Monthly Archives: July 2011

Lighten My Load, Please?

July  has been a particulary rough month without our Madeline.  She would have been Two Years Old on July 4th.  It has been 8 months since her death and as the months and days go by it feels more difficult to cope.  There seems to be a panic that overcomes me when I realize how long it has been since I have held her, kissed her, snuggled her and just took in the edible sweetness of our Precious Girl.

Sweet Girl!

Eat her up! Such Sweetness!

I am fortunate to have so many family and friends who care greatly about us and also ache for our loss.  Tragically, Madeline was the third baby in our family to die in within 3 years (we lost our precious nephew to cancer when he was just 4 and another beautiful nephew at the tender age of 8 weeks).  One would think this would provide me with some tools to help get by, but that is not so.  They have been a rock for us to lean on and a shoulder to cry on.  When they say they know how I feel, I know they do, and people say that must help me.  But no, not really.  The ache is so deep I feel it in my bones.  However, I find that when I do want to talk they don’t try to change the subject.  Talking about Madeline doesn’t make them uncomfortable and neither does my sadness and grief.  So, in that way, it is a huge comfort.  They understand spending a lot of time picking out just the right thing to put on the grave site because you just want to be able to buy something for them.  It feels like a strange “normal.”  Like, “I’m like any other mom, buying something cute for my baby girl.”  But in the end you still feel empty.

Because of our military life, we were not able to lay Madeline to rest where we live.  She is in Chicago, where she is looked after by her loving Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles and Cousins.  For this, we are grateful.  At home, we have planted, “Maddie’s Garden”.  We have filled it with pink and white flowers.  The white is for her pure soul and the pink is because that is perfect for her Princess status.   Her garden greats us with a smile everytime we leave and come home!

Maddie’s Garden

It is difficult to find your footing in the midst of this grief.  Somedays are more difficult than others, of course.  Overall it is like walking uphill with a one ton pack on your back and cement in your shoes.  And you are trying to find a way to make that pack just a little lighter.  Anything to make it lighter.  This, while carrying the rest of your family in your arms.  Because I also have to help get the rest of our family through this terrible loss.  However, I think they help me more than the other way around.  They are truly remarkable in finding the ways to Celebrate Madeline.  Even this morning at the Donut shop they all picked out what they called “Madeline Donuts” because they had red frosting and blue and white sprinkles.  As for me, the Mommy, I lean more towards all the ways I miss her and that can just be unbearable.

Yesterday was her first Little Boyfriend’s Birthday Party.  He and Madeline were born within days of each other and us Moms shared a pregnancy.  After the rest of my family moved to the next duty station, Madeline and I spent a few weeks of her newborn life with them.  I dreamed of being able to share that story of her beginnings with her and how this was her first friend ever!   I struggled with going but in the end we did.  It was hard to push from my mind that Madeline should be there trying to grab his presents and steal the show.  I didn’t have to verbalize this, I know my friend knew.  She could tell by the plastic smile permanently set on my face so as not to lose it.  We were glad we went.  It was a step forward and I tried to focus on the joy we felt in those first weeks when it was a war of crying newborns.  That was chaos!

I do need to take some notes from Madeline’s Brothers and maybe we will make it through this forced grief march and maybe with some hope and prayer, the pack will become lighter.

The truth is….

Johnny is and always has been his own boy.  I would say he is Definitly comfortable in his own skin.  More than I can say for a lot of us.   He’s also all about the COLD HARD TRUTH, so………if you don’t like it being pointed out that say……… your tummy ain’t so firm after four babies………….(clearing throat) not me, of course, just hypothetically………then Johnny might not be your go to buddy.

Being his OWN BOY, he has his rituals, and word to the wise………don’t try to interfere.  The fall out ain’t pretty!

His morning ritual might be the most sacred.  He loves his cereal.  He also loves the BIG cereal bowl in the cabinet.   He insists on filling up the bowl to the rim.  Try as I might there is no telling him otherwise.

This morning I happened to be in the kitchen during his breakfast ritual.   I was watching him fill the bowl to the rim with the chocolaty goodness cereal he absolutely loves (which Dad buys and I cringe) and then gritted my teeth as I watched the milk have the lava effect.  I know, I know, no use screaming over spilled milk.  Now milk and cereal…….I could have a strong case for a good yell.  But on this morning I was not up for the fight when the bowl began to erupt.

Me (frustrated Mommy voice):  See, Johnny, that is why…………..

Then before I could finish my statement about too much cereal, now a big mess, etc., etc.  He really out smarted me…….ONCE again……….which isn’t hard.

Johnny:  WHAT?  That is why I’m autistic?

Me:  Left speechless, I said nothing and drank my coffee.  Maybe the caffeine would provide me with the brainpower to respond to this.  I’ll cut to the chase……….it didn’t.  I felt a certain pang hearing him state this fact.  But it didn’t bother him, so ON with the day!

This day was also our Saintly neighbors birthday so we were living it up and going with them for “COLOSSAL DOUGHNUTS”.  And yes…….they are THAT good.  We were trying to get all of the kids in the car for the big time adventure.  Johnny took off in the house and was inspecting the toys.  I think all of us were yelling:.

Come on Johnny, let’s get in the car, no time for toys right now, we are going for doughnuts.  To which he replies:

OKAY, OKAY, what do you think, that I’m autistic?

Johnny:  (Answering himself)  Oh yeah, that’s right, I am.

I stand there, once again speechless, with a familiar pang.

Johnny piles into the car.  Then yells at his Little Brother, who is sitting in Johnny’s favorite spot.

Johnny:  Knock it off, move over, are you autistic?

Little Brother:  No, I’m not, you are!  You’re the only one in the car that is!!!!!

Johnny:  No, I’m not!

Brother and Neighbor Kids:  YES, YOU ARE!!

Johnny:  Oh yeah, that’s right.  Are we getting doughnuts now?

That’s my Johnny!  He was born to be incredible.  He is his own man.  Label it how you will,  he is more secure and in tune with himself than most “grown ups.”  Oh yeah, and the kids, they just call it how they see it and don’t try to “modify” his behavior.  Pummel him for it…..may be…….modify it, not!  I think it’s pretty clear who should be in charge of this asylum.

Europe, here I come!!!!!

Next Stop, Hollywood!

Before you view the following video let me just say that in my home I try to raise polite, respectable boys that respect each other and all human life.  And I think I have almost accomplished that.   Buuuttt……How does the saying go?  Almost only counts in horshoes….or something like that.

The saying must be true because despite my best efforts the following video contains crime and violence…… least, I thought it was my best effort.  But I guess not making eye contact the first 4 years of their life they didn’t take me seriously.

Oh yeah, we also don’t swear and as a general rule……and I stand firm on this one……I don’t let Johnny drive…..despite the begging and accusations of treating him like a TEN YEAR OLD.  And I only do this because…….yes folks…….he is TEN YEARS OLD!!!!

Soooo…..consider this your Viewer Discretion Advisory.

But, while it might have crime and mild violence,I am still soooo proud of this work.  Why?…..You wonder.  Weeelllll…….let me just take a moment to BRAG that while they were shooting at each other, stealing money and  running over pedestrians……they were NOT watching T.V. or playing VIDEO GAMES folks, NOR…….. did they ask to.  So that MY DEAR READERS and that alone might just make me condone all that illicit behavior.  Oh yeah, and possibly a shot at the ever illusive MOTHER OF THE YEAR!!!!!   Okay….I admit that’s a stretch.

Anyhooo, my boys are CONVINCED that this will make them famous.  I, however, deter them from childhood stardom by showing cautionary tales of  Gary Coleman and Ms. Lohan.

Please….grab a beverage and enjoy the following 6 minute feature of “Secret Agent Hotdog”.  It is written and directed by Big Brother and stars Johnny and the Little Brother.  Enjoy!!!!

See and Be Happy

Our Precious Angel

That Johnny, he is ONE OF A KIND and we are sooooo LUCKY in many ways.  First, because he fills our life with laughter when we need it the most and second if I had more than one of him I would never sober up!

With some seriousness I might share that at school there are different times he has to have help from the Special Education teacher.  This has a certain amount of irony because if you know him you soon learn he is one of the smartest boys you will know, and at times, a pretty deep thinker for a 10 year old boy!

At the end of June we set out on our National Lampoon family roadtrip to Grandma’s house in Chicago.  The trip was complete with Air Conditioning that went out 3 HOURS into a 12 HOUR DRIVE!!  And YES, it was about as much fun as you can imagine.  The air-conditioning was only topped by Little Brother’s broken arm (more on that at a later time).

There was a great deal of excitement about getting to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  The boys love to be with all their cousins and they were going to get to go to Grandma and Grandpa’s new lake house!!  I’m sure Grandma and Grandpa were just as excited to have  11 of their grandchildren plus parents under one roof.  I mean…..who wouldn’t……..right??

At least menu planning was easy….Hotdogs all around….nitrates and animal bi-products……..Who Cares!!!???

There was also a certain amount of sadness to our trip.  July 2 was 8 months without our Precious Baby Girl and on July 4 would have been her 2nd Birthday.  We miss her so and there are absolutely no words to convey the physical pain and emptiness your heart feels with this amount of grief.

Precious Baby Girl was laid to rest in Chicago and we were also there for her Birthday.  Johnny knew this and was concerned if I was going to be too sad.  As I said, he is pretty smart and intuitive.  I was TOO SAD and there was no getting around the fact.  He sensed there would be trips to the cemetery and he was not up for that.

As he wisely says,

“I remember her in my mind, I don’t want to go the cemetery, no thank you!”

He then found me looking at the above picture of our Angel and suggested the following:

Johnny:  Mommy, I don’t think you should go to the cemetery.

Me:  Why not, Johnny?

Johnny:  It will just make you sad and you will cry.

Me:  You don’t like when I cry.

Johnny:  Yeah, I don’t like when you cry.  Instead of going to the cemetery, you should just look at this picture….then, instead of feeling sad you will see her face and feel happy.

Me (already crying):  Yes, Johnny, I know.  And Johnny, you are one smart boy and I LOVE YOU!!!

Johnny:  I know.

Most times I think Johnny has it right.  I think at times, he takes a look around at our crazy family and thinks, “And I’m the One in Special Ed.”

And Johnny you are so right…..How can I look at this Precious Baby Girl and not feel a smile in my heart?

We Love You Baby Girl!!