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.

The Lies We Tell

When you’re young, your parents tend to spend the first few years of your life instilling in you that lying is wrong.

It didn’t matter if it was a great big fabrication of the truth, or a little white sentiment of it. It was just wrong. And you were not, under any circumstances, supposed to do it.

So then they told us that telling the truth would always produce a better outcome. And that even if the truth might possibly upset them, they’d be even more pissed if they caught us in the lie.

As we grew up we all learned the difference between our lies,  as well as the outcome of how we would incorporate them into our truths.

Sometimes we lied to save our own asses.

You know, avoid our inevitable punishment or God forbid having the car keys taken away again. Of course we knew that coming home 3 hours after curfew was wrong, but could our parents really blame us if it was because we were making sure one of our best friends wasn’t left somewhere, alone and drunk? Because in the story we told, that’s what happened. We of course were not drinking ourselves, because ya know, we “know better than that.” And in all reality, we were only being the good friend and responsible young adult that they had spent the last 16 years training us to be. So really, they couldn’t possibly be mad that we ignored a very clear expectation they set for us before heading out that Friday night.

And as we would so proudly tout our story, they would go along for the ride and pretend like they believed us just long enough to make us think that we actually had a chance. We never did.

Other times we’d learn to lie to protect someone else. To not hurt their feelings, or attempt to save what was left of them.

Of course he was an idiot for cheating on you with that slut from Organic Chemistry. Obviously he’d be back once he realized what a mistake he’s made.  And even though we knew that he probably wasn’t going to end up with big boobs McGee, we also knew that he was never gonna come riding back on that white horse to rescue our best friend either.

But that didn’t matter. Because there you were for her. You and your little untruths, perfectly packaged to cushion the fall of hers.

Then we finally grow up, and real life happens to us. So we find ourselves reverting to our lies again.

Except this time it’s different. This time it’s for our own protection.

We use it to save ourself, from ourself.

After I lost Kamren, I found myself lying a lot. And not in the sense that I was lying about anything that happened. But that despite what did happen, I was okay.

That was my standard response, to everyone.

When anyone would see me for the first time, with that look of sheer pity plastered across their face, it was the only thing that I had to save me.

To say it was okay. To say I was okay.

I remember when the doctors were still trying to save Kam, and we weren’t supposed to be back there with him, but honestly nothing in those moments could keep Kam’s daddy away from him. And for that I’m so grateful. I’m so grateful that he pushed past everyone that tried to stop us, to give us every possible second that we had left with our son.

But I remember when I began to really understand that my son, our son, was not going to be going home with us that night, so I just laid my head on his belly and I told him it was okay to go. I told him it was okay for him to give up. To stop fighting and just go be the angels. That I didn’t want him to hurt anymore.

But I didn’t mean it.

I never meant it. It wasn’t okay.

It’s still not okay. It’s not okay that he isn’t here with me. With us. It’s not okay that he should be turning 1 in 6 days, and he’s not. None of it is okay.

But in that moment, I didn’t want my son to think that I was ever disappointed in him. Because I never was. I never will be. I just wanted him to know how much I loved him and how proud I was of him. So I told him it was okay. And so it was.

Then when I was getting ready to go back to work, 5 weeks later, I had so much anxiety about it. I didn’t know how I was going to survive being around this group of people that I’d spent the last almost 3 years with, and be able to make it 8 hours with them when I knew everyone would have that same look.

Poor Melissa.

Look at her.

Her baby died.

I was so anxious about losing my identity as Melissa, and everything I’d worked my ass off for in my career, being nothing but the poor girl who’s baby died.

Luckily, I had the very best group of people supporting me everyday, and this was never the case. Thats the beauty of working with a very close-knit group of people, especially when you work for a billion dollar organization. But I couldn’t stay confined to my department forever. Or at least not deal with outsiders at some point.

I will never forget the day when one of our IT guys Calvin saw me for the first time, and welcomed me back from maternity leave. He asked how the baby was, because he didn’t know what happened. Or I should say, he had heard what happened, he just didn’t know it was me that it happened too.

So he asked. And before I knew it, the words just came spilling out.

He died.

That was it. That was my answer. Those two words were deafening. But they were my truth.

Watching his face drop, and his look change into the one that made me want to saw my own wrist off to escape the situation, I quickly followed that by saying, it’s okay.

In what realm of reality could that even make sense? For me to utter the words that my son died, and follow that by saying it was okay.

But that was my protection.

To be okay.

Even if  I wasn’t okay, because I absolutely wasn’t. I absolutely never will be.

He stopped me and told me that it wasn’t okay, and of course gave all of the standard condolences that one can typically think of in that awkward moment.

I took what was left of self amputated soul and excused myself from the conversation, blaming it on my need to get back to my work, but finding the closest empty conference room instead. I  sat there in that quiet darkness, and replayed the words that spewed out of me like projectile vomit.

I hated myself in that moment. In that cold, cushioned chair. I hated the way the words came out. The crassness of it all. The harsh reality of my truth for someone outside of my over protected circle of trust. And the fact that it was more than obvious that I absolutely was not okay.

10 months later, and I’ve gotten to a point where I can now easily explain that yes, I have a son. And yes, he has passed away. It took a really long time to get her. It took a really long time to be able to say that to someone in a way that actually self projects that I just might be okay. Or at least at peace.

Because even though the truth of my situation will never actually be okay, I have somehow managed to find myself living in a place of peace with it.

That hasn’t been easy. And it doesn’t mean that I still don’t have moments daily where I question if I  am actually okay. Or if I ever will be. I don’t know that it’ll ever be a question that I can answer truthfully.

And I’m okay with that.

That’s my truth.