the stone

Even though it is not in place yet due to the soggy conditions around here – I decided to go ahead and post a picture of our sons’ headstone.

We had the artwork done by a graphic designer Brian met through his consulting.  She did an amazing job creating the image from our description.  The words surrounding it are from the song “After the Last Tear Falls” by Andrew Peterson.

the summer begins

Well, let’s see… I now have a Kindergarten graduate and a new nephew! It’s been a busy week around here.

I can’t believe that Chloe has finished her first year of school. It just flew by! She is so excited to move on to first grade and to have her brother join her at her school next year. She has learned and grown so much this year it’s just amazing. I am so proud of her.

On May 26th at 8:56pm I became an aunt for the first time. My nephew, Sean, is just adorable. Just the right size with a head full of blonde hair. He is precious. Brian said that, even though it hasn’t been too long, he felt like it had been forever since he held a baby that small. (It didn’t look like he’d lost his touch to me, though.) I was so glad that I got to the hospital to see him less than an hour after he was born. It was so different to be on the other side. And I still can’t believe my baby brother is a Daddy! Over the last 5 days we’ve had fun getting to cuddle with Sean. The kids have each taken turns holding him. They have loved every minute of it.

Of course this brought back memories for us but it also brought back memories for the kids. One time when Dylan was holding him he said to me “Mommy, when you have another baby boy what is alive he will look like Sean.” (he says “what” instead of “who” or “that” – I think he’s watched too much Pirate stuff.) That was sad. Then when Chloe was holding him she cried a little. Not hard but just enough for a tear or two to run down her face. I know this had to be hard on her. She is SO excited to have a cousin but I can’t help remembering the tears she shed the night we had to take Gabe from her arms forever.

That being said we are all totally excited that Peanut is finally here; safe, sound and healthy! I’m going to have a good time spoiling him.

Other things I’m thinking about (or not)…

The boys’ monument should be here in the next week or two. I’m trying not to think about that.

I’m looking forward to the summer. Now that we’ll have 2 kids in school it’s really becoming evident that time is short and I don’t want to miss a thing. I hope there are some great adventures out there for us this summer.

I think people are starting to wonder (and may even be close to asking) if we’re going to have any more children. Honestly, I don’t know. And for the first time in many years I don’t even want to think about it. I’m taking the summer off and I’m not going to worry about it. I’m just going to try to enjoy life for a while.

So, here’s to summer 2010. Hope it’s full of joyful times.

the run-down

Here’s what’s been happening in the last month of my life:

– We signed off on the proof for the monument so it shouldn’t be too much longer before it’s here.
– I survived Mother’s Day. Pretty well. On the outside.
– My heart still hurts. A lot.
– I re-worked my flower beds and bought a plant for the boys. A Black Star Calla Lilly. I plan to put their temporary marker next to it.

Really, that’s the long and short of it. I may have a more thoughtful post in a day or two but I thought I should update you. Be back soon.

a letter for my son, 6 months later

My dear, sweet Gabriel.

What can I say that hasn’t already been said? I miss you more than mere words can express. I miss your sweet little face and your soft hair. I miss your hands and your adorable feet. I wish I could snuggle you and kiss you and love on you.

I finally got up the nerve to watch some of the video of your birth a few days ago. You had a rough ride coming into this world. But you made a sweet cry. Just one, but it is one that I will treasure forever. It took the nurses 5 minutes to get you over to us. I was starting to freak out a little because I didn’t want to miss out on you while you were here. Then your Daddy took you tenderly from the nurse and checked you out. Then he showed you to me. You were so handsome. You tried to open your eyes to look at me. It’s okay that you couldn’t.

I couldn’t watch any more. I couldn’t watch the part where the doctor told us you were gone. I couldn’t bear that just yet.

I want to tell you that I am proud of you. You were so strong and so brave. I can’t imagine what you went through, nor what awaited you when you left us. I know that you aren’t in pain and that you can play and run. I hope you are doing those things with your brother, Felix.

I want you to know that I think of you and your brother every moment. I miss you with every fiber of my being. I long with every beat of my heart for the day we will be together again.

I love you, my sweet, sweet boy.

and a hole in the ground

This is the sight I least want to see. This hole is the beginning of the end, in a way. The final tangible thing I am able to do for my dear, sweet sons who have gone home.

Soon this hole will be filled with concrete. Then, atop that cement pad, will sit a stone monument inscribed with the names and dates of those precious boys. The only evidence to the general public that they ever existed. It is a place to visit, to leave flowers and pictures and toys. It is also the place where I left 2 pieces of my heart forever buried in the ground.

2nd anniversay – Felix David Groce, April 4, 2008

Last Friday, Good Friday, was 2 years since Felix died. Last Sunday, Easter Sunday, was 2 years since Felix was born.

I have been trying for the last two weeks to write some deeply profound post about this “coincidence” but I have not been successful. Perhaps I never slowed my mind or heart long enough to let it sink in. I really felt like maybe I could learn something from this. I did have the thought (several times) that God understands my pain. He lost His Son, too, you know. But there was a part of me that kept saying “Yeah, well He got His back after a few days!” How awful and ugly and disgusting is that thought?! It is a very selfish, human thought. Maybe that’s why I stopped thinking about it.

We did get away for a day and night. We took the kids to southern Indiana to Marengo Cave. We did both tours and the kids loved it! Then we spent the night in a small Indiana town (Princeton), enjoyed some local pizza, the hotel pool and Final Four basketball before bed. On Sunday we went to Brazil to celebrate Easter with my PaPa J. He was delighted to have us all there. We had fun hunting eggs with the kids and my cousin’s son, Payton. It was the first Easter I can remember that I wasn’t in church. It was very strange.

Monday I took the day off and we went to order the boys’ headstone. We got it all planned out and ordered. It was FREAKIN’ expensive. ($3800) We paid half on it and we’ll owe the other half in 4-6 weeks and I honestly have no idea how we’re going to come up with the rest of the money. Brian’s business has slowed WAAAAY down and about all he can do now is pay his office rent. Which means we don’t get a paycheck from him. Which means we’re trying to live off of my salary alone and that’s not gonna cut it. Needless to say it’s a bit stressful at the Groce home right now.

Anywho… we got the proof of the monument on Thursday and it looks just like what we asked for. But I cried and cried when I looked at it. It’s just awful to see a headstone with your children’s names on it. And it’s just a picture. I can’t imagine what I’ll do when I see the real thing. My friend who lost her son beat his monument until her hand was bloody. I’ll try not to do that. When it comes in I’ll post a picture.

Next to come down the pike (April 19th) is the 6-month “anniversary” of Gabriel’s birth and death. A co-worker of mine had his wife bring their baby who is 7 months old now come to visit this past week. She is just a doll but all I could think of was the things that Gabriel would have been doing right now. 6 months is such a fun age because they begin to really interact with the world around them. They begin to sit up and they blow spit bubbles and make lots of noise. They are so curious and so clingy to Mommy and Daddy. My heart just aches over what we are missing.

So, if you would, please pray for our little family. We need peace and comfort (and, although this is embarrassing, money) right now.

get away

I just realized I have taken one trip a month since December. I want to go somewhere again. I have not the money to accomplish this. Oh well.

Brian and I are working on what we’d like to do for Felix’s birthday. It falls on Easter this year. Great. I don’t really feel like having people over for cake. I know that there are other people who miss him but I feel like it’s such a private day. Maybe because of the circumstances of his death and birth. I don’t really know why, it’s just not a day I feel like sharing with anyone but my husband. (and the kids, I guess) Has anyone else felt like this? I have read about people having cake and releasing balloons and the like but I don’t think I’m there just yet.

I’d just like to get away.

here and now

I have had so many thoughts and emotions swirling around the last couple of weeks that I’ve lost track of the time! Oh, well – the “spring forward” on Sunday will mess it up again, anyway.

This might be a hard post for me. We’ll see once I get into it.

I have been thinking a lot about how the losses of Felix and Gabriel have affected my first 3 little loves. Not only their new-found expertise on funerals or how they are coping but how it has affected my relationships with them.

Let me just throw it right out there and lay open this wound. Sometimes I wonder if they feel like they aren’t good enough. Or more accurately; I wonder if I make them feel like they aren’t good enough. Let me explain. When we were having trouble getting pregnant (I know – us? The people who have babies 15-18 months apart? Yes, we had trouble getting started.), during one of my less-attractive whining sessions, Brian asked me if he wasn’t enough for me. I was so mad at him at the time but a few days later I really thought about it. Would he be enough for me if God never chose to bless us with children? Of course he would! But all my grief and wishing and wanting had made him feel like he wasn’t enough for me – even though that thought had never crossed my mind.

So, what I’m wondering is, when the kids hear me say I wish Felix and Gabriel were here do they feel like I’ve forgotten them? Like it isn’t enough to have them here? Of course I will always long for my sons who went home before I thought they should but that does not mean I would trade them for the ones who are here! That sounds awful but NONE of them are replaceable and that’s that. But how do I make sure Chloe and Dylan and Ezra know that in their heart of hearts? And how do I make sure that I don’t get so wrapped up in my wishing for a complete family on Earth that I end up alienating the little loves of my life who are here with me?

I know this may sound absolutely crazy but grief is a crazy thing and it does crazy things to your head. You know I get a little more open the later in the day it is when I write my posts. I really need to try to stick to my blogging curfew.

All that having been said I really do try to focus on here and now. I am not guaranteed for life to be the same an hour from now let alone tomorrow. I want to cherish every moment I have with them. I want to remember every word they say. I want to read too many bedtime stories. Heck, sometimes I even wish we could all sleep in the same room. All the while trying to balance out the fear of losing someone else. It’s quite a feat.

Anyway, I just felt like it was time to open another window into this grief-beast. It’s a (pardon me, Momma) bitch, plain and simple. Throw in some PMS-ing, still-adjusting-from-pregnancy hormones and you’re really talkin’ crazy! Thanks for listening.

four months later

I’m not really sure how to begin other than I can’t believe it has been that long already. Somehow time just keeps marching on.

How am I doing 4 months later? It is still day by day. It is still up and down. (as this post, compared to the last one, will show) I sometimes wonder if there is an eruption brewing. Like I’ve stuffed away more grief than I realize and it’s going to blow before too long. There have been some rumblings in the volcano in recent days.

My husband and I are emotionally spent. We are stressed. We are trying to take care of each other but it’s hard when you are struggling with your own grief and worries.

So, we decided (since last Friday was his birthday) to take a quick weekend getaway. We made arrangements with our parents to share the kids (we are so lucky to live close to both sets of grandparents!) and we headed to Las Vegas with our two of our closest friends. We got to blow off steam and play and just forget about life for a couple of days. No deep discussions, no worries, just fun. It was great.

Then it was back to reality. You can’t run for long. One cause of my stress has been my job. I feel like I’m letting it take too much of my energy. I am a different person now than when I took this position and I am annoyed more and more by people who think this is the biggest deal in the world. People who are decades older than I yet act like middle school aged children. People who think that they are entitled to things or that they should not have to take responsibility for their own work (or do any work at all, for that matter). I am sick and tired of the hand-holding and the coddling and the whining – oh, the whining! I should not have to do this for grown people. If I am to endure these things it should be for my children and that would be a pleasure. I guess I am not really at a point in this process where I can lovingly show my coworkers that there is more to life than this. So, on I go trying to find ways to continue doing my job without exploding on someone who may or may not deserve it. Like last Friday when some of my good friends and I went outside and had a snowball fight at lunch time to keep from smacking someone. (Obviously, I’m not the only one who’s stressed at work!)

As time continues its seemingly endless march I will try to face it head on.


You knew this was coming.

So, what will tomorrow be like?

Will the hurt go away? Not likely. At least, not completely.

Will we have another child? God will have to make that decision for us. Honestly the thought of trying again frightens me. I don’t know if I can take that chance.

Will we have brought some good to the world through our tragedy? If we allow God to do the work He wants to do in us, yes, I believe we will. Who knows what it will look like, though.

Will we love without restraint? Will we NOT stress over the little things that mean nothing in the grand scheme? Will we cherish every single breath we are given? Lord, make it so.

A wise man once told me “Knowledge of tomorrow has not been given to us, and for that we should be grateful.” Only God knows what tomorrow will bring; all I can do is wonder about it. (NOT try to will it into being) My goal for “tomorrow” is to merely be a vessel, a vehicle for what God wants to bring to people. Whatever that looks like I hope I will recognize it.

This is a long, long road I’m on. Some of you are on it with me. Thank you all for sticking with me.

Here’s to all of our tomorrows.