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.

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.


After my post about yesterday I decided to write about how I am living today.

Today I make sure to talk about my sons. With my children, with my husband, with our families, with my coworkers, and sometimes with strangers. I am getting less and less shy about it. I feel like that is a good thing. Felix and Gabriel are my children and deserve to be shared with everyone. They were beautiful and strong and wanted. They are loved.

Today I am more honest about my feelings than I had been. I don’t always share exactly what I feel (and I don’t have to) but when it is appropriate, I do try to share. It isn’t easy to live each day as a mother who has lost some of her children. (I really need to think of a name for us. We’re not orphans, not widows, who are we??) But somehow God gives me the strength to get up and face each new day.

Today, even in the midst of such pain and wonder and sometimes still some anger, I live with hope. Hope that they did not die for nothing. Hope that God will use this for something. Hope that our other children will share their brothers with others. (actually Chloe already is) Hope that we will be reunited one day.

Today I am learning how to live a new and different life.

in other news

Today we got the artwork we commissioned for the boys’ headstone. (ooh, did I sound like royalty just now?) This has been a long time coming and now we can finally schedule an appointment to order the stone and get it installed. (or placed – I don’t know the lingo) Maybe this will help a little with the (earthly) finality of it all. Maybe not. At least soon we’ll have a place to leave flowers and drawings from the kids. I thought about posting the picture but I think I’ll wait until it’s carved in stone. hee hee (Hey, I have to laugh about something or I’ll go insane.)

In other news, I am having another rough week so any prayers you can spare would be appreciated. I am trying so hard to be loving toward everyone I come in contact with but it is REALLY hard. By the time I left work tonight I had just had it. I mean “up to here” had it. Like Mrs. Spit said – some days I wonder why some people get to have children when they have no apparent desire to care for them. (I also wonder why I thought it was a good idea to go to a meeting across the hall from a NICU earlier today thus expending all energy I had to “keep it together, man.”)

So many of my coworkers tell me they can’t believe how strong I am and how they would never be able to keep their cool in some of the situations I have been faced with since my return. Well, while it may appear that I am long-suffering on the outside – the words in my mind sometimes tell a different story. And I don’t want it to be that way. I want to be real about it but in a loving way. Am I making any sense? I want my attitude to come in line with my heart – inside and out. It is so easy for me to start complaining about people and I shouldn’t. I need to love them because that is what God told me to do.

Well, I think that’s enough for tonight. I have to set a blog curfew for myself because while what I’m writing makes sense to me now, it might not in the morning.

That’s it, no blogging after 11.

a wondering day

As I have been at work this week life, death and suffering have come to the forefront.

For those of you who don’t know, I work for a home care company in the pharmacy and nutrition services department. Basically I am in charge of providing patients with supplies to care for their IV lines at home and also provide formula and supplies for tube feedings.

Since I am the supervisor I have been covering for my friend who takes in new referrals for tube feedings this week while she is on vacation in Dubai. (and you owe me BIG time, Jen!)

This has stirred up a lot of thoughts and feelings about children with birth defects.

I wonder why God allows some to live without too many problems while others have all types of special needs requiring multiple therapies and meds and so on. I wonder why God allows others, like Gabriel, to be “beyond repair.”

I see so many kids who have admission after admission to the hospital. Some have had multiple transplants, others trying all different types of treatments to help cure their diseases – standard and experimental. Parents and kids fighting for their lives against things like cancer, short gut syndrome, cerebral palsy, pulmonary (lung) disorders… the list just goes on and on. And it makes my heart ache.

I like what I am doing at my job and hope that in some way it makes things easier on the families we serve. But sometimes it’s hard. Especially when I’m grieving the loss of children whose lives I fought for in the spirit but lost in the end.

the unlikeliest thing

Well, I did it. I survived my first week back at work. One of my staff called in the last 2 days this week so I was thrust back into coverage. I think I did just fine.

It really went much more smoothly than when I returned after Felix died. I really think the extra 4 weeks, and knowing what Gabriel’s outcome would likely be, made the difference. People were very glad to see me and were genuinely concerned about how I was doing. I am so thankful for the group of people I work with!

Friday morning I was chuggin’ right along, getting ready for work, wearing my Colts blue and overall just glad it was the last day of the week. Then it happened – grief snuck up in the unlikeliest thing… my hair. I know, crazy, right? Well, I was getting ready to leave the bathroom when I noticed a hair on the counter. When I went to pick it up I noticed it was in the shape of a “g” and I burst into tears. The first split second made me smile and say hi to him in my head. Then the hurt crept back in and I let it come. I remembered (like I ever forget) how much I miss him. I just wanted to be able to go into the boys’ room and pick him up and hold him and kiss him. But I can’t and never will again as long as I’m on this earth.

As the day progressed I started to feel better. But this was yet another lesson in grief. I don’t know when or where or how the sadness will come, but it will. And sometimes it’s okay to let it come. I will have to stay on my toes and be sure that I don’t let it consume or overtake me. I will lean on my Savior and ask him for comfort and peace in those times.