Today’s the day that clothes make me cry.

I got another punch to the gut tonight. Another one of those triggers I didn’t know was a trigger that pops up out of nowhere and leaves tear marks on my glasses. Can’t grief give us some sort of warning when these things are about to happen?

Our two-going-on twelve year old has recently started growing out of his 3T clothes. Tonight I had a few free minutes before dinner so I decided to start clearing out some of his winter 3T clothes to make room for summer 4T. As I’m pulling things out of his closet, I’m realizing that a majority of these clothes are ones that Quinlan had worn. I am picturing him in so many of the shirts I’m now packing away because August has now outgrown them.

Then it hits me that 3T was the size Quinlan wore when he died. These were the last clothes he ever wore. These were the shirts he wore for his last Christmas (the green plaid button down), and coming home from his last hospital stay (the red long sleeve with the fire truck). The clothes we saw him in more than any others because he was home with us for most of the last year of his life. We could dress him like any other parents would do for their two year old. One of the “normal” tasks we could do with Quinlan. This realization means we are quickly running out of clothes for August to wear of his big brothers. Only a few more times to have side by side pictures of “who wore it best”, a limited number of times we can say “I remember when Quinlan wore this” as we dress August in the morning. Isn’t that supposed to be one of the perks of having two boys, the younger will always have a full wardrobe courtesy of the older. August’s hand me down wardrobe ends at 3T.

It sucks. It sucks and it’s stupid and it’s not supposed to be this way.

This sends me into a ugly cry that is so necessary in this world of grief, but is so hard when your two year old has the purest of hearts and is asking over and over “you ok, mama?”

“Yes, buddy, I’m okay. It’s okay to cry sometimes” is all I can manage to get out to ensure him that I am ok, if that’s what you can call my present state.

After telling Bear why I went upstairs fine and came downstairs a blubbery mess, him, August, and I had a much needed family hug and all I could think about was the obvious, Quinlan should be here to complete this four person family hug. Again I say, this sucks.

A specific date is creeping up that is really weighing heavy on my heart, and not making these moments any easier. In the beginning of May, August will be alive for 2 years, 5 months, and 2 days. He will be 886 days old. He will officially be older than his older brother.

I’m not ready to dive into the emotions I’m feeling about that day, as I’m still reeling from the 3T clothes situation, but I will say this is a day I have been dreading. As Bear reminded me, when it rains, it pours, but I can only handle one storm at a time.

If you see August wearing clothes that may be a bit too small on him in the near future, don’t judge. Just know it’s because his mama can’t handle the fact that the hand me downs from his big brother are coming to an end and I’m not ready for it.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day for another gift from grief

I’m not sure many people know exactly where they were six years ago from a particular day, outside of a birthday, death anniversary, those obvious dates. Sure you may see a memory pop up on your social media page from years past that may remind you, but these dates I’m talking about don’t need reminding.

Six years ago today I was in the ICU with Quinlan, a day after being admitted to the hospital for the second time in about a month. This time, instead of seizures, he contracted RSV and was put in the ICU with new machines we hadn’t seen before on the neuro floor. This time, he had a mask on his face, oxygen 24 hours a day, and the diagnosis of “this typically gets worse before it gets better”. This time, we had a nurse tell us that she most likely wouldn’t see us when she returns to work in a week because typically RSV patients aren’t there for too long (needless to say, we saw her again, and again, and again, etc). This time we were in a bed space on precautions, meaning anytime someone other than Bear or I entered the room, they had to put on a mask, gown, and gloves.

February 16, 2015 was the day that Quinlan was having a hard time breathing. We brought him to the pediatrician and after checking his oxygen levels we got admitted to Boston Children’s Hospital. I even took a picture of the Emergency Department sign, sent it to a friend, and remember saying I wasn’t going to say anything to anyone else because it would probably just be a quick trip (apparently I jinxed it). We spent a good amount of time in the ED before they decided the ICU was the best place for him to be. This was the first time we were welcomed into the ICU world. Surely this would be a quicker stay than our previous four week stay on the neuro floor just the month before (we all know this was not the case).

Shared this picture with a friend, thinking this would be a quick trip to the ED.

Being admitted to the ICU is quite a whirlwind for newcomers, although something that becomes quite routine after having the experience numerous times. By the time we got to the ICU that night, it was after midnight, and for any of you lucky enough to not have experienced it before, let me tell you, it is a circus. Every light in the bed space is on, spot light directly on the baby, numerous doctors asking questions, nurses hooking him up to the monitors plus getting an IV in for medications, as well as hooking him up to any other machines needed. As parents, we’re trying to answer all the questions as efficiently as possible, while still keeping an eye on our baby now laying in a crib that’s not his own, at home where we should be.

This being our first trip to the ICU, I remember us both being so concerned being surrounded by all these doctors and nurses in gowns, masks, and gloves taking care of our child. It was like a scene in a movie. One that you know is being made to be more dramatic than in the real life situations they are trying to portray. Except this was now our real life. Our nurse could see this fear in our eyes, came and sat with us, and told us that the precautions were for the protection of everyone to help prevent the spread of the RSV, not because Quinlan was some sort of dramatic movie character.

Six years ago today was the first morning waking up in the ICU with our baby. The first of many mornings spent in those halls. The first of many meals eaten in the family room sitting next to other families with the same fear in their eyes. If you ever want to feel actual existing fear in the air, sit in that family room for a couple hours with families not knowing what the next minute will bring for their child.

The first of many machines to help with his breathing after getting RSV.

This is what grief gives you. Grief gifts you dates that you would never otherwise think twice about. Dates that bring you back to a place that seem like a scary, dramatic movie. Ones that surely aren’t anything like that in real life but, in actuality, are worse. And don’t think these gifts are wanted. I would gladly give them back.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day, four years later.

It’s been four years since the last day I have touched Quinlan. It’s been four years living with this grief that I never thought possible. It’s been four years since Quinlan died.

I wish I could say it has gotten easier, but it hasn’t. It’s different, but it’s not easier. In some ways it’s getting harder as time goes on. I didn’t think that was supposed to happen. Isn’t “time supposed to heal all wounds”? Nope, it’s bullshit. Try imagining never seeing your child again, and tell me how much time you think it would take for you to be healed from that.

Yesterday I was good. Then last night when I had time to be alone (granted it wasn’t long, just enough time to drive to pick up take out) I wasn’t good. I broke down and felt like I wouldn’t be able to stop. But then I did and I was ok again. If you had asked me last night, my idea was to stay in bed all day today because that’s how I was feeling then. But now, I’m out of bed, took a shower and even got dressed.

That’s the thing with grief. Who knows how I’m going to be in a minute, an hour, tomorrow. I’d say “even after four years” I have no clue how I’m going to feel but I’m still a rookie in this vilomah world. I’ve been told even after 10 and 20 years I’m still going to be living these days with no direction. And I certainly believe it.

Today just feels icky. I want it to be tomorrow. There are times when I want to sit in the pain, but today I don’t, although I feel like because it’s January 30th I have to.

January 30, a day forever and ever tattooed on my brain. From the 5:30am alarms and nurse screaming my name, to being told by the doctor in that tiny room that my child “didn’t make it”, to the fogginess of the day, feeling so thirsty, never haven’t felt so much love surrounding us, to running my fingers through Quinlan’s hair that one last time. It’s a day that will never be the same again.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day to accept anxiety, but not welcome it

There’s a lot of talk lately about mental health, anxiety, depression and all that goes along with it. ALL that goes along with it because nothing about mental health issues is simple. Times of change can be a huge trigger for anxiety, depressing, and/or PTSD (Aka this global pandemic we are currently living through). I started having anxiety after 9/11. I was an almost 20 year old, living at home, taking classes at the local community college, and working odd jobs. The world has just changed in the heaviest way anyone in my generation had ever seen, and the way of dealing with this change was not something I, nor a lot of people, had ever dealt with.

I remember my first anxiety attack. I was sitting in one of my science classes in my third year of college, still within the first month or so of the school year because 9/11 had just happened. It was my first semester at this particular college (as you may know, I went to three) and the professor was talking about pressure. He was talking about the way it was applied to all things on Earth yada yada, although clearly described in a much more scientific explanation than the one I just gave. It was in that moment I started feeling a way I had never felt. I started hearing his words and, uncontrollably, feeling like the pressure was on me and wouldn’t let up. My breathing got weird and I had to get out of there. I excused myself from class and wandered around outside until I found someone who could tell me where the nurses office was. I was convinced something was happening to me. I couldn’t focus, couldn’t stop fidgeting, and needed someone to tell me I was okay. I found out the nurses office was on the other side of campus. At that point I wasn’t sure I’d make it that far so I found a bench and sat. I’m not sure how I figured out what to do, or what was going on, but I know I ended up back in class just in time to be dismissed (thank goodness!). I went home and after talking about it, realized I was now a panicky, anxious individual who had just experienced the first of MANY anxiety attacks I’d have in my life.

I had a handful of these attacks over the next few years, all feeling relatively the same. Feeling like I was crawling out of my own skin, needing someone to sit with me and tell me I’d be okay, the “typical” panic/anxiety attacks for me at the time. They were never triggered by anything in particular, but they were this new part of my life happening every so often.

And then my son died.

You’d think living through 2 years, 5 months, and 1 day of the life that the Brat1 mutation gave us would cause even more anxiety attacks for me, but it didn’t. My anxiety came full force after he died. I was no longer in the “go go go” mentality of hoping for a cure, hoping for a miracle, doctors appointments, nursing schedules, driving to and from the hospital daily when he was inpatient for over 300 days, suctioning, alarms, feeding schedules, medication refills, administering medicines every couple hours, and trying to keep my son as content as we could while living with this essentially unknown disease. My brain was way too occupied to have any major anxiety be let in. For me, this life I was so consumed by came to a screeching halt and my brain had time to think again. A brain with time to think can be scary.

The rest of my anxiety story kinda goes like this: put off taking meds, saw a counselor, anxiety got worse, finally took meds, realized it helped my anxiety and was nothing to be afraid of, all to bring me here, three and a half years later, still taking my chill pill.

Please don’t get me wrong in thinking that because I take anxiety medication that I’m cured of all anxiety. That will never happen, because, my son died. My brain will always be a bit shaken up after going through something like that (to put it mildly). But, I can say it can be easier to control now and I can feel it coming on, know more of the symptoms, and I’ve allowed it to become a known part of my life. Although it will never be welcome, I’m more accepting that it lives here.

All of that to say, we’re approaching January, my anxiety inducing month of the year. In a year like no other, I’m not too sure how this January will be (and again, that thought of not knowing gives me even more anxiety P.S. grief sucks). But, I know I have my chill pill, a little CBD oil, an amazing support system, and a two year old who’s as good a distraction as any.

So, as much as I’m happy to see 2020 go, as many, many people are, I’m just as anxious to see another January roll around.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day for a four year old memory

This picture came up today in my “memories”. I check these “memories” every day because it’s one of the ways I still connect with Quinlan. What were we doing together 6 years ago today? 5 years ago? What about 4 years ago? And then to check the memories from 3 years ago. Those memories no longer exist with him. Every year gets another year further away. I long for those “memories” that pop up.

When I saw this picture from 4 years ago, it was one of the <gasp> reactions, as opposed to an <aww> reaction (you know, the cute ones of him and I snuggling or him looking so handsome). This picture, once again, shows just how different my two mom lives have been. It’s something I’m having a hard time with. I want my mom life to feel like one, but instead it feels very much like two. And I’ll be honest in saying I don’t like it. It doesn’t feel right. But I’m working on accepting it.

Now to explain this picture. For those lucky enough to not know what it is, it’s a trach. It allowed Quinlan to breath properly. The funny balloon shaped piece to the left is supposed to be attached to the little skinny tube piece on the right. When the trach is inserted into the throat, there needs to be something there to keep the trach from sliding in and out easily. That’s where these two pieces, that are supposed to be attached, come in. Once the trach is inserted, the funny balloon shaped piece, that should be connected to the little skinny tube, is used to push a small amount of water into the skinny tube and fills up a little balloon on the trach in the throat. This applies just enough pressure to prevent the trach from coming out unnecessarily, as well as preventing leaks, or air sneaking out on either side. Obviously because Quinlan was on a ventilator attached to the trach, keeping the trach securely where it is supposed to be was very important. The tubing on the ventilator can sometimes pull at the trach if it’s moving around too much. We had a clip on the vent tube that we would clip to his clothes to keep in place. (This is important to the story. Dang clip.)

So, why are these two pieces that are supposed to be attached NOT attached, you ask? Let me explain.

On this day, our day nurse had just left and it was just Quinlan and I, hanging out for a few hours until Bear got home from work. We were doing our usual, I was keeping an eye on his sats, making sure the tubing wasn’t pulling, and that all looked good. I unclipped the vent tubing to adjust it. That’s where the separation of these two pieces happened. I clipped the dang little skinny tube instead of just his clothes and it completely cut through! The pressure was being released from the trach and this wasn’t what was supposed to be happening. I needed to do an emergency trach change, by myself.

This is when I started talking to myself. “Okay, Lindsay, you know how to do this. Quinlan, we’re good, we got this”. This was my first emergency trach change.

I walked over to all of our supplies, still talking to myself “Okay, okay, we can do this”, pulled out the trach and all supplies needed (syringe, tape, trach ties, Mepilex AG) and headed over to Quinlan for my first solo trach change. This whole time, Quinlan was just chillen on the couch, acting like his mom wasn’t freaking out. I got him positioned and did it. I removed the trach, put the new one in, attached the trach ties, filled the balloon, put on the Mepilex and done (not sure that was the exact order of events but it was something like that). My first emergency solo trach change, because I clipped the dang little skinny tube.

Four years ago today, that was something I had to do as a mom for Quinlan.

Today, as August’s mom, I made him breakfast and listened as he sang along to his favorite songs.

My two worlds.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day he would have been 6 years old!

Today’s the day my forever 2 year old should be my 6 year old.

Today’s the day I picked up a blow up birthday cake for a decoration my forever 2 year old will never see.

Today’s the day I stood in front of the ice cream section in the super market buying ice cream to go with the cupcakes he will never eat (and started crying – today’s the day I’m thankful for having to wear masks).

Today’s the day we release butterflies into the sky to surround us in comfort because we don’t have you here to hug.

Today’s the day I celebrate becoming a mom and also mourn the only mom life I knew with the one who made me a mom.

Today’s the day I cry because you’re not here.

Today’s the day I smile because you’re mine.

Today’s the day for all of the what if’s and would’ves.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day for more guilt

The guilt is real, folks. And it’s rearing it’s ugly head at this very inconvenient time.

We all struggle, in one way or another, especially now. This weird Covid-19, “rona” thing happening is affecting us all. We’re all on high anxiety, antsy, when is this going to end mode and it’s manifesting in each of us in such different ways.

Some of us feel the anxiety part more than anything else. I’m raising my hand. I’ve learned over the last few years that my anxiety likes to show in more physical ways. Sometimes I feel like I want to take deep breaths, sometimes I can’t sit still, sometimes I feel like I need to take a break from wearing my glasses (this one is weird, but it happens. Why does it happen? I have no idea). Sometimes my anxiey is a result of feeling like I need to cry, a way to release the anxiety. So I’ll have a good cry and my anxiety slowly settles down. The unknown of this new covid life combined with having anxiety to begin with, is making for some interesting times.

For others, and I’ll raise my hand for this one as well, the antsy bugs are at an all time high. I never realized how much driving to and from work, or being able to shop at Target whenever I wanted was such a stress reliever. Freedom at it’s finest.

So here is where the guilt comes in, at this very inconvenient time.

I am a mother who has lost a child, I think we all know this by now. My first born child who was, and still is, my world. He is a part of my every day life, whether it’s thoughts, stories, or tears. I would do ANYTHING to have the situation changed, to have him growing up with his brother, to have him with me. I yearn to be stuck in this quarantine life with both of my boys, four of us with nowhere to go, nowhere to be except with each other.

That will never happen.

So, when the moments come (the MANY moments throughout these “new normal” days) when I am working on my computer, now at home on my kitchen table, and Quinlan’s little brother comes up to me, blabbering away in his baby talk with a “mama” thrown in for cuteness, and I have to say “I love you, but please go play” the guilt I feel is REAL. I should be squeezing him and kissing him every second of every day because the fear of losing another child is also real. And when I can’t because of work, or chores, or whatever else comes with being and adult, it breaks my heart.

*Please know that I fully understand this comes with being a mom to any and all children, I am not minimizing that fact. I only know this type of guilt so it’s what I’m able to speak about.*

I was talking to a new friend about this issue, a friend who was brought into my life because she also lost her child, and she brought up a very relevant point. She said that it’s almost like we are expected to love our living children even more because we have experienced the loss of another child. But then in thinking about that, who is saying that we are “expected” to be doing this? Society, friends, family, other’s in the loss community? Nope. It is us, the loss mom’s who are putting extreme pressure on ourselves. We feel like we have to devote every single second of our lives to our living children, and more importantly, not complain because we are so incredibly lucky to have children that we can kiss and hug whenever we want. And yes, I do feel beyond lucky, and feel like I have been saved by our youngest child. But damn, that’s a lot of pressure to put on ourselves.

So, while it’s easier said than done, we need to not feel that guilt. We have to know that we are going to have the frustrations just like every mom, the moments (many, many moments) where saying “I love you, but leave me alone” is necessary. No guilt!

Maybe it’s because we have the love for our living child combined with the love for our child who has passed built up inside of us. Yet our day to day lives only allow us to be able to share that love with our living children, to hug, kiss and squeeze as much as entirely possible. As a result, they get it all when that love was designed to be shared with all of your children. That is one of the incredibly messed up parts of having lost a child.

Or maybe it’s because this is such an unnatural situation to be in, that no one really knows how we are supposed to live our day to day lives. So there is guilt, there are kisses, there is lots of pressure, and lots and lots of love.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day to remember that was me

So, there have been moments lately where I have read about a mom who lost her child and think “that is so unimaginable”. Or hear about a child who has been in the hospital for a prolonged period of time and say to myself “that poor baby, and his poor parents”.

But then I remember, that was me. That is me. My husband and I are those parents.

It’s a seriously surreal feeling. It’s a completely different world I once lived in. I can’t say that I’m too sure I was actually fully present during that time in my life. I was so focused on taking care of Quinlan that I’m not sure I actually soaked it all in (nor do I believe it’s humanly possible to do so in such a traumatic situation). I was so concentrated on learning all I could from the doctors, nurses and therapists in order for Quinlan to survive. Hearing about these families going through the same thing as we went through sometimes seems so foreign to me, while also seems so incredibly familiar. I could see a child laying in an ICU bed space and know (or at least have an idea) what that tube is for, what those machines do, and how he or she is doing based on the numbers on the monitors. I could still hear the alarm and automatically jump up to check what their numbers show. I still know the fear the parents feel every moment. Maybe this feeling of disconnect is my body’s way of protecting myself because if I truly did feel it all, all the time, I would not be able to continue on and live the rest of my life.

I recently realized that August is the same age now that Quinlan was when he was finally diagnosed with having the Brat1 mutation. These last 15 months with August have gone by so fast, it’s almost impossible to think that in this same exact time frame, we went through all we did with Q. Again, such a different world that was.

When Quinlan was August’s age, he had spent 300 days admitted to the hospital. August has spent zero.

Three years ago this weekend, Bear and I spent two nights away at a hotel in Kennebunkport to “get away” from the fact that our two year old son had just passed away (there’s no getting away from that, as you know or can imagine). This weekend was spent chasing after August at the playground and watching him giggle as he went down the slide.

Could these two weekends be any different? It’s like two different peoples lives.

And saying all this now brings on the guilt. The guilt of wondering if I was a different mom to Quinlan than I am now to August. Does feeling as though that life is so foreign take away all that we went through? Am I more or less a mom to one over the other because these journeys have been so incredibly different?

I feel like I’ve lived such an out-of-body experience, yet that same experience has changed me, so how out-of-body could it really have been?

That was me then and this is me now. I’m still working on introducing them to each other.

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day for not so alone time

I’ve recently thought of a way to describe a teeny tiny piece of the grief we deal with from child loss. It may make sense or it may sound totally bizarre. To be honest, it almost doesn’t make sense to me, while at the same time makes me say “YES! That’s it”.

Being a mom, you need alone time. We all know this. You need time to step away for a few minutes, know your child is being well taken care of (by your husband, family member, friend, trusted babysitter, whoever), and turn your mind off for a bit. It’s not a bad thing, it’s a needed thing.

I’m going to preface the rest of this post by saying that as moms (and dads) we are always going to have our kids on our minds. That goes without saying. The alone time I’m going to talk about (and the switching our minds off) is the necessary alone time that is needed to stay sane while raising a kid, while never actually forgetting you have a kid, duh (I hope this makes sense).

Let me continue.

Think about taking a trip to Target, by yourself. You can shop for what YOU want to shop for. You have no one else pulling you in different directions rushing you out of the store. Yes, you may glance through the kids section to see if anything catches your eye for your little one to purchase, but it’s because YOU want to and not because something caught a little ones eye and they “have to have it”. You will then continue on your way to look for a new purse you really don’t need, or a book you’ve heard is good (in the hopes of having additional alone time to actually read it).

Going to the nail salon. Yes! The best afternoon! Stop at Starbucks, grab yourself your favorite hot beverage, sit down and get pampered while sipping on your HOT (decaf, if you’re like me) white chocolate mocha, sure add the whip, and not having to reheat it twelve times throughout the day because you keep forgetting it’s there while you’re doing 67 other things. Your mind is officially switched off for the next 50 minutes and you can just be.

When you’ve lost a child, it’s like you can never go to Target by yourself, or get pampered while drinking your Starbucks. You can’t ever switch your mind to off.

You may try as best you can but it doesn’t happen. It’s like it CAN’T happen.

You ALWAYS have your mind switched on.

By this I mean, for example, your trip to Target. You walk in, alone, perusing the aisles. Taking some alone time to reset for a bit. And then you see the shirt that your little one who has passed away wore in that picture you love. You see the book about siblings and you are reminded, yet again, that your living child will never get to meet his brother. You see another mom out with her baby and remember all the trips you got to take with your little one to Target before he was too sick to leave the house, before he was attached to wires and machines for the rest of his life.

You go to the nail salon and think about the nail color you had on in your favorite picture of you two together. You are transported back to two days after his passing when you needed to get out of the house and why not get a manicure, and pray they did not ask how many children you have.

There is no off switch for grieving a child. There is no stepping away knowing your child is in good hands.

There just isn’t.

We are always shopping with one of our children with us. Always concerned about their well being to the Nth degree.

It is ALWAYS there. We are ALWAYS on.

And we wonder why grief is so exhausting?

💚Mama Bear

Today’s the day I settle for Mickey and Batman

Something else to add to the oh so confusing world of being a Vilomah (if you haven’t heard the word, I recommend looking it up, but not in a dictionary because it’s not there yet. It’s a heavy word but so necessary in society. I’ll get more into that later…and by later I mean another blog post, I’ll leave you in suspense).

This something else to add is the fact that I am still mothering two children. Sounds crazy because, well, one of them isn’t here, and yet, I’m still mothering him. I’m the mother of two boys who hold equal spots in my heart, my soul, my brain, and my world.

This fact holds true all year round but especially right now, during the holidays.

Here is a perfect example:

Fortunately for us, Baby Bear is still young enough to be more excited about the boxes than he will the actual gift when they come Christmas morning. Taking advantage of this opportunity, we will be wrapping up a box of diapers, his already used toys, and a package of diaper wipes. He’ll be as content as ever, and know no different. (And because I’m not a total grinch, yes, I did buy him a couple new things and will fill his stocking – possibly with more wipes, but again, he’s 1, he won’t know the difference). So in the midst of collecting things for him (both old and new), and the rest of our family (don’t worry, they all get new) I’ve been doing a decent amount of shopping, aka a decent amount of trips to Target. During one of my first holiday shopping trips to Target, I noticed these cute little stockings with initials on them. Stockings in our family are just as important as the gifts, and even more special. We all have hand made stockings (except Baby Bear, but we’re working on that #secondchildproblems) and the hope that Santa fills each one with a toothbrush, Lifesavers book, and chocolate coins is still there. These little stockings I wanted to buy would purely be for decoration. Something with each of our initials to hang together as a family. So, I start looking through the bin. Found the L, the J, a couple of A’s, another J in a different pattern, a green AND a red L….no Q. Next trip to Target I look again. Same issue. Not a single Q. Clearly I’m not purchasing these little stockings without a Q. It wouldn’t be right. Every time I go to Target I’m still looking for a Q, and still nothing (including a late night shopping excursion with the bf, still no Q’s even at 10pm). At this point, I’m passed the point of finding these little stockings to hang as our family of four (and a bit annoyed they don’t have a single Q. They have X, Y and Z, but no Q). Alas, I’ve moved on. I then notice they have a little Mickey Mouse stocking (30% off, I might add) and Baby Bear is currently obsessed with Mickey Mouse. So, I pick that up. I can’t just get him a stocking though, I need one for Quinlan as well. Him being the Superhero he was, I grab him a Batman stocking to hang next to Mickey. Stocking purchase complete but not fully what I was hoping for.

Yes, I could have bought the L, J and A, but that’s not my family. My family is four parts and the Q is and always will be included.

From the jewelry I wear (my two rings, one with the August birthstone and one with December’s, and the necklace with a flower for each of the boys) to the birthdays we celebrate to family pictures we take. He is included.

I am thinking about him, worrying about him, loving him every second of every day, just like I do with Baby Bear. My two sons.

It’s confusing to all (including myself) because how do you mother one child who’s here and one child who’s in heaven? It’s a very split feeling. You want to be in both places at once. Holding both of them together, but knowing that will never happen. Wanting to make sure you’re sharing enough memories about one, while still making enough memories with the other.

Oh this journey is so f’d up.

So, if you’re reading this and thinking I sound a bit nutty, oh well, you can think that (because yes, I can be a bit nutty at times). But in this situation, it’s my new normal and it’s how it has to be, as confusing and f’d up as it is.

And as a side note, I do want to again say how thankful we are for everyone’s love and positive thoughts over the last few years. It’s not easy but it could be a lot harder without your genuine support.

Happy Holidays!

J, L, Q, A

💚Mama Bear