Through Your Big Sister

Dear Kenley Boo,

Eight months without you… another dagger to the chest. It’s like I’ve been floating on a dark cloud with blurred vision, as much as I try to focus my eyes, the only thing I can see is black, like I’ve fallen into a hole with nothing to grip onto…

——-

Aileah talks about you often, she tells me about how you whisper so softly in her ear every single day. She tells me how her friends at school will see her holding her arm by her side with her open hand as if she is holding your hand. When her friend Natasha asked her, “Who’s hand are you holding?” She said, “My Little sister Kenley’s.” She tells me about how you sit with her at lunch, and how you play with her and her friends at recess, how they say to you, “Come on, Kenley,” because Aileah’s friends can see you too. She tells me about how you lay with her at night. When she came home after school after getting her news of Student Council, she told me you let her know you told her liked her posters. She had to have pictures on those boards with you in them, there was no other way she wanted it.

When she was doing her Valentine’s cards for her fellow classmates, she decided to make one for you too that reads on one side: “To Kenley Boo” and the other side says: From “Mommy, Daddy, and 1st sister.” I asked her what the 1st sister meant, because she had never said anything like that before and she told me, “I’m her #1 sister,” with the biggest grin on her face.

While placing the Valentine’s Day card she made you by some of you memorials we have set out for you, my eyes couldn’t help but to fill up with tears. Aileah looked at me and said, “Mom, why is there tears in your eyes?,” before I could say any words, she gave me the biggest hug and squeezed me so tight, then rubbed her hands across my back. Without me saying a word, she knows I needed that more than ever. “I just really miss her,” is all I could say, along with thanking her for that much needed hug.

She misses you so much sweet Kenley Boo, and you showing her definite ways you are always by her side, brings a little light through the darkness in the clouds, that don’t seem to part most days.

Until we see you again sweet girl, we’ll keep your memory alive. We love you Kenley Boo, our beautiful angel baby in the sky!

Love, Mommy

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Memorials

These days without you are getting so long, yet the months keep flying by in this alternate universe where nothing is in sync. A universe that echoes in silence with every thought of you, every single day. I keep reliving the days over and over again, it’s a never ending cycle. The last time I saw you, held you, witnessed you move your little legs and feeling you grip my finger so tightly in the hospital, hearing the doctors words, “There is no hope,” play repeatedly like a broken record in my ears. I never believed them, I sure didn’t, not for one second. “There is no hope”, how could they look us in the eyes and say that? None of it made sense, it still doesn’t and it never will. I just want you back. The me I was before you left this earth is long gone. You took me with you that day you went to heaven, this I know. I died with you, but my body is oddly still here. I find myself questioning is this what hell feels like? Am I actually living in hell? I’m starting to believe so…

It is inevitable that my love for you will never die, even though I am truly dying on the inside. My heart has been cut wide open where I keep you alive. I keep each memory of you locked inside my heart… Memories… I should not only have memories of you and your things stored in totes!! We should be making new memories everyday! That’s what we should be doing, Kenley Boo. Not this.

Hearing your little footsteps running across the floor, laughing with you as you climbed into my side of my bed– pushing your big sister away from me so she would move to the other side of me and making her move once more as you moved to the side she was on, because you wanted me all to yourself. You were my loving little cuddle baby. I sure do miss those cuddles.

Sometimes, if I listen close enough, I can hear your little footsteps, reminding me you are near. I can hear the sound of your wind chime softly whistling with the trees so still as it spins around in circles. I sometimes can hear your toys in your room making noise without pressing a single button. I’ll never forget when your daddy and I were in the other room a few weeks ago talking when suddenly we heard a sound coming from the living room. It was only him and I home at the time (Aileah was at school.) We both noticed that your big picture hanging on our living room wall from your Celebration of Life slid so softly down the wall and landed perfectly upright. It wasn’t a loud noise, even a smaller picture would’ve made more noise than that and most likely shattered. Your picture did not have one scratch on it after falling. When things like that happen, we always know it’s you keeping your presence known.

We miss you tremendously baby girl and we love you more than life itself.

(( All of the pictures in between are memorials we have displayed for you. The first one is a beautiful lamp that I keep on all the time, I love the way it makes the room glow. Next is the candle with a quote that is so true and touches my heart. Your picture, mini Funshine Bear, Halo Bear from your Celebration of Life, Lantern with lights and an angel glowing inside, angel wings ornament, Love You More Candle. Wind chime that I hear every day with Funshine Bear, a quote, and your special dates. We love having these for you, we hope you like them, princess. ))

Wait for me my sweet baby

To my sweet, sweet Kenley Boo:

The angels are so lucky to see your sweet face

everyday,

I wish heaven wasn’t so far away,

If I could for one more second,

I would hold you and never let you go,

wait for me my sweet baby,

I’ll be there before you know,

we’ll pick up right where we left off,

like nothing ever changed,

since you’ve been in heaven,

my love for you has remained.

– Love Mommy

I miss you so very

much my sweet girl.

I lie

The daily reminder of your absence follows me everywhere I go…

I found myself trying to hold back tears yesterday as I sat in the dim lighted room of my eye exam appointment, waiting for my optometrist to enter. I sat there in the empty chair without you in the room with me, sitting on my lap. I could feel it in my chest as my heart began to race as the thought of you rushed over me.

I took a deep breath as the doctor entered the room, not entirely sure what he even said to me as the thought of my sweet Kenley stayed with me.

He sat down in his chair as he asked me questions about my current contacts I’ve been wearing as I looked ahead and began reading the smallest line on the screen that I could see.

“Did you have a good Christmas?” Was a question I wasn’t prepared for and I said the first thing that came to mind without even thinking of how to respond. “Yeah, it wasn’t too bad,” rolled off the tip of my tongue and I left it at that, realizing that what I said probably made absolutely no sense at all.

When people associate anything that has to do with Christmas, they don’t think it’s anything bad. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Wrong in every sense to a mother after losing their child. Christmas for them is anything but wonderful, cheery, joyful, merry or bright. We can’t wait until the holidays are finally over. Rather, stomping on Christmas lights and throwing away the tree, pushing all of the Christmas decorations off of the shelves at the store is what we’d like to do in all actuality. While the rest of the world sees the vibrant colors of red and green, in the world of an angel mom, we see 50 Shades of Grey (not the romance novel).

So I lied. I lied to spare him the, “No, I didn’t have a good Christmas, not at all! This was my first Christmas without my baby girl here, she is in heaven now.” I spared him witnessing my heart crushing at the reminder as eyes filled up with tears while I looked straight ahead into the light as he continued the exam. I spared him feeling any sense of regret after asking me what one would assume is a normal question to ask someone after the holidays, especially if they had no clue you even lost your child to begin with. Sometimes lying gets me through the gut wrenching truth of reality that I face day end and day out.

“Are you staying warm?” He asked. This one was easy, “Yes, I haven’t really left the house much since my daughter has been out of school.” Aileah is still on winter break and since I haven’t had to take her back and forth to school, I’ve stayed inside.

“How old is your daughter?” Was I unknowingly setting myself up for these questions? Another one I would have to dodge. “She’s eight.”

The thought of saying I have one that’s eight and one that’s forever two was just something I couldn’t bring myself to speak on with him (even though my sweet Kenley was on my mind the whole time.)

A little white lie to spare my own feelings and to make it through the conversation and the rest of the appointment without any tears was exactly what I needed.

A lie a day can keep the tears away, but am I lying to myself? Am I covering up those emotions like a bandaid, only for it to be torn off and exposed eventually? No. Absolutely not.

Knowing what to say and how to respond isn’t always easy for a grieving mother, that’s given. To family, to friends, to the cashier, your neighbor, a stranger, your doctor, your best friend— unless they have been in your shoes, they have no clue what those emotions even begin to feel like… Not even the slightest, so if a lie is what I need to get by for the time being, I don’t hold it back.

I lie.

The number 4

The number 4. Here we are again…

If I could erase that number out of each and every calendar, remove it from any and all context, I would with no question, no second thought or hesitation.

While the calendar days continue to flip, my mind is still catching up to the race with reality, slowly but surely.

Grief throws you into a brand new planet after losing a precious child, without giving you the choice or asking you if you’re ready for the ride. How rude!

It doesn’t hold your hand along the way, reveling the curtain showing you what your new world now looks like as you inch your way in, pacing yourself.

Instead, you are sucked up like a tornado with full force and thrown into your new life that is now called Before you and After you.

It picks you up and throws you into a water slide of emotions as you try to grip your new reality with no fingertips.

It’s like climbing up the slippery slope of a mudslide, slipping and falling each time you take a step.

It grabs ahold of you and pulls you down under like quicksand beneath your feet.

There is no definite word or definition for a mother losing their child, not with that significant loss.

There are only words we try to form into sentences that still don’t completely describe the anguish that connects every fiber of our being.

You know that what once was will never be again. Nothing is or will ever be the same.

It’s as if you are completely stripped of the skin you were in before the loss as your new skin is freshly painted on.

It’s the elephant in the room, the ones so afraid to mention your baby girl, when all you want is for them to say her name.

You want to know that she isn’t forgotten, that she is loved and will always be remembered.

Instead, you are faced with what the ones who haven’t lost a child that think they are protecting you from crying, by remaining silent.

The look on their face says it all as you are thinking, “Just say her name damn it!!”

Let me tell you, it is a relief when they finally do, just to hear her name or a shared memory will not automatically bring a grieving mother into tears.

Trust me, I’ve cried more now than in my entire life combined (I’m surprised I still have tears left inside my tear ducts to shed.)

I often times don’t cry while talking about her with others face to face, I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I can only let out the flood gates with certain people, who knows?

If you know someone that has lost their precious son or daughter, no matter how big or how small, don’t ever be afraid to bring up their child in conversation.

The worst has already happened, you aren’t bringing any more damage to the wound that remains open.

Nothing can be worse than what they’ve already experienced, but not talking about them can take its toll.

They want nothing more than their child talked about and remembered.

It’s been SEVEN MONTHS TODAY without my sweet girl here with me and I can feel it deep inside of my new body with each breath I take.

It’s the intensity of the feeling inside your bones shaking to the core after coming inside from the cold.

The tightening of your muscles you feel daily without even stepping foot outside the door.

The ripple effect of your bones cracking as the tread of the tires runs you over repeatedly.

One thing that will always remain the same are the memories of my sweet baby girl.

Those beautiful memories I have of her will last a lifetime, forever as a keepsake for me to have until I hold her in my arms as she shows me all that she has experienced up in heaven.

What a wonderful and gorgeous gift she was. Oh, how I despise the word “was.” It is so hard to say when referring to her.

She will always be my gorgeous little gift, the blood running through my veins, the rhythm to the beat of my heart.

I live for the day I am reunited with her in the streets of gold.

Until I see you again my precious Kenley Boo, I will keep you in my heart forever.

– Love Mommy

Back in time

Right when I hopped on Facebook yesterday, these three images were the first of my memories from January 2, 2014.

Seeing those took me back in time to three years ago when you were in my belly. I remember thinking early on in my pregnancy that you were a baby boy, I was certain you were. Before we found out your big sister was a girl, I remember walking through the isles looking at baby clothes as your daddy picked up a blue and white striped onesie. I told him, “Put that back, it’s a girl,” and I was right so I thought my guess with you would be the same (little did I know I was wrong). I was so sure of myself that we even started calling you Braylen, the name we picked out for you. Your big sister would rub my belly and talk to you, calling out your “name.” I even had an entire crib set picked out, it was baby blue with little grey elephants, along with baby boy clothes, I’m thankful I didn’t order them online like I was going to.

I remember my ultrasound appointment to find out your sex, “It’s a girl, there she is,” the ultrasound tech told us. In a way, we were all three taken aback (thanks to my wonderful guessing and convincing skills). Your big sister was furious, “I WANTED A BROTHER!” I’m pretty sure in that moment my tail was tucked under my legs, as I was being scolded by an extremely disappointed 5 year old. Your daddy told her she would be able to play barbies with you and she just threw her hands up in the air, highly unamused from the news. Her reaction quickly turned into the complete opposite when you made your appearance into the world, our sweet, sweet Kenley.

Our lives changed forever when you were born and they haven’t been the same since you left. The stitching that made us feel whole has been torn at the seams, leaving a permanent scar in my heart in the shape of you. My heart strings keep unraveling as the thread pulls tighter and tighter, one by one, but it still continues to beat.

The flashbacks I have of you, holding you for the very first time, then watching you grow into such a beautiful baby girl, so unique, quaint, and angelic. I remember the last time I held you, falling asleep holding you in my arms. The exact same way I held you in my arms when you were a newborn baby, I continued to hold you just like that on countless days and nights, we would both fall fast asleep. From the day we brought you home, that is when it started. I’ll never forget the last time I held you just-like-that sleeping so peacefully.

At times, I can feel myself reaching for you, and forming my arm into a cradle as if I’m holding you. That is one of the things that I yearn for the most, holding you. I would always ask, “You want cuddles?” in my Kenley voice and you’d jump right into my arms. Sometimes you would say your extended, “Nooooo,” with the biggest smile on your face that always really meant yes. You would giggle your distinct giggle every single time. I think about that everyday, my sweet girl. I miss everything about you so so much!

Until I see you again, I promise to keep my precious memories of you alive! I love you more than ever sweet girl and I miss you everyday.

The reality

Now that the holidays are finally over and all of the Christmas decorations and the ornaments that Kenley didn’t get to hang on the tree are stored back into the attic, the wrapping paper that she didn’t get to shred through is stored back into the closet… Hopefully now my mind, body, and spirit can have somewhat of a rest. I dreaded the holidays so much, the realization of our first Christmas without our beautiful baby girl put my mind, body, and spirit on overload. To be honest though, I kind of forgot about the holidays momentarily as I was still consumed in a layer of fog that lingered from the summertime. The days leading up to Christmas were excruciating, nonetheless and by far worse than Christmas Day itself. I could feel the pressure of my heart, squeezing tighter and tighter as I balled my fists up, crying so hard I could hardly breathe, while I kicked my legs back and forth like a child when they don’t get their way. I could feel my heart wanting to explode as I sat there, thinking how the hell am I going to make it through the holidays without you? How will I do this the rest of my life? I was so angry and I could feel the pain cutting deeper and deeper like a double edged sword. Every time I would try to reach for the sword to remove it from my punctured heart, it would only sever it even more. My mind felt like a wheel that continuously would spin and turn with no stopping point, at times I would feel dizzy. I would stay up for hours on end, sleep for me has become remotely nonexistent, although I have two bottles of melatonin that I have yet to take. I continue to let the wheels turn, because no matter what, ultimately I can’t magically turn the switch off to my grief with a sleep aid.

The further and further time seems to go on, the more my heart seems to ache. While I look outside and see the snow painted streets, to me it feels like it should still be summertime. Where did summer go? What did I even do during that time? I don’t really remember much of summer, as we were going through the motions after leaving the hospital without our baby girl. The following days were her Celebration of Life, then her birthday followed a few weeks later. Those events were back to back to back, it was so much to process, so much for my brain to consume all at once. I believed for so long that Kenley was just on vacation and someone would be knocking on our door to tell us that she was home finally. However, she was very much at home, she was home with the son of God, sitting on his lap. The home I meant is where she lived, she wasn’t returning back with us. A main reason why I believed that for so long that she’d be coming back home to us eventually was due to my own shield of numbness, protecting my heart during the early stages of grief. Kenley’s Celebration of Life was also unlike any other service I had ever attended, obviously because she was my baby and due to the fact that her body wasn’t there at the church where we had her service. She wasn’t laying in a casket, only her beautiful memorials were shown on display with music following while many friends and family members filled the room, along with people we had never met before to show their support for us and to honor our baby Kenley. Apart of me is so thankful for not witnessing her lying there in a casket, as I dreaded even stepping foot inside of the church that day. Although much of it was a blur, I still remember the majority of it in detail. The other part of me wishes I could have kissed her even one last time, but I know the image of her laying in a tiny casket would haunt me for the rest of my days. We decided to have her creamated like we would like for us when that day comes (how I hope and pray it would be sooner than later). Even though it will mark 7 months here in the next couple days that we lost her, the ache in my heart and stomach keeps growing and expanding. I long to hold her and squeeze her so tight everyday when I wake up and every night when I go to sleep. I will see her again someday, I know that is true. I used to be so afraid of dying, now I am afraid of living. I’m afraid of living while I know deep inside that her heart is no longer beating, that she isn’t coming home like I believed for so long. The reality is here and it is very much real.

Our sweet Kenley paid us a visit this afternoon… As I was washing dishes, I looked outside the window and saw a beautiful red cardinal, so beautiful against the white snow. I know it was our sweet Kenley Boo. I told her daddy and her big sister Aileah pulled up a chair to stand on as we watched her dance and fly from tree to tree as we said her name. I have never seen more cardinals in my entire life before we lost her, I would only see them every once in a while. Now, it seems I see cardinals about once a week, multiple times a day if I’m lucky. What could have been a bad day turned out to be the farthest from after witnessing that little visit from our angel baby.A9CF112F-75B0-467B-A231-AF0F7C2019DA70289886-9F9A-4FCF-8F9F-9C43A96F586488E8CEA8-313D-4413-9D8D-3B7FBA72AA13