Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Chase

I consider myself fortunate that my postings to this blog have become far and few inbetween...I haven't had emotions that need to spill out onto a computer about Jack and have been able to keep my head up high in ways and times I never thought possible. But, every once in awhile, something sneaks up when you don't expect it and the walls come crumbling down.
Last weekend, I needed someone to watch Kate and Quinn while I went to a meeting. I took my friend up on a standing offer to watch the girls. They have a son that Jack would play with who was younger than Jack. When I picked the girls up, he had woken up from his nap. I said "Hi!" and he responded with "Hi!" I asked "How are you?" He said "Good." I proceeded to have conversation with him and listened to him converse with all of us in the room in a way that Jack was never old enough to do. It was difficult to see this little boy who was always younger than Jack, all of a sudden, be bigger, more knowledgable, more capable of things...It made it so obvious to me that I had lost Jack, that Jack has been gone for quite sometime now, that Jack isn't here, growing, learning, et cetera...The boy asked Kate to chase him while he pushed a truck throughout the house. Kate was more than happy to oblige and they laughed and laughed while they chased eachother and played. What was odd was that the next thought didn't occur to me until I got home. I started to tell Dan, "Kate had such a great time chasing..." and I couldn't continue. The tears started coming down my face. Dan said "What's wrong? What's wrong?" and I couldn't finish. Finally I was able to say, (and by this time, Dan knew why the tears were falling), that "It should have been Jack." I felt so much sadness for Kate...that she will be denied this awesome Big Brother that she had for all to brief a time. I am more saddened that she misses that opportunity than for my missing out on watching my son grow. I cried for several minutes and then somehow was able to return to my "I am just so grateful for what I had" mentality. Needless to say, the hugs were a little tighter and longer that night as I put Kate to sleep. Ah...grief and loss...a pair I never thought I would come to know so intimately.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Jack Turpin Blood Drive-a-rama!




Our Jack Turpin Blood Drive-a-rama was a success!
What a perfect thing to do on the anniversary of losing J-Boogie...we saw so many friends and family, were able to unite with all the people we love to save lives, and introduced many people to the joy of "Hey Cupcake!" who generously donated cupcakes to all the people participating in the blood drive. We were so thrilled to have such support from everyone and seeing so many friends and family on a day that could have been sad was fantastic. Not only did people donate blood with us in Austin but friends and family who live in other cities donated (Dan and his brother ironically donated at the exact same time without knowing it) and people contacted us to let us know special things they did if they weren't able to donate blood...my cousin made cupcakes for her and her co-workers, my aunt made cupcakes for a family in their neighborhood who has a sick child, my friend sent "T3 and T2" shirts/onesies for the girls to wear and several friends purchased "Cracker Jacks" for me to give out with a thank you note to those who donated. Some people were first time donors and put aside their nerves to support us and celebrate Jack, a huge thank you to those of you...you know who you are (CT, LR, BV!!!)

When it was all said and done, we had 42 people attempt to donate and the Blood Bank was able to get 33 donations which far exceeded the original goal. The Blood Bank was ecstatic with the turnout and the success of the event. One of the staff in the van told my sister, "This is outstanding, I wasn't expecting to work so hard today." With 33 donations, we saved 66 lives. Awesome...

J-Boogie, your spirit continues to make the world a better place!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Jack Turpin Blood Drive-a-rama!

To celebrate Jack and his sweet life, we will be having a blood drive as previously posted about on September 24, 2010 in Manor! The blood mobile bus is coming to ShadowGlen! If you live here and would like to join us, please do so! Jack's favorite, "Hey Cupcake!" is donating cupcakes to everyone who donates blood. Our goal is to have 30 people donate. If you live outside of Texas, feel free to donate where you live to continue giving the gift of life.
To register here...go to www.inyourhands.org
Click on "Donate Blood," the bottom orange left-hand box. On the next page that opens, there will be tabs on the right-side. About half way down, there is another "Donate Blood" tab, click there. It will then say "Step 1," and there is a space to enter a sponsor code, type "Jackturpin" (all one word), that should get you to where you need to go.
A million thanks to my fabulously talented friend, Amy Barthel, for making such great posters that capture the spirit of Jack and this event perfectly and to Ken Smith for printing posters for us to distribute! You guys are the best!

Monday, August 16, 2010

"Pinwheels Pinwheels Spinning Around..."






To honor Jack on his birthday, friends brought us pinwheels to place on his bench. We went to the bench on Sunday morning and enjoyed Red Velvet Cupcakes and the ducks in the pond while placing pinwheels around his bench. It was really nice and felt like the perfect way to remember our Boogie. Thanks everyone who brought us pinwheels...so fun!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Happy Birthday Jack! (I want a John Deere!) & Monster Trucks




Well,




Happy 3rd Birthday J- Boogie, it is me your dad wishing you a Happy Birthday for everyone to see and hear!! I hope you had waffles and all the cupcakes you could eat! Today we celebrate you and all you gave to us! Cheers!


It has been almost a year and I have got a lot to celebrate, perhaps not how you thought someone who has not posted in a year might think. Today I celebrate my lovely wife Kristen, Krissy, Cage etc...Without her none of this would be possible. I cannot put it into words like she has. But without her this journey would not have been possible. She gave life to Jack three years ago today and still gives life to him today! She is amazing and I do not say it enough to her, but I think it is safe to say anyone who know us knows what I mean. You can't stop her...Her perseverence and strength hold me tight when I think those longing thoughts. Thank you Cage!

Today as I think back on all my happy memories of Jack, (too many to list, see blog!) I am reminded of several things. Most often things those much wiser than I have shared. I cannot help but think of my Dad's crazy toast at our wedding...he was talking about how we are all connected, somehow someway, (don't get me wrong I was kind of lost too when he started talking about photons and quarks and other strange matter that bonds us all together.) I didn't get it then, but I do now. It is so true. For example, last night when I was putting Kate to bed, I asked her to pick out a book for us to read. Guess what she picked out? "Monster Trucks," one of Jack's favorites and one we have not read more than once before. I could not help but think that Jack was there smiling down on us helping her pick that one!

Sometimes we have to stretch to keep our sanity and memories alive but then again you never know. Or like the times on Whidbey when Dean and Shagnaugh (sp) got married and two bald eagles flew over the aisle just before they walked down. I could not help thinking then that it was those we know watching down, or when we were finishing a Christmas beach walk and all of us had stoped at the end for wine and treats and a lone bald eagle circled around, (shortly after Norman of Norman and Patti's passing). There are many example for all of us, you know them and can feel them when you are around those you love.

Another quote I like from Tuesdays With Morrie : "So many people walk around with a meaningless life. They seem half asleep even when they are busy doing things they think are important. This is because they are chasing the wrong things. The way you get meaning into your life is to devote yourself to loving others, devote yourself to your community around you, and devote yourself to creating something that gives you purpose and meaning" ~Morrie

So, tonight I am wearing my Elmo shirt (see photos from the celebration- Thanks Ken), sipping on a cold beer, eating a Hey CupCake! Red Velvet Cupcake and thinking about my son Jack and all of the joy he has given to me and the perspective I now have on what is truly important in life. Today I celebrate with all of our wonderful family and friends, those close and far who have helped us along the way. I am amazed daily at your compassion and generousity. No matter how small the gesture, they are all greatly appreciated and are helping us lay the foundation for a great future for our family.

I can't help but be reminded of one of may favorite memories of me and Jack. Shortly after his second birthday, we were at Home Depot, Kristen was busy looking at light fixtures. Jack and I went off and found the tractor section. As you can see in the picture above, Jack rode the tractor and I am on the other side on a John Deere next to him. We pretended we were racing! Here is to pretending and the road ahead!

Cheers J Boogie!

Dad

Happy Birthday Jack!





Happy Birthday Sweet Jack!

Today Jack would have been 3 but as we know in this house, we don't think of the "What if's?" but the "Aren't we glad for what we had!" I can't believe that it has almost been a year without our Sweet Boogie. I am so proud of Dan and myself for surviving and surviving well. We haven't let this ruin us and we haven't let our spirits dampen. It has been a journey that we couldn't have traveled with just each other. To the countless people that have helped us along the way, we could never repay you enough. I will admit, it is still weird when people ask, "How many kids do you have?" How do you answer that? I tell them about Kate, about Baby T3 and say "We had a 2 year old who passed away in September BUT WE CELEBRATE HIM!" It is a true statement and avoids that awkward pause when the person doesn't know what to say. I can't blame them, I know the right words are hard to find sometimes. As I have mentioned before, even just acknowledging the loss or mentioning Jack to us makes us feel so good...it shows us that he lives on! I have a new friend that I met after Jack passed away and he told me the other day, "I feel like I know Jack." It made my heart swell.

It is almost a year later and I still have never been rolled up in a fetal position. I think of Jack and smile. I haven't been angry and I am still thrilled to have been his mom for 700 plus days. My brain still has a hard time grasping that what happened was one in a zillion, so rare it can't even be quantified. I have never let my mind go the place of "Why?" because I think that could tear us apart. I'll never have the answer so why waste the energy trying to guess at one? Let us be the one in a zillion so that we spare anyone else...we'll take one for the team for sure! I have stayed true to my belief that if I changed or allowed Jack's death to ruin me, what a double tragedy. I feel like I make Jack proud by how I have handled myself and what I didn't realize right away is that Jack will always be my son, that will never be taken away from me and that yes, losing your child changes you but that change doesn't need to be bad. I can't count the number of times I have listened to the song playing throughout the slideshow and agree that YES, "I love more, laugh more, take less time to make up my mind, go slower, love deeper, I know what I want and what I don't and I'll be better than I've ever been..." I am better than I was before and although I would do anything to have J-Boogie back, that isn't an option and being the best I can be is.

I put together this slideshow to pay tribute to my family: Dan, Jack, Kate and Baby T3. I wanted to show that despite this crazy year, we still laugh, we still celebrate, there is joy in our house and we haven't let this tragedy ruin us. For that, I am so proud. Thank you to Cindy Bullens for writing this amazing song after the death of her 11 year old daughter. It has pulled me into brighter lights and for that I am forever grateful.

Jack, I wish we were busy decorating for your party today and that Dad had your Superman Cape on you, ready to take you for your "Guys morning" of Waffle House and a trip to "Toys R US" to pick out a toy. I know that "Doddy" (as you would say) had such a great time with you last year while I decorated for your party and that it was a tradition in the making. For now, my mind will be at ease knowing that wherever you are has to be a wonderful place. I am sure your face is covered with cream cheese frosting from your Red Velvet Cupcakes and that you are surrounded by all those friends and family that have gone before us. Eat as many as you want! Enjoy your day and know that we love you and miss you but believe that we will be reunited again. In fact, maybe the joke is on us, we're still going to work, paying taxes, concerned about the oil spill and I think you're in a 5 star resort! We love you J-Boogie and continue to be so grateful for you...XOXO, Mom, Dad and Kate
P.S. If the video doesn't appear, hit refresh.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Mark your calendars!!!

I have been thinking about Jack's birthday and what we want to do to celebrate him. I thought the perfect idea was sometime around his birthday (which is close to the day we lost him) Dan and I would donate blood every year. I shared this idea with my friend who works at the Blood Bank and while he thought it was a good idea, he said we could take it a step further!
What is the grand idea you say??? On Friday, September 24th, we will be having a "Jack Turpin" blood drive! If you are a blood donor, please consider joining us or...if you live out of state and give blood, take time to donate in honor of Jack where you live. What better gift then to give life! We will have a mobile van that will be in honor of Jack that will be coming to Manor and all blood donors will receive a "Hey Cupcake!" cupcake after donating! (Of course!) I need 20 people for them to come out so if you would like to join us, please let me know! I really want this to be a success!

First Annual Jack Turpin Cupcake Eating Contest





It is tradition for a group of my college friends and family to get together every 4th of July. This year was no exception and it was also the scene of the "First Annual Jack Turpin Cupcake Eating Contest." My parents came up with the idea since Jack loved his Red Velvet Cupcakes. The "entry fee" was $20.00 and all proceeds are being matched by my friends work (Woo Hoo! Thanks!!!) and will be given to "For the Love of Christi" which is a free support group for grieving families and people in Austin. If you are a blog follower, you are familiar with this organization as they have provided immense support to me and Dan since losing Jack and I have sung their praises many times. Dan and I were so touched my parents did this and that everyone was so eager to participate. Jack lives on not only in our hearts but in other peoples!! How cool!!! (I think that one of the hardest things about losing a child is that you are afraid other people will forget them...please don't!)
We walked outside to find a poster of Jack hanging above the table where the eating was held and gorgeous looking Red Velvet cream-filled cupcakes. Leave it to my mother...she had to have been Martha Stewart in another life. We had groups of three that raced to eat the cupcake without hands (Kate was able to use hers!) as quickly as they could...I think the winning time was somewhere around 4 seconds or so...impressive! It was a fantastic idea and allowed for the perfect time, setting and activity to acknowledge Jack and to continue celebrating him.
For the Love of Christi costs about $600 per day to operate and we are thrilled that because of this event, a day of costs will be covered because of Jack Turpin and our wonderful friends and family!

Oh how my heart hurts...

video
I don't publish this post to make anyone feel sorry for me but oh, how my heart hurt when I saw this video. I am very familiar with all the photos and videos I have of Jack. When I was uploading some photos to the internet last night, I came across some old photos that Dan had uploaded off of his phone. Not expecting to see them and not knowing that some of them even existed was an unexpected trip down memory lane. I had tears flowing when I clicked on the first picture. The timing was probably pretty bad too since we were just coming back from a family vacation that he was at last year which made his absence so obvious. I clicked on this video and listened to him crying out/asking for me...oh Jack, how I do the same now. I have no recollection of this time and don't know why Dan would have been videotaping...I would like to think that I am off to Jack's right side as he seems to be looking that way and that I gave him a big hug right after Dan hit "off." Who knows?
Does Jack hear me cry out for him and feel sad too? Have our roles reversed? I spend so much time thinking about where Jack is, if he is anywhere and have figured out that I am pretty comfortable believing there is a heaven. I think all my loved ones that have already made the journey are with Jack and that the joke will be on us...we will arrive to heaven to meet all of our loved ones who went before us and realize they were living the high life while we were stuck in traffic, going to work, worrying if we were having a good hair day or not and if we'll have enough money for retirement. While I think about these things, (although I don't have to worry too much about a good or bad hair day, they are almost ALL BAD), I hope that Jack is waiting patiently, knowing we will be reunited and enjoying his time doing all the things he loved. Take a dip in the pool for me tonight and have an extra Red Velvet cupcake for me J-Boogie! I can't wait to see you again...

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Rocket Club - One More Day - Official Video

So, my sweet little Jack is continuing to do things after he has passed that we haven't ever done...check out this video that Jack is "in." Love it. Should it be a surprise that the first time we watched it I could feel my own tears down my cheeks and Dan's hitting my arm as he stood behind me? Thanks Rocket Club for honoring Jack and asking us to use his photograph. Our pleasure!!!

Happy Father's Day


Today we missed Jack a lot. Celebrating fatherhood after losing a child is bittersweet, not only for the Dad's but for the Mom's too. As hard as we try to make the day special, there is still the elephant in the room, the brief tears amongst so much to celebrate. We thought about Jack a lot today and for me, I couldn't help but thinking how he would be running around wild and crazy with Kate today. I felt cheated that it wouldn't happen and allowed myself to feel that for brief moments before checking in again and being grateful for all that we have. I noticed that Kate is starting to have a tan and swimsuit marks like Jack, although, Jack would have been a "Bronze God" by this point. I always loved that he would have stripes on the back of his neck from his tiny rolls of skin, stripes of white and tan where the sun would and wouldn't hit. I know it won't be long before Kate and Baby T3 (as we refer to her) will be engaging in their own silly games and the laughter will multiply in this house. Baby T3 will reside in Jack's room and it was strange to see a closet filled with pink clothes. We have finished decorating (so cute) and I would like to think that Jack will be keeping an extra special eye on Baby T3 as she enters the world. I know walk into that room and think "Baby T3" which is great.
The pictures in this blog are of the birdhouse we decorated while at Faith's Lodge, the retreat in Northern Wisconsin for families who have lost a child or have a child who is terminally ill. It is the most beautiful place but I would blackball anyone from "qualifying to attend." Today was the perfect day to hang it in our front yard and celebrate our little boogie who we continue to love as much today as yesterday.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Coconut Cowabunga Shampoo

It is strange the things that make you think about your lost loved one. Some time has passed now since Jack died, I don't do the math and truly don't know how long it has been. I really have to think if I were to figure it out. Why count? It's never going to bring him back and it will only be a reminder of how long I have lived without him. I try not to let dates control my feelings and as a wise and super cute Nate Berkus on Oprah said "I don't let the dates have power." (He lost his partner in the tsunami years ago) I have settled into my "new life" without Jack. Sometimes it is comfortable, sometimes not so much. I must say that the comfortable times are much more prevalent than the uncomfortable ones and for that I am grateful. The funny thing about death is it is one thing in life you can't change. I can't control it and I know that I will never have him back. As those thoughts may cause one to lose it, for some reason, it usually brings me comfort.
However, I had an uncomfortable moment at the most unusual time yesterday. (It always comes when you least expect it...ah Grief! You got me again. Darn you!) I was in the shampoo aisle and saw the shampoo I had been using for Jack, Suave Kids Coconut Cowabunga Shampoo. I smelled it and was instantly transported in my mind to bath-time and how he loved playing in the water. I could hear his laugh, I could almost feel the water hitting me as it spilled out of the tub, and for the first time since his death, I could physically feel on my fingertips his hair and what it felt like when I washed it. I could feel the courseness of his fine blond hair and wanted nothing more at that moment to be able to hug him, see him and hear that wonderful laugh of his and how he would say "MommyMommyMommy" without taking a breath in between words. Who knew a $1 bottle of shampoo could evoke such emotion? I had to settle for my memories and take comfort that someday soon, I will be able to wash Kate's hair with the same bottle and laugh with her as she splashes, pours water on me and enjoys a bath just as much as her brother!

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

I know that so many people were thinking of my family on Mother's Day and I appreciate all the kind thoughts and words that were sent our way. We ended up spending the day and prior evening in the hospital with Kate who had an unexplained high fever which caused much concern because of Jack's mysterious and fast demise. Medical professionals become very concerned about Miss Kate when something looks slightly off. We appreciate it and know for them, we have to be a scary family to work with! I had visions of relaxing all day, celebrating both Jack, Kate and Baby T3 and how I am so lucky to be a mother to my children...past, present, and future! But as I have learned, life doesn't always go as planned. After getting home from the hospital in the middle of the afternoon after one hour of sleep, I told Dan, "I get a rain check on Mother's Day."
When I crawled into bed at night, I found a few surprises on under my pillow..the most touching, a card from "Jack." Dan had found a Mother's Day card that had a "Hummingbird" on it with a description of the Hummingbird in it. It read:

"Legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. The hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation."

I thought this was so beautiful, poignant and made Jack seem like a hummingbird to me. In Jacks' card to me, "Jack" wrote among many things that "Life is a continuum and I will see you again. In moments of silence and beauty, I will help guide you and will always love you. Please have a Hey Cupcake! Red Velvet for me. Love you! Jack"

Do I have an awesome family or what?!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

What was HE like?

I was at a party with a friend of mine that I have made since Jack died. I met her because she was one of the complete strangers who signed up to bring us food the weeks after everything happened. (For two months food was brought to us almost everynight. It was amazing) I am still amazed that people would do that...bring food to a family who is grieving, that they have never met before. Who wants to voluntarily walk into so many unknowns...? I learned through my amazing neighbors and people in the community that many people do! They taught me to never hesitate if I am doing something out of kindness or compassion for another person.
Who would think that I would make a good friend out of it? But, I did! And, it's fantastic...she is having a baby girl a few weeks before me, she loves Kate, I love her boys and her husband and her make great company! Who could ask for more from a family just a minute walk away?
Anyway...what leads me to this post is while at the party, we were talking about her boys and Kate. She turned and asked me "What was Jack like?" It made me so happy! Not only is Jack alive in my mind but others as well. He is not living and yet people still want to know about him and hear what made him crazy and fun. (And, she wasn't afraid to ask!) She had no idea what those four words meant to me and how it made my heart swell and my lips form a huge smile to know that someone besides me, Dan, my close family was still interested in him. There is a culture/saying/proverb (can't remember which) that says we die two deaths...one, when we die and two, when people forget that we existed. I never want Jack to die the second death!
You know who you are...thanks a million for making my day!
P.S. I could go on for hours about what Jack was like but I mentioned just a few good things to her; including his energy, his love for life, how he always seemed to be happy and loved to wrestle with this Dad. We miss you J-Boogie!

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Ack! Ack!

My mom gave Kate a picture frame when Jack was still alive that says "My Big Brother Loves Me" on the top. We have it on display with a picture of Jack and Kate together in Kate's room. Every once in awhile I will point to the picture and say "That is Jack, That is Kate." I also have pictures in my wallet of Dan and Jack (Kate too!). Yesterday Kate was playing with my wallet and flipping through the pictures. I pointed to Dan's picture and said "Who is this?" Kate said "Dadda!" I then pointed to the pictures of Jack and said "Who is this?" My heart melted when she said "Ack!"

I couldn't believe that she knew his name and even said it with an emphasis (she is growing up too!), almost like she knew we say JACK! with an exclamation mark at the end. My eyes welled up and I don't know if it made me sad or happy, probably both.

Sad that she will never remember Jack. Sad that she was cheated out of the opportunity to have a big brother protecting her and making sure her boyfriends treat her right in high school. She is cheated out of an older brother who will push her down and skin her knees, who will teach her to build forts and to pick her boogers and wipe them on eachother. She will never have teachers that say "Oh, you're Jack's little sister" or have the pleasure of personally knowing what an awesome, fun and energetic person Jack was.

I was happy that she recognized him, even if just in a picture. Happy that Jack will be a part of her life, just in a very different way then we expected. Happy that Dan and I have the responsibility from early on to teach her about the value of life and that death is not to be feared. What a great responsibility for us and one that will take some figuring out when the time comes. If there is a heaven, there are many wonderful people waiting to greet us again, including JACK! It made me happy that I am confident in Dan and my raising of Kate that she will not grow up thinking she needs to "compare" to Jack or "be like" Jack or worry that she was never "good enough." Without effort, we have grown to love Kate even more for all the things that make Kate Kate, which are quite different than the things that made Jack Jack.

I wonder if she will ask us questions about him when she is older, will she want to see pictures or watch video of them together? Will she grieve in her own way and when we talk about family, will she include him as a part of hers? I guess we will see as we go but for now, I will continue to delight myself in what we had, not what we lost and celebrate our "girls" that make our family what it presently is today.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Vroooom Vroooom!

You never realize how often you see emergency vehicles on the road until there is something personal to associate them with. It took six months but I now can look at Austin/Travis County EMS vehicles and instead of shuddering, I smile and think, “There goes those amazing people who worked so hard to save our son. God speed to whoever you are helping next.”

Monday, March 29, 2010

Faith's Lodge











Our family was sponsored by a group of selfless individuals in Minnesota to spend the weekend at “Faith’s Lodge” in Northern Wisconsin. They had learned of our story through a friend and chose us as the first family they would like to help. What a selfless act from people we have never even met! A million thanks does not convey our gratitude enough.
Faith’s Lodge is a place for families who have lost a child or whose child is terminally ill. We were able to spend the weekend with other families in our same situation and had an immediate connection with them. What an amazing time it was!
The history of Faith’s Lodge as well as pictures can be found on the website, I could try to do it justice by describing it but I would fail. It was simply divine and no detail was left out. Please check out this amazing organization and keep them in mind if you learn of families that may benefit from attending (www.faithslodge.org) or ever want to donate to a fantastic cause.
It was so wonderful for us to have the time to spend away from barking dogs, laundry, work, traffic et cetera. We spent lots of time in the kids play room (Kate’s favorite), doing arts and crafts, hiking, making s’mores by the campfire, and sharing our story and the story of JACK! with the other families.
We made a “Heart Stone” which involved choosing a stone and painting it in honor of your loved one to be placed along the “Path of Inspiration” at the lodge. When we arrived, we went hiking and picked out a large rock that we brought back to wash and paint. We were later told that we needed to return it because those were used for the retaining wall. If they had ever met Jack, they would know why we wanted a large rock instead of one that would fit in the palm of your hand. We painted Jack’s rock (a smaller one that we found) a bright sea blue and placed it next to a small pine tree that looked bright and effervescent amid the brown colors awaiting the coming of spring. Of course, while choosing the spot, placing it and taking a moment to take a few deep breaths, Kate kept busy picking up other rocks and moving them. The Heart Stone which came from Lake Superior is supposed to represent the journey of grief…sometimes there are rough waters, sometimes smooth but despite the tough journey from the bottom of the lake to the shore, it made it! Just like us! We’re making it…
In the center of the lodge was a table to place photos of your loved one. Of course I could not choose just one picture of the J-Boogie so I had an accordion style photo book with 16 pictures. Everyone commented on his smile when looking at his pictures and I loved having his picture on display in a place where people didn’t think it was “weird” or think “that poor family” or “that’s the boy that died.” We felt so bonded to the other families and I knew that to them, a piece of Jack was still alive, as the spirit of their children was to us. It was a place to feel connected to Jack while we enjoyed our new “norm” of our family being three (for 5 more months anyway!).
I realized while we were there that a weight lifted off my shoulders. When going to Faith’s Lodge and knowing we were going because of Jack, for whatever reason, I felt like I would relive everything. I realized as we were there that we never have to relive that awful evening or those tumultuous days that came after ever again. Each day that goes by puts me farther away from that awful time. The story does not change, it gets easier to tell and our “new norm” is more normal everyday. Everyday that goes by I am working through it and healing more. Some people may see it as “But you haven’t had him for so long.” I see it as “The more days I continue to survive after that time/trauma/devastating event that could have crushed me, my family, my marriage and my spirit and I didn’t allow it, the better! I choose to celebrate Jack and all our great memories!” (I like to think this makes Jack proud of his family.) I know that tragedy can strike our family at anytime but I will never lose Jack again. In realizing that, it has opened my heart and my head even more to embrace who Jack was, the memories we had with him and to be filled with love instead of sadness and grief. “That Night” (which is how I refer to that awful time) has lost so much power as I realized this. Yes! Of course the tears still come but not as frequent and not with the intensity as before. The power of the mind is an amazing thing and not something that I will ever take for granted.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Elmo Mafia

When my Dad was packing to come to Austin moments after learning the devastating news, he knew he would need a tie. He looked in his closet and saw a tie that had pool balls all over it. He told himself “This is it! This is what Jack would want me to wear.” Not the most stylish tie and a bit loud but Dad hit it on the spot. Jack certainly would have picked that tie over any other. This story gave us the idea to encourage others to do the same. When we had Jack’s celebration we had posted on the blog for people to wear something bright or fun, something that screamed “Jack!” We encouraged people to pick something out of your closet that Jack would have if he were helping you to get dressed. It was the perfect idea which came from my Dad. We didn’t need anymore darkness that day and the bright colors and fun outfits that people wore were a refreshing change from your typical attire for something of this nature.

I couldn’t believe the outpouring of support and people that came to the celebration. I was afraid too many chairs were set up when we got there and couldn’t believe that people continued to flood in and that there was standing room only. It certainly taught me that if you are ever considering going to a celebration/wake/funeral but are unsure whether you will be received well, you will. Our friends were sweating and working so hard to set everything up, to make it just how we envisioned.

As the celebration was getting ready to begin, I was feeling so nervous. What was going on? What were Dan and I doing here? This was one occasion that I did not want to be the “host” but here we were. We reviewed everything with Pastor Brian and then knew we needed to start. We walked to the front of the pavilion and looked out at everyone that had congregated with us. I was trying to hold myself together and to breathe deeply. I wanted to fall over and then I looked out past everyone sitting in chairs to the little hill that people had to walk down to get to the pavilion. It was like slow motion…a group of Dan’s friends had gone to Wal-Mart earlier in the day and found Adult Elmo Shirts. They were bright red and had Elmo’s face on them. They bought them all. They were all wearing them under their suits/jackets/blazers. It was like the “Elmo Mafia.” In an instant, I was smiling and felt so much better. I thought “People got it!” People understood that we were here to celebrate Jack and his sweet life. People weren’t afraid to go outside the box and knew that we would love it. They knew Jack well enough to know that Elmo was a favorite and were doing something to honor what we had requested. I was so touched by this and 4 months later, often I think of that moment and get a huge smile on my face. Thanks so much you guys…you have no idea how much it meant to me. “Money well spent” is a gross understatement.

Some questions can't be answered by Google

Of all the places you see your name; there are certain places you just don’t ever want to see it. There are the obvious places, on a list of people who are delinquent on their mortgage or America’s most wanted list. You don’t want to see your name on a late payment, a “flight is cancelled” email or a pink slip. But, I can say with the upmost certainty that the last place a parent wants to see their name is on their child’s death certificate. After waiting for 4 months to hopefully have an answer to “What in the world happened to our sweet Jack?” we received what may be the only answer we will receive. It still boggles my mind that I am receiving my child’s death certificate. I should be getting reports of how long his nap was at daycare and how many times he used the potty, how much he ate and new words that he learned. What an entirely different kind of document to get. I couldn’t help but notice that they listed the deceased person’s age on the certificate. Did the person typing in Jack’s information do a double-take? Did they think a number was missing on either side of the number “2?” Did it make them catch their breath and think “Thank God this isn’t my family?”

The Medical Examiner wrote the cause of death as “Pulmonary Hemorrhaging of Unknown Etiology.” Basically, Jack’s lungs filled with blood, causing him to suffocate while sleeping. Some crazy virus took over and reeked havoc. Do we know why/what/how? No, and we probably won’t ever know. The Medical Examiner was hoping that an “expert panel of Doctors” would look at Jack’s tissue to see if they could see something he couldn’t. The Medical Examiner claims that this group kept putting him off and he finally gave up on them. I know that learning more of Jack’s death is only top priority to two people and unfortunately, Dan and I didn’t have the clout we needed or even the opportunity to try to contact this “expert panel” to plead our case. Clearly, this group of doctors never met Jack and had no idea what a vivacious, fun, sweet, crazy little boy he was. If they had, I have to believe they would have done whatever they could to help us solve this puzzle.

Jack’s death continues to be something that no one understands. As frustrating as that is, I can see a silver lining. It was fast and he most likely didn’t have pain. There is no one to blame and nothing could have stopped it. It is a comfort to know that our pediatrician thinks it happened “very fast” and that Jack most likely didn’t suffer at all. I am continually filled with gratitude to Adam Stevenson and Woody Green, the EMS responders who worked tirelessly on Jack for 45 minutes before pronouncing him dead. At the time, we didn’t know that when I found Jack, he had already passed. The responders had to have known this yet fought for Jack as if they were fighting for their own life. This could have been no small task as Dan pleaded with Jack to live in a tone filled with such desperation and I paced the house having no idea what was happening and what to do. Both EMS responders left our house crying which solidified to me that they understood that although Jack was only two, he was as much a person as an adult.

As Jack’s body lost the fight to whatever this virus was that I continue to curse, I hope Jack was having sweet dreams of swimming, cupcakes and sunshine shining on his face while he completed his journey on this earth. It is still amazing to think that as this was happening, I was about 20 feet away, in another room watching Oprah on TIVO and eating a Lean Cuisine pizza, having no idea that my world was falling apart. Dan was downstairs cleaning a vacuum. We live life not knowing what/how/when things could suddenly change. Perhaps this is a good thing as we cannot live in fear and change is not always bad. We must remember to live each moment to the fullest. I have no regrets about my time with Jack. I know that he knew he was loved, adored, respected and cared for in the best way possible for our family. I know that Dan and I didn’t waste a day with our sweet boy…how sweet it is.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

HOT ROCK!

A week or so ago a little girls bike caught my eye outside of a Goodwill. Since we had Jack, Dan and I always look at the bikes at the thrift store, looking for a great find. Not a Huffy or Magna, but a really good quality bike for our kids. The bike that caught my eye was a Specialized brand "Hot Rock!" that was pink in color with dogs on it. I loved that it didn’t have Barbie or Princesses on it and it was in great shape. I wasn’t sure what size it was but knew Kate probably couldn’t use it until she was probably 4 years old. I bought it without hesitation and knew in that moment that I finally had faith that Kate would live… that she would enjoy this bike even if she can’t use it until she is 4. In my reality, my children pass away when they are two. I have been a parent for almost 3 years but don’t know what it is like to have a child older than 2. Since Jack’s passing I have thought that the same will happen with Kate because that is what we know. As each day goes by and I wake Kate from her sweet slumber in the morning, my faith is renewed that perhaps Jack’s passing was a freak thing. We all knew Jack was one in a million, why should his death be any different? I can’t wait to watch Dan teach Kate how to use her bike and to see her ride off into the sunset with a huge smile. I just hope she doesn’t go too far, we’re not ready to let her go just yet.

Tax Break

Today I filled out a form for our tax preparer. It asked for us to list our children and include how long they lived with us in 2009. Stab me in the back and kick me while I am down. An innocent question for most that requires no thought at all was like a dagger in my back. I actually had to think about this question in relation to Jack. This should have been a no-brainer for me, I should have been able to type in “12” and continue on my merry way. As I typed 9 months onto the form, I couldn’t see the screen through my tears. Sometimes the reality sneaks up on you when you least expect it and the gravity of the situation hits you. Thoughts of frustration, sadness, and “Do I really continue to live this reality day in and day out? filled my brain, all because of a tax form. Is there a special tax break for parents who are grieving their child? Do we get an exemption for suffering one of life’s greatest losses? Instead of donating money to a presidential fund on our taxes, can we donate money to prevent this from happening to anyone else? I would like to think we “took one for the team,” that team being all our family and friends but we know we can guarantee no such thing. As we progress though this journey some minutes/days/hours are easier than others but we seem to still be fighting the fight with grief. Darn it…grief won again. Someday I am going to be the winner. I am not giving up yet.

Monday, January 25, 2010

The Circle of Life


It's the Circle of Life

And it moves us all

Through despair and hope

Through faith and love

Till we find our peace

On the path unwinding

In the Circle

The Circle of Life

-The Lion King

If my social work training serves me correctly, it is recommended that after going through a major life change, one should wait a year before making any other significant changes. Dan and I certainly didn't follow this suggestion the year we moved to Austin and have seemed to do pretty well. Within one year we moved, got engaged, started new jobs, got married and bought a home.

I write because we aren't following it now! We have been blessed with a baby who will be joining our family on or around August 24, 2010. Exactly 11 months after the worst day of our lives. Amazing. We are 10 weeks along and all are doing great. I am weepy at times but that is to be expected. (In a way in my mind, I am 50% past, grieving and 50% future, baby. Weird. No wonder I can be a slobbering mess sometimes.) I try to figure out if it is hormones/pregnancy/grief? Who knows? It is probably a bit of both.

Of course, Dan and I are ecstatic. It happened quickly and without difficulty. Our family can grow again. Kate will have a sibling. We get to experience the miracle of life again. We get to parent a new child. I get to shop for baby clothes and beg for foot rubs from Dan. Having a baby is the only way I can get three months "off" from work (ha!).

However, this pregnancy comes with a different bag of tricks. At first I thought, "I am cheating on Jack." I asked my friend who quickly stopped me and said "Jack would want this." She is right and I haven't given it a second thought. He would want this and I would like to think that he probably had something to do with this quick development! Will we expect this child to look like Jack, act like Jack or even worse, want this child to BE Jack? I think knowing is half the battle and even being aware of the possibility of these thoughts/expectations/feelings will stop us and remind us to honor this child for the unique person they will be.

What has struck me most throughout this was my Mom saying "That you and Dan are willing to risk this love again is such a testament to you, you both, and the love you have for Jack." Yes, it certainly feels like a risk...we aren't naive enough to think that lightening can't strike twice. The odds are in our favor but how many people experience what we did? Thank goodness not many children lose their child within minutes/hours from an unknown cause? Our odds were pretty good for that too and look what happened...We still don't know what took over Jack's sweet body that fateful night. Does it cross my mind when I put Kate to bed or when I wake her in the morning that it could happen to her? Without a doubt. Do we have to worry about our genes and the genetic makeup of both Kate and this baby? Who knows? Luckily, we have competent medical professionals who are working on that piece.

The Circle of Life continues in the Turpin house and for that we are grateful. For now, we will celebrate life and all that it encompasses. The good, the bad, the ugly, the blissful moments, the breaking moments and all that comes in between.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Sweet Dreams


I have been so palpably missing Jack lately. It seems that I have cried everyday for two weeks straight and being in the car is the worst. What is it about being alone in your car that makes the tears and sad thoughts come down like rain in Seattle? We have had to do extra wash because every t-shirt of Dan's is covered in dry tears and snot from my crying on his chest/shoulder/neck and/or cheeks. When we started going to "For the Love of Christi," they warned us of DWG's...driving while grieving. They said "Sometimes you're going to have to pull over." They weren't kidding.
I went to a counselor for the first time through this whole thing this week. It was nice to talk to someone who wasn't emotionally involved or connected. I felt so much better after leaving and can visit with her again if I need to. I showed her a picture of Jack and she commented on his spark and smile...amazing that people who have never met him can get such an accurate read from a photograph.
I thought it was important to mention seeing a counselor. Throughout this process people comment on "how strong" I have been. Like "being strong" is a compliment or something "good" to be. I know what people really are trying to convey is their admiration. When people say it though, I feel a bit uncomfortable. I know what I am like all the time and no, I am not strong all the time. (Although I firmly believe that there is strength in asking for help and knowing your limitations. We take our cars in for tune-ups without a stigma, why is there such a stigma when we need a tune up for our thoughts/emotions/feelings?) I have amazed myself at times with my ability to see the silver lining in the clouds and to laugh when it seems there is nothing to do but cry! But, in my continuing promise to remain raw, open and honest about this process, I must mention that I am certainly not afraid to break down/freak out/ask for help/et cetera. I have had to do a lot of that lately. I do have my weak moments and it is as important to me to be as open and honest about those as the times thoughout this that I am doing ok. Grief is certainly not a game with a score card. And if it were a game, I am certain that no one would show up to play! Grief would win anyway.
I had my first dream of Jack last week. In my dream we were at the neighborhood pool and he was there, swimming away by himself doing somersaults and having a blast. He was a bit bigger yet his smile was the same. He saw us and swam up to us with excitement (he could swim on his own now!) and was so happy to see us. He had on his navy blue and red lobster swim trunks. In my dream, I hugged him and finally breathed a sigh of relief. "Ah, life is back to normal. The past four months were just a test, a cruel joke, all this time he really was going to come back." He played with Kate and they both laughed as he splashed her. It was like he had never been gone. In my dream, I could feel my body relaxing, like a 300 pound weight had finally been lifted off my shoulder.
How powerful. Are dreams meant to be interpreted or are they just a crazy recollection of all the thoughts/images/experiences that you had over the day? Are awesome dreams worth being startled awake by an alarm clock reminding you that reality is waiting?

I would like to think that it was Jack's way of telling me that he is well and doing fine. That someday, we will all be together again as if this separation never happened. Although I woke with an even deeper longing for him to be here, I will continue to try to be so grateful for what I had. Easier said than done but thank goodness for such great family and friends that are yet to turn me away when I call at all hours. Miraculously they understand me through all my tears...I don't know how they do it!

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jack's Bench!







Jack's bench is here! Located at East Metropolitan Park in Manor, TX in the back by the basketball courts, playground and pond.
It took my breath away the first time I saw it. The Travis County park staff were wonderful in helping this become a reality and could not have been more accomodating! Thank you to Kurt and Robert!
Weighing in at 447 pounds, it couldn't be more perfect. It is 8 feet long, bright green in color with a plaque built into the backrest. We were able to put it in the ideal location, facing the water and the playground visible. We hope it will be a great reminder to all who rest there to enjoy life and live it to the fullest.
A million thanks to our friends and family whose generosity made this happen. We hope you will have a chance to see it for yourself and to enjoy its beauty and energy. For now, enjoy the photos.

Friday, January 1, 2010

A perfect end to 2009




It should be no surprise that the end of 2009 was a relief in this house! Let 2010 be full of joy, health, happiness and sweet memories!
The City of Austin has an event called "First Night Austin" on New Years Eve. It is an eclectic mix of artists, food, fireworks, snow, exhibits, performances and a Grand Procession. It is all alcohol free and family focused. The perfect thing for our little family when you have a kiddo that needs to go to bed early! For the Love of Christi, the support group we attend, was asked to march in the parade. A local art class made large purple hearts for us to carry, signs and pictures of doves. We were told to bring a picture of our loved one to march with. The timing could not have been more perfect for us. We weren't sure what we were going to do and it seemed so fitting to have one last tribute to J-Boogie right before we said "Adios!" to 2009. Lourdes and Duane joined us to march in Jack's honor and I walked with such pride and love for our little boogie down Congress Avenue. The capital was lit up in the background, 1000's of people were lined the streets as we held high our sweet picture of JACK! A stranger yelled "Go Jack!" as we walked by...if they only knew how much that made our night. It was a great celebration and I was so happy to be able to show Jack's smiling face to so many people.
Happy 2010 Everyone!