i have a hang-over. please pass the kleenex.

Paxton,

This past weekend Momma went on one hell of a bender. And not the too much fun, due to too much wine type bender. It was an emotional bender – of epic proportions. One caused by mixing too many feelings, in too short of time…and not being capable of sleeping them off. My Lovelies arranged a gorgeous event fit for a queen, rather a princess, last Saturday. Marygrace lead the charge on pulling it offdespite my insistence that it was not necessary, and my pleas to not make me do it, she ultimately convinced me that it was exactly the exact thing I needed. I knew she was right. Grace is almost always right. (Almost.) I also went along with it because of my obsession of doing ‘everything different’ this time around. I’m playing a Jedi Mind trick that ‘doing everything different’ this time, will keep cancer (and frauds) at bay.

So even though my heart was saying ‘no’, my mouth agreed to let my Lovelies sprinkle me with good, pure love. But it took everything I had NOT to cancel on them. And they knew it; which is why Lala showed up at my house an hour prior to “start time” to be my chauffeur.  As we drove along, in order to not tell her to bust a U-turn and take me home, I preoccupied myself with a stern talking to. “You cannot cancel on your friends. Look at all they have done for you. As much as you want to hide, you just cannot. Not today, Danna. Make good on your word. Spend this day with your friends who love your spicy ass so much.”

I had to take a lot of mental time outs to get through the day. I’ve become so exquisitely versed in ‘blacking out’, while seemingly carrying on as normal, that I’m convinced even Lala & Grace don’t know when I’m doing it. The entire affair was as beautiful as it was difficult. I don’t ever experience a moment of pure bliss anymore. For even the purest of moments are tainted by the fact that you are dead. For obvious reasons, today’s near-bliss was particularly tainted. Throughout the event, I had many moments of happiness, but many more moments of complete and utter sadness, pain, shock, and just a feeling of being overwhelmed. The overwhelmed ‘panic-in-my-soul’ feeling never fully goes away. I suppose it makes sense that I am forever riding the cusp of a panic attack. I have suffered the greatest loss one can endure. Conversely, I now have the greatest gift growing inside of me – for which I am immeasureably grateful. Even as I oh-so-cautiously prepare for this precious life to enter the world, I feel death lurking all around me, because I am still so heavily grieving the loss of you.

Life. Death. Two dichotomous, yet equally powerful forces are literally at war inside of my heart. I want so desperately to experience true and unconditional love again, but am just as desperately afraid to allow myself such a luxury. Mostly, I am afraid because everything I have ever loved, I have lost.  But also because I fear that in loving a new life, I will somehow abandon a portion of the immense love I have for you. Even as I write this, the notion of anything or anyone being able to make me love you, even a fraction of an ounce, less sounds ludicrous. Yet, these are the thoughts which race through my mind on a steady loop.  

Not a day passes when I don’t take pause to realize how lucky I am to have these women in my life. The whole lot of them are one in a trillion. But I am also very aware of why they are here. They are here, in full-force, because you are gone. My Lovelies have always been integral forces in my life, yet the beautiful roles which they have stepped up and so seamlessly and selflessly assumed in your Momma’s shit-balls-crazy life is well beyond my capacity to understand. Suffice it to say, I am eternally indebted to each one of them for surrounding me, holding me up, and loving me … loving you, and loving your little sister too.

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I sure hope you don’t mind the explosion of pink that went off in your room today.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox

Momma

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home is where your lala is.

Paxton,

It’s official. Lala and Uncle Stephen have moved to town! It is hard to process all they’ve done, and undone, in the past four months. Besides the obvious upheaval moving one’s family across the state entails, your Lala is severely allergic to change. All who know her know this to be an undeniable fact. For example, Lala has still not been able to ‘part’ with her sticker collection. She’s been hauling around albums upon albums of stickers for 30 years…yes, 30. She has, however, finally parted ways with her straw-wrapper collection. You heard me Diddy; your crazy daisy Lala used to save the wrappers to the straws she drank her milk with at lunch in 6th grade. (Promise. Ask Nana and Papa.)

Alas, when the shit-of-all-shit hit the fan, Lala could be kept at bay no longer. Without further contemplation, she and Uncle Stephen listed their house in spring. It sold in four days. Without further ado, they began their search for a new home in the Milwaukee area. They found just the perfect one, in just the perfect neighborhood. In turn, your cousins are the new kids on the block, and they will be the new kids at school this fall. Lala will quit a job she loves, and will eventually take one she may or may not like at all. For now, she is living with a friend in Madison, and coming home on the weekends. Uncle Stephen is manning the three kids, two puppy pups – one who cannot walk, and a house in half-moved-in, full-court chaos. (Just another example of Uncle Stephen’s heart of gold…and patience of steel.)

After three sticky, icky days of packing the Madison house and then the most enormous U-haul truck known to man, the Siodlarz family set out on the final leg in their relocation to Milwaukee. Your uncle drove the U-haul, which was pulling another U-haul trailer. (A last minute, “Oh shit. Our stuff isn’t going to fit!” required an impromptu additional trailer rental.) Your Lala was driving the kids and puppy pups in the chocked full mini-van…which, for visualization purposes, was also outfitted with a very stuffed car-top carrier. (Because apparently they still make those?!?) As she made her way from the Beltline in Madison to I-94 towards Milwaukee, an unmistakable message from you emerged high in the sky. In a state of giddy disbelief Lala reached for her phone and called me. She said, “DD….guess what is staring me right in the eyes?!? The most beautiful, vibrant rainbow I’ve ever seen! I don’t know about you, but where I live, not a single drop of rain has fallen in weeks!” I couldn’t get a word in edgewise because Lala was hyperventilating in a half-laugh, half-cry. It didn’t matter. Nothing more needed to be said. We both knew it was you thanking Lala for coming to get your Momma.

A relocation of such nature would be a huge undertaking for any family. But for Lala, it is unprecedented. The realization that Lala and Uncle Stephen uprooted their family, their home, their children and their careers largely in efforts to live closer to Momma is astonishing…and humbling. The love and support they’ve provided throughout the past few years has been unwavering and steadfast. This, however, supersedes my wildest imagination…even from Lala the Wonderful.

Over the past six weeks, I travelled to places both old and new. I set out on that journey in search of peace. To be honest with you, I did not find the peace I was so desperately seeking. However, I’ve come closer to accepting that given all I’ve lost in the past year – my soul may simply never be quite the same. Perhaps the peace I’ve been seeking, the kind that once lived deep inside of me, is not meant to ever live there again. I can’t begin to imagine what the future holds, nor I’m I interested in trying to guess. For now I am channeling my energy into staying “present in the present”. In this moment, I can feel pieces of my broken heart shifting closer together. Your Lala and Uncle Stephen’s unbelievable demonstration of support is the synergy behind this shift. Even if the pieces don’t ever completely converge, I am grateful beyond measure that five very big pieces of my heart are now merely a 15-minute drive away.

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Close those baby blues. Sleep sound. Worry not. We are going to be okay. You and me together…we can do anything, baby.

Here is your lullaby for tonight. It’s in honor of your “One”; your Lala.

I miss you. I love you.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

silence is a sound. you are really gone. and cancer is still a giant asshole.

Hi Diddy,

I made it back to Wisconsin.

Coming home threw a giant curve ball my way. In my absence, somehow the house has grown exponentially larger, quieter, and lonelier. In hindsight, maybe a part of me was half expecting to come in the back door and find a house filled with all things baby boy: trucks, Legos, puzzles, and books spattered about the downstairs; plastic dishes, rubber spoons, and sippy cups in the sink; the iconic sweet sent of Burt’s Bees Buttermilk lotion in the air. I was snapped out of my trance by the time I reached the bottom of the upstairs staircase. By then I knew even if I ran to the top and lunged into your room – I wouldn’t find you happily kicking about and ‘whoo-whoo-ing’ in your crib.

Every so often, I still have fleeting moments when I forget you are really gone. When they happen, my breath is sucked right out of my lungs, and I swear the world stands still: for.just.a.split.second. Each time they happen, I am positive it will be the last time. I’m always surprised and somewhat embarrassed by them. They also scare me a bit because I feel like I truly may be going crazy after-all. But, then I get pissed and realize I am not the crazy one. Cancer is the crazy one. I think about how very unfair and unacceptable it is that you were cheated from a life which held such promise – and that the world was cheated from a soul which held pure goodness.

I wonder if the day will ever come when I whole-heartedly believe, in the very core of my being, that all of this actually happened. I had a son. He was a miracle. He was beautiful. He was perfect. He was funny. He was brave. He was everything I dreamed of…and more. He was the part of me which had been missing my entire life. Then, just like that – he got cancer and died. No matter how long I wait, or how much I beg, plea and bargain – he is never, ever coming back. I honestly don’t know if my subconscious will ever allow my conscious state to fully digest the gruesomeness of my reality. It defies all logic, reason, science and what is right and fair in the universe. Above all else, it is simply too god damn hard. Anyone who thinks I should simply “…accept my reality” and “move on” – as though losing my son, and then the rest of my entire world (in the span of seven months), is merely an unfortunate kink in plans akin to an unforeseen head-wind on a magic carpet ride to Disneyland – can fuck off. Or they can choose which one of their children they will watch get slowly tortured and brutally murdered by cancer…and ultimately die in their arms. In fact, they can do both. Then we can meet for tea and eat crumpets while they tell me all about how beautifully they’re accepting what life threw their way. And I can apologize for telling them to fuck off.

Despite the echoes I hear as I walk to and fro our rooms, accompanied only by the silence swimming through the air, a part of me feels relieved to be home. I am still comforted by being in your room, among your things. I know you are with me wherever I go. I know your things are merely things. I know your room is simply a floor, with four walls, which not too long ago was filled with hope, dreams, and promise. Yet, I also know memories of you and I are more vivid in that sacred space. Whenever I’m feeling especially far away from you – I retreat to your room, if only for a minute, and I feel just a tiny bit closer to you.

One of the thousands of things we didn’t get to do together nearly enough is read bedtimes stories. I read to you every now and again…sometimes in the middle of the day, sometimes when I get home from work, sometimes right before bed – whenever it is I am able muster the ever-elusive grace to choose a book from your shelves and say the words out loud. When I don’t have the composure to use my voice, I sit in the glider and quietly turn the pages as I imagine you there with me. Alas, some of the most special people in your life gave you the same book for your (non) shower gift. They picked it for you because it was one of their favorites. So, I tend to choose it more often than others. I’m a quite certain it is one of your favorites too. Goodnight Moon is on deck again tonight; it’s been far too long.

Goodnight stars. Goodnight air. Goodnight, ‘silence’ everywhere.

Goodnight, Diddy. I’ll look for you in my dreams.

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Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

the world is insane. i’m just mad.

Paxton,
I am currently donning my pink (PINK!) hoodie…complete with hood up, and tied so tightly that the only thing exposed are my swollen, tired eyes. Only your Momma would be freezing cold on April 21st. I guess I will always be the biggest freeze baby in all the land. I still think you were “coldie” more often than not too – even when others would argue you were fine…I’m pretty sure you had your Momma’s blood. (I apologize for the few times I accidentally made you super-sweaty on those walks when I snuggled you with one too many blankets. I was just making sure.)

I am sitting in your bedroom, in our glider, with your little teal pillow propped underneath the computer. The ‘just right’ pillow positioning is both traumatizing and comforting. I can remember exactly the way you and I needed to be ‘situated’ both here in our glider, as well as on the couch with your boppy – leopard pillow – red pillow combo. Of course, it all makes perfect sense now why it hurt your tiny little body so much anytime Momma made even the slightest move. I can’t talk about it in detail…because doing so would make me puke. All the little signs continue to fall into place. Just when I think I’ve thought of them all, another one pops up: like tonight, as I instinctively resumed the “glider teal pillow arrangement”. I will never forgive myself for allowing anyone to talk me out of my gut instinct. I’d do anything to rewind time and be a stronger-willed Momma. I would force someone to listen to me…not simply hear me. If I needed to, I would scream at the top of my lungs, “No…I am not a neurotic, hyper-sensitive, first time mom. No…I am not going to keep a god damn journal to document on paper what I am telling you right now. No…I am not going to bring him back tomorrow if he doesn’t ‘turn the corner’. What I am going to do is stay right here, holding my son against my chest ,while you figure out what the fuck is wrong.” I am so sorry it took me too long to say all of those things.

On top of being cold, and sad, I have officially decided the world is insane. This weekend sealed the deal, Diddy. The more people I encounter, and the more knowledge I acquire…the more convinced I am that the entire universe…at least my corner of the world…well, minimally my street…is completely twisted.

Go away - except Diddy.

One year ago tomorrow marks my first day back to work after my 13 weeks of bed-rest + 10 weeks of maternity leave…totaling 50 weeks and 1 day of completely unseparated time with you. Dream come true.

I remember how phenomenally scared I was to be away from you for ‘an entire day’. Grammie slept over to make the transition smoother for Momma. But it didn’t work. I did not sleep the night before. I could not make myself leave when it was time to go. Just as I headed for the door, I was compelled to write you a letter. Even though she was anxious to have you to herself, Grammie let me write in silence. Knowing it’d make me even later, I insisted I take the letter up to your room and put it on your dresser. I asked Grammie to read it to you when I was gone, so you would’t go too long without “hearing” from me. And she did…that Grammie of yours is a spoiler. I did not do a single, meaningful thing at work that day. I did not concentrate for two consecutive seconds. I did not make it more than one hour without calling home to check on you. I thought about you every.single.second. Above all, I missed you terribly.

Nothing about tomorrow will be different while I am at work. Everything else will be; starting with the fact that I can no longer rush home, scoop you into my arms, breathe in your sweet smell, and whisper in your ear how very much I love you…and everything else thereafter too.

I miss you so much it hurts my tummy. I hope you are warm enough.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

Be Peaceful.

Sweetest Diddy,

An early morning trip to Target proved to be far more significant than Momma’s run-of-the-mill trips to Target. With only a few things to pick up, and a surplus of time to spare, I began to amble mindlessly through a store which, once upon a time, was as familiar to me as our backyard. Ultimately, I found myself in the middle of the “happy home” isle. I almost screamed out loud, (but didn’t – so don’t be embarrassed) when I found the candle I have been searching high and low for since last April. To the rest of the free world, it would seem there is nothing extraordinary about this candle. It is a typical Target something-or-other-brand aromatherapy candle. The name however, a bit more special, ‘Be Peaceful’…which is what compelled me to initially buy it. I found it on my first “away from home” trial in very early March. I wonder if it were exactly one year ago today? At any rate, I remember your Daddy making me leave the house without you in tow. He said I could go wherever I wanted, but that I had to be gone a minimum of twenty minutes. Prior to you becoming a part of my life, a twenty minute errand was nearly laughable, given my trademark ability to turn a five minute errand into a two hour escapade. Nonetheless, I took the challenge.

In lightening speed, I secured formula, a double pack of Dr. Brown’s bottles, and a tube of “Butt Paste” (recommended by Dr. D.). I turned to head home, but realized I had been gone about 7 minutes. I anxiously made a quick right turn down the “happy home” isle….where I spotted the ‘Be Peaceful’ candle. I instinctively, and giddily, added it to the must-haves-for-Paxton basket. Unwilling to suppress my angst of being away from you, away from my family, a minute longer – I headed to the Express checkout, paid for our stuff, and drove home…without stopping to look both ways. I burned that candle, almost daily, until approximately the middle of April. When I noticed it was almost gone, I began my search for another one. I checked multiple Target locations, Target online, and eBay; but was unable to find another one anywhere. Knowing it was ‘running’ low – and with no replacement in sight, I began to burn it more sparingly. Then May happened.

Finding the ‘Be Peaceful’ candle today, initially, seemed so very serendipitous. It is, after all, March 2nd. Today marks 8 months since I rubbed my lips across your perfect head and silky hair, held you against my chest as we slowly breathed in tandem, and felt the warmth of your gentle – but steadfast – fingers circled around my thumb. To my surprise, the more aroma that fills the room, the more sadness fills my heart. Our sense of smell is 10,000 times more sensitive than any other of the five senses. The recognition of smell is immediate. While other senses (touch and taste) must travel through the body via neurons and the spinal cord before reaching the brain: our olfactory response is immediate, extending directly to the brain. The emotional connections and the memories attached to a smell are always deeply personal; it seems a familiar smell is oft intrinsically enmeshed with the individual experience.

As the scent of the candle replaces the air in the room, I can almost teleport myself back to last year on this very day. Although smell is the strongest of the five sense, I can remember them all. I hear college basketball steadily as a fixture on our t.v. – but not too loud – because we were listening for the coo of your voice. I see you contently asleep, while swaddled (extra tight, like a cigar) in my arms, or in your bassinet – which we moved upstairs and downstairs depending on where “camp” was determined to be for the next several hours. I taste the sweet flavor of your formula, as I test a drop from my wrist to make sure it is just the right temperature. I feel the unabridged happiness, unexplainable contentment, (no doubt the newborn induced sleep deprivation); most importantly I feel the good, sweet love that filled every last inch of our home.

Needless to say, since ‘Be Peaceful’ has permeated throughout our home, the scent has evoked an unanticipated array of emotions. The sadness and yearning which have flooded my heart are not only due solely over the loss of you – but also over the loss the family who lived here – just last year. It does not seem plausible that the only thing that remains the same about our little family, about our quaint home, about our happily-ever-after … is the familiar scent of a candle.

Sweet boy, I do not know how all of this has happened. What I do know is that if I could fix even one part of it, I would…in a heartbeat, I would.

Momma. Alone.

I hope you are safe. I hope you are peaceful. Please be happy, little one.

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox
Momma

Burt’s Bees & “Little-tiny-bear” Kind of Day

Lil Diddy,

There’s one good thing about it being a weekend…besides not having to get up far too early for someone who falls asleep about 20 minutes before her alarm goes off. On weekends, I allow myself to use your Burt’s Bees Lotion on my chest (right over my heart). Having a scent of you with me all day, makes me feel a tiny bit closer to you. I would use it every day, except that Burt’s Bees made the only bad decision ever – and discontinued the particular lotion. Right after you were born, your genius Nana went gangbusters and bought every bottle she could find – on eBay – even though they were five times their original price. Today, however, is one of those days where I let myself bend the rule a little. I used your lotion on my entire body. I am extra sad today; therefore, I need extra more of you with me. I also stole Little-tiny-bear from your room and put him in my purse. Little-tiny-bear was a late comer to the scene. He arrived in mid-June, but you sure loved him. Not only is super soft and snuggly, he was just the right size for you to grab onto and hold in your hands. Little-tiny-bear stayed with you when I left your body at the hospital on July 2nd. He stayed tucked under your perfect, beautiful hands until Daddy and I picked you up from the funeral home…in a box. Little-tiny-bear was placed in the box right next to you, just as the funeral director promised.

I am still so mad at myself for leaving you at the hospital. I don’t remember leaving – I only remember I didn’t want to. I do remember making Daddy go back into the NICU room to get Giraffey and your potato blankie from Britta. I insisted he get your stuffed animal & a blankie – but, I didn’t insist he go back into the room and grab you. What kind of Momma thinks like that? I guess one who is having an out of body experience because her beloved son just died. But I still will not forgive myself for it. Another thing that tortures me about my behavior on July 2nd is that I didn’t bath your precious body – – one last time.  Even though your spirit had gone, your body was still there with me.  I should have bucked up, pulled myself together, and been a Momma. Instead, I asked your favorite girlfriend, Nurse Renee, if she could do one more favor for me and give you a bath. Of course she agreed. But, Nurse Renee is not your Momma. Nonetheless, she was the last one to give your body a bath. In turn, she put the last diaper, and the last outfit, on your precious body too. I am so sorry, sweet boy.

Daddy and I are going to run errands today. We are going to go in and out of the house, the car, and the stores without juggling 18 things that came along with transporting you with us. I hate the ease in which I can come and go from place to place. I long for the days when it was necessary to invoke super-Sheerah powers in order to remember, carry, and balance the bottles, diapers, blankets, bags, change of clothing, nuks, Giraffey, car seat…and my most precious cargo of all – you…everywhere I went.

I wonder what you would have done today to make me throw my head back, laugh out loud, and thank every angel in the world for sending you to me.

Thank you for being my baby. I love you. I miss you. I hope you are safe.

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Stay with me, sweet boy.
xoox,
Momma