Repost: Please Be Patient With Me

I wrote this a couple of years ago in response to post after post across social media of (mostly!) moms lamenting the fact their son or daughter would soon be moving away or off to college. 

I get it!  

When you are used to having your kid around it’s tough when he or she leaves the nest.  

But there is a vast difference in having to work a little harder to stay in contact or arrange visits and never being able to speak to your child again. 

It’s an adjustment to compare calendars to find a day your family can celebrate together but it’s heartbreaking to know that one chair will always be empty at every family gathering.  

Read the rest here:  Please Be Patient With Me

Repost: Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

Read the rest here:  Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Time and Time Again

Since Dominic ran ahead to heaven we have celebrated four graduations and a wedding.

Wednesday night was another one.  My daughter, Fiona, graduated nursing school.

We are so excited for her!

fiona grad jumping

And, as usual, our family rallied round, pitched in, showed up and made a great fuss over the accomplishment.

It was beautiful and hard all at the same time.

Because time and time again we join hands and hearts to celebrate an achievement, a milestone, a special moment or a holiday and there is always, always, always one missing.

Every photo is just slightly askew- one daughter, three two sons.

family fionas grad (2)

We’ve gotten good at closing ranks, squeezing out the space where he should be standing.  But our hearts mark the gap.

Our hearts will always mark the gap.

I am much better now at actually enjoying these things-I love the way my daughter’s friends surround and encourage her, I laughed at the antics of the children that enjoyed running from adult to adult, getting more attention than they knew what to do with.  I sat and listened with great pride as Fiona gave the closing remarks to her graduating class, drawing from a deep well of wisdom that includes heartache as well as hallelujahs.

And it was all good.  Really, truly  good.

But you have to go home eventually.

Hugging necks and saying “good-bye” is when it always hits me-I hug harder, cling longer, make sure to whisper not only “I love you” but everything I need to say-just in case.

And grown children text their mama so she knows they are safely home.

Dominic’s legacy is this:  We never miss a chance to celebrate one another.

We cling to the good and try to let go of the bad.

We love fiercely and openly and are not ashamed for one minute of our tears or our laughter.

Because you never know.

love the ones god gave you

 

Please Be Patient With Me

Our local high schools hold graduation ceremonies this week.  Such an exciting time for so many families!

My Facebook newsfeed is flooded with senior pictures intermingled with baby photos and exclamations by mamas that they have absolutely NO IDEA where the time has gone.

I totally get it.

I graduated four from high school and college and a couple from graduate school.  And it’s true-all the while you are raising these children it seems like the days are long.

But one day you look up from the hard work of motherhood and realize the years were short.

Too short.

Thankfully for most parents graduation isn’t really an end.  It marks a transition and perhaps growing geographical distance, but the relationship will continue.

Your child may be harder to reach, but they are not utterly beyond your reach.

It may take more effort to arrange lunch or birthday parties or holiday gatherings, but they will still happen.

You might stand at the doorway of their empty room and wonder when they might come home for a visit and wake up under your roof again, but they WILL come home for a visit.

I’m not diminishing the very real sense of loss parents feel when the child they have nurtured begins a life apart.

Empty nest is a real thing.

It’s a hard thing.  It takes time to make necessary adjustments.

But some of us face something harder.

My child is utterly unreachable.  There are no phone calls, texts, Facebook messages or goofy Instagram updates on what he is doing while away from my sight.  He will never sit at my Thanksgiving table again or celebrate his birthday with a cake or special meal. No more presents under the Christmas tree.

And just like you who feel that time has been both fast and slow leading up to graduation-it seems that way to me, too.

Unbearably long since I heard his voice, saw his face and hugged his neck.  Yet also just yesterday since the full weight of his leaving landed hard on my heart. 

I understand how it feels to miss my child in a way I hope you never have to.  

please be patient with me

It Ain’t Over Til It’s Over

I hear you, mama.  That baby toddling away from the security of your arms-you miss those close snuggles and slobbery kisses.  But he’s not really LEAVING, he’s just growing.

cartoon baby

I know, I know.

First day of school blues.

Where did the time go?  How can you drop that little girl off at the front door and trust that her teacher will take care of her as well as mom?  She’s getting older, but she isn’t outside your influence.

cartoon male graduate

Oh my goodness!! Already graduating high school?  Moving out and going to college!  No more daily chats face-to-face across the kitchen table.  No more late night confession sessions.

He’s a young man, pulling away, making big decisions without you, but he’ll be home for Christmas and summer vacation.

 

 

For all you mamas lamenting the passage of time and the upheavals it brings I have a word: It’s NOT over.

Your child is still within reach.  You can call or text or visit.  You can touch his face, hug her neck, hear his voice.

Life is changing but it is still LIFE.

Feeling a little nostalgic for what WAS is perfectly normal.  Most of us humans aren’t that fond of change.

But children are ours for a season, not forever.  

They are given to us as gifts, not possessions.

For some mamas, like me, it really IS over.

The son I brought home from the hospital, the boy I watched grow and mature into a young man, the confident college graduate I saw drive away to start law school-he is gone.

I can’t call or text or visit him.

I can’t forge a different kind of  relationship across the miles or make special arrangements for him to travel home for the holidays.

I can’t make new memories or take new photographs.  I can’t hug his neck or hear his voice.

So it’s OK to feel a little sad that things are changing.  It’s like moving furniture around in the room-you stub your toe in the dark because things aren’t where they used to be.  

But for me, it’s like the house has burned down.

I felt a pinch in my heart every now and then as my children grew and more and more of their lives were spent away from me.  But I also celebrated each milestone, made much (and still do) of each achievement.

I didn’t want them to be frozen in time, stuck on a shelf, kept “small”.

Enjoy the time you have with your babies, with your children, with your teens-embrace the growing independent persons they are becoming.  

As long as they are walking the earth with you, nothing is OVER,  it’s just the beginning of something new.   

caterpillar thought it was over

 

 

 

 

Graduations and Weddings and Trips, Oh My!

Almost anyone you ask anticipates that Thanksgiving and Christmas, two family-centered holidays, are difficult days and seasons  for bereaved parents.

And they are.  

Especially for families that enjoyed special times around the table, unhurried visits reminiscing about years past and traditions that reinforce the unique heritage of their shared history.

But this time of year is also challenging for me and many other parents who have lost a child.

The mailbox is flooded with graduation and wedding announcements. Social media newsfeeds are packed full of smiling parents surrounding relieved and grinning kids proudly displaying the culmination of their educational efforts.

Pretty soon photos will be rolling in as folks head to their personal “happy place” for family fun in the sun, mountains or amusement park.

Our own family participated in two graduations and a wedding within weeks of Dominic’s accident.

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My youngest child, Julian, graduated from UAB on April 26th-five days after we buried Dominic.

 

 

He walked the same stage where his brother had given the undergraduate commencement speech  a few years prior.

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Less than two more weeks and we were celebrating Dr. James Michael DeSimone as he graduated from Auburn University School of Veterinary Medicine.

Six weeks later-James Michael married his bride, Lillie, on June 21, two days shy of my thirtieth anniversary.

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Last May, Dominic’s University of Alabama School of Law class graduated.

Some of his friends graciously arranged for me to receive his Juris Doctorate degree posthumously.

I sat, both proud and stricken, as his name was announced at the end of the graduating class and his photo flashed on the giant screen above my head.

So please bear with me and all the other mamas whose children aren’t here.  

While I rejoice with those that rejoice, I am also reminded, again, of what I have lost.

If it takes a little longer for me to send a graduation card, if I don’t “like” your status or post a sweet comment-it’s really NOT you, it’s ME.

lifetime

 

 

 

Graduation

Saturday, my daughter, my firstborn,  walked across the stage and recieved her diploma.  A teacher, a doula, an ER tech and now capped with her Masters of Public Health Education.

She is so accomplished.

And so full of grace.  

She manipulates her (very hectic and very full) schedule so that she can have coffee with struggling friends.  She opens her home to anyone in her circle that needs a meal or space to heal.  She speaks words of life and love and laughter to her coworkers and her family.

And she is so brave.

Because she had only begun this journey when Dominic was killed–right before finals of her first semester.  In spite of the inflexible and incomprehensible “official policies” of the university regarding even a parent’s or sibling’s death, she passed those finals WITH STRAIGHT A’s.

And she is doubly brave.

Just four years ago, this very weekend, Dominic sat on the stage she traversed, with the professors and deans and president of UAB.  He had been selected to present the Undergraduate Address.  Our family was included in a backstage reception and seated in the VIP section.

His memory echoed every footfall as she walked.

The death of a child is not only the sorrow of his or her parents.  It is especially the sorrow of his or her brothers and sisters.  Fiona was the first, she held each baby when we came home from the hospital.  She and her surviving brothers have suffered a great blow.

Yet they are marching on.

Bearing their wounds and making a difference.

I am so very proud of each of them.