Thursday, January 6, 2011

365 days...

365 days....that's how long it's been since I've held, smelled, kissed on, loved on, snuggled, fed, bathed, soothed, or looked into the eyes of my Graham. I can hardly believe it...believe that I'm still walking, breathing, the pain has been and remains so great. Never in a million years did I think that on January 6, 2011, I would be writing a post on my first year of this journey of grief. I'd much rather be writing New Year's Resolutions that I don't intend to keep. As I sit here today I feel devastation...devastation beyond words and sadness of all we have missed out on since we lost our Graham. Anger...anger that he is not here with us. That James and Lauren have missed out on the joys of their baby brother. Fear...fear that I won't pull through the pain and let him go completely and fear of what letting go means. Speechless...speechless (still) that this has happened to us...that as long as we are on this earth, we will not have our Graham. Hope...yet I do have hope that we will be reunited with him again and will be with him longer than we were without him.

I'll never forget the horror of that night one year ago. It was especially cold, snowy and a bit icy. When I left the library from tutoring I had to stop at a gas station to clear my windshield again. I drove home slower than normal on the winding country roads. I came home excited about life, anxious to see my kids and literally in an instant, my world was shattered, shaken, turned upside down. I'll never forget the feeling I had when I walked into our bedroom to wake Graham. I can't describe it, but I knew as I walked through that door that something was wrong. I will never forget the sound that bellowed out of me when I found Graham not breathing. I can still hear it. I will never forget how difficult it was for me to dial 911 because my hands were shaking uncontrollably and James running around confused at the chaos. I will never forget the sheer panic as I watched Luke perform CPR on my baby boy...desperately trying to breathe life back into him. I will never forget begging the dispatcher to make the ambulance get here faster. It felt like it took forever although I know now that it did not. I will never forget hearing the sirens and seeing the lights turn onto our road. I will never forget the EMT who burst through the door, a friend of ours, and begging for him to save my Graham. I will never forget the look on my parent's face when they walked through the front door. They didn't know what had happened, just that there was an ambulance headed to our house. I cannot imagine for them what panic must have risen within them. I will never forget the sheriff telling me to calm down as I rocked back and forth on the floor. What did that mean? How could I calm down? I will never forget the amount of people piling into our house...none of which I knew, recognized or could offer me any hope or answers. I remember laying on the floor in a heap and just seeing muddy wet boots everywhere. I will never forget waiting desperately for someone to come tell me a miracle had happened and my Graham was okay. I will never forget Luke crying out to God not to take his son. I will never forget the sheriff who came in and walked slowly up to us taking off his hat. At that moment I knew what he was going to tell me....Our son was gone...gone...a word you want to hear only when referring to a missing license or book, but not your child. At 9:20 p.m. every parent's worst nightmare came true and we have lived and we are living to tell about it. When I think about that night and the horror that we had to endure in the days and weeks following, I do wonder how we are still functioning. It seems that just one of the things we endured would send a sane person into an institution, so the magnitude for so much horror is just unfathomable. I know so much of this is due to your prayers. I will never forget how I started vomiting and couldn't stop and how my mom was trying to help me get pajamas on. I will never forget waking up at 6:30 the next morning after just a few short hours of sleep because my chest was in pain and engorged. After all, I was supposed to be nursing my baby. I was groggy from the sedative and could barely open my swollen eyes. I wondered if it was a nightmare. Then, I looked over on the other couch and saw my mom was there sleeping. I remember just crying out....knowing then, that I was living a nightmare. I remember trying to read and snuggle with James on the night after because he wanted me and needed me. I wanted to pray with him like I always did, but couldn't...I didn't know what to say to God. I remember laying there trying so hard to hold it together wondering if our kids were going to be okay...if they'd survive such tragedy and how I would explain this to them. I wanted to hold James and never let him go in a way I had never felt or experienced. I remember lots of of people in the house and nowhere to go. I remember everyone just watching me, wondering what I was going to do or say next. I remember just trying to put one foot in front of the other. I can't tell you how many times I have sobbed in the fetal position crying to Luke or my mom, "I can't do this. I really can't do this." I remember trying to take a liquid medicine to dry up my milk, but vomiting as soon as I swallowed it and everyone trying to get me to eat and drink. I remember my body not knowing what to do with all of the new medicines being dumped into it. I remember the panic attacks when pieces of denial and shock wore off. I remember that night so clearly...I wish I didn't, but I do. It's changed me...

We've been haunted by the clock and the calendar for an entire year now. They 6th and the 23rd of every month and all of the holidays and milestones in between. The last few weeks have caused me to fall into the pit again as we grieved for our son during the holidays knowing that shortly afterwards, we'd be faced with today. The date that changed our lives forever. I have found myself constantly thinking about what we were doing last year at this time. It's amazing how much I've been able to remember...vividly. And again, I'm so grateful for the perfect, beautiful, priceless memories I have of and with Graham on that final day.

Honestly, 365 days ago I thought I would have "felt" better than what I do right now. Obviously I didn't have a clue and the pain was so intense, breathing seemed like an accomplishment each day. Although we have survived this first year, I still miss, love, long for, think of our Graham the way I did in the beginning. And quite frankly, I just feel different. I don't sob uncontrollably every night as I did in the beginning and yet so much more feels as though it bottles up in the depths of my soul. My soul feels different in a way that I cannot put into words. I'm realizing it's okay that the pain isn't gone because again it's a reminder of our sweet son. I'm just having to learn to live with it and it's a very different feeling than I'm used to having. Trying to balance the sorrow with life.

I still struggle with my false sense of control. I want so much to put a tight grip on all things that mean anything to me....James and Lauren especially. I struggle with feeling very much out of control and have to choose not to dwell on the "what-ifs" that seem to plague me if I allow them to creep into my mind. I have to step back and give them over the the One who created them which is so difficult to do especially since we have lived through the horror of losing a child. I've joined a "club" no parents wants to be a part of.

I have moments constantly when I imagine how Graham would have been. Often times it's when I am around children who are close to the age he would be now. I find myself almost zoning out and thinking about things a sane person probably would not. Sometimes I almost have to catch my breath because the thoughts and feelings are so overwhelming. I still hold my breath when I go into a store as I try not to look at the baby boy items.

Losing Graham has changed me, it has changed our family and it has changed many people around us. Right now it feels like most of it is for the bad and yet I have a hope of heaven unlike I had before. I have even more of an appreciation of the little things in life and when my kids are throwing tantrums, it's easier for me to know that it won't last forever and at least I have the opportunity to discipline and teach them. The head sheriff talked to us several weeks after losing Graham and told us he had never seen his men affected by a tragedy as they had ours. Most times I still wonder, "Why us, Lord? How is this part of your plan?" I will never have an answer and even if Jesus himself told me the "plan," I'm sure it would not make the pain any less. I will continue praying that in time Graham will live up to his name and reach thousands for Jesus just as we had prayed. Again, this wasn't the wasn't the way it was supposed to be, but I pray that we will embrace our hurt and loss as well as our healing and point other's to Jesus.

Again, if you are reading this blog post, you have more than likely played a significant role in our lives over the last year. Whether it was openly with meals, cards, flowers, goodies or McDonald's cokes, or silently with prayers for healing in our family, we really cannot thank you enough. My words in this blog cannot do our gratitude justice. I do know that it is your prayers that have allowed us to be "doing" life a year later. They have carried us through dark, dark days. Thank you for lifting us up to the Father when I had no words. Thank you for interceding on our behalf.

Please DO NOT stop praying for us. Although we have survived the first year without Graham, our hearts are still broken and our emotions still on a roller coaster ride, especially as we anticipate the birth of our little girl. We don't want to walk through life simply surviving this loss. We want to use it to minister somehow to other hurting people. Thank you to my mom for emailing me every.single.night words of encouragement, wisdom, her thoughts and for writing to me in a journal every day and rotating them so I could have a new one to read each day. That's amazing! I don't know what I would do without her. Thank you mom for letting me call you at all hours of the night and sob uncontrollably. Thank you to my family for standing by us as we have had literally nothing to give in return and for hurting with us. For understanding how difficult family get togethers and birthdays would be and for trying to make it as easy as possible. For our friends who have continued to love us, make us laugh, and let us cry...thank you for meeting us where we were/are at at this moment. And lastly, thank you for those of you who we have never met who have committed to praying for our family.

One of the most difficult things I have had to come to grips with is that we are not guaranteed anything in this life, and without the hope of Jesus, I would have been swept away with the gigantic tides the last year has brought me.

I'm going to end with this quote from Gregory Floyd who said, "Our faith gives us the sure hope of seeing him again, but the hope does not take away the pain." Thank you again for walking this journey with us. We love you!