A question. An abyss. A little boy I miss. (Plus, I’m just sad.)

Paxton,

As part of my preparation for the “opportunity-I’m-not-still-not-talking-about”, I was provided an array of ‘assignments’. The purpose of this particular one: encourage deeper reflection about being your Momma from so far away. (As if I need any?)

The query was simple, “A bereaved mother is….”. The question immediately irritated me. Perhaps because someone so revered in the realm of documentary styles and genres: grief, loss, and bereavement being no exception – would ask something so damn dumb. As the seconds ticked by, I pulled out my Warrior-side and began to generate an answer. It’s actually a non-answer; which, in my opinion, is even more fitting. Even better news: it turns out Momma is still spicy enough to accomplish something – merely for the sake of conquering a challenge.

I quickly determined the definition must lend itself to be ever-evolving. It must also allow for the flexibility to reflect the day, hour, or moment I just survived; or the particular soft wave of grief I am currently riding.

A bereaved mother is…

…the woman who has felt pain in every single cell in her body. Literally, from the tips of her toes to the ends of her hair. The pain is indescribably and mercilessly physical.

…the woman who shies away from carrying bags of groceries, or laundry baskets against her chest – especially with the aide of her hip; as doing so most always morphs the bundle into the precise size and weight of her phantom son.

…the woman whose knees have buckled when hearing the sounds of little boys, calling out: “Mommy.” “Mommy!” “Mommy?”…a mommy who will tuck her child into bed – while she will stand, tears falling atop the unused changing table, in her son’s, otherwise barren bedroom.

…the woman whose primal mourning, done only when alone, is still shocked & frightened by the supernatural sound of this mourning. As it serves as a reminder that she is but a wild animal – capable and willing to do anything to protect her young, as well as the fact that she failed miserably at the task.

…the woman entrapped by grief’s incessant state of craze, finds herself pacing the hallways late at night: unable to focus long enough to string two sentences together: intolerant of music, t.v.’s, or voices projecting “too loudly”: sensitive to lights: irritated by a host of other benign stimuli.

…the woman who has accepted that no form of self-induced suffering will suffice in filling the chasm of her loss. Instead she finds herself Googling “…how to construct time-machines.” In moments of lucidness (which sometimes follow) she realizes the depths of her desperation. Instead, she Googles: “…how to initiate the process of self-institutionalization.”

…the woman who wills herself to trade places with her dead child, a hundred times a day – and two hundred times a night. But continues to awaken to a new sunrise – almost always wishing she hadn’t.

…the woman who gives extra generous tips, extra gentle eye contact, extra caring smiles… to the young boy who crosses her path. Despite her keen awareness that he is someone else’s son, she can’t help but pretend – if only for a fleeing moment – that he is her own.

…the woman who knows how to ingest just enough shallow breathes, to keep from throwing up – until she makes it home.

…the woman who refuses to hold another baby – though her arms ache from emptiness – because she is adamant that the last baby she’ll ever hold, will be her own son.

…the woman who wishes she knew it was not an eye infection, or the ‘wrong’ baby formula – just a little sooner.

…the woman who will always, always be consumed with guilt – no matter how many people tell her it wasn’t her fault.

…the woman who will love her sweet boy forever and always…and then a little bit longer.

A bereaved mother is the woman who has a story about a bittersweet survival that does not include a fallacious or contrived “end” to her grief after a prescribed six month period. Her story is a true story of anguish – absent the “happy” ending. Not to say, at some point, she won’t be capable of pure love and joy and contentment. Alas, there is no bypassing the tortures caused by the death of her beloved son. The effects of his absence are perennial, and relentless; the aches – much deeper than the unsuspecting world believes.

Yes, Paxton. Cancer came along and stole everything from us. Everything. The wreckage which has ensued is so grim, I cannot yet begin to speak of it.

However, bereavement, grief, a parallel universe…another lifetime, have nothing to do with how I define the distinct honor of being your Momma. I am the only woman in the world who is lucky enough to be your Momma. Plain and simple: I am your Momma; you are my son. Our bond is far stronger than the grips of cancer…our love is far deeper than the depths of grief.

I will love you forever, and ever…and, then a little bit longer.

IMG_1122

Stay with me, Sweet Boy.

xoox,

Momma

Advertisements

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.

IMG_0301

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

Two hundred and twelve steps back. And the other shoe dropped too.

Diddy,

I think I have taken 212 steps back. I knew your birthday would be a force to contend with; needless to say, it far surpassed my expectations. Yesterday and today, however… well, I guess it could all be nicely summarized by saying, “the other shoe has dropped”.

Despite the fact it felt like someone cut my eyes open and rubbed lemons on them, and my head ached from an entire day & night of a “hard-cry” hangover, I got out of bed yesterday morning. I did so because I had every intention to resume going through the motions of life without you. (I continue to do this, hoping that if you are watching, I just may make you proud every so often.) I repeated the mantra I said over & over throughout those first several weeks I returned to work. “Your pain is nothing compared to his. Your pain is nothing compared to his.” As I silently chanted my battle-cry, I used all my insides to put one foot infront of the other and make my way to your room. I simultaneously concentrated on containing the tears pressing against the back of my eyes, and holding down the vomit rising from my tummy up to my throat. I made it to your changing table to say good-morning…but somehow I ended up across the room in our glider. In an instant, I came undone. I couldn’t breathe, much less move. I truly didn’t feel this panic attack coming – which scared me a bit. As you know, at this point, it is somewhat of a challenge to rattle Momma. I tried all my well-versed tricks to regain some semblance of control, but it was too late. Ultimately, I gave in…and unleashed a primal shit show.

I’m still not sure how, or when, I finally managed to bring myself around. Maybe a text message came in from Daddy – inadvertently providing a sense of saftey? Or, perhaps Lucas came into your room to stand by my side? (Although, he never comes in when Momma or Daddy are in your room. It is the strangest, yet most endearing, phenomena. He knows exactly what has happened; he misses you too. Lucas visits your room on his own, and even sleeps in front of your changing table every so often.) By the time I was semi-functional again, I realized I simply would not be able to get myself to work on time. So I called in ‘sick’ again…this time, for a half day. I wonder if they’d consider adding the option of calling in ‘broken-hearted’ to my queue? Those good and kind kids of Momma’s were so relieved to see me. When they saw I had returned for the afternoon, a few of my most ‘belove-lies’ charged into my room and pounced on top of me and hugged me but good. One of my favorite, sassiest, girls planted a kiss right on top of my head. They knew why I was gone; better yet, they knew not to talk about it. It makes me sad to know they worry about me. I love them all so dearly. You would too, Paxton…and they’d have protected you to the end’s of this earth. Momma’s crazy-daisy kids: thank goodness for each of them.

Today is the day we brought you home from the hospital last year. I remember thinking, “There will never be another Valentine’s Day that can top this one.” Little did I know how very true that statement would prove. I keep picturing you in the beautiful outfit Nana made for your “coming home” extravaganza. Given we all operated under the guise that you would be born early, Nana made each part of your outfit smaller than those she had made for your cousins. Nonetheless, you still were drowing in it. Daddy was so irritated that I had you wear it anyway; I couldn’t be swayed – you were just too dang cute in it. Your toes barely passed where your knees should have hit – and I had to cuff the sleeves on your sweater, not once, but twice. My favorite part, however, was the way the hat kept falling down – nearly covering your sweet little face. Oh, Diddy-Diddy, how did this all happen?

Momma? Are you there?

It’s not that I shouldn’t be missing your itty-bitty newborn days; every mom misses those days. After all, they are the very moments we have patiently, yet anxiously anticipated for the previous 9 months. Sweeter yet, they afford the unique opportunity to fall in love 100 times a day, with the same little person. The sleep deprivation, hormone fluctuation, and punch-drunk love state, result in a blissful blur of some of life’s finest moments…which, in hindsight, slip away before you’ve even had a chance to realize they were real. Yes, I should be missing those days. I should be missing those days as I watch you across the room and marvel at how you’ve transformed before my eyes into a one-year old baby, with plump cheeks and locks of blonde hair. I should be missing those days as I gently clean the lint and baby food out from the crevices of your chubby fingers, which match your Michelan-baby body so perfectly that it looks like someone screwed your hands onto the ends of your arms. I should be missing those days as I shriek in excitement because you just took two, maybe three, steps on your own before teetering over right onto your dupa. I should not be missing your itty-bitty newborn days, along with everything else about you. I know I say it all the time, but I just want you back. It is that simple: I want you back.

For some reason, earlier today I recalled one of the songs I sang to you on our first night at home together. We were tucked away in Momma & Daddy’s room as the lyrics started to stream from my mouth…seemingly on instinct. I had never sung them out loud before that moment. I can still feel how very petite and fragile you felt in my arms. I can still feel my cheek brush along yours – which was so soft that it felt like it was made of clouds. Truth be told, I still remember every nook and every cranny of you, sweet boy. My memories of you are so detailed and so plentiful that I have to remind myself more often than I should, that no matter how intricate and abundant my visions remain, I will never be able to reach out and scoop you up into my arms – where you belong.

Alas, in honor of our first night at home together, and the very best Valentine’s Day there ever will be…here is your lullaby tonight, Paxton.

Stay with me sweet boy.

xoox,

Momma