Friday, November 28, 2008

What's it like?

It's two months today since Drew earned his wings.  We miss him like crazy and not a day, let alone an hour goes by where I don't think about him and I'm sure Jordan would say the same.  Peyton talks about him often too, and is very aware of the loss.  He misses his brother so much, and I'm afraid that I'm just not as good of a playmate as his brother would have been.
I think that is one of the things that hurts the most many days, is watching Peyton go through this and wishing I could make it better.  Drew would be 16 months old now, walking around, beginning to test his vocabulary out and into "sharing" with Peyton.  
Jordan and I were so overjoyed to have two boys and beyond thrilled that we would be granted the gift of watching brothers grow up together.  I can't begin to tell you how excited this thought made us.  There is no relationship I have found that compares to that of my relationship with my siblings.  If you ever saw Drew and Peyton together you would say that they too had an unusually close friendship for siblings so young, and their connection seemed to run deep.  My heart breaks for the loss of this opportunity and for the loneliness Peyton may experience throughout his life.  We pray we can fill our house with the sounds of children interacting, but even if we are blessed to be able to bring more children into our home, there will likely always be a gap in age between Peyton and any siblings that he could have.  There is no way to fix this gap in my mind.  We just have to get used to it.  
There are so many layers to this grief that it feels a little like a wading pool with so many leaks that no matter how many times you fill it up you can't keep it full and every time you patch a hole another one shows itself nearby.  I need more patches!
I find this whole experience to be very surreal and yet all-encompassing at the same time.  Every thread of my being is aware of its loss, yet I feel a strange type of peace and contentment almost constantly.  I miss Drew so much that it physically hurts some moments, but in other moments I am so profoundly thankful that God has surrounded Drew and guarantees that he will never hurt, never struggle under trial, and never stray from Him.  Would I erase the last 7 months if I could and take our little Drew back?  Faster than my heart can beat.  Knowing that we can't though, what do we do now?  I'm not really sure of the answer to that question, but I know God is faithful and He will continue to guide us.  Given that we have no choice but to go forward, I pray we will be able to say 5 years from now that, "We liked who we were before Drew came along, and we loved life best with Drew, but who we are now is better than who we were then."  I believe this experience can cause us to wilt, or it can bring growth and life that we would never have known the fullness of before.  
Does this mean that we are feeling better and that the pain is easing?  To be honest, the answer is no.  It hurts more today than it hurt a week after he died.  Unless you have known the ache of losing someone it's hard to explain, but the longer I go, the more aware I am of the loss.  People told us that it can get harder after the cards and the flowers stop coming and people stop calling, but I didn't realize that I could walk in a stupor equally as long that would begin to wear off about the time the cards started to dwindle.  We are doing alright, and there are plenty of joyful and happy moments in our house these days, but there are also still plenty of tears and conversations of yearning.  
One of our greatest sources of happiness right now is Peyton and we are so thankful for the smiles he provides.  He makes us laugh often and I am sure the laughter is as healing as the tears.  His view on life is so refreshing and adorable!  One of the comments he lit us up with recently was one dropped over dinner.  I was eating a mandarin orange and commented that I had eaten hundreds of them while pregnant with him.  He looked at me, looked at my tummy and thought for a moment, after which he said, "Yup!  And I played with them!" while he acted like he was juggling!  Oh how he makes my heart smile.  How can I mope around during the day and be sad with someone like that around to bring laughter?  
On a technical note, we met with Drew's neurologist recently to discuss his last blood test.  The results are still somewhat inconclusive but it appears Drew may have had a mitochondrial depletion disorder.  We don't know any more about the impact to the rest of our family/family planning yet, but we ran into Drew's genetic specialist on the way out of the hospital that same day and he thought most of the results were back so we should hopefully hear more soon.  We will keep everyone posted.
To any of the nurses/caregivers that Drew had that may follow this blog - we miss you all so much!!!  Please pass our love and thoughts on to all that knew him.

Prayer requests:
Please pray for one of our dear little friends that we met while in the hospital.  She is turning 2 soon and we are praying God will bless her with a strong immune system and as much health as possible.  Please also pray for her mom and dad that they will have the strength, peace and direction they need.
Please also pray for another family we met while in the hospital that God will give them the strength and peace they need during a time of transition and that God will work strongly to heal their child.  

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Fun in the sun, catching up on summer

Mexico 2008 - our belated summer

Saturday, October 11 we decided to get away somewhere so we could focus on our family and on rebuilding connections. Jordan had been thinking of this for some time, but when he posed the idea on Saturday morning the time was right. Drew's service had been the previous Friday and the week following the service was a bit of a blur. My sister and her son Lincoln were in town so we were pleasantly distracted and focused on functioning. When Nicci was getting ready to leave, we didn't really want to just head right back into the "normal" daily routines. We missed so much of the summer and when we were outside at all, the weather was brisk at best so it felt like summer had passed us by. All these factors led to the conclusion that we should take advantage of Jordan's time off work to escape somewhere. We were all too aware that we wouldn't be escaping reality, but a break from life at home would be nice.
About 2 hours after making the decision, we had a week booked in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. About 1 hour after that, we realized my passport was expired. Groan. It had expired August 2, 2008 - ironically that's Drew's birthday as well. In the craziness of the last couple months, somehow that was the last thing on my mind. We called as many places as we could think of to see if we could still go, but who's open Saturday??? The airline said to give it a try, but to be ready for either answer at the airport. We quickly packed our bags and Sunday morning at 5:00 a.m. we were at the airport ready to go but trying not to get our hopes up.
We passed all the necessary checkpoints, and the one time my passport was questioned they readily accepted the reason, but urged me to renew it as soon as I stepped foot back into Canada.
When we got to Mexico, the immigration officer wasn't too sure what to do about the situation so he went in search of his supervisor. The supervisor came over, took one look at me, groaned, laughed and then said no problem. I would have loved to know the thought that was going through his head at that moment!
Mexico was wonderful - it was the break we needed. The weather was so warm and comforting. The heat enveloped us in such a relaxing way, and the resort we were at was all-inclusive so we didn't have to make any decisions about food or where to go for recreation (we have made so many difficult decisions over the last couple months that I shirk away from the simplest decisions right now!). We swam, built sand-castles, read, sat in the sun, and thoroughly enjoyed each other's company. Jordan and I had spent so much time away from each other and from Peyton this summer that it was good to be able to be together with no distractions.
There were many moments where we noticed the gaping hole in our family, but there were also many moments of quiet reflection, peaceful silence and joyful excitement over the gifts God still provides.

Jordan took this picture below - he has a great eye for art.

Both pictures above and below were views from our room.

I am so thankful for a 3 and 1/2 year old! He keeps me from getting too serious.

We could really get used to eating outside all the time!

Peyton was so curious about the coconuts all week. On the last day we were there they had a big beach party with coconut drinks, a beach buffet, and dancing. He wasn't too keen on the coconut milk!

If you ask Peyton what he thought of the week, he would tell you that his highlights were painting ceramics, swimming, and seeing lizards. He is thriving on having Mommy and Daddy around consistently, and has learned more in the last month than it seemed he learned all summer!

It alternated between extreme humidity and rain all day the day we walked to Playa del Carmen downtown. It was nice and warm (you could never enjoy a rainstorm like that in Calgary!), but I should have known better when fixing my hair that morning! I forgot what humidity was like!
Peyton was ready to take the big brown lizard home. I wouldn't mind, but I'm not too sure about the lizard diet!

He liked the lizards better than the monkeys - he didn't know what to think of the monkeys climbing on his head. I wasn't too sure what to think either!

My handsome husband... the beach suited him well, as did the sunburn - I mean suntan!

And finally, here's one of my favorite pictures.

On Saturday the 18th we left leisurely mid-morning, anticipating our arrival back home in Calgary that evening, refreshed and as ready as we could be to resume our lives. We were early leaving and the trip to the airport went so smoothly that we were sitting at the gate waiting for the plane for over an hour. Our plans for the day seemed to be moving well... but we should know by now that plans should only ever be drawn up with pencil. The comedy of errors started at that point.
After sitting on the plane for an hour on the tarmac, the pilot finally came on and said we were having mechanical difficulties - the flaps weren't working. Minor detail... uh? We taxied, sat, taxied, and sat a couple more times before we finally departed (in the same plane!) 4 hours after boarding. About an hour into our 3 hour flight we missed our connecting flight. When we arrived in Denver we learned we would have to leave Sunday morning at 8:30 a.m. instead. I should maybe say we were disappointed, but my sister lives in Denver and any opportunity to spend time with her is a good one. We spent the night catching up and arrived bright-eyed and ready to go early Sunday morning.
Once again my passport passed all the checkpoints and we made it to the gate in the nick of time. When we went to board the plane they wouldn't let me on the plane! What?!?! Peyton and Jordan would be allowed to fly, but due to my expired passport I would have to stay behind. We were a little suprised to say the least! Immigration had no problem with my passport and the supporting documentation I had, but the airline was not willing to take the chance of letting me go in case Immigration in Canada had a problem with it on the other end and fined the airline. My coping mechanisms still weren't working very well, so I'm afraid I was a basketcase at first. The poor gentleman working with us was our age and single - I don't think he knew what to do with this crying lady! I tried to pull myself together while he and Jordan worked out the details of the situation, as we had now missed the flight. Jordan would return on Sunday and Peyton and I would stay until I could get my passport renewed. When all was said and done the airline offered to provide hotel vouchers until I could leave, meal vouchers, first class tickets for all three of us, and coupons for future flights. The best part of the deal was that I would be able to stay with my sister for a bit longer.
I would love to say that's where the craziness ended, but no. On the way home from the airport that afternoon with my brother-in-law and sister their car ran out of gas. Then the next morning when we left to go to the passport appointment, I forgot my wallet with all the extra ID I had and my cash to pay for the passport. Fortunately I had my passport holder with the necessities and just enough cash in it to pay for the passport and the documentation I had stuffed into the holder with my passport proved to be enough (or else the lady helping me felt sorry enough to call it good). An hour later I had a new passport! That has to be the quickest way to get a passport.
Peyton and I were on our way to Calgary by 6:00 p.m. and were so glad when the plane touched down at 8:30 that night. What a trip! We felt so blessed to be able to spend that time together. Mexico refreshed us, Denver reminded us how to laugh, and Calgary was comfortingly familiar. It amazes me again and again how you can feel so different one minute to the next, but I am so thankful that life has both downs and ups.

Monday, November 3, 2008

My two bits... and then some

Once again, I am a little later than I intended in posting this newest post, but I just can't seem to get it together lately! Most of my recent spare moments have been spent tangled up with Peyton (literally - his newest pastime is wrestling!) or catching up with Jordan.  I don't think I will ever look at a spare moment the same again.  I was so close to telling a complete stranger this morning to stop and appreciate her children, and to slow her schedule down long enough to enjoy them.  I had to take Peyton to the Children's Hospital this morning for an eye appointment which was quite a challenging experience as the last time we had both been there was with Drew.  I think we were both aware of the odd feelings it presented and weren't sure how to deal with them.  Both of us were a bit melancholy throughout the experience.  Anyway, as we were leaving there was a mother trying to herd her three children (aged 5-10-ish) out of the hospital.  She was short with them and trying to squelch a disagreement between two of them.  One could fairly easily tell she'd had it with them and was ready to blow a fuse.  I had no ground to make a judgment because I may have reacted the same way if challenged with the same experience, but looking through the glasses I have donned, I just looked at her with sadness that she couldn't see the gift she had.  I was so close to saying, "You are so blessed to have three beautiful children - enjoy every moment with them, even the difficult ones."  I'm not sure how she would have reacted, but it hit me so poignantly at that time that children are such a gift so often overlooked or under-appreciated.  

As we were eating dinner tonight I was loving every minute of Peyton's ramblings and yet yearning for another little one to banter with him at the very same moment.  The thought of my little nephews Landon and Liam (4 and 2 years) interacting with each other made me wish I could sneak up and camp out beside Peyton's door to listen to him interact with someone the same way they must.  What a very special treat.  For my sake, all of those reading who have more than one, sneak up and listen to them every chance you get!  I know fighting comes with the territory and I'm sure I would get fed up with that angle, but how often do you really get to listen to two or more little people sharing their views on the world!??!  I can only imagine the conversations Landon and Liam must have!

I think the reason I wanted so strongly to give my two cents this morning is due to the fact that I used to be that mother racing around on a tight schedule, toting my children along.  I thought I was doing alright as a mother at the time, but looking at it in hindsight, I think I was living MY life, with them in it.  It occurred while searching for memories of Drew that I can remember many outings where I'm sure he was with me, but all I can remember is my mission at the time.  I can't remember him there with me in many of them.  I know he was just a baby and that's just how life has to be sometimes, but my view has changed lately.  I think I will be more inclined to make sure I am aware of Peyton and how he is feeling during our outings.  What is his view of our experience?  Is there something I could do to make it a better experience for him?  My father-in-law taught a really great class at church on Sunday and it really crystalized the thoughts that had been floating through my consciousness, that I need to have less of self and more of others.  In so many of my outings, they were about me - what I needed to get, what I wanted, where I needed to go, what I needed to buy for the kids, you get the point.  I don't think those outings were unnecessary, but my perspective had so much room for improvement!  Peyton lit up my day when we went shopping the other day, and we both had so much fun.  I know not every experience will be like that, but I hope this change in perspective will not be temporary.
I really did mean to post about our trip to Mexico, but this has been so strongly imprinted upon my mind lately that I had to share this thought.

We still covet your prayers as we are still waiting for test results about what type of mitochondrial disease Drew had and whether or not we can have more children or if it could affect anyone else.  Thank you so much for praying!!!