A beautiful double rainbow graced the sky on the morning of Kyleigh’s celebration of life. Most of the pictures we have of it only show one of the rainbows. This picture, sent to us from a friend, clearly shows both rainbows. The last song played at Kyleigh’s service was “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” by Israel Kamakawiwo’ole. Our Pastor and friend, Megan, talked about the rainbow during her message in the service. We did not know that there was a rainbow that morning until Megan spoke of it, only had prayed for a sign from God that Kyleigh was okay. What a beautiful sign from God that Kyleigh is safe in the arms of Jesus!
It has become very clear to me in the past three and a half months that I will never look at things the same way again. Everything is different. Nothing has stayed the same. One thing that has changed the most is the way that I interpret people’s comments, whether spoken or written. Just because I look at things differently doesn’t always mean that it is a negative viewpoint. I just have a much different view on life than ever before.
I saw a post on Facebook this morning regarding having children. The post expressed the author’s happiness at having children when he was younger. He pointed out that raising children, especially newborns, is the “most time consuming hardest thing in the world” and was glad he was past that. He is the same age as me. There were a mix of comments, some agreeing and some stating that they were glad they waited until they were older. I commented with, “Rodger and I were married 7 years before we had kids. Wouldn’t trade it for anything! Keep in mind, too, that not everything goes as planned.”
I quickly learned that my interpretation of “not everything goes as planned” is much different than the general public. A few of the comments that followed referenced having more children then were in the plan. Someone referenced a comment back to me saying that their family didn’t go according to their plans, almost as if they were agreeing with my “not everything goes as planned” comment. It didn’t even dawn on me that someone would read my comment and connect it to failed birth control, or lack thereof, hence having more children than they had planned on. At first, I wanted to respond with an explanation of what I meant by my comment, then I decided against it. Knowing how sometimes comments can be taking the wrong way via text, I didn’t want to offend anyone or make them think I was upset by their comments because I wasn’t. I just clearly knew at that point that my point of view is very distorted these days and that most people don’t hold that same point of view.
When I made the comment that not everything goes as planned, I was referring to how our plan is not always God’s plan. We can have this master plan for our lives, but guess what, it doesn’t always happen that way. In fact, I think anybody would be hard pressed to find someone who can honestly say that their life has turned out exactly the way they wanted it to.
Rodger and I had the Five Year Plan in place when we got married. We didn’t want to have children right out of the gate. We got married really young, although we would not have admitted it then. If we waited five years, we would have time to enjoy the early years of marriage kid free, yet still have children by the age of 30. At that point in our lives, thirty seemed forever away and kind of old. Remember, I told you we got married young! Well five years came and went and no baby. It wasn’t because we weren’t ready. We were, God wasn’t. He made us wait two more years before we had a child. Those two years were filled with ups and downs and a lot of heartache, including one miscarriage. Seven years after we got married, we delivered a healthy baby boy. We were both 29. A second miscarriage occurred almost a year and a half later. Then, our second baby boy was born two and a half years after his big brother. We learned a lot during those two and a half years, the most important thing being that it’s God’s plan, not ours. That lesson has stuck with us and has helped us many times during this journey of losing Kyleigh. Having a third child was definitely in our plan. Her death was not.
Compassionate Friends posted a picture on their Facebook wall today that reads: You will never truly understand something until it actually happens to you. We have all heard this before, or at least something similar. It wasn’t until later today that it hit me, I read things differently now, I see things differently now because of what happened to me. Nobody else can understand that except me. Even those who have lost a child will still see things differently then I will, although they will certainly have a better understanding than most.
Nobody was going to understand my comment today for what I meant it to be because they have not walked in my shoes. For me, it meant that my family has not gone as planned because three out of five of my babies are in heaven. Yes, I would have had children at a younger age too, had I gotten pregnant when I wanted to. It didn’t happen. If all of my children would have been born alive, I would have five children ages 6, 5, 3 ½, 2 and 3 ½ months. For someone else, her family has not gone as planned because she planned on two children and now has five healthy children here on earth. This is not a bad thing by any means. I can tell that she loves her children more than anything and goes above and beyond to be the best mother that she can. Let me make this clear, I am not upset by any of the comments from today. What upsets me is that my understanding of life is forever changed. My view of life is forever changed. I look at everything differently. I look at everything from the perspective of a mother who has lost three children. I don’t expect too many other people to have that same perspective.
Life is happening all around us. We are chugging along and doing the best we can. The pain is still there, but there are joyful moments, too. Moments that warm my heart and make me thankful for what I have …
~ Celebrating our oldest son’s 5th birthday
~ Genuine conversation with a dear friend
~ Seeing a picture of Kyleigh’s balloon release displayed as a friend’s cover photo on facebook
~ A late night chat with my husband
Sometimes it’s the simple things in life that keep us going.
Today has just been one of those days. One of those days when nothing really went wrong, it just would have been better had I stayed in bed. My emotions this week are all over the place.
Sunday, we went back to church for the first time since Kyleigh was born and died. We had intended to go long before now, but we didn’t want the first week to be a holiday (there have been three: Memorial Day, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day). Other weeks we just weren’t up to it and then my grandma’s death set us back a few weeks, as well. The boys were starting to ask about why we haven’t been, so we decided it was now or never. Overall, I think it went well. The fact that we had waited so long probably helped. We saw some friends and a few familiar faces, so that always helps, too. One thing that Rodger commented on later was how he had forgotten that there were so many babies in church. I tried not to pay attention. Since I was very pregnant the last time we had been, I expected the boys’ Sunday school teachers to ask about the baby. Nobody said anything, so I figure either we had been gone so long that they forgot I was pregnant, or someone had told them what happened. Either way, I was glad nobody said anything.
Sunday evening, Rodger and I went to the cemetery and saw Kyleigh’s headstone for the first time. You can probably imagine the emotions that surround that, although we were not surprised to see it in place. When we were out there last week, the temporary marker had been removed and flags had been placed to mark the ground for her permanent marker. Kyleigh’s headstone is beautiful. It just makes everything so final. Now, instead of looking down at dirt and hints of growing grass, I see my daughter’s name. I see one date, where everyone else around her has two. Having her headstone placed was the last step in the “funeral” process. Now all that’s left is paying off the credit card that we used to buy her headstone.
Thursday marks three months since Kyleigh left us. Three months is a big milestone for me, and not in a good way. At three months, babies turn from newborns into infants. They start to develop a personality. They don’t sleep as much during the day. It becomes harder to tell how old a baby is starting around three months. It’s fairly easy to tell when a baby is a newborn. Guessing the age of infants is harder, especially if they are smaller or bigger for their age. I find myself less aware of newborns now and more aware of infants, wondering how close in age Kyleigh would have been. These are the babies that will enter Kindergarten the same year as Kyleigh would have. I wonder if in five years, I will look at five year olds the same way that I look at babies now, with envy. Three months also marks milestones for me physically. My hair is still falling out; a daily reminder that I was pregnant. The maternity clothes still hang in my closet, although I refuse to wear them anymore. Newborn items can be found throughout the house. Items that would have been put away by now if Kyleigh was with us because she would have outgrown their use. Three months is a quarter of a year. A quarter of Kyleigh’s first year is already gone.
Friday is the light of my week. Oliver turns 5 on Friday and I am so excited for him! He is excited as well and we have a lot of fun things planned throughout the week to celebrate him.
Can you see why my emotions are like a roller coaster this week??
One thing that makes my emotions crazy like this is being aware of so much more then I used to. Some of it is good, most of it is bad. I am super sensitive to babies and women who are pregnant. They are everywhere. I always noticed them before Kyleigh died, but now, they are coming out of the woodwork. Since I have two children under the age of five, most places we go are kid friendly. Enter the abundance of complaining pregnant women and crying babies. Rodger and I went on a weekend getaway last weekend and the first night, there was a baby crying in the room below us. On the flight home, the lady sitting next to us was pregnant with her third child. The flight attendant thought this was the greatest thing since sliced bread and stopped to chat with her every time she walked by. We heard the whole family story and how number three was not planned, but they were so excited anyway! Sense the sarcasm. I wanted to scream, but figured that would get me kicked off the plane and all I wanted to do was go home to see my boys.
The other thing that I am much more aware of is the death of other children. In the past three months, I know of two other families who have suffered the loss of a child. Another is fighting for his life at a local children’s hospital as I type this. These are not families that we know directly, but are friends of friends. Just yesterday, I connected with a mother who lost her daughter a year ago in a tragic accident over the 4th of July holiday. When we visited the grave of my grandmother over the weekend, there is a mother, father and daughter who are buried not too far from Grandma. The mother lived to be 100, the father was in his 40’s and their daughter passed away when she was 7. What a story that woman must have had to live so long without her husband and daughter. Children die every day. Did I turn a blind eye to it before?
I know that I am more aware of these things because of my loss of Kyleigh. If Kyleigh was with me, I would look at other babies and expecting mothers with joy, not sorrow. I would see them, but would ignore them at the same time because I would be focused on my baby, not theirs. If Kyleigh was with me, I would hear these stories of children dying and while it would make me sad, I would say “I can’t imagine going through that” or even as more say “I’m glad I’ll never have to endure that pain.” Well, guess what? I never thought I would have to go this and endure this pain. But I am and so are they.
Awareness leads to sensitivity and empathy. I am sensitive towards babies and pregnancy. Having these feelings is part of the grieving process. I will not always turn the other way when I see a baby. For now, it’s the only way I know to deal with my pain. I have extreme empathy for those who have lost a child. My heart breaks for these families who are experiencing the pain of the death of a child. I feel like I grieve all over again when I hear of these tragic stories. Knowing of two, possibly three, deaths of children so close to Kyleigh and through people who are connected to us, is just overwhelming. I prayed to God tonight that he would heal the little boy that is clinging to life. I prayed that He would spare this mother from the pain that I am going through.
These are only a few of the things that I have become more aware of these days. There are others, such as the smiles on my boys’ faces, laughter in our home and the number of kisses I get each day from all of my boys. There is good in all of this. Some days are just still so sad.