Happy 5th Birthday, Noah

Right now it’s 11:24PM. In 36 mins, Noah would have been 5 years old.

I would have been staying up way too late putting the final touches on things for his birthday party tomorrow.

I would have had a kitchen full of cupcakes, fresh from the oven.

I would have had a fridge full of food, ready to go.

I would have had a to-do list a mile long.

I probably would have had my Christmas shopping done by now.

Instead the billowing snow reminded me of when we had to postpone the transport plane to the Stollery by almost 8 hours because of a snowstorm.

Instead I turned the heat on in the back of the van when I started it after work yesterday, and realized that I hadn’t had it on since the last time Noah had been in the vehicle, two days before he died. That heat was always for him, I never had it on when I was alone.

Instead I cried in Hallmark the other day because I accidentally wandered into the new baby aisle and saw “5 years of memories” on a milestone book.

I never got to fill out a milestone book, he only ever reached one….smiling at 7 weeks. There are two uncompleted ones in his box of stuff, not sure what I want to do with them yet.

This year has been easily the best and the worst year of my life. I learned so much about myself and accomplished so much, but then my marriage ended, and just 3 short months later (to the day!), my only child passed away.

On what should have been a day filled with chocolate cupcakes (one of the very few solid foods that Noah could actually eat) and balloons and spending time with my son, instead I will be alone.

My day is full of plans to keep me surrounded by people and hopefully distracted, but at the end of the day I will be going home alone and cuddling my son’s teddy bear to sleep.

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It’s just you and me now, Mr Bear.

 

This year you (not in any particular order):

 

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…took Mr Bear to school…

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…met the Premier of Alberta…

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…got to sleep in Mommy and Daddy’s room on your very own floor bed…

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…had fun dressing up for St Patricks Day…

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…played and watched Video On Trial with Daddy…

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…started Kindergarten!

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…ran a race with Mommy!

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…went to the gym with Mommy…

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…hacked the planet with Daddy…

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…hung out with friends…

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…graduated preschool!

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…got big boy jams…

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…got a big boy bed!

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…were a Spartan!

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…were the best cheerleader for Mommy’s races!

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…went on lots of walks with Daddy…

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…became a Tim Hortons spokesperson…

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…turned 4…

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…had a great Christmas…

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…visited the pediatrician…

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…went swimming…

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….had lots of fun at school…

 

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20151122_130807 …and passed away.

 

I love you, sweet Noah. I miss you every day.

Happy 5th birthday, Mr Baby.

Love, Mom

 

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Crisis of (Lack of) Faith (And other thoughts)

I find it incredibly ironic that taking Noah off life support and the resulting days following cemented my atheism, and now Noah passing away has made me wish that I had a religion and could believe in an afterlife, etc.

I would love to believe that Noah is “in a better place” (but what better place could there be for a child than in his parents’ arms?)…

I would love to believe that Noah is in “heaven”…

I would love to believe that Noah is completely healed from his brain injury…

I would love to believe that he’s playing with other children or hanging out with relatives who have passed away…

I would love to believe that Noah is now an angel…

I would love to believe that Caleb and I will see Noah again one day…

… But I can’t. And it makes me sad. When I laid on the bed next to him and said goodbye, it was bizarre because he wasn’t actually *there*. I knew that he couldn’t hear me.

He was gone. His body was there, but it wasn’t the same.

I would love to be able to use the concept of heaven as a method of comfort, but I can’t. I know that he is gone and I will never see him again. I know that he is in his urn and that is it. I know that when we die, we are just…gone.

And that’s really depressing. The lack of closure is hard to bear. I have feelings of guilt over ways that I could have been a better mother to him. I was thinking last night about how I used to hold him in my arms and watch TV and he would pass out, and it made me sad because we hadn’t done that in months, ever since I moved out and the condo stopped feeling like my home. His last few months were all about change. Caleb and I separated, I moved out, he moved into a new place. It makes me wonder what he thought about all of it and if it bothered him. It makes me wonder if he was happy about moving and all of the changes….if he was okay with not seeing me as much. He was home with me all day every day all summer and then suddenly he started full time school and we separated shortly before that, so he would only see me for about an hour before school and two hours after. The two hours after were never anything special. We would get home and he would watch TV and I would get ready for work.

It was always hard, not being able to do things with him that other parents can do with their kids. There was never any taking him to the park or letting him play at the indoor playground or the bouncy castles, etc. It makes me wish now that I had made more of an effort to do things with him, but at the same time, it was always exhausting trying to do anything and he would always cry without the tablet (unless we were walking). It’s just hard, is all. I always imagined that I’d be this super involved parent, but parenthood with him was so different than anything I could have ever imagined.

My logical brain tells me that I did the best that I could, but my emotional brain wonders if that was good enough.

Logically I know that there is no crystal ball and we didn’t know that he would pass away just 3 short months after the separation (weirdly enough it was 3 months to the day…), but at the same time I wonder if we had just held it together for a little bit longer, if it would have been better for him.

I keep thinking about that morning and how I missed Caleb’s phone call by an hour and a half, because I was sleeping in after working until 1. If I was still living with Caleb, I would have been right there. I would have been there for Caleb when he found him…..instead I was late as usual and it makes me feel incredibly guilty that my last act as a mother was missing that phone call. I have always felt like a subpar mother, but that was the final nail in my coffin (pardon the phrase).

Ever since Noah was a few months old, I wanted more children. In the last 6 months I wasn’t sure because of the extent of Noah’s care and what he would need in the future. After the separation that intensified, because at the very least it would probably be at least 5 years before I got pregnant again (barring any accidental pregnancies). Now I don’t know. I always knew that another pregnancy would be very emotional and difficult because of Noah’s birth injury, now it will be doubly so because of Noah’s death. I don’t know if I can handle it, and that makes me sad too. I love children. But I don’t know if I could be someone else’s mother when there is no Noah. Obviously I have years ahead of me to decide, but every time I see a baby or a small child, it’s on my mind. I’m also simultaneously terrified of getting pregnant again, it’s a weird juxtaposition.

I used to be married and have a family. Now I’m at square one again. It’s bizarre and it’s heartbreaking for so many different reasons. I always wanted to be married once, have kids, and then eventually have grandchildren, and then I would die. But clearly that’s not what happened, so I don’t know what that means for my future. It’s a weird feeling, having complete freedom (for lack of a better word) again, but having so much more life experience behind it. I literally can do whatever I want. I used to lament about being stuck in Grande Prairie because of Caleb’s job, and then because if I moved then I’d never see Noah. Now I can move if I really wanted to, there’s nothing holding me here….but that’s also terrifying. I’ve never lived anywhere else. Could I move away from my hometown and my entire support system? I don’t know. Maybe I’m a lifer.

I have wanted to go back to college since Noah was born, but I couldn’t because of needing childcare. Now I have the option to go back to school, but I still have no idea what I want to do.

My brain is constantly flooded with all of these questions and it sucks. I’ve been sleeping horribly lately and having weird dreams. Right now it’s almost 3:30 AM and I am blogging instead of sleeping.

Caleb and I have a meeting at 10 to dissolve Noah’s RDSPs and adjust our life insurance policies. They were set up with the intention of me being a stay at home mom, and even after our separation and when we eventually divorced, we were going to keep the other as the beneficiary because the funds were intended to support Noah, but now that Noah is gone and we are no longer together, that has to change. And that kind of sucks. So much has changed in the year since we set them up, it’s actually mindblowing.

Also, I now hate Christmas and that is another thing that makes me sad.

Noah’s birthday is in 9 days.

The end.

 

 

“Not Grieving Properly”

Last night a friend made a comment to me about how he was surprised that I wasn’t falling apart.

At the memorial I shed a few stray tears but that was it. Observing myself, I felt a little self conscious about it, like people would be judging me for not being a total mess.

I have always been good at compartmentalizing. My therapist once said that I was a high functioning severely depressed person….and that was because I had to be. Noah still had to eat, even if I didn’t want to get out of bed.

And the thing is, as much as I’d love to just lay around and do nothing, life goes on. I’ve already missed a week of work and I won’t get baby cheques this month, so that’s approximately a $1000 difference (including tips) in my income this month. Missing two whole weeks of work to wallow doesn’t help to pay my bills. Starting next month, I have to start paying Caleb for half of the things he’s still paying for (car insurance, cell phone bill, life insurance, Blue Cross, etc etc), and that doesn’t just suddenly go away because of a traumatic event in our family.

You can’t cry 24/7. You can’t let your grief consume your life. There is no “moving on” or “getting over it”….I’ll be grieving for the rest of my life. But as it’s always been, random things will hit me in  a certain way and now it’s two stabs in the heart instead of one. Typically it falls under the categories of “things I can’t do with Noah” (that typical children can do or would enjoy), and that’s now compounded with “things I’ll never do with Noah”.

I’m still going to do weird things like cuddle his urn on the couch when I’m alone watching TV, and I’m not afraid of putting that out on the internet and for people to know about it, but for the most part I am going to seem like I am holding it together. I can’t fall apart at work, my job involves customer service and putting a smile on my face. I may have a moment or seven where I’ll have to step into the kitchen to collect myself before going to my table (this has already happened prior to Noah’s passing), but for the most part, I will have to keep it together just to function like a normal human.

Grief is complex and it comes in cycles, I already know this from years of mourning the child that I expected to have. And some of that grief came from worrying about things that I now don’t have to worry about…like him being abused, mistreated, bullied, etc. So some of my previous grief is gone and I’ve gotten some closure in that sense. But now there is a new grief, and it’s one I’m obviously not familiar with, as I’ve never lost a child (in the literal sense) before.

It’s strange and bizarre and surreal, and I’m trying to live with it the best that I can.