Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Thinking of you...

I just read something that so strongly reminded me of you, tears began to flow instantly. It was an email that I get, and have gotten, since right after I learned I was pregnant with you—from BabyCenter. Their Big Kid Bulletin still comes to me every week and gives me updates of what kinds of skills you should have right now and things that you may have been experiencing. I can’t bear the thought of canceling it, or even switching it to Sammy’s age. I have always just thought of you a year ago and would have what Sammy should be able to do and experience.

Jacob presenting me with a dandelion.
Anyway, this week’s email featured “7 Signs That Your Child Loves You.” Number 5 was the difficult one. It says, “Your preschooler gives you a flower picked from the garden, a finger-painted heart, a sparkly rock, or another gift.” I immediately thought of the day that we were outside playing and you picked a dandelion and brought it to me. I even have photos to remind me of that day, and those very moments. I know you loved me immensely. I love you more than I could ever express. And I miss you so very much.
Sweetheart, I sincerely hope I was the very best Mommy you needed and wanted. I am very glad that I can say that I have very few regrets with you. I wish potty training had not been such a big deal. Did you know that was a skill you really wouldn’t need? I wish I had given you The Wiggles DVD that I bought for you as a potty prize. I also wish, very much so, that I had given you Woody. Rewards and incentives are great, but I wish I had not withheld them from you till you were able to stay clean and dry for so long. You would have loved playing with Woody. Every time Sammy plays with his Buzz Lightyear, I think of you and wish I had given them to both of you the day I bought them. And I remember the one time I got mad in front of you. It wasn’t anything you or Sammy had done. My gallbladder had shut down and I was in pain. Everything seemed amplified. I don’t remember why I got upset, but I remember yelling at you and Sammy for the first—and last—time and the look on your face when I did. You were completely shocked. And you and Sammy both began to cry. I’m sorry, Sweetheart. I shouldn’t have yelled at you.
Hours-old Jacob

I always wanted you and was thrilled when we found out you were coming. I couldn’t believe God had finally blessed me with my very own baby, growing inside my very own body. And now you’re gone and I don’t understand why. You were such a sweet little boy. Such a happy baby. When you got sick, you changed. Not for the worse, or for the better, for that matter. You were just more gentle and more wise. Like you had met Christ and knew Him. Like you had physically seen and touched Him. Maybe you did at some point during your first stay in the PCCU. Forever after that, you were simply different. More in tune with others’ feelings. You were able to handle and tolerate so much pain and discomfort and exhaustion. You were, and are, my own personal hero.
You taught me so much. About love and life and pain. And death. How could someone so little, so young, know so much? I wish you were still here. Every day, every hour, every minute. There are many days, most in fact, that I wake up and wonder if it has just been a very bad dream. Then I feel the dog, Chloe, on the bed and know that she didn’t come until after you were gone. And sadness engulfs me, yet again. I acutely miss the half hour or so that you came and got in bed with me every morning before Sammy woke up. Sometimes, a noise, or a desire so strong wakes me and I open my eyes expecting to see you standing by my bed, tapping me. You’d have your pacifier, Bear, and your pillow with you. I’d lift you up and over me onto the bed and we’d lie there just looking at each other until you were awake enough to talk. Sometimes we’d watch TV. Other times we’d just talk. You usually drank your milk or juice in my bed. When Sammy woke up, you’d go and turn your bedroom light on and say, “Good morning, Sammy!”
Jacob and Sammy: brothers, best friends, constant playmates
Sammy misses you, too. He misses his big brother, his playmate, his best friend. He talks about you and to you all the time. Sometimes I wonder if he can still see you. But then he talks about you being “missing” and “lost” and cries for you. He asks me regularly to take him to Vanderbilt to the 5th floor to get you. That is where you were—on 5th floor in the PICCU. He wanted you to wake up when he’d visit you. I hope you heard him and knew he was there. He misses you and loves you so very much.
I love you, Sweetheart. I miss you so, so, so very much. My entire being aches for you. I cannot wait to be with you again. But I know that Sammy needs me right now. You have Jesus. Sammy has to settle for Mommy. And I have to wait. I don’t want to be here anymore. I want to go home, to heaven, with you. I pray every day for God to make the time short.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Flurries--Snow and Others

It has snowed again in Middle Tennessee. Again. It has snowed so many times this season, I have lost track. Usually it only snows two, maybe three times. I think maybe we’re around snow number ten? We got about five inches yesterday. Surely, we are close to record snow accumulation. And that darn Ground Hog predicted an early spring. Are you kidding me?!?! It won’t even get above freezing today. Sheesh. Early spring, my foot.

Also flurries in my kitchen. Flurries of activity! Sentimental Sweets has over 20 orders to fill between now and the end of next week. And that is awesome! I am absolutely thrilled that I have this much work to do. I love it! I have been busy baking Old-Fashioned Pound Cakes and baking, crumbling, mixing, scooping, rolling, and dipping Cake Pops! (And yes, it IS labor-intensive. But worth every bite!) I haven’t really had time to count, but it is over 30 dozen Cake Pops. Whew! I’ll count when I’m done with this round.
(Shameless plug for Sentimental Sweets)

Cake Pops are a fun, cute, tasty little treat! Cake and frosting mixed together, formed into a super-moist ball, put on a stick, dipped in chocolate, and decorated. This is not an original idea. I saw it several places within a month, and they were around a couple of years before that. I have researched these little treats almost as much as I research for historical fiction writing! Cake Pops are the perfect little bite, and only about 90 calories each! Check out my pictures at www.facebook.com/sentimentalsweets.

Other Flurries… My husband is active duty military and his unit just got back from leave after deployment. He is also taking several online college courses. He is also a Deacon, Awana leader, and serves on a committee or two. He is a busy man these days. He’s getting a taste of what life is like for so many military wives! We may not all have jobs outside of our homes, but many of us volunteers on several fronts. Add that with raising kids and taking care of house and home, and we are sometimes hard-pressed to keep up with our active social lives! Ha! (Sounds weird, but I'm one of those people who NEEDS social interaction.) Gotta go on dates with the hubby and have Couples Game Nights (CGN) and Girls Nights Out (GNO)! A happy and fulfilled Mommy makes for a happy and fulfilled family!

Also have this project I am working on. Taken on more importance because I have given myself a deadline for part of the project. Haven’t talked much about this project to many people. Ya see, I have this problem with rejection, so I don’t usually advertise much of this aspect of my life. But I could use some accountability and the occasional encouraging word. I am a freelance writer. Have never had to submit any queries or proposals. I used to be an editor, so I got my foot in the door with writing through that career. I just get assignments. But I have a few stories in my heart and they are SCREAMING to get out! So the writing of fiction—Christian historical fiction—has commenced. I have no clue what I am doing. But I’m learning. Maybe. We’ll see. There, I said it. Now everyone who reads this—and I know there are MILLIONS of you out there!—knows about my project. Ugh. Now I HAVE to finish ALL of the stories. Nice. No pressure.

Now that I have taken this break to write a few words and look out at this ever-present snow, I must get back to the Baking Flurry. Those Cake Pops don’t make themselves, ya know!

Monday, January 24, 2011

Life Sucks.

Life sucks. Some days. Not every day. But there are moments when, even though things have gone pretty good all day long, melancholy sets in and life--for a few minutes, anyway--sucks.

So what do you do when you look around and are satisfied with absolutely nothing? And I mean, Nuh-theeeeng. Zero. Zip. Nada. Your husband is busy doing his own thing. Your child is playing by himself, when he should have that always-present playmate. The dog is having trouble deciding whether she wants to be outside or inside. Some projects are completed. (And though there is satisfaction in the completion, there is also a let down of activity.) People griping about stuff over which you have no control. Laundry is piling up. Bedroom is a mess. Bathrooms are dirty. And absolutely NOTHING seems right in the world, let alone in life!

Hey, even the most optimistic people have their down moments. The realists have them even more. And those pessimists? Good is about as elusive as a snow ball in Miami. And since I consider myself an optimistic realist, I do have a few down times. More so in the last several months. The blues are gettin' sung a lot more in my mind. Unfortunately.

So what do I do? Really. I have no real answers here. I have my faith. I have an awesome support system. Wonderful family and friends. But sometimes, in moments, it seems that absolutely nothing will help. It seems, in those moments, that despair and melancholy are now a permanent and increasingly present fixture in my life. And I do NOT like it! I don't like feeling sad. I don't like feeling blue. I don't like crying. This is not like me!

I can't stand it when people are continually complaining about their life. The kind of day they are having. Their kids. Their husband. I can't stand it! I want to scream at them, "Appreciate what you have! This may be the last day you'll have to spend with your child!" I have never liked hearing those constant complainers. And now, I fear, I am becoming one. Oh, the agony of becoming someone you don't like!

I'm not going to ask what else could go wrong. I know there are many, many things that could go wrong. I always cringe when someone asks that. Life has taught me--through observation and experience--that there are countless things that could still go wrong. And if you are wondering that when you experience small and inconsequential trials, what on earth will you be thinking when major trials come your way? I assure you that things can DEFINITELY get worse.

I guess really, if I'm honest with myself, I can admit that I'm having a pity party and didn't bother to invite anyone else. But, I don't like parties of one! I like it when I'm surrounded by friends. Good times. Laughter. Love. But when I am feeling blue, down, sad, depressed... I don't want anyone else with me. And I don't like it and I don't know what to do about it.

Please don't tell me to pray about it. Read my Bible more. Go to church more. Fellowship more. Really? I do those things faithfully. I don't want your pity or your sympathy. I don't want pat answers. I don't want you to tell me I need counseling or drugs (though honestly, drugs sound really tempting at times!). Actually, I don't really know what I want. Well, yes, I do. I want to be able to re-wind and live December 17, 2005 - May 24, 2010 over and over and over and over and over again. Until I can be with ALL of my family again, I'm afraid there will be many days when I will think, "Life sucks."

Life is Like Baking a Cake

I've said this before, and I'll say it again: Life is like baking a cake. Baking cakes requires exact measurements and procedures. Cookies and brownies are much more forgiving. But cakes? The recipe writer knows what she's doing. She put together the best to get the best. Follow her advice.

The best cakes include the best ingredients. Good cake flour, premium butter and oils, grade A milk and eggs, pure vanilla extract, and sugar. These are the things you have control over. Your choices and decisions. Your education. Your friends. Your lifestyle choices. The better you choose with these, the better your life will be. Choose less than the best and you'll still have a pretty good cake, but it might not turn out exactly right.

We are given talents and intelligence (some of us more than others!) and choices. Depending on how we handle these will determine how good our lives will turn out. We may still experience some measure of success, but if we don't make the best choices, our lives will not turn out exactly right. Exactly as God intended. He makes the best available, but if we choose something different, things won't turn out right. Did you know that there really is a difference between good flour and cheap flour? It determines the texture and lightness of the cake. Choose an inferior flour and your cake won't rise. Choose an inferior lifestyle, and YOU won't rise. Choose the best and you'll be your best.

Then there are those things over which we have little or no control. With baking; things like humidity, faulty appliances, and interruptions. With life; things like death, job loss, sickness. You can't really control these things, but you can make adjustments to accommodate them. The more knowledgeable about these possibilities and the better prepared you are for them, the more likely you'll be to overcome these little obstacles. If you aren't prepared, again the cake may be pretty good, but it won't turn out exactly right.

When hard times come--and they WILL come--it is best if you are prepared. Our preparedness makes getting over the obstacles of life much easier. If we think hard times won't come our way, we won't be prepared. And we will fail. If your oven bakes at a lower temperature, and you know that it does, you can make accommodations for your cake. If not, your cake will not be done and may be inedible. Yuck! Have you ever seen an underdone cake? It falls flat and turns dull and mushy. If the cake is over cooked, it is hard and may taste burnt. Like life, be ready to make adjustments. If adjustments aren't made, life may look, feel, and taste bad.

Then there's the recipe. It tells what all is needed and how to put all the ingredients together to get your best product. There is a recipe for life. It's called the Bible. It's not hard to read. It just takes time. And like a recipe, you need to read the entire thing through or you may miss something important. If you read the recipe and follow it, you'll get a great cake. If you read the Bible and follow it, your life will be exactly how it was intended.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

My Perspective

The writer of the letter was tired of people telling her to "get over" her daughter's death. Here is...

My Perspective

Just in case you are wondering when she will make her appearance, the "old" Dana is never coming back. She is no longer here. She died along with Jacob.

Losing Jacob has changed me forever. I will never be the same person that I was. I will never view things, situations, or people the way that I did before. And this may surprise you... I don't even WANT to be that Dana. And the loss is so completely profound that I could not be the same even if I DID want to be.

I can't "get on with my life." My life has been inexorably altered. Jacob's birth was life-changing. His life and battle with pulmonary hypertension were part of the everyday fabric of my life. How could his death be anything less than catastrophic? I will never "get over it," but I am learning to live with the pain and the loss.

Do not try to think that you understand. You don't. Do not try to tell me how I should cope. You have no idea. Do not try to tell me what I should or shouldn't do. I am doing exactly what I need to do. If you want to know how to help, let me heal the way I need to heal. Listen to me talk or sit there while I say nothing. Allow me to talk about Jacob, but don't push me on things I don't want to tell you. You may not like what I say if pushed too far.

Accept me for who I am now and who I will be, but don't expect the "old" Dana to ever come back. She, like Jacob, is gone. If you have the chance to see me in heaven, with my entire family reunited, then you can expect to see a different Dana. But she, too, will be different than any Dana you've ever experienced.