Halloween Grief Thoughts

Halloween is easily one of my most favorite holidays.  And it’s beyond true that I super love candy.  It’s like my kryptonite!  I’ve always loved it and pretty confident I always will.  Plus, throw in my kiddos all dressed up and I mean, I’m undone.  Sadly, I am rocking a killer case of bronchitis and it put me down for Halloween again this year.  As always, Josh Kelley to the rescue.  To say I was bummed, was a complete understatement.  So many tears over Halloween…definitely a lower holiday on the holiday totem pole…but alas, it was quite sucktastic and tear filled this year.

(Thank you pinterest.)

I took approximately zero photos of the kids in their costumes…Harper was a witch (3rd year in a row), Hudson, Solomon & Amon we’re all ninjas and our littlest was Poppy from Trolls.  I did manage to drag my bronchitis ridden body to Kroger to snag some eyeball ice cubes, $4 discounted candy corn lights, Sprite and pumpkin & ghost peeps.  Harper reminded Josh that I was sick last year on Halloween too.  I took a little look back and cried my eyes out reading THIS POST.  I remember how excited we we’re about Everett.  I remember how excited we we’re about every little bit of movement in our paperwork.  We could not get to him fast enough.  Just makes me want to vomit.

It’s incredibly hard looking back on last year at this time because everything is covered in the longing and dreaming and hoping and wanting and chasing of Everett.  Our family could not wait to get to him.  We talked about it daily and longed for him and honestly, every one of those dreams feel shattered and like an incredibly cruel joke now.

We went to trunk-or-treat at our church and driving there I stared out the window at the cemetery where his little body is buried.  I thought about the 100s of times we passed that cemetery with him in our car…chatting and singing and just being his fun little lively self.  And now, his car seat is no longer in our car and his body is in the ground.  His little life missing from ours.  After we finished at trunk-or-treat we drove back home and past the cemetery again and I broke down into the hardest silent sob.   He would have loved this holiday!  The kids we’re singing loud to Macklemore’s Glorious song and I sat there in the dark and cried.  This is not how it was suppose to be…I just know it.  Everett should have lived.  This was not part of the plan for him to live a full life.  He should have been dressed up as Mickey Mouse or a Minion…his faves…and eating an ungodly amount of candy while singing loudly with his siblings, headed home after a fun night.

And there we all sat.  Wildly different people, living a wildly different life than we could have imagined 3 months ago.  It feels like Everett got ripped off.  That our kids got ripped off.  Josh Kelley and I talk all the time about forget about us and our feelings and our grief, but Everett and our other children…it just pisses me straight off that his life got cut so short and at the loss they feel and walk through daily.  And while my head knows Everett is with Jesus and that’s great, grand and wonderful, it sure doesn’t feel so great, grand and wonderful right now while my arms long to hold his sweet little body, stroke his hair and kiss his cheeks.

Two highlights provided by others in the midst of our crappiest Halloween:

1) When an instagram follower asked me what I thought Everett would have wanted to be on Halloween.  It was the simplest of questions, but I felt the intention and purpose and the recognition behind it.  I felt seen and loved.  It was easy and thoughtful.

And 2) When my friend Leah text me after our trunk-or-treat and told me how good it was to see us and to see the kids enjoying themselves.

Again, really doing grief with someone is not disappearing, it’s not avoiding the hard or awkward conversations because it makes you feel weird or uncomfortable.  Instead it’s choosing to be with those who are hurting from loss or trauma or pain.  It’s choosing to see them, acknowledge them and really walking with them on the long road they have ahead.  It’s a simple, “Hey, I know today really sucks for you guys and I’m so sorry.”

Here’s to reaching out beyond ourselves and loving those who are hurting around us.  Here’s to kindness and empathy because those are the real game changers.  Here’s to making it through the next day, the next week, the next month and the next holiday in line.

2 Quick Things

Thank you guys for all the kindness about our 100th day without Everett.  It means the world to us.  Your compassion, empathy, kindness, thoughtfulness…all of it means so so much.  We are excited to be celebrating our boy tonight.

2 quick things before we head into the weekend.

1. We hit our matching grant goal for Morning Star Foundation through WeHelpTwo!!!!!!  Thank you, thank you, thank you! Thank you for ordering socks and helping us spread the word and for coming along side our family, Morning Star and our local Room In The Inn to honor our sweet Everett!  Insert all the tears.  All packages of socks sold past our goal is just a bonus…icing on the cake.  The last day to grab some fun, funky socks is October 31st.  I can’t say enough how much we love these socks…they are a sure fire, continued hit in the Kelley house and such a fun gift.  Head over to our sock shop HERE to get yours!

Long live the Fiesta the Donkey socks!!!  Solomon wears them constantly. 🙂

And 2. Today is the last day to order from my friend Ashley’s Noonday Collection party.  10% of your purchase goes to support our family and we are truly grateful.  Ashley and Rebecca are insanely kind and I feel so lucky to know them both.

I feel the need to share I ordered three pairs of the Birds of A Feather Earrings as gifts because, well, duh just look at them.

I also feel the need to share I ordered a pair of the Anthropology Earrings and Nebula Earrings as gifts too because they are GORGEOUS and on sale right now!!!!  I could not believe my eye balls and I had the perfect 2 ladies in mind.

Our teachers and friends are going to be styling!  Head over HERE and place your order for all your amazing Noonday goodness.  Purchasing with a purpose at it’s finest.

Hope you guys have a good weekend and as always, thanks for stopping in!

100 Days

A while back our sister-in-law Becky told us how in the Chinese culture they celebrate their lost loved ones 100 days out from their death.  I can’t say how invaluable Becky and Josh’s brother Andy are to our family in helping us navigate the Chinese culture and how important they were to Shuai.  He deeply loved them and one of our most favorite things was watching and listening to them communicate in Mandarin once he arrived home.  I specifically remember facetiming with Becky and our niece Meiya when Shuai was in the hospital.  They wanted to see him and talk to him and I pretty much sobbed my way through the phone call.  And when we realized Everett was brain dead and the only way he was coming home was by way of a miracle Andy facetimed us from China so he could see Everett one last time.  It was the most holy of moments listening to Andy sing happy birthday to Everett in his loved Chinese language.  It makes me teary every time the memory comes to mind.

So we marked our calendars for this 100 day mark and I remember distinctly thinking, “At least we still have some time.”  And now here we are.  100 days.  We had no real plans for the actual day, but when we woke up it was the first thing on my mind.  I laid next to Josh in the dark of this early morning and said out loud, “100 days.  100 days.”  It felt incredibly heavy and it caught me off guard at how heavy it actually felt.  100 days feels like a lot and 100 days means we are closing in on the calendar day that marks him being gone from us longer than the days he was actually with us and that is really hard to process.  We miss him so much…far more than I will ever be able to put into words.  I long for him with every fiber of my being.

I always want to be really honest in my thoughts and feelings and emotions and truthfully I have a lot of mistrust for Jesus right now, but no matter my current feelings for Him, I do know He is good.  I do know He loves us immensely.  And I do know He deserves our praise no matter what.  I hope and pray as we move through this dreaded process of grieving the loss of our 3-year-old that I never, ever lose that.  God please help me to hold on to those 3 truths.  I know no matter what God is still right beside us walking with us, carrying us, moving us from place-to-place, healing us even though we don’t feel it yet.  I know it.  I have to.  If I do not hold onto these hopes, I’m just not sure what I will have left.

I found myself up and moving through the day.  Regular morning routine things…fixing lunches, helping Amon find socks, making oatmeal for our littlest.  Hudson came down and sat on the couch with the saddest look.  I asked him what was the matter, but I already knew.  He voiced how sad he felt this morning.  I am always amazed at our bodies and how even when our mind might not know something,  our bodies can still feel things heavily.

Our littlest and I went to get some mid-week groceries.  And when we returned home I decided I wanted to have lunch at Everett’s grave.  His burial marker isn’t in yet, but I just felt like I needed to go.  I know he’s not there, but it’s nice to have a place to actually go that’s outside our home.  I decided to get some balloons to help celebrate this day in some way and I remembered we brought home from the hospital the balloon weight we used to weigh down the colorful balloons and one minion balloon we bought in Ann Arbor, MI. We used those balloons to celebrate Everett’s 4th birthday with our family beside his hospital bed just days before he died.

I always wonder if he knew we we’re celebrating him.  I pulled the weight out and instantly remembered how Josh Kelley wanted to get a red star for China and how I wanted to get a red heart…we went with the red star.  I pulled it from the drawer and saw the leftover cut off strings from his birthday balloons and cried.  No one should have to rush to throw together a birthday party to celebrate their son’s life one more time before he is no longer living.  No one should have to rush to throw together a birthday party to help their other children process the loss of their brother.  It was so important to Harper we have this first birthday celebration with Everett since we had not been with him for his 3 previous birthdays.

After I dropped our littlest off at preschool I headed to get balloons.  I saw our local flower store ahead and wondered if they had chrysanthemums and daisies…like the traditional Henan province flowers Becky had told us about for Shuai’s burial…the flowers that adorned his little casket.  I stopped and bought one package of white daisies and one package of yellow chrysanthemums.  These will forever be his flowers and I deeply love that.  I also picked up some balloons and headed home.  I packed a lunch and Ashley called to check in.  I cried on the phone to her and she encouraged me to just sit with the pain.  Josh Kelley came home and we talked about the heaviness of the day and actually the whole week really.  We’re just tired.  Really really tired.  We desperately long for how things use to be and we miss that time, we miss Everett and we miss the relationships we use to have.

I packed everything up and headed to the cemetery.  I ate lunch and even talked out loud some to Everett.  Even though I know he’s not there, it felt good to talk to him.  With every thing in me I long to hold him in my arms again.  I have never felt anything as painful as this.  He was so full of life and joy and love.  He was so active and funny and my brain still struggles to understand how his little body is in a box deep beneath the earth.

I ate lunch and drew some.  I’m still filling up the notebook I bought before we left for Mott and I use it to commemorate big moments and 100 days definitely qualified.  Now I’m sitting hear typing away on my computer.  There’s another burial here today and I can hear bagpipes in the distance.  I watched a long line of traffic form when a police officer stopped traffic to let cars in and out.  I said a quick prayer for the people who are affected by this loss and immediately wondered if it was someone’s child.  I thought about the family and how today they will likely go home after everyone else does and they will begin their new, unwanted normal.  I thought about how some people will disappear because they won’t know quite what to do with this suffering family.  I thought about how some people will stick around and those people will be life giving to this family who is grieving so hard.  I thought how they might question everything they’ve ever believed and long for the days when things we’re easier and far less complicated.

 

100 days.  It feels absolutely insane and what we wouldn’t give to go back in an instant.  I listened to Hillsong’s So Will I song and the line that resonated with me the day Shuai died as this song played in his hospital room resonated yet again with my heart today “If the rocks cry out in silence, so will I.”  I just cannot let go of the hope…the praise God so rightly deserves, I just can’t.  No matter how absurd it feels or sounds when I say it out loud to myself, I just cannot let go of these truths.  There is good in our every day no matter how maddening the grief feels…no matter how physically, mentally, emotionally & spiritually exhausted we are.  There are 5 other beautiful children in our home who are all healthy and alive.  Josh Kelley is still by my side and there is not another soul on this planet I’d rather walk this road with.  I’m sitting on a lovely, worn quilt under a gorgeous canopied tree on the perfect fall day in Tennessee and I must choose to believe God is still right here beside us…loving on us, grieving with us and holding our boy ever so close.  100 days.  Easily the worst 100 days of our lives and yet 100 days closer to holding our FuShuai again.

Noonday Love

We have truly been so blessed by so many people who have come along side our family during the loss of Everett not only to just love on us and let us know they see us, but also to assist with the financials that can arise in so many different areas.

Yet again we have been covered up in kindness by some amazing women…my go-to Noonday ambassador Rebecca Daniels and my dear friend Ashley Bogle.  They are hosting a Noonday Collection party this week in support of our family.

You all know my true love of Noonday…their gorgeous goods, the amazing artisans they work with all across the globe and their hearts for linking arms with one another for good.  They are seriously one of the first places I go when looking for a gift to give.  My absolutely favorite place to make sure my purchases go beyond just me and the gift I’m giving or a fun purchase for myself.

They recently released their winter line and it’s absolutely gorgeous.  I am always so excited to see what they have come up with next and I am never disappointed.  I wanted to share some of my recent favorites and stick with me because there are quite a few.

Just a sampling of their new Christmas goodies that are insanely awesome!  They also re-released some of their gorgeous star ornaments from last year too.  We buy a new ornament each year for our kids and last year I went with these and could not have loved them more.

Celestial Horn Ornaments, Set of 4Dancing Bells GarlandFestive Paper Bead Garland and Otomi Ornament

Some new favorite bracelets.  I’m all about that arm party.

Simplicity Stack Bracelets, Set of 3Formation Cuff and Alchemy Bracelets, Set of 3

Bags are a legit part of my love language and Noonday is one of my most favorite places to purchase unique, beautiful and quality bags.

Mosaic Pouch and Nepali Bag

I’ve been crushing on this bag since it first came out…a semi oldie, but goodie.  One day she will be mine.  It is unbelievably gorgeous in person!!!!

Wildflower Clutch

And last, but certainly never least…necklaces and earrings!!!  You guys, these are crazy.  All those heart eyes.

Sun Cycle EarringsTorchlight NecklaceAviary Necklace and Birds of a Feather Earrings

(^big time faves)

If you’re local and would like to get a glimpse of Noonday goodness in person shoot me an email at pitterpatterart at gmail dot com and I can pass on Ashley’s party info for this Tuesday, October 24th.  If you want to nab some goodies online it’s crazy easy and everything will be shipped directly to you.  Just head over HERE and make your purchase.  10% of sales will go directly to support our family while also supporting artisans & ambassadors and their families around the world.

Let’s think Christmas!  Let’s think birthday and thinking of you gifts.  Let’s think teacher gifts.  Let’s think a little “treat yo self”!  I’m making my list right now and checking it twice…pretty confident I’ve given most every women in my life Noonday at one point or another because it’s always so well-received and loved.

Here’s to a great week!  We’ve got a lot of big things coming up and we’re ready to take this week on.  Hope you guys are too.

To Those Who Recognize

I feel like a broken record always showing up in this space with the same old feelings all wrapped up in our grief, but this is our life right now and I can’t muster up enough energy to fake it or paint a picture that isn’t really there.  I just can’t.  Yesterday marked 3 months since Everett died and it was quite the week.  Josh Kelley and I went out on our 2nd date since Everett died.  I shared on Instagram how we measure everything by that now “since Everett died” and how it feels ridiculous and yet so appropriate.  We we’re gifted dinner and tickets to the NeedToBreathe concert in Nashville by some friends of ours.  Crazy nice.

Before NeedToBreathe took the stage Josh and I we’re going to look at their tees they had for sale and we ran into some friends we haven’t seen in a long time.  Usually I kind of dread these moments because I typically walk away feeling sad or mad or unseen, but the wife looked me right in the eyes and proceeded to tell me she was so sorry and she thinks about us and Everett a lot and then she said, “Let me buy you a drink.”  And instantly tears gathered in my eye balls and I felt seen.  It was just that simple.  She didn’t run from empathy because it might be weird or uncomfortable for her, instead she walked straight into empathy for us and then bought be a double vodka soda with a lime.

Josh and I walked to our seats and we talked about how nice that moment was…how simple it was…but what weight it carried for us.  The impact it has on us when people just acknowledge that Everett was real and lived and that we are immensely sad is huge.  When people tell me they don’t want to mention him or bring him up because they are afraid it will make us sad, well, we’re actually thinking about Everett dying every moment of the day right now.  No one’s going to re-remind us our kid died because that’s all we can think about all the time.  Say people’s names.  Talk to those people you know are hurting and ask them how they are really doing.  It will give life.

The concert was fun and I was super glad about that.  I’ve become kind of a hermit…not really wanting to go places or get out much.  When we remembered the kind gesture of our friends, I actually had some anxiety about it, but thought how dumb that was…Laura, you can leave your house and have a fun night with Josh.  This is okay.  It will be fine.  And it was.  The concert was great and right after one particular song the tears welled and I grabbed my phone and typed out these words:

I stood there wondering, alcoholic drink in hand, has anyone else’s child died.  Do they feel this song the way I do?

The morning Everett died Hillsong and NeedToBreathe we’re on repeat so of course this band and a lot of their songs rush our minds and hearts back to the the worst day of our lives as parents.  I was worried there would be zero fun and we’d leave an even more depressed set of parents that we already are, but we had fun.  We talked about him a lot and thought about him constantly and it was nice just the two of us.  And the concert was really really amazing.

It was big week of therapies for kiddos.  Although we feel like a walking disaster party of 7, it feels like a huge win to have steps and plans in place with outside people we trust.  Even though we’re not really benefitting a ton from the plans just yet, the plans feel nice so really we actually are.  I think everyone also really enjoys being heard and acknowledged by someone who is outside of our family.

Over the weekend Amon and Solomon both needed a new pair of shoes.  I was cleaning out their lockers and opened Shuai’s locker for the first time.  His little coat was hanging on the hook and his little shoes we’re sitting in the bottom of his locker.  It took my breath away.  How can he not be here anymore, but his coat, his shoes, all his little things that we’re so special to him are?!?!?  That thought still baffles my brain some days.  I grabbed his coat and just sat there in our laundry room crying into his jacket and breathing in deep the smell on his little coat.  He wore that little jacket all over China and everywhere here at home.  And his little shoes he had on the day we met him, well, I needed a good bit of time to get past that one.  I lined his shoes up on the bottom and hung his jacket back on the hook and closed his locker door.  Moving past that one would have to wait for another day.  I’m just not ready.

Today our littlest and I went to grab a few mid week groceries.  I usually have to go back to the store each week to get things we’ve run out of and our snack drawer was quite bare.  We walked into Kroger and headed to the deli counter when I saw an older women waiting at the counter with a little Chinese boy sitting in the big basket part.  He had round little cheeks and longish smooth black hair and he looked like our Everett.  Tears pooled immediately and I thought I might throw up.  Our littlest noticed right away and yelled out, “Everett.  That boy looks just like our Everett.”  And she got teary too.  The grandmother saw us, heard us and knew we we’re talking about her grandson.  She reached into the basket and cupped his sweet face briefly with her hands and smiled at him.  I was so afraid she thought we we’re being unkind.

Our littlest would not let it rest and by this point I was in a full on cry.  Mr. Larry came by and offered our littlest a banana and I could tell he was concerned.  I finally walked over to the grandmother and chatted with her.  We exchanged pieces of each others stories and she cried with me.  I gushed over her grandson.  He seriously looked so much like our Fu Shuai.  Before I grabbed my deli meat and went on my way she told me again how sorry she was with tears still in her eyes.  I walked away whipping my face with my shirt and while I know deeply what hope is, right now it feels a bit wonky and fake, but God keeps using people who choose to show up for us…for Everett…to remind me hope is real, fierce and powerful.  This grandmother simply made me feel again seen, cared for and understood.

  We went home to unload groceries.  I opened our snack drawer and started dumping in granola bars of every variety.  I noticed two small packages of Everett’s favorite Chinese crackers still in the drawer.  We took packages of them to the hospital in preparation for when he was recovering and able to eat again he would most definitely want some of his favorite crackers.  I remember opening up those packages when we returned home without Everett and how wrong it felt to dump those crackers into our snack drawer knowing full well the kiddo who loved them most would never be the one to eat them.  Two little packages still remained…all crushed and broken.  Week after week I could never bring myself to toss them even though I knew no one was going to eat the broken crackers.  I loaded in all our snacks around the two packages of broken crackers and when I was all done I thought, today is the day Laura.  I snapped a picture because that’s just what I do and then I threw away the crackers and shut the drawer.  It may seem crazy or bizarre or over dramatic, but to me it felt like a step forward no matter how lame a step it may be.

As always, thank you guys for still showing up to read in this space even though you likely already know what I will be sharing about.  Everett and grief and missing him still plagues our minds & hearts all the time and it’s really hard to write about much else.  So please know I do deeply appreciate your kindness and thoughtfulness and encouragement.  And if you know someone in the trenches…show up for them and simply recognize their sadness & pain right now. I promise it will do more for them than you ever know.

Friday Thoughts

Well who else is super pumped it’s Friday?!?!?  I know I am.  We’ve had quite the fall break and I’m ready for Josh Kelley to have some extra time at home with us.  We ended up not going to the zoo because Amon got his foot crushed in a seesaw swing and we ended up at the hospital getting X-rays and now he’s going his normal 110% speed…on one leg. 🙂

His foot fiasco reminded me of the time he broke his arm when he was tiny and actually finagled his way out of his cast and I found it laying in our living room floor.  Then we had to go back to the hospital to have his arm recast and they gave him a full arm cast to keep him from escaping a second time.  Amon has always, always, always made life interesting.

There are a few things I live by solidly in life.  1.  I love Jesus.  Always and forever…no matter my current feelings.  2.  There is no such thing as too many chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies.  Seriously, no such thing.  And 3.  Raisins have no place in any dessert.  None.  Nada.  Never.  These are my rules I live by.

THIS is still my all time favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe.  It’s the only one I make now.

I discovered Emily McDowell’s shop this week and I am want to purchase every single one one of her cards.  It’s like she looked into my brain and created a card line from my thoughts.  So much love.

 

We’re still trying to reach a big goal in our sock shop so we can max out our Morning Star matching grant.  You can read all about Socktober HERE.  And head over HERE to our sock shop and grab some fun, funky socks.  We need to sell 258 more packs of socks!!!  Think Christmas!!!!  Would so love your help and feel free to share.

I have a favorite new chicken crockpot recipe.  Find it HERE.  It is delicious and crazy easy.  I’ve decided if it’s not on the menu for the week then I’ll just make some for lunches during the week because everyone loved it!  We did not serve it over rice though, instead some people made nachos, some made soft tacos and some had taco salads.  So so good.

We kind of break or rust coffee cups a lot.  Ha.  Instead of tossing them all, Josh Kelley will glue back together the ones that have simply breaks or the rusted ones we just keep.  Then he buys succulents and little plants to go in them.  Some are actually potted and some he just sat in the cups in their little pot they came in.  Crazy cute and I am loving our bathroom window ledge these days.

And have you seen the movie Storks?  Every single time we get to the end of the movie I cry.  Every.Dang.Time.  The music plus all these families getting their babies they’ve dreamed and longed for.  Gah!  All the feels people.  All the feels.  If you haven’t seen it, watch it.  Such a funny and good movie.

Okay.  I hope you have one amazing weekend.  I’ve got a date tonight with some friends and I am super excited.  I’ve taken on quite the hermit nature…Josh Kelley asked if I was going to start having milk delivered to our house…insert middle finger emoji…hahahaha…so I’m excited to get out of the house tonight with some of my favorite people.  Here’s to a good weekend!

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Nine Things On A Wednesday

1. I wanted to thank you guys again for all the support and encouragement and votes during Noonday’s GoGetter’sGetaway.  You guys we’re the bomb voters and I am so excited to share that Lindsey Wheeler from Bottle of Tears and myself will be headed to Guatemala in just a few weeks.  I’m super excited and truthfully a little nervous as well.  This will be my first big feeling trip thing…if those words even describe this correctly…since Everett died so I am a little bit nervous.  I am really excited too though because I love Jessica, Jamie and Lindsey so I know I will be in amazing company. Can’t wait to meet the other ladies.  Thank you again and again for helping me get there.  So so appreciative.

2. It’s fall break this week and so far I have been unable to get us out of the house because, ummmm, well, the sadness is just really too much lately.  I told myself we we’re going to do all these fun things and here we are 6 days in and we’ve stayed home each day and watched movies.  I did have big goals to go to the zoo today and then a kid started puking in the middle of the night.  Lately I’ve been trying to be super gracious with myself and this morning I told myself how proud I was of myself (yes you read that right) that I got out of the bed and went to the gym.  We may be on movie #22 in six days, but I’m trying to be cool with that.

3.  Some days I feel immense guilt when my kids can recognize I need their support, encouragement and love.  I’m suppose to be supporting, encouraging and loving them not vice versa.  They are just kids.  But then some really intense rough days roll in and I thank God for empathetic kids who know Mom needs an extra hug or a little note or drawing left to surprise me.  I tell them all the time Josh Kelley and I are the luckiest parents alive and I stand by that statement firmly.

 4. Kroger flowers forever.  The end.

5.  My friend Leah recently shared with us about Special K protein cereal.  You guys!!!  This cereal is so delicious and fits into our 90 Day Challenge we’re doing at our gym.  For some people comfort food is homemade mac-n-cheese or fried chicken…for me…cereal…and cookies. 🙂  I could eat cereal every single day for the rest of my life so when Leah told me about this cereal our family ate an entire box in one morning.  I bought backups asap.  It’s low in sugar and carbs and has 10grams of protein in one serving.  Raise the cereal roof!

6. These two have been quite lost without their Everett.  They we’re best of buddies…out littles…so when I happen upon them getting into a new groove it makes me teary, sad and simultaneously joyful for them.  Thankful for their progress, for their adjustment, for their love for one another and desire to just play.

7.  We’re still working on selling socks.  Thank you guys so much for all the socks that have been purchased so far.  We would LOVE LOVE LOVE to reach our goal for Morning Star’s matching grant.  We’ve got 19 days left and quite the ground to cover so feel free to share with all your peeps.  Let’s max this out and spread the love of funky socks.  You can place your order HERE.

 

8.  We have collected quite a few books on grief and I’ve been unable to read any of them.  Everything I start reading feels too fluffy or religiousy or it makes me think, “There is no way this person wrote this any time close to when their loved one actually died.” or “There is no way this person has ever had anyone close to them die, especial not their child.”  They’ve all made me think that maybe in two years or so I will need these books.  Nothing has struck me just right yet, until now.  My sweet dentist Clair sent me the kindest gift in the mail which include Option B by Sheryl Sandburg & Adam Grant.  I hope this next sentence makes sense, but I didn’t want to read more about God’s hope.  I know about God’s hope & goodness during hard times.  I feel like I know about it pretty well and it’s tucked away tight in my head and heart even when I’m in a really crappy place.  I wanted to read something different and this book has been it.  It combines personal stories of loss and trauma accompanied by statistics and some science behind resilience.  It’s different and unlike anything I’ve ever read that approaches the topic of grief.  I started it this week and have already highlighted the crap out of this book.

 

And 9.  One of the things I’ve been really surprised by is the physical toll losing Everett has taken on our entire family.  Kids who we’re far past wetting the bed started wetting the bed.  All 6 of our kids we’re great sleepers and now we have kids who wake up every night or have nightmares or can’t go to sleep.  Kids who haven’t taken naps in years are now crashing out of sheer sadness.  We all use to enjoy going and doing and now the majority of the time we’d all rather stay home.  Josh and I use to really enjoy getting our workouts in and now it’s a battle.  And lets not even start the convo on food or going to church.  Yikes.  Now it’s this battle to fight against all these things.  Actions have been put in place…therapy for everyone…making ourselves get out of the house…forcing ourselves out of the bed and into the gym every morning…making more purposeful decisions.  It’s constant and exhausting, but we know it’s a fight we’ve got to push for.

I hope to check in again this week, but I’m thinking the zoo might zap every bit of life out of me.  That might be a little dramatic. 🙂  Thanks so much for reading and listening and encouraging.  You guys are always the kindest.

Hard Moments

Almost everyday after losing Everett there’s been some grief surprise feeling or thought that just crushes us or takes our breath away or brings us to the floor.  They come without warning and you never know where they will emerge from.  Ever.

I’m trying to be super honest in this grief process of losing Everett.  Each day I am truthfully shocked we survived another day.  Everyone is all over the place and we desperately want our boy back.  I want to share about the feelings some might not ever think of or the feelings I never experienced with losing Mom.  The more I am submerged in the death of Everett the more I see how different his death has been from my Mom’s, how differently it has affected me and our family and how it barely prepared me at all to walk this journey of losing a child.

Josh started listening to the original Peter Pan book on tape last week.  He text me the day he started it and said he got busted crying in his office over the book and Everett.  The original Peter Pan story begins explaining how Peter accompanied children who died so they wouldn’t feel scared.  Josh shared how he felt selfish for never thinking about Everett feeling scared at some point and I instantly lost it.  I sat in our kitchen and sobbed.  I had never had this thought either and instantly the pain and sadness and guilt rushed over me like a massive wave.  Our sweet Everett.  Thinking about him being scared at any point during our hellish time at Mott…during his surgeries or cardiac arrests or what it was like to go brain dead and eventually die.  It literally made me want to vomit.

I know thinking about things like this might sound foolish and some may advice not to think on these thoughts, but I feel this HAS to be apart of the grieving process when you lose a child.  There is so much responsibility you feel as a parent when your kid dies.  This is massively different than when my Mom died.  She was a grown, competent, of-sound-mind adult.  Everett was a 3-year-old little boy.  We we’re suppose to protect him and we were the ones making all the decisions on his behalf.  Do I think we did what was best with what we knew?  Yes, I do, but that does not mean the guilt and regret do not plague our minds and hearts relentlessly.  Every person and doctor and specialist on this planet could tell us we did the right thing and made all the right decisions and it still would not matter.  It just wouldn’t.  We are his mama and daddy and of course we regret every move we made at this point because our son’s body is deep in the ground down the street instead of curled up beside me for his nap.

He was suppose to live.  He was suppose to have a long abundant life.  I really do believe this was God’s plan and if one more person tells me Everett dying was part of “His plan” then I will likely just go crazy because no, not my God…this was not His plan.  Everett dying was because we live in a messed up, fallen world.  I refuse to believe in a God who planned for my 3-year-old to die or just to use him shortly and then move on.  I believe in a God who is incredibly saddened by the loss of our Fu Shuai, who grieves deeply with us and who is loving him fiercely while we cannot physically be with him.  I believe in a God who sits waiting patiently for us to be somewhat okay again, who knows intimately our hearts and knows we just need some time right now.  I believe in a God who is not one bit offended by us not really liking Him right now.  I believe in a God who is always good whether I feel it currently or not.  I believe in a God who allows the Holy Spirit to whisper into our inner most parts a song of hope so our hearts, no matter the mauled state they are in, will some how, some way always know hope is real and big and strong.

Was Everett scared?  I don’t know, but I can’t imagine why he wouldn’t have been at some point.  These are just the hard moments when you have to push through…you have to process and think about…you have to work to find the peace within a struggle or let it be as is for the moment.  I wish I could wrap this post up nicely and proclaim the peace I have from Jesus about Everett or his death or even just the new struggle with if Everett felt scared or not, but I can’t.  Another part of grief is the untidiness of it all and choosing to just keep going…keep getting up each day and processing as you go…trusting Jesus is ever so slowly moving you toward healing, restoration and redemption even when you don’t feel it one bit and you might not even like Him very much right now.