Thursday, November 11, 2010
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.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Monday, August 23, 2010
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
Saturday, August 14, 2010
Cheers J Boogie!
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
Thursday, July 8, 2010
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!)
Sunday, June 20, 2010
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.
Friday, June 4, 2010
Monday, May 10, 2010
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
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
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
Monday, March 29, 2010
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
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.
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
Monday, January 25, 2010
Saturday, January 23, 2010
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
Friday, January 1, 2010
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!