Friday, December 30, 2022

‘Twas the Night Before Hogmanay

Celebrating - December 2022

‘Twas the night before Hogmanay, and through the hotel,

All the beasties were stirring, not sleeping too well.

The stockings were home, there was no firelight,

No one will be filling them brimming tonight.

The children were nestled all snug in there beds,

While visions of fireworks danced in their heads.

And mamma in her jammies, and dad in no cap,

Had just settled in for a long winter’s nap.

When in the main room there arose such a clatter,

We sprang from the bed to see what was the matter.

Away to the doorway I flew very quick,

Tried flipping the light, but only a click.

First a canceled flight, then the power was out,

We just had to laugh, let out a small shout.

Then our wandering eyes found a small sleeping tot,

And we chuckled and sighed as we both clearly thought,

The holiday season may carry some stress,

But together we can make sense of this mess.

Obie Xmas, and solstice, Christmas, Hogmanay,

Traditions and presents and making our way.

No Santa is coming, but we have family,

Happy Hogmanay all, here’s to 2023.

Monday, November 28, 2022

A Surprise, But Not A Surprise: When Kids Ask Tough Questions

It's November. Most of the country is totally focused on food, shopping, decorating, and more food. We are focused on those things too... but also Obie. 

November 24th was Oberon's 8th birthday. As hard as it was to imagine Oberon as a toddler, it's impossible to imagine him as a kid. The forever baby-ness is starting to feel strange. He wouldn't be a baby anymore if he was alive - not even close. And yet, that's all he was so it's where our hearts normally sit.

Ready for Obie's Bee Day 2022

Over these years, we've learned how to (mostly) manage our grief. It's not that it has gone away, but that we've spent so much time getting to know it. We knew we'd be deflated when our Obie's Bee Day plans were upended with illness this year, but we also knew we could mostly keep it together.

And if we had stopped to think about it, we would have realized that this time of year is likely to make Everett and Imogen ask questions. So here we are - after we made a birthday cake, sang 'Happy Birthday' to a brother that couldn't hear us - it's not surprising that the beasties are soaking it in.

It's good that we've had some time to learn how to navigate and compartmentalize our own grief, because we have to be as present and focused as possible for Everett and Imogen. Listening and answering their questions, not dismissing. Being honest, but also gentle. Acknowledging all the feelings that come up - sadness, embarrassment, confusion, fear. 

Obie's Bee Day Cake - November 24, 2022

There's a million things on the to-do list, but it all gets put on hold when the big emotions show up. The last thing we want to teach our kids is that emotions should be hidden and bottled up, or invalidated and glossed over. This does get tricky when meltdowns happen because a plastic gem is missing (true story) or their sibling looked at them (also true).

One day at a time. Sometimes one emotion at a time.

Imogen's 5th Birthday Party

Hanging out with these animals at the San Diego Zoo

Almost our Holiday Card

One of the 30-some selfies on Elizabeth's phone

Monday, October 31, 2022

Brimming, Bubbling

October is like a cauldron. Colorful, brimming, bubbling. While in past years this month has been an extreme dichotomy - Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness month on one hand, Imogen's birthday and spooky fun on the other - this year has been relatively smooth.

We're sure the waves are coming, but so far it's been manageably choppy. The biggest stress in October has been the mountain of fun things to do (and work, but whatever). Trying to squeeze in events, social time, school obligations, party planning, costume making... it's intense. And yet, we're somehow handling it? (Although, ask us in a week after Imogen's birthday party.)

In October, we had a week-long visit in Michigan which included cousin time, visiting Obie's hives, seeing both sets of Grands, a drive up north, a wedding, and a downed tree branch induced power outage at our rental. We went to a pumpkin patch, a haunted light show, two school carnivals, and a Halloween party (not even counting pumpkin carving and trick-or-treating!). The big kids started gymnastics (they love it) and Addy demanded to take her first balance bike ride. 

With so much on our plate, some things did have to come off it. Not for the first time, we missed the HAND Service of Remembrance (we were traveling). Elizabeth didn't participate in any online awareness projects. As far as PAIL Awareness month goes, we did participate in the Wave of Light on October 15. 

Looking forward to November, there's no slowing down. What used to be Obie's month from top to bottom now has other things taking time. 

We've got a coping mechanism for that though - because this happens with every kid. Life grows around the special days. The way we are feeling now is hard to put into words without it sounding like, "it's all good now." Grief never disappears. We're not "fixed" or "over it." What it is, is we've learned to live the life in front of us. We carry Oberon's memory and our love for him forward. And we live. 

We celebrate Imogen turning 5 (!!!). We celebrate her spunk, her imagination, her commitment. We go to all the things and we say yes to extra treats and playing frisbee outside in the moonlight. Some days, some moments will be too hard to embrace the present. That makes it all the more important that we dig in when we can. We let go of the guilt, the worry, the anxiety, as much as we can. 

At this time of year, it's all we can do to hang on for the ride.

Wednesday, September 28, 2022

Part Of Our Family Forever

When Oberon was born, we sent out holiday cards and pictures. One of the pictures said, "Baby Oberon, part of our lives for a short while, part of our family forever." Chris and Elizabeth meant it then, and mean it now.

What we can't control is how the other beasties feel about Oberon's place in our family. We have tried to be open and treat it as our "normal." Yes, it is very sad, but that doesn't mean we ignore it or pretend he wasn't here.

Lately, both bigger beasties have had opportunities to share about their families and they both included Oberon. This brings our hearts comfort especially as we realize that these opportunities will become less frequent. As the kids grew out of all the baby things we had gotten for Obie, there was less opportunity to naturally talk about him during the day. As they move through higher grades in school, there won't be "family tree" projects. 

Imogen's Family Tree - September 2022

Oberon is part of our family, like everyone else in it. When it makes sense to talk about him (his birthday, Obie Xmas, when bees are around, etc.), we do. In the past (almost) 8 years though, we've settled in that it doesn't make sense for us to try to force Oberon's memory into everything. Yes, we take some pictures at Disneyland with Obie's O, because I was pregnant with him there and he has his own ears. At Great America though? It doesn't naturally fit and we don't try to make it.

Back to the big kid projects. Imogen's was made at home, so we did have some influence (reminding) about Oberon. She didn't push back at all and it's normal to us that there are four kids in the family. Everett, on the other hand, filled out his sibling information at school on his own. That he is recognizing a brother makes us so happy / sad. Right now, we can't ask for anything else.

Everett's "get to know you" - August 2022