After 21 days of feeling like my head was going to bust wide open every time I bent over, the wretchedness has passed. My apologies go out to anybody who crossed my path over the last three weeks. I know I tried to throw everyone off with the whole putting on a happy face deal last week, but I am completely aware that I have been a real pain in the you know where to deal with these past three weeks.
Whew! Good thing I am such a joy to be around the rest of the time. (Ha. Ha. Ha.)
Other things making me smile today...
-Starbucks hot chocolate in a festive holiday cup
-The fact that it is almost time to legitimately listen to holiday music (what I consider the legitimate time to listen to holiday music is probably about a month sooner than most of the listening public, but c'mon people, it's the most wonderful time of the year for a reason)
- This kid, who is celebrating "Spirit" week at school. Honestly. Today is "Wild and Wacky" day (hence the crazy tights etc.) Tomorrow she has to be a farmer. I am trying to decide if I can scrape her hair back into teeny tiny pigtails.
She's Wacky, She's Wild!
- Halloween. Last night we carved our pumpkins. Correction- Parke carved our pumpkins and Gracie and I watched. Gracie is having a "Halloween party" tonight (i.e. Some of our friends in the neighborhood are bringing their babies over so we can take pictures of the kids in their costumes, hopefully before one or all of them has a meltdown). This time last year, while I was full of Gracie and hope, I still wasn't sure I was ever going to be able to take part in the magic of having kids at the holidays...this year I am taking full advantage.
SUPER BABY (and Daddy)
- The cooler weather. Normally, I am a tan-loving, beach-going girl. But this year I didn't get much beach time in (for a well worth it reason), so this sweater weather goes much better with my vaguely green complexion. Also, wind blown = rosy cheeks= homemade blush.
- Did I mention that I feel better? Seriously, I am a terrible sick person. It makes me weepy, and I hate being weepy. Just glad to feel like pale, tacky child toting, holiday lovin' me again.
As a Mama, I think you always worry about how your child is going to turn out. All of the sudden you are given this little person and tasked with making sure that they know how to make it through all of life's ups and downs...I mean, sometimes I am not even really confident distinguishing my right from my left so this is a daunting task to say the least.
The other morning, Gracie played her first joke on me. Keep in mind, she is nine months old so it is not like this is something that will have you rolling on the floor, but I was so proud and most of all relieved.
Every morning when I pick the girl out of her crib, I lean my face very close to hers and she gets a big kick out of it and we laugh and move on to other important things (like her first "ba ba" of the day). That morning I was mindlessly fixing said bottle when I noticed I tiny little head making its way towards mine. She leaned in close, touched my forehead, and threw her head back and laughed and laughed. The look on her face made me laugh out loud, she was just so pleased to have sneaked up on me.
I was just so pleased to see my baby had a sense of humor. See, I can and will try as hard as I can to teach Gracie what is important about life. I will teach her to trust God and her faith. I will teach her to count on her family, that her Daddy and I will always love her no matter what. I will teach her to find good friends and hold on to them, they will be there when she needs them most. But I am not sure that you can teach someone to have a sense of humor...and I honestly don't know what you do without it.
Even on the very worst days of my life, I have laughed and those laughs have fed my soul. I am not sure that on those days I could have seen the purpose of life without laughter.
So, seeing that baby girl with her head thrown back and a twinkle in her eye, I breathed a deep sigh of relief. She may not always be able to tell her right from her left, but she's gonna be just fine.
Today, October 15th, is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. At 7:00 tonight, anyone who has lost a baby or knows someone who has is asked to light a candle and keep it burning for at least an hour in their memory.
We will be lighting a candle for Rip tonight, and would love for you to do the same for Rip or for another baby who has touched your heart. As always, our candle will be lit in celebration of his life. Rip brought light into our lives and our goal on this earth is to let him shine.
I tell you what, if you want to be humbled (and who doesn't love a good humbling?), write a book.
I feel like running out and writing a letter to every author I've ever read, much less loved, and thanking them a million times over for the hard work they put into getting that book published. I had NO idea.
See, I made up this arbitrary goal in my head that I would send out as many query letters and proposals as I could before Rip's birthday this year. So far I've sent around 40. For what it's worth, I like sending out proposals a lot more than sending out query letters. To me, a query letter is kind of like showing someone your hand and asking them if they think you are attractive...which is great if you were lucky enough to be born with long fingers and have the time to run out and get manicures, but if you are like me and have a tendency towards man hands and usually have some kind of gunk under your nails...well, you get the idea.
So to this point I've gotten about ten rejections, all of which have been fairly nice and some really helpful. But the other night I got one that wasn't. The overall tone of the letter was so condescending I could practically feel her patting my head through the entire thing. Basically, she said there were a million books on grief and nobody was going to benefit from reading my crummy little story. That everybody grieves in their own way and my talking about what helped me was helping nobody but myself. That you can't help someone else survive.
I've got to admit, it threw me for a few days. Rejection isn't my favorite (as if it is someone else's), but I really started to think that maybe she was right. I mean, everyone does grieve differently. My story is my own, I can't tell someone else's story, I don't know how to tell someone else to get through their loss.
I stopped sending queries and proposals, decided it wasn't meant to be.
But see, the first line of her response was "I've never lost a child".
She is right, there are a million books on grief. She is right, everyone grieves in their own way. But as for helping someone else survive, see lady, that's where you are wrong.
After we lost Rip I needed someone to tell me how to get through the days, weeks, and months that followed. There could have been 500 books on grief, but if they had to do with losing a child and finding hope and strength and love and laughter...I would have ready every single one of them. Because knowing that one person can do it means that just maybe you can too, and if more than one person can do it, all the better.
So, today I send out three more queries, gunky fingernails and all.
"Expect the Unexpected" was the theme to my prom senior year, which I got a real kick out of at the time...like was someone going to jump out and scare us? Should we show up with a survival kit?
Despite the hype, I don't think anything "unexpected" happened at prom that year (except maybe someone having a little too much fun at the pre-prom party, and I don't think was entirely unexpected). Lately though, that is the phrase that has been running through my head.
This time of year snuck up on me. October 6th through November 18th is what I will always think of as Rip's time I guess. The day I went in the hospital through the day he went to heaven.
I feel like last year, I knew what to expect. It was the dreaded year of firsts...I was prepared to feel sad, to cry, to remember.
This year it snuck up on me, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I didn't know how I would feel this year, as I've said many times before I miss Rip every day so why should this time of year be any different? It just is. I feel more tender, cry more easily. I think about where I was two years ago more often. Everything is just more.
But I do mean everything. Trips to the pumpkin patch with Gracie mean more. A long walk means more. The comfort of home means more. The fact that I had a little boy and what I choose to do with my life will be a reflection of his, that means a lot more.
I've come to expect the unexpected. In light of Rip's birth and death, that may seem like a bad thing-but truly it is not. Because whether or not we choose to admit it, a lot of the time it is human nature to expect the worst. The unexpected comes when we get to rock our babies to sleep at night or kiss our husbands or remember what it was like to feel that baby kick for the first time. Yes, some of those memories, the ones to do with my baby in heaven, are and probably always will be bittersweet. But of all the ways I expected my life to be those unexpected moments make it all worthwhile.
So if you see me in the next month, and the tears come a little easier or the memories a little bit faster, just know that I am okay. It's just that sometimes one of God's littlest angels blows a kiss my way (unexpectedly).
This morning I said a little prayer, some days I just need a sign that Rip is okay and that God is really listening. When I signed into Blogger this morning, I noticed the number of people who have viewed my blog: