I mention him

My friend Angel put this on my facebook page a while back and I deeply identify with it. I didn’t write it so this mom’s situation probably wasn’t just like ours but both of our sons are in heaven.

I Mention Him

I Mention Him

Not to make you uncomfortable,
He’s my son, I should be able to talk about him.

Not to dwell,
He will forever be my son, part of my life, my heart.

Not to make you feel guilty,
He is a child just like your own, but he’s in Heaven.

Not to bring you down,
It brings me joy to speak of him fondly.

Not to get attention,
He exists in my life just as your topics of conversation exists in yours.

Not to gain sympathy,
Believe you me, I wish I did not have to speak on him the past tense.

Not to bring you down,
My grief is lifelong, my healing is in the only life he has now, his mommy.

Not to rub it in your face,
I would never wish this on ANYONE!

Not to make it about me,
I am just another parent trying to speak of my kids the way you do yours.

Not to suck you into my world,
Your world is just as important to me.

Not to distract you,
I want to hear how your life is going, your happiness is relevant.

Not to take away from the conversation,
Yet life as well as death is a part of common conversation.

Not to make my life seem more important than yours,
I am my own person in my own journey and I share what is in my heart just as you do.

Not to remind you of your own grief,
We all walk our own paths and stumble as all humans do, we should pick each other up.

Not to garner your support,
Everyone gives whatever they can to enrich the lives of the ones they care for.

Not to remind you,
No one needs to be reminded of the loss of a child.

Not to haunt you,
It sucks, it truly does but not speaking of him haunts those who love him.

He is my son, I mention him, his life, his passing, and the times since then because I live every one of those moments in real time everyday.  He is a part of my being.  He is a part of my soul.  He has a place in my heart.  I carried him in my womb.  I watched him struggle.  I made the hardest decision a parent will EVER have to make…I let him go.  But understand, though I let him go physically, spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, he will ALWAYS be with me!  I am thankful for it, it’s all I have and at this point, it is all I need.

Necklace

For a few years I have really liked all of the “kid necklaces” that a lot of my friends wear. I was going to order one before Max died but I wasn’t quite sure which one I liked and then life and busyness got in the way. Well my friends Amy, Michelle and Sabrina remember me complimenting their necklaces a few months ago at during our small group. Those ladies knew Max from small group and being in the nursery and with the two-year-olds during church on Sundays. So they knew them. He played with their kids. Their kids knew Max. This is a big deal to me. Well they gave me a necklace yesterday that they had made for me. If we have another baby I can add his or her name a birth stone to the necklace. I cried when they gave it to me. I have been thinking lately that the further out that I get from when Max was alive the more strange it is. At least so far. It feels like time is frozen when he was alive last spring and I’m stuck there because he’s still there as a little giggling, curious, helpful, mud loving three-year-old. Yet I’m also living in the present with Kelly and Molly. Molly is growing and developing and Kelly and I are aging as well but we still have a three-year-old son and Molly has a three-year-old big brother. But he’s not here – he’s in heaven. It is still all so strange and it just doesn’t make any sense to my human brain. I also feel that the further away Max being alive becomes the more and more he will be forgotten and that being a reality makes me so very sorrowful and I just ache all over. I don’t want for people to not know Max because he isn’t here. Hence the necklace is very special to me because it acknowledges that he is our son and Molly’s big brother. I don’t need the necklace to remember Max but it is very special to me.

necklace

http://www.metalstampedmemories.com/

Monkey Pajamas and Coffee

I love these monkey pajamas! I really like anything with animals on my kids actually. Molly has started squinting and then I do it back and she’ll laugh. Its pretty fun. Oh and I am not giving Molly coffee 😉
When Max was two he always wanted to try my coffee. (I drink it every morning and wouldn’t start reading books to him until I poured some for myself.) The kid LOVED books and would say, “Come oooonnn Mommy! Let’s read books!”) One day I let him try my coffee before I put in milk and sugar. He never asked to try it again and would tell me that my coffee was icky. He would say, “Mommy, I know you like coffee, I not like coffee.” Problem solved 😉

coffee molly 1

coffee molly 2

coffee molly 4

You may notice that Molly has grown a pair of bottom chompers in this picture. She  also has a matching pair of top ones. They are razor sharp!

Weekend with cousins Addie, Jonah & Cora

Kelly, Molly and I drove down to Portland to visit my cousin Michelle, her husband Eric and their three kids: Addie (almost 4), Jonah (21 mo.) and Cora (21 mo.) We had a blast and it was so nice to just  be with Michelle and Eric. I had so much fun playing with the kids. They loved Molly too. Cora and Jonah would say, “baby” over and over. Jonah was super gentle and sweet with Molly too. Molly loved watching all of the shenanigans those three created.

Molly and Addie

Addie and Molly

Cora 1

Happy Cora

bathtime 1

Jonah, Molly and Addie having a blast together in the tub.

Molly and Jonah

Jonah and Molly

 

Cousin Time

We got to hang out with Ma & Pa, Uncle Christopher, Aunt Laura, Grace and James today. Here are some pictures from our fun.

Molly and Laura

I  love this picture of Molly and Laura. It is so very sweet.

Grace and Pa

Grace wanted me to put a clip in her hair but then she wanted more and more until they were all in her hair. She picked them out and told me where to put them. I think she looks like a mermaid princess. She and Pa are watching Looney Toon shows 🙂

Laura and Molly 1

This picture of Laura and Molly is from Friday when we visited I just forgot to put them up in my last post. Max and Grace used to try and take turns on this car and another Little Mermaid one. I think the last time we were there Max rode on the Little Mermaid one 🙂

molly and james 1

Kelly’s cousin Vanessa and her husband Bubba had their daughter Aubrey and then their twin girls Annie and Paisley. Vanessa generously gives us their hand-me-downs! We naturally get doubles of some items. Laura and I thought it would be fun to put Molly and James in matching, “Mommy loves me” onsies.

molly and james 2

Molly and James 4

Molly and James 3

I cannot get over Molly’s face here! She’s been doing this a lot lately. It cracks me up! It reminds me of the face Max made when he tried pureed carrots I made him for the first time when he was almost seven months old. They must be related.

first carrots

 

 

Great visit

Today Molly and I went and visited Christopher, Laura, Grace and James. We had a really nice time. I loved getting to just be with Christopher and Laura. It was also wonderful to be around Grace and listen to her talk and giggle and play. She was extra snuggley with me and I ate it up. She wanted to sit in my lap a lot and it was so nice to have a toddler that I love sitting in my lap again. We read books with her in my lap. That was a huge deal for me. Every morning Max and I would read book after book after book and he would sit next to me on the couch or on my lap. On his last morning with me he sat in my lap. Thank you God for Max wanting to sit in my lap that day.

Here’s Grace in my boots. She seemed to really like wearing them. They are as tall as her legs! I’m so glad I get her as my niece.

grace in my boots

After dinner both James and Molly were covered in chicken pot pie and cottage cheese so all the kiddos took a bath.

bunz

Um aren’t those the cutest baby buns you’ve ever seen!?

cousin bathCousin bath!

Questions and Answers

I thought I would blog about, “how I’m doing.” I have a friend that blogs about her chronic illness and she has said it helps her to process and I really like knowing, “how she’s doing.” So I get asked a lot of questions and I usually answer them but I will answer them here too. So I get asked, “how I’m doing” all the time. Its more of a greeting in our culture so I never know if people really want to know or if they just want to say, “hi.” I usually don’t want to talk about how I’m really, really doing. Its deep, dark and painful so I usually just say, “great!” with a smile and move on. I don’t want to cause someone else to feel super sad and I don’t want to dwell on my sadness.

How am I doing?: I miss my baby. I miss my sweet boy. I crave his voice, his touch, his giggle, to see the sparkle in his eyes, to hear what he would say about something. My heart is shattered. If I didn’t have Molly I might just stop eating and drinking so I could die too and make the agonizing pain go away. I am glad that breathing is involuntary or I might just choose to stop. Mornings are the worst time of day because I wake up and realize that yes, Max is dead and it wasn’t a nightmare. It really happened.

My Faith in God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit: My faith in Jesus Christ being my Lord and Savior is stronger than ever. Thank you for praying for me, for Kelly, for Molly for our families, for our marriage! Your prayers for peace and comfort are working. God hears your prayers and answers them. Am I angry that God didn’t “save” Max so I could enjoy watching him grow up here on earth – you bet! This isn’t fair and its not what I signed up for. I will talk more about God’s “plan” and how I really don’t like people saying it was God’s plan for Max to die in a later post.

Why are you out smiling and visiting people?: If I just stayed home and “mourned” I would probably end up killing myself. I am a social person. When Max was the same age as Molly I was getting out and doing stuff and with friends and their kids. Also being at home is tough right now. I am a stay-at-home-mom so my day and pretty much my life was all about Max for three years. He is everywhere here. I am slowly being able to spend a day or so at home and that is a real gift from God.

Max’s room: Max died in bed in his room. It looked to me like he died in his sleep. I asked Kelly, my dad and his dad to take Max’s bed apart and put it away and get rid of all of his bedding. They also re arranged his room a bit so its more of a play room. I leave his bedroom door open and his blinds and curtains open. I don’t think I want his room to be a bedroom again and I don’t think I want to see the door shut again. I’m the one who opened Max’s door to find that he wasn’t just sleeping in. The thought of opening that door again if another child of mine is “sleeping in” is just too much for my brain to handle.

Pictures of Max in our house: We left all of the pictures of Max up. I had just put up new pictures in our living room of Kelly and I, baby pictures of the kids, the two of them together and with their cousins at Easter in April. It would feel strange to take pictures of him down to me like he never existed because he did!

Children’s Hospital: I am so grateful for Children’s and all of the doctors, nurses and staff that we came in contact with. We were able to meet on a street corner in Seattle with Max’s neurologist and talk about everything that happened. She is a great pediatric neurologist and did everything she was supposed to do. In no way to we blame her or Children’s for Max’s death.

Contributions to Children’s Hospital: So many of you have been donating to Seattle Children’s! Thank you so much! Because of all the donations Max’s name will be put up permanently on a wall there

Crying: I cry about every other day. Its in the car lately. I feel like I have a little bubble around me so no one can see me. I usually just tell God that I want my son back over and over and over again through sobs. I can’t cry big cries in front of Molly because she starts to cry too.

Talking about Max: I talk about Max some times. Its still very strange to spend time with my friends and their kids and not talk about Max. He and I were dealing with picky eating, him telling me, “no!”, him wanting to do everything himself, nap times, throwing tantrums you name it so sometimes I add in what we were doing when subjects like that come up. I don’t say it to be a downer I just can relate and want to participate in the conversation.

How is Molly: Molly is doing great. She is a happy healthy 10 month-old.

Will Molly have seizures: Molly is more prone to have fibril seizures (having a fever and then having a seizure) She is not more likely to have epilepsy. It is possible though.

Does Molly notice that Max is gone?: I think at first Molly probably noticed her super fun, loud, protective, talkative brother Max was missing. But with her being so young I can’t ask her what she’s thinking or feeling. I of course want to know. She is too young to have any real memories of him (our first memories are usually from when we are 2 or 3) but there are pictures of him and I have quite a few videos of Max and of Max and Molly together.

How’s your marriage: Our marriage is strong but no marriage is untouchable. God is at the center of our marriage and he pulls us together. That said Kelly and I grieve differently because we are different and he is a man and I am a woman. We will probably do some therapy together to help us through this. We do talk about all kinds of stuff together and about Max etc. Of course we fight as well. Because we are both dealing with trauma fights are compounded with that extra emotion.

Therapy: I started talk therapy with a therapist that I have seen a couple times in the past and I love. I am a strong believer in therapy for just going through this broken life. I am grateful to God for my therapist!

Are we going to have another baby?: If God gives us another baby that would be great. I am not in a huge hurry to get pregnant. Max died a month ago. I want to have two kids again but I also want to be on my anti depressant/anti anxiety medication right now and if I were to get pregnant right now Molly and the baby would be like 20 months apart. That’s too close for me.

Why did Max die?: As of today Max’s body is still at the King County Medical Examiner’s office in Seattle. The doctors there are almost done looking at his brain. It does and it doesn’t matter to me why Max died. He is still dead. Yes, I want him back but he’s not coming back. I will see him in heaven.

What will be done with Max’s body?: When the Medical Examiners are done with Max’s body the funeral home we chose will pick his body up and cremate it. Our plan now is to make a reservation on one of the ferry’s to Whidbey Island to spread his ashes off of the ferry. They will stop the ferry mid way, make an announcement and blow the horn. Kelly or I will walk to the edge of the ferry with a ferry worker and drop Max’s ashes into the water.

My Drinking: I am still sober – praise God! I still don’t really think of alcohol any more. I used to think about it almost on an hourly basis. If I hadn’t prayed to God and asked Him to lift the burden of alcohol from me and then HE DID I would be at the bottom of a bottle on a daily basis. I would self medicate with alcohol and probably never come up for air, destroy my marriage, my family, Molly and eventually die.

How am I sleeping: For the first month after Max died I took Benadryl every night to go to sleep and stay asleep. I haven’t taken any the last few nights and I’ve been okay. I’ve had one very bad dream but I’m praying that I won’t have any more.

Am I eating?: I’m pretty much eating normally again. For the first weeks I didn’t want to eat. The pain of not eating felt good because it was a physical thing that I could control when my life felt out of control and I hurt in my heart so the hurt in my stomach almost felt good. I did eat to feed Molly I just only ate when I was really hungry.

 

 

Where God has been and where God is

max and mollyMax holding Molly for the first time and patting her when she was two days old.

I wrote just some snippets of what I was thinking and feeling in the days after Max died. I read them at the next MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) meeting at our church the Tuesday after Max died because I wanted to share a lot of stuff with the women there. I also didn’t want people to feel that that couldn’t ever talk to me or that I was the woman who’s son died and ssshhhhh don’t talk to her. So here it is and its not necessarily going to make sense but I thought I’d post it anyway.

Looking back God has been preparing our hearts and minds for this for a while.

Max was innocent! He will never know how awful and broken this world is! He has a great life! He lived every day full throttle with complete joy! He wasn’t kidnapped and murdered. He passed away in his sleep! He wasn’t scared or alone! God wrapped his arms around him and took him home.

I am thankful for Max being diagnosed with epilepsy last September. It caused me to slow down a little bit, take more time with him and Molly, being willing to read another book, not get as frustrated when milk would get spilled or a tantrum would happen. Also I didn’t want Max in MOPPETS (childcare during MOPS meetings) because I didn’t want him to have a seizure and have me not be there. So my mother –in-law who I adore offered to stay home with him on Tuesdays. And they had a ball together! So Max and Betty had this very special bond. Also I went to my parent’s house in Kent every Monday night so Max and Molly could really know my parents. I am so thankful for that. My sister got to babysit Max a lot so she also had a special bond with him. Kelly’s grandma who I also adore was able to spend the night after Max’s third birthday party on April 27th and got to play with him and Molly.

My husband Kelly was supposed to be in British Columbia Thursday morning but his passport was expired so he was on Mercer Island instead and when I called him was able to get home in 20 minutes.

I am thankful to God for giving me the free will to realize that I had a drinking problem and choose to ask him for help to lift it from me. And he DID. Now I don’t have guilt that Max ever saw me drunk and was scared or that I was passed out and he cried out for me in the middle of the night but I didn’t hear him.

Kelly and I can’t blame each other for Max’s death. He passed away straight into Jesus arms while he was asleep! I didn’t have to watch paramedics try to resuscitate him and have a shred of hope that he would come back only for him to not.

I would tell Max, “I have secret for you.” He would excitedly say, “What?!” I would whisper in his ear, “I love you.” Then I would say, “I have another secret for you.” He would again ask, “What!?” Then I would say, “You’re my favorite boy.” He had never said that he loved me on his own until early last week. We were playing

—–Whenever Max would get an owie we would usually pray for God to heal it.  He would tell me, “God is healer! God is healer!” and not let me put Aveeno on his eczema on his wrists. So now I need to believe my baby that God IS the healer of all and that He will heal me.

We have Molly! So I get her as therapy every day and she smiles and laughs. And I have to eat well so I can feed her.

Also I have two choices I can shrivel up and die so I can go to heaven asap to be with my baby or I can choose God’s joy.

I’m mad at what happened and would do almost anything to change it but God is already using Max’s death for good.

I chose in the last six months to start staying home more from play dates so Max, Molly and I could just play with each other.

Also my husband had been working from home a lot in the past few weeks so they got to play together more than usual.

On Wednesday Max woke up with a very snotty nose. We were “supposed” to go visit a girlfriend of mine in Woodinville that doesn’t have kids. I probably would have let Max watch shows on my phone for the majority of our visit so I could have “my time” with my friend. Max would have liked that but it wouldn’t have been that great of a day. So looking at all of the green snot pouring out of Max I cancelled on my friend. And we had the best last day on Wednesday. We read books and highlights magazine on the couch. Laid out in the sun on the deck and read more and just played. Max wasn’t feeling good and said his tummy hurt and he had a fever. So we gave him ibuprofen and he asked to have a sink bath eat popsicles and watch shows and we let him. I gave him his epilepsy medication before bed time and I checked his temperature and it was back to normal. my husband Kelly gave him Motrin before bed to keep his temperature just in case. I did his bed time routine with him like I usually do. Max picked out three books and they were long ones. I usually bargain with him and ask him to trade a long one for a short one. But Wednesday night I didn’t. I read three long books and he laid his head on my shoulder and I gave him a kiss on his forehead. He was so tired that I told him that he could just lay down after the third book and then I started to sing him his songs that I usually do – Jesus loves the little children, Jesus loves me, This little light of mine, You are my Sunshine and Mr. Sun by Raffi. He was asleep before I finished Jesus loves me. So I quietly left his room.

The medical examiner told us that Max didn’t have any infections, she is still going to check for viruses, further study his brain. The medical examiner did say that his brain was enlarged and swollen. I have peace in that because I wouldn’t have been able to tell that! And to me it doesn’t matter what caused Max’s death because it won’t bring him back. I have no regrets with anything in raising him. At Max’s last appointment at Children’s his neurologist said he was the healthiest kid she’d ever seen. We were able to meet with her yesterday and thank her for taking such good care Max. She was completely confused as to what happened. And as a pediatric neurologist that lady is smart. It was so nice to give her a great big bear hug and reminisce about Max and what a joy he was.

Through Max’s death my husband Kelly and I really know what a supportive community we have. Our house has been filled with family and friends that come and give us hugs and pray with us and talk and laugh about Max and life. I had friends drive down from Bellingham and up from Portland just to give me a hug and pray with me! Thank you to those of you who are praying for us! I

Max loved parties! For Christmas and Easter my husband Kelly and I blew up lots of balloons and put streamers up in our living room to celebrate Jesus’ birthday and resurrection.

I already have a therapist I trust that I will start seeing asap. I’m already on anti depressant and anti anxiety medication.

We only want two kids. My huband Kelly is going to get a vascetemy eventually but hasn’t yet so if its God’s plan we will be able to have another baby. I’m looking forward to having that pure joy and bliss again.

I’ve never been afraid of death for myself and I’m not afraid now. I used to want to live though until I was very old. But now that has changed a little. If I only live until I’m 65 that’s okay because I just want to see my baby. I want him to tell me in his little voice, “Come on Mommy! What are you doing Mommy! Why did you take so long. Mommy I missed you. Come chase me mommy! Come play set go with me mommy. Mommy my tummy’s cold – I need hot cocoa.” I will wait because I have to until I see him again in heaven.

If you would like to be praying for me and us this is what we would like you to pray for: For God’s peace, for God’s comfort, for Kelly and my marriage, for the image of what Max looked like when I found him to be replaced by Christ and for our daughter Molly to not be lost in the shuffle.

Molly is 10 months old!

Taking pictures of Molly with her 10 month sticker on earlier this week was hard. I am glad she’s 10 months old but Max isn’t here with us. He was here playing in the background when I took her 9 month picture. But milestones like this still need to be celebrated. Molly is such a blessing from God. I am so grateful for her.

Here is a little bit about what Molly is up to.

Physical: army crawling and sometimes regular crawling. She likes to feed herself (yay!), she pulls herself up to a standing position, she likes to clap and wiggles to music.

Social/Emotional: She loves being around other people, she cries and comes looking for us when/if we leave the room, she talks a ton, she waves and says, “Hi” to a picture of my parents, sister and myself when we were little. She exhibits reluctance toward strangers aka mean mug. She expresses affection by kissing and patting.

Communicative: She turns her head when we call her name and briefly stops a behavior when told, “no.”

Cognitive: She intentionally drops toys

tigger 1

tigger 2

tigger 3

tigger 4

tigger 5

tigger 6

Max

I started this blog post having it be about Molly turning 10 months old but instead I feel like I can blog a little bit about Max and his death. He was here when Molly turned 9 months old but now today Molly is 10 months and he is in heaven. It hurts so much that he is not here for me to hear, hold, read books to, snuggle with, kiss, help get dressed and just watch grow up. I think I’ll use my blog to write every once in a while about how I’m feeling to help me and so you can kind of know how I’m “doing.”

My friend Jenn wrote this on her blog soon after Max died and I feel it is a beautiful description so I’m reposting it for you.

A year or so ago, we had a large stump in our back yard that we wanted removed.

“Kelly is coming up to visit us this week,” Mike said.  “He can get it out for us!”

I knew it was true; on more than one occasion, I had seen our friend Kelly use his truck to successfully pull things out of the ground.  After all, Kelly is the type of person who gets a glimmer in his eye when a piece of electronic equipment needs to be fixed, a fire needs to be started, or a couch just needs to be blown up.

With this in mind, I implored Mike to call a tree removal service.

“No,” Mike firmly told me.  “Kelly can do it.”

And he did.

Knowing this, you can now maybe imagine how glorious life was for Kelly and Katie Keeton’s three-year-old son, Max.  A grand adventure of tools, construction sites, rain boots, and car parts.  A mommy and daddy who valued silliness, play, and surrounding their kids with family, friends, and faith.

So, it is with monumental, unfathomable sadness that we are now grieving the loss of Max, who passed away earlier this week.  He was with us for only three years…but what a three years he had. Both sides of grandparents to dote on him, little and big friends to play with, and some amazing parents who helped him get dirty, explore the world, and learn to play on his dad’s pinball machines.

We last saw Max on New Year’s Eve, which we spent with the Keeton’s on Whidbey Island. Max gleefully played with his grandparents all evening, running through the house in his cozy pajamas.  The next morning, he agreed to dress up in clothes a friend had brought back from Thailand for he, his sister Molly, and Luella.  He sat sweetly for pictures during the ensuing photo frenzy, giving Molly a little kiss on the head as she sat beside him.

We’re going to be missing our little friend at every holiday and get-together, and, well, all the time in between.

And to the one and only Max:  thanks for letting us be part of your life, pal.  We’ll keep on loving you, your sister, and your strong, big-hearted parents.  And if he’s lucky, we’ll probably even let your dad pull more stumps out of our yard.

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Here are some of my favorite pictures of Max from this past April and May. We had a grand time every. single. day.

max and molly sink bath

m and m

drinking rain water from the table

fishing reading max

     favorite sink bath pic

favorite sink bath pic

beach max birthday max 2 boy in a bin bunny max carrot cake muffin 1 carrot cake muffin 2 carrying max and molly daddy and max dad's 59th birthday diaper and boots mxa doll hair at natalias donuts from grandma darlene helping max IMAG0597 jump rope max max holding molly 2 max holding molly max not wanting his pic taken max wanting to hold and nurse molly pizza max 2 pizza max 3 pizza max 4 play dough playground max shenanigans sliding max train max whidbey sink bath 2