Sunday, December 5, 2010

It's Not Any Easier....

I was so grateful that last Christmas, we had the blessing of shock, numbness and denial protecting us as we made it through the holiday season.

I have always always loved Christmas and have always loved it because of what it means. I love the purposed and happy hearts that Christmas time seems to bring out, but more, I love that Christmas came to be because of a precious little baby in a manger.

I really did consider the fact that Matthew had just passed a blessing in a way--and by that, I mean that we were already going through one of the 'firsts' (and a TOUGH one at that) that I knew was coming and we were just too overwhelmed with barely breathing to be noticing all the things that I do now.

I should be trying to keep him away from the ornaments on the tree. I should be buying little things for his stocking and presents under the tree for him. I should be bundling him up so that only his rosy cheeks are showing and going to visit Santa. I should be taking pictures with him in a sweet little holiday outfit and putting them on a Christmas card for everyone I know. I should be finishing up left-over birthday cake.

Things should be so, so much more different than they are now.

Which is not to say that I am not grateful for so many things that are the way they are now...just that it should be different, and a year passing doesn't make it any easier. This year, I am more acutely aware of what I don't have, and it's hard to keep that from overwhelming me as I focus on what I do.

I don't have that blanket of numb and dumb-founded to protect me this year.

Yesterday marked 52 weeks...exactly one year...since I had to leave the body of my sweet little boy in the ground at the cemetery. Ironically, the funeral home we used had a beautiful and sweet service for all those lost in the last year that we attended yesterday. They had a slideshow of all the people they arranged services for and I asked John, "What do you notice about this slideshow?"

He answered, "They are all old."

They weren't, of course...there were sadly about 4-5 teenagers/young adults....but of the many, many, MANY people on that slideshow...my Matthew was the youngest. The others had lived longer lives and their mommies had the chance to hold them and kiss their sweet little ears as they told them how special they were and how loved they were.

All my Matthew got from me was a touch on his cheek and his shoulder, and sobbing over his grave.

Today is the actual year date--December 5. Again, ironically, we sat in the same church pews and saw the same decorations that had been at Matthew's funeral...a year later. The church had been decorated for Christmas last year and honestly, it's very classic decoration that we didn't feel needed to be moved or rearranged for his funeral. I remember the fluffy, white netting material that was under Matthew's coffin. It was there again today, with a beautiful Christmas flower arrangement.

I didn't cry. Mostly, I wished that I had asked someone to take more pictures last year. At the time, I wasn't even thinking. I doubt making sure someone took pictures of my son's funeral was one of those must-dos I had on my list. I guess I also felt like it may have been a bit morbid. I mean, really...pictures at a funeral?

Of course. What else do I have?????? I sure as heck can't remember much. I can't remember who was there, but that a ton of people were. I can't remember what I ate, though I couldn't believe how many people were fed and taken care of. I can't remember much of what was said, though I have the audio cd available when I'm brave enough to listen. I can't remember much at all....and now, wish that there were pictures to help me remember. To give me more of him back. To remind me of things I never even knew...

Which is why I was so, so, so grateful when my sweet friend Terri showed me this picture she had on her computer. She thought it must have come from me, because from where else would it come?

But it didn't. I'd never seen it. A few weeks ago was the very first time I saw it and it makes me wonder what other pictures or things that happened are out there that I still don't know about...they are like little gifts every time something comes up. And that picture...taken a year ago today...is a little gift. A bittersweet gift, but gift nonetheless. It's the last memory I have of his little body, and though I know his body is just earthly and void of his spirit now--I have said it before and I'll never stop saying it.

I loved, loved, loved that little body. I prayed for that little body. I dreamed of every little inch of that precious body and couldn't miss that sweet skin more if it was my own. That body was priceless.

I thought I sort of dodged a bullet last year with the first month or so being just so overwhelmingly numb and that I could check "Hard 1st Christmas" off the box.

Who knew that "2nd Christmas" was going to be even more difficult?

Missing my sweet boy....and not believing it's been a year since I had to leave him there...


33 comments:

  1. I don't think coffins should be that tiny ... it's amazing though, how much love can be in that one itty bitty body. As usual, I have no idea what to say. My throat is closing up from the sobs that want to push out and all I can do is cover you in my thoughts, prayers and love. SO much love. I pray you can get through this holiday and then by the time the 3rd Christmas comes around you'll have a precious Luke to cuddle. You won't miss Matthew any less, but you'll have Luke as a beautiful distraction and as a new tender heart who will always know what a special big brother he had. Love you, love you.

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  2. Oh Lori <3 so many tears falling, so many times I nodded my head as I read and re-read your post. So many times I just thought I know what you mean, and I wish that neither of us or any other mummy knew this grief, I wish that now we were sending pictures of our little boys tearing around the Christmas tree, trying to pull of fairy lights, of attending our first carol and Christmas services. Of being at church for the first time imprinting the story of baby jesus in our precious precious little ones. Sending you the biggest hugs, and so much love. I think about you every day. Xoxoxoxoxoxoxox

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  3. I definitely agree that our little boys second Christmas isn't a lot easier. I'm right here with you... The new year will be wonderful, god willing... but right now it's still so hard. Sending you lots of hugs.

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  4. =****************(((


    I am hysterical for you today....no I agree with Tessa, coffins should NEVER be this tiny...Alyssa's was white as well....My heart breaks for you, i look back on the days of shock and fog and get jealous I am not there and can actually understand what is going on now...xoxo..holding you close today..xoxo

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  5. I remember.

    I waited in a very long line to get into the sanctuary. I saw people at a back table looking at mementos of Matthew's so-short life, writing memory notes, grief-stricken. You, John, and Matthew were so loved.

    The sanctuary was full, with very few seats remaining, when I entered. I didn't know most of the people there, just a handful of school people. Hannah was shell-shocked. Men had red-rimmed eyes. Women were openly sobbing as they greeted people they knew, handing out tissues to people they didn't. You, John, and Matthew were so loved.

    The service started. You and John entered. I and the people around me moved toward you as if to support you on that dreadful walk to the front, then stopped, stepped back, as only you and John could take those seats. Through a break in the congregation, I saw Matthew's coffin for the first time; how that hurt. It was too little, too confining, I thought, to hold that precious child. Your family ranged around you, blocking my view of the earthly container. You, John, and Matthew were so loved.

    I don't remember much of the order of the service; I have only bits-and-pieces memories. The slideshow -- many pictures I had seen on FB or your blog because you were so very generous with Matthew, letting us love him from his little 8-celled self through all those months, but some I hadn't, and I hoarded them to my heart as small comfort. Your aunt reading your Goodbye letter -- the sniffling and indrawn breaths as people throughout the church tried to stifle their sobs. I remember mouthing many of the words she spoke aloud as I had read your Goodbye letter over and over again. Your walking out of the sanctuary, heartbroken, and again, the stirring of the people around me all wanting to surge toward you to keep you up, to help you, all grieving with you but all knowing that you and John were the only people who were burying their son that day.

    You, John, and Matthew were so loved.

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  6. What Terri said was SO precious and made me cry so much more ... so glad you had people rallying around you to help you walk and move and function through such awful events. Glad you have them to recall things for you and to remind you how loved you all have been and, of course, just how special and loved Matthew remains.

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  7. I still have tears over that day. There is not a harder funeral to attend, than a child's....
    Walking into the church today, stopped my breath for a moment. It looked very much like the day of Matthew's funeral and I thought about you all throughout church today, remembering that day one year ago. Does it make sense to say that I love you guys so much more now? I do...you are both just precious and I can't wait for my turn to hold sweet Luke!

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  8. So many tough days for you packed into such a short time - anniversaries of his birth, his death, his funeral, what should have been his first Christmas. Christmastime is full of sad anniversaries for me as well, but I'm hoping that next Christmas will be the happiest ever for both of us! Sending hugs and prayers your way...

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  9. Hugs to you on this sad anniversary. The Holidays are really hard. You will be in my prayers.

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  10. Lori, you have honestly not left my mind in the past week. I am haunted by your story (not in a spooky halloween way, of course) but in a way that I am so touched and so changed and so heartbroken by it.
    Last Christmas was 7 months out for me but I will still say that I was in a little bit of a shock still. All of these seconds seem SO much worse for me.
    You are a beautiful woman with two beautiful boys and I am thinking of you as you make your way through these IMPOSSIBLE things you have to do.
    SO MUCH love to you.

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  11. Lori, I just can't imagine how you feel! Sending you lots of love! Sweet Matthew, so much love as you remember him!

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  12. Praying for you as you enter the holiday season and a time of bittersweetness.

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  13. I can totally relate, Lori. I really feel like that 1st Christmas was definitely one full of numbness and overwhelming grief. I, too, seem to feel the loss more this year. I want so much to find ways to remember Kennedy this Christmas, since last Christmas I didn't have any energy to do anything. Thinking of you lots this week and this holiday season. ((hug)) to you and Matthew.

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  14. Oh Lori. This is such a true post. My theme last year was survival through the holidays, but I was still so numb and hurt. Big hugs dear. I wish I could say that the pain will go away, but honestly... I don't think it ever will for any of us. We just learn to deal with it better. I wish we had three little 1 yr olds running around our trees this year. That is what should have been.
    xxx oooo

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  15. Sweet, sweet, beautiful friend, I am sitting here sobbing with you. I keep telling myself that it doesn't get easier, but it gets more bearable, right?! Not so much right now. My heart breaks with yours as you remember your perfect Matthew (as always). I don't really have any other words, but I want you to know that it is so evident (from your comments) that you are precious and a blessing to everyone's life you come into contact with and you are being prayed over RIGHT now! Love you!

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  16. Lori, I just want you to know I'm thinking of you.These are hard, hard times.Sending you lots of good energy. XOXO

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  17. i don't know why but for some reason at the last moment i asked a friend of mine to video Harvey's funeral and for the same reason you wanted more pictures of Matthew's i am glad i have this memento. i hope more pictures show up for you . as for getting through this season i will be here with you. i'm not brave enough to go to any more memorial services so good for you for doing that, take care Lori, sending love xxx

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  18. hi Lori

    You post and the responses to it brings tears to my eyes.
    It touches my heart that there is so many people that care and want to say something to make it better .
    Yes its unbelievable how many anniversaries you have in such a short time : The first year anniversary of the birth and passing and funeral of your firstborn son at the same time as you are hopeful awaiting the arrival of your second son.
    I can not even imagine how that must feel like .
    All I know is that Christmas will never be the same for you ever I think .
    The 16 th of December would have been the first birthday of our child if I didnt have the miscarriage .
    I cant help but thinking about how much different our lifes should have been and its hard for me to enjoy Christmas , I havent even yet brought out the Christmas decorations .
    I pray for you those days , you are so strong to handle all those emotions and keeping your sanity .
    You are a wonderful person and you will be a wonderful mother for Luke .
    It wa s beautiful that you went to church to honour the people that passed away this year and its so unfair that you had to be there because Matthew went to heaven so soon so young.
    Im sending you lots of love and prayers for strength and it warms my heart to know that you are surrounded by people that love you .
    Angie

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  19. This year has different, but not really any easier. I live about 2.5 to 3 hours away from my closest friends from college. The one time of year that we definitely all get together is the 2nd weekend of December. Last year was really hard, since everyone has babies/kids within 2 years of Gracie's age. She would have fit right in! This year will certainly be a little better, but I think the fact that my best friend in the world has a daughter that is only 3 1/2 months older than Gracie will always be a trigger. Remembering with you...

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  20. Lori -
    sending you hugs and love as my heart aches for you, john, and matthew --

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  21. The picture showed up in my Google Reader and it just took my breath away. I am sorry that you have to go through this, Lori, but you have been such an encourager to so many (including me). It was not good that Matthew (or Rebekah) was called home so early, but you have used it for the good in your life. You have blessed others with your testimony and encouragement.
    Matthew is loved and so are you (and John and Luke=))!

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  22. I thought i left a comment here yesterday....but maybe not. I just wanted to say that I know what you mean by the sacredness of the 1st christmas.....and the distance and time passing seems frightening almost. I get it. Sending hugs and prayers your way.
    xo

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  23. I think Matthew and Caleb have the same casket. :( What a thing to compare... not carseats, not blankets, not adorable little outfits - caskets.

    And I'm absolutely sobbing over the paragraph about his body. I can totally relate. My feelings about bodies after death totally changed when I held the body of my son.

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  24. Just want to send you a BIG HUG and Lots of Love right now.

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  25. I remember looking at Zac's casket thinking "how can I be looking at him in a casket instead of beside his brother in a bassinet?" And then when Brett and I carried it out from the funeral service (last minute decision on my part as Brett was getting up to get our baby) I thought "this was supposed to be us carrying our boys out in their car seats together!"

    First Christmas...yes...numb sums it up. Second Christmas...definitely harder...
    But I truly do not believe they will ever be any "easier". There will always be that place where Matthew (and my children in my case) are missing in pictures round the tree.

    I'm praying for you dear friend. Praying as Christmas approaches and you are filled with both the sorrow and joy with both of your sons!

    I remember thinking I was morbid asking for someone to take photos of Zac's funeral. Now...even though I've only looked at them once...I'm "glad" I did. And then I learned someone actually did a video of the service. THAT I have NOT been able to find the strength to watch just yet. How could I be prepared to hear the sobs from me that still ring in my ears.

    Yet, how precious that your friend had this photo to be able to pass on to you. It's hard to believe it is a photo of your son in a way you never imagined, yet...somehow...it is important to have.

    I am praying for you daily!!

    Hugs my friend!

    Heather (heathershope - HP)

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  26. I remember looking at Zac's casket thinking "how can I be looking at him in a casket instead of beside his brother in a bassinet?" And then when Brett and I carried it out from the funeral service (last minute decision on my part as Brett was getting up to get our baby) I thought "this was supposed to be us carrying our boys out in their car seats together!"

    First Christmas...yes...numb sums it up. Second Christmas...definitely harder...
    But I truly do not believe they will ever be any "easier". There will always be that place where Matthew (and my children in my case) are missing in pictures round the tree.

    I'm praying for you dear friend. Praying as Christmas approaches and you are filled with both the sorrow and joy with both of your sons!

    I remember thinking I was morbid asking for someone to take photos of Zac's funeral. Now...even though I've only looked at them once...I'm "glad" I did. And then I learned someone actually did a video of the service. THAT I have NOT been able to find the strength to watch just yet. How could I be prepared to hear the sobs from me that still ring in my ears.

    Yet, how precious that your friend had this photo to be able to pass on to you. It's hard to believe it is a photo of your son in a way you never imagined, yet...somehow...it is important to have.

    I am praying for you daily!!

    Hugs my friend!

    Heather (heathershope - HP)

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  27. I thought of you "extra" on Sunday. I was at a birthday party for a little boy named Luke, and his (younger) brother Matthew was there. Watching them play together, and hearing people talk about them or call their names, made my heart hurt. I sent out lots of, "I hope Lori is doing OK today" vibes. I had no idea it was another difficult milestone, and obviously you wouldn't be "doing OK" on it. But the thoughts were there.

    Maybe knowing things like that - how others get "triggers" of sorts that remind them of your boy in wistful, funny, or happy ways - help a bit. Hoping more unexpected reminders, like the photo and hearing how Matthew crossed someone's mind, make their way to you over the years. Though I hope you're confident he'll never be forgotten, it'll still be priceless to be actually be shown it.

    Hoping this Christmas is the hardest one you'll ever have.

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  28. I hate that there is a need for caskets so small. :(

    I don't think many people think to take pictures at a funeral. We had the service videotaped and I had my friend Ashely who was there taking pics during my labor and delivery come and take pics at the funeral. People may find it weird or morbid but I'm so, so glad I have them. I actually wish I had more!

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  29. ((hugs)) I know I am late. Its so hard when you think back and that is all that you have. There are times that I replay things in my head so I wont forget them. I am glad that your friend had that picture

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