"Grieving the loss of a child is a process, it begins the day your child passes and ends the day the parent joins them."

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Just A Coincidence

...or a sign?

Paul and I have been car shopping for Ashleigh. Yes, here in Michigan. She got financed, in VA, but we didn't want her out car shopping on her own. So, she sent a nice BIG fat check to us..to spend..for her! Along with some pretty harsh instructions on what type of car she wanted..right up to color choices. We've had a tough time looking for certain makes/models/colors of cars to suite Ashleigh's fancy! She's one picky gal!

While car shopping, over the course of 5 weeks, we went to many dealerships. Each time we would get close to closing the deal, something would go completely wrong and the deal would fall all to pieces. It was frustrating for us and for Ashleigh. That being said, after all those weeks and disappointments ... we picked up a 2010 Malibu with only 16,000 miles on it, just a few hours ago. Very sharp car!

As Paul was out alone one night (car shopping), he sent me a text. All the text said was, "I found a car. This is the one." Once he got home, he told me about the salesman. It turned out that the salesman is married to the lead detective for the Michigan State Police, who headed up the investigation on the night of Brad's death/fire. She has since turned it over to another detective, (the case is still open). Just A Coincidence or a sign?? Truthfully, we aren't sure. But this deal went off without a hitch. The car is in our driveway now--as I type. Could it be Brad's way of saying.."this car is the one."? No idea. Whatever the case, it gave us chills to meet the detectives husband and buy a car from him.

Earlier today, Paul and I headed to the dealership to pick up Ashleigh's car. As we were getting ready to leave the dealership, keys in hand to that pretty, shiny, blue car, we ran into a very familiar face. Even though we hadn't seen this face in quite sometime. Mandy, one of Carly's favorite oncology nurses was in the dealership buying herself a new car. She took care of Carly many times while we were inpatient. And she kept me company on many endless nights. We just loved her. We were always somewhat relieved to see her face come into our hospital room. We knew we'd be well taken care of. When Mandy's eyes met ours while standing in that dealership and she screeched..."Carly's mom and dad!" Yep, she remembered us and our sweet girl. She hadn't seen Carly in about 4 yrs..or more. I guess it's been over 4yrs, now that I sit here and think about it. She had her son with her today, who is 5yrs old. . . she didn't have kids when she took care of Carly. Anyway, the next words out of her mouth, and I knew they were coming... "Oh my gosh, how's Carly?" Instant tears poured out of my eyes. And I mean instant. So instant, that I was kind of thrown for a loop. And I'll never forget the look on her face. Ever. Oh my gosh! Poor Mandy had no idea what had happened. And then, she cried too. We stood inside that dealership hugging and crying. Just A Coincidence or a sign? Again, no idea. But we think maybe, just m a y b e, both Carly and Brad were with us today.

Through all my counseling, reading, and research on grief and grieving, I've read and been told countless times.."there will be signs." We are starting to believe this to be true. And we're somewhat freaked out by it. Favorite songs of both Carly and Brad come on the radio more and more often lately. What's even more freaky than hearing those songs, is the timing of the songs. Purple (Carly's favorite color) flowers poppin' up randomly. Finding everything imaginable in Eagle form..Brad loved Eagles! As a matter of fact, I found an Eagle garden statue about 2ft tall...I bought it (wasn't even looking for one) and placed it at his grave. It seems wherever I go, I see something with Eagles on it. And as crazy, weird as this sounds, I've even thought that I smelled their scent a time or two. Just don't know what to think, are these all Just A Coincidence...or a sign?

There is not a day that goes by, that we don't miss Carly and Brad. There is not a day that passes, that they aren't heavy on our minds. We are so completely lost without them both. Our hearts actually hurt. Every. Single. Day. I think often of what we'd be doing with Carly. Playing outside everyday after school. Watching Disney 24/7. Listening to her boom box blasting out Hannah Montana. I miss her sweet little voice and her chuckle of a laugh..which was exactly like Brad's! We miss Brad's voice. His chuckle and we are lost without him helping us with all our techie stuff. We are totally in the dark when it comes to all things techie. We miss the relationship that the two of them had. And we are so very sad that Brad never will have the joy of being a dad. We will never see any grandchildren from our son.

The week before Carly passed away, we ordered pizza. When the pizza arrived, Carly came around the corner, into the kitchen, took one look at the delivery guy and spun around running to Brad's room, screaming, "BUBBA, B U B B A" He came out of his room and said, "dang Carly, I can hear ya know" Whenever Carly had candy, she'd run to her "Bubba" and make sure he got a piece too. Truth be known, he probably told her she HAD to give him some of her candy! She even put stickers on his bedroom door - he left them there for a LONG, LONG time. And even though we are struggling with God right now..we are trying VERY hard to hold on to any shred of hope. We are doing, or trying to do this..in hopes that our two kids are together. It's not easy for us. We are still VERY pissed off and will likely be for many, many years to come.

On a lighter note. Paul and I are heading to VA on Thursday to personally deliver Ashleigh's car to her. She's super excited to get the car and we're equally excited and super anxious to see her. Even if only for a few days..it will do all 3 of us good. And, we'll be together for Easter, which is also the 6mo date of our fire and Brad's death. I'm thinking we're going to do something completely different for Easter dinner this year. Not the traditional ham dinner. Maybe a nice big steak dinner. Steak was Brad's favorite meal. It's also the meal he requested just 50 minutes before his death. I know he'd enjoy a steak for Easter dinner..he never liked ham.

Friday, March 16, 2012

A Sign?

Paul and I went over to our house earlier this evening. And we think we may have had, A Sign from our sweet little Carly.

Purple Flowers!

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Do you see those flowers? See how purple they are? We couldn't believe this. Why??? Well, not because of this very odd Spring/Summer like weather we are having here in Mid Michigan, which is causing everything to bloom..it was 78 here today..the normal temp., is in the 40's for the middle of March. The reason we could not believe our eyes...is because of our yard. Our yard was torn to shreds the past several months. Dump trucks, bulldozers, backhoes, semi trailers, tractors...mud, mess, the works all right here on this very spot that these flowers popped up.

We are kind of thinking this is A Sign from our little Carly. Last Spring, these flowers popped up. The thing is, I never planted them. However, the first Spring after we lost Carly..they were there. In fact, I think I did a post on finding them growing last year. I could look through my blog, but I'm not going to! Not right now at least.

How these are growing amongst the torn up yard..seriously, there is no grass around those flowers..you can see that in the picture, is beyond anything I can figure out. Everything is dirt. Turned up grass. Just. Plain. Dirt!

For those of you who haven't followed our journey until recently. Carly's favorite color was purple. It's the first "color" word that she ever said. She wanted EVERYTHING purple. Red was her second favorite color..and was the second "color" word she said. If you gave her a choice between something, red or purple...it confused the shit out of her!! Poor kid, she could not choose between the two. So, most generally, she ended up with something purple and something red!

As we looked at these flowers, Paul and I said, at the same time, "It's Carly." I'm thinking she's telling us, "it's time to get home. I'm still here." Now if only we could get A Sign, from Brad.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A few questions...

...that I've been asked over the course of the past several months. Most are pretty difficult to answer. But, I find myself often saying the ever infamous line of, "I'm doing okay." Which is really, very far from the truth!

One question that I often get asked is - "how do you do it?" I assume, "it" is referring to the death of 2 of my children. I rarely have an answer to that question. Most often, I find myself at a loss of words or I stumble around trying hard to come up with an answer. Actually, in complete honesty, I have no idea of just how exactly to answer that particular question. The truth is, I don't know how I do "it". I don't know how I get through each day. It's hard to go to sleep each night. It's VERY hard to get myself out of bed each morning.It's hard to get started with each new day. Seriously, every day, each morning, it's hard. It throws your whole body for a loop..just. as. soon. as. you. open. your. eyes. Not a good way to start each day, is it? It's not like getting up late because your alarm wasn't set right. And then you find yourself racing around the house trying to get ready to get out the door to work..only to discover that you have lost you set of car keys just as your heading out the door to work. Car keys are replaceable...even though you get totally pissed off when you can't find your keys. It throws you into a tizzy. Throws your entire day off. However, in the back of your mind, you know those keys will eventually show up. What I face each morning is the cold hard fact, that my 2 kids will never show up. Not in their physical being. They are forever gone from this world. Gone forever. And truthfully, I'm not doing "it" very well. But, I've learned that people are so uncomfortable with the truth, that I seem to just give the easiest answer possible..."I'm doing okay."

Another question I've been asked several times is - "what's the hardest part of what you're going through?" Again, I can only assume that question refers to the loss of 2 of my children, but people don't ask with the use of Carly's or Brad's name. I don't have any idea how to answer that question at all. I can't explain the ache I feel deep, deep down inside of myself. I can't begin to explain the overwhelming heartache that consumes me each and every. single. day. I often times will say, "my heart is completely shattered, not just broken, shattered." And I just leave it at that. I can't tell you what the hardest part of living this new life is. I miss seeing the faces of my kids every day. I miss their laughter. I miss their voices. I miss the noisiness of having kids.

On a day to day basis, one of the things we do struggle with the most, is waking up each morning to face another day without our kids. Going to visit them at the cemetery is very difficult. It's so hard to stand at their graves and know that their lives are over. To know that I gave birth to two beautiful children whose lives were snatched away, without any warning. They were here one minute and gone the next.

Another question Paul and I get asked a lot..and I mean A LOT - "are you angry/mad at God?" We are extremely mad and angry at God. We now question whether or not there even is a God. Please..do not judge me for my feelings. If you believe in God, good for you. But for Paul and I, we are struggling. We are mad as HELL. I get so tired of hearing people say, "everything happens for a reason." and "this is God's plan." Ummm, I'm pretty sure if those people were walking this journey of grief, they'd be feeling darn near what we are feeling and if they didn't, they'd surely understand our anger and our questioning. As I've said to several people, "well, if this is God's plan, it's one messed up plan. Messed up big time."

As far as questions go, believe you me...we have a lot of them. I'll share with you a few of those question. We struggle with these questions daily. Often times, several times, daily.

Why our family?
Why our kids?
Why can’t we feel their presence, (like those grieving parents before us, claim we can) on a daily basis?
Why wasn't it us?
Why do we feel so exhausted each day?
When will our heart shattering pain lessen?
When will we have any feeling of "normalcy" again?

Is this all there is to our "normalcy" now?
When will our up and down days, turn into more "up" days and less "down" days?
Is our life left to "down" days, for the rest of our lives?
When will our guilt end?
Is it really "normal" to feel such quilt?
When will my horrible dreams of my 2 children end?
Do I really want my horrible dreams to end?
Are we going crazy?
Are our kids together now?
Are they happy?
Where, exactly are our kids?
What's it like for them now?
Is there life beyond?
Where was God on April 23, 2010 as Carly fought so freaking hard to survive?
Where was God on October 8, 2011 as our home burned as our son lie inside?
What kind of God puts a family through such horror?
Why did God fail our family?
Is there even God?
Is there a Heaven?
How are we suppose to go on with our lives?
Will happiness ever find us again?
How does a mother go on without 2 of her children and where does she even begin?
What are we suppose to do now?
What comes next?
Is more heartbreak ahead?
When is enough...ENOUGH?

And those are only an example of some of the questions that we have each day. Most, will likely never be answered. And that sucks. Because some of those questions will eat at us, likely for the rest of our lives.

We are trying hard to find a sense of some sort of normalcy. But it's really, really hard and more times than not, I for one, would rather just stay at home and keep to myself. And if you know my husband, so would he. It's hard to get yourself moving. Force yourself to, go..live..do..be. I'm trying though. I do have some pretty good friends who do get me out a couple times a month. We go for lunch, dinner, shopping and even to the movies. Believe me, I come close each time, to backing out. But, I force myself to, go..do. In all honesty, it's hard. Hard to make myself do things. Not sure if it's guilt because I'm doing things or fear. Fear, is very much a part of our lives now. We fear each day. We fear facing each day. We fear wondering what each day will bring. We fear tomorrow. We fear life.

The above picture, is part of the Willow Tree Angels collection. My dear friend, Polly, sent this to us after Brad's death. It's very fitting, it's called, "Brother and Sister" And I hope, this is how my kids are today. Together. Side by side. Forever.

Brad would most definitely, NOT like this picture of him shown.. because
he had lost so much weight after this picture and before his death.
But, I love this picture. Carly was checking him out..likely wishing
she could stand by her "sissy"... and he was checking her out. They
had a very special bond. And I sure do hope whatever is out there after death..whatever
it may be, that they are together again.