such a worthy cause and organization. thank you for helping ensure that one day no one will have to lose a child this terribly tragic way. and thank you most of all for remembering our son. ♥

**updated to add: i ended up taking angie's advice and changed my goal amount for Juju's memorial fund to $5k! thank you, girl, for suggesting that.**

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Merry Christmas, Baby Boy...

Dear Julius,
Merry Christmas, Baby. Today would have been your first Christmas with us, but instead you are in Heaven. It makes me so mad that we didn't even have you long enough for you to experience Christmas with us. On top of that, today is the first time since Daddy and I have lived here that it has snowed really hard. Something else that you didn't get a chance to experience. I think you would have really liked snow.

We miss you so much. It's just not right that we have to carry on without you. Why does it have to be this way? This is absolutely torturous.

Yesterday we lit a candle for you all day. It made me feel as though you were nearby. We will light a candle for you today too. And yesterday we got a few "Juju signs." My godfather and his family sent us a gorgeous angel figurine which is now sitting next to you on our dresser. Then a friend of mine sent me a picture of your name and the candle she lit for you.

"Angels are always near to those who are grieving. To whisper to them that their loved ones are safe in the hands of God"
Thank you, Christena!
I love to see your name written, Juju. The funny thing is that even though I picked your name years ago when Daddy and I were just talking about having a family in the future {your mommy is definitely a planner}, I was hesitant to agree to that name for you. I wanted your name to be perfect, so I spent almost my whole pregnancy thinking of names. Daddy just wouldn't let the name "Julius" go. He even started calling you that when we found out that you were a boy, which irritated me so much. But the name stuck, and once we decided on a first and middle name for you, we kept it a secret from everyone until you were born. The name fit you perfectly, just like you fit us perfectly. And now I love to hear it, and see it written. It means that people are thinking of you, and it's a little sign to me that you are ok.

Baby, I hope you are enjoying your first Christmas in Heaven. Ours is definitely not the same without you. We miss and love you so very much.


Thursday, December 23, 2010

Thank you

i just wanted to take some time to say some thank you's...

i was so overwhelmed by all of the positive comments i received yesterday from my blog post. to know that there are so many people that are supportive of what i am trying to do brings a smile to my face. not only that, but THANK YOU to everyone that has donated to Juju's memorial fund. i don't know if you noticed, but i am now more than halfway to my $1k goal!! so, i guess that means that very soon i may need to increase that goal amount {funny thing is D actually thought i was being too ambitious with that amount, so i've actually gotten a chance to gloat about how he was wrong. i haven't done that in a long time, and it felt really good}. these days, in terms of friends, it is definitely about quality not quantity. but i've been lucky enough to have the best of both worlds. i'm not sure what i've done to deserve such great people in my life, but i'm not going to ask questions. and i hope everyone decides to stick around.

i'd also like to say thank you to everyone that reads my blog. i've gotten a few emails, messages, comments from people who have stumbled across my blog by accident. and they usually start off with "i hope you don't mind me reading your blog..." of course i don't mind. i started this blog about a week after i found out i was pregnant with Julius as a way to document my pregnancy journey and keep my friends and family updated since our families live in different states. when he was born i just decided to continue the blog as a way to document life as a mother. never in a million years did i think my life would take this tragic turn, but it has now become a blog about my life without him and my journey through grief. and the reason that i love and welcome new readers is not at all about the popularity - i think any BLM would tell you that they would rather have their baby back then to even have a blog - but it's about getting a chance to talk about the smallest person that forever changed my life. it's about telling the world about the little boy that i had a privilege to grow, birth, care for, and love even if it was for a short time. because every grieving parent's worst fear is that everyone will forget their child. so i love every reader {new and old} because to me it means that there is 1 more person that is thinking of my boy...and then, just maybe, i'll never have to let go...

and though we are not "celebrating" Christmas this year. i hope everyone out there reading has a wonderful Christmas day. to all of my BLMs i hope this Christmas is as gentle as it can be on you. i'm sending you all lots of love and strength now and always. ♥

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Paying it forward

as i mentioned in my previous post, i have been forced to analyze and re-prioritize my life. and though overall i still feel lost, certain things have become so clear. from here on out i will be simplifying my life. i need to remove all obstacles in my life that will keep my from eventually feeling happiness again. there is no more room for drama, toxic people, etc. only people that truly care for and love me will be allowed in, and i will only do things that are meaningful and that bring me joy.

so i have been thinking a lot in the last month or so about ways that i can "pay it forward." things i can do to give back, show my gratitude for everything that people have done for us, and honor my little boy. i know i have said it several times, and will probably mention it several times more, we have been so extremely fortunate to be surrounded by so many selfless, generous people {in real life and virtually}. it makes me very sad that not everyone has the same level of support that we have. it shouldn't be that way. i try to imagine where we would be had we not had all of these people around us, and it makes me shudder to think about it. i don't think i would have survived this long without them.

i thought of a couple of ways that i could help. the 1st and simplest way is by donating/fundraising for SIDS research and education. Juju has memorial funds set up for him at the American SIDS Institute, and at First Candle, and we've distributed this info to our friends and family in case any of them are interested in helping us. and of course i included the links to both on the right hand side of my blog {don't worry, this is not the part where i send around the collection basket...unless you want me to ;) }. last week, i also set up a fundraising page for him at The CJ Foundation for SIDS, which i also inlcuded on my blog. i've set a goal of $1000, and will be working throughout 2011 to raise/contribute that amount. and thanks to some very generous people, i'm already 25% of the way there!

another idea i had was to create some sort of support group for bereaved parents that have suffered the loss of their baby(ies). of course this "project" would be more involved than the first. and i haven't committed to anything yet, since i'm still in the beginning stages of my own grief. this is just me "thinking out loud." but the more i think about, the more i feel drawn to the idea.

there aren't many resources available in my local area for bereaved parents of babies in particular. i believe there is 1 group that meets monthly facilitated by an administrator of the hospital. the same hospital that Juju was taken to, and the area that i now avoid like the plague - so no chance i'll be going to that one any time soon. as i mentioned in my previous posts, i attend 2 support groups for bereaved parents {for children of all ages}. i have learned so much from the people in these groups - there really is some comfort in sharing with other bereaved parents. and though the grief is different, the pain and the love is the same. i will most definitely continue to go to those groups, but i really also want to connect and share with people that have experienced a similar loss {that is the loss of a baby, not just a SIDS loss}.

it doesn't even have to be a formal support group, we really could just get together at my house and cry and talk about our precious little ones. but i still want to organize something. grief is already such an isolating experience. and i know that not everyone feels comfortable sharing in a group setting. but i want people to feel that they have a place where they can turn. and people who know *exactly* what kind of pain they are in. that they don't have to be alone, if they don't want to...

so these are just some of the ideas that i have, and some of the things i will be working on in the coming year. i know it's not much, but it's a start. and i think it will give my life a bit of purpose, and a way to hold on to Juju just a little bit longer. i miss that little boy so very much...♥

Monday, December 20, 2010

i will never be "better"

there have been several times in the last 2 months in which i have chosen to brush off something that someone {trying to be helpful} has said to me. i tend to give people the benefit of the doubt, and i find myself doing that even in my grief. believe me, i know that everyone's intentions are good, and that no one is trying to hurt me or cause me more pain. but with that said, when i hear a certain "theme" more than once, i feel like it's my duty to talk about it in the hopes that i won't have to hear it again. there have been a few occasions in which people have commented on my "not getting better" or asking if i'm "feeling better." and here is my {sincere} response to them...

i will never be "better." to ask me if i am, or to check on my status in terms of the word "better" is to imply that this is a temporary condition, and it is not. i didn't break a bone. i didn't stub my toe or catch a cold. i lost my son. he passed away. and unfortunately for me, death is the most permanent condition.

i was my best when i had Julius. i was the happiest i had ever been. i was the most fulfilled i had ever been. but when he died, my heart was ripped out of my chest. a piece of me was forever lost. and unlike a starfish, i can not regenerate this piece. i will never be made whole again. so to say that i am better would mean that i can go back to the person i was when i had my baby with me. and i can not. i will never be that person again.

from here on out, even my happiest moments will be twinged with pain because there will always be someone missing from our family. every future family picture will be incomplete, every future family function will be incomplete. and that is not something that can be resolved even if D and i go on to have 500 more children. There will always be a Juju-shaped void.

but what i am doing now is adjusting. i am adjusting {albeit slowly and painfully} to life without my son. i am adjusting to the life of no longer being a mother {an earthly mother, that is}. i am adjusting to being able to go anywhere i want whenever i want, and being able to fit into all of my pre-pregnancy clothes {i never thought i would hate them so much}. i am learning how to do everything again - how to walk, how to talk, how to eat, how to breathe - as this different person. and the only reason that i'm doing this is because i have no other choice.

so please, i know you mean well, but don't ask me if i'm feeling better, because the answer now and forever will be "no".

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Someone please remind me...

...never to subscribe to another magazine again. Last night's breakdown was sponsored by Parenting magazine. I don't even know why I subscribed to it in the first place. I never read them, but now they are a constant reminder and a constant stab to my heart. It went promptly in the trash. :(

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Our Journey...

i spend a lot of time these days talking about my feelings, my hurt, my pain. i spend a lot of time talking about my son, what he means to me, how he's changed my life. on ocassion when i am having a "good" day, i'll talk about how blessed i am to have the family and friends that i have. but i realized last night that i don't spend nearly enough time talking about someone else who is extremely important to me {maybe because i am selfishly grieving right now, but anyway...}. this person has been by my side for so long that it's hard to remember what my life was like without him. he is my soulmate, my rock, my protector, my better {er, "other"} half. in Sept 2009, when we found out that i was pregnant with Juju, he became the father of my child. and now i pray every day, that i will be able to call him the father of my children. my husband - D.

we met while we were in highschool back in '98. we went to different highschools but were on the swim teams at our respective schools, and our swim teams practiced at the same pool. we quickly became friends, and about a year later started dating. aside from a small 2 month stint apart, we have been together ever since, and i couldn't imagine what my life would be like without him {nor do i want to}. we've been through so much. we've been dragged through hell together {and are currently working our way out}. but this entire time i have never questioned his love for me, and his devotion to me or to his son, Julius.

what saddens and angers me the most is that Juju won't be able to witness firsthand how amazing his father is. he won't get to grow up and be just like him {because i am SO sure that he had his personality}. D won't get to take him to swim practice, or to taekwondo. D won't get to have the "birds and bees" talk with him {because i DEFINITELY wasn't going to do that part}. and i just hope and pray that Julius was able to see in his four and a half months how much we loved {love} him. and how proud of him his father was {is}. we are both grieving in our own way and in our own time. and though our grief paths might be a bit different - everyone grieves differently, right? - the pain and the love is still intensely the same.

here are a few of the pics we have taken over the past several years. and hopefully you can better understand the reason why, even when i feel like staying in bed and giving up hope, i get up and put one foot in front of the other...

D, i love you so very much, and i'm so sorry that this had to happen to your son. :'( ♥

at our wedding 06.26.04

buying our 1st house april 2008

maternity shots april 2010

Juju's newborn shots at 1 wk

Juju's 4 mo photo shoot on oct 9, 2010

our family of 3 on oct 9, 2010

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


before Julius passed away i considered myself a relatively happy person. i tended to focus on the positive in life. i was always smiling and laughing, and trying my best to get others to laugh. i hated to read about sad stories, or talk about things like death. i especially did not want to talk about the mortality of anyone close to me, even though i had to experience the death of 3 of my grandparents with whom i was close. i can even remember sticking my fingers in my ears, and screaming "la la la la" a few years ago when my parents tried to have a grown-up conversation with me and tell me about their "plans" when they pass away. the topic of death conjured up images of the grim reaper. it was scary, and sad - something that happened to older/sick people, and to other people.

and then Julius passed away...

i'm an entirely different person now. while i do still like to try and focus on the positive and laugh {though it is so difficult to do these days}, i am no longer afraid of death. in fact, i already feel like a part of me is dead, which is probably why i keep referring to myself before Julius' death in the past tense. now this is not to say that i wish to cause myself harm in any way. i do not. but i am at peace thinking that one day i will pass away. one day i will be reunited with my son. one day i will get to hold him again, and i will get to hear the laugh i've been so desperately longing to hear again. one day i will no longer have to keep track of time in "days/weeks/months/years since Julius was with me". and it brings me much comfort. Elizabeth Edwards once said,

"The consolation of losing a child is that you have less fear of death for yourself"

she hit the nail on the head. death is no longer scary. actually, now life has become scary. i am now acutely aware of the fact that one day everyone i love will no longer be here. one day i will feel more pain on top of the pain i'm already in. death doesn't just happen to older/sick people, and to other people. it has touched my life. and it can happen again. there are no guarantees in life. there is no "get out of jail free" pass that i can get because i've already experienced a deeply profound loss. that is what is scary. and all i can hope is that i am gone long before anyone else i love passes away.

the way i see it now, life is merely a "holding cell" while we await the start of our eternal life. a life where there is no more sadness, no more pain and suffering. a life where there is nothing but happiness, and it rains lemon drops and gum drops {ok, slight exaggeration, but you get the point}. but in the meantime, we have to experience the suffering and heartache {yes, we also get to experience joy and happiness, but these emotions haven't really been around much in the last 2 months}. this whole ordeal has made me question so many aspects of my life that i previously thought were important. it has made me re-prioritize certain things.

i am now determined to maximize the amount of happiness in my life, and cut out anything and anyone that brings me any kind of stress, drama, or sadness. if i'm going to make it through the rest of my life {however much longer i am sentenced to be on this earth without Juju}, i have to surround myself with people that i love and that love me. i have to do things that are meaningful and that bring me joy. nothing else matter - not money, not material things - nothing. we can't take any of that with us. the only thing we can take with us is the love in our hearts, and the experiences we had with the people that mattered the most. so that is what i plan to focus on from now until i get to be with my son again. and i am praying that this new focus makes life without Juju a little more bearable.

Monday, December 13, 2010

The Candle Lighting

this entire weekend was rather difficult for me, and i'm not sure why. there was nothing in particular that triggered any of the breakdowns that i had. yet i found myself crippled with sadness and grief on several occasions.

sunday was his two month angel-versary and the candle lighting. the candle light program that our local chapter TCF put on was absolutely wonderful. during the hour of the worldwide candle light, we not only lit candles to remember our children, but also watched a picture slideshow, and listened to music and readings. it was such a memorable night - emotional, but memorable. i'm so glad that i was able to take part in that. it brought me some comfort on a milestone day.

like i mentioned in one of my last post, i wanted to do something special to remember the little ones that are now in Heaven. i asked here on my blog, and on a couple of message boards that i frequent for everyone to post the names of their babies. i was so happy to get so much participation. i know some people were probably busy, and didn't get a chance to post, so i tried to the best of my ability to look up as many names as i could. i ended up with 5 sheets full of names {i added several more after i took these pics}. but of course, i sent up a prayer for little ones everywhere who have left this world, and their parents too soon.


here are some pics i took at the candle light.

one of the tables set up to hold the candles, pic, momentos of our children
the 3 screens set up to play the picture slideshow

Juju's station
D and i after we lit Juju's candle
it's just so unnatural and wrong that any of us had to be in that room last night remembering our children, but i'm glad that we were able to do that. i'm glad that we were able to remember not that our children died, but that they lived. what a great gift they are in our lives, and for that they should always be remembered. ♥

Sunday, December 12, 2010

2 months of pure hell...

My dearest Juju,

I've been without you for 2 whole months. I've gone 2 months without kissing your chubby cheeks, without hugging you, without feeding you. But I haven't gone a second of these 2 months without thinking about you, and loving you. To say "I miss you" is an understatement. I long to see you, and to hold you in my arms again. It's weird that my empty arms actually feel heavier without you in them. I long to hear you laugh. I long to bathe you. I am just so lonely and so lost without you. I want to be with you again. I want you to come back so we can be a happy family again. I don't understand why you had to leave - why my baby had to leave. I absolutely hate the fact that I have to continue on in this world without you. Nothing makes sense anymore without you. Yet I am forced to carry on.

Baby tonight we will be taking part in a candle lighting to remember you. Our family and friends will be joining us and lighting candles for you too. I hope that you are able to see the light from all of the candles where ever you are. I hope you know that there are so many people in addition to your Daddy and I that are constantly thinking about you, and that love you. I wish with every part of me that you were here to see just how many people love and care for you, Baby. You are a very loved little boy. And I know that you will never be forgotten.ever.

I love you, baby boy, and I miss you so very much,


Friday, December 10, 2010

2 month angel-versary and candle lighting

sunday is Julius' 2 month angel-versary. i have managed to survive for 2 months without my precious baby boy. how do i feel 2 months out? lost, sad, broken, hopeless - pretty much the same emotions i have felt since the afternoon of october 12th. what has changed? i'm having more moments of being able to function and "fake it". but what/how much i can do definitely depends on the moment and my mood.

one of the support groups that i joined a few weeks after losing Julius was my local chapter of the national group The Compassionate Friends {TCF}. every year they organize, in conjunction with several other groups, a worldwide candle lighting in december during the holiday season in order to remember the children {of all ages} that have left this world, and their parents too soon. the official time of the candle lighting is from 7-8pm on december 12th. and the idea is that all around the world between the hours of 7-8pm on that day, a candle will be lit in honor and memory of your child.

D and i will be joining the members of our TCF at a local church to participate in the candle lighting, and have a night full of remembering each others' children. there will be a slideshow of pictures, readings, and music. there will also be a table set up to hold the candles, additonal photos, and sentimental objects that belonged to, or remind us of, our children. the leader of my local chapter was kind enough to send me a copy of Juju's slide that will be in the slideshow.

i know it's going to be very difficult and emotional for me to see his face and that big smile flash across the screen. but it's so nice that this candle lighting and the program that our local TCF set up falls on his 2 month angel-versary. and it's nice to know that not only will we be thinking about him on this day, but so will everyone else in the room.

so now i'd like to ask you all {friends, family, fellow BLMs, and anyone out there reading} for a favor...please light a candle between the hours of 7-8 pm sunday night {december 12} to remember, not only my baby boy Julius, but also all of those children that have left us/their parents WAY too soon. i would also like to remember your babies while we are at the candle lighting, so please leave me a comment with your little ones name(s), and i will make a list to take with me that night to set next to his candle. ♥♥ our children will be remembered now and forever!

Thursday, December 9, 2010

a great gift

since Julius passed away, i've sheltered myself and withdrawn into my little bubble. i don't watch the news, and i rarely watch tv. i limit my time on facebook. i try only go to "safe" places {work, gym, home, rinse and repeat}. but that means that now i have absolutely NO idea what is going on in the world around me. i don't mind too much though. i actually like it this way. i can have hope this way. in my world i don't have to hear the frequent stories of despair. i don't have to hear about senseless acts of violence. i don't have to listen to people spout out hatred. i don't have to deal with ungrateful, insensitive people. no, this is the only way that i can continue on right now. so this is what i have to do for myself. however, on the flip side, that means that meaningful, worthwhile news takes a little longer to get to me. the price i pay for being sheltered, i suppose.

yesterday, a very special person passed away - Elizabeth Edwards. this woman had to deal with so much pain in her lifetime, and truly personified the words grace and beauty. i watched a video clip of an interview that was done on her, and listened to some of the things she said not only about the experience of losing her son, but also her thoughts on her own mortality, and God. i was blown away by her eloquence and maturity. she is truly an inspiration to me. i made a note of some of the things that she said that really spoke to my heart that i want to blog about more in detail later, but there was one thing she said that just *fit* my day today.

"If you know someone who has lost a child, and you're afraid to mention them because you think you might make them sad by reminding them that they died--you're not reminding them. They didn't forget they died. What you're reminding them of is that you remembered that they lived, and that is a great gift."

i truly have been blessed with friends that constantly remind me that they are there for me, and that they are thinking of me, and praying for me. for that i am truly thankful. but then there are those extra moving moments when a friend will go out of their way to let you know that they care. to let me know that, even though they have not experienced a loss like this, they know and remember that my child LIVED. my friend, rebeca {not the "rebecca" that writes "the road less traveled" blog - this one i've known since grade school. *gasp* that's a long time!} sent me an email this morning saying that she had had a dream in which she spelled out Julius' name under her tree using her daughter's blocks. so when she woke up, that's what she did. and then she sent me pics...

Juju's 2 month angel-versary is fast approaching. and not a day has gone by where someone has not mentioned his name to me, or told/showed me that they remember him in some way. and that, as Elizabeth Edwards said, is "a great gift."

thank you, rebeca, for the gift you have given me today. it's amazing to think about how far we have traveled in life together - from little girls on the playground of grade school, to women with families doing the whole "adult thing". such a journey! but my journey has been made better because of you. i ♥ you!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

my heart is about to burst!!!

ok, i know i'm reaching my post quota for the day, but i'm just too excited not to share what *just* hit my inbox...

the backstory:
last week there was giveaway posted on the Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope facebook page for a customized hand-painted ornament from jess at Too Beautiful for Earth: Memorial Art {coincidentally, the same jess that made my "Juju dove" that i posted about earlier - but i didn't find that out until later}. to enter you had to leave a comment saying how you were planning to honor your little one during the holiday season this year. well i posted a comment not really thinking anything because 1) we don't plan to celebrate Christmas this year, and 2) i don't typically win contests. then i completely forgot about the contest because as i mentioned before, i don't win contests. i even went to the website to take a look at the ornaments because i was seriously considering purchasing one but it got too overwhelming to look at, so i closed it and shelved the idea. on saturday a friend posted on my facebook page asking if i realized that *I* won the contest. it took a second to remember what contest she was talking about, but then i rushed right over to the FoL FB page to see if it was true. and it was!!!! i won!!!! i actually have no doubt that Juju had a hand in this. he must have. ♥

jess contacted me and let me know that i could pick any of the ornaments on her page to have customized. and as soon as i saw the heart-shaped ornament i knew i had to have it. i was meant to have that one. see, we had our baby cremated and his remains placed in a heart-shaped urn which now sits on our dresser in our bedroom.

so the only ornament that i could get to truly represent my baby was this heart-shaped one. i sent her his info and a pic of the urn. and today, she sent me a pic of the finished ornament.

Photo Credit

as soon as i saw the pic i burst into tears. to say that i love this ornament is such an understatement. i don't even have words to describe my feelings about the ornament other than to say that every time i look at the pic my heart feels like it is going to burst. i'm flooded with so many emotions right now, and can not wait to receive it. my heart is truly appreciative and "happy" at this moment. thank you again, jess, you will never know how thankful i am for you.

and even more healing...

i *just* had a small burst of energy and called my church and scheduled a mass to be said on both may 31, 2011 {the day after his birthday since the 30th was already being dedicated to someone}, and october 12, 2011 {his angel day} for Julius. to my pleasant surprise, they already had his angel day down on the calendar and were planning to say a mass anyway for him - they have been so very supportive through this whole thing. ♥

i'm so glad that i now have a way to remember him this upcoming year on these two important days. ♥♥

a little more healing...

after my post last week about what mary over at Micah's Gift did for us, a couple of things happened. the first thing that happened was that one of my friends on facebook left me a comment after reading that post that really made me think. this friend reaches out to me often to let me know that she is thinking of me, which i appreciate so much. and she has this way with words that leaves me feeling so comforted. she said,

"Though it is tragic that so many mothers are in this sisterhood, I am delighted to know there is so much sharing, creative life and beauty in what you all are doing for one another and the world."

even though i don't think i've really contributed to the sharing or creative life that she speaks of, i've been fortunate enough to come across so many women that do so much to help their fellow BLMs. they hone their creative gifts for the good of others. they help those mommas who are in desperate need to hold on to the memories of their babies. they aid in our healing, and quite possibly their own. and there is so much beauty in that. even a small gesture, can have a tremendous impact.

which brings me to the second thing that happened, jessica from Heaven's Doves contacted me to let me know about her blog, and that she would gladly create a dove for Julius if i wanted to request one. again i jumped at the chance. how could i not want my own "Juju dove"? she created his dove and sent me this pic.

thank you so much, jessica, for what you do to help BLMs, and for what you have done for me. you are a part of *my* healing, and hopefully slowly but surely this hole in my heart will start to mend.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

and today is one of those days...

...that i can't seem to gather the strength to remind myself that there is still love and light in the world. just when i think i have a moment of clarity, it is gone like *that*. and so goes the cycle of grief. 1 step forward, 2 steps back...

all i want is my baby! :'(

Monday, December 6, 2010

Life isn't fair. Or is it?

D and i have been talking a lot about our future lately. things like: where do we go from here? how many {more} children do we want? how many years apart do we want to space them? how will we parent our subsequent children in light of what has happened? it is the last question that caused us to stop and have an even more serious discussion...

when he asked me if i thought i would treat/parent our next child differently. i said "yes" almost immediately. i think he was a bit taken aback by my response. see, i actually have no regrets about how i parented Julius. when we were together, i was dedicated to being his mom. i gave him all of me. i loved on him every second i could. i never got frustrated with him. i may have been tired, and stressed at times but i understood that he was a baby and that all he ever wanted was for me to meet his basic needs. and without hesitation i tried to do just that. but there are certain aspects of how we parented that will have to be changed/adjusted because of what has happened. there's just no way to go through a loss as profound as this, and not change *something* - your way of thinking, what you plan to do in the future, etc. you are forever changed.

and then he, very sincerely, asked me if i thought it was "fair" to our next child that he/she be parented differently. and then *I* was taken aback...

is it fair?? that question infuriates me these days. that is a question that i have asked out loud since october 12th. was it fair to me that my 4.5 month old perfectly healthy baby boy be taken from me?? a mother that devoted herself entirely to him. a mother that would have given {and still wants to give} her life to keep him safe {or now bring him back}. a mother that planned, and prayed for this little boy. a mother that loves him wholly and completely. is it fair to me that i have lost my innocence? that i now have to live with the harsh reality that bad things can and do happen to us?

is it fair that there are women all over the world, good loving women, that have to endure the horrible fate of losing their babies?? the ones that they have planned for, and that they have prayed for.

is it fair that there are people out there that choose to abuse and neglect their children who do not have to suffer this terrible loss?? that they can just take their children for granted with no consequence.

please don't get me wrong, i am not trying to say that i think *anyone* should have to suffer the loss of a child. but it is very hard for me to watch the news these days and see stories of child abuse and neglect and not be filled with rage. it just makes me scream out "it's not fair. Lord, this is SO not fair"!

then i think about that phrase "life isn't fair," and i try to be apathetic about the whole thing. i start thinking that i should just give up hope because no matter what i do, i'm going to lose in the end. i start thinking that there is no one watching out for me, so what's the use in trying. i start thinking that all there is is suffering - all i'm going to endure is suffering for the rest of my life. why even get out of bed?

and then i start to sink deeper into that hole of sadness...

i struggle with this thought process constantly. some days i have the strength to remind myself that while, yes, losing Juju was NOT fair at all. i was given a beautiful son, who was absolutely perfect in all of his imperfections {even though like a typical mom i wouldn't be able to list any of those imperfections}. even though it's not fair. i do have a wonderful hubby that has shown through this whole ordeal how devoted he is to me and his family. even though it's not at all fair. i have some wonderfully compassionate people in my life {new and old} that have come to my side so that i do not have to walk this road alone. even though it's not fair. i do still have the chance to add to our family and bring the joy and happiness that Julius brought back into our lives. even though it's not fair at all. i am still here and do have more to offer this world.

yes, life has moments of being so very unfair. but it also has moments of being overwhelming fair, and happy, and full of love and light. it's not easy for me to see that love and light through this patch of unfair darkness. but i have to attempt to remind myself that it is indeed there. when i'm on the ground being kicked in the gut by life. i have to attempt to pick myself up. i have to attempt to move myself forward. not for me, but for Juju and D...

Friday, December 3, 2010

Acts of kindness...

again i'm amazed that whenever i feel like i'm about to slip into a hole of sadness, someone swoops down to rescue me {or at least pulls me a little closer to the light}. today i want to thank 2 wonderful ladies that i had the privilege to "meet" while on my journey through grief {and whom are also on their own respective journeys through grief}.

the first person i want to thank is mary over at Micah's Gift. after she lost her precious Micah, she wrote Micah's name on a blade of wild grass so that she could essentially watch Micah grow. she now offers to write the names of fellow BLMs' angel babies in the grass, so that not only will Micah have friends, but they can all "grow" and "play" together in this patch of wild grass that is never cut. and you know me, once i came across her blog, and saw that i could have this done for Juju, I jumped at the chance. as i mentioned in my last post, i am desperate to hold onto my baby in any way, shape or form, so i'm always excited about a new opportunity to do just that. i sent mary my request, and within hours, she had written Julius' name, and sent me the pic of my "Juju grass". my heart was just overcome with love. it brings me comfort to think of Julius "playing" with Micah and friends - waiting for me. :') thank you so much, mary, for filling in some of the emptiness of my heart with love.

the next lovely lady that i would like to thank is ms. angie over at Expectations Revised. she was kind enough to give me this blog award. it still makes me blush to think that there are people out there that read {and actually *like* my blog}. so i thank you angie from the bottom of my heart for this award. i feel honored that you take time out of your day/life to read my blog, and walk with me on my journey.

The rules of this award are:

1. Link back to the person who gave it to you
2. Pass it on to five (or more) other blogs
3. Leave them a comment telling them about the award

to pass this award on to *just* 5 women/blogs would be an injustice. i have had the pleasure of discovering so many blogs that have been so inspirational to me. honestly, if i had not found these women i would have felt much more alone during this time. it has been so eye-opening to see how many women are affected by baby loss. it's just so unfair. so even though it means that i may have to take several hrs to complete #3. i'm going to recognize a lot of my fellow BLMs who's blogs i follow {and i apologize profusely to anyone i have accidentally excluded on this list}:

Lindsay at Keeping up with the Joneses
Denise at This Momma's Journey
Lindsay at The Chipmans
Rebecca at The Road Less Traveled
Megan at A Story Unfolding...
Rhiannon at For the Love of Harper
Rachel at Curls O Fred
Kam at Our New Normal
Kimberly at God Keeps His Promises
MrsH at A Second Line
Kalialani at The Butterfly Room
Organized Chaos at Abigail's Legacy of Hope
Tiffany at In the Beginning There Was Genesis
Jen at Attempting to Love Life without Her...
Trena at Free to Fly
Kristin at Dear Stevie
Littleharves at Harveys World - Remember to Breathe
Lis at Built-in Birth Control
Stephanie at Carried Through Grief
Karol at Loving Laynee
Patty at Journey of Loss, Hope and Faith
Franchesca at My Heart Song

**and to those i have recognized, please know that i do not mind one bit if you do not feel like "playing along". we are all in the midst of grief, and taking the time to post about a blog award sometimes is just NOT doable {we need to conserve all the energy we can while mourning}. i just wanted to take the time to thank you all for giving me some inspiration/motivation. i appreciate every last one of you more than you will know.**

Thursday, December 2, 2010


over the course of the last month and a half, i have received compliments from many people regarding my strength. things like "your strength is amazing" or "you are such a strong person". usually when i hear something like that, my first instinct is to chuckle or roll my eyes {and i hope i have not offended anyone that i have done this to in person}. it's just that these days the word "strong" is not one that i would use when referring to myself. ever.

i am not strong at all. strength is something i wish i possessed. what i am is desperate. desperate to hold my baby one last time. desperate to wake up every 2 hours to feed someone. desperate to have to leave work at lunch every day to feed a baby that is too adorably stubborn to take a bottle. desperate to do diaper laundry and the tedious task of stuffing said diapers. desperate to deal with a fussy baby who is on the cusp of the dreading teething process. desperate to hold on...

what i am is weak. too weak to get out of bed in the morning without first writing a letter to my baby. too weak to brave the stores and shopping during this holiday season. too weak to do much else besides go to work. and i'm too broken to open his drawers, and look at his clothes. too broken to take the car seat out of my car. too broken to even drive by babies r us.

how can anyone even remotely classify me as strong? i know that looks can be deceiving some times, and the fact that i do get out of bed and get to work most days says something. but what that something is is not that i am strong. or that i have found the will to continue to live my life. it means that i'm going through the motions. that i'm existing. that i'm actually sick of sitting in my bed and staring at all of his things. that i'm trying to keep my mind busy in order to delay the next inevitable breakdown.

my hope these days is that one day, while going through the motions, i will start to find new purpose and meaning. my hope is that this cloud of darkness that is suffocating me will start to lift. my hope is that all of the thoughts and prayers that have been said for us will reach God's ears and he will have mercy on us. my hope is that one day, i may actually believe that i am a strong individual. but for now, i will just hope...