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!