I’ve dodged posting anything about the year anniversary of losing little baby Cooper. Not because I can’t talk about him. Sometimes I just don’t know how to talk about him.
Not a day goes by that I don’t think about him. I will forever carry him in my heart til my last breath in this world. Time does heal you. But, in a different way. I think it’s called survival. I rarely allow myself to sit for very long and think about him. For I fear if I do I will tumble down this dark rabbit hole and I am not sure if I could make it out without damaging those around me. So I go on and on and thank God for what I have.
We have been so lucky to have such love and support from our friends and most (and yes I am going to go down this road) of our family. Our church community and our school family were rocks for us. I never knew how the words “We are praying for you” could heal me and make me feel so safe and loved. People that we barely knew brought us cards, dinners, bottles of wine and flowers. Complete strangers that heard about us from a friend would send us a card.
We didn’t exactly start the journey of losing a child knowing what to expect or do. Thank goodness for those around us that did know what to do! My brother in law was on our doorstep that day with dinner. I still remember him calling my husband back and saying that he had to process what had happened after my husband called him with the news. We had a death in the family. Those words meant more than you can imagine. My sister in law that had not been very close to me was really wonderful in that she reached out and shared her heart with me. Cried with me. My family was a mess. Nobody knew if they were coming or going. I feel bad for the amount of grief they went through so far from us. Cousins in our families were lined up. Aunts and uncles that we had not heard from in forever were on the phone constantly. It’s crazy what grief can do to bring people together and out of the wood work.
But, grief can make you fall apart too. We did have family that I still to this day am so blown away by I don’t even have the words. There is family and friends that never said a word about Cooper. Like he never existed. That stings. But, doesn’t hurt as bad because I think there has to be a story there of why they didn’t recognize our tragedy. It does leave you feeling that if you can’t be there for the bad then why do I want you there for the good? Because are you really even there for the good times?
My husband I think has been abandoned in some ways. Actually those are the words of the grief counselor. Because good Lord sometimes a counselor really does have to put it into words for you. They are worth their fees! Believe me. Encourage anyone you know that loses a child to seek one out even if it’s only for a visit or two. My husband is constantly trying to keep strong for his family. I just wish that he had someone to depend on like we depend on him. It kills my heart and I want to scream how can you treat him like this? It’s odd that we lose a child and yet people that failed our family of four are some how the victims. But, just as quickly as I get mad I lose the fight in me. I lost the fight on October 11th, 2012. I don’t have the same fire in me any longer. Which is good and bad. I hold my tongue and I carry on. I think I’ve learned that people lash out and want you to fight with them so that they have another story to tell. The story is more important than the people? I saw a quote this year that said “never push a loyal person to the point that they don’t care.” I hope nobody ever pushes it to where I lay it all out on the table for everyone to know. It hurts to have been treated so badly when we lost a child. As bad as it hurts too you still love the ones that hurt you. But, this is the first time I think I’ve ever see my husband say I love my children and myself more.
I’ve learned that hearing Cooper’s name makes me feel like other’s will not forget. I’ve learned that there is a bond between women that lose children. There are a lot of people that go through this! I never knew.
My due date was the day of the Sandy Hook shootings. Everyone called and text to check on me. Everyone thought that it would make the day worse for me. But, in a strange twist it was the opposite. All I could think about was that if God had to deal me a bad hand I’d take what I had to go through over what all those parents were going through.
My children saved me from losing a part of myself that could have been gone forever if I had not had to keep going for them. Every morning no matter what is going on before Priss walks out the door for school there are more hugs and kisses than you can imagine and I love yous. I think about the Sandy Hook parents often and I know they would do anything to have those moments back that morning. I will never give those moments up as long as I have two children leaving for school every morning.
I see people at the grocery store and they will stop me and Bubba as he is driving his car cart and being a total goof. They smile and look at him and then look at me and say “it goes by fast. Don’t take it for granted.” I want to say but don’t care to even say it (I lost my fire for some things) “I know. I don’t!!!!! I rarely even talk on the phone in my car b/c I don’t want to be absent in the moment. I’m being present and driving them crazy!”
The first year of firsts were easier than I thought they could be and harder some days. Holidays were easy. Birthdays were hard. Birthdays because it was a reminder that Cooper would never celebrate one with us.
I didn’t hold a baby until nine months later. And when I held that baby that was named after a close family friend, Riley Diane it healed me. I felt like I was going to make it. It was huge! It was a moment.
The best thing for us and our children is that we never talked about Cooper as if he was still here. We didn’t have a birthday cake on his date. We don’t act as if he’s here. The doctor, pediatrician, and priest all said the same thing that it would be confusing to our kids. I think they were correct!
I know my friends look at me and I know they see me and see I am not the same I was. I wish so badly some days that I could go back to being the super duper sarcastic off the cuff say what I want without a care person.
I still do the same sarcastic comments and joke and share my opinion. But, I feel it inside of me it’s not the same. Time heals you. I truly believe that the one year mark was a huge sigh of relief. But, I know that I am more than likely one year to wake up on Cooper’s anniversary and be a complete mess. I hate the unknown.
We got through the day fine. But, it was a little over a week later when my husband called and reminded me that it was the day that we had buried our son. That broke my heart to have my husband call and remind me of that date. It also broke my heart because I know he hurts so much for the loss of this child.
I love that Priss will sit at dinner and say “there are four of us at the table. But, there are really five of us in our family.” She will never forget. Which makes me all the more thankful that I kept going and did my best for my children. She would surely have remembered if I had not! I never could have made that up to her.
We are all doing well. We are a stronger family. We are still a family that laughs and does it often in our house. We haven’t slowed down or stopped living. We still go to parties, dinners, etc.,. But, it took me a full year to first commit to an event and then follow through in going. Seeing people can be over whelming!
I want to tell everyone that remembered Cooper and us on the year anniversary THANK YOU. From flowers to cards. From a simple text to a phone call. It felt so good to be wrapped in hugs of support on that weekend. Thank you for remembering.
We have a lot to be thankful for. We are blessed. I stand by what I said from the beginning; To ask for God’s blessings we have to take all of it. People would suggest that maybe we were mad at God. Not even close.. I clung to him. I clung to what he gave me. Losing Cooper was bad. Feeling hurt from family and a few close friends was difficult. But, God has a purpose. Maybe he is forcing us to stand on our feet and learn how to be. I don’t know. But, I take anything he wants to give us. I believe I can’t ask for only the best in life from him.
As the priest just told me this week grief has no expiration date. He always has the best lines! So true. But, luckily neither does your window for building strength and courage again. Neither does finding forgiveness or love.
Thank you to everyone that has supported me this year and RSVP Shindig. What a year!
I hope on the two year anniversary that we are even better! I have faith that it will be!