Tag Archive | cemetery

Your First Halloween

Dear Kyleigh,

Today would have been your first Halloween. Halloween has always been a holiday that I have enjoyed, but I wouldn’t call it a favorite. As a kid, I enjoyed dressing up and going trick-or-treating, but was easily scared by other costumes. My earliest Halloween memory is of Pa taking your auntie and me to a local park for a kid-friendly haunted trail. Well, it scared me silly and I cried the entire time. Grammy always made my Halloween costumes, including a cheerleader, apple for the teacher, 50’s girl, witch and many, many more. My favorite part about Halloween has always been carving pumpkins. I guess that’s the artist in me! It’s no wonder that I cried hysterically when the mean boys in the neighborhood smashed my wonderful creations, on more than one Halloween. Your Daddy and I continued to carve pumpkins well past our high school years, even before your brothers were born. Most Halloween’s were filled with lots of fun parading at school, trick-or-treating with family and sharing candy with friends. In elementary school, we always had a Halloween parade and the teacher’s costumes were the best. They always had a theme: Sesame Street characters, The California Raisins, etc. The principal was Darth Vader one year, with a costume that could have come straight from the movie. Every Halloween, my parents loaded your auntie and me up in our costumes and we went trick-or-treating at your Great-Grandparents house. Then we went back home and got to go around the neighborhood together. My last official year of being allowed to dress up, some friends and I dressed up as old ladies. I remember these Halloween’s like they were yesterday. Oh, I how wish I could go back in time every now and then.

Now, Halloween is filled with doing fun things with your brothers. Oliver wanted all of us to dress up this year, so he and I were pirates, while Garrison and Daddy were doctors. Garrison got to go in costume to story time at the library Monday. He enjoyed guessing what all of the other kids were dressed up as. At pre-school, they both had a Halloween parade and party with their class. We carved pumpkins as a family last night and went trick-or-treating at church tonight. I think they both have had a good Halloween week, but I have failed to do some of the things that I had either planned to do, or things that I have done in the past. I know they don’t know any difference, but I do.

We included you in our Halloween activities. The boys and I went to a pumpkin patch with friends a few weeks ago and we bought a little pumpkin just for you. It sits under your Dogwood tree that is planted in the front yard. Your brothers found some orange pinwheels and I bought a pumpkin candle holder, all to decorate your tree with. I bought some fall flowers and added some fall leaves and a pumpkin to make a new arrangement for your headstone. I also found a cute Halloween sign and a jack-o-lantern to include with the flowers. It wasn’t until we went to the cemetery a few days ago to place your new arrangement that it hit me. How messed up is it that the only way we can dress you up for your first Halloween is by putting pumpkins and leaves at your grave? While your Daddy and I have had a fun Halloween with Oliver and Garrison, there is a sadness that always creeps in while celebrating anything because you are not here to celebrate with us. I have a feeling that Halloween is not celebrated in heaven, only because one day in heaven has to be better than 1,000 Halloween’s. That’s what keeps me going on a day like today.

Happy Halloween! I love you!

Love,

Mommy

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Awareness

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.