Monday, January 16, 2012

6 months ago and Lasts

I can't believe that I last held my baby 6 months ago.  6 months ago today was the last time I got to be "Mommy".  It was the last time I rocked him, the last time I sang to him, the last time I kissed his face and still felt the warmth from his cheeks.  Those are the things I miss the most.

So many "lasts".  In my last post, I wrote about how I typically keep it together in front of people.  Apparently, when I write something on the blog, I then become the opposite!  This week I have been a weepy mess.  I have sobbed everyday, in all sorts of awkward situations.  The times that I haven't actually started crying, I have bit my cheek so hard it bled to keep it together.  (I know most of you will say let it out, but there are times when it is completely inappropriate for me to cry- like at work!  So I'm trying to come up with a better way than to make myself bleed).

This is just a hard weekend for me.  It symbolizes a bunch of different things over the last year, with the culmination point being that James has been gone 6 months.  It's crazy how much can change in 6 months.  My sweet friends and I got together Friday night with their husbands and kids.  All the kids were lined up watching "Curious George" while we ate.  They were so adorable.  But in that moment, I wondered where James would have sat.  Or would he have sat still to watch the movie at all?  These were all his friends from playgroup.  They have gotten so big! (This isn't my first time to see them.  It was just my first time to see them all together as a group).  They are talking more, walking faster, playing with bigger toys and their personalities are shining through.  And so watching them makes me wonder even more what my life should be like. 

Sometimes it's hard for me to even identify as a mother anymore.  I see my friends who are parenting 1, 2 3 year olds and I have no concept of that.  I have no earthly idea what its like to even parent a toddler.  Just like they have no idea what it's like to hold their child as they take their last breath.  Sometimes I feel like I don't know what my identity is anymore.  None of the "roles" seem to fit completely.  I don't see myself as a Mother.  I don't identify with being a student, even though I am one.  I don't picture myself as a professor, but in 2 days I will be.  So what is my identity?  Right now it feels like I'm just floating by...an hour as this....2 hours as that.  But none of them really sticking.

I still feel really guilty.  I'm working on not feeling that all of the time, but it's still there.  I read an article probably a month or two ago about pediatricians not dispensing enough pain medication to infants.  The study suggested that since infants can't tell you if they are in pain, doctors err on the side on not over medicating them.  I got to thinking about how James was discharged from the hospital 3 days after major brain surgery.  They sent us home with liquid pain medication that he subsequently continued to throw up.  So during those times, he really wasn't on pain medication.  His head must have been hurting- it had just been cut open 3 days before.  Was he in terrible pain and I just didn't know it?  Why did I not insist that he be sent home on IV pain meds?  It continues to haunt me that he could have been hurting and I didn't do enough.  My therapist and I have gone over and over those days, and he assures me that I've done everything that I knew that I could do at the time.  (Yes, for those of you wondering, I do see a therapist to try to help me with these issues). 

Some days I still feel very overwhelmed.  Sometimes it's overwhelmed in a good way because there are so many lovely people in the world who are just kind-hearted people.  I'm overwhelmed that people care enough about me to check on me, even when I don't respond.  I'm overwhelmed because I understand why some of you would care about James- because he was the most beautiful baby in the world, but to care so much about me is overwhelming. 

I'm trying to figure out a balance between honoring James with the life I have left to live and feeling guilty that this new life is drastically different because he isn't here anymore.  Does that make sense?  I feel like by trying to go to medical school I'm honoring him.  But at the same time, I wouldn't be trying to go to med school if he was still alive.  I know it's not healthy to stay home and sulk in bed- and so doing so doesn't honor him.  But if he were alive I wouldn't be meeting friends for drinks after work.  I've created my own Catch-22 I guess.  

Ok, so much for my rambling thoughts.  I've added a photo shoot of James from last January.  In the middle of it Maggie decided that she need to protect James from the camera.  My camera is sitting in the closet, and hasn't been touched since he died.  I guess I decided that there was no point for pictures anymore.  Anyway, I hope you enjoy the pictures of my precious boy.










37 comments:

  1. Beautiful pictures. I love love love his hair!! I happened across your blog, and found right away I can relate. January 14th was 6 months since my daughter died. I felt a lot of things you did two days later. I hope you can find the hope and muster the courage to keep going forward one day at a time. I'll be praying.

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  2. Kara - there aren't words appropriate I am sure...I am praying for you and just so so sorry that you have to celebrate these kinds of dates and not the typical dates you think of when you become a parent. It isn't fair and I don't understand it. Praying that you may feel God's peace blanket you today.

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  3. I still think about you and James all the time and pray for you and Matt. Praying for the peace of God to rule in your hearts today and for you to have a glimpse of the ways sharing James's story and your lives has inspired thousands. You will take on many roles in your life, but you will always be James's Mommy.

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  4. Think of you guys all the time...prayers for hope and peace. Hugs

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  5. You make perfect sense, still praying.

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  6. This is an amazing collection of photos. A lot of people care for you and your family. That pain medication thing is troubling but you did Everything you could. Anyone can see you were and are a devoted Mum. I cannot believe you have the strength to study. You are so brave xxxx

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  7. Kara, I love seeing pictures of James although I don;t know you or your family. He was lovely. That head of hair is incredible. Makes me smile to look at him.

    I think you put one foot in front of the other and one day you won't have to try so hard to do that anymore. I think helping other families with your first hand view will make you a great doctor.

    My sister had 2 brain tumour surgeries. She says she didn;t have much pain at all. It was less because the pressure from the tumour was gone and felt better. You do what you can as a parent and you did everything you could.

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  8. You and Matt are beautiful writers, but even more so, you are beautiful, generous people to share so much of your life, pain and sweet son with us. I've read your blog since James got ill and although I'm all the way in California, I remember when James went to heaven and how I felt. Even though I don't know you in person, my heart physically hurt for you. I think about you and Matt often and pray for you. God's grace is evident in your lives. When I think about James, I envision him being scooped up in Jesus' arms and Him holding James, whispering in his ear, "Well done, James, you accomplished My Father's will in your life." James smiling ear to ear knowing he pleased His heavenly Father, as he did his earthly parents. Then I see Jesus covering James' sweet fact with kisses and him giggling, waiting for his mom and dad to join him. May you find peace knowing you are remembered in our daily prayers and that we will not grow weary praying for you and Matt.

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  9. Oh Kara, I physically hurt when I read your posts. I just wish I could reach through the screen and give you a hug. Please know that I pray for you daily here in Nashville.

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  10. Thank you for your honesty. I'm so sorry he isn't here. I am a total stranger but think about you guys often.

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  11. I love these photos and the brightness in his eyes. I can't imagine what you are going through, but I think of you and your family often. Please know prayers are being said for you in Ohio.

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  12. What a beautiful boy. I do not typically read blogs but seem to come back to yours to check on you. You make me want to be a better person and a much better parent and have taught me to never take things for granted. Thank you for that and I wish I could change everything for you. I know things happen for a reason but why bad things happen to good people.....well, I do not understand. Much love to you.

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  13. beautiful pictures...you are in my thoughts and prayers all the time. six months is very painful...hang in there.

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  14. He was such a gorgeous boy. I think about James & you both often & wish there was something that I could do to take the pain away. x

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  15. I wish there was something I could say to ease your pain, but nothing can dull the pain of losing a child. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

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  16. I'm still praying for you & Matthew (((hugs))).

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  17. Kara, I have been following you for a long time now and continue to keep you in my thoughts as you try to piece things back together. I did want to give you one piece of reassurance in regards to this entry. My dad had major brain surgery this summer, and (as a previous commenter mentioned), he had no pain at all! I was shocked, and they did have a prescription filled for him for some pain killers just in case, but he never took them. He was in the hospital for a longer time than James due to some significant complications, but was originally expected to be released after just three days. Even on the first day, as disoriented as he was, he said he had no pain, other than a little at the incision site. So please rest easy on that. In fact, his greatest need was wanting the people he loved close by (which is actually unusual for him) and I know you provided all the love James could possibly have soaked in. Take care....

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  18. I love the pictures you posted of James. Everytime I see a new one I smile. He was so precious. Thank you for sharing Jim & your story. We're still praying for you! If there's anything I can do, please let me know.

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  19. Beautiful, simply beautiful child. I wish you comfort, though I know it's not possible now. To torture ourselves with guilt is something we humans do. You did absolutely everything for James that a mother could possibly do.

    My husband passed away about a week ago, and I began the guilt torture immediately. It's useless. All we can ever do is the best we can do. It's a helpless feeling to not be able to save a loved one. I know things will get better over time, as I lost my son four years ago, but grieving is hard, hard, hard emotionally and physically. I wish we didn't have to do it.

    Sending you love.

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  20. The pain is so raw, my heart breaks so often when I think of you which is all the time. Just so unfair but the pictures you post make me smile and for that I thank you. Thank you for making me smile, you help make me happier and that does count for something. Still praying like always! Hugs!

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  21. Kara and Matthew, you are in my prayers daily. I can't imagine what you're going through, but I pray for peace.

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  22. The pictures of your baby are beautiful. I'm so sorry you lost such a precious gift.

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  23. Kara - he is such a beautiful boy; my heart is heavy for you. We continue pray for you and Matthew and James every evening. I can only imagine that it is little solace that you have so many people who keep you in their thoughts/prayers, but know that people do care - about you, your husband and your beautiful son. I have never met you but your son and story have made quite an impact - in many lives. Remember, though, that you will always be James' mommy. God saw fit to choose you to be his mommy and that will never change. Much love from Ohio.

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  24. Such a doll - you can see his beautiful personality shining through - I bet he was a live wire!!! Thinking about you and Matthew and praying for you always.

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  25. I can only imagine the kind of life-sorting/arranging/analyzing you're having to do! I pray you feel James's smile -- but more importantly God's smile -- on you as you courageously take on this new life. I pray many blessings on you in these new endeavors. Not blessings that replace your son (impossible!) but blessings nonetheless.

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  26. I am so glad you had your little guy. He is beautiful, and you made him happy. I can see that in his eyes. I am in a very unique position, I have a daughter who is a cancer survivor, In 1986, they found a large mass in her abdomen. It had been 21 years since another child had been disgnosed. Her Kidney Cancer, Wilm's Tumor, was in her uterus in stead of the kidneys. She had a Hysterectomy at 9 months old, followed by almost 2 years. I cared for my Mother through her battle with Primary Peritoneal Carcinoma, she passed 7/04/06. My was 15 and been involved in a gasoline explosion and severely burned. Our family has had so much to carry..And Now I have Langerhan's Cell Histiocytosis...an extremely rare for of "Childhood Cancer-Like Condition"
    I can honestly say to you and your family, and of course your close friends...Talk about him everyday. I have never met you or James, but he loved his Mommy and Daddy, and he was smiling so handsome in those pictures...Thank you for sharing such a gift with us. I am at:Navigating through the world, with Histio

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  27. There's nothing that I, someone you don't know from Adam, can say right now that will be just right, but if it helps even a little, I think you're a mother and will always be a mother in your heart. No one can take that away from you even when you're not 'mothering' in the moment. It will always be a part of who you are, regardless of what happens in the future.

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  28. I have lost a loved one. It was painful, indeed. But this kept me going. "If the people we love are stolen from us, the way to have them live on is to never stop loving them. Buildings burn. People die. But real love is forever." You're baby is never gone. He'll forever live in your heart.

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  30. Kara,
    I am a hospice nurse, I followed your blog form the beginning and I really want to share with you what I tell families(regardless of the age of my patient) is that we(the medical staff) will never know their loved one the way they do, and they(the family) will know when their loved one is in pain. I truly truly believe, especially in regards to parents that your Mommy instinct would have told you James was in pain, and needed something more if that had been the case. Even though he was vomiting he was still getting a lot of the medication. That's the beauty of liquids. Its absorbed so quickly. I feel ill that you are carrying around this sort of guilt. Still praying for you and Matthew. I keep a picture of a giraffe at my desk and think of James often.

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  31. Have you read this?

    Do not stand at my grave and weep,
    I am not there; I do not sleep.
    I am a thousand winds that blow,
    I am the diamond glints on snow,
    I am the sun on ripened grain,
    I am the gentle autumn rain.
    When you awaken in the morning’s hush
    I am the swift uplifting rush
    Of quiet birds in circling flight.
    I am the soft star-shine at night.
    Do not stand at my grave and cry,
    I am not there; I did not die.

    Feel him all around you. Faith, blessings, and prayers.

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  32. Kara,

    A mother's love never fades away. James certainly felt your love without a doubt. Of this I can be sure. Whether or not your son felt pain that you might have been able to decrease pales in comparison to the love that he felt from you. The only thing as strong as a mother's love is her instinct. I'm sure as you look back and question whether or not you did all the right things, it is difficult to stop thinking about what might have been. Please know that while you were an active part in Jamesie's life, you were acting with love and instinct. You were there. You did what a mother with that much love in her heart would do. That is what matters.

    As you continue on your journey in life and in dealing with your loss, please know how worthy you are of finding happiness again. Finding joy will not replace the love of your son. The joy will be that much more meaningful. Someday when you find the courage to allow yourself to heal, you'll feel a sense of overwhelming love - a love that only a mother knows.

    Sue

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  33. I try to not to cry on, but I cant. My tears fall down.. I know that we can be almost crazy if missing the one we love. but we can be stronger with that,,

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  34. I just stumbled across your blog today. And wow. 6mths ago indeed your life changed. I'm trying not to cry as I write this to you, my 13mth old boy, Joe is sitting of my foot, trying to dig my toe out from my shoe and still I won't cry.
    Instead, I'll tell you what wonderful photos of your James that you have. Beautiful shots, I'm sure one day you'll be able to laugh aloud when you relive a memory that would have made him giggle. In the meantime, hang on. Live on those memories that you have and remember that beautiful day that he came into your life, that day will outshine any other.
    Hugs, Rie.

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  35. I just want you to know that I think about James every day and have since he went into the hospital. Even on days when I don't check your blog, somehow he creeps into my thoughts and I remember that sweet baby with the awesome hair and tiny coos in Sunday school.
    Love
    Abbey Gray

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