A Celebration of Life

Two years ago today we celebrated Wyatt’s life. A day that was largely a blur. Foggy, at best.

I still find myself buffering memories. I allow myself to only remember so much and then I have to shut it off. I can only let so much in at a time before it becomes overwhelming.

I remember preparing for that day. I found a dress with Dodger blue. And I got Dodger blue sunglasses and flip flops to match. It felt weird to buy a dress for what was surely the saddest event of my life. I remember thinking, “I don’t want to buy a dress for this.”

But I did. And we celebrated Wyatt’s life. Because he deserved that. He deserved a celebration to remember and honor him.

As I’ve allowed some memories to flow today, there are some that stand out.

Standing in my kitchen holding my sister in law, Casey’s hands as she prayed for strength for me. Looking at her as we talked about how I was going to get through this. And I distinctly remember saying, “I can do this. I’ve already lived through the worst day of my life.”

The family, friends, acquaintances and even strangers who came from all aspects of our lives.

The endless stream of hugs from those who came.

Turning around to look across Eastside and see the sea of people who were there and catching my breath.

Seeing Shane surrounded by his friends.

Sitting between Brooks and my mom while cherished people in our lives spoke about Wyatt and our family.

The sweet friends and members of our community who put the entire event together.

This morning, already reflecting on the memories of Wyatt’s Celebration of Life, I heard this song.

Before Wyatt died, I equated it with our life. We were living a good life and I knew it. I even used it in a video I made as a collection of moments from 2013. Life was so good then.

When I hear that song now, I have mixed emotions. It hurts to think of what is gone. What will never be. But I also often see it as a celebration of what we’ve had and still have. And sometimes I think it’s a reminder of the good life that Wyatt had, short as it may have been.

As I look back on this day two years ago, it’s still foggy. There is a lot I don’t remember. But what I do remember is this. An immense feeling of love. Love for Wyatt. And love for our family. The goodness in others. The ability of people to come together for those who are in need. The kindness and compassion of our community. And a day spent remembering and celebrating a good life. A life cut short. But still a good life, that has changed my life forever.

I love you, pun’kin. I’ll miss you forever.

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Honoring Wyatt at the 2 Year Mark

This week has been a lot of revisiting and remembering. The 2 year mark will arrive tomorrow and with it, a lot of painful memories, a lot of tears. But I’ve also been revisiting the kindness that we have seen and received.

I was just looking back on one year ago. When we were coming up on this anniversary for the very first time. Wow, was that hard. But the kindness that was shown to us and shared throughout our community and beyond was amazing. Between personal messages we received, social media posts that were shared, and those we encountered throughout the week, I am still in awe. So many expressed kindness in their own ways and shared Wyatt’s memory. These are the greatest gifts that we can receive.

So, what are we doing this year? How are we honoring Wyatt? Through kindness again. We have a few things planned ourselves. And like last year, we ask that anyone who would like to honor Wyatt do so in kindness. Do something nice for someone else. Something unexpected. Something out of the blue. Or maybe it is something planned. Something as simple as a smile. A hug. Treat someone to a coffee. Hold the door for someone. Let someone know you care. Do a favor for a neighbor. Play a little longer with your kids.

Do it in honor of Wyatt. Do it in his memory. Do it to keep his spirit alive.

If you’d like to share, post it somewhere on social media and use the hashtag #WyattsWay. Or keep it private. Some of the best acts of kindness are anonymous.

And really, there are no rules.

There’s no doubt in my mind that Wyatt would be smiling at the efforts of kindness in his name. And the love that still flows for him.

I can’t say that year 2 is any easier. In some ways it has been even harder. We still miss Wyatt with every ounce of our beings. There is still a hole in our lives where he should be. Grief can still sneak up and grab me at the drop of a hat.

The kindness and love of our family, friends, acquaintances, and strangers has carried us through and will continue to do so. We are ever grateful for that. Thank you for remembering our boy with us. It truly is the greatest gift.

His Spirit

This will forever be one of my very favorite photos of Wyatt. I can see his spirit. Wyatt loved to have fun. He had a great sense of humor and was willing to be silly. He would go out on a limb and do something goofy to get a laugh.

And he always did things at full tilt. Just like he’s eating his spaghetti in this picture. He didn’t hold back and he wanted to get the most out of everything he did.

And I think he did that. I’m grateful for that. Grateful that he took chances and took advantage of experiences. And that we were able to provide many of those experiences for him. ❤️

Mother’s Day… again…

So Mother’s Day came back around again. Year 2.

This year was different. I’ve been in Kauai with a dear friend and we had an amazing day on a super fun boat ride and hanging out with her son.

But it’s still Mother’s Day

My mom is in Pennsylvania, so I always send a gift. I’m ever grateful for my mom. She is an amazing woman who I feel truly blessed to have as my mother.

And then there’s me as a mom. Mom to Shane and Wyatt. Shane sent me a text and called me today. I’m truly a blessed woman to be a mom to this boy. He is thoughtful and kind and funny. Just to name a few things.

And Wyatt isn’t here. I spent periods of the day in a funk in my mind. Mostly feeling sad, bitter, angry, and kind of not wanting to deal with any of it.

And feeling bad because two years ago today this was happening. The beginning of what we didn’t realize was the end…

How I wish that baseball playoffs was all we really had to worry about.

So I was sulking a bit in my head today.

Until I read an Instagram post from a mother who lost a son. She was sharing her gratitude for being a mom to her two boys, one who is gone.

It totally turned my thinking around to gratitude. Gratitude for being a mom to two amazing boys. And that’s really where I want to leave it. No big fanfare, no extended explanations. I’m just grateful. Grateful for my mom and all of the moms in my life who have and continue to support and guide me. And grateful for being blessed to be a mom to two amazing boys, who ultimately have made me a better human and will continue to do so for the rest of my life.

It’s Been a While…

I’ve been struggling with posting. It’s self inflicted, but a struggle still.

I know that my posts often make people sad. I wonder if others think I should be over it or move on. I wonder if others get tired of reading about my struggle, my sorrow, my sadness.

I do know that writing is a huge help for me. It helps me to process and quite frankly, helps me to be able to function and continue on.

From the time I started writing about losing Wyatt and what I’ve been experiencing, I’ve written for myself. To try to process things, to try to make sense of things for myself.

I could continue to write and just stuff it in a drawer or leave it on my phone for my eyes only. But what I’ve experienced and Wyatt’s life is worth more than that. Yes, Wyatt’s sweet life is worth more than to be hidden or forgotten. His sweet spirit deserves to be remembered.

I want more than anything for him to be remembered. I want the sweet kind 8 year old who was a friend to everyone, who stuck up for other kids, who was anxious to invite others to play, who was talented and competitive, yet humble and kind to be remembered. I want to remember every last sweet memory I can squeeze out of my brain. I want those who knew him to remember him and those who didn’t to know who he was.

So I will continue to write. And I will continue to post. I have a back log of writing that I’ve just held onto, not posting for whatever reasons were in my head. I’m going to work on posting the backlog along with what is to come.

I’m going to post my writing. I’ve decided that online platforms are a pretty cool thing. You can choose to read what you want. And not read the things that you don’t want to. It’s a choice for all of us.

The idea that I might help someone is pretty significant to me. Trying to find help in those early days of grief was hard. Northern California, or the rest of the world for that matter, doesn’t have a whole lot to offer in the area of grief. Losing a child is a big deal. And thankfully many never experience it. But for those that do, it’s helpful to know you aren’t alone. If one person gets something from what I write, well, that’s more than enough.

The other side of this is for those who know someone who has lost a child. I will admit that I never would have known what to do, what to say. I stumble over words and often feel like I can’t find the right words to say still when others are hurting. I hope I can share something that might help someone who is trying to provide comfort. I’m by far no expert, but my experience may be helpful to someone else.

And if my writing just hangs out here, that’s ok, too. It’s my processing. My thoughts. My feelings.

So, as I stated when I first started my blog, feel free to stay a while. I’m happy to have company. But I also know that I am now made up of the things that other people fear. I am not for the faint of heart. I carry knowledge and an understanding that is heartbreaking, at best. Regardless of all of that, I welcome you, but I also understand that some may not want to stay very long. I love you all the same.

Almost two years later, is it better? No

Does it hurt less? No

It doesn’t hurt any less. In the blink of an eye, and sometimes for no real reason, I can be transported back to the day, the moments when my heart realized that we were losing Wyatt. When I felt my heart being torn apart. When I felt the heartbreak that couldn’t be healed. When I felt like my world was ending.

And my world did end. As I knew it. As it was. As I was. I’m still the same, but different. I’ll never really be the same person again. I’m still grappling with that and struggling with what that means. There is beauty in what I was and in what I’ve become, what I will continue to become. There is also horror and pain and anger and sadness.

So this is what I’ve decided. This is my little corner of the web. I’ll continue to share. The good, the bad, whatever comes. I welcome you to visit, comment, stay briefly or for a while. Whatever works for you. If you don’t want to visit, that’s okay too. That’s the beauty of the internet and frankly, the written word no matter where it lives. It is there for the taking for those who want. For those who don’t, it can be left.

I am grateful for you all. Those who read. Those who comment. Those who quietly read and do not comment. This grief thing belongs to everyone individually. There’s no guidebook, no set of steps or rules. We all just have to do the best we can.

I know that some of the things I post can be hard to read. I know I’ve written things that some might take offense to. None of this is personal. I would never try to shame anyone, blame anyone, call anyone out. I am fully aware that people say things and do things they don’t mean to. Believe me because I’m sure I’ve unintentionally done that. But knowing that about myself, I want to share with others. Even when you say the wrong thing, it’s okay. None of us are perfect. But through sharing, I believe we better understand. In my opinion, at least you did something. But there we go anyway, this is all an opinion. It’s feelings and thoughts. And no one says any of it is right or wrong.

And if nothing else, memories of my sweet Wyatt will live here. I will continue to share pictures, stories, thoughts of him. My greatest fear is those memories slipping through the cracks in my memory and being lost forever. I’m going to do my darndest to make sure that doesn’t happen.

Here’s to sharing a journey and remembering my sweet, sweet boy and his sweet soul. 💙

New Year’s 2018

A full year has passed. A complete January to December. And my baby wasn’t here for any of it. He has now been gone a full 19 months. And now a full calendar year has been completed without him.

How have I survived this? How is this possible? I can still be thrown back to the moment he died in an instant. And feel like I cannot breathe. Like I cannot continue living this nightmare.

Last year I wrote this post at New Year’s and those feelings are not any different this year. I’m not anxious to move forward another year without Wyatt. I’m not anxious to keep continuing down this road without him. I find myself grappling with how I will keep watching the years turn without him. I don’t want to see what there is to be without him here. I don’t want to keep experiencing things without him. I don’t want to be endlessly reminded of what he isn’t here for.

I have taken the opportunity with saying goodbye to 2017 to reflect on what has happened this year. There has been beauty. There have been good things. That does not escape me.

Wyatt’s Buddy Bench was installed at Sierra View.

Wyatt’s scoreboard was installed at East Side. And a second bench was installed there at the same field.

We visited beautiful places and spent time with amazing people.

We have been blessed and loved beyond measure through some of our darkest moments.

Many of the things that have happened this year could not have happened without the kindness and love of family, friends, and even strangers. So many have and continue to reach out and support us. We are grateful for everyone who has reached out to us and helped us remember Wyatt in both big and small ways.

I know there will continue to be beauty and good things. We will continue to be surrounded by love and kindness. Because we choose those things. Even when it’s hard.

Thank you all for being some of those good and beautiful things in our lives. We wouldn’t be where and who we are without you.

Not sure what 2018 will hold. It’s coming regardless of what I want. I will continue to carry on Wyatt’s kind way the best that I can. And I will continue to cherish what I have each day, for that is all that we really have. Tomorrow truly is never guaranteed.

A Christmas Tradition

A few days ago Bird in Hand posted this status on their Facebook wall. Brooks had shared this story with them.

Bird in Hand is a local store here in Chico. They sell all sorts of fun stuff for adults and kids. Bird in Hand also hosts the National Yo-Yo Museum. I used to take Wyatt to Bird in Hand for Yo-Yo lessons occasionally on weekends. He was in awe of the older kids who could do all the crazy yo-yo tricks.

Every year, downtown Chico hosts Christmas Preview on the Sunday before Thanksgiving. All the stores are open for the evening showing off their goods for the holiday season. Some shop windows are filled with dancers or singers. Santa is there for the kids. And many of the shops give out cookies and maybe even hot cider.

We go every year. It’s great fun and a great way to start the holiday season.

An important stop during Christmas Preview is always Bird in Hand. Bird in Hand always hands out a new button for the season. The year that Wyatt was maybe 4 or 5, he really got into the buttons from Bird in Hand. Before we left the house for Christmas Preview that year, we collected all the buttons I had from previous years and pinned them on his Santa hat to wear to Christmas Preview.  He was so anxious to get his new button to add to his hat.  Since then, every year he would wear his Santa hat with all the buttons so he could get the new button for the year and add it to the collection.

We still haven’t missed a year of Christmas Preview. And perhaps the most important stop is Bird in Hand for our buttons. And we still get one for Wyatt’s Santa hat.

Family Photos

All the family photos. They kill me. I love them, but they kill me.

I’ll never have a complete family picture again. There will always be a hole. Right now it feels like a chasm that I may just fall into.

All the photos of smiling kids. Holding their parents hands. Leaning into their Mom or Dad.

Don’t get me wrong, I am utterly grateful for what I have. I love Brooks and Shane more than I have words for. They are my world. I do love pictures with them. And I will cherish them. Believe me, I know how precious they are.

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And I don’t begrudge others their family photos. I want to see them. I want to see the smiles. The love. The completeness. Because I don’t want anyone else to feel like I do. I want to see that those I love and care about are whole.

It’s just at times like this, when everyone is looking for a good family photo for the Christmas card. When everyone under the sun is posting their family pictures with the sweet sayings about being thankful…. I am thankful too. It’s just mixed with sadness and even anger because my family picture is forever altered.

2014

And when I walk away from the family photos by the rock at the cabin. The same rock where I have taken countless whole family photos. On the same yearly trek that my child has been on every year until he died.  On the first trip back to this place at this time without him.  Where I held him as a baby. Where I corralled him as a toddler. Where he held my hand and leaned into me as a sweet little boy who was mine. Please know that it’s not about you or anything you did. I’m not trying to hurt anyone’s feelings. I’m not trying to spoil the mood. Or make everyone sad. Or not cooperate.

I just need a moment. A moment to collect myself. To calm my breath. To catch myself from falling into that abyss that is the empty space where my baby should be.

I need to harness the panic that is rising in my chest. The panic that makes my heart race, my breath catch, and my brain spin. I’m learning how to harness it. Because it still comes. It will never stop rearing it’s ugly head. Because my baby isn’t coming back. He’ll never be in the family picture again. But I am learning how to harness that beast.

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And only I know how to do that. Only I know how to catch myself. Whatever other’s thoughts or beliefs or opinions, they belong to them. I have to do my grief my way. When I walk off from these moments… I’m trying not to lose my shit in front of everyone. I’m trying to save face. I’m trying not to crumble into a trembling pile of sobs in front of you. Because even though others may not want to believe it, or some might even think I should be over that phase, that still happens. And more than anything, I’m actually trying to spare everyone the pain that is ripping through my heart.

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Please know I will come back. I’m harnessing the beast. I’m letting some of the tears run their course because that is how I will heal. Some of the sobs are escaping to make room in my chest to breathe. Because the deep breaths I take will calm the panic and chase the beast away.

So, when these moments happen, it’s not about you. Or what you said. Or what you did.  Please don’t take it personally.  I appreciate the space you give me to gather my dignity and put the smile back on my face. It can be the greatest gift I am given in these moments. These moments when my family picture is not and will never be whole again.

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Running Errands

I left the house today to run some errands and was sad as I pulled away from the house. I was thinking about how the norm now is that I am alone. I grocery shop alone. I leave the house in the morning alone. I’m at home alone. I run errands alone.

It used to be that Wyatt was my sidekick. He was my errand running buddy. We would climb in the car together and get things done.

It generally seemed like Brooks and Shane would be off somewhere and it would be me and Wyatt. In the mornings, Shane rode his bike to school and I would drive Wyatt to school. Shane and Brooks would be off hunting and Wyatt and I would be home. Brooks and Shane would be busy somewhere and Wyatt would run errands with me. And maybe we would find a treat together.

I don’t have my sidekick anymore and even a year and a half later, I still miss him. I still lay my hand on the passenger seat wishing I could pat his leg. I still wish he would take over the radio and flip through the stations while I drive. I miss our conversations, his goofy jokes, and even his complaints about how many stops we would make.

Today’s outing took me to Lowe’s. I wanted to freshen up the pots on my front porch. As I was looking at these plants, a tiny frog jumped out and sat on one of the leaves. He startled me at first, but then I just stood there and watched him for a bit and smiled. And I thought, “Hey buddy, thanks for coming along with me today.”

Double Digits

Oh buddy… You should be turning 10 today. Double digits. That’s a big deal. To turn 10. To turn double digits.

What kind of party would you have wanted? Bowling? Archery? Baseball? Basketball?

What would you have wanted for your birthday? A new baseball bat? A basketball? I’m sure you would still be telling me you needed a phone of your own.

I’ll miss your excited face this morning as you would have bounded out of your room. I won’t hear your feet hit the floor when you jump out of bed excited for the day.

I would have hung decorations on your door as you slept last night so they would surprise you in the morning.

I would have hung the birthday sign in the kitchen.

Oh, punkin… I miss you. I hate that you aren’t here to turn double digits. I hate that I don’t know what kind of party you would want, though I know at least some of the friends you would want at your party. I know they are missing you, too.

I hate that I don’t know what I would have bought for your present. I hate that I don’t have a present to buy. Or a cake to make. Or a crazy kids birthday party to throw.

It’s not any easier this year. It doesn’t hurt any less now that this is the second birthday that you aren’t here for. My heart hasn’t healed. And if I’m being honest, the pain is sharper this year. This year 2, it’s like that protective fog has lifted and it’s not there to protect me anymore. And the pain actually stings more. If that is even possible.

Happy 10th Birthday, Sweetheart. I will celebrate you today. I’ll send my birthday wishes to heaven. I hope you can feel them. I hope you can feel the hug I wish I could give you.