Eight Dollars

I rip myself open willingly, eagerly, just so you can watch the blood fall into puddles at your feet and see the love I keep there for you.

I watch expectantly while you step left to prevent the possibility of leaving your foot prints stained there, confirming the nightmare that it isn’t enough. Your snide remarks insinuating that the red that drips through the pink of my palms is somehow manufactured, the shade not deep enough for you to trust. Even after you watched me manipulate the blade that you sharpened for me yourself, slicing to sever my skin from my muscle and show you inside. So I cut deeper still, recklessly abandoning my ego and pride in attempt to find your shade of crimson.

But again you push past the silence between us, leaving a bucket of bleach and a look that tells me to rid this space of any remnants that would be us. So I wash myself of myself, and of you, futile attempts to mold me back into whatever it is that you see fit.

I break myself down again and again, only to spend hours fitting the pieces back together in a way that is amenable to you. Losing any and all of the ones that threaten your power over me. I make myself smaller, in every sense of that word, desperately pleading to have left just enough behind to gain your approval.

Your palm grips my throat, allowing just enough oxygen to get lost in the sensation of your lips over mine, creating a slow burn between us. You let go and my thoughts go black as you stare right through me, never stopping to take me in. I beg you, breathlessly, speaking nothing until your left hand takes place at the hollow of my throat where my collar bone meets once again. It’s here that I trust you. Your grip the confirmation that I’d follow wherever you chose to lead me. Blindly, instinctually.

Still you say you cannot see my loyalty, or trust how I’ve bled myself at your feet. My emotions too unsteady in your eyes, threatening the idea that you cannot seem to nail down for me. So I walk away, again. You feeling nothing as I leave, unaffected by the venom you left pulsing to my now unfeeling extremities.

The silence of the next week only broken by your midnight text to see if I’m awake. Self-hatred flushes down my neck to my chest, as I respond within minutes of waking to the vibration on my mirrored bedside table. I tell myself to ignore it, and you. To leave you in the nighttime stillness. But that isn’t the way that this works. So I find my way back to your hands at 2AM, surrendering to the grip of your forefinger and thumb against my windpipes, controlling the depth of my next breath.

I want to believe that you see me the way that I see my reflection in your eyes when you ask if this is what I want. And unaware of what the “this” is, I make my head move side to side to tell you no.

I’ve pledged my allegiance to you, put my hand to the Bible and felt the joy that is found when you hold my face between your hands and smile.

But you still don’t see me.

You’ve set your focus on the eight dollars left between us, unwilling to budge in either direction.

So for you that’s what I’ve become.

(For Kris – I know I cannot stop your heart from bleeding for him, but I promise to love you through his indifference.)

 

 

Scars to Your Beautiful

I see you.

Baited breath, praying for the next to come easier than the last.

I see you.

Simultaneously hoping no one can see your mother heart, all the while begging for absolutely anyone to just recognize it.

I hear you.

Your silent anguish that lives right beneath your surface, threatening to rip it’s way out of you with every second that passes by.

I recognize the familiarity of the hollow in your eyes, and the emptiness of your arms. I understand, more fully than you know, the self hatred that your harbor undeservingly.

Yes.

I see you, you childless Mother on Mother’s Day.

But did you know that this day is still yours too? That it always will be?

I’m not saying that the day will be easy, and in fact it will probably never be. But it will still be, because you still are.

You are still a Mother. Today, tomorrow, and every other day your eyes open to meet the sunlight.

So I hope in a rare moment of peaceful clarity, you are able to see that this day could actually be worse.

Instead of you having to temper the moments without your child, it could have been the other way around.

Your negotiations and bargaining with both God and the Devil could have come to pass, and you would’ve taken your last breath instead of your son. Then what? What would today be for him?

He would be a motherless child on Mother’s Day. And your heart breaks for the umpteenth time just imagining for a moment the sadness that he would feel. The pain he would have to endure on this day, and countless others.

That’s not what you were bargaining for. Your negotiations only there to stop any possible pain, not project it.

And so your mother heart beats proudly in this moment.  In this clarity. Because you will gladly accept the anxiety fueled tightness in your chest, knowing that he will never have to.

From my bleeding heart to yours, I see you beautiful Mama.

For Kamren; Thank you, for making me your Mother. Thank you for giving me a lifetime of love in 284 days. You’ve changed me in the best, and most needed ways possible. You saved me, when I couldn’t save you. I promise to carry you with me until my heart stops beating, or longer. You will forever be mine, and I will always be yours. You are my forever.

 

 

Sirens

The rain in Wichita has started to fall, and the skies have darkened just enough to become eerie. It’s officially tornado season, and the weather outside combined with the warm, muggy air is absolute confirmation of that.

According to both the local and not so local news, this evening is supposed to be interesting. And by interesting I mean bad. Dollar sized hail and multiple tornadoes are expected to touch down, so much so that a lot of businesses throughout the city seem to be shutting down. My office was included in this, so I’m home in my pj’s watching the doppler on the tv grow more red by the minute.

Maybe I’ve just been jaded from growing up in the midwest, or maybe I’m just truly at a place of peace with my life, but either way,  I don’t think I would describe any of my current emotions as fear or anxiety. I actually still have tentative dinner plans for tonight, as long as there isn’t any hail and the rain hasn’t gotten too crazy.

Even when I left work, I went to finish running errands and grab coffee. I also had every intention of grabbing a quick manicure with my few extra hours, but unfortunately the shop I go to was closed. They’re probably prepping for the storm I suppose.

Really everything about my day, including my 5am workout, has been pretty darn good for me.

That is, up until the point that I went and checked my mail. I did get a couple of highly anticipated packages, so on that side of things, still fabulous. But, I also got a really quick gut check when I pulled all of the envelopes out, and buried in between them was a Target offer for discounted and free baby gear.

Ugh.

That’s what’s so crazy about child loss and living through this eternally raging storm. You never really know when it’s going to hit you, or what’s going to trigger it. And there isn’t a doppler or a news channel you can tune into to help track it. It just sort of slaps you in the face and reminds you ever so quickly, that everything in your day, is not coming up you.

Target baby offers and coupons used to make my entire day when I found them in my mailbox or inbox. Now they just make me want to reconsider life. I thought I was getting past that since baby aisles are no longer the enemy, but I guess I haven’t gotten any of these little reminders lately either. And honestly, those aisles have just shifted from the infant ones to the toddler ones since Kamren would be 16 months old right now. I suppose that’s how these shifts will continue to move. Hopefully the pressure on them will ease eventually. I imagine so, since it has with almost all of the other moving parts.

I guess either way it really doesn’t make too much of a difference. Whether it’s this tornado tonight or the constant hurricane brewing at my core, all I can really do is bunker down, prep for the worst, and hope without failing for the absolute best.

 

Perpetual

Have you ever had that moment where out of nowhere you feel this looming sense of impending doom? Where a thick cloud of dirty gray smoke just hovers over your being, and begins to suffocate you to your very core?

Yeah, me either.

They’ve started the over advertisement of Mother’s Day everywhere, and no matter what I do, I cannot escape it. It’s on my television when all I’m trying to do is watch people compete against each other in a kitchen setting on the Food Network. It’s in every store I go too, no matter if I’m just picking up more coffee or grabbing windshield washer fluid for my car. It has become inescapable.

I hate that I feel this way, this doom.

In my mind, I know I’ll survive it just like I did last year. And just like I have with every other holiday that’s came and went since Kamren had to leave. But man, when I think about May 8th and it being less than a month away, I feel like I’ve got a cellophane bag zip tied around my head, keeping fresh oxygen from reaching my brain. I find myself with the internal whispers saying, breathe mama, just keep breathing.

I’d like to put a disclaimer out about what I’m going to say next, so brace yourself for the less than politically correct.

I’ve also found myself getting irrevocably jealous lately, rationally or not, when someone else that I know announces a new pregnancy or posts pictures of their new child. I’m jealous every time they get past the 16 day mark, and I could put my fist through a wall when I see another 1st birthday party come to life. It’s not that I want their child to die, because I absolutely don’t. It’s just that I’m still so jealous that mine did.

And when these moments hit, I find myself back in the ugliest parts of grief. I hate these moments, but when they’re here, they’re here. And they take their pretty little time finding the nearest exit.

I’m sure to at least one person I sound like an asshole, and whatever other word one would use as an adjective. I’m okay with that.

Along with the jealousy and doom, I’ll own that.

Balance

Find table space to say your social graces
Bow your heads, they’re pious here, but you and I, we’re pioneers
We make our own rules, our own room, no bias here
Let ’em sell what they are sellin’, there are no buyers here

So gather all the rebels now, we’ll rabble-rouse and sing aloud
We don’t care what they say no way, no way
And we will leave the empty chairs to those who say we can’t sit there
We’re fine all by ourselves

So aye, we brought our drum and this is how we dance
No mistakin’, we make our breaks, if you don’t like our 808s
Then leave us alone, cause we don’t need your policies
We have no apologies for being…

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about balance, and the lack of it in today’s world.

No, I’m not talking about balancing on an olympic sized beam in Brazil this summer, but about having a real and actual balance to our everyday lives.

Case in point, I worked 6 days this week, the majority of those days over 10 hours. I didn’t go to the gym once this week, nor did I actually take the time to cook a real meal. Poor Lola was basically alone, although she just spends most days in bed so I don’t think she was too put off by this.

But I definitely was.

Why do we do this to ourselves? I know for a fact that I’m not the only person out there doing this.

I will admit that it used to be a great way to keep myself busy and distracted so I had no time to dwell, but that’s not been the case for a while now. Yet and still, I’m going through the same process daily. I’ve become accustomed to it.

And society today glamorizes this. But why? Why is it “cool” to substitute real food and live off a black coffee/latte diet? I’m super guilty of this, but there’s nothing positive about it. My body doesn’t feel good. I’m tired and damn near lifeless. Yet, there is a new meme about coffee being an actual food group everyday.

We see the same ones proclaiming how “awesome” it is to be entirely exhausted everyday, to the point that we no longer wash our hair and short cut with dry shampoo. Sidenote: I do actually love dry shampoo but that’s because I know it’s not good for hair to wash it everyday. That and the fact that I just have really long, thick hair that takes at least an hour to blow-dry, so I try to make that last as long as possible.

But still, the idea behind this shouldn’t be glamorized.

I remember when I was pregnant with Kam, I couldn’t wait to get off work everyday to go take a nap and then hit hot yoga. Those moments were phenomenal. They gave me peace. I was taking care of myself and finding balance, not only for me, but for my son and our family.

And when I was thinking about coming home from work and picking him up for the first time in eight hours, I knew that I would never stay there a moment more than I absolutely had to.  I suppose that mentality died when he did, but I want it back. I need it back.

I want to be able to sleep in two days a week, well, for as long as Lola will possibly let me. And I want to have enough energy to get into the gym almost daily again. Not for a superficial reason, but to get back that feeling of being strong.

Yes, I  do still aboslutely want to enjoy my coffee in bed first thing in the morning, but maybe some real food too before I run out the door. I want that balance. I’m determined to find that balance again.

And more than anything, I don’t want to be made to feel guilty about it. I won’t be made feel guilty about it.

I lose my balance on these eggshells
you tell me to tread
I’d rather be a wild one instead
Don’t wanna hang around the in crowd,
the cool kids aren’t cool to me,
they’re not cooler than we are

We will carve our place into time and space
We will find our way, or we’ll make a way, say hey, hey
Hey find your grace, don’t you hide your face
And let it shine, shine, shine

The Lucky Ones

Sometimes, in the early morning moments before the sun completely invades my room through the creases in my drapes, I find myself soaking in freshness of the new day, buried between my cotton duvet and mink comforter. The new possibilities, spurred from yesterday’s completed war.

And sometimes in the midst of these moments, I let my gratitude wash over me, blinking into the sunlight, while I remind myself that I’m one of the lucky ones.

Wait, what?

Lucky?

Me?

How on earth could that be possible after I was forced to give my Kamren back to the universe about 95 years too soon?

I know, right.

But stay with me for a moment.  I promise it get’s better.

I remember about 4 months after laying Kam to rest in that baby garden under the Florida sun, I made a promise to myself and to him, that I would stop saying ‘no.’

‘No’ to opportunities that potentially held some form of joy for me. ‘No’ to moments that might bring me peace and further heal my broken down spirit. ‘No’ to the love that I deserved and needed, but didn’t know how to accept.

And so I have.

I’ve stopped saying no.

And where the ‘no’ once was so firmly planted, is a resounding ‘yes!‘ And sometimes not a full on yes, but a possibly, which is a thousand times better than the no that once held that place marker in my life.

Lucky is an understatement for how I feel about that freedom I’ve gained over the past year and a half. And the crazy part of it is that I’ve always had the freedom, but I spent the first almost 25 years of my life locking myself behind the bars of what others expected from me. Or anticipated me to be. So I spent such a big part of my life saying no, for fear of what others would think if I stepped out on faith and said yes.

Grateful is how my heart feels when I see how much love has flowed into my life since I’ve adopted this practice.

And strong is what I know I’ve become simply by saying yes to my own truth.

Would I give it all back in exchange for Kam?

Well of course I would.

Would I be as happy if that opportunity arose?

I would be. It would just be a very different form of happiness that included a little boy with chubby little fingers toddling behind me.

But I will say that if I could in fact do this, I would still hope to find the person I am now. The person I’ve become in these moments and this life.

I would still want to know the me now, after him. After the loss of him. Because she is so much better than who held the place marker of before him.

Sometimes I wish I would’ve became the ‘new’ me before things with Kam’s dad ended. Maybe it would’ve helped. Maybe she could have loved him the way he needed to be loved, instead of her being angry that he couldn’t love her the way she needed to be loved. Maybe she would have recognized the truth behind him losing as much as her in the loss of Kam, instead of treating him like he couldn’t understand. Who really knows though, because maybe the him now, is not the he that was in those early months.

Either way, the him or he, whoever that person may be in this moment, is still very much loved by Me. Both past and present versions.

So yes, today as I am soaking in the sunlight that is surrounding the all-glass lounge I’m in waiting for my connecting flight to Beijing, I am reminded that I am in fact, one of the lucky ones.

And no one can ever take that fight & fire that forever lives in the core of my soul.

Live as though everything is rigged in your favor. 

-Rumi

 

 

Love Sinks & Hope Floats

Looking through my calendar at work this morning caught me a little off guard when I realized it was the 7th. Which essentially translates into 13 months to the day since my son took his last breath.

It’s odd how that works sometimes.

Anytime I notice that it’s the 7th of any month though, I feel a sense of urgency, and of jealousy. I feel hurt, and anger, and resentment. I could keep going, but I’m hoping you’ve gotten the general idea by now.

So instead, I’ll just say that on the 7th of every month, I feel.

Today I had to take a step back from that. Not because it’s Super Bowl Sunday. Not because I have any great watch party plans or anything of that nature. But because today I hurt as I read a post from a newly bereaved mama that questioned the same thing I still do, about the ability to go from one end of the spectrum to the other in regards to the new day to day living that happens after you lose a child, 13 months later.

And if I could have hugged her through my work laptop I would have. I wish I could’ve wrapped my arms around her and cried until there were no tears left between the two of us. Two mamas that had to say goodbye to our baby boys entirely too soon. I may have never met her in person, but she knows me on a level that even my own Mother doesn’t. She understands the depth of my pain, the strength of my love, and every emotion in between those two spaces.

So today, I felt.

For her. For me. And for every other mother that has been where we are, or will be one day.

But today I also felt grateful.

Grateful to be past the newness of being a bereaved parent. Thankful to find myself standing back firmly on my own two feet, more often then I find myself curled up praying for the strength to see tomorrow.

They say love sinks, but hope floats.

I say that’s a bold statement, that doesn’t really cover it all.

I think hope absolutely does float,  I think it has too.

But I think love is bigger. It’s so much bigger than a sink or swim situation. I think love is what connects us all, in every aspect of life. The fact that I am more broken than I’ve ever been, but still have more love to give away than I ever imagined possible is a testament to that.

I think that before I became this glued back together person, I wasn’t aware of how much love I had to give. And even if I was, I was selfish with my love. I didn’t want to give too much away, because I thought that the more I gave meant the less I would have.

I was so wrong.

I never feel more loved than when I can give love to someone who needs it more than me in that moment. I’ve never loved myself more than in those moments either.

So today, in this moment, I also feel lucky.

Lucky to have realized all of the love and light that I carry inside of me. That we all carry.  And lucky to recognize the strength and power in them.

I truly believe that there is no stronger human walking this Earth than the one who had to give their child back. Put a group of us together and watch the world change.

Put a group of us together and watch love grow.

Me & You, Just Us Two

I miss you.

Every day.

Some more than others.

But everyday nonetheless.

I’m not sure how that’s possible. How some days feel like my world is moving along just fine without you. And others feel like a constant battlefield of emotional land mines & 50 pound weights sitting on my chest.

There’s no rhyme.

No reason.

Just you.

And your absence.

Your ever present absence.

Last week was hard.

Lola spent two days just sitting by the front door for hours. She didn’t need to go out. She just sat there once we come back inside. It’s like she’s waiting for you. Like she knows. I know she does. She reads my energy, and reflects from there. You should see her when she see’s a baby or hears one crying on TV. It’s heartbreaking, because I know she’s still looking for you. She has been every day since you left.

I know you visit her sometimes. She’s probably a thousand times better at sensing your energy than I am. I’m glad she can though. It makes me happy to know she still has that connection with you.

This week has been better.

This week has been busy. I’m sure that’s the caveat. Either way, I’ll take it.

Your crazy God Father has successfully orchestrated a trip to China for us next week. In less than 24 hours no less. When he’s good, he’s good. I hope that you’re there with us next week. I’ll wait for the signs as always.

From my heart to yours baby boy, that window will always be open.

xo

Mommy

We’ll Never Be Royal, Year-End Review

‘You’ve changed me. Entirely, wholly, irrevocably.’ – Lexi Behrndt

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve sat down over the course of the last two weeks and attempted to write my feelings. I can’t tell you, because I’ve lost count.

I tried on Kamren’s first birthday, with the intention of writing some profound and even poetic letter to him. But then I allowed myself to waste away too much of that day planning his balloon release. And then I allowed myself to soak in the love that was given to me so freely that day.

From the moment I woke up on the 22nd, at the exact moment Kam was pulled out of me no less, I was enveloped with so much love. And my son was honored and celebrated so fiercely, in so many different places around the world.

And so it was that I gave myself permission to not write down a damn thing.

When I came back to Kansas the day before Christmas Eve, I busied myself re-cleaning my house before driving down to my parents. The same house that I spent hours cleaning the night before I left for Tampa.

And so it was I gave myself permission to put off writing for another day, to give me time to make it out to my parent’s farm before the sun was all but gone.

Christmas Eve came and went, spent mostly lounging around with all my siblings, who coincidentally have not all been in the same place together since Kamren’s passing. And so I was able to reconcile the fact that no writing occurred due to the nature of how my time was physically spent. I was okay with that.

Then Christmas morning rolled around, and I was honestly surprised I woke up to see that day. If you would’ve asked me Jan 8th or the few months thereafter, I would have told you that I had no intention of being around, or alive to see this holiday season.

Christmas day was as good as it possibly could have been, all things considered. Kam was acknowledged with a partially filled stocking hung up next to mine over the red brick fireplace. I spent a majority of that morning terrified that I would break in the middle of my nieces opening up gift after gift, knowing that I will never get to see that same look of excitement on Kam’s face as he tears another piece of reindeer paper away.

And so it was I gave myself permission to not think, or write that day. That seemed like the least, smallest gift I could give to myself.

And so it was.

After Christmas and coming back to Wichita and work, I promised myself that I would sit down and write. Anything. I didn’t even care what it would be. Just more than the three to ten words of a Facebook status update.

But then the week was hectic, and work was exhausting.

I also rationalized that it wouldn’t really make sense to write this profound entry about surviving the holidays, when the New Year was still largely looming.

So every time I would sit down and write a few words, inevitably hitting the delete key until it was once again a very blank page, seemed like less of a failure. I would just save it until after New Year’s Eve, and the last big holiday celebration of 2015.

And before I knew it, Friday was here and the deadline I’d set for myself stood mockingly in front of me. Luckily my very best friend and her daughters drove up for the night, so my plans got converted into dinner and a few beers at midnight while we cyber-creeped both of our exes/baby daddies.

But yet and still, New Years Day would present a full day of opportunity to sit my ass down somewhere and write.

A perfect opportunity to make good on myself.

Except, then I decided to binge watch the entire docuseries Making of a Murderer on Netflix.

Yep, from 2pm to 1230am on Jan 2nd, that is what I did.

Let me just stop to say, if you have not watched this, you need to! Like right now. It’s incredibly addictive, and infuriating when you watch it all unfold beginning to end. I did attempt to stop a couple of times yesterday to begin writing, but I got so wrapped up in Steven Avery’s story that I just couldn’t. It literally turned from me working on this page, to me Googling him and seeing what has occurred since the documentary stopped filming.

And so I gave myself permission to soak in all of the rawness that was coming across my television for 10 hours, and climb into bed unapologetically exhausted from the rollercoaster of emotions that spurred from my all day binge.

But today, today just felt different.

For what reason I’m not actually sure. But today, after straightening up my house, throwing chicken in the crock pot for dinner, going grocery shopping for the week, and getting a much needed mani/pedi, I finally felt inspired. To write. To be. To put my fears, frustrations, and hopes for 2016 down in print.

So here I am.

And let me just say I’ve spent countless hours reading through Facebook and other bereaved parent’s blogs, trying to reconcile all of my feelings over the past month.

So here it is.

I’m no longer a fan of the holidays. I will not apologize for that. I don’t think that I’ll ever care about Christmas again honestly. Or New Years. Or any other day in between that. I’m not asking you to understand, and honestly I don’t care whether you do or not.

Maybe that will change when I have more children. Maybe it won’t. Either way, I  will never put pressure on myself to participate in something that no longer brings me joy. And as it currently stands, these days just do not bring that to me.

I can confidently say that I am both ready and hopeful for 2016 in general.

I am ready to continue progressing in my life, and continuing to give my soul the nourishment that it needs to survive these days ahead. I pray that includes fulfillment at work, new beginnings in my personal life, and a pure happiness within myself.

With all of that being said, I am giving myself permission to do any and everything that brings me peace.

I’m also giving myself permission to let go of all of the things and people that don’t, without apology.

So goodbye to 2015, both the very best and very worst year of my life.

Here’s to 2016 and carrying Kamren with me every step of the way.

Mazel.