Exceed Your Limits!

One Step and One Day at a Time!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nothing About This is Simple ......

Nothing about this situation is simple.  Really, NOTHING.  Right down to how we remember or honor our beautiful son. 

First, we are paralyzed by the unknown.  Anderson died in his sleep, at daycare.  The entire situation was treated as a crime scene - a child just doesn't die without suspicion.  Everyone was questioned by detectives.  We were fortunate, we got to hold him, but I realize looking back we were always under the watchful eye of police the entire three hours we were at the scene, each of us was assigned at least on if not two people to listen to every word, watch every move.  I have learned in some jurisdictions parents aren't allowed to even hold their child because of the suspicions and need to collect evidence, so I feel so fortunate for how we were treated.  They truly were gentle with me.  But, because of the circumstances, an investigation is still ongoing.  There was an autopsy - so far every bit of information except for a metabolic panel shows no cause of death.  Given his health record, we don't expect anything from the metabolic panel.  But until that comes back, we wait - not necessarily for a cause, but for a finding that it is unidentified - meaning sudden unexplained death in childhood (SUDC).  Basically SIDS, but more rare because he was over the age of 12 months - part of the definition for SIDS.  Even there, we are a rare and complicated case apparently, not fitting in what most people call SIDS (I have to admit, I was kind of irked at this).

I want so badly to find a direction, to find somewhere to direct my energy, my anger, my questions, my sadness.  But honestly I feel paralyzed to move in any direction.  I mean, we can't even choose a charity for crying out loud.  We have had donations to a fund for Anderson to go to a charity we choose - but we can't choose one because, honestly, I can find organizations for SUDC, and have, but what if it isn't SUDC?  I think I would be in a way devastated again, so I just can't.  I have been blessed to have been offered the opportunity to race this season in memory of my son, and raise money for charity on his behalf, yet the lack of final findings has paralyzed me even as far as training.  It seems odd, but it is true.

Second, there is the childcare issue.  I need to go back to work at some point.  I need care for my kids during the day.  I can't get myself to get to that decision yet.  I plan to return to work at least part time in a few weeks.  But I can't seem to make a move about childcare.  First, our caregiver is currently closed.  Because of the circumstances, her license is suspended pending the investigation.  I understand the premise, but at this point the only remaining piece of information has NOTHING to do with her actions or inaction.  There are no findings that lead to any issues with regard to his care or abuse - NONE.  I am relieved for that - I wouldn't have been able to wrap my arms around it if something during his care has caused his death.  I never really suspected it, but was relieved to hear anyway.  But the daycare remains closed - and this is their sole source of income as far as I know, so in addition to the horrific ordeal they went through having Anderson die in their care, they are now without income.  I feel for them.  On the other hand, I can't even drive past the subdivision of their home without crying and shaking.  While my girls miss their caregiver, I am not sure I can go back there every day to drop them off.  We are in contact with them, even have a unique bond with them, but the house is just something I can't bear to see at this point.

But I have to say the most apparent manifestation of the complicated nature of everything we are going through has been the garden we created, with the help (and at times sole work of) my sister.  It started simply enough.  We needed flowers for Anderson's service.  We decided to buy plants - pots with plants that were more than floral arrangements so we could have flowers for some time.  I decided I wanted hydrangeas included - I love hydrangeas and being blue in color I thought they were appropriate, and I could plant them in the yard to remember him (and they are easily transplanted if we moved!)


That's where it all started.  I decided then I wanted to make an area around our dining area in our kitchen for the hydrangeas.  This then became a wish to have more of a garden that would attract birds because Anderson loved watching birds at the feeder and out the low windows in the kitchen.  Well, as you can see below, it became quite the project!

Before - Addyson helping clean out the area!

My sister preparing to build the rock wall.

The wall built and garden filled

The garden planted - complete with bird bath water feature (a gift from my parents) and feeders!

Another view of the garden.

Our beautiful bird bath!

And we didn't stop there - we added an expanded vegetable garden.

And we added a bench and pots!

And, added to my tiny shade garden.

Nothing about this is simple - NOTHING!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Hopes and Dreams May Change, But Never Disappear

Ready for a balloon release at Anderson's Service - Photo by A. Storch

For a week, I composed, in my head, what to say at Anderson's Service.  So many have commented on how strong I must be to have spoken.  I did struggle with whether to speak, but a friend summed up my motivation so well after the service.  So many times, when ones we love have died, we share funny stories to remember them.  Honestly, in a short 18 months, who REALLY knew Anderson - very few did, but we as parents knew and treasured every moment.  So, knowing it would be hard to gather my thoughts, I wrote out what I planned to say so that I could share with people who were there to support us just a little bit of what our little boy was made of.  In hindsight I am so glad I did, and that I printed it out in extra large font because I could barely even read it through my tears.  Many have asked that we share with them a video of the service - we had it videotaped by a good friend (thanks Jessica!) because many close family members, including my parents, could not travel to be at the service.  Honestly, I haven't been able to watch it - and probably won't for some time, so I will share here my written words for the service instead.

"Good morning.
Thank you just doesn’t cut it today.  No words can express our gratitude and appreciation for the love and prayers we have received these last 11 days.  As many of you may know, the last few years have not always been easy for our family.  It is sometimes so easy to find oneself thinking or feeling like we are alone when life inevitably does what life will sometimes do, presenting us with what seem like impossible challenges.  Today, however, I want to share with everyone that no one is alone in life’s journey of ups and downs.  I ask you to look around this room – at all the love, support, and open arms.  If nothing else comes from today, I truly hope that each of us leaves here with a new perspective and strength to draw upon when life gives us our own individual mountains to climb.  While the faces of the people you find in your own life may not be identical, today we are all surrounded by a community of love, support, encouragement, and just plain human companionship that all of us need to draw upon in times of need.  We have all heard “It takes a village.”  Today we sit among the finest of villages – this community gathered in this room, and it is overwhelming.  Thank you all for your love for our family.  The peace and comfort we have found with each and every one of you during this time is immeasurable.
I have struggled over the last few days of what to say, whether to say anything at all today.  I couldn’t help but feel compelled to say something today, as difficult as it is with a broken heart, because there is so much I want to still tell my precious boy – so much all of our family has struggled to put into words during what has been an unthinkable tragedy for our family.  I wanted to express our wishes for our precious boy to help everyone know him better, know him as we knew him.
Our Dear Sweet Anderson:
Our time with you was much too short.  We all miss you terribly, more than any words can express.  Our hearts ache to hold you, to get sloppy kisses, and to catch you as you run into our arms collapsing in a fit of laughter.   While we are biased, of course, we all believe you had to be the happiest little boy we have ever seen.  I can’t help but believe that you packed in a lifetime of happiness, laughter, and smiles into your 18 months with us. 
Every parent and family member has a long list of dreams for every child.  That does not change, even though you are no longer here with us.  While the hopes and dreams may be different, they are no less compelling than they were a mere 11 days ago.
We hope that you are, first off, still smiling that contagious smile, with the unmistakable sparkle in your eye.  We hope your days are filled with laughter and giggles, and an unending joy for learning new things.
We hope that someone is there to hear your demanding calls of “uh OH!” when you awake to find your pacifier recklessly thrown from your crib during your slumber.  And, even more importantly, that they jump to find it in the dark, feeling around on the floor and under your crib, desperately trying to return it to you for a source of comfort.
We hope that someone recognizes your pulling at your hair as your need to rest or sleep.  Or even better, that there is someone with long hair for you to sit with, entangle their hair with yours in your hand, and that will allow you to gently run it through your fingers as you fall asleep.
We hope that there is someone that will remind you to bite into the girl scout cookie as you stare at it after you have licked, or more accurately smeared all over your face, its chocolate coating.
We hope that there is someone who will stand across the room, get down on one knee, and hold their arms open and allow you to run into their arms giggling towards a huge hug.  More importantly, we hope they expect your legs to fold as you fall backwards expecting kisses under your chin, and they kiss you until you can barely breathe from laughing so hard.
We hope there is an abundance of drawers and cabinets filled with pots, pans, and Tupperware lids.  Similarly, we hope you are greeted with an abundance of patience as you empty the drawers and cabinets by the armload, and return each item one by one, interrupted by so many other fun distractions, before emptying them all over again.
We hope you can enjoy your meals while viewing a million birds gorging themselves on a feeder.  We hope you always squeal with excitement as each bird comes into view.
We hope you continue to identify fish in even the oddest of places, marveling at each fish with wide eyed excitement.
We hope you have a million balls to carry, move, put in and out of anything you can, all while exclaiming “BAH!  BAH!” with an unending proud grin.
We hope there are lots of mirrors for you to view yourself in, stick out your tongue, and crack yourself up in an endearing fit of laughter.
We hope that there is someone that finds your pulling their shirt to their knees, all while lifting one foot in what we affectionately call the flamingo pose, all while exclaiming “Up, Up” as heartwarming as we do.
We hope there is someone who loves to chase you as you run away with the devilish grin that says “catch me if you can.”
We hope there is someone who sometimes turns and giggles out of your site as you walk across a room, pretending to go get a toy, and as you pass the person who happened to irk you a minute before you grab a handful of hair.  Yes, our son, we will always stand by our rule that hair pulling is inappropriate.  However, your sneakiness and slyness were always a bit funny, you always thought you were fooling us, and just sometimes it was a joy to let you believe you had.
Most importantly, we hope you know in your heart how much you are loved.  We can’t help but believe that if the boundless love, joy, warmth, smiles and laughter you shared with us is any indication, you knew just how much we love you and now miss you with all our being.  We miss you little man, our little bud-bud and you will forever be in our hearts and lives.  Until we meet again our sweet boy –
We love you and we miss you with all our hearts."
There are still so many other memories or moments I wish I had shared.  Seems like life if full of a lot of regrets lately.  I can't help but wish that could or would change.

Balloons take flight - photo by A. Storch

Sunday, May 27, 2012

In An Instant - Life Changed Forever

In an instant, life changed forever.  I keep saying it over and over.  I am not sure what "instant" I am talking about.  Is it the instant my son took his last breath?  Is it the instant he fell asleep to never awake again?  Is it the instant I closed the door leaving him at daycare that morning as he cried?  Is it the instant that my poor husband had to tell me over the phone that Anderson had died?  Or, is it the instant I heard those words and fell to the floor screaming in the middle of my office?  Is it the instant I first saw his lifeless body?  Or maybe it is the instant I had to kiss his little head goodbye as they took him from me wrapped in a blanket?  I really don't know, I just know forever I am changed.  Somehow, some way, forever I will be a mother in mourning.  I don't see that EVER changing - I will forever mourn the loss of my little boy.

I could never predict how profoundly devastating this whole thing would be.  I just can't fathom the rest of my life remembering this sweet happy little boy who is no longer going to grow with us.  I keep hearing it will get easier and honestly, I just can't imagine it getting easier.  I can't imagine a day without a gut wrenching sadness in my inner core.  I can't imagine a day without tears.  It seems impossible, yet I do hope it is true.

I also could never predict just how grateful we would be for family and friends.  People have been so amazing, coming to our family's aid at this horrible time.  Meals, offers of help, and so many kind words have been a saving grace.

I honestly don't know what life holds for the future.  I am taking it one day at a time, sometimes one hour at a time.  I am learning a lot about life, loss, sadness, and priorities along the way.  We were told it will never be normal again - or more accurately, we just will need time to find a new normal.  I can't imagine liking any new normal.

There are things I have become amazingly grateful for along the way:

- My two children - they have been amazing, honest, loving, sad and the rock that has kept us going forward as a family.
- I am not alone.  It has been a rough few years for a variety of reasons.  I think if one listed some of the major adult traumas one could encounter I have experienced many of them.  I can't begin to explain.  Often it is so hard when the chips are down to feel alone - and many times I did.  This whole experience has shown me otherwise.  It is so difficult to explain, but so true.
- I have learned a lot these past 6 months that served me well.  Things impacting my life drove me to seek out help in a variety of forums these past 6 months.  The tools I have learned helped tremendously particularly in the first two weeks following Anderson's death.  Now if only I could continue to employ them.
- I let people help.  That has been something I have never been able to do easily.  In the past few weeks I have let people help, and at times it has saved us.

I don't know where I go from here.  There are plans for me to train to do a race as a memorial for Anderson.  I need to get off my butt and do something about it though.  I hope to make something positive come of all of this - just don't know where or what that is, in its entirety, yet. 

If you pass me on the street I will say I am ok, will smile even.  It is odd that it is strangers or mere acquaintances that seem to make me cry.  The random sales clerk that asks me if my three year old is my only child, the garden department manager making small talk that asks me about my garden project (with my sister's help, or perhaps just all her hard work, we have constructed a memorial garden for Anderson), or the stranger in my daughter's school office carrying an 18 month old boy in his jammies - those cause me to break down.  It is all so confusing, so gut wrenching, so agonizing - and I need to put this energy somewhere.

For now I really just wish I could pinpoint that "instant."

I miss you more than words can explain Bud-Bud.