The Missing Trick-or-Treater

Our family always does holidays big. 

Patrick and I are continually trying to make sure that Madeline can look back on her childhood and see magic. We want her to have memories of all of the special traditions that we have started with her and will continue for years to come. 

Halloween is no exception. 

This past month we have gone to the pumpkin patch to pick out the perfect pumpkins. We have painted pumpkins. We have done Halloween themed crafts and made treats. We have gone to our town’s yearly Pumpkins on Parade. We have visited fall festivals, Halloween parades, and trunk-or-treats. We have gone to Boo at the Zoo and played dress-up for days at a time. Tonight we will trick-or-treat and pass out treats of our own. We have created amazing memories with our brave little Supergirl. 

All throughout all of these special moments there is that one piece missing. 

That one piece of our family that is always missing, yet we feel it all that more intensely during these special holiday moments. Joshua. 
We always miss him, every moment of every day. 

But these holidays. 

These special, magical, amazing family moments we get to have with his little sister make his absence felt even more than usual. 

We have four years of adorable photos of our sweet girl dressed up as a ladybug, a black cat, Princess Sophia, and Supergirl. With each costume I wonder what her big brother would have wanted to be. Batman, a Ninja Turtle, a Ghostbuster, a dinosaur, Superman to match his little sister…

I look at the matching sibling costumes that my friends post, I see the adorable Poppy and Branch Trolls costumes, the Catboy and Owlette PJ Masks outfits, and my heart wonders if Josh and Maddy would have wanted to dress-up together. 

The very first thing I ever bought for Joshua when I was pregnant with him was a pair of My First Halloween pajamas. We didn’t even know if he was a little girl or boy at that point, but I saw the soft pumpkin covered pajamas and just knew that our baby had to have them. When we dressed his sister in them two years later, my heart ached knowing that this was not the way I wanted to be passing down his things…unused. 

That feeling of missing is always there, but these holidays…they make it especially hard to fight back the tears and the longing to know just who he would be now. 

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Four

Four. Today you should be turning 4. There should be balloons and cake and presents and a trip to one of your favorite places. I wonder what that would be… There should be lots of giggles and hugs and sweet birthday wishes for our getting so big too fast birthday boy. Instead I’m here, just missing you like every other day. Wishing I could give you the biggest birthday hug and tell you how much I love you and that no matter how big you are getting you will always be my baby while I cover your sweet face in kisses that I’m sure you would do your best to wiggle away from. Someday, just know we will have a lifetime of hugs and kisses to makeup. I love you, my sweet boy. I miss you. Happy 4th Birthday!

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There Should Be More

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All my life I was raised to be grateful for what I had. This was especially true at Christmas. I may not have always gotten every gift that I had on my wish list, but my mom worked hard to ensure that my Christmas was always magical.

I know we live in a society that is always seeking more and I certainly don’t want to raise my daughter thinking that more gifts is what makes Christmas special. I want to teach her what is truly important about this season: Jesus, family, and love.

That being said, this year I can’t help but wish for more.

There should be one more stocking hung with care.

There should be one more pair of Christmas PJs carefully picked to match baby sister’s.

There should be cars and trucks and blocks wrapped in pretty paper with blue bows.

There should be more laughter and noise filling our house.

There should be more little foot steps running down the hall.

There should be more beautiful chaos, more excited voices, more bright eyes all aglow.

There should be more sticky fingers covered in icing and sprinkles as we decorate cookies.

There should be more sweater vests and bow ties.

There should be more.

I am so grateful beyond measure for our Madeline, but there should be more.

There should be Joshua.

So for those with aching hearts, missing your child, your parent, your grandparent, your spouse, your friend, I give you permission to wish for more this year. Be grateful for your blessings, but it is okay to acknowledge that your greatest wish is just one more moment with that missing piece of your heart.

I pray you all have a beautiful and peaceful Christmas and that 2015 is full of many blessings and joy.

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Just Barely

I’m barely hanging on.

I know this.  It’s been like this for months.  The weather got cold and suddenly it felt like February 22nd all over again.  I feel like I’m stuck in my own awful version of Groundhog Day.  Reliving those moments over and over again every time I’m alone for a minute.

I cry in the shower.  I sob in the car.  I just can’t shut my mind off no matter how hard I try to refocus.

I am so thankful for our beautiful daughter, but that doesn’t change the fact that I miss our son with every breath I take.

I’m sure its the rapidly approaching winter and the holidays that it brings with it that have worn me down.

Thanksgiving 2 years ago was the day we announced that we were having a boy. This Christmas has me acutely aware of what we are missing.

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Overcoming the Fear

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As I saw this come across my Facebook wall this morning, I couldn’t help but think of this in terms of my pregnancy with Madeline after losing Joshua.

Losing Joshua was a horrible, awful nightmare.  It was my world crumbling.  It was life crashing down around me.  It was dreams ending.  It was the worst pain I’ve ever experienced.

I could have let that be the end of my story.  I could have let that fear, that pain, that nightmare consume me.  Define me.

Instead, I got brave.  I let my heart open up to the idea of another child.  I let my head fill with dreams of rocking a baby to sleep.  Of playing peek-a-boo and singing lullabies.   Of holding a living, breathing, healthy baby in my arms.

For those of you struggling with the loss of a pregnancy, a baby, a child, or whatever nightmare is currently consuming your life – please don’t shut out your dreams.

I’m not naive.  I know that not everyone gets their rainbow after the storm.  We are blessed beyond measure that we have.  However, for those who are standing in the middle of the nightmare – keep dreaming.  Your dream may look different now than it did 9 months ago, but it can still be beautiful.

Hold on to hope.

Happy Friday!

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Hey Jealousy

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I have a really hard time when I see families that have a toddler boy and a baby girl.

It’s jealousy in it’s purest form. I long to have that family. That was the family we were supposed to have. We should have. I see the pictures creep across my Facebook feed. I see the mother trying to quiet her baby girl while entertaining her toddling little boy through the aisles of Target and my heart aches.

Dear mother of two under two,

I see you with your tired eyes and full hands. I see you struggling with two in diapers and wondering if you’ll ever have just five minutes to yourself. I see you stressed and tired and overwhelmed. I see you and oh how I long to be you.

Madeline will turn four months this Saturday and Joshua would be 17.5 months old. Would I still be counting in months? Would I just tell people that he is almost a year and a half?

I’m sure he would be walking and talking by now. Would he have a favorite food? Would he be sleeping through the night? Or would he still be waking up like his baby sister? I’m sure I would have thousands of photographs carefully posed of Joshua kissing/holding/hugging his little sister.

Sometimes I think she sees him.

She will stare at one spot just over my shoulder for the longest time and just smile. I think he comes to visit her. To tell her to take care of us. To let us all know that he is still with us and will be waiting.

I talk to her about her big brother. I call her sis and dress her in shirts that say “little sister.” I put her in outfits (Royals and Chiefs onesies and jerseys) that were bought for Josh – things that would have been passed down to her slightly worn, but instead are brand new. I let her play with our Josh Bear (a Molly Bear that was made to be the exact weight that Josh was when he was born). I tell her that she is special, because not everyone gets to have a big brother up in Heaven looking out for them.

But dammit, it’s not the same. I shouldn’t have to tell her she has a big brother. She should know that, because he should be here with us. He should be stealing her toys and trying to kiss on her. I should be rocking them both to sleep at night and teaching Joshua how to “help” with his baby sister.

Somedays are better than others…
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