Tuesday, May 31, 2011

His Birthday in Pictures

that morning

sending our donations to his memorial funds

baking his cake

his balloons

decorating his cake later that day

those are supposed to be birds. i'm not an artist!

getting ready to send him his balloons

each balloon had a message telling him what we missed about him

3:52pm letting them go at the time of his birth

and some got stuck on the powerline - doh!

but they eventually wiggled themselves free and went off to be with Juju
eating cake after dinner

some of his gifts

his memorial ad that ran in today's paper instead of on his birthday, but still wonderful nonetheless

Monday, May 30, 2011

Happy 1st Birthday, Little Man!

Dearest Julius,

Today is your 1st birthday! Happy Birthday!

The month leading up to this day has been so hard, baby boy. I've been trying to figure out how to make it on your special day without you. The truth is, I don't want to celebrate this day without you. How am I supposed to do this without you? I want you here. I want you to smash a cake. I want you to stare at balloons and try to grab for them. I want you to smile your beautiful smile at us while we sing happy birthday to you. I want you to attempt to open your presents.But instead I get to make plans to keep me busy. I get to attempt to decorate a cake like your urn, and spend time in your garden. I get to donate the money I would have spent on your gifts to your memorial funds. I get to send your balloons up to heaven.

Daily I ask myself how this came to be my reality. I'm just not sure what fork in the road brought me to this place. Last year at this time labor with you was just beginning. We were at home dealing with contractions, not sure if we should go to the birth center, not sure if we would be coming home with our baby boy. Hours later you made your way into this world, the picture of perfection and health. You were already trying to lift your head hours after birthday, and were a pro at breastfeeding from the start. The second we saw you, we were in love deeper than we had ever been before.

We spent 4.5 months with you before we painfully had to part. And we've been in hell ever since. Trying to learn  how to function again without you has proven to be a very complicated thing. You became part of our beings from the moment you came into existence - our lives and purpose all wrapped up in you. So your absence has left us mere shells of the people we once were, aged several lifetimes over. I have fought every day for every step and breath I have taken. I have struggled without you, and still do.

And though I'm still angered by the fact that you are no longer here, that you no longer have the one thing you deserve the most - life, I have come to a point in my grief that I can say that I am more grateful than resentful. I am grateful to know you (and I do know you deeper than anyone else does). I am grateful for every single second we spent together. I am grateful that you refused a bottle, only wanting your momma. I'm grateful that you opened my eyes and my heart wider than they had ever been opened before. That you taught me how to love completely and unconditionally (even when death has separated us). That you showed me what is most important in life. That you brought me joy and happiness all of yours.

Because of this and all of the love we continue to share even though you are no longer here, today I will celebrate your all too short life. I will spend time in your garden with pride, I will send up balloons with joy in my heart, I will light candles and smile, I will bake your cake gladly. I will do it all for you because even though everyday without you is hell, May 30, 2010 will forever be the day that you came into our lives and changed us. It will always be the day that I was the happiest I had ever been in my life. So today will focus on how much your presence enhanced our life. Today will be about your presence, rather than the weight of your absence.

I love you so much Julius. We all miss you so much. Please shower us with your love today. Please stay extra close to us as we mark this huge milestone day without you. Know that we will never stop loving you or caring about you. It's just not possible, you are too important. You are part of us and not even death can take that away.

Loving you forever, my chunky monkey,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Last week's happy list

i've been so busy and emotionally exhausted the last few weeks, i've had little time to update my blog the way i would like. i'm always astounded at how quickly the waves of grief can come, most of the time with no warning whatsoever. friday, D and i were in a craft store, enjoying each other's company, and then mariah carey's song "one sweet day" started playing over the stereo. that is actually the 1 song that i had been actively avoiding since Julius passed away because i knew it would be a huge trigger, and there it was. it paralyzed me. i didn't know what to do - walk out of the store, stick my fingers in my ears and yell "lalala" until the song was over. so i just froze, and panicked, and begged D to help me, and he did. he pulled out his ipod and put on a completely trigger-free rap song, and all was moderately tolerable in my world again (eventually). 7 months out and the pain is still as fresh. but again last week there were a few things that brought me some happiness:

1. More Fundraising. another dear friend of mine had a yard sale on saturday and donated 100% of the proceeds to Julius' memorial fund at CJ Foundation. she raised and donated $300. her donation this weekend has put us over the halfway mark to our goal of $5k in 2011.

2. Garden decorations. while at previously mentioned craft store, i picked up a few decorations for Juju's garden - a froggy and butterfly. when i saw them i knew i had to get them. they were perfect for him.

3. A chance to remember him. i had been working closely with a clergy member at my church since Julius passed away to see what we could do to reach out to babyloss families in the parish and in the community. i started off trying to see if i could organize a support group there, but that didn't really work out. and even though the group didn't take shape the way we hoped, we still planned to put together a couple of events throughout the year to honor and remember all those precious babies that left this world too soon. the first of those events - a remembrance mass - happened last week. thursday night a beautiful mass was said in honor of all the babies that were lost during pregnancy/birth/infancy, and it makes me so proud to know that i had a part in making that happen. no, the church wasn't packed; no, it wasn't standing room only. but i could tell from looking at the faces of the people that did go that they were so moved by the gesture. i know i was. at the end of the mass each family went up and lit a candle with their baby's name on it and placed it on the table. it was so symbolic and meaningful. and it was so beautiful to see all the families that went up together to recognize those they had lost.

4. Mail. last week i got a few touching pieces of mail. my mother sent a small gift and card for Julius for his birthday. natasha sent the cutest card with his name on it and a magnet. deanna sent me the star she made for Juju that she displayed at her River's Run & Ride Rally event. and i got a notification that a friend had a butterfly released for Julius at our local botanical gardens. the same thing we did for rebecca's daughter, Lily, which i believe got to her by mail the day Juju passed away.

from natasha
5. Birthday plans. i continue to think of things to do to celebrate Juju's life on his birthday. i've decided that in addition to working in his garden, i will also make him a cake and attempt to decorate it like his urn {i have some heart-shaped baking pans}. i will also be having KFC for dinner that day {which is what i had after i gave birth to him}, donating to his memorial funds at CJ Foundation and First Candle, and releasing balloons in his honor at 3:52 pm {the time he was born}. i went to party city this past week and picked up a small helium tank for the occasion. yep, i plan to do it big. there's just no other choice for a boy as special as Juju. o, and i'm not sure if i mentioned it last time, but i contacted the local newspaper and plan for them to run a special memorial birthday ad on that day. i've already seen the proof, and i think it's going to be really special. ♥

Monday, May 16, 2011

Happy List Saturday (er, Monday)!

it's been a while since i did a happy list. i had every intention of doing one this weekend, but, that didn't work out too well. so i'm going to it today. better late than never, right?! we're only half-way through one of the most difficult months of the year for me {as it's Julius' birth month}, and though it most certainly has been hard, there have been some "happy" moments too. here are some of the things that have brought me some happiness recently:

1. Faces of Loss, Faces of Hope special mission. i am so incredibly honored to say that i am now an online community organizer with my dear friend, natasha, for FoLFoH! ms. natasha was in need of some help, and was so sweet to think of me. i couldn't turn it down. i would do anything to help kristin and all of the amazing women who devote so much of their time/lives to FoL. it is such a worthy meaningful cause, and one that i am now very passionate about. so i am very excited to get a chance to help out. natasha and i are planning so many wonderful things for the babyloss community. it really is a privlege for me to be able to do this. thank you natasha and kristin! ♥

2. Fundraising. we are steadily creeping our way up to our $5k goal. i can't thank everyone who has donated so far enough. this past weekend a dear friend set up a lemonade stand to raise awareness for SIDS and raise money for Julius' memorial fund at CJ Foundation. you can see pics and read her blog post here. she was able to raise $100 for his fund. i can't tell you how much it means to me that she took time out of her busy life to remember my baby boy and support our cause. just knowing that she was out there talking about our little boy, the person who changed our lives so profoundly, makes my heart swell. i think every bereaved parents worse fear is that their child will be forgotten. so thank you, rachel, for remembering our child!

on the same topic, we still have our Uppercase Living fundraiser going on this month {it will end on May 31st}. if you would like to help us reach our goal, and get something inspirational/personal for your home, please check it out. just logon to http://kyleer.uppercaseliving.net/, register for free, and check out all of their products. and make sure to mention Juju when placing your order so it will count toward our fundraiser. 15% of the total sales will be going to his fund!

3. Friends. this past friday, my face2face group got together to celebrate mother's day over dinner. i had such a wonderful time. we've started a new ritual - we now light a candle {a flameless one} during all of our functions. my amazing friend, mary, came up with the idea, and we all loved it. the candle is lit in honor of all of our babies. it's just so nice to have that extra recognition of their presence in our lives. and we have all become such a close group. really, i can not say enough great things about the women i have met through this group. they are the best! and we spend the whole night acting silly. i bought everyone a willow tree figurine {which i picked especially for them}, and it brought me so much happiness to see them open it. i just love my group! ♥

4. Brick. i can't believe i forgot about this one {i'm edited my post after publishing it}. last week, i was on another local angel mom's FB page, and i saw that she had a pic of a brick engraved with her child's name. i commented on how much i like it, and then she gave me the details about how she had it done. it's through the local museum in town, and the brick is placed along a walking path in the park downtown. so i went to the museum's website, found the information, and purchased a brick for my baby boy. the reason why this is so special to me {other than the obvious}, is that we were in that park the day before he passed away. that is the park where we had our last photo shoot together {just momma and Juju}. after our photo shoot, we went to the museum to eat at the restaurant that is there {well, i ate, he sat in his stroller}. and just had a really nice morning/afternoon together. i am so thankful that we had that time together. and even though right now i am avoid that park/museum, i know that when his brick gets placed on the path, and we go as a family to see it, it will be so very meaningful. i'm so glad i have this way to memorialize Julius.

ok, so those are just a few of the things that i have been working on, and that have brought me joy during this exceptionally difficult month. i still have 2 more weeks to go before his birthday, and yep, i'm still dreading that day. but even so, i know that must celebrate his life because it is so signifcant to me...♥

Thursday, May 12, 2011

No Cure

i finally finished the book i was reading {Elizabeth Edwards "Saving Graces"}. as i was picking out quotes to include in a future blog post about the book, i came across one that sums up everything so perfectly. in this passage she writes to a fellow bereaved parent about a recent experience...

Someone else writes me to ask why I am not getting professional help in my “recovery.” He views mourning as a goal-directed task: rally the troops, make a list, get it done! That has so little to do with the way I feel, and I cannot find words to make him understand. How can I tell him there is no cure for me? I cannot express how deeply this boy had grown into my being, and how I will suffer his loss every day that I breathe. I cannot be cured of it, any more than I can be cured of breathing itself. I suppose there will come that day when I will need to clean the dining room, when I must box the pictures, when I will decide what is to become of the things in his closet, when I will not be able to visit his grave each day. But we simply eat in the kitchen, and I do not walk into his room, and I make time for the cemetery and Wade, because it is important to me that he have some time in each day that belongs just to him. And if I started putting him away and blocking him out of my day, would I be recovering from his death? Well, the problem is that it also seems awfully like ignoring his life. The image I have for our family is grapevines, twisting around each other, interweaving, leaves pushing through until it is impossible to separate the vines without destroying much of their beauty. And this vine was, without warning, ripped from us and from among us. We heal only by growing around the wound, in constant recognition of its absence.
there is no cure for losing a child. there is no recovering from the void that their absence carves out in our lives. but we fight like hell daily to heal by growing around the wound without forgetting that it's there.

Giveaway Winner

and the winner of this month's giveaway {a $25 Uppercase Living gift certificate} is....

comment #6 - Becky!! i hope you are able to find the perfect expression to put in your nursery to honor your angel, Liam, and your future rainbows. i really love that idea! ♥ please send me an email and i will put you in touch with kylee, who will take care of everything for you.

it really does bring me some joy and comfort to be able to bring a little happiness to someone else. and today on Julius' 7 month angelversary, i need all the joy i can get. i'm still completely dumbfounded that it's been 7 months since i last held my baby boy in my arms. 7 months since i kissed his chubby little cheeks. 7 months...
it feels like an eternity and a blink of an eye all at the same time...

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Giveaway ending tomorrow

just a reminder, giveaway #5 is ending tomorrow night. the winner will be announced on may 12th, Juju's 7 month angelversary.

if you have not yet entered, please do so here. it is for a $25 Uppercase Living gift certificate. they have so many amazing inspirational unique expressions that you can get to add something special to your home. you can also get a custom expression made. ♥

also, this whole month long, we will be holding an Uppercase Living fundraiser. 15% of the total sales will be donated to Juju's memorial fund at CJ Foundation. Just logon to http://kyleer.uppercaseliving.net/, register for free, and check out all of their products. make sure to mention Juju when placing your order so it will count toward our fundraiser. and you will also get free shipping on all orders!

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Mother's Day without You

Dear Julius,

Today is Mother's Day. Last year around this time, Daddy and I were anxiously waiting your arrival. I remember commenting to him how unfair I thought it was that he was going to celebrate Father's Day a month later the "right" way - with a baby on Earth to father, while I was going to have to wait a whole year. Little did I know... I miss you so much. I wonder how it would feel to get kisses and hugs from an 11.5 month old. I wonder what you and Daddy would have done for me to help me celebrate this day. I wonder so much about what our life passed October 12th would have been like. Unfortunately we will never get to know.

Today has been very emotional. Instead of holding you close, I did some work in your garden. I painted your name on your memorial stone. And I finally put it in your garden. Daddy and I bought some nice solar lights yesterday, and I put those in place. Instead of chasing after you, I cleaned out the garage, and did some laundry. Instead of making sure that all of your needs were met, I cleaned our room. I made sure that your spot was nice and dust-free. I lit candles around the house. This is my life after you...parenting your memory.

But, Baby, even though I feel intense sadness and pain on this day, I have felt love. I've felt love from Daddy who made me breakfast in bed and gave me a card and my favorite B&J's ice cream. I've felt love from my parents and sister who called and wished me a gentle Mother's Day. I've felt love from my wonderful friends who have left such wonderful messages/emails/texts all day long telling me that they are thinking about me and praying for me. From the friends that brought me such sweet gifts and sent me flowers and cards. I even received a present for your 1st birthday {which is coming up in a few weeks} from Ellie's momma.

a present for your birthday

a journal and candles

just a few of the cards i received

flowers that were sent to me

a beautiful butterfly candle holder

Chunky Monkey, thank you so much for making me a mother. Thank you for making me a better person, for teaching me all about life, love, and sacrifice. You have changed me more than you could ever know. You are the best thing that has ever happened to me, my greatest accomplishment. My only regret is that we didn't have more time together. But though our time was short, our bond is indestructible, because our love is far too great. I love you forever and always.    -Mommy

Wishing all mothers, especially my fellow BLM mothers a peaceful, gentle Mother's Day!

"Mother's Day is a day of appreciation and respect. I can think of no mothers who deserve it more than those who had to give a child back ~ Erma Bombeck

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Small Update

and we're back! we finally got power restored earlier this week at our house. and we are slowly getting back to our routine. i've been a bit overwhelmed at work trying to catch up from everything that i missed being out part of last week due to the storms, but i think i'm almost caught up {i actually appreciate the distraction that work provides these days}.

since i had limited access to the internet, i haven't been able to promote this month's giveaway like i have wanted to. so, i will do that now. if you haven't gotten a chance to check out my last post, please do. this month's giveaway is for a $25 gift certificate to Uppercase Living. check out the post for details on how to enter. in addition to the giveaway, we are running an Uppercase Living fundraiser. 15% of the total sales will be sent to Juju's memorial fund at CJ Foundation. and that's not all, shipping is free on all orders! eek, i can't wait to order my custom expression {i will be getting my fav quote "i carry your heart in my heart" to display in my dining area}. thank you Kylee and Uppercase Living for doing this!

since we had no power, i spent a lot of time reading my new book, Saving Graces by Elizabeth Edwards. i'm not done yet, and i'm trying hard to finish it so that i can start my book for the FOLFOH may book club. i already thought EE was so eloquent, but this book is so powerful, especially when she begins talking about the affect the loss of her son had on her life. i found myself sobbing while reading it because it hit home so much. also i learned that though her son went by Wade, that was actually his middle name. His first name....Lucius. i got chills when i read that. that was actually the name i started off with for his middle name {after a character in the movie The Gladiator}, and somehow worked my way around to Luciano. and Lucius actually seems like a perfect combination of Julius and Luciano, doesn't it? i know sometimes i read a little too much into something, but it's little things like this that bring me comfort these days.

and i've been working on a couple more projects that i will keep under my hat for now. but i'll definitely reveal them when the time is right. :)

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Doing Good In Juju's Name May Giveaway

well today is the start of may. the start of the month that last year i was so anxious for. the month that after Julius was born, i was so excited to have come back around because it meant that i would be celebrating my son's 1st birthday. but since he passed away, it's been 1 of the months that i've been dreading because it means that i have to experience a birthday without the birthday boy. i have 29 more days until that day. i have several milestone days to pass before that day. i'm already exhausted from thinking about it. my heart is very heavy. and so this giveaway is exactly what i need to help lift my spirits just a bit.

this giveaway is sponsored by a woman who has become such a sweet friend, kylee, and Uppercase Living. i "met" kylee when she sent me an email a few months ago to tell me that she had stumbled upon my blog, and wanted to send her love and offer her help with my giveaways. i was {and still am} so moved by her reaching out to me, and her generosity. i have met the most compassionate, loving, generous people on my journey. it touches my heart so much.

so for those of you who are not familiar with Uppercase Living, here's a little about them:

Uppercase Living believes in the power of words, in the beauty of elegant design, and in the transforming quality that both can have in any environment. And when you experience our product firsthand, you’ll believe it too!
Uppercase Living offers hundreds of pre-designed expressions to be placed easily and seamlessly on any flat surface!. You can also design a custom expression using a wide variety of colors and fonts to express any sentiment that you'd like!

There are four amazing things about Uppercase Living products:
  1. When on your wall, the lettering absolutely looks hand-painted!
  2. It can be easily applied (and removed, if you choose)
  3. While hundreds of pre-designed expressions are available in any of 30 colors and 3 sizes each, the best part is the ability to custom-order any expression that you would like, in any size and in any of the 30 colors!
  4. Saved the best for last: the cost of our expressions is far below that of many standard lettering and sign companies!
the giveaway:
so this month's giveaway is for a $25 gift certificate to be put toward an Uppercase living product {for BLMs only}. to enter, just leave me a comment telling me what kind of expression you would get if you won. i will keep the giveaway open until may 11th, and then announce the winner on may 12th, Juju's 7 month angelversary.

for those of you that are interested in getting an expression from Uppercase Living regardless if you win the giveaway or not, kylee has agreed to donate 15% of the total sales to Juju's memorial fund at CJ Foundation! i already know that i will be getting a custom expression of my favorite quote "i carry your heart in my heart." but there is just so much you can do. here are just a few ideas:

You may view the entire catalog online - and also play with "My Design Suite" to customize an expression for your home. Just logon to http://kyleer.uppercaseliving.net/, register for free, and check out all of their products. and make sure to mention Juju when placing your order so it will count toward our fundraiser. good luck and a big thank you again to kylee for being so generous and offering this! ♥♥