Saturday, October 25, 2008

Never knew I could feel this way (and need your help)

I never knew I could hurt so much, love so much, miss someone so much, laugh so much in the midst of pain, and feel so much all at once.  
I have not been able to write for a while due to two reasons, the first being that we were in Mexico for a week, and the second reason is that I usually do a new post in the evening, but that has been the time that I miss Drew the most.
All things considered, we are doing well, but I will try to tell you a little about what life is like right now.  Please don't be discouraged in reading this, and I will try not to write sad posts too often.  I will finish this post (which threatens to be lengthy...) with an update about our trip.
As long as I can remember I have most often woken up with an excitement for the day ahead.  I still wake up with that feeling and then my mind adjusts itself as I remember again that Drew is not with us.  He is here, just not HERE.  The favorite part of my day was going in with Peyton to get Drew, seeing him get so excited to see us, and watching him and Peyton together.  I miss that.  I don't start off sad, just resigned.  Peyton is usually awake first so the day is usually off to a flying start, and often with a laugh or a shake of my head at something Peyton is up to (thankfully).  We have been doing a daily Bible reading at breakfast, which often lately has had some mention of the Lord healing someone, so it always provides a good conversation and again, some more reflection.  After that there is so much time to fill in the day - I am not accustomed to having a preschool child around!!!  I have always had a baby!  In the last 4 years I have always had a diaper bag and a baby with baby's needs to meet.  Even though Peyton has always been around, before Drew he was a toddler.  During Drew he was a toddler/preschool child, but Drew had needs to be met and Peyton had to share his time.  Now it's just Peyton - what a difference!  
Peyton is so glad to have me around all the time that he wants me to participate in everything he does all day long.  I find myself battling inside to balance things because I know there are still things to be done, but I feel like I need to spend every waking minute with Peyton.  I am driving myself in circles with this!  I know he needs to learn to play on his own and that it's ok to spend some time doing the things I want/need to do, but given our experience over the last 5 months and the state of mind due to grieving I feel almost guilty if I don't spend my time with Peyton.  Oy!  I do enjoy life with a preschool child though I must admit.  He is very entertaining.  He is actually probably the best thing for Jordan and I as we go through this - though he misses Drew like crazy and often asks about him he only pauses for this reflection for a moment before resuming life with joy and energy.  He provides a good reminder that though we will always be aware of Drew, after giving grief it's place, life ought to carry on.  
Usually throughout the day there is something that triggers a strong memory of Drew, which I ought to be thankful for I think, but right now, it just makes me a bit sad.  I found a sheet the other day in my laundry pile that used to be on Drew's bed.  For a moment I thought it might smell like Drew and I desperately searched for his smell on that sheet.  It wasn't there, and I remembered we had washed it so his cousin could use it.  But as I was remembering this for a moment some part of my brain prompted the thought, "That's ok, I can go upstairs and smell him deeply."  It was like a blow to the gut as the rest of my brain quickly reminded me that I couldn't do that.  It's a very strange place to be.  There must be recesses in my mind that have yet to deal with this idea and the permanence of it.
By the time Daddy gets home from work in the evening, I am glad to have his presence around, and find strength and comfort in it.  Peyton and I have alot of fun together and as mentioned before, I can't go through the day moping, crying, or grieving, partly due to Peyton bringing joy, and partly because I don't want to upset Peyton.  (I learned this week that if Peyton sees me like that for long or if I talk about Drew alot during a day it is harder for him and he cries alot.  The one day like that this week every time he got hurt or was upset about something, it turned into a cry over Drew being gone.)
Evenings are the hardest, after Peyton has gone to bed.  Over the last couple months that was some of the most special time with Drew for both Jordan and I.  It is hard for many reasons, aside from it being time that was so special that now seems empty.  I can finally let my feelings show in the evening, and I am also much more emotional (on a normal day) in the evening.  This is a bad combination!  Poor Jordan!  Someone will need to take him out for a break once in a while!  This combination is the reason I haven't blogged this week.  If I have been even keel, I don't want to open the floodgates, and if I haven't been even keel, writing has felt like too much to do.
The grief process is strange.  I think the most frustrating realization right now apart from the obvious is that this is not just a stage that will last a week, or a month, or a year or two, but rather something that will be with us to some degree for our entire lives!  I am praying to our Lord that the pain and rawness will subside and that he will bring flowers out of the snow -- that he will help us not to live with bitterness or deep sadness over this long term, but that we can begin to glow with his radiance through the peace of knowing Drew is with him for as long as we live.  I know it will take time to get through the first part, and Jordan and I fully expect to grieve different lengths of time over this.  Both a mother and a father will grieve, but they will grieve very different things, and on different levels.
God has blessed us with a couple of relationships that help us cope.  There are a few families that we are in contact with that have been through or are going through similar situations that are providing so much support.  I am thankful for his hands reaching down through people.  
One of the things that gets me the quickest right now is how hard it is to retrieve memories of Drew.  If you aren't already the journaling type, please get some paper and a pen and write down those memories you think you will remember.  What I wouldn't give right now for a day by day account of what life was like with Drew and of all those special little things he did in a day that I can't seem to remember right now.  I wish I would have written even just two words on the calendar every day about the highlight of that day.  Two words takes such little time but what gems they can be!  I did journal while he was in the hospital but looking back over that I often wrote more about his condition on a given day than about what he was doing.  My heart aches over this.  As a result, I want to recruit your help.  If you have a memory about Drew, can you please send them our way?  We can have an online Drew party!  All we will need is the music!
I promised an update about our trip -  I hope you are not yet too tired of reading.  I will keep it short and provide more on the next post.  Saturday, October  11th we decided we needed to get away for some family time.  We had contemplated it for a while, but that morning we began to look into it diligently.  By Saturday mid-day we were booked for a trip to Mexico for a week.  Sunday morning we flew out!  We have never been so spontaneous our married life, but we are so glad we did it.  It was hard to believe we were actually going, but by the time we hit the beach Sunday afternoon it was reality and we were so glad to be there. 
If you are a Calgarian, you know what a "wonderful" summer we had this year - not ideal at all unless you like stormy and cool summers.  Aside from the weather issues, we were inside most of the summer, so we figured we were far short on our Vitamin D allowance.  We also wanted some time apart from any distractions to put our family back together.  It was good to get to spend such concentrated time together and being in the sun and warmth was very healing.  I could write much more about but want to post pictures too so I will put another post together about our trip.

Thank you to everyone who has sent cards and flowers, and for your prayers - we are so grateful for the thoughtfulness of everyone around us.  It helps so much to have this support!!  


17 comments:

Michele and Ben said...

Kari,
I wish I had a memory of your precious boy, I was thinking if you got some pictures out that might bring back some pleasant memories for you and bring up some instances that your heart took a picture of.
Thinking of you,
Michele

R & R said...

Dear Kari,

I am so glad you asked for memories of Drew, because I have some! I've been wanting to share them with you somehow, but I thought it would be awkward just bringing them up out of the blue in an email or a card, so I've been waiting...

You and eight-week-old Drew were the first people I met when we came to Calgary Church of Christ (besides Pastor Kelly, of course). I remember seeing you holding him in the foyer and thinking what a gentle, elegant face you had and how peaceful you looked with your new baby. That first impression was what made me really want to go over and talk to you. When you showed Drew to me, I saw that he had inherited the same delicate features (which Peyton shares) and serene presence (which Peyton maybe doesn't!).

At Moms and Tots, it felt like everyone had a new baby except me -- Laureli had just turned one and was in the other room -- so I was thrilled that you let me "help" you by holding Drew while you led the group. He had the most lovely, soft eyes and sweet personality, and he fell asleep in my arms for a long time. I remember telling you once that he was "just way too pretty," which may have sounded strange but was meant as a big compliment. He was beautiful.

The last time I saw you and Drew was when you dropped off the rocking chair at our house on August 18th. You held him like a newborn most of the time, but when you carefully laid him down and went to get the chair out of the truck, I put three-week-old Cariana on the couch beside him so they could look at each other. Drew's eyes couldn't focus that well, but he turned his head and stared at her, and then he took her hand and held it for a while, still staring at her face. I don't know if you saw, but I thought it was precious -- him reaching out like that.

I can't imagine a more perfect song than the one you chose for Drew at the memorial service -- "Presence and Protection." That Eden's Bridge lullaby CD is the same one I put my girls to bed with at night, so as soon as the song started, I was pretty much a puddle on the floor. The chorus, "I lay you down in His presence and protection. I lay you down in His arms as strong as stone..." is such a beautiful statement about surrendering Drew into the arms of His Father. It's making me cry now just thinking about it.

I felt like I was just getting to know you when everything started with Drew, but watching you go through this time has made me feel very close to you. Drew was deeply blessed to have a mother with so much grace, courage, and tenderness to share with him during his short life, and Peyton will look back one day and be proud of how his family managed to avoid bitterness and find an honest balance between grief and joy in all of this. Good job, Kari (and Jordan). You've definitely inspired me to lean more on God's strength in my life, and I'm sure a lot of other people have also been compelled to go deeper in their faith because of your witness. I feel honoured to have known you and to have been even a small part of Drew’s precious life. May God bless you with healing and continue to bless other people through you.

Love and hugs,

Rachel

Anonymous said...

Kari,
One mother to another, know that the flowers will come out of the snow.
Your precious Drew you will never forget and he will be your strength and comfort for always.
Every day of every year you will feel a little tug at your heart but it is your Drew telling you how much he loves you.
I feel your pain.
I will keep you in my prayers and I know that God holds you, Jordon and Peyton in the palm of his hand.

Anonymous said...

Kari,
I'm so glad that you guys were able to go away and spend some time in the sun!

I remember one time when we were dropping Peyton off from a day of play, Willow was with me at the door and you were holding Drew. He and Willow made eye contact and he just giggled. Willow said that she wanted to make Drew laugh everyday - she hasn't forgotten that either.

Your family is constantly in my thoughts and prayers.
Hope

Anonymous said...

Kari, I can not help but feel a little regret that we did not spend more time with you when Drew was with us. (As whole families; I know Jordan and I went to a few games and did the "manly" things, but that's not what I mean). However, I have two distinct memories of Drew.

1. Before your trip to DisneyWorld in May, you all attended our boys birthday party. This was only a month or so before his journey to God became apparent. Anyway, I held him and you asked me, "Does holding a baby still mean as much to me", or something to that affect. (Basically asking me if I desired more?! or another go at parenthood). I think I replied with a non-chalant, "no, I'm fine with borrowing them and giving them back" lol.

Truth was I loved his smell and "immobility"......guess 3 running around does that?! He was so precious and I am so glad I held hime the few times I could. Of course the Harvey the Hound introduction was also too cute!

2. The second instance was back in July when your clan was in your backyard and we came with our food donation. (Gamble style - all microwavable......sorry?!) Seeing Drew with his grandad so peaceful and still coherent was beautiful. Your family (and Jordan's) was so strong through all this! Drew had more love in his 14 months than, unfortunately, some children see their whole lives!! Beautiful to watch.

Anyway, I have had "irrational" thoughts of how we can help fill that hole in your heart. (Even to the extent of giving you one of our boys?! Just for an absurd, split second...but how absurd really? I mean I KNOW you would raise any child with your mighty Faith, and with unconditional love)! But of course, how could I possibly let one of my sons go. What pain would I feel? Geesh, guess I can, on a small percentage, realize and feel your pain after all?! I truly believe that with prayer and time, the holes in your hearts will be filled with peace, love, and precious memories. And one day, through whatever means, I know God will grant you the joy of more children.

Anyway, hope those thoughts help. And I am happy that you and Aisling will connect more with Peyton and our boys. Was so touching when Keegan asked Peyton if he was "OK" on Sunday. They so much want to help in their little ways don't they?!

Well, here's hoping I didn't say anything TOO corny?! Even so...love you guys, stay strong!!

Steve

Kerrie said...

Hi Kari,

With you and I meeting at Peyton's gymnastics, many of my memories are from there. They are mostly of little Drew being snuggled so close to you in the snuggly as you were out helping Peyton in the gym. He'd be smiling, just watching everything going on around him, happy to be toted around with Mommy - I don't remember him ever fussing, and sometimes he would even fall asleep! Watching you so graceful with him and Peyton was so beautiful. Other times Drew would be sitting on your lap and have that big smile on his face saying 'hello' to us. Always such a happy baby.

The other memories are from our hospital visits. Each time we were in the hospital with Ryan, we would come by to visit you. This one time, we walked in the room and Drew was with your Dad, I believe. As I parked the stroller, Drew smiled and let out a little squeal like he was saying 'there's my friend!', and Ryan responded with the same. It was so cute! I brought Ryan over to the window seat to play with Drew and they played side by side and head to head. It was as though Drew and Ryan had a little language all their own in their baby silence and just enjoyed being with each other. It was so special to see them together and to see little Drew light up!

Another time I came with Ryan, Peyton was there. We went into the playroom and Drew and Peyton played with the little cars. It was cute watching them let the cars go down the ramps and into the bucket - laughing and smiling with one another!

I'm not sure if you ever knew this, but I came by one time and you were asleep on the window bed, and Drew was asleep in his crib. Your mom was quietly watching over - it was the sweetest thing. I just silently said my hello, took a quick peek at your beautiful boy and left quietly. I was always thinking of you and always wanting to see you, give you a hug, and see your precious Drew.

A common theme with little Drew is like what you have said all along - he always smiled, and I am so happy I was able to be blessed to share his smiles and laughs.

Take care, and love to you all. I think of you every day.

Kerrie

Heather & Cal said...

Kari,

I wonder if anyone ever told you how Jordan "spilled the beans" about your pregnancy with Drew?

We were at Kara and Colin's, celebrating Natalia's birthday, in December. Jordan was there, but for some reason you were not.

Rebecca was only five months old at the time, and Jordan looked at her with much adoration and asked me a few questions about life with a small baby again. I could see the desire in his eyes, that he would love another one, but I refrained from asking any questions that may have been too personal.

Later on, upstairs in their living room, with the conversation revolving around parenthood, couples were joking and talking about family size. There was quite a big crew from Cal. Ch. of Christ there. Jordan had been listening, quite amused, with a grin like a cat who had swallowed the canary. Someone asked him directly when you would be having more, and he proudly announced that you were pregnant.

He then rather sheepishly said that you weren't quite ready to announce it yet, but he was too excited to keep it to himself.

I often wondered how he told you that "everyone" now knew your secret news. :)

The joy, love, and pride that shone in Jordan that day was unforgettable. Your sons are such precious gifts. And what a gift for each of them to be treasured by parents who have rejoiced over them.

Thank you for sharing Drew, and your journey, with us through this blog. And thank you for opening the doors to allow all of us to grieve with you at his funeral service. The service was so touching, and honored your wonderful, beautiful son. Our hearts have been broken for you, and we are reminded that any moment we too may be called home.

Jordan's admonition to have patience and smile at our children has stayed with us. It is something I think of daily, and our family has grown closer because of it. We make music daily, in honor of Drew. Although our children never knew him, they see his picture and hear his story. We have all been touched by Drew.

We love you, and are praying for you.

Heather & Cal

dennis and marnie (Grandad and Grandma) said...

Kari and Jordan,
I remember the evening we walked down to the local Dairy Queen for the "Miracle Kids Network" and all ordered blizzards. The lines were out the door as people wanted to donate to help kids. Our extended family was there along with lots of friends and it was fun. I held Drew most of the evening and enjoyed every minute of it! I have lots of great memories from our trip to Florida to spending my early mornings laying next to Drew or holding. I wouldn't exchange those mornings for anything.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.
Love, Grandad

Randi said...

Kari,
Unfortunately, I haven't seen you and Jordan since college so I don't have any memories to share...But I want to thank you for sharing your heart with all of us--you have encouraged me, strengthened me, and made me appreciate the simple things in my boys. With tears flowing, I am going to smell boys right now! You have reminded me to be grateful for these gifts God has given me. So thank you!
My heart aches for you and I will continue to lift you, Jordan, and Peyton up in prayer...
Lord God, words can not begin to express but you know everything Kari, Jordan, and Peyton need. I ask Lord that you cover them with Your hand of peace. I pray Psalm 91:4 over them...God cover Kari, Jordan and Peyton with Your feathers, and under Your wings let them find refuge; Let Your faithful promises be their armor and protection...Lord love on them as only You can. God I also pray Zephaniah 3:17 over them...LORD, You ARE with Kari, Jordan and Peyton. You ARE mighty to save them. Lord take great delight in them, quiet them with Your love, and rejoice over them with singing. Lord, bless them. It's in Your name I pray, Amen.

Nicole said...

I remember sitting next to you in the nursery at the Bozeman Church of Christ, nursing our boys side by side. It was dimly lit, the boys were eating well, and we were enjoying being together and sharing them and that moment.

I remember, early on at the hospital, one time when Drew was propped up with the bed and a few pillows and Mom was reading a book with him. He kept reaching out his right hand to turn the pages.

Once as I was sitting on your living room floor with Drew, while you and Jordan talked in the kitchen, I remember making Drew laugh as he caught the foot of that silly, stretchy, inflatable, blow-up animal of Peyton's in his mouth, then pulled up with his right hand, snapping the foot right out of his mouth, and then belly laughing about it.

I remember one day at the hospital where Peyton came into the room and went directly to Drew's bed, climbed up unassisted, and laid down next to Drew. Drew looked thrilled with that, until Peyton took his toy.

I remember Drew lying on a blanket on the floor in Florida, fussing, and then signing milk to let you know that he wanted to nurse.

I remember gently rubbing Drew's fuzzy, soft hair with my cheek as I held him close toward the end.

I remember the lip-popping that Drew got such a kick out of, both as he did it and as others did it.

The Loftis Family said...

Kari and Jordan
I admire your strength and courage and know that God is supplying you with a bounty of it. Your journey with Drew has been such an inspiration and his life has touched so many. Continue to fight and love, love, love that precious Peyton!
We love you
Kaylee

Greg Ashby said...

My favorite memory of Drew was just days before he got sick. We were at the Gamble's birthday party. Outside of seeing him a few times at church I'd never really been around him before. I couldn't believe how happy and interactive and cheerful he was. Then he started that crazy laugh of his! I still laugh when I think of it, although I can't even describe it and struggle to remember it now. It was so unique and funny though, and you could tell he was doing it to make everyone around him laugh. What a guy! It brought me so much joy to hear him still do it in the hospital later.

My most touching memory of Drew was one of the first times I came to visit him in the hospital. He had started losing strength in his neck, was seizing on the left side, but still, incredibly, kept smiling! Even at me, this guy he didn't know! And he did his funny laugh, and made his lips putter, wanting to play and be happy in spite of his struggle. The moment that gets me though is when I laid him down on his stomach and watched him try to play. He kept trying to lift his head and reach for a toy, but he just couldn't. The strength wasn't there. Instead of giving up though, he just let his head roll to the side, and reached with his right hand to grab the toy and kept playing... with his head just lieing there, unable to do anything but pick up the toy, drop it, and pick it up again. Not a word of complaint, not a hint of a fuss, not even a bit of sadness on his face. Just a big "It's OK, I'll just do this instead" written all over him, and kept on playing, content with only he could do.

He was amazing to watch through it all. His pictures on my fridge and desk keep reminding me... smile and be patient.

You guys both seem to be doing so well... I admire you guys so much and keep praying for you. Thanks for continuing to share.

Lindy said...

thankyou for sharing your journey with us! It is heart wrenching to read, but such an amazing example of faith in God and a wonderful reminder of what this life is really about! I am so grateful that you are reminding others to journal about their children, as I have started doing this. I am still sending prayers your way :0) The Carr family

Kevin and Laura said...

Kari,

My time spent with Drew was way too short, but some memories I have with him from our trip together are:

-I remember when I first saw him in person thinking, 'he has got to be one of the cutest babies I have ever seen.' His perfect round face, fuzzy head, deep dreamy eyes, squeezable little cheeks...I remember telling my mom after we got home how beautiful he was.

-Him happily riding next to Liam in the van and watching him very intently. Holding on to the Squeaky fish, cars, and other toys we gave him all the way to our destination. I remember him only crying one time while we were driving that week and it was b/c he was ready to nurse.

-I remember when I would him he would look at me more intently than any other baby I've ever held! You could tell that he soaked up everything.

-I remember thinking that his cry sounded so much like Peyton's and though I didn't hear him cry much, when he did - it was mighty:)

-He was so content on all of our journies that week. He truly was a ray of sunshine that warmed everyone he came in contact with. We will never forget that.

Love you and praying for you,
Laura

Nicole said...

I remember the first time we were in Bozeman and our little guys were really little, and I had been up for over an hour in the middle of the night, trying to get Lincoln to nurse or sleep, and I was sitting in the bathroom downstairs in the "spider house." Then, I heard Drew cry, and, I should be ashamed to say, I was so excited. I opened the door to see if you were awake too, and you were! Drew snuggled and nursed next to you and I just held Lincoln while we sat and talked in the bathroom until one of the boys (probably Drew) was sleepy enough to go back to bed.

Grandad and Grandma in Montana said...

I remember when he got circumcised. We got it done in Bozeman. You sent me in to keep an eye on things while you and Peyton waited. The nurse and Dr. got everything sterile and covered. All ready to start. Drew looked up and decided to pee on everything. Yup, he got it all wet and then some. They had to start over from square one but not before we had a good laugh.
Love a memory,
MOM

Aaron Johnson said...

Kari,
Glad to see you all are still out there. Have been wondering what you have been up to for the last several years....
I don't have any kids yet...one boy on the way...due April 2nd. I watched the slide show you have of Drew....I'm not an emotional person...but I teared up through the whole thing! So sorry for your loss, but glad to see you and your husband are relying on God during this time. I can't imagine what you are gowing through...and hope I never have to know that kind of pain. Please know that my prayers are with you.
Would love to catch up sometime.
Email is aaronwjohnson@gmail.com or I'm on Facebook as well.
Take care and God bless,
Aaron