Luca’s 3rd Birthday

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March 10th, we celebrated Luca’s 3rd birthday.

If you would have told me in the days before his birth, that three years later we would be celebrating his life without him, I would have never believed you.

Life is unpredictable. There is so much to be said for living each day like it could be your last. But yet, we hold on to the hope that there will be a tomorrow, and more memories to make.

And so now we make memories with his sister, and we hold him in our hearts every second of every day, for the rest of our lives.

A mother who has lost her child can never ever put into words how deep the pain is that she feels.

I have tried for years, and while it helps, it’s futile. We may try, but it doesn’t translate to words. It’s an indescribable feeling, a chronic ache, a pulling at your heart from the other side of life.

So. I will keep trying. Even in the futility of it.

Below is a message I shared with the friends and family that showed up for us on Luca’s birthday.

“Thank you to everyone who celebrated Luca with us in some capacity, near or far, yesterday. We had a beautiful turn out at the beach and it was another stunner of a sunset. I’m not sure I can ever even put into words how much it means to have people show up with so much love in their hearts to celebrate a child most of them have never met, but I can’t sleep and my chest is about to burst with gratitude, so let me try.

I believe Luca has sent you all to us as gifts, as ways to remind us he is ever present and his energy will always surround our family. Just like the songs he makes sure are on the radio or playing in a store or sung by the singer at the farmers market at the most perfect time, or the butterfly that circles Elia while we are on a walk, or the hummingbird that levitates near me as I stand there smiling and knowing it’s a love note from my son.

All gifts.

Over the last three years, your gifts have been everything from the food, the calls, packages at our door, the words, the mail, the pictures of Luca’s name on the earth people have written all over this planet, the random acts of kindness you put forward into the world in Luca’s memory, and the mentioning of his name and lessons to better relate to others who are in grief.

For all of these, we are so grateful. But for me, three years later, I am most grateful that you remember him. For those of you who knew us when we were pregnant and expecting him, you remember how excited we were, how much we had planned for him and how empowered I had become already as his mama. For the amazing lot of you who have joined in on this journey later in the game, wow, simply wow. Your generosity and love and willingness to show up for new friends that aren’t all sunshine and rainbows is pretty spectacular.

But what all of you seem to have in common, and what I take Luca’s biggest legacy to be, is that you share the want and willingness to relate and show compassion to others in need of it. So many of you have told me that knowing our story have given you the ability to show up for their friends, or teach others how to show up for people completely outside of their immediate circles.

There is plenty of work to be done, but to know that Luca has affected so much change and left us with a legacy of love, empathy, and appreciation in even the darkest of times, makes everything that much lighter, and convinces me that my son was bigger than life.

So thank you. Again and again, for showing up, for celebrating, and for carrying Luca’s message in your hearts. We are forever grateful.”

 

Calling all Angels

On the night before my 35th 10th, I read a passage from the book You Can’t Make This Stuff Up by the Long Island Medium, Theresa Caputo, and it spoke to me.

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Did you just silently judge me? Yes, I said the Long Island Medium. Watching her show in the weeks and months after Luca died kept us afloat, gave us hope, and showed us that we weren’t alone. I take her words to heart, and after reading this passage in her book I’m talking louder….

On the 35th 10th, I woke up the same way I do most of my days, with his little sister next to me. Elia opens her eyes and immediately has a smile on her face.

I think about how lucky we are to have her.

But.

There goes the damn but again.

But. We will always miss him. We will always wish he was here with us, with her, being an almost 3 year old. For the rest of our lives we will always wonder about Luca.

So, we get out of bed, walk to the living room and start our music for the morning. I look up the playlist we created for his birth, and we start the songs. I haven’t listened to it in months, and it feels both heavy, and so comforting to hear his songs.

“The Devil Went Down to Georgia” comes on and I’m gutted for a moment. I think of Gina holding Luca in her arms, he’s already gone or almost gone, and she is singing it to him and kissing his sweet face.

We interpreted that song for months after his death, and it made sense that it was his fight song. Luca had an exit strategy before he was born. He wasn’t meant to stay. But he certainly did kick some ass while he was here.

And even though it’s so hard to accept, I can say it and know that there was nothing that I could have done to save my son. His death was for a bigger reason, one that nearly three years later I’m still working on figuring out; one that I may always be working on figuring out.

“My Sweet Lord” comes on and Elia leaves my side, maneuvers her way off the couch, and begins to dance in front of me.

She carries Luca in her heart and in her soul, too.

Revisiting

For months I have been noticing that I was stuck. Bitter and angry and so mad that where there lives one, there should be two.  I carried this stuckness with me everywhere: to breakfast, to my baby music class, to my stroller exercise class, to coffee, to my local mom group, to the store- you name it, wherever I was, there came along that stuckness.

It was weighing on me so heavily, that it finally became too much to hold. And luckily there were a few people around me that could see I was at my breaking point.

One of them was my therapist.

She kept telling me we had more work to do, and I knew what that meant. She was very aware of what I was doing in our sessions. I was going round and round in a circle that I couldn’t tangent off of to get free of that same heaviness I’ve been carrying.  So, she suggested a new plan of action in the form of Complicated Grief Treatment.

So here I am in week 4 of treatment, and this week’s main focus has been to record my recollection of the precise moment Luca left his body, and listen to it everyday. It has been even harder than I thought. But for a much different reason than I imagined- it’s jogging my memory and bringing the days surrounding Luca’s birth and death back into focus.

And it’s made me remember

His smell.

The feeling of his body weight on my heart and shoulder. 

The sutures on his head from where the brain activity monitor had been placed. 

The lighting of the room as sunset approached.

Seeing his beautiful face for the first time, and recognizing him as my own. 

The internal dialogue I had with myself, where I was certain if I could get his skin to touch mine, that I could fix him. 

It’s heartbreaking all over again. I’m not running away from it though, and I never really have. But I am hoping this treatment offers me a a different response, or a way to be able to bounce back from the sad.

So now I’ve found myself getting angry. Angry that this is my work. Angry that I have to listen to it everyday. It makes my blood boil.

And that’s how I know it’s working. Because in all of this discomfort, I know there is growth happening, soul expanding, and that this is right where I am supposed to be.

Retelling. Learning. Embracing the courage and surrendering to it all. Getting out of the roundabout I was on, and headed, one step in front of the other, to the next part of this journey.

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‘Tis the Season

This month was our 33rd 10th remembering Luca.
On the 10th, I had a clear mind when I woke up, which doesn’t always happen. We had our normal unpredictable toddler morning, and headed out the door.

At some point during our drive in the AM,the skies were a little darker, and I looked back to see Elia. Her hair was completely combed over to the side, which hardly ever happens now since it’s growing  straight down into her eyes. That, coupled with how dark it was in the car, made her blonde-ish hair look so different. 

I stared at her reflection. 

I had a realization right then, that was likely exactly what Luca would have looked like.

And I felt it in my heart. I cried tears of big love because I caught a glimpse, for a second, of who he was. So handsome. So sweet. Everything I imagined him to be, coming through in his baby sister.

No rocks  were found this 10th. In fact we haven’t had rock sightings yet this year. I hope for it every time we go to the beach, and when we don’t find them, my heart aches a bit. 

What does it all mean? How can I get such ridiculous signs one moment, and then when I feel like I need it the most and want it the most, it doesn’t happen?

 As we get closer to his third birthday, we will plan to get a new bunch of rocks ready to skip into the ocean. 

And as me approach our third holiday season and new year both with and without him, we are forced to parent him by reflecting on how he’s affected our lives, and spend time in the thoughts of who he would be today. It’s like a short visit with him, going forward in our time together, and imagining what he would be like. Such is the life of a loss parent. Always wondering, always hoping. Always wanting to remember their baby. 

And even with the great fortune of having our rainbow, I still want to be Luca’s mama everyday. And I want the world to know, he’s my son.

This holiday season, and any day you feel the need or have it in your heart to connect with someone that may be missing a loved one,  get all up in that seemingly uncomfortable space and do it. I guarantee it won’t be uncomfortable for long. Tell them that you are thinking of them as they maneuver through the highs and lows of this festive time of the year.  Reach out, and tell them you are holding space for them. 

That you are thinking about them,

and thinking of their loved one.
And maybe you even do something in their loved ones honor if it’s in your heart to.

Do it.

Talk about their loved one. 

That could be the greatest gift that you could give them, and a most thoughtful way to spread love this holiday season.

  
 

Stopping By.

Today, I put a brand new in-the-box and still sealed, breast pump for sale.

It was the breast pump I had ordered for Luca’s arrival.

The other day, I watched a beautiful video of a baby being born at home, into the water. I cried. I cried so hard I shook at how wonderful it was and how I would never have that birth like I had dreamed of.

It feels so far away, but the pain is still so guttural. Deafening.

A breast pump I never used, for milk that never came in, for a baby that I never got to feed.

A birthing pool that was full of water, waiting to be used. I stepped into it once, and never returned. While I was in the hospital and Luca died, Luca’s other mama came home to drain the pool, roll it up, and throw it away. Never to be used again.

I don’t live in this grief every minute of every day. But when we visit, I am in awe of the intensity of the emotion.

And I keep moving.

30 Months

I wake up in the middle of the night, the early morning of the 11th, to silence, nearly every month.

There is a pause in my body and quiet all around me, save for the gentle strokes of my fingertips against the keys of the computer, and on this hot night, the melodic hum of the ceiling fan above me.

Instinctively, I think back to where I was 30 months ago. Where Luca was 30 months ago.

He laid in the NICU bed. Still. With just the slightest rise of his chest, propelled by the machines he was attached to.

I lay in my own ICU bed, trying to recover from complications, and waiting to stabilize in order to meet my son face to face.

After I came out of the general anesthesia from the emergency cesarean, the doctors began to clue me in on the gravity of his situation. Any time they would mention what was happening with him, my blood pressure would rise dangerously and the medical staff would have to stop talking, go away, or take Gina outside to tell her.

I panicked each time they spoke. There was no peace in hearing my son was so sick. There was a fight response, but there was nothing I could do. My body responded forcefully by attempting to explode internally.

So there he lay. And there I lay. Some several hundred feet from each other. After 9 months together, him safe and loved in my belly.

There was silence in both of our rooms, except for the sound of nurses scurrying around the both of us, and the beeping sounds of both of our monitors and machines.

In the middle of the night, 30 months ago, there was no waking up for night feedings or changing his diapers. There was no gazing deeply into his wondering eyes. There was no deep inhales of the new baby smell. There was no running of my fingers along the length of his arm, or leg. There was no nuzzling of my lips against his ear. There was no deep realization and gratitude for the mother that I had become, no grateful pause for the birth experience I had just journeyed through.

I still ache for it. And I don’t foresee a day where there won’t be a physical pain or discomfort in my body where I yearn for this right that I thought I would have.

I am forever changed, still searching and understanding this new person I am. Forever grateful to have held Luca just briefly in my body, and holding him eternally in my heart. Forever thankful for what he brings to my life everyday, be it in the lesson, or the vast love.

Forever. Luca.