Do They Have Birthdays in Heaven?

Today would have been Dominic’s twenty-sixth birthday.

He should have been a little over a year out of law school and one year into a career.

Instead, he’s not here.  And he will never be HERE again.

I’m getting pretty good at shifting my focus from the giant hole that is where Dominic is supposed to be to the fullness of the life that still surrounds me.  Not today.

Today the absence of his presence is especially keen.

IMG_2637

 

 

 

 

I miss him.

I miss his smile.

 

I miss his harsh logic that would slice through a conversation like a knife. I miss his noisy descent down the stairs-always snapping his fingers to a rhythm in his head.

I miss his sense of humor.

IMG_2344

I miss his fearlessness.

IMG_1795

I miss his hugs.

IMG_1814

I miss how even though he claimed to “hate” kids, he melted every time one crawled into his lap.

IMG_1798

I miss how he used to launch himself, back first, on my bed to announce he was there to talk for a bit.

I miss how he found special tools to help me in the kitchen when my arthritis kept me from being able to do something I loved.

I miss how he could combine tough talk and smooth BS into cajoling a complaint department to not only fix the problem but throw in a gift card as well “to keep his business”.

I miss being able to call him with my stupid tech questions and have him walk me slowly through the solution (even though I know it frustrated him).

I miss his texts, his calls, his FB messages. I miss his tweets.

IMG_2546

 

I know I’ll see him again someday and that we will never have to say good-bye again.

But until then,  I really, really miss him.  

and so it was that she having waited long

 

A Good Day

 

jm captain

 

Last Friday, my oldest son received his USAF captain’s bars.  True to form, his path to this new achievement was unique and memorable. I’m so very proud of him and of his commitment to excellence.

And that meant that he was leaving San Antonio and headed to Maxwell AFB for Commissioned Officer Training. So he was able to swing by home on Sunday!

 

photo (24)

Sunday afternoon, my kids presented me with this beautiful “Family of Love” necklace for Mother’s Day.  It has all their names and birthstones so I can wear them close to my heart.  I love it!

photo (22)

James Michael brought me flowers-lots of purple, my favorite color.

photo (21)

 

And then we were joined by Joe and Seve, two of Dominic’s good friends from Law School. Joe surprised me with this amazing handmade plate from his recent travels to Turkey. I appreciate the love and support of these fellows and their ongoing commitment to remember Dominic and honor our family.

 

We had Robbie and Jonica over for supper with their new daughter.  I got to cuddle this sweet baby and be reminded that love still lives and life goes on.

photo (19)

 

And no DeSimone adventure would be complete without an “emergency”.  While getting food ready and on the table, we discovered a minor plumbing problem that flooded the downstairs bathroom, the laundry area and into the garage (all downhill-literally and figuratively).

photo (23)

 

So while we girls ate supper, the men worked at repairs.

Just like old times-one boy went in one direction, another went the other way and Julian manned the homefront.  Thankfully, they were able to get things back in working order sooner rather than later.  But not before I exhausted our supply of 24 full-sized “clean-up” towels that were washed in bleach the next day!

 

photo (20)

The evening ended with lots of laughter and plenty of carbs.

And a rare opportunity for a group photo that had me surrounded by all my children within reach. (Thank you, Alison, for snapping the picture!)

We miss you, Dominic.

And we can never stand close enough to squeeze out the giant hole you’ve left.

But we are living like you lived-making the most of the moments-and loving each other.

boys

 

You Just Never Know

Just last week another mother in my community joined the ranks of those who bury a child. Suddenly, unexpectedly, and without warning, her son was gone.

It happens every day.  

We toss a casual “see you later” to the person heading out the door without thinking it might be the last thing we say to them.

matters how you liv

 

I am determined not to live in fear of loss-even though I have experienced it first hand.

But I am also determined to live so that should I lose someone else, they will be assured of this:

 I love them and I value them.

 

 

I don’t take things for granted anymore-What if Tomorrow Never Came?

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

 

 

 

 

I’m Listening

I was reminded recently by another bereaved mother that my child loss experience is not universal.

I appreciate her honesty and bravery.

And I would just like to take a moment to say:

“I hear you.  I see you.  I acknowledge that you have a unique perspective that I do not share by experience.”

It’s hard to put myself in someone else’s shoes when I’ve never had to wear them myself.

We are all limited in many ways by the trials, temptations, joys and triumphs we have known in our lives.

But I don’t want to sit satisfied in the silo of my own experience.  

I want to enlarge my understanding of what others are going through, how they are coping, how they are hurting.

So I begin by sharing MY story because it’s the only one I know from the inside.

But it is not the only one I want to know.

Tell me your story.

I promise to listen.

We buy tickets to movies, purchase books and cruise the Internet gobbling up other people’s stories.  Yet we often make it difficult for those we know to tell us theirs.

We jockey for attention at gatherings, or worse, give all our attention to electronic devices. We think we KNOW other people’s stories so we don’t want to bore ourselves with listening again.

The truth is, we know less than we think about the folks we rub shoulders with every day.

 

Read more here:  Tell Me Your Story

 

 

 

 

Love Doesn’t End

I know that others want desperately me to be “better”.  They want me to be happy and carefree and back to the Melanie they knew before child loss.

And not just for their sake, for mine too.  

It’s hard to watch someone you care about in pain.

But my reality has been forever changed.

It’s no more likely that I can revert to the person I was before Dominic left us than that I could revert to the person I was before I became a mother.

How many times have you heard, “Becoming a mother changed EVERYTHING”?

Holding my baby for the first time was truly love at first sight.  And that love never ends.

Losing my son did not end my love for him.

Great grief is the price I pay for great love.

I pay it willingly.

Watching the young mother with her infant, the older mama and her child at play in a park, the joy and pride of the even older woman as her son or daughter graduates high school, college or gets married–how could anyone think a mother’s grief could be small?

How can all the love and all the hopes and all the dreams of a mama’s heart be squeezed into days or weeks or months of tears and sorrow?

Read the rest here:

Love: The Reason I Grieve

 

Then and Now: Sacrifice of Praise

April 21, 2014

We bury Dom today-the day after Resurrection Sunday-we will place his mortal shell into the ground from whence he came.

But Father, I know that this is not the end.  I know that what makes Dominic, “Dominic” is not what I will bury.

He is alive and with You-he is stronger than he’s ever been, more full of life than he would possibly know on earth.

I know that You are sovereign and You are love.

At this moment, I don’t understand how losing Dom is a loving act of a loving Father but I must trust in Your character regardless of circumstances.

“I heard and my [whole inner self] trembled; my lips quivered at the sound. Rottenness enters into my bones and under me [down to my feet]; I tremble. I will wait quietly for the day of trouble and distress when there shall come up against [my] people him who is about to invade and oppress them.

Though the fig tree does not blossom and there is no fruit on the vines, [though] the product of the olive fails and the fields yield no food, though the flock is cut off from the fold and there are no cattle in the stalls,

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord; I will exult in the [victorious] God of my salvation!”

Habakkuk 3:16-18

May 3, 2016

I tremble still.

I often do not feel fruitful or particularly hopeful.

I wait for redemption and restoration.  

But my praise is not dependent upon my understanding of what God is doing.

My praise is a proclamation of Who God is.

So I declare with my mouth and speak truth to my heart:

Know (perceive, recognize, and understand with approval) that the Lord is God! It is He Who has made us, not we ourselves [and we are His]! We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

Enter into His gates with thanksgiving and a thank offering and into His courts with praise! Be thankful and say so to Him, bless andaffectionately praise His name!

For the Lord is good; His mercy and loving-kindness are everlasting, His faithfulness and truth endure to all generations.

Psalm 100:3-5 AMPC