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Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Learning to Pray Like Job.

Almost every person that I have shared our good news with has cried tears of joy when they hear we are expecting again.  I think they are relieved.  "Whew, now Katie and Josh will be OK.  They can be happy again."

I have been reluctant to tell people just for that reason.  I am worried that people will expect us to be OK, all better now that we have a new baby on the way.  That I won't be able to have sad days or weeks.  I will need to be happy from now on out.

The truth is that I am thrilled to have the hope and excitement of a new life growing within me!  However, that has not made my grief disappear.  I am not instantly cured of my sadness.  I have not moved on from Jack.  There are lots of feelings and worries that have been surfacing even more now.

Before we lost Jack, we always knew we wanted to have 3 or 4 kids (more like 4) and that they would have to come pretty close together since we were already 30 when we got married. Our plan was to wait until Jack was about 9 months old and then give him a sibling.

When Jack passed away we wanted another baby as soon as possible.  We knew that a new baby would never take the place of Jack but my arms were so empty they ached.  God knew the perfect timing to send our second baby.  I was so bereft in my grief that I worried I wouldn't be able to ever be happy again.  I was as low as I could imagine.  I truly thought that I might be the one woman who would never recover from my grief.  I could not see my purpose on this planet now that my son was gone.  Months and months had passed during the dark cold winter and spring, without the news we longed to hear.  I worried that Jack had been my only chance at motherhood and God would not trust me with another of His sweet children.  I knew it was not true but as the days came and went I wondered...

And then, one morning, one word changed it all: Pregnant.  Pregnant!  It is as if a switch flipped and I was instantly anchored to this world again.  I have a purpose here; a baby to nourish, love and protect.  I am needed here and now.  It matters how I care for myself because it affects this baby.  I started wearing my seat belt again.  My will to live returned.

I would say that pure hope and joy lasted a couple of weeks.  They were wonderful weeks.  I was on a cloud being lifted out of the dark fog of hopelessness.  I could see a future for our family again.

Then the fear crept in, as if to steal that joyful cloud out from beneath me.  I also struggled with morning (noon and night) sickness so severe that it isolated me for much of the summer.  Isolation is not good for someone who is grieving.  Isolation acted to amplify the fears and doubts creeping back into my heart.

I began to feel a guilty.  I felt guilty for being happy again.  Guilty for picturing our new little family of three.  Guilty for holding this new baby close inside of me, feeding it, protecting it, growing closer to it; all while Jack is not here.  His sweet broken body is in the grave.  I cannot protect him anymore.

Nightmares began to haunt me.  Pregnancy nightmares seem to be more vivid to me.  Perhaps it is because I wake up so often in the night that I am never in deep sleep.  I lay my head down and all of a sudden, in my dreams, the baby comes too early and then leaves us far too soon.  We are alone again.

Even though there was nothing wrong with Jack when he was born and there is no reason to think this baby will go though anything that Jack did, I worry.  I am terrified it will happen again; that we will lose this baby, too.

When I sit back and take these worries to God, I can clearly hear His reminder that I am putting myself in control again.  Of course I am overwhelmed by the thought of being responsible for this new life.  I was not made to give and take life.  I am a mother, not a god.  I care for the precious children that God sends to me, for the time they are here.  I find myself getting away from those truths often when I spend too much time alone.

Thankfully, writing is how I work these things out.  I can see so clearly what I need to be doing: calling friends, answering the phone when they call, getting in a walk when I can and spending time reading Scriptures.  Today I finally made it to the end of the book of Job.  This man loved God more than anything and even through the unimaginable trials of losing his 10 children, his farm, his livestock, his friends and his health, he STILL trusted God.  In the end, God returned to Job what he had lost and twice as much as he had before.

What's the catch?  God did this AFTER Job had prayed for his friends.  The same friends who had hurt Job in the way they tried to blame him for his own troubles.  Job forgave them and prayed for them.

"After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before....The LORD blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the first."
Job 42:10,12

Unlike Job, I don't have any friends who tried to blame Jack's death on me, far from it.  There are some people, however, who I could stand to forgive.  I have begun to pray for them because I figure that if I can take a positive action when I think of them, I will lessen my anger and hurt.  I have decided I need to really get specific and pray regularly for these people to have peace in their hearts, wisdom and discernment in their professional lives and most importantly, that they come to know the unbelievably healing love of Jesus Christ.  I pray that Jack's life and death move their hearts towards their Savior.  I pray they truly know His love and the sweet peace that comes with it.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

A Big Brother in Heaven

Dear Jack,

Your daddy and I have some very exciting news to share with you, although you probably know already.  You are going to be a big brother!

We are thrilled that God has answered our prayers and sent along another baby to fill our arms and our home.

As soon as we found out, a sort of peace came over me and I could see you beaming down from heaven with your big gummy smile and bright baby blue eyes.  I had known that you were happy in heaven.  This was the first time I could actually FEEL in my heart just how happy you are.  I imagine you telling all of your angel baby friends how proud you are to be a big brother.  Just knowing your daddy and me, I am sure you have all kinds of friends up there.

I know that you don't want us to be sad that you won't be here to welcome your baby brother or sister on their birthday.  I have to tell you that I do get sad though, Jack. I get sad that this baby will not get to know you and watch you as an example of how to walk, hug, swim or read.  I get sad that we could not put you in a shirt that says "I'm the BIG Brother" to announce our news to all of our friends and family.  I get sad thinking that you will never share a bunk bed with this little one or wait for the school bus together.   I get sad thinking about the trips we will take together as a family without you.

We will always miss you, Jackie boy.  No matter how much we love this baby (and it is going to be A LOT of love), we will never ever forget you.  We will never love you any less.  We will never stop wishing you were with us here and now.

Before I spiral into despair, I turn my thoughts upward.  I read a book (OK, I listened to part of it on called Heaven by Randy Alcorn and he found Scriptural evidence that souls in heaven DO know what is going on down here on Earth. (Revelation 6:9-10)  Knowing you are able to check in on us just sets my heart at ease.  I love that God doesn't make us guess about Heaven, it's out there for anyone to read about.  What a gift for anyone of us who feel like we've been left behind.

I know that you are overjoyed to be a big brother even if you won't be physically here with us.  You will always be a part of our family.  We will always have your smiling pictures up on the walls with the rest of the family.  Your siblings will know they have a big brother who lives in Heaven and is waiting to meet them some day.  How fun will that be?  I find myself looking forward to Heaven all the time now.

But I will stay right where God has me for now.  We are doing everything we can to get ourselves ready for your sibling: mentally, physically and spiritually.  We promise to teach your siblings about where you are and in whose arms - the arms of our Lord Jesus.  Your dad and I will raise your brothers and sisters to love God, family and their neighbors, with all their hearts.  Then some beautiful day, we will all be together again.  We will get to spend ETERNITY getting to know you and playing together.

Until then, baby boy, give my love to all of our friends and family up there and please thank Jesus for sending us another baby to love here on Earth.  Please ask God to help us to navigate this new joy in the midst of our continuing grief.  We are trying to make sense of everything we feel but it is complicated and so new to us.

I love you and miss you more thank you can ever know-


Friday, August 9, 2013

Facebook is Different for a Grieving Mother.

Facebook has been a real challenge for me since we lost Jack.  You can probably imagine that it has been painful to watch other babies and children hit milestones that Jack never achieved here with us: sitting up, crawling, walking, turning one.  I know that list will grow over the years, as we watch our friends' children grow up right before our eyes.

Facebook has not only showed us the healthy children we know, though.  I have had so many sick babies come across my newsfeed.  These babies are all across the country.  They are struggling with cancer, heart defects and rare genetic disorders.  Their families have started Facebook pages to generate awareness for their baby's cause and to ask for prayer from anyone who will offer it.  These children have thousands of people following their every development and praying for them every step of the way.  Why didn't I think to do this?  We could have had thousands of strangers praying for Jack, for a miracle.  Would it have made a difference?

As I prepared to go to a writers’ conference a few weeks ago, I felt God pulling on my heart to share Jack's story and our own.  I want his life to be meaningful and for the world to be a better place because Jack was here.  The attendees of this conference are all on a private Facebook page sharing information and encouragement as we prepared for the conference.  Some women shared prayer requests, as we are a group of faith-filled women.  One morning, as I was scrolling though the new posts, I came across a request for prayer for a sweet baby boy.  He was in an accident and had suffered brain trauma.  His parents were praying for him to show signs of improvement in brain activity that morning, as the doctors prepared to test him.  There is a picture of this precious baby in his ICU bed, on a ventilator, with his parents by his side, terrified but determined to be brave.  His puffy face looks to be asleep while tubes and drips and lines swirl around his still little body.  

When I look at this photo I see Jack during the last few days of his life.  I see Josh and I standing by his bedside begging God to let Jack wake up and show us he is still in there.  I see myself, convinced that each day he is coming back to us a little big more.  That ICU room was our home.  That baby was our son.  I cannot tear myself away from these stories, even though they hurt my heart.

So I pray.  I cry and beg God for a miracle, for this sweet baby to wake up and come back to his mommy.  And then I pray for his mom, to be able to soak up every single minute she has with her son on this earth.  I prayed that the Holy Spirit hold her up as she goes though these days.  I pray that there will be angels among her nursing staff, as there were among ours.  I pray for her marriage and that she and her husband stay dedicated to each other no matter what comes.  I pray that they remember that nothing will be easier or better if they split apart and grieve the loss of their marriage on top of everything else.

And then I stop.  Will my prayers make a difference for this boy?  What about the scripture I have been clinging to these past 10 months?

Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.”
Psalm 139:16

I have been able to keep walking though each day of my life since October 6, 2012 because I believe that God knows how many days each one of us has and nothing can change the length of our time here.  That is the only thing that keeps me from living like a helpless victim: a woman whose baby was stolen from her tragically and far too soon.

But I also believe in the power of prayer.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.”
Matthew 7:7

Would it have made a difference if I had made a Facebook page for Jack and generated more prayers for a miracle?  Would he have lived?  I was so private during that month in the hospital.  It took me until the last week of his life to finally start a Caringbridge page to keep close friends and family in the loop about his health.  What if I had shared the photos I took of his little body, fighting septic shock, fighting for his life, as he appears to be sleeping soundly.  Would a miracle have come?  Would Jack still be with us today?

Ultimately, I can't afford to spend too much time wondering.  If I want to keep stepping into each day and choosing to live, I have to believe that Jack was with us for just as long as God had planned.  I have to believe that he completed his mission here on earth.  I have to believe that I will hold my sweet baby again one day in heaven.  And I have to believe the same for each of these sweet babies that pop into my newsfeed.  They will be held in their mothers’ arms for eternity.  

I can pray for a miracle.   I can pray for anything, as long as I understand that a prayer is not an order to God, it is a request.  And God may not answer my prayer in the way I expect Him to answer.  That does not mean it that He is not good and loving.   The most effective prayer I can pray is for their families to know God and to feel His love and know His plan for all of their lives.  I know that God will take care of these babies.  I pray their parents will allow God to comfort them as well.

Monday, June 17, 2013

My life preserver tossed into the waves.

Grief for me feels a lot like weathering a hurricane in a row boat.  I feel like I am being tossed around indiscriminately by huge menacing waves of sadness, anger and fear.  Lately the waves have been rolling in and making me sick to my stomach.  There is a heavy fog of hopelessness that hangs in the air and makes it hard for me to breathe.  I wonder if it will ever get brighter and lighter.  Everyone says that grief is a journey and it will lift one day.  What if I am the only person who does not get that relief?

Two months ago, something broke within me and this private storm started to leak into the world around me.  I cried most days and it didn't matter if I was home alone or in the middle of a church service.  I wept.  My husband lovingly switched cars with me, saying that the sunshine and fresh air of the convertible would be good for me. It is pretty fun and I do have a tan but it didn't stop me from sobbing all the way home from the grocery store the other day.  With the top down.  Sobbing.  Loudly.  

About a six weeks ago, I went on a leave of absence from work to address my grief and depression.  The time away has allowed me to begin to heal.  While I was working, recruiting in the health care world, I had to keep my emotional defenses up just to get through the work day.  I was not allowing myself to react to the triggers throughout each day as clients and co-workers would talk about patient safety, mortality rates, and emotional demands of the ICU, without any emotion.  To them it was business.  To me it was the death of my son, my dreams, my innocence. I just kept stuffing my reactions deeper inside of myself.  Now, with some time away, I am able to work through the grief, fears, guilt and anxiety that I have been holding at bay for 8 months.  I am beginning to heal.  I have been told that I will never get back to normal but I will discover a new normal.  I just need some time to discover it.

The first week I was off of work, I came down with a terrible case of bronchitis.  Then we packed up the little home we shared with Jack and moved.  There were so many emotions that flooded over me during that week.  In the past 2 years, that house saw me as a single engaged woman planning her wedding, a newlywed, an expectant mother, a new mother and shortly after, a grieving mother.  That was the home where we were a family.  A home where we made plans and dreamed about our future.  It held a nursery for 6 months and then in a flash, it was gone.  Returned to its status as an office.

When we had cleaned everything out and were waiting for the rental agent to come inspect the cottage, I took pictures.  I took a picture of the kitchen sink, where Jack got all of his baths.  I took a picture of the office, turned nursery, turned office.  I had Josh touch the low ceiling in the family room, so we never forget how cozy we were for those first two years of our marriage.  My heart broke to let go of the house where we were a family.  I cried as we handed in our keys.  And now, we drive by the house many times a day as it sits empty on the hill.  I am not sure what the owners plan to do with it but we don't live there anymore.

Recently, I remembered something I heard about years ago: how important it is to have "eyes for eternity".  At the time, I had no idea what they were talking about.  I was not ready to understand.  But having Jack pass on to be with the Lord before me has given me just that, eyes for eternity.

I firmly believe that our life on earth is a blip in light of the eternity we will spend in Heaven with Jack.  I get my information from studying God's Word and the books of others who have closely read the Bible. When I think of time in that perspective, it is a lot easier to carry on each day. I can even be joyful knowing that I will get to spend eternity getting to know our sweet baby boy.  I can also rest assured that Jack is safe in the arms of our Creator and will never be in danger again.  What a gift to a mother, to know her baby is safe for eternity.

The only catch with my eyes for eternity is that it makes me want to hurry up and get to that eternity.   If Heaven is going to be so wonderful, what are we doing still hanging around here?  I have to have a firm grasp on my mission to be able to understand why I need to stay.  Our mission on earth is to glorify God by loving our neighbors like Jesus does.  We are to be a light in the darkness and offer hope to the hopeless.  Jack was called home because he had completed his mission.  I am still here because I have not.

Jack's gift of "eyes for eternity" is the the life-preserver that keeps me from going under each time I remember to grab for it.  It helps when I look up at the night sky, at the ocean or to the horrizon as I drive through the countryside.  Anytime I can look outside of myself in the moment, I am reminded that there is more for me and my family in this world. And there are wonderful things, and people, waiting for me when I finish my mission.  I thank God for giving me that perspective.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Dear Jack-

Happy Birthday, sweet boy!  One year ago today you came into our world and changed me forever.  You made me a mommy.

We did not know until you were born whether you were a boy or a girl.  I had a dream that you were a girl and I was so sure that I even bought a madras plaid dress and brought it to the hospital to bring you home in!  Don't worry, you did not have to wear the dress, lots of people came to visit you and brought little boy clothes in the perfect size for a preemie.

They called you a preemie because you were born four weeks early after 36 weeks in mommy's belly.  You got to come early because my blood pressure was rising very high and the only way to make it stop was for you to make your arrival.  You were born on May 10th, 2012 at 8:30am at Southern Maine Medical Center in Biddeford, Maine.  Dr. Bittler and Dr. Manning delivered you. You were 4lbs 5oz and 17" long.  All the nurses remarked about how perfect you were, just a perfect tiny baby boy.  You were so healthy that you did not have to go to a special place to get care, you came right up to the room with mommy and daddy and stayed there.

Your Grammy and Grandpa Lewis were there waiting to see you and your Mimi and Bapa Hundley were on a airplane coming to Maine just to celebrate your arrival.  What a special guy you were!  There was always so much love surrounding you wherever you went.  You were the first grandchild on the Lewis side and the first grandson on the Hundley side.  You were kind of a big deal from the very start.

You were born the Thursday before Mothers' Day and you were the best present I could have ever imagined.  I am so glad you came a month early so we could share a Mothers' Day together.  I had no idea you would be back in heaven before Mothers' Day came around again.

I have to say, I get pretty jealous of God, Jesus, the angels and all the people who get to celebrate with you today.  Your dad and I don't know what to do today.  If you were here, we would be having a big party with all of our friends and yours.  I bet Mimi and Bapa would have flown back out here from Wisconsin to help celebrate.  There would probably be mexican food and cake for sure.  Your dad would have already sang "Happy Bird Day to You" at least three times and I am sure I would be taking pictures like crazy.

Since you aren't here we are very sad.  I have been crying a lot lately because my heart misses you so much.  Last night your dad and I were out shopping and I picked up things to make a scrapbook of your life.  I would have wanted to do it if you were still with us but it seems so much more important now.  I want to remember every little thing about you and I want other people to remember you too.  If God decides to bless us with other babies, we want them to know about their big brother, Jack, who lives in heaven.  You will always be a part of our family, sweet boy.  You are our first child.  Our first born son.

After shopping we wanted to go to Chipotle for dinner.  We went out for mexican food all the time before you were born.  We used to joke that you would come out wanting guacamole, rather than milk, in your bottles.  But just before we walked in the door, another mommy and daddy walked in holding a little boy who looked like he was about how old you would be if you were still here.  They looked so happy together, the three of them, like some kind of team and they were the only members.  I looked at the long line and decided it would make me too sad to look at that little boy with his mommy and daddy, so we left.  We went to a different restaurant and sat down to eat.  When we were almost done with dinner, another mommy and daddy sat down next to us.  They also had a little boy with them.   He wouldn't stop waving at us, even though I tried not to look at him, so I asked his mommy what his name was and how old he was.  Griffen was 13 months old.  He would have been in your class in school.  He was very cuddly with his mommy and she said he was snuggly all the time.  I got very sad all of a sudden and had to run outside to cry.  I want so badly for you to be my snuggly little boy, just like you were 7 months ago.  My arms are so empty without you, buddy.  My heart hurts so much.

Do you remember how I used to rub my face against your soft cheek and whisper, "Mama, loves you" over and over until you settled down?  I wish I could do that every single day.  I think about you all the time, every day.  Lots of my friends have babies and little guys the same age as you.  I love to hold them and snuggle with them.  Lately though, they all remind me that you are missing from our home and our arms.

Would you please do us a favor and put a bug in God's ear about sending us another baby?  We would just love twins, actually.  What?  Oh no, not a real bug.  That's a saying, like tell Him something or give Him an idea.  We never did get around to reading Amelia Bedelia books about the danger of being too literal, haha.

This feels pretty good, to write a letter to you.  Maybe I will send you some more letters.  I can fill you in on what is going on with your Mommy and Daddy down here on Earth.

Until then, Happy First Birthday, John Donald Lewis.  We love you so very much, Jackie boy.  I hope you have a wonderful day in heaven.  Since you are in paradise, I would imagine most days are, well, perfect.

I hope you don't miss me as much as I miss you.  I could not bear to know that your heart breaks like mine, every minute of every day.  But because of our faith, we know that heaven is a place with no more hurt, suffering, pain or tears.  So I know you cannot feel the way I feel.  Just know that Daddy and I are slowly making our way to where you are and someday we will spend all of our birthdays together, for the rest of eternity.

Mama loves you, mama loves you....

Sunday, April 14, 2013

A New Home.

Yesterday we were invited to join our friends and their family to go bowling and out to dinner.  I have pretty much been crying at the drop of a hat all week but I know I need to get out and keep living life.  Plus, I had already broken down in the stands of a Major League Baseball game, what's a bowling alley?  I was expecting to cry at some point during the outing but I was not prepared for how quickly it happened.

When ever we go north, we drive by "the hospital".  It sits high above the city on a hill.  For me, it is like a bully waiting at the entrance of a playground to take my milk money and make me cry.  Sometimes I close my eyes and pretend to be asleep until we pass it.  Other times I have asked Josh to take a different route completely bypassing the city to get north.  This time I decided to stare it down and really look at the place where we spent the worst 30 days of our lives.

Because the hospital sits on a hill, the rooms have great views.  I spent a lot of hours staring out those windows and imagining our little family back out in the world together.  There is a hallway outside of the ICU that is lined with windows.  Most of them look at another part of the building but at the end of the hall you can see as far as the mountains.  You can also see the airport with planes coming and going all day long.  I would sit up in that windowsill when I needed a little break from all of the beeping of the ICU.  When Jack was sedated and intubated, people would try to get me to go for a walk, take a nap or just "take a break" but I never wanted to be too far.  I was afraid I would miss something important.  I just wanted to be as close to my baby as I could be.  The hallway was a safe distance in my mind.

I sat in that window, tucked my knees to my chest and watched the cars drive by on the tollway, coming and going, during rush hour or the middle of the day.  I would wonder where they were going, work?  somewhere fun?  on vacation?  All the time wondering if they knew how lucky they were to be outside in the world.  Did they have any idea that there were lives placed on hold and others hanging in the balance, so close to their commute?

Now we are the people cruising down the tollway heading to go bowling with friends.  I look up and I see the last place that Jack was in the world with us.  I see the last place I held hope for his recovery.  We fought for his life and lost there.  I see the last place I saw my baby smile.  We said goodbye there six months ago.  I can see the window of the corner room at the end of the hall where Jack died and the pain is physical.  What starts with a sniffle turns into a body shaking sob.  Just looking at that building....I don't even have words.  I asked Josh if we were just going to be stuck feeling awful every time we came in to the city.  Could it ever possibly get easier?  Will I ever drive by that building and not be flooded with tears?

In six weeks, we will move out of the home we shared with Jack.  Not by choice, our lease is not being renewed.  Some people have suggested that grief could be easier with a fresh start.  I love being in the home we shared as a family.  We did change the furniture around when we returned home without our son.  Our family helped clear the baby bottles out of the sink, move the swing from the living room and gather up everything from the nursery.  I just love sitting in the same window where I fed Jack all summer.  I love looking in the kitchen and remembering his bath time in the sink.  Looking over to where Josh would bounce him on his lap and make up songs for him.  Every now and again I find a pair of his pajamas or a tiny hat mixed in with my tank tops.  I like being where he was and where he lived.  It makes me so sad to think that in two months, we will drive by this special place but not be welcome inside anymore.

I have thought about wanting to leave the area completely and move far away.  That was my not-so-secret plan for a while.  I wanted to raise Jack where I grew up and with my friend's children.  I had it all planned out, block parties, play-dates and soccer games, it was going to be wonderful.  That doesn't feel right anymore.  I no longer have that desire to leave.  I want to be near where Jack was.  In his 4 months and 26 days here, Jack made this my new home.

Jack and I watched a lot of the Summer Olympics together.  We especially loved the women's gymnastics and their theme song by Phillip Phillips: "Home".  Now when I hear that song, I think of Jack.  I wonder if he had any idea that he was going to make this place my home?

Hold on, to me as we go
As we roll down this unfamiliar road

And although this wave is stringing us along
Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Settle down, it'll all be clear
Don't pay no mind to the demons
They fill you with fear
The trouble it might drag you down
If you get lost, you can always be found

Just know you’re not alone
Cause I’m going to make this place your home

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Too Close to Home.

I am a health care recruiter.  Most of my work is as a nurse recruiter and for the past six months I have been working on positions like: Director of Home Health, Director of Hospice and CNAs.  With my experience of the past year, I take a new understanding of how hospitals work and what nurses really do day to day.  I watched it and lived it.  I really like what I do and I love talking with nurses and connecting them to new opportunities.

And then yesterday my client asked me to partner with them on a Pediatric Intensive Care Unit Nurse.

I could hardly get through the call without breaking down.  I wanted to some how share with them how close this project is to my heart.  But I can't tell them what happened.  There are professional boundaries that should not be crossed.  It would be awkward to share Jack's story with a stranger over the phone.  And then what would I expect them to say?  Most people cry when I tell them what happened   I don't really like making people cry, so I don't talk about it as much as I wish I could.

At one point on our call, it was mentioned that they need a nurse who can stay calm as "things go down the tubes fast" with a patient.  It took every thing I had not to start sobbing.  Things went "down the tubes fast" for my baby.  Even typing this I am shaking and crying.  How am I going to spend the next 30 days thinking about this and looking at it every single day?

As I work on my strategy for this position,  I need to watch their employment video and read their website.  I just cannot do it.  I started and there are pictures of children with NG tubes everywhere.  Children like Jack.  I wonder if they are at home with their families now.  I wonder what Jack would look like if he was with us.  What would he be learning and doing?  In the picture below, I caught him as he was learning to bring his hands to his mouth with a purpose.  This was taken they day before what would be his fatal injury.  He would have been 11 months tomorrow.  Instead, Saturday marked 6 months that he has been gone from us.

I spent the day sobbing intermittently   My pain is palpable and intense. We were away visiting friends and I cried my way though the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and at a Braves game.  Thoughts hung in my mind like: "Six months ago right now we were called into the 'bad news room' outside of the PICU and got the news that we had to say goodbye...Jack would not live through the afternoon."  I looked out at 40,000 people at the Braves game and thought: "None of these people are Jack.  Jack will never see a baseball game.  We will never watch Jack play baseball."  And then my eyes would well up and I would be shaking and crying sitting in the upper deck of Turner Field.

I want to nuzzle my face against his so badly.  That sweet smelling peach fuzz face that I miss so desperately.   When Jack was upset or scared, all I had to do was rub my face against his and mummer "Mamma loves you.  Mamma loves you." over and over again.  It was like magic. He would soften and the tears would dry up as his stiff little baby body melted into my arms.  He just needed that reassurance that I was there.

Now, I turn down the radio every day when I drive past Jack's cemetery and remind him "Mamma loves you."  And then I cry the rest of the way home.

I think I need to put some of my Jack framed photos away for a while.  Just looking with his sweet face ignites another round of sobbing.  As I sit at my desk, I can count at least 5 Jack faces in my line of sight.  These colorful reminders are more painful than anything now.  This morning I even had to make my dog the background photo on my phone  because any picture of Jack triggers more tears.  I feel terrible for having to hide him away but I need to, at least for today.

Recruiting for this PICU RN is bringing up so many memories.  The nurses who cared for Jack were absolute angels.  They were confident, skilled and kind.  They meticulously managed his medications and the machines that kept him alive during the darkest days. They offered hugs and hope each and every day.  The night nurses held his little hand for hours while we got some much needed sleep.  They cried right along with us when we said goodbye. A few even came to his visiting hours and funeral.  I know they loved Jack too.

I wish I could see them and get some big hugs from the nurses and doctors who loved my baby boy and worked so hard to save him.  I almost picked up the phone at lunch today to call the intensitivist who became like another mother to me during those terrible last weeks.   I know we were only one of many families they treat over the year but they were the only team of health care professionals who loved Jack and supported us.  There is an event this month to honor all of the babies like Jack.  I just am not ready to return to the hospital.  My wounds are still too raw.