Sunday, July 31, 2011

Celebrating Matthew

One year ago yesterday, our son Matthew was born. We've had a year of ups and downs as we've learned to love and be parents to a baby that was so very wanted, but isn't here anymore.

Like so many of the other marker moments that we've had to live through, things like his delivery, going to the funeral home to make arrangements, the 1-week/1-month anniversaries, the due date...the anniversary of his birth loomed large for me.  For months, I'd been simultaneously dreading it and just wanting it over.  I had no idea what it was going to be like for us emotionally.

But we knew we wanted to celebrate him and his little life.  We never had any kind of formal just never felt like the right time, we didn't know what we wanted to do, and truthfully, I'm not ready to do anything to let go of his ashes.

I love birthdays.  Mine, my friends, my kids, strangers.  I love birthdays and birthday parties.  And so, I decided that one thing that I knew would make me feel better was to have a birthday party for Matthew.  We invited just a handful of people...the people who have been the inner circle this past year.  (We are so very blessed to also have a much wider circle who has loved us tremendously through this--if that includes you, THANK YOU).  But these are the folks who were really in the trenches with us...and saw the good, the bad and the ugly.

We started the evening by worshiping at our beloved church then headed back to our house for a proper birthday celebration.  Our friends came bearing notes, gifts, flowers, wine, and delicious gluten-free desserts.  We gave each of our kids a couple gifts (gift-giving is one of my love languages) and they played into the night with their friends.  We adults ate and laughed and joked.  And these lovely people allowed me a few moments to read some prepared remarks, recounting specifics of what they had done in the days and weeks after this all happened to help us survive.  And truly, it is simply because of God's grace in the form of these sweet people that J and I have made it through this.  And in a few quiet moments, with our closest friends surrounding us, we celebrated our son and prayed and thanked God for his little life.

 amazing friends

 beautiful flowers--symbolizing LIFE

 rainbow cupcakes--the kids decided if we made some of every color, 
we'd be sure to have one in Matthew's favorite color

  presents for the kids

  rainbow balloon bouquet next to Matthew's memorial tree

It was an awesome birthday party.  I can't imagine a better way to celebrate his life than being surrounded by the people who love us and love him.  We miss you so much, Matthew, and celebrate who you are.  Happy birthday, our baby boy.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

It's Not About the Yoga...

I wanted to share a post from another blogger with ya'll.  I met this friend through a set of unfortunate circumstances...after we'd both experienced quite late miscarriages..and we have bonded through learning to live with the experience of losing our beloved children.

She came to my Holy Yoga class for the first time last night.  I was so grateful for her presence there.  I wanted to share Holy Yoga with her because it has been such a source of healing for me over the past (almost) year.  I hoped that God would meet her on the mat and shower her with His love.

We say all the time in Holy Yoga that it isn't about the yoga.  I mean, we do great yoga, for sure.  But it isn't about yoga.  It's about connecting with Jesus with everything we are.

Here's her story...

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Catching up on the List

I've been a little bit lax about keeping up with my documentation of my list.  While each of these items deserves its own separate post, it's going to get an abbreviated one here.

  • Take a Spiritual Retreat Weekend--This happened in March.  I went to Charleston and met up with four other lovely women who all teach Holy Yoga.  We talked, we laughed, we ate good food, drank good wine, we had an unbelievable 2.5 hour yoga jam session on the balcony of a mansion right on the marsh of the Atlantic Ocean as the sun set (wow!), we prayed, and we dreamed big dreams of what God might do through us and the ministry of Holy Yoga.  Amazing.
  • Make a caring meal for someone I don't know well--We have been going to a new church for almost a year.  At first it felt good to be anonymous.  But lately I've felt a little desperate to make connections with people.  One of the couples who teaches SJ's classroom was having a baby in May.  I practically begged her to let me bring them food just so I could get to know them a little better.  :)  They are really sweet people and I look forward to getting to know them more.
  • Eat fruit 2x a day for a month--I tackled this in June.  I gave you a mid-month update here.  I have to tell you, I was glad when July got here, and I've eaten very little fruit since!  I was hoping the exercise would drive me to eat more fruit regularly, not less.  I guess I am a veggie girl--the opposite of my sweet friend Polly, over at Yoga is Yummy...who has the opposite problem as me--loves fruits and not veggies!
  • Neighborhood Ladies' Night--I wrote about my issues with the neighborhood here.  I was all excited that I would have some more time in summer to go to these...and then the women who coordinate them decided to take the summer off!  :(  BUT, I did make it to the May soiree.  It was hard, but my friend MB went, too, so I had her as an anchor if I freaked out!  I ended up chatting with two other women whose sons have similar concerns as my D...speech and sensory issues.  It helped me to see that underneath a lot of the social masks that I perceive, these women are moms who love their babies as much as I do.  If that is the case, maybe there are other ways we are similar, too.  So, I'm off the hook until September, but then I'll try to go more often.  I'm even contemplating hosting one next year...oh, gracious, would I get extra points for that??

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Holy Yoga Video

I teach and practice Holy Yoga, a form of Christ-centered yoga.  To say that it has revolutionized my life and faith is Jesus is no understatement.  If you've ever wondered what Holy Yoga is all about, check out this video clip about the Holy Yoga Instructor Training Program.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Fancy Restaurant, New Dress

Over Memorial Day weekend, we went to Charleston to visit RG, my sweet yoga sister and her adorable family.  While we were there, we went shopping in the Market.  We found a really cute dress, which my sweetie bought for me.  I've been looking forward to an opportunity to wear it.

Friday night, we got to have a date night!  We had a Groupon to a new Sushi place in town called Pisces.  J loves sushi, but I do not.  I do, however, love a good vegetable hibachi.  So, I put on the dress and off we went!

new dress

waiting for sushi

 crab dumplings

J's sushi

hibachi veggies...they even had gluten-free soy sauce!

It was a wonderful evening! :)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

The Rollercoater of Grief

Last week, we made our annual trek to Michigan for my husband J's family reunion. He is the eldest of four kids and all of the siblings have 3-4 kids.  We all stay in one house and it is a big, wild time.  

Let's just say that the grandkids are a big deal in this family.  For 11 years, at least one wife has been pregnant almost constantly.  Matthew was to have been grandkid #14.  J's sister is now expecting a baby girl in September.  There are a lot of babies in the family.

Last year, I was 12 weeks pregnant during the family reunion.  We were constantly talking about what "next year" would be like with four kids...a plane with four kids?!?!? How would we fit into a car to be picked up at the airport??  Would we have to have a baby AND D in our room with us??  Last year, there was so much anticipation about what it would be like this year.

But, little did we know...

The grief started to bubble up when we got on the plane.  We weren't trying to juggle four kids on the plane...only three.  When we were picked up at the airport, we all fit in the van, given that there were only five of us.  Our room didn't have to have an infant and a toddler.  Just the toddler (who insisted in sleeping in our bed every night).  The lack of sleep didn't make the rising grief any better.  At one point, I heard someone refer to J's sister's baby as "#14."  I wanted to throw a tantrum and insist that her baby is #15...and that Matthew is #14.  I had the most minute bit of self-control and did not throw said tantrum anywhere except my mind.  And to my husband.  And to my poor dad via text message.  Sorry, dad.

Each year, my sister-in-law has t-shirts made for this family reunion.  Typically they are some interesting graphic or an artistic rendering of our last name.  She does a great job and they are really fun shirts.  This year, she handed them out while I was out of the room.  I came in and J said, "here's this year's t-shirt," handing me one.  This year's design was a family tree with silhouettes of each person in the family.  My in-laws are at the bottom, and my husband and each of his siblings and their families get a branch for their silhouettes.  Immediately I went to "our" branch.  There were five images there.  Five.  Only five, not six.  Two adults, three kids.  And, I lost it.  I broke into tears and ran away.

My poor sister-in-law thought I was mad that she handed out the shirts while I was gone.  Not at all.  It was just that visual reminder that we are still, to the world's eyes, a family of five.  It was a visual reminder to me of who was missing.  All that had been swelling in my heart since I stepped on to the plane and began to remember how we thought it would be, came crashing down.  I swirled into the mental did this happen?  He is supposed to be here!  Last year, I was here and I was pregnant, and there was supposed to be a baby and he should be six months old right now and how is it possible that this is my life???

Later, after I calmed down, I realized a couple things.  One is that I am deeply afraid that Matthew will be forgotten by everyone but me and J.  I want him to be remembered because his memory is all I have left.  I know people are afraid to bring him up for fear of hurting me, but it already hurts and it actually makes me feel better when his life is acknowledged. 

The other thing I realized is that sometimes what will hurt the most, what will trigger the grief, is totally unanticipated.  I could not have prepared for the reunion t-shirt to trigger something so major in my heart.  Probably for the rest of my life, there will be things that I CAN anticipate that will trigger the grief, and then there will be things that just hit me out of the blue.  This is my reality.

So much of this past year has been about learning to live in the tension of what was supposed to be and what is, or what is and what isn't, or what is and what is.  Like I have another son, but he's not here.  He was alive, but he's not now.  We're a family of six, but we're a family of five. 

On the t-shirt, the image that is D is holding a balloon.  I've decided that the balloon can represent Matthew, at least to me.  Balloons are tangible, balloons are light, balloons bring joy, and balloons rise toward Heaven. 

Oh, sweet boy, your Mama misses you so much.