New Baby

Our family will be welcoming a new member; the new baby of the family. A new little life we’ve all eagerly been waiting for since Spring; the new tiny someone that will make her own kind of difference in the world, a perfect little gem that God and Grant have been holding tight till perfected to place in the arms of her family.

I’ve gone back and forth questioning the most precious moments of my own life: the first moments of my children at birth, or emotion on the faces of my girls when they saw their own child for the first time, moments I’ve stilled in my mind.

I know when she makes her way into the world my heart will melt.  I know I’ll have moments of sadness that she’ll never hold Grant’s hand or hear his jokes. Yet I feel assured….  That Grant is with us, that in Karmin and Dan’s greatest moments of joy, I can close my eyes and see Grant’s radiant smiling face.

I am so excited.

I love you Grantie,

mama

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Birthday Boy

Each year we choose to celebrate Grant’s birthday, July 8th with cake, candles and with whatever other kind of fun we can add to the day. We celebrate him, we sing, we light candles and we watch the excitement in all his nieces and nephews as they blow out his twenty-some candles. I know this may sound strange to some, but it doesn’t matter to us, its Grant’s day and I’m still his mom. Him not being here to celebrate his 29th birthday changes nothing, it’s an important day, it’s the day a beautiful soul was placed in the arms of our family and so, we celebrate the best we can. The biggest challenge of July 8th is making sure it remains more sweet than bitter.

Whether it is Grant’s birthday, a holiday, any day for that matter I’ve had a choice every morning to make it a good day or not. I mean I feel the worst thing in the world has happened to me and yet, I do have to remind myself that it’s not. Knowing that fact doesn’t change the sadness I feel or the ache my heart has of missing my boy it just forces me to look at the good in my life and find joy that still really does exist, even in the midst of my sadness.

In my own strange way, I’ve worked at making happiness a habit each day. Searching for happiness is hard; coming up for air in the deepest pit of sadness has been grueling, truly the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. There’s no floaty on the side of these dark waters. Finding a breath of air after the death of a child is like treading in brown pudding and finding joy again feels as impossible as crawling out of quicksand.

I’ve tried to make happiness a habit each day, looking at the world and myself in the most positive way possible. It truly takes an effort to find joy and pleasure in each day, to seek out the good in every situation and to appreciate the blessings all around me.

There are days I still question if I can go on and the answer is… I want too. Some days hurt more than others, some are less clear but I find myself more and more searching for the moments of joy and I do trust that in this pain there is purpose.

Today, July 8th my Grantie would have been 29, to me he will forever be 23, and I miss him more than any grieving verse could quote.

Twenty-nine years ago I said hello to an amazing, kind, smart, lovable boy. For twenty-three years, I laughed with him, even cried by his side. I held his hand keeping him safe, as well as the ache of letting him go.

I have many picture of Grant, the many beautiful moments I’ve had the honor of experiencing with him here on this earth. I can’t let the years I’m missing with him take away from the gift of having my beautiful boy for 23 years. Some parents have their children a life time, some spend little time holding them, for others a life just beginning to bloom is lost. These losses aren’t to be compared, loss is loss no matter how old and grief is grief. Burying your child is burying your child and God’s Grace is just as sufficient for each one of his children, no matter how the disheartening death certificate states their departure.

I think heaven is lucky… on your 29th Birthday I celebrate a life that for whatever reason the Lord called you home served a purpose far greater than the oldest of old.

I love you birthday boy,

mama

 

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Soul Swing

Year five, feels like its spinning away. I’m five years past the first-year dreads. My thoughts were the second and third years would begin to soften the significant days… and here I am five and a half years later still overwhelmed that he’s missing. There’s a hole in my heart, an emptiness I can’t seem to fill. I guess I’ll call it Grant’s space.

This past Mother’s Day the girls and their families gifted me a wood swing for Grants Place; the exact swing we shared with Tracy for ten years or more. Our soul swing… placed between our homes as a shared Mother’s Day gift years ago, it was a place we shared our parenting stories, gardening thoughts, marital heart breaks, joys and fears. Over the years Mother Nature had taken a toll on our special swing and last year we knew there were no more wiring it back together, it was time to remove it. One would think I’d be happy to remove the rotting, mossed-over, creaking, eye-sore, but I wasn’t.

I think when you lose deeply so much of the past comes back in huge waves and one finds themselves spinning back in time to remembered places and conversations. That old swing knew many secrets. That swing held many heavy hearts. It was a place of soul-searching, a place you would often find my friend and I. Remembered most on that swing were the conversations I had with Grant; laughs, light-hearted conversations and many times deep heartache.

Months after Grant’s passing the breeze of spring arrived and soul swing took on a new heavier load than ever before… grief. It was a place many evenings you’d find me, and most days my friend did. Soul swing didn’t hear much laughter from us that summer, the rickety rotting wood mostly felt the dropping of tears and heaviest of hearts. Swinging would have taken energy I didn’t have, so most of the time soul swing would remain still til my friend would find me between the trees and the strength of her foot and heart would rock us both.

The memories made in that old swing will be remembered forever in my heart and letting go of the rickedy old soul that cradled my soul over the years was hard. That swing was my favorite place to be. I want to thank the girls for the thoughtful gift they gave, it’s more than a comfortable gift… It’s a place I can close my eyes, feel the breeze on my face and remember its place. I can sit, remember my boy and swing in the glory of new memories yet to be made.

I miss you Grantie,

mama

 

If I could wish one dream… it would be to see his face, hear his voice driving up to Grant’s Place… I’ve come to the realization it would never be physically possible but I wish for these moments in a dream anyways.

 

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I’ll Always Be With You

While my dreams of watching Grant grow older will never come true, I will continue to create new dreams that are inspired by all the loving memories he left behind.

The worst, unimaginable loss, the loss of my child happened, yet in the fragility of it all, I discovered strength within myself that I never knew existed.

Grant’s death has taught me that life’s too short to be anywhere else but in the moment. Recognizing how he has inspired my new way of living and focusing on the good brings a sort of peace for me. Not knowing exactly what my future will look like I am able to feel ready to explore what lies ahead of me keeping in mind that I can’t be anything more than who I am in the moment. As each day passes I have become a little better at finding the inner peace to be okay with just that. By grace alone I will someday find the courage to accept that great joy can be discovered from my deepest darkest sorrow. I want to find that because in those moments of wonder maybe I’ll understand the greater purpose of Grant’s destiny.

When I think of the word courage, I’m reminded of the thousands of tears, the weakest of days, the feelings of failure and most of all, the fear to go on.

 

Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh:

“You’re braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.”

But, the larger part of the quote….

“If ever there is tomorrow when we’re not together there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart I’ll always be with you.”

 

I’ve kept this quote in the wedge of my heart through the deepest, darkest days of my grieving.  As selfish as I wanted to be the past few years, the many days I would have rather curled up in bed and quit… I didn’t want to tarnish the happiness my girls deserved to find in the midst of their sorrow.

My seeking and wanting happiness again will never lessen how much I miss Grant nor will it change the reality that there will be days with dark moments. I know that my heart will forever ache watching a mother-son dance or looking through photos where he would forever remain alive. These and many other moments will always be the slow bleed of my broken heart…

The whys, the questions that will always linger are things I try to spend less time thinking about. These questions will never leave me but I choose to focus on the moment and accept God’s grace and trust in his promise. Filling my heart with appreciation for Grant’s life, being grateful for the gift of being his mother, finding the messages I know are meant for me, asking God to comfort me with his everlasting peace, lessening the feelings of bitterness I’ve felt being robbed of Grant’s physical presence are how I try to spend my days.

When grieving a child there’s no instructions for healing. Prayer feels unanswered, there is no longer reason to wish upon a star as my only wish was impossible. As hard as it is for me to say there were days I was so angry at God yet on my weakest of days I somehow found comfort in his mercy and amazing grace.

I felt responsible for Grant’s addiction and later even his death. I was his mom and it was my responsibility to keep him from harm. I even felt a deep guilt for not protecting Grant from himself.

For me tragedy brought with it the unpleasant truth that I’m not in charge.

I think the most courageous truth I can tell myself is just that. God can and will grant me the peace, strength and courage to live the rest of my life without bitterness or blame. Tragedy will happen and I may never find understanding in that but He does have a purpose for us. Grant’s life had meaning and Grant’s death made a change. If I never knew this kind of pain, I would never truly understand compassion.

 

I Love you Grantie,

Mama

 

 

 

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Christmas Letter to Grantie

 Click to view Christmas Letter Video…

Christmas Letter Video

My Dearest Grantie,

I hope heaven finds you well. Dad and I are doing well, your beautiful sisters too; As good aes we can…

Your nieces and nephews are the delight of my life, when I see the twinkle through the laughter they share with me. I always know you’re up there admiring them.

I know the detail of your smile, off to the side of your face, smirking as your sisters scold them.

I hear you asking the boys if they’ve found that special girl yet, all G’d up from the feet-up…

I see you tenderly wipe the tears from the faces of your favorite lil girls.

 It’s these moments I’ve captured and sealed in my heart…

This is how I know, how I really really know… you never left me.

Your every gesture, your every beautiful bit has been encapsulated in my very living heart that will beat for both of us till the day mine too, goes to rest, and I finally, finally hold you again…

For those who have loss a child and wonder how life will ever go on… that’s how…

My boy lives through me every minute, of every day…

Growing up I’d remind Grant – Do me proud today – now it’s me asking at the end of the day, Grantman, did I do you proud?

On my desk… your pictures still remain just as they were when you left us… Because, you’re forever my child

At home your beautiful brown shoes remain in the same spot you left them… because, they make me feel you’re still home.

Your closet remains full of your clothes, not because you need them, but because I do… because for even a moment I can rest my face in a piece of your fabric, inhale… and for a second smell your physical presence.

I’m not the same person you once knew… I’m a better person.

I care better for others… for both of us.

I look at the shimmering stars in the sky, admiring the between… for both of us.

I’ll walk my journey finding compassion for the weak… for both of us.

I look for the good in the fancy, as well as the begging soul on a corner… for both of us.

I’m sure if heaven has a mail box of thoughts, love and conversations yours is full every day.

I miss you more than any kind of loss…

As time continues to pass I’ve found a different loving relationship with you that helps me fill the absence of you in a different way.

The terror that cut through my heart the first years on earth without you… have softened…

The overwhelming fears I had of losing your physical presence the day God took you home…

Have little by little been calmed by your beautiful tender memories…

In our quite moments together I can finally hear your voice again; I can close my eyes and see your smile…

When grief overwhelms me I can wrap my arms around myself and feel you breathe life back into me.

In these moments… you remain alive.

Merry Christmas Grantie,

Mama

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December

December, coincidentally it rhymes with ‘remember’. My heart is filled with so many remembers this time of the year. Our family is reminded simply by the chill in the air that our Grant won’t be with us again this holiday season. I think when losing deeply we search for every bit of our last season with our beloved. Unfortunately a lot of the time the memories that consume your mind are not the memories we want to keep or consume ourselves with. Some memories we keep for safe keeping. And other times, there comes a time to try and let go. Like Grant so often said to me, “Mom, Let It Be…” For me, writing it down, being honest with my feelings, is my way of letting go.

This fall season has a very familiar feeling of the year we lost Grant. That crisp air falling upon us reminding us snow is just around the corner. The saying “We don’t remember days we remember moments” would be the best way to describe the memory of that horrible day. I don’t remember the day as clearly as some of the moments within the day that are vivid memories, so clear as if they had happened yesterday. I remember being cold, but the coldest of words hit me like a brick… Those words that will run through my head forever are Steve’s scream Grant’s dead.

That chilly morning of December 3rd Sarah and I had a wedding; it must have been an earlier start time than usual. Most mornings I would have been the one to wake everyone in the house, Steve and Grant being the ‘all time, love to sleep in kind of guys.” Not me, work or no work,  I’m up early and most times thought everyone else should have the same thinking. If the sun is up,  so should we all. But that morning… maybe only heaven has the answer… I didn’t wake them. Maybe, if death really is like an out of body experience, Grant could see. Knowing that my going in his room and waking him couldn’t happen. I just walked out of the house that morning with intentions of being a part of one of the happiest days of someone else’s life.

I stopped by Karmin’s that morning to pick up a piece of equipment and chat for a few minutes before heading off. I may have left the house without waking my boy’s but that didn’t stop me from sending a text to Steve. I’m sure it went something like “rise and shine, don’t sleep all day…” I don’t even remember.

I remember standing by Dan and Karmin’s stairs, my phone rang, and Steve screams Grant’s dead. I remember throwing my phone across the room to Dan and falling to my knees. My Karmin didn’t even have to ask what was wrong… she just knew. I remember being in the car. I remember being cold and I remember Karmin scream on the phone to Lauren to go assist at the wedding. Our family’s worse nightmare of a day was still someone else’s happiest.

Arriving home to emergency vehicles up and down the street was the truth that my worst nightmare had come true. To this very day I still see the face in a squad car that had greeted me at the door walking into my house… “I am so very sorry mam.”  I saw Steve’s face buried in his hands weeping and Kayleigh’s face of unbelief looking into my eyes. I remember questions being asked of me I didn’t know how to answer. I think all I could say was find the person who gave it to him…

The crisp days of fall and the beginning of winter are a reminder to me more than other seasons of the days that lead to this horrific day and the days to follow. I remember each and every moment we spent together the weeks leading up to his death. I remember the excitement of him getting a new phone. I remember his thoughts and conversations about returning to school. I remember all the moments that I may have forgotten any other season of my life. Until the very end of Grant’s life he taught me to be a better person.  Grant’s wise words to me days before as I wasn’t the best version of myself, responded “Mom, don’t say that, Charlie is the way he is because of being picked on.” I still regret the comment I made that morning but I don’t regret the moment. Those very words of Grant run through my head often. A lot of Grant’s words run through my head. He was a reminder, and forever will be, that loving people for who they are, that caring for someone and looking past the big picture will allow you to feel compassion instead of judgment.

This cool, crisp season not everyone feels warm inside, not everyone has gifts around a tree, and not everyone has the ones they love near. I wanted to journal the memories of Dec 3rd so that in a way I could let them go. This season, I want to embrace the happy all around me. I want to keep my beautiful memories of Grant wrapped up between the hugs of everyone I love. This season I want to replace the thoughts of our last holiday season and think more about the twenty-three years of this season I spent with my boy. I want to hear good memories. I want to laugh with my girls. I want to reminisce with the happy years I have spent with Steve. I want to be thankful and I want to enjoy the blessings before me every day. This is a journey and I believe Grant’s words of wisdom would ring… Let It Be.

I Love you Grantie,

Mama 

XOXO

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Hey Baby Blue..

The words to follow the title would be “I deeply miss you.” Almost five years have passed and I still find myself trying to keep as busy just to get through another day. Especially these days leading to the anniversary of Grant’s death. My son’s name leading up to that word ‘death’ still crumbles my heart into a million pieces; I miss him so much. I still wait for him to walk through the door. I still wish to feel his amazing hugs. I miss everything about him. I miss his baby blues.

The death of Grant has been the most difficult journey life has dealt our family. As a family we had two choices: Grieve with grace or allow the tragedy of losing Grant to completely shatter our family. Love, grace, and kindness for each other… Grant would have wanted that…

This past weekend I photographed a sweet little boy going through cancer treatment. I’ve thought a lot about his mother. Her fears, her heart ache, all of her why’s unanswered…   we’re mothers, we can relate.

Some believe Grant was responsible for his disease. Unfortunately those thoughts are something I can’t alter the ignorant mind from thinking. I know that a disease took my child. As a mother myself the fear of existing without child I know is the same. The pain is the same regardless of the reason. Pain of the fear of losing a child is unbearable… I felt her pain… and know how real the pain can be. How devastating the fear can be.

For the two years before Grant’s passing I constantly thought of the the two end results that came with his disease. I knew it would end one way or the other. While I prayed for healing, I shivered with fear that this demon called addiction, would rob me of my son.

As I documented this mother inhale very beaming breaths, smile and giggle at her beautiful baby boy I was reminded of the deep kind of love a parent has for their child. The deepest love, like none other most would say. The kind of love that I can’t imagine life without them, nor should you. But even the depth of love most come to know, will never come anywhere near the deepest feelings of love… the kind of love and ache when you fear losing them.

There’s not a lot of sympathy for the disease that took Grant’s life. The journey was heart breaking for our entire family,  a fight that didn’t end with the celebration of sobriety, instead a celebration of his life.

Five years ago I feared Dec 3rd. I feared the unknown. I feared what it was doing to our family. I feared this disease. I feared the screams of that day.

My boy was a beautiful boy. He was smart. He was funny and he was loving,  He had the biggest heart. I was blessed with the most amazing 23 years filled with joy, laughter and love. I want to remember all of this, how he felt, his smell from the time he was tiny ’til that night when he kissed me goodnight. I want to forever close my eyes and greet his baby blues.

 I Love you Grantie, Mama

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MN Adult & Teen Challenge Freedom 5K

Today our family walked in the MN Adult & Teen Challenge Freedom 5K in memory of our Grant. Last year I wrote a blog entry about Why I Walk – if you didn’t get a chance to read it feel free to do so. These cute kiddos look forward to “The Walk for Hope” every year!

We walk to encourage, love on, instill hope and breathe life into one another.

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MN Adult & Teen Challenge Freedom 5K

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MN Adult & Teen Challenge Freedom 5K

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Laughter

There is no right or wrong way to behave when grieving: anger, bitterness, guilt, joy, tears, laughter and then some. I’m learning that through this life it’s important to identify my feelings and if I allow myself to feel all of these emotions, even the good ones, I can Grant myself healing and find joy once again. Grant, what a perfect name for him. Every meaning of the name describes him, especially the word gift.

I was gifted an amazing, fun, and loving son, maybe not for as long on earth as I would have wished for, but he made my life full. As each day presents itself to me I’m learning to recognize the completeness of the life I had with him instead of drowning in the emptiness of his physical presence.

Telling humorous stories about Grant helps me cope. It makes me think of happy times with him. If even for a moment I can remove myself from the present and reminisce back to my happy place it gives me the gift of laughter and a reminder that even through the sad times he and his memory are still with me.

We all approach humor and laughter differently. I think it returns in its own time… some days more than others but surrounding myself with the right people has been a part of true healing.

For the first two years or so after losing Grant I felt guilty for existing much less laughing or feeling joy. I envied it, I wished to feel happy again. There was a pit so deep inside that I always knew I wanted to feel whole again and to desire some bit of joy to cradle my sadness…

I’m learning to understand the healing benefits of laughter. I really don’t think I appreciated laughter in my past the way I do now. Do I still find myself in a puddle of tears four years after my son’s death? Of course… any given day, at any moment. Am I different? Yes, but my family, my friends, my co-works knew me better than I knew myself. They knew my humor, my positive look at life and even though they knew I was drowning in sadness and deep heartache they continued to breathe the fresh air of laughter in me. They are the people who helped me recognize I have room for laughter in the face of my tears.

These past few weeks I’ve thought a lot about finding joy in the midst of sadness, I started thinking about how Grant would make me laugh. If I ever seemed down he would make a fool of himself just to turn my frown upside down. He would give that big pouty look with his bottom lip as he tilted his head to the side.  When I reminisce about these times I can smile again. I can remind myself he would want me to laugh again. How can I not when he lives through these beautiful smiles below…

 

I LOVE YOU Grantie,

mama

 funny faces

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Spring

I’ve felt spring coming all around me this past week.  I foresee the disappointment of getting dumped on one more time before the trees bloom… but so far, I have savored every breath of fresh spring air I take in.

As many of you know this may be my father’s last spring… only God knows. I’ve thought a lot about the seasons this past year since he was diagnosed.

For the past four years I have deeply grieved the seasons without Grant, especially spring.  I grieved life returning while my soul felt stuck… trees in bloom, planting flowers, the rain washing away the gloom of winter and the long awaited longer days of sunshine. In the past springs all I could think about was everything that was returning to life… except my son.

There’s something different about this spring.  As difficult as this journey through loss is and has been… the heartache that has consumed me has begun to a unfold. It’s still there, it comes in different waves of emotion but I’m beginning to feel again. I’m beginning to feel again; although learning through loss is heart breaking and difficult, it’s extremely powerful.

This spring it’s different. It’s about life again, holding on to what I still have. This spring its not only the flowers blooming but that I still have my dad. That I have all my parents… I am reminded that I want to appreciate the life that does surround me.  I want to allow my heart to bloom again. I want to permit the heartache that has consumed me to unfold into a treasure of memories I now recognizes as gifts and gratitude.  I love my dad. I love all my parents for the perfectly imperfect people they are. I’ve been blessed to have had all of them there through the hardest time in my life, loving me for the perfectly imperfect person I am, loving me equally on the good days as the bad.

This spring I have life blooming, maybe not Grant’s, but life blooming all around me. I have a garden of loved ones with an amazing cherub watching over.

Over the past winter months our family has been working on the bunk house next to the house at Grant’s Place. This little bunk house was our cabin, also known as the hunting shack, while our kids were growing up. It was nothing overly fancy but some really great memories were made in this little space. Working on it this past winter was a trip down memory lane as we worked away making a fresh new place for future memories to unfold.  Reading messages written on the ceilings and walls from times past, wondering where things came from and why they were there. The whole experience was reminiscing to a place and time I treasure.  I thought I’d share a few pictures… I know how proud Grant would be.

I love you Grantie,

mama

 Grantsplace

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