Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Go Directly to Jail, Do not pass GO!



I thought grief was giving me a free pass…like “Do not pass go, go directly to jail.” Like “I will visit you during the day but give you a break at night.” I thought grief maybe had an ounce of compassion, like “At least let this poor woman sleep at night. We make her fight us enough during the day.” Last night, I learned that is not the case and grief should not be given the benefit of the doubt. I speak of grief like it is a horrible villain or lice that your kids come home with from school. It just won’t go away, it’s hard to see with the human eye and to fight it is near impossible, disgusting, and something no one wants to deal with or take on. Like lice, grief has somewhat of a social stigma too. Only THOSE people get lice. Right? (For the record, I did have lice in second grade, although I will claim that my sister had it first, I did have it. Nasty.) Who knows how to appropriately deal with someone who is grieving or if you really got lice off of all soft surfaces in your house? How do I even know how to deal with myself sometimes?
I woke up to dogs barking and couldn’t go back to sleep last night. Of course, this was at 2:45 am and it annoyed me to no end. I started thinking about friend’s blogs I had looked at before heading to bed. Many of my friends have kids that are Jack’s age and their children continue to grow older, develop, acquire new skills and are not doing the same things that I equate with Jack. Some of the kids are now older than Jack was. The pictures I saw of our friends and their families were rightfully filled with joy, opening presents and celebrating the holidays. I would want it no different for them, although, it was bittersweet for me to see. Three months have gone by and children have advanced past the stage Jack was and that I know. No longer is Jack just like the kids I would associate with him. That started the tears and made it seem so real that he was gone. I really had this palpable missing of him. Throughout my crying bout it didn’t seem real that he wasn’t down the hall…I tried so hard to believe that if I went to his room, I would open the door and clunk into him as would happen the last month of his life. He would get out of bed and fall asleep on his side of the door. I would check on him and carry him into bed. I miss how fun he was, I miss his energy and his curiosity. I miss reading “Goodnight Moon” to him and him putting his index finger to his lips to whisper “hush” with the old lady. I miss the joy he brought into my life and how he was always happy.
I have had enough respite since “that day” of only taking care of one child. At first it was like “Wow, this is so easy again.” I don’t want easy and I never wanted easy. I want hard back…I want a crazy toddler (JACK!) that is all over the place, laughing and wrestling with his Dad. I want Jack to crawl in and out of the dog door and drink more milk than anyone, play playdough with me after coming home from daycare and grab diapers for me when it is time to change Kate’s diaper.
It’s hard at vulnerable times like this to avoid the toxic question…Why? I had to make more of an effort to not ask that last night and continue down the path I chose. When it happened and still now, I see it as there being two paths…
1. Complete devastation, anger, and asking why. The not-brushing-my-teeth and getting out of bed, the anger taking over me and being bitter.
OR
2. I can’t change this so I accept it and I will celebrate him. Even though at times, I will acknowledge that this really stinks.
I have embraced path number two (not easily) but have learned through these months of grieving that even that path is not void of boulders, humps, landmines and rocky spaces. Thank goodness for a husband that hugs me, spoons me and rocks with me in the middle of the night as he hears a sound coming from me that only he and I truly understand and make. The noise…a guttural helpless cry that sounds so pathetic…It is amazing that even at those times he loves me more than the moment before and continues to do so.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Big Wheel


Thank you to the many of you that have contacted us over the past few days, dropping off nice cards, a pointsettia, ornaments in memory of Jack to hang on our tree, texts, calls, et cetera!
It is Christmas Eve and we are doing well. Kate decided that she only needed a 30 minute nap so we kept busy while Dan was at work making "Christmas Cranberry Corn Muffins" for the dogs. They are in need of some TLC and I know the way to Finn and Murphy's heart is through food. Although, Murphy would settle for any kind of petting.
Christmas will be as usual this year! Yes, we have decked our halls in boughs of holly and have a beautiful tree and stockings hanging from the mantle. Some people have asked "Are you going to do all of that this year?" Of course! Then they will say, "Well, of course you are, you have do it for Kate." Yes, we do need to do it for Kate but we need and want to do it for ourselves too! I am still living, in fact, I am living better than I probably was before "that day" since we were taught at such a high price how valuable life and each day is.
I received a text today saying, "I can't believe it's been three months, thinking of you." I took it as a good sign that I didn't even realize that...I just thought of today as today!
Merry Christmas Everyone, have a fabulous evening and wonderful day tomorrow.
And for our little J-Boogie, I hope wherever you are...that you get a Big Wheel for Christmas! I would have done anything to have you here to buy you one myself. XOXO.

Rememberance Service



For the Love of Christi hosted a wonderful Rememberance Service two weekends ago. They had a huge Christmas tree where we all hung pictures of our loved ones...I must admit that hanging Jack's picture brought many tears to my eyes...if you look close enough at his heart, you can see that Kate was trying to eat it before we found the perfect spot on the very full tree...We found a great spot to hang the photo of Jack and were comforted by the wonderful messages and music that made the event so special. We learned that it costs $616 A DAY for the center to run and we are so very grateful to the donors and funders that make this service available. As founders Don and Susan Cox say, "The price you pay to come here is already to high." Yes, it certainly was high indeed but we are so grateful for all the unconditional love and suppor we have received. If you are ever in search of a charitable organization to volunteer or donate to, we know we have our bias but we say "For the Love of Christi!" www.fortheloveofchristi.com

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Dogs Love and Dogs Know...


Do dogs have human feelings? Do dogs know when we're hurting? Do they wish they had words to use to let us know they feel our pain or wish to take it away? Did Murph and Finn know that something was wrong with Jack before we did? Did they smell something the human nose can't detect before Jack went to bed and were so frustrated because they couldn't communicate that to us? When we finally let them out of the stairway after Jack was pronounced dead and Murph started licking Jack's face...did he know? Was Murphy saying goodbye or trying to do what he could to bring Jack back to life?
The beauty is that like Jack's death, there will never be answers to my above questions besides what I think and believe. Although they are canines, I believe that the loss of Jack is profound for them as well. The night that Jack died, Murph and Finn sat stoically behind the stairs watching intently. I don't think they made a noise, they were surveying everything and as people walked in and out, they didn't bark as they normally would. It was almost like they were sitting there praying themselves. It was evident they felt sad and could pick up on the emotions of everyone. They had an eerie calm to them and their loyalty did not falter. God Bless Murphy and Finnegan! We know we don't give you as much attention since the kiddos came but we love you just as much!
If I could have anything for Christmas I would ask for the obvious that we all know that as much as Santa wants, he can't even bring that (and I have been very good!) and for the ability to have just one conversation with Murph and Finn. And believe me, I would certainly NOT forget to ask Finn "Why in the world have you been passing such offensive gas so frequently lately?"
Murph and Finn...your unconditional love does not go unnoticed or unappreciated!!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Who wants to be millionaire?


It took almost 3 months for me to be asked the inevitable question. I knew it would come, I just didn’t know when, who or how. At a neighborhood function last night, a 6-year old boy who spent a lot of time with Jack until about a month before he died asked “Where’s Jack?” with the innocence of a bunny and the annoyance of a mosquito buzzing in your ear because of his questions. (If he only knew what he was asking…poor kiddo and parents. They were probably mortified but I have learned not to sweat the small stuff over the past few months.) As a zillion thoughts raced through my brain, I quickly responded with “Oh! He’s not here right now.” What I was thinking but kept to myself was “Who the hell knows? Isn’t that the Regis Philbin Million Dollar Question? Where IS he? Is he somewhere? He’s not here and I certainly know that.” The boy then said “Where is he?” I am not a good liar, especially when it is off the cuff. Fortunately my audience was a 6-year old who doesn’t have the social savvy yet to pick up on my dead give away clues… the stammering, the awkward look, and the longer than usual pause before responding. I said, “Oh, he’s out playing.” It was the best I could come up with and if I did have to make a logical guess, it would be that Jack is playing somewhere, happy and carefree. The boy and his curiosity still wasn’t satisfied as I am almost breaking out in a sweat trying to field these questions like a hockey goalie at the Stanley cup. He then asked “Where is he playing?” At this point, I had run out of stamina and creativity and said “Oh, just out and about.” At which point, something else caught the boys attention and he was off and running.
It was almost comical to me, the things that have been said to me when people have NO IDEA what they are saying. A week after Jack died, I was at a street fair and a local insurance man stopped me to talk about having life insurance for your CHILD. Could the timing have been any worse? I thought I was being punked again. My mom was with me and I could tell she was tensing up, worrying that this would make me upset. After I knew what the man was talking about, I wasn’t even paying attention to his speech but just shaking my head thinking “Really? Is this conversation seriously happening?” If only that man knew, he would have been mortified. People say you’re not given more than you can handle and whereas I agree with that on a basic level, there’s more to it than that. Yes, we handle what we are given but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t come with small miracles of mustering up the mental strength and the ability to laugh.
To answer the million dollar question…”Where is Jack?” To me Jack is in the warmth of my car after it is has been sitting in the sun all day. He is part of the sound of Kate’s laughter. He is in Dan’s arms as he wraps them around me and in the tears that still fall down my face. He is in my muscles that get me out of bed everyday and especially the muscles that allow me to smile. He is part of that refreshing feeling when you jump in a pool and he is present when we decided to get Hey Cupcake! Cupcakes. He is present when I buy milk and if I imagine really hard and can pretend enough, he is present in a physical sense, crawling all over me and hugging me. He is present when we start laughing about memories of our little boogie, even when they make us laugh so hard we cry. He is in our hearts and minds and picture frames in our house. He surrounds us and reminds us to be better people, better parents, better friends and better lovers because life is so precious.
So… Where is Jack? Jack is more places than he has ever been before and for that, I am so grateful.
And Regis, yes, this is my final answer.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ready?

video
I find myself watching this 3 second clip over and over. Maybe because I can hear Jack's voice and he is using a word in the right context, maybe it's because he has goofy socks on and no shirt, or maybe it's because he almost hits Murphy as he swings the baseball bat around. Maybe because the baseball set was a gift from his Grandma or maybe because the summer sun is shining down. Maybe it's because this video shows Jack being a child, doing what kids do and not having a care in the world. Maybe it's because when this video was taken, we had no idea how our lives were going to change and the video is truly as innocent as it seems. After playing, we probably went inside, had dinner, had baths, read a story and tucked Jack into bed as always with the promise of a new day pending. Maybe I watch it because I want to go back to that place, a time where one of life's hardest lessons hadn't been taught yet. I feel that I am a better person because of the lesson taught but I wasn't so bad before it either. Had someone told me this summer that I only had so many days left with Jack, I never would have believed it. When I watch this video, the tears fall and all I want to do is grab him out of the screen and smother him with kisses, hear his laughter in my ear and feel him push his way out of my arms because he is a boy and has many more things to do other than be loved on by his mom. There are balls to hit, yuckies to find in the backyard and dogs to harass after all!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What I Know...


The past few months have taught me a lot of things, I still have a long way to go but here are the things that I know...
~People want to talk about their loved ones they have lost. Don't be afraid to ask them about their loved one or share your own story or memory of them.
~You won't harm anyone (in this family at least) by asking "How are you?" or "You have been on my mind lately" or "I really miss Jack" or "I have been thinking about you/Jack/your family." It is a comfort to know we aren't the only people that miss Jack.
~I know that I am open to any question anytime about this whole thing.
~I know that when people tell me that Kate looks more and more like Jack everyday, it makes me happy.
~I know that SOMETIMES wet tears falling down my cheeks feels so good but hugs ALWAYS feel so good from Dan.
~I know that now or ever is NOT the time to tell me to accept Jesus Christ or God into my life. I don't tell others how to do their hair, how to vote or how to live their life, I don't think that others should tell me how I should believe because I have suffered such great loss. Please, let me believe what I do and respect what I don't. As Dan says, "We've never considered ourselves religious, just spiritual."
~I know that hot chocolate chip cookies do make things a lot better.
~I know that 3 years ago today I told Dan that we were pregnant with Jack. It was one of the happiest days of our life. I'd go back and do it all over again if I could.
~I know that life keeps giving me lessons. Sometimes I am tired of learning.
~I know that I'm still figuring out for myself if there is life after death or if your life just ends. If there is a heaven, I know that Jack is safe and happy. If his life and spirit ended several months ago, I know that he had a fantastic life, period!
~I know that it is hiliarious that Jack thought dog poops were called "yuckies" and that he thought every bed my sister slept on had "kitties" under it.
~I know that there isn't enough time to take enough baths, give Kate enough snuggles and to find the right words to convey to Dan how much I appreciate him and love him to accurately reflect what I really mean.
~I know that getting only one child into a carseat is so much easier but then again, I am not afraid of hardwork. I AM chainsaw certified in the State of Oregon!
~I know that I am still finding legos under furniture and it makes me smile.
~I know that I took a risk being a parent...being vulnerable and loving something so much that at times it hurt. I took a risk and the sacrifice was worth it.
~I know that sometimes I am afraid to check on Kate before heading to bed.
~I know that the sound of Kate in the morning, awake and alive is music to my ears, even if she is crying.
~I know that we couldn't do this without friends, family and complete strangers who have lifted us up so high and continue to do so. A million thanks...

Monday, November 23, 2009

Thanksgiving 2009


We just returned from date night, also known as "Support Group." During group, I had a profound thought...people were talking about the holidays and the difficulties people may face. I thought it was so appropriate that the first big holiday since Jack's death will be Thanksgiving. It would be wrong for me to say that the day will go by without any sadness but I am focusing my thoughts to the best of my ability on what this holiday is truly about...being thankful for all we have in our lives.
This Thanksgiving, I am so thankful for having had Jack. Without Jack, I would not know so many things...Jack was my first child, my first pregnancy, and my first experience being completely responsible for another human being. Jack taught Dan and I as a couple a different level of working together, of responsibility and that "sleeping in" is a thing of the past. Jack taught us that going to birthday parties instead of happy hours is more fun and that there is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping baby. He taught us how if given the chance, we would sacrifice anything for another human being and that Dan and I are blessed in our ability to make cute babies with amazing eyes and abnormally yet gorgeous long eyelashes.
Jack taught us that life is so precious, to savor each moment and that when you think you don't have anything left to give, you do. Jack taught us that the worst day at work can easily be remedied by a toddler with a million dollar smile running at you with open arms saying "Mommy!" or "Doddy!" I have learned so much about myself and Dan, about Dan and I as a couple and what unconditional love is. I learned that a child is so much work but well worth the journey. When grief sometimes takes over, I think "I'll take the grief because I won't trade the last two years for anything."
Happy Thanksgiving to you all...may the day bring many moments of joy and time to reflect on all the wonderful things we are so fortunate to have.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

House Plant


Tonight we watched all the short little videos we have in the "Jack Movies" file of our computer, we didn't plan it...I was at the computer and somehow stumbled on that file, as I was watching them, Dan stumbed into the computer room and of course, couldn't walk away once he saw what was on the screen. We have about 20 different videos, about 20 seconds each of Jack doing a variety of things, some that had been posted on the blog, some not. It's bittersweet watching them, I am so glad to have them and to hear his voice again, see his movement, see his smile and his personality but then, it is sad to think, "This is all we have." At some point, these videos will be so repetitive, I will know them by heart and it won't be a "surprise" as it is right now since I don't have them memorized from watching time and time again.
What did strike me as I watched them was, "How in the world is the plant that I see in the background of all the videos shot in our living room still living and Jack isn't?" How is that possible? How can a plant we own have a longer life span than our child? It starts the questioning and the mystery of this whole thing..."How in the world?" "What happened?" "Why did this happen?" For me, these questions can be toxic if dwelled on too long because regardless of the answers (If we ever really have any...), the bottom line is, my children should live longer than any plant I own. (This actually is ironic...I volunteered in HS to water plants at church with a dear friend and we got "fired" because we killed most of them by accident! I am no green thumb...)
I spoke with the Medical Examiner (ME) again on Friday. Travis County does not have special equipment for what is necessary to continue trying to figure this out. So, it all comes down to money. Can you believe that? The ME is trying to find an expert in this certain thing that needs to be done (Electronic Microscopy?, I may have the last word wrong) and is asking if it can be done pro bono, otherwise, Dan and I would have to pay if we want it done. The ME couldn't even guess at how much it would cost. (Not a good sign) I also received a bill for $505 from the County for EMS to come and "pronounce Jack dead" as the not-so-compassionate woman told me when I called inquiring as to why I received a bill. I seriously thought I was being punked and was waiting for Jack to jump around the corner and say "Just kidding! It was all a joke" when I was talking to her on the phone. Thank goodness I was with Lourdes at the time and she could finish the call for me as I excused myself to the bathroom to sob. I guess I was foolish to think that my tax dollars paid for EMS services. I know there is a charge if you ride in an ambulance but Jack was never transported. Each day continues to show me that this world is crazy and life is a wild ride.
The grief is still a visitor at our house (not like we have expected it to go away this soon, or ever for that matter)...it hasn't learned to politely leave when its hosts are sick of it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Swimming Pools, Milk, Cupcakes and Golden Retrievers





Before Dan and I left the park, I commented that I think Jack is swimming in a huge awesome pool with golden retrievers, with a full belly of milk and cupcakes. Life is certainly sweet, and I think wherever, if anywhere Jack is, his life is even sweeter.

It's a beautiful day





Of course, we had Hey Cupcake! red velvet cupcakes too!



Yesterday was a gorgeous day in Austin. We both had the day off and took advantage of daycare being open, sent Kate and spent the day together. We decided to scatter Jack's ashes. After much thought and deliberation, we decided to put his ashes in a "Hot Wheels" Happy Meal box, with a bouquet of balloons and release them at the splash pad that Jack LOVED! Thanks to Lourdes who found the Happy Meal box at a McDonald's, they had it in a back corner for some reason...the Happy Meal box was from the beginning of September so we were very lucky that a McD's still had the one we wanted and would be perfect for the cause. We poked a bunch of holes in the bottom, thinking the ashes would scatter as the balloons went in the air. Well, let's say we had some technical difficulties, (I was never too good at science, I am not sure how many balloons we would have needed but a dozen was clearly not enough). After many tries, we finally were able to release the bouquet and think sweet thoughts about our J-Boogie as we watched them go up and up into a gorgeous sunny sky.

To Everything (Turn, Turn, Turn)
There is a season (Turn, Turn, Turn)
And a time to every purpose, under Heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time for love, a time for hate
A time for peace, I swear it's not too late

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

JACK! on the Big Screen


On Sunday, we attended the "Space Between Breaths" documentary about the loss of children and the life that continues after. JACK! was a sponsor as I mentioned in a previous post...only because of such generosity of y'all! We wanted to donate to "For the Love of Christi" (FLOC) and this seemed the perfect and most fun way to do it. Before the movie started, there was a preview reel of all the sponsors, I loved each time Jack's face would pop up and all our friends that we have made since attending FLOC commented on what a great photo that was. Some would comment further about what a personality he had or how much fun he looks. Amazing that one photo can convey so much. It was a pretty packed house, I promise, I just took the picture early!
I have to be honest in saying that this isn't how I pictured Jack being on the "big screen," and it left me to wonder...if things had been different...what would his "big screen" have looked like? Since I never will know the answer, I thought...perfect, I get to finish the story myself...
In my mind, it goes something like this...Jack would have been athletic, he would have been a great team player and show the compassion that he had learned and seen from Dan. He would have continued to be a great dresser and would have worn ties to school, especially on the first day of kindergarten, without complaining. He would have made a special valentine for his mom, sister and his favorite girl at school each year and he would have participated in spelling bees with success. He would have continued with his birthday tradition of going to the Waffle House for breakfast with Dan wearing his Superman Cape, long after he had outgrown it and it became tattered. He would have been left-handed and played Pee Wee Baseball. He would have walked the dogs, learned to scoop the poop and LOVED being the only boy among 11 neighborhood girls after he learned what an advantage he had. They would have taught him how to pretend to be interested in "girl things" so that one day, he could make a woman very happy. He never would have had training wheels and would have gotten frustrated with us that he didn't have video games and the latest and hottest toy. It would take years before he would appreciate us for that. He would spend afternoons playing in the yard, building forts and making castles out of old refrigerator boxes. Sometimes math would be hard for him in school and some days, it would be even harder to sit still and not talk while his teacher was giving a lesson. He would have learned tolerance for religious, political and sexual preferences and would believe that as long as people love and are loved, that is all that matters. He would protect Kate without hesitation and would make sure kids were nice to her and boys treated her with the upmost respect. Jack's favorite holiday would be the 4th of July and all the festivities that have become tradition and he would have loved taking the ferry to visit his Nonno and Nonna on Whidbey Island in Washington State. Jack would have been the social one, perhaps Homecoming King and a popular kid, although, he would be one of the rare popular kids that is nice to everyone. He would look forward to going to college and would know that when he came home to visit, I would do his laundry without hesitation. He would learn the pleasure in a good beer and would often share one with Dan. He would call home, would work hard and play hard, and would love college as much as we did. He would know that we love him so much and would support him through anything. He would develop a strong sense of self esteem so that he could say "no" to things that didn't feel right. I can't say what I think he would choose professionally but I do know that he would have been a fantastic family man, marrying a wonderful woman who would laugh at all his craziness, find as much joy in life as he did and who would melt when seeing his smile as we did. I know there would have been grandkids and Jack would have been a fabulous Dad...how could he not with such great role models in his family and extended family? Jack would lead a full and happy life, not forgettign to give back to others, to embrace each day and would have no doubt that his parents loved him more than words can describe.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A loaf of bread, a container of milk and a stick of butter


They say grief is like an unwelcome and unexpected guest...it shows up when you least expect it and you don't know how long it is going to stay. Today I went grocery shopping for the first time since before "that day." (Yes, everything has become a "before" and an "after.") We had reached rock bottom when we couldn't even make brownies because we didn't have eggs and I heard my bones pleading for calcium.
Who knew that "grief" would show up while in the supermarket?? I never realized how my grocery shopping was so Jack focused...bananas and yogurt for smoothies, peanut butter, whole milk, turkey meat, cheese, chicken nuggets, et cetera. It seemed every corner I turned, I wanted to put a different item in the cart and then realized I didn't need it. It made me miss him so much and I almost felt lost trying to figure out what we needed. You may be wondering how I was able to avoid the store for so long...our wonderful friends and neighbors have brought us meals EVERYDAY since "that day." It has been unbelievable and we have been SO spoiled with all the tasty dishes, we received our last one tonight, thanks so much everyone!
I knew it was such a gift to receive home cooked meals but the added treat and unexpected present from it all was giving me time to be in a better place. You wouldn't think that even the most mundane of errands could grudge up sadness but it did. Thank goodness I didn't have to go weeks ago. While I wait for Kate to be able to eat all that stuff, I think I'll spend the money on pints of Ben and Jerry's for me and Dan. Sounds like a good plan to me!

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Mad Tea Cups


Grief…I believe it is a short word we use to convey “roller-coaster” or “You will now be taking life minute by minute.” What a whirlwind of a ride…sometimes I equate it to the “Mad Tea Party Tea Cup” ride at Disneyland where it is all you can do to not stand up and scream “Get me off of here” while you try not to throw up.
I thought it was time to do an entry about me…what this has been like, my experiences, my thoughts, a check in for my loyal followers! I know people are wondering “How is she doing?” “How do they get out of bed in the morning?” “Does she cry everyday?” “What have they done with all his stuff?” “How do they make sense of all this?” “How is their marriage?” I know I would be wondering those things if I were in anyone else’s place.
I have been saying that there is “no score card for grief” but if there was, I would be amazed at how well I am doing. I am certainly not afraid to have moments where the tears come and they do come…for short periods of time. I have somehow had the fortune to be able to quickly remind myself of how blessed we were and how rich, happy and FUN Jack’s life was (and mine because of it!). It would be easy to grieve what won’t be but in that, I would be wasting all my energy when I could be thinking of how wonderful his life was. Believe it or not, that thought really carries me through the days and makes all of this make a bit more sense and not seem devastating. We know there is a circle of life and Jack’s circle just didn’t have the circumference that we wanted. If we know that we all live and we all die, it is quite simple. It is just unexpected how quickly it was for Jack…but again, to live with such joy is such a gift and there is no doubt that wherever he is, if life does continue on, he is in a great great place! Someone told me “If there is a heaven, Jack certainly took the express train to get there.” Love it!
I have struggled with thinking about “that night.” My mind would go back to the horror, the noises, the disbelief, the people in our house, having to be interviewed separately from Dan with a detective, having to role-play with a doll everything that happened, picturing Jack’s sweet little body laying for hours in our house and watching the EMS workers cry as they left. I wouldn’t say I was obsessing over it but after I learned that Jack had passed away in his sleep, I realized he wasn’t present in the way we know for any of that. What a comforting thought that his life was blissful even to the final minute. What a joy to know he was given a bath by “Doddy!” tucked in kissed and was told “I love you J-Boogie.” Can it really get better than that? That night doesn’t take away from his spirit, his wonderful life, the way he loved and was loved. I am happy to say that each day, I think less and less of that evening.
I asked a dear friend shortly after, “Am I not going to be me anymore?” I was so scared that this would change me forever, in a negative way. I feared that I would be rolled up in a ball in a fetal position on my bed with the lights turned off, sobbing and sobbing. I was afraid I would be bitter and unable to see the simple joys in life. I was afraid that I would lose my ability to want to shower and brush my teeth everyday. She reassured me that I would always be me and that this would not “Take what is me.” I am so glad for that conversation and that time has shown me that no…death won in taking Jack’s life but death will not win in part of me dying or losing my spirit. For me to lose who I am would make Jack’s death a double tragedy. Enough has been taken away already. What a disservice to Jack if I were to loss myself. How could I continue to prove to him that I really am the woman, mother, wife, friend that he thought and witnessed that I was?
People mention the scary statistics of marriages after losing a child. Minutes after Jack was pronounced dead, Dan and I were hugging. I said “No matter what, we are in this together.” I have never felt a deeper connection to Dan since meeting him and we truly have walked this together. We joke at our support group that it is our “weekly date.” We say “Is this what it took?” and laugh. After the first support group, we laughed on the way home. How wonderful to have a partner that can also still see humor, see that life continues for us and that we share this unique bond that no one else will ever understand. We have demonstrated more compassion, love, tolerance and patience with each other than ever before. We like to think of it as our “new normal.”
Shortly after Jack’s passing, I cleaned through his room and our friends painted and decorated for us. I walk in the room frequently and have framed a beautiful photo of Jack in that room. It is painted a light blue with a white cast iron headboard and footboard. I had to admit my obsession with baby clothes shopping as I passed on 2 HUGE garbage bags full of AWESOME clothes to a friend of mine (that went up to size 5 year-old, I have always been a planner!) and a ton of stuff to Goodwill. Kate has become the recipient of some awesome toys and Grover and Elmo now sleep with her.
It’s crazy… this blog has become so much more than just pictures and an update of what our kids are doing lately. Thanks for being an audience for me to bear my soul and to be honest about this crazy crazy Mad Tea Cup ride.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Happy Grams and Certificates


I still have a Happy Gram, proudly on display in our house from my kindergarten teacher, Ms. Schroeder. She was praising me for working hard in class. My guess is that I was probably talking way too much and she finally got me to buckle down and do some work. I have certificates from this and that while growing up and had started a collection for Jack as well. In his short life he had received several certificates which I proudly displayed and then tucked away in his memory box to pass onto his family when he became an adult.
Today, I decided that I would pick up his ashes. Since everything happened, his ashes were not something that I needed to do something with. To me, I could take it or leave it. I got the impression that Dan wanted to do something with them and we brainstormed some good ideas. When we decided on the perfect thing to do, I was sold on getting them. (Future blog post!) When I picked them up, they gave me a certificate documenting his being cremated. Really? Such a thing exists? Why? If there really is a reason to have to have one, how awful. As I got back into the car with his ashes and this certificate, it was so clear to me that we are experiencing things that NO ONE should have to. I shed a quick tear and then found the ability to laugh...Jack finally got to sit in the front seat with me, and without a seatbelt. Oh J-Boogie…we miss you!

Jack's Brick


I had the pleasure of spending the weekend in Minnesota with Kate, surrounded by friends and family. What a wonderful get-away at a much needed time. We were able to head to Mankato for a night to relive our glory days of college and made a stop to see Jack's brick at our alma mater which dear friends Scott, Wes, Jason and Brian had bought for Jack when he was born. Is it just a coincidence that of all the bricks on the ground only Jack's had green growing on the side of it?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

For the Love of Christi...and JACK!


We have been so blessed to receive so much support for our "bench" for Jack. We are in the process of working with Travis County to see if we can have one placed at East Metropolitan Park, where we had Jack's celebration.
We continue to attend "For the Love of Christi," (FLOC) an AMAZING non-profit organization that has a support group every Monday. It was founded by two fantastic individuals, Don and Susan Cox who lost their daughter, Christi. We feel at home there and it seems that all the people we have met have unconditional love and support for us and even though they never met Jack, I feel like they know him. Every Monday when we walk into FLOC, it is like walking into our own home.
http://www.fortheloveofchristi.org/
FLOC does not charge a fee for any of their services. Dan and I decided that we wanted to donate some of Jack's bench money to the organization because we know they have and will continue to be instrumental in our healing. On November 8th, a documentary is being shown by the creators. They are seeking businesses and people that would contribute $500 to be sponsors, to help raise money FLOC. We decided that JACK! should be a sponsor as our tiny token of appreciation. His picture will be shown in the "Preview Reel" before the movie starts and FLOC is so appreciative of us doing this. Really?! It is the least we can do and truly...it is not us doing it, it is all of you who have showered us with donations for Jack's bench. Thank you for providing us the opportunity to do something extra!
If you're interested, Dan and I will be in the audience. This is a great documentary for anyone who has experienced a loss. Feel free to join us but bring your own popcorn!

From their website: http://www.spacebetweenbreaths.com/news/15-austin-screening
Why are we here? Is it possible to find true happiness after a great loss? The answers to some of life's most important questions are explored in SPACE BETWEEN BREATHS, a powerful, uplifting film, which looks at the potential in grief and to the ways it can become a motivational, transformational force in our lives. Featuring conversations with parents who have lost a child, including those whose loved ones died at Columbine, on September 11th, and a mother whose son was one of the first U.S. soldiers to die in Iraq, SPACE BETWEEN BREATHS offers an inspired and healing perspective on loss which will transform the way you live and love.

P.S. I guess I fibbed when I said that I wasn't going to post again until Jack's bench was ready! Thanks for reading! There just always seems something too good not to share!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Thank You!!!!




Our mailman must be wondering, "What is going on at that house?" We have gotten so many cards and even received an envelope that was addressed to "The Turpins, ShadowGlen, Manor, TX 78653" and it got to us! We are in the slow process of writing thank you's for all the support, love and generous donations to Jack's bench. We have received the most beautiful cards with such sweet messages and thoughts...I wanted to share a few of my favorites and let you know we have received all your calls, cards, donations, et cetera! Thank you thank you is hardly enough! Until a proper thank you can reach you via mail, please know we are so grateful for all of you holding us up during this time.

Make-A-Wish


A donation was made to Make-a-wish foundation under Jack's name, what a fabulous idea! What a way to honor Jack and to make another child so happy! Thanks Rusty and Christy Wallace!

Sunday, October 18, 2009

"Jack"-o-lantern


What a fun surprise on our doorstep...a "Jack"-o-lantern that is an angel! We love it!!!

Friday, October 16, 2009

700 days of happiness


Today has been a hard day, I was on the computer trying to find a photo for something...I was looking through recent photos from this summer and the dogs must have thought I was crazy, staring at the monitor, sobbing. So many pictures of Jack, full of life, having a great time. If we had known then what we know now...would we have done anything different? What comfort there is in knowing, no...we celebrated him everyday and will continue to do so.
Grief is an interesting thing...we are certainly learning to take it day by day, in fact, minute by minute.
For those who weren't able to attend Jack's celebration, this was where we had it. It was pouring rain as we left to drive there. When we pulled into the park, the clouds subsided and the sun came out. Just like grief...
My Uncle said an amazing thing to me that day...he said "How long do most people have to live to have 700 days of happiness?" What a thought...probably a lot longer than Jack had to! That question and answer has allowed me to sleep more peacefully and keep a smile on my face longer. Thanks Uncle Jimmy for your great perspective!

Thursday, October 15, 2009

A Star in the Sky


Our neighbors gave Kate a "Shining Stars" unicorn today that came with a special code to choose a name and location of a star in the sky. Of course we picked JACK and got to print a certificate. What a sweet idea from a very sweet little 5 year old girl. Thanks Meredith! Kate, Dan and I love it!

A few answers



Today we received a call from the Medical Examiner (who has been absolutely wonderful). He confirmed that the CDC tested Jack's tissue and it was NOT influenza or H1N1. Again, he did NOT pass away due to the flu or H1N1. They still suspect some sort of viral lung infection and are continuing to try to figure out more, as that is still such a mystery. I am so relieved to hear that it is not H1N1...I did not want it to be that for numerous reasons. Additional testing is being done and we may never know the cause or they may find something...it is still a mystery to the professionals involved.
I do not need to have an answer but I appreciate all the work that is being done to find one. Leave it to Mr. Jack to pass away peacefully and to keep us all on our toes trying to figure out why! God bless that little sweetie! Our memories are warming our heart continually.
We are all doing well, are loving our support group (For the Love of Christi...you all are amazing there) and have managed to laugh everyday. Thank you all for lifting us up when we have needed it most. I have started the process of writing thank you notes and wrote to the two EMT's who were here that evening. I had a phone number for them and thought it was their station. When I called to get their address, I learned that it was actually one of the EMT's cell phone. I was so happy to be able to express to him personally how grateful we were for his (Woody) and Adam's work. What a gift to be able to talk to him and tell him we know they did EVERYTHING they could. I know the night was not easy for them and I am forever grateful for their work.
Thanks to our neighbor, Madison (friend of Jack and our friend too!), who created a wonderful piece of art for us as shown in this blog! We love it!

Thursday, October 8, 2009

AWESOME!


Throughout this whole experience we have been so touched by so many things...I can't even begin to describe what it has been like. All the gestures, big and small have meant so much. As I type, our dear friends are slaving away painting Jack's bedroom so we can have a fresh start. How selfless! We've had hot meals brought to our house for the past week and will continue to have them through the end of the month. Our friend hired a house-cleaner to come clean our house. We are spoiled!
Today, we received this letter from "Family Connections." Family Connections is an awesome, non-profit organization in Austin that is "committed to improving the development of young children and building a strong foundation for their success by educating and supporting the adults in their lives - parents, child care providers, teachers and community leaders." Dan and I have participated in Mommy/Daddy and Me 6-week playdates when both kiddos were born, took all our pre-parent classes there (how to get your child to sleep, labor classes, how to breastfeed, bath, feed your child...), they have a daycare locating service and have an amazing library that you can check out books and toys. They have singers and story-tellers and an annual Family Celebration. (ALL FOR FREE!)
They learned of our sad news and sent the letter above. If it is too small to read, maybe you can cut/paste to enlarge in your own word document. We were so touched by the thoughtfulness of the books they chose and can't believe how the kindness of everyone is holding us up so long and so high. Thanks to all...
Check out Family Connections for yourself and if you live in Austin...go visit!
www.familyconnectionsonline.org
Dan and I also attended our first Support Group on Monday. It was wonderful and we met so many people who showered us with unconditional love and understanding. The group is for anyone that has encountered a loss and then you split into smaller groups based on who you lost. It was a great experience and we look forward to going back. Thank you to all the funders who support "For the Love of Christi," without your support, it wouldn't be possible. This service is provided FREE to those grieving and we are so grateful. Check it out: www.fortheloveofchristi.org

Lions Eye Bank


I know I said I was only going to blog one more time but how could I pass up this? We received this in the mail today from the Lions Eye Bank, so sweet. And, can you believe that the Lions Eye Bank is in Manor? I couldn't believe that this tiny no-grocery-store-town we live in is where all the donated eyes come to! It was like Jack was coming home! Thanks to the Lions Eye Bank for making our donation seem so special!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Honk Honk!

videoFor some reason, I didn't post this several weeks ago when I took it and was saving it for something special. What a perfect opportunity now! The video is the epitomy of Jack's spirit and my husband's wonderful parenting. This 30 second or so clip warms my heart, brings tears to my eyes, and makes me so thankful for having Jack in our lives. I have decided that this will be my second to last post, with the last post to not come for sometime as I am planning on posting for the final time after Jack's bench is in place. Thank you ALL for the donations that will allow us to purchase a bench in Jack's honor. Dan and I look forward to finding the perfect bench in the perfect place, which will take some thought and consideration to make it just right! Again, thank you for all the support, it is truly overwhelming and has been what has carried us through this journey. We continue to go on each day...getting out of bed, vacuuming, brushing our teeth, washing dishes, running errands, paying bills, taking care of Kate, all the usual stuff. It is strange to not hear "Mommy!" or "Doddy" or "Milk Meese" (Jack's version of "Milk please") or "Muse Me" (Jack's version of "Excuse me") but the memories are held deep in our hearts. I am not sure Murphy and Finn quite understand why it is so quiet in our house and I bet Murph would even admit that he misses an energetic toddler screaming and pulling on or at him. We will return to work soon and continue to find so much support and love with each other. Thank goodness that Dan is walking this journey with me. In the midst of this tragedy there have been so many blessings and we hope they continue.

Enjoy the video and please feel free to be among the first visitors to:

www.kateturpin.blogspot.com

The show must go on and Jack would want it that way!

Friday, October 2, 2009

Checking In


A million thanks to all who have reached out, called, stopped by, dropped food off, hugged us, hugged their kids a bit more, emailed, read our blog, attended our celebration...the list goes on and on. As each day goes by, the nights are not so dark and we learn that the sun does rise. We are overwhelmed (in a great way) by the love and support of everyone and thank you for carrying our burden at this time.
We are still waiting to hear more from the Medical Examiner as we wait for additional testing to return from the CDC.
If you were unable to attend the celebration, it was absolutely beautiful. Dan and I commented to each other during it saying "This is just perfect." Pastor Brian Devany, we owe you a million thanks for capturing the exact spirit, energy, and love that we wanted for the celebration. This was no easy task and you did it with grace and love. The service was held at a beautiful glass and wood building in a park overlooking a pond with a wide open sky beyond. There were clouds scattered among a blue sky. We didn't know what to expect in terms of attendance and were shocked at the amount of people...we should have known because of Jack there would be "standing room only." Thank you so much everyone and we hope you enjoyed the cupcakes!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Party atTIrE

Our intention for tomorrow's event is to make it a true representation of Jack's bright, loving spirit. When looking in your closet, deciding what would be appropriate for Jack's celebration, please ask yourself these questions: What would Jack pick out for me? What would sweet Jack like for me to wear?

If there was ever an occassion to wear your brightest, funniest tie or that too loud, over-the-top dress THIS IS IT! Go for it. You will be making Jack proud!

Lourdes (on behalf of the Turpin family)

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Eyes are Shining On You!


We are so happy to report that Jack's sweet beautiful eyes will be donated to someone in need. We are thrilled to be able to do this.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Some answers

Today has been indescribable and we thank everyone for their support and love. We met with the Medical Examiner's office and leared that Jack had a viral infection that caused hemorraging in his lungs. We don't know why Jack could not fight off the viral infection as others possible could and it is unclear why it happened so quickly. We do know that there is nothing we would have been able to do which eases the pain a bit.
We are surrounded by family and tons of food. We are hoping for some sleep tonight and know we have one amazing angel watching us from above.

A huge thanks to our wonderful pediatrician, Dr. Jack Louis. He went above and beyond for us today, ensuring that Kate is healthy and safe and helping us to understand what happened to the best that he can guess. There are still so many questions that will probably never get answered. Dr. Louis, thank you for your compassion, caring, and love you always gave to Jack and that you gave us today.

If you live in Austin and are having a baby...we would recommend Dr. Louis! 458-6717.

Jack's Sweet Life Celebration

Please join us to share in a celebration of J-Boogie's wonderful life.

Monday, September 28th, 2009
East Metropolitan Park, Manor, Texas
3:00


We are looking forward to sharing fellowship and memories with you after a brief service.

In Jack fashion, we will be having cupcakes, cookies and of course...whole milk. He wouldn't have it any other way.

If you need directions:
Going east on US 290 from I-35 take the FM 973 exit proceeding through Manor. After crossing the railroad tracks turn left on to Blake-Manor Road. Stay on Blake-Manor Road and the Park Entrance will be located on the right. The park entrance is about 3.5miles on the right.
When you enter the park, turn left just past the pool on your left and look for the glass building on your right.

If you get lost: Please call Richard at 512-317-2391

If you have any questions about anything else, please feel free to contact Lourdes at 512-350-7368.

Please keep us in your thoughts...

It is with shock, horror and complete devastation that I am writing this blog entry. Last night, our dear son, Jack, passed away in his sleep. Jack had a great day, had even "pooped in the potty" for the first time. Jack started to get a bit groggy and laid on the couch...unusual for our wonderful and wild little man. Dan gave him a bath, took his temperature which was low grade and put him to bed. At 9:15, I checked on Jack and found that he was barely breathing and very limp. I ran downstairs with him, called 9-1-1, and our wonderful neighbor who is a firefighter/EMS came over immediately. As we waited for EMS to arrive, he started CPR and continued until the on-duty EMS took over. They tried and tried to revive Jack for almost 45 minutes without success. We are in deep gratitude for the love and effort Travis County EMS put forth to save our son. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts. We know it was difficult for them too.

It was the most horrific time of our lives and it is in shock that I write this today. Please keep us in your thoughts and prayers.

As plans for a "Celebration of Jack's Sweet Life" are made, I will be updating the blog.

In lieu of sending flowers, please consider donating to the following link:
https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=8465745

We are hoping to purchase a bench to place in a park in Austin to always remember our sweet boogie.

If you have special memories of Jack, please feel free to comment. We would love to hear stories.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Pump It Up!

Our friend Katie, had her 5th B-day party at "Pump It Up" today. We ALL had a great time and left feeling like we had just had a great workout. Happy Birthday Katie! Thanks for inviting us to your party. Jack had a blast!
video

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Colored Shaving Cream!





What a good use of a dollar at the Dollar Tree, a can of shaving cream with a few drops of food coloring and a cookie sheet...Jack kept busy while we cleaned the kitchen. Kate was looking at him like "What in the world are you doing?" We skipped a bath tonight and washed up in the sink post-activity. Sure saved some time...why don't we do that more often???

Ghost Town







Believe it or not, there is a "Ghost Town" about 8 minutes away from our house. A man created his own "Disneyland" in the form of a "Ghost Town" and has built 97% of the town by himself and claims to have the "Best Burgers in Town." He says if you take the burger to go, the claim may not apply. He shows outdoor movies on the weekends, has live music and people even get married there. Who knew??? We made a visit today, in the middle of the afternoon. We played on the swings, in the "jail house," the maze and the saloon. It was very quiet except for the Turpins and the ghosts, we look forward to going back in the evening to see all the action.
www.ghosttownaustin.com