Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Here I am, Lord send me...

When I went to get the mail yesterday I saw an envelope from  Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep addressed to me. I thought it had something to do with the follow up from some donations that were made in Caleb's honor for his birthday. I was wrong! It was a confirmation letter telling me that I have officially been approved as a NILMDTS volunteer.

I felt God calling me to apply about a month ago and the process was quick and simple. So this means now Ill have a chance to go back into the hospital rooms with the mothers and fathers of babies who have died. I will always go with the photographers and help then with whatever they need. I'm excited, nervous, and a little bit in disbelief that this is my life. I know rationally it doesn't make sense that I would want to go back into those sad and awful situations.  But I want to help, I long to be back in those rooms with the other babies who were like my son. Death is such a part of me now and so I guess on some weird level it makes sense that I would find my way back to it.

On a side note-my husband just got accepted as a volunteer in a program called No One Dies Alone at the local hospital. He also feels the call to be around death and will sit with strangers as they pass from this life into the next. Seriously-how is this our life? I don't know, but there is peace. I never, never,never thought this was the path God would take us down.

I laugh now thinking about this song that I played and prayed over and over again before our wedding. We were weeks away from getting married, no jobs, no house,no insurance, nothing. I told the Lord he could send me anywhere, just as long as it was something! Be careful what you ask for! I know though that having a son in Heaven was always part of the plan, like I couldn't be the RyAnne I was made to be without having gone through this. So with that being said, Im excited about this new chapter in my life and the chance to give back to an organization that gave us so much. Here I am, Lord, send me!

Two videos on the organization- Now I Lay Me Down to Sleep

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pictures at a funeral?

When we found out Caleb had died one of the things that got brought up was pictures. My midwife asked if we would like to use a service that provided free photos once Caleb was born. The group that would take the pictures was called Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep and they did an excellent job via their local photographer Jenni from Blissful Images.  I remember thinking that taking pictures of him seemed wrong because we were all so sad. Why would you want pictures at a sad time? But my midwife reminded me that I might want them later-she already knew what I didnt then, which was that these pictures were all I would get of him.

Fast forward to two days before his funeral, when I decided that since we had already done one weird photo thing, why not do another? I called our friends from Good Life Portraits that had done our wedding pictures. I knew I wanted this photographer there at Caleb's funeral.  He did an amazing job with the pictures (even saying that makes me feel guilty-amazing job of my sons funeral???) and I want to share them. I hope to one day make something more permeant out of them, but for now they are all just on the computer.

Catholic funerals are beautiful and now I have the pictures to prove it. As a life long Catholic I know there are some things that we as a Church could do better-funerals are not one of them. The Church nails it in this area, bringing together beauty, sorrow, and joy. Caleb's funeral makes me smile when I remember it-there was so much love. It felt like the veil between life and death was very thin that day in the Church. I knew that I was passing my child onto safe hands as we invoked the names of the saints. It was as if they were all coming to take him home to the Father. And the priests! We had 5 priests con-celebrate the funeral mass that day-how beautiful. We got to pick the readings ourselves and took great joy in giving that little bit back to our son. I am proud of his funeral, it is one of the few tangible things that I gave him.

If you know of someone who loses a loved one, you might want to suggest bringing in a photographer for the funeral or doing a recording of it. Often times the bereaved person is still in so much shock that they miss the beauty of the funeral and all the kind things that are said about their loved ones. Having a recording of the day or pictures lets the grieving person process it all on their own timeline.

Alright, enough said, enjoy the pictures that are from 2 years ago.

Flowers with the ribbon "son" running down them. At the end of the funeral I had a distinct feeling that St.Maximilian Kolbe was carrying Jesus into Heaven. These roses remind me of St.Max's yes to the red crown of martyrdom and the white crown of purity. Read more about this awesome saint here.

We had Eucharist Adoration for an hour before the funeral. We had decided that we didnt want a receiving line or a visitation-we were too distraught and sad to talk to everyone. Instead we wanted people to be able to sit with Jesus in quiet before the funeral. 
Nathan's two brothers carried the casket it. It was white with a little teddy bear engraved on it
Seeing how small the casket is still makes my stomach flip..its just so sad

All the priest processing in

Love this picture. All of these men played a part in our life at some point and to have them ALL there meant so much
Close to Heaven at the Eucharistic Table

Prayer cards 

Caleb with the picture of Divine Mercy- "Jesus I trust in You"

Love that candle and the hope it gave me

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

2nd Birthday

The 2nd birthday. Wow-2 years without him. The 2nd anniversary was a little harder than I expected it to be. You do so much grieving that first year and work so hard to get to a place where you can live again. When the 2nd anniversary approached, part of me thought "no biggie, I can handle this-a little crying, a little sadness, Ill get through it." Crying, yes, sadness, yes. But what surprised me most was the feelings of anger. I was just so angry on Tuesday. Angry that we have no memories with Caleb from the last 2 years when we should have tons. Angry that this is still our life.  Angry that I didn't know how to respond when everyone asks me "what are you doing for his birthday?" 

My counselor said that most parents feel the permanence of their loss more acutely on the 2nd anniversary. Yes-that is so true. It just felt so empty-like surprise its been 2 years, but oh wait nothing changed and he really isn't coming back. Last year his birthday was a time to celebrate him and making it through that first year. But this year I just wanted to stay inside and be mad. I didn't want to celebrate a baby that died, didn't want to eat cake for a dead person. It all just made me mad. 

I have spent many days this past week in "the pit." That terrible place that sucks you under and makes you feel like its really impossible to keep living. The memories were all around me and the feelings were so parallel to the emotions I felt right after we lost him. Last night after watching his NILMDTS video and crying and feeling especially low, we decided to end the night with Sunday's sermon from Bethel Church. Is there any healing balm like the word of God? I can testify that there is not.  Hearing the Word spoken out loud helped me clear my vision and slowly I felt myself rising from the pit. How many times will I have to learn that when I am down so low the only thing left to do is let God come to me? Sometimes I try so hard on my own to climb out of the pit and make everything better. When what I really need to do is be still and listen. Im like a flailing child who is drowning, but no one can save me until I calm down. 

Today remained pretty blah, but there is a lightness. Hoping this weather gets sunny or I might be in the pit awhile longer. Right now I just want April to be over with. Thank you for all the cards, emails, facebook messages. Even though it was a sad day just knowing everyone remembers him makes it better. Thank you all for the prayers and continued support, even 2 years out!

Dear Caleb,
Here is a song for you. I keep playing it and thinking of you, even though its about Jesus. Caleb, please know that " I loved you then, I love you still, I will love you til' forever passes by, from the cradle to the grave my love remains the same, you will find me by your side..." I love you!

There are so many thought floating around my head, but I still cant put them down yet. I read this article a moment ago and really connected with it and wanted to share it.

What I Mean When I say My Daughter Was Stillborn

Friday, April 12, 2013

Get Back to the Table

I've spent this Easter season reading the accounts of the Risen Christ in each of the Gospels. What stands out to me the most is how unrecognizable Jesus was after he rose from the grave. That makes sense to me-after I lived the paschal mystery in my own life, I didn't recognize Jesus. Everything felt foreign after Caleb died, including the old ways I used to recognize God. That was scary at first because it felt like I was losing my faith at times. But as the Gospel stories show us, just because you cannot recognize Jesus doesn't mean He isn't there-standing with you, walking with you, healing you.

Any griever will tell you that the anticipation of a date is usually harder than the actual date itself. I have felt that this week leading up to Caleb's birthday, which is next Tuesday. My soul is uneasy, anxious, sad, scared, and deflated. It feels so dark in my heart, like I am back there again walking through the dark valley of the shadow of death.  And while I walk through this valley, I don't recognize God, but I know He is near...

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I fear no evil, for You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;
You have anointed my head with oil;
My cup overflows.
Surely goodness and loving kindness will follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.

I love this psalm but the part that always bothered me was the table part. Isn't it odd that God prepares a table? I mean, just get through the freaking valley! We don't have time to stop and eat in this scary place! It always confused me, until a few weeks ago when I heard an incredible sermon. It came from Bethel Church, which is a non-denominational Church in Redding, California. This Church has been so healing for me. Their sermons each week are on my podcast and each Sunday night Nathan and I  sit down with a glass of wine and tune in. In the last month or so it has felt like these sermons where written for me, my own heart only. 

A few weeks ago was this sermon entitled the Dual Power of Purpose.  Wow! Please listen to it, its not that long. He talks about "getting back to the table" when you are walking in the dark valley and surrounded by enemies. This makes sense to me. In my grief, when things are so dark and scary, I try (or scramble) to get back to the Table. Because even though right now I don't recognize Jesus in this valley, I do recognize his Table. The peace I have had this week has come when I envision myself running in the dark, panicked, and trying to get back to the table.... I just have to get back to the table. It's at the Table that I feel God again, that my enemies of death watch as the Lord anoints me with healing oil. The Table is safe and so if I can just find the table I will be safe.

Of course as Catholics you can take this even further as Id guess its a reference to the Eucharistic Table, where again Christ is recognized, fully present in the breaking of bread (Luke 24:30-31). Thank you Jesus, for preparing a table for us in the midst of suffering. My prayer this week continues to be that small voice in my soul, though overcome with grief, that is whispering-just get back to the table.

This song might be the most beautiful song Ive heard in a while...I just keep listening to it..God is close to the broken hearted..

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Feelings of April

I feel like the stage is set..It's April again. And honestly Im doing alright, just crying more often, unable to hold the tears in. It all is so raw this time of year, again. Mostly though this year I just keep remembering the anticipation we had. Seeing the calendar turn to April 1 and thinking "this is it! The month he will come!Finally!." Putting together the stroller and last minute things in the nursery. Washing all the clothes, packing the hospital bag, writing up our birth plan.(strange sidenote-our birth plan included things to do in case of neonatal death-ex-call priest, let us have time with baby,etc. When I showed it to 2 different midwives at appointments they both said-take it off! This baby isn't going to die! Don't be so negative......I swear my mother's intuition just knew).

Im trying to lay low in anticipation for next week, his birthday week. We started a tradition of taking treats up to the labor and delivery floor and our OB office. We just could not have gotten through his birth without those two places. But I know going back there is exhausting and his birthday itself will be emotional. But for right now Im just going to enjoy the warm weather and remember him and the anticipation we had.

Taken just one week before you were born sweet baby boy! Your dad and I had one last "date night" and then came home and took our weekly picture of how big you had gotten! I was counting down the days until you would be here!

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary

We've made it through Holy Week! It was such a gift to be able to devote so much time this year to all the Tridiuum services and really enter into the Paschal Mystery. Saturday night was the big event with the Easter Vigil. The Mass was amazing with 20 new members coming into our parish (side note-did you know that around 150,000 people will enter the Catholic Church this Easter?Awesome!). It was a beautiful night where you can really see the darkness becoming bright again. Literally-we start the Mass in pitch black and by the end of it there are lights and candles everywhere!

As Mass was letting out, everyone kept yelling "Happy Easter" to one another as they left the pews. There was so much happiness. And I wanted to feel it and I did to an extent, but my heart was still so sad. I could feel the emptiness inside of me from missing Caleb. I kept thinking "how many more Easters do I have to live without him?"

As we made our way out the doors, I asked Nathan if we could stop and pray in the side chapel for a bit. Once we were in there I felt free to let the tears come. I was so frustrated, why couldn't I be happy? He has Risen! Why can't I enter into it? My heart just kept breaking for my own loss and others losses. I knew that just because Easter had come on the calendar, so many people were still suffering and in their own hell. As I tried to talk through my tears and big gasps of air, Nathan said something that stuck with me and made me feel better. He said, " You are still sad because you are like our Mother-she has one heart, but it is called the Sorrowful and Immaculate Heart of Mary. She carries all the joy and sorrow at once in her heart." Ah-Ha! Now that made sense to me. Mary does carry both sorrow and joy simultaneously in her heart. She gets it-and that gave me peace. It also helped me enter into the happiness more. Thank you Mary for your wisdom.

Immaculate and Sorrowful Heart of Mary-Pray for us!
(Pierced with a sword, but still so beautiful)