Thursday, December 20, 2012
For the past 3 years I have a lot of trouble with Christmas. With the holiday cheer, love in the air, little ones so happy and excited. I have had a lot of trouble exuding the Christmas spirit. I have gone through the motions and allowed my emotions get the best of me. I have hesitated with decorations and only put up the bare minimum for our children... the tree... the stockings... the "essentials". I have held back many tears and lived with a heavy heart...
This Christmas feels lighter. This Christmas feels more peaceful. I am enjoying the kids excitement and looking forward to their anxious little faces on Christmas morning as they wander down stairs to check out what Santa brought them. I feel an indescribable comfort that feels warm and familiar. I feel a wave of calm...
As I dusted Nicholas' urn today and gave him a kiss it stung a little bit more.... missing him at Christmas and always, but feeling him close and reminded of his touch on our lives.
Tuesday, December 18, 2012
Wednesday, November 7, 2012
Friday, October 26, 2012
October 28, 2008
The day our world stopped. The day we were told that part of our baby boy's brain had not formed. The day we had to make the most unimaginable decision of our lives.
We were scheduled into the high risk pregnancy hospital that afternoon for a number of tests because an ultrasound had shown that the ventricles in our baby's head were larger than normal. My husband and I made the 1/2 hour drive into Toronto and, to be honest, our spirits were hopeful. We certainly had a million questions, but how bad could it be right? I was 33 weeks and had several ultrasounds throughout the pregnancy - every single one was "fine" - until the last one. How could something so catastrophic not been seen earlier??
When we got to the clinic I had blood taken, then we had the amnio... and then the "detailed ultrasound" performed by one of the head doctors. He studied our baby for a long, long time (all the while making small talk). I remember him telling us about his daughter and a big house they had bought not too far from where we lived...I look back now and wonder how in the world he could talk so casually when he could clearly see the trouble our baby was in.
The doctor was called away for what felt like hours and during that time my husband and I tried to remain calm... we didn't know anything for sure at this point. My husband looked at the transcript from the previous ultrasound and figured things were fairly positive (he has some training in the medical field and can read the jargon). When the doctor finally returned he probed my belly again and asked if he and the doctor we had been seeing (who was now in the room) could speak with each other freely. Sure. I didn't understand a single thing they were saying, but something deep in my soul knew that none of it was good. I kept looking at my husband for some kind of reassurance.... nothing. He just kept shaking his head and looking really concerned. When my husband looks concerned I know there's trouble.
The doctors finished up and we were sent to wait in the waiting room... for what we now know was the worst news of our life.
We were taken into the genetic councilor's office and shut the door. Oh God...
"Part of the baby's brain has not formed at all" the words went through me like a sword. "There was some kind of insult to the baby", probably during or after my emergency surgery at 20 weeks, "There is a high chance that the baby will not make it through labour or for very long once he is born" .... my vision is blurry now, I am staring blankly at who knows what, I don't hear them anymore. "If the baby is born alive we cannot guarantee what quality of life he will have... with half the brain missing...." "Everyone has different views and ideas of what quality of life is....there are options for you." Options, are you serious??!!!
After a while we were left alone in that office.... to scream, to sob, to shake uncontrollably. Our first and foremost thought was that we did not want our precious baby boy to suffer. We did not want him to be born gasping for breath, struggling to stay alive. We did not want him on life support and we did not want our beautiful boy to be attached to tubes and needles. We also felt like we had to think about our two boys at home... there were 5 people to think about. I will never forget my husband saying that. I don't remember too much, but that I remember. It struck a chord and resonated in my breaking heart.
The decision to let him go, without a doubt, was the most heart-wrenching, soul-searing, horrendous decision we have had to ever, ever had to make, but I truly believe we made it out of love. I have to believe that we spared him the pain, the suffering that he would have inevitably endured, regardless of the outcome.
I pleaded with the doctors not to send me home that night.... I really didn't know how to face anyone. But there are policies, of course. We were sent home to writhe in our pain... to start grieving our little boy who was still actively kicking and pushing his mommy's belly.
We waited 4 days to get an MRI scheduled. The MRI was to 110% confirm the findings (which we were all for).
That was Friday, October 31, 2008 - Halloween Day. And that is for another post.
My heart and soul ache for you Nicholas..... we love you more every day... xo
Wednesday, October 17, 2012
We remember Nicholas every day. We light his candle every night. We say goodnight to him on our way up the stairs. The kids blow kisses to the sky. I create Angel Wings in his memory and continually work on the Comfort Boxes for the hospitals. We say his name often. He is included in our family pictures. His Nana and Papa hold him close to their hearts and his Aunt, Uncle and cousins lovingly remember him as "Rocky". He has allowed us to connect with other bereaved families and has given us the strength to offer comfort and support in their journey. He is such an integral part of our every day life...
Then October rears it's ugly head and I feel unravelled. I succumb to the grief. The ugliest memories become much more vivid again. I can smell him with every breath... I can feel his every kick. The guilt begins to eat at me. I remember, in no uncertain terms, that my body failed me when my baby needed me most. How does a Mother do that? Deprive her own child of the necessities of life? I feel rotten. I feel useless as a mom. I feel broken all over again. The fatigue is overwhelming and my mind won't stop racing. My heart is shattered.... especially in that special place that Nicholas resides. The flashbacks are intense... his beautiful, little face so real.
The memory of carrying him that last week before we met him. The horrid knowledge of knowing our sweet boy's fate. The blessed day we held him in our arms. The cuddles, the kisses......... the goodbyes. My primal wail as the nurse carried him out the door for the last time. Wanting desperately to sneak to the "quiet room" for one more glimpse... one more butterfly kiss. Shivering from exhaustion and tremendous shock the entire night. Leaving with empty arms. Facing our family.... our other kids.... falling into my parents arms.
I remember working feverishly on a Memorial for Nicholas. Diving my hands, my mind into something tangible.... something to remember our son. I so desperately wanted everyone to know him. To understand that he was alive.... and then he died. Nicholas mattered. Nicholas does matter. He is one of us and I am incredibly protective of his memory. I remember barely getting through the day... welcoming family and friends into our home. Introducing them to Nicholas..... his memory.
I remember the day we had to go the the funeral home. I wasn't going to see him again, but instinct called me to him.... collapsing beside his tiny, white bed where he lay. I could barely see him through the constant stream of tears, eyes bloodshot and so very tired. I saw him, I touched him, I told him how sorry I was.... how much I love him. And then, somehow, we left... and I envisioned his beautiful body being placed in a fire. Igniting my son. My son. Letting him become ashes with a beautiful blanket and hand picked outfit from Nana..... ashes.
A week later my husband called me from the driveway. He had picked up Nicholas. He wanted us to both "walk" him home..... Another moment straight from Hell. I went to him. It was cold... snowing... dark. We walked with him bundled in a green velour bag to the home where he should have been sleeping in his cradle. To the home that so desperately wanted him... alive and well.
Nicholas now resides proudly on the mantel with his picture and footprints. Beside his brothers and sister.... just exactly where he belongs.
These next few weeks are going to be tough. Just before Halloween we were sentenced to this nasty journey. Halloween day we confirmed it with an MRI.....
I am thankful to have the Lantern Release to look forward to. I am certain it will be a magical, moving evening full of love and inspiration. One to remember for many years to come.
I am also incredibly thankful for our other children. They are our source of joy and light in these rough days.
I thank so many for all the love, support, understanding and comfort that it shown to us every single day. Couldn't do it without you.
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
I feel you like it was just yesterday, Nicholas. Your kicks, your rolls, your hiccups.... If I close my eyes and breathe really deep, I can still smell you... still taste the kisses I laid upon your ruby red lips. You are truly our Guardian Angel. We love you.
Please help mommy get through the next few weeks with courage...
This year we have decided to do something a little different to mark the day you blessed us with your presence.
Below is the letter I have sent out to family and friends who have been such an extreme amount of support and comfort over the last few years.
October 4, 2012
I hope that this note finds everyone well.
As we approach Nicholas' 4th Angel Day on November 7th I am both unsettled and at peace. The way that our grief has transformed over the last few years is indescribable. We have been forced to walk a path that no parent dares to imagine and yet we stand strong. We continue to heal our broken hearts by remembering and honouring our special little guy every day. We do this together, with love, perseverance and with the boundless support of amazing family and friends who have been there for us every step of the way.
Four years seems like a huge milestone.
Four years seems impossible.
Four years seems believable.
Four years hurts just the same.
This is the dance grieving parents contend with every single day. An endless contradiction of emotions. It never ceases to amaze me how such devastation and such beautiful glory can co-mingle comfortably in my heart and I am certain that our Nicholas has everything to do with that.
Most of you will remember that we have been marking Nicholas’ Angel Day with a special and unique event each year. Together, with an amazing support system, we have created life long memories on what is an extremely emotional day for our family.
Last year we collected donations to create Memory/Comfort Boxes for our local hospital. We were blessed with many heartwarming donations from dollars to handmade blankets and hats. We donated 6 Comfort Boxes on November 7, 2011 to Southlake Regional Health Center’s Labour and Delivery Unit and as heartbreaking as it is, we have been replenishing them as the need arises. This year we have completed 6 more boxes and will be donating them, in Nicholas’ memory, to York Central Hospital in Richmond Hill. We are more than comforted to know that some families may find some much needed solace from the items we have provided.
In the last few years we have also organized either a run or a walk in Nicholas’ memory. The events have changed throughout the years, but the meaning will always be there. It is so important to us to have a positive focus on what could be a terrible day re-living horrific memories. To have friends, family and supporters with us, enjoying each other’s company, sharing stories and maybe even remembering their own little angels means the world to us. Nicholas’ legacy lives on and that is what it is all about.
This year, once again, our vision is different. A beautiful friend from the U.S. recently held a memorial for little angels in which Sky/Wish Lanterns were released in their honour. The pictures are magnificent and so incredibly moving. I could only imagine experiencing such a glorious sight. So, this year we will be holding a Sky/Wish Lantern evening to remember our baby boy.
We would also like to extend a warm invitation to our fellow baby loss parents to join us to not only remember our Nicholas, but to also remember their baby. We are certain the evening will be magical and we would love be able to watch Nicholas’ friends light the night with him.
If you are interested in attending and/or would like your very own lantern to release, please RSVP by OCTOBER 18th to me directly at email@example.com. We will have to know numbers in order to request the correct amount of lanterns. Each lantern is $3.00.
The below link gives you an idea of what these Wish Lanterns can offer…. an invaluable experience.
Jim, myself, Evan, Kyle and Madison would be truly honoured to experience this extraordinary evening with you in honour of our son and brother, Nicholas Warren Reeves…. gone much too soon.
With Love and Gratitude,
Leanna, Jim ,Evan, Kyle, Madison and Angel Baby Nicholas Reeves
“I would rather have had one breath of his hair, one kiss of his mouth, one touch of his hand, than an eternity without it…”
Thursday, September 13, 2012
Evan's fourth grade year.
Kyle's first grade year.
Even Miss Madison is enjoying two mornings a week at a nearby nursery school.
Nicholas' would have been in junior kindergarten this school year.
I would be dressing him in his very best school clothes. He would look like a little man, backpack in tow, as we headed out to the bus stop.
We would chat about how much fun he was going to have... about the treats in his lunch bag. I would reassure him that his big brothers would look out for him and that he can always trust his teacher. I would draw an "xo" on his palm so he could take a mommy kiss to school.....
I would hold him close for one last hug before he made the big climb up the school bus steps. I would watch as he found his seat at the very front and pressed his little face against the window in eager anticipation. I would wave like a crazy mom and confidence would creep back in his eyes. And I would watch and wipe away a tear (or two) as the gigantic, yellow school pulled away with my precious cargo.
I am struggling with this.... how can so much time have passed since I held my baby boy in my arms?
Friday, June 15, 2012
Your daddy loves you oh so much
I see it in his eyes.
Every time we speak of you,
He looks up to the sky.
We talk about you often
And wonder what you’d be
If you were down here with us,
With your family.
Daddy is so strong,
His strength surrounds us all.
We lean on him for comfort,
He doesn’t let us fall.
But daddy hurts so deeply,
He misses you so much.
He feels blessed to have known you
And to have felt your touch.
He’s proud to be your daddy
And to have held your hand in his.
He kissed and held you close that day
Forever you’ll be missed.
We love you buddy… xo xo
Mommy (Leanna) – March 2009
Wednesday, June 6, 2012
Beautiful. Red. Tiny. Perfect.
It fills my dreams.
In my dreams this ladybug has wings.
Big, gorgeous, wings.
Like a butterfly ladybug.
A butterbug. Or a ladyfly.
The wings are a mosaic of colours. Bright. Soft. Gentle.
In my dreams it caresses my cheeks. Lights on my shoulder. Glides around on the breeze, yet never flys too far away.
It's antics are as if to tease me and I imagine Nicholas being a mischevious little boy who enjoys playing jokes on his mommy.
It's closeness fills my heart with comfort... for I know our little boy is never too far away.
It's touch allows me to feel him again, if only for a moment.
It's presence is a soothing reminder of the little boy I so desperately wish we got to know better.
Those are the things dreams are made of. Those are the dreams I never want to wake from.
Love you buddy. xx
"K, Mama! My kiss Daddy. My kiss Ra Ra (Evan). My kiss Ky Ky (Kyle). My kiss Nicky"... as she blows kisses over the banister to her brother's table. Pulls at my heart every time.
Our precious little rainbow... she's awesome.
Friday, May 25, 2012
Wow. We have survived 31,080 hours of this journey? Impossible to believe. Even more impossible to swallow.
In the past 3 1/2 years we have experienced such a roller coaster of emotions. Deep, unimaginable grief, inexplicable love, heart wrenching guilt and immeasurable joy. This journey has transformed us. It has beaten us down time and time again.... and yet, we still stand. I dare say that we even stand with pride. Proud of the fact that we have weathered this storm. Proud of the fact that we will continue to do, together.
I think of him every day. I smell him. I feel him. I long for him. As Nicholas' mommy, that will never change. But I also feel like our grief has morphed into something much more positive. I have found solace and strength in helping others who walk this horrendous path. I yearn to do more. To offer support and complete understanding in such a devastating and life altering time. I crave the connection... to share our story in hopes it may make someone else's a little less raw. I wish to alleviate some pain. To let others know that I have walked and wept this road. To let them know they are not alone.
There are still days when my heart is heavy. I take these days as a sign to take a breather. To slow down. To feel. To remember. I suspect there will always be "down" days. Days when the burden feels like too much to handle. But there are also beautiful days. Like when I get a note from someone to say thank you for their baby's Angel Wings..... that makes my heart feel content. Nicholas' memory lives on.
PS. I still didn't finish it.....
From May 2011
I just finished giving the house a good clean. Feels good. Smells good. Looks good.... until the onslaught comes home after school, that is.
While I was dusting, I held Nicholas' tiny, blue, heart shaped urn in my hands, as I always do. I wiped it off. Made it shiny. Cradled it a few moments... gave it a kiss. I then set it back down, beside his picture, beside his perfect, little footprints.
There was a time when I couldn't do it. I couldn't even look at that tiny, blue heart without feeling the lump rise into my throat. There was a time when just catching a glimpse of it would make my tummy do flip flops and my body cringe. I remember when we first brought Nicholas home. The funeral home had his ashes delicately wrapped in a green, velour bag. It reminded of one of those fancy gift bags you get from the liquor store to protect an expensive bottle of scotch. For weeks I couldn't bring myself to even touch the bag. It took many, many weeks before I could bring myself to reach in that bag and pull my son out.
I'm not sure what I was afraid of. Maybe it was the finality of at last having his ashes home. For some, I've heard that touching the urn and having it close is a comfort.... I couldn't do it. As much as I wanted him home with us... I wanted to remember holding his beautiful, little body, not a cold piece of ceramic. The thought of physically seeing and coming to the realization that his perfect body now fit into a container the size of a ring box almost choked the life out of me.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
Friday, May 4, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
Monday, April 23, 2012
Thursday, April 5, 2012
Just a note to say you are missed... you are loved... you are honoured... and you are remembered always.
Holidays and special occasions, especially those ones geared towards the children, always stand out as the tougher moments in this grief journey. I can only imagine you bounding around searching for Easter Eggs... covering your perfect little face in chocolate. Oh... the what if's are a nightmare.
Love you so much,
Tuesday, March 6, 2012
So many contradictions... snow still on the ground, but the sound of geese flying over head. Ice on the roads, but the strong heat of the sun beating down.... The world continues to spin. The earth continues to bloom. Life marches on and I am so afraid of floating further and further away from my baby boy.
Looking back at a post from this time last year... interesting. So much changes, but so much stays the same.
From April 4, 2011
Coming off a fabulous weekend. The weather was actually "spring like" and I could feel the difference in the sun's heat. The kids had a blast. Road hockey, bike riding, chalking, tag, parties and tons of laughter. My heart needed that. The winter has been really long.
Then there's today. A guilty day. A day where I feel like it was horribly wrong to enjoy myself so much. Why should I deserve to enjoy myself? I have sinned. I "let" my baby die. I couldn't keep him safe. I let him down.
I realize these are 'irrational' thoughts. I realize that if there was anything at all I could have down to save Nicholas, I would have done it a million times over.... but there is always that nagging feeling of accountability. The feeling that it doesn't matter if there wasn't anything I could have done differently... I am his mother. He put his trust and faith in me.... and I let him down. My beautiful, red-headed, soft-smelling, precious, baby boy.
I write these words in honesty. In pure, raw and candid emotion. I share in hopes others can relate and realize that it's natural to feel this way, even if the feelings aren't truly warranted.
You can't dictate what your heart feels. It speaks the truth... sometimes it's a truth that is not understood or even accepted by some. But to those who "feel" it... those who live with heavy burdens in their heart everyday, they are real. They are true.
Sometimes I find myself succumbing to the guilt. Sometimes I feel like I must, in order to honour Nicholas. Ridiculous, I know, yet incredibly genuine.
I look forward to enjoying many more beautiful, warm, sunny days ahead. I may hold onto some of the guilt, some of the wishes, dreams of watching Nicholas toddle along the sidewalk.... but I will also soak up that sun and and thank him for the hand he has in sending it to us.
Love you, baby.
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Feeling particularly run down today. Heavy thoughts. Aching heart. Wondering why... and wondering if this journey of missing you ever gets any easier. Of course, I know it does. It has. But today hurts. For no reason in particular except for being your mommy. I'm feeling tired... like this burden has taken a real, big toll on my body and soul.
This too, shall pass.
I will blow out your candle tonight, whisper goodnight as I trace the outline of your perfect, little face.... and I will be reminded of your beauty... of your fight... of your innocence.
I will devour a million and one kisses from your sassy, baby sister and my heart will smile.
I will look proudly at your oldest brother as I realize what a strong and responsible young man he is becoming.
I will squeeze your middle brother's hand and sing "You Are My Sunshine" as he gently falls asleep...
I will stay a little longer in your daddy's hug tonight as we remember your awesomeness together.
Each of these things will re-engergize my strength. Each of these things will begin to mend my tired heart....
But, just for right now, I am missing you like crazy.
All my love,
Thursday, January 26, 2012
Wednesday, January 11, 2012
What do you think?
There have been many things in my life that I have been fearful of. When I was young and in grade school, I was extremely self-conscious. I would physically get sick if I was requested to answer a question in front of the entire class. I would convince myself that I was going to mess up, or worse, get the answer entirely wrong. As I matured and experienced more and more impressionable life lessons I became more confident. I came a long, long way from being the insecure, afraid little girl I was. And then my son died.
Back then, challenging my fear was not something I wanted to do, but if I wanted to do well in school, I had to conquer that fear. At the time I didn't realize the subtle things I was learning by pushing myself and expanding my comfort zone. I didn't know that my confidence would grow, propelling me to take risks in other areas of my life. The lesson I learned was that in order to get “somewhere you had to leave nowhere behind”.
After Nicholas died I found myself living in 'nowhere' land. That was fine with me. My comfort zone had been shattered, my world had stopped. We were forced to take this unwanted journey through grief. Initially, the pain could be so intense and so powerful it threatened to dissolve the soul.
Nowhere land was just fine for a while. I wanted to stay there for a long time. Nowhere became very comfortable...and somewhere was not a place I wanted to go.
There are still days I find myself not wanting to go somewhere… still days when the heaviness in my heart outweighs the joys. The comfort of nowhere is enticing at times. It’s familiar. It’s safe. But it’s not where I want to be. Somewhere along the way I made the decision to challenge myself – confidently answering a question in front of the class – so to speak. I chose to go somewhere and it’s taken me to places I never could have imagined.
Early in our journey I remember thinking that anywhere is better than nowhere. I was so tired of feeling sad and helpless all of the time. It was after recognizing that anywhere is better than nowhere that I felt some healing begin. There were many days when I was terrified of where somewhere would take me. The unknown is distressing. The waiting, close to unbearable.
Grief is dreadful stuff. Grief has pounded me, tortured me, exhausted me and collapsed my very soul. It never ceases to amaze me the strength and tenacity of the Human Spirit. After experiencing the unimaginable I somehow manage to keep breathing, somehow I manage to exist, somehow I have managed to grow from such devastation.
I was terrified that choosing to go ‘somewhere’ meant leaving Nicholas behind - now I know that is the furthest from the truth. He has travelled with me to 'somewhere'. He has allowed me to get there. He has helped me get back up when I’ve stumbled along the way. I chose to acknowledge my pain, confront it and slowly the pain lessened. The past three years have been intense, unpredictable and full of unimaginable grief, but they have also been filled with hope, inspiration and an incredible amount of healing. Nicholas has enriched our family with an energy and infinite love that is beyond comprehension.
There is an indomitable strength and spirit that now resides in my heart. A desire to comfort and support others that have been forced to travel this journey of forever grieving their babies; one where I have walked and wept. It is the intrinsic need to express my immeasurable love for my youngest son in a positive and tangible way. To keep his memory alive. To help his legacy soar. This desire is deep in my bones. It pumps through my soul and it bleeds through the work I create in honour of Nicholas. Offering my love and true understanding to others empowers me and has allowed me to reach an incredible strength within. A strength that can hopefully make a difference in someone else’s time of need.
Choosing to go “somewhere and to leave nowhere behind" is a constant struggle. Grief, hope, sadness, love… will always co-mingle in my heart. But I will continue to fight. I will continue to reach out to others. I will continue to honour my son with all that I am.
Monday, January 9, 2012
I have been humbled by several generous donations in the past, however, they are minimal and I seem to exhaust the contributions on a wing by wing basis.
My thought is to continue to offer these special Angel Wings at a small cost.
As my loyal followers, I would love some feedback.
All my love,
Sunday, January 8, 2012
I hope that everyone has enjoyed a peaceful and gentle holiday. We are back into the swing of things tomorrow.... as the kids get back to school and we get some routine back to our lives!
I am thinking about entering a local writing competition and need your help! The topic is "Life Lessons". I wonder if any of you have a favourite post of mine that you think I could share??
I can't believe how difficult it is to begin writing when you know it's for a competition... usually I can write and write, but I am having a serious case of writer's block (not to mention a lot of self criticism).
Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!