This amazing, beautiful post came to me today. It is so true that acts of kindness and gratitude are a soothing elixir. I hope you enjoy this as much as I did / do:
angel, beautiful son, blessing, boy, child, choices, comfort, cry, dead, death, dying, family, friends, grief, grieving, heartbreak, Holiday, hope, insight, little boy, living, living life, loss, love, memories, memory, move on, Noah, smile, son, son noah, suffering, tragedy
The complexity of my internal struggles these past few months has been too tiring to understand, let alone to try to put into words. So, this Christmas I managed to put up a tree, hang stockings and do a little baking. Though I feel less volatile and panicked, I don’t know that I will ever be able to say that I have healed. Which I suppose is to be expected.
Although sometimes it feels like people around me expect me to just “get over it” and “move on,” I try to be kinder than that to myself as I go forward in the best and only way I know how. I manage to get through most days remembering the joy that Noah brought, but there are still times when it all just kind of hits me. And people around me either understand or they don’t. I try to remember that the reactions and actions of others are more about them than they are about me. I have to take care of myself and not worry too much about what others think or say. Noah would want that. He would want me to take good care of myself.
Of course there are several things that are still difficult. I can’t come within a mile or so of the apartment complex where Noah lost his life. I can’t look at swimming pools or anything to do with swimming. I can’t walk past the little boys’ section at department stores. I can’t quite look at all the videos of Noah and Zoe playing together. And Christmas is worse. I still can’t watch Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph. I can’t stand Christmas carols. When I bake, I am still hyper-aware and meticulous about cleaning up any spilled flour, knowing how sick it would make Noah when he “got gluten-ed.”
The memories of Noah are bittersweet as I struggle to come to terms with the fact that this is my life now. He existed. He brought so much love and joy. But there isn’t a single thing I can do to change the past. I will never know why he had to die. I will never stop hurting.
But what I can do is honor him with my life. I can tell his stories. I can look around me and see all the people whose lives are forever changed because of this one little boy. I can laugh when I remember him, just as well as I can cry. I can choose to let go of the anger and anguish and I can choose to remember what he taught me. I can choose to be eternally grateful that I did not lose Zoe – that she is still here, growing, learning and loving.
I can choose gratitude because – after three major losses in my life in only six months’ time – if there is one thing I know, it is that everything can change in the blink of an eye. Nothing lasts and sometimes what you think you have a firm hold of can slip through your fingers before you know what happened. Savor every day. Let the furniture be dusty so that you can play that board game with your kids for the millionth time. Because time is precious.
This may not be the life I had planned. There are always going to be things that I CANNOT choose. All I can do – all any of us can do – is make the right choice right now in this moment. And I choose love. Because that’s one of the things I learned from Noah: if I can live the rest of this life with love as the foundation from which my choices and my life spills forth, I will have managed to truly live.
4th of July, angel, anniversary, beautiful son, blessing, boy, broken, child, comfort, crazy person, crocodile tears, cry, daughter, dead, death, family, Fourth of July, friends, grief, grieving, heartbreak, heaven, heaven date, hope, hospital, July 5, Kansas, little boy, loss, love, memories, memory, Mental Health, mom, mother, Noah, one year, Overland Park, pain, pool regulations, regret, remember, remembering, sad, sadness, safety, semi-private pools, Shawnee, Shawnee PD, Shawnee Police Department, smile, son, son noah, suffering, swimming, swimming pool, swimming pool safety, tragedy, writing
I have had trouble writing lately. There just seems to be so much: feelings battling with other feelings, thoughts confronting and shaping beliefs, depression clouds moving in and coloring all of it at times. It’s hard to get any of it into words and these last few months have been more about distraction as a coping tool.
Tomorrow, July 5, will be what some refer to as Noah’s “Heaven Date.” The anniversary of the day he was officially pronounced to have died. But for me, it isn’t really about that specific day, but the process spanning several days that culminated in the finality of my son’s existence. I find myself obsessively reviewing the journal from Noah’s caringbridge website (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/noahdavis), comparing the dates and times of the updates with the times now. I don’t really know why. Maybe a part of me wants to honor his process; remember with a clearer head what was so traumatic and shocking at the time, that it has become this nightmarish blur; the details of which I strain to recall.
Over this year, this painful alternate reality, I have tried my very best to cope. Desperate for comfort, I have leaned on friends, family and sometimes complete strangers to see me through.
Even without his actual presence tangible beside me, his Spirit, now one with the Universe, reaches across all boundaries:
- The parents I know watch their children like hawks when they go swimming now.
- They would never let their child swim in a pool where it is too dirty to see the bottom.
- When I am missing him most, Noah leaves me little signs like a wild rose on the ground where there are no rose bushes or wild rabbits making a home under my best friend’s porch across the street from me.
- While searching for something else on the day after Mother’s day, I came across a recordable Hallmark card from last Mother’s Day. Opening it, I was delighted and crushed to hear Noah’s bright voice “Happy Mudders Day!”
- I was invited to create a Dia de los Muertos altar in honor of Noah last fall, where I got the opportunity to share Noah’s story with countless others who visited The Mattie Rhodes Center during First Fridays, local school field trips and a beautiful celebration honoring the Day of the Dead.
- I have cultivated a relationship with one of Noah’s kidney recipients and look forward to exchanging information and hopefully meeting her someday. She is a lovely, very grateful woman who needed a very specific match for a successful transplant. Noah’s kidney was her perfect match.
- Chief of Police Larry Larimore, upon learning of Noah’s fondest wish to be a police officer when he grew up, was a catalyst for making Noah’s dream a reality. On August 27, 2012, what would have been Noah’s 7th birthday, Noah was sworn in as an honorary member of the Shawnee Police Department and awarded the Medal of Valor for the lives he saved through organ donation. (P.S. Watch the full ceremony here but fast forward to about 20:00 to get to the actual ceremony)
- Noah’s story, especially his swearing-in as an honorary Police Officer and awarding of the Medal of Valor, was shared through countless local news stations and newspapers.
- Officer Amanda Pandolfi of the York Regional Police in Ontario, Canada has a photo of Noah posted on the inside of her locker. She says, “I see him every morning when I report for duty and every night before I go home to my own kids.”
- My dear friend Alyson, who happened to be going through a rough patch in her own life, somehow managed to take all the clothes that Noah had at my house and create three beautiful quilts; each one a work of art and loving testament to Noah. Zoe and I cried when we saw them, remembering his favorite shirts, the ones he always tried to wear backwards and the little pockets where he would stash his matchbox cars.
- While in the hospital last year, Zoe made a friendship bracelet for Noah and tied it around his ankle. She made matching bracelets for all the family and friends who visited us and for anyone who wanted one. Noah was cremated wearing it.
- While Zoe and I were in Italy, we were in awe of the beauty and love around us and were accepted immediately as part of Isabella’s family. It wasn’t until my bracelet broke – the one Zoe made to match Noah’s – that I cried. I realized later that it was the longest amount of time that I had gone without crying in over a year and a half.
- Zoe promised to make me another one. 🙂
- After Noah’s accident at the apartment swimming pool, the City of Overland Park, Kansas required them to have a certified Pool Maintenance Technician on staff. (Shouldn’t they all? From what I understand, semi-private swimming pools – apartment pools, hotel pools and the like – are not required to have a swimming pool maintenance specialist on staff.)
I’ve had some changing to do this year also. When I first moved into my new place, it took a long time to come to terms with the fact that this is my life now. Sometimes I still struggle with that.
I had lots of help from co-workers and close friends who moved me from the apartment across from that horrifying swimming pool (which I never had to go back to) to my new home and helped me organize my things. It’s an enormous understatement to say that I had too many loving caretakers around me to count.
Still, I feel like I have yet to “settle in” completely, which I suppose is an expected metaphor for my life. Noah’s toys and books still sit in unopened boxes, too painful to approach for now. Someday when I need him, I will open and savor each little item; slowly, one by one.
For a long time, my new home was more like a shrine. Photos, toys and memorabilia everyplace I looked. It was comforting and I felt like it kept him close to me. But over the last month or so, as this week has crept closer and closer, I’ve had to tuck some things away. It’s just become too sad. I still display his photos here and there along with Zoe’s, his ashes on the bookshelf with his Suzy bunny and the shadowbox with his police badges. I know that no matter how hard it is to accept sometimes, Noah’s Mom is not the only role I have to play in life. I’m Zoe’s Mom too. Ben’s Sister. Dan’s Daughter. Employee. Friend. Confidante. Noah would want me to be the best I can be in these roles and I work to make him proud.
I also feel compelled, on mornings like this one when I feel strong, to create positive change in the world from my loss. Perhaps that means advocating for stricter, more enforceable regulations for semi-private swimming pools, education on pool safety or perhaps matchbox cars for pediatric patients. Maybe all of the above. When I am stronger and the grief-bursts subside a little I will know.
No doubt my grief is raw again now as I look at the calendar disbelieving that it has been a year since I’ve seen Noah, heard his laugh or held his hand. Over the last year, I have struggled to comprehend the traumatic events that I witnessed in rapid succession: his limp body jolted by CPR compressions, his cold blue fingers, toes and lips, the way the oscillator blew up his little body like a balloon because his lungs were too damaged to contain the air pumping into them, watching the team of doctors and surgeons try to revive him during the three times that his heart stopped, the last sponge bath I gave him one year ago today, talking to him and then finally kissing him goodbye that next day.
I have tried very hard to replace these horrific memories with good ones: Christmas mornings, knock-knock jokes, snuggle time, bedtime stories and songs. But recalling the events of “one year ago at this time…” is hard to escape.
I will always struggle. I will always miss Noah. I will always love Noah. Although I can no longer say that I have no regrets in life (the what-if’s can be awful), I can move forward. I can experience joy, laughter and love. I can remember him with a smile. I’m not always strong and I still break down. But I know that it is possible to move forward knowing that his little hand is always on my shoulder.
angel, beautiful son, blessing, boy, broken, Buddhism, buddhist faith, child, comfort, crazy person, crocodile tears, cry, cuky choquette, dead, death, dying, faith, family, friends, god, Gratitude, grief, grieving, heartbreak, heaven, honor, hope, insight, little boy, lomi lomi, loss, love, memore, memories, memory, Mental Health, mom, mother, nichirem, nichiren, Noah, pain, profound grief, religion, sad, sadness, smile, son, son noah, spiritual cleansing, spirituality, suffering, tragedy, writing
…and I really can’t say why. it’s just been a roller coaster.
some days i am my normal self. some days not so much. but lately i have done a lot better than usual. i really have to thank Cuky Choquette-Harvey for the major steps in my recovery from this profound grief. Yes, my Buddhist faith has been a major source of strength. And, no doubt, I have been nothing short of DESPERATE for ANYTHING that might ease the pain or lessen the grief that has become a part of me. But nothing has come close to the relief that has been afforded me through the comfort of Lomi Lomi and through Cuky.
I know. It seems a bit strange: aligning chakras, hot stones, spiritual cleansing and what may seem like voodoo crazy new-age weirdness. But I have to say: it has been the most healing, profound experience of my life. And I have only had two sessions with Cuky. Cuky is not only a Lomi healer; she is an empath. Every visit with her is like a visit with not only my true spirit and self, but a visit with my mother and with my son. She knows things and unlocks things deep inside me that no one but me would know or realize.
So I have been a bit reticent about posting about it here, but that is the truth. I practice Nichiren Buddhism. I believe that my mother and my son are well taken care of in a spiritual realm that I can only dream of. And somehow, some way…this connects me with the absolute that are the loved ones that I so dearly miss. Noah dances in my peripheral vision, my sweet mother whispers in my ear as I go about my daily life. And I realize, yet have always known, their voices whispering in my ear. What they would say, do or think. Those of you who came to visit Noah in the hospital with me know what I mean. A mother knows what her child would say, do or think in any given situation. Just because his body is no longer something we can sense doesn’t mean that intuition is lost.
My cord and my ties to him transcend earthy, tangible metaphors. I live for him; through him. He, and all of those who have transcended their earthly bodies, do not cease to exist. Not really. They continue with us. Through us. And even if Noah was 6 and my mother wasn’t event 60, they continue with us and through us. Not just in our memories and hearts, but for real. Their love; their connection with us is real. Never doubt that. They are always at our sides: loving, laughing, growing with us. It is this that sustains me and keeps me alive in this incarnation at this time. It is this truth – not belief but actual truth and proof – that brings a real comfort to me.