Saturday, October 15, 2016

100 pounds

It's Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day.  Only for those of us who are living it, every day is Remembrance Day.
Not a day goes by that I don't think about her.

Not a day goes by that I don't miss her.

Most days, I can smile wistfully and remember the beauty she brought to my life.  And it's sad, but it's sweet too.  Like when monarch butterflies are your "symbol" for your angel, and it's monarch migration season, and you see 67 on a twenty minute walk.

But some days, like today, you break down into wracking sobs in the shower.

This grief, it's like carrying around a weight.  100 pounds.  At first, you are knocked over, and it's suffocating.  At first it crushes you.

But like anything, when you bear it long enough you start to adjust.  Muscles grow stronger.  Soon, you can walk around, carrying it like it's nothing.

But it still weighs 100 pounds.

It's been 10 years, 5 months, 1 week and 6 days since Cora was stillborn.  It's been 10 years, 5 months and 2 weeks since my doctor told me her heart was no longer beating and my world was changed forever.

It still hurts as badly today as it did then. It still weighs 100 pounds.  But somehow I have grown to bear it.  Some days I hardly even notice I'm carrying it.

But some days, like today, I look at it closely and I feel every ounce.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Happy birthday

So Cora's birthday is always emotionally loaded.  Actually, the whole week leading up to it is.  I always think of the "lasts," whether I try to or not.  But our traditions for Cora's birthday usually give me happy high points too.

Every year we raise caterpillars to have butterflies to release around Cora's birthday.  This is the 6th (or 7th, I can't quite remember when exactly we started doing it) year we've done butterflies for her, and have only actually released them on her birthday maybe twice.  This year, the forecast called for rain on the second, and cooler temps (which was accurate) for the 2nd, so we ended up releasing the butterflies on May 1st.  Which was actually good.  Because May 1st is a really hard day for me, being the day that we received the news that she had died.  I usually do something that day to distract myself, but since May 1st this year was on a Sunday, and I try not to go out or purchase anything on Sundays, releasing the butterflies ended up being good.

I then allowed myself some time to sit under a tree and cry while the kids were playing.  I do a "photo of the day" thing on instagram and May 1st's prompt was "blue," which perfectly described my feelings.  I don't normally take pictures of myself crying.

And then the day of her birthday we went to IHOP for dinner.  A few years ago (maybe 2013?), Erin decided it would be Cora's favorite place to eat, so we have eaten there for her birthday every year since.  Owen was hiding under the table yelling "No pitoh!"

And then we came home for cake.  It was a strawberry shortcake, made on a homemade angel food cake.  And it was delicious.  And while I was at the store, I passed those candles, and it felt like Cora was yelling at me to get them instead of the normal numeral candles I usually do.  It made me happy, to feel like she is participating in her birthday.

It's hard.  I feel like I walk around seeing holes in my family.  But I am so glad her siblings know her and do things to honor her.  They talk about her, and it is so sweet.

Happy birthday sweet Cora.
I love you so much.

Friday, April 29, 2016

If Only....

I have tried to live my life without regret.  I don't think I mean that the way most people do...most of the time I work so that I don't have anything in my past that I would regret, but when there are those things, I try to fix things, forgive myself (and others) and move on.

But then certain regrets stick around.  Those usually are the ones that I couldn't change if I tried, and with what I knew at the time, made the best decision I could. The regret only comes from hindsight.

10 years ago today, I made a statement.  I was so close to the end of my pregnancy.  A pregnancy which totally surprised me in its misery, and I was just hanging on to the hope that once I wasn't pregnant anymore, I wouldn't be sick anymore. 

"I almost don't care about the baby, I just don't want to be sick anymore."

How could I have known that in 3 mere days, I wouldn't be sick anymore.  And I wouldn't have the baby either.

51 weeks a year I have forgiven myself for this.  But this week?  The last week of April, the last week of Cora's life.  This week, it hurts.  And I know no other way but to FEEL it.  This week I let the wracking sobs come until I can't breathe.

I know she'll be mine forever.  I know I will see her again one day.  Reminding me of that doesn't help it not hurt right now.  

This sucks.  I hate that anyone has to be here.

Saturday, April 2, 2016


Patrick has been talking a lot about Cora lately.  I'm not sure why, but I remember Erin doing the same thing at about the same age.  Maybe as their understanding of death matures, their need to connect does too.  Anyway, he's been "reminding" me that she's still a part of our family a lot.

In the car today, on the way to the store, Allison and Patrick got into an argument. She counted 6 people in our family and Patrick kept insisting that she was wrong, and there were 7.  And he kept getting upset about it.  So I had to explain that they are both right.  It is okay to just count the people in the car, because Cora died and isn't with us anymore, so every day there are just 6 of us.  But since Cora IS still part of our family, Patrick is right too, and she counts.  She is still his sister.

At the store I walked into the garden center looking for some iris bulbs and was surprised by more Cora Vincas.  I had actually forgotten about them, and was delighted.  And of course bought some.

Well, Patrick found out that they were called Cora and insisted on helping me plant them in the empty spot I found by my tree.

This is the second time in as many days that she's popped out at me.  Yesterday I found a garden fairy with red hair and purple wings.  Erin and Allison have been asking for a garden fairy for ages, but it was the first time one really felt like she belonged in my garden. (what little of a garden I have anyway)

It is nice to get her popping up like that.  Today is the anniversary of my first "last," the last pregnant picture I have with her, and April is always hard for me.  So to have her manifesting, especially this year (the big 10), is nice.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016


I am sometimes ashamed at how infrequently I post here.  It doesn't mean I don't think about my Cora.  She is never far from my thoughts and heart.  And even recently I have had some fairly hard days.  I just don't think about posting.

Anyway, about a year ago I wanted do do a hand print art with my kids, but wanted to include Cora, so I decided I was going to trace her foot print.  When I pulled she sheet with the two prints on it from the memory box of cards and such I was devastated that they were so faded you could barely see them.  It broke my heart, and has bothered me since.

Fast forward to a couple nights ago.  I opened a box of trinkets and things that I packed up when we moved right after Erin was born, and haven't opened since.  Owen, being his 2-year-old self has been pulling boxes out from where they're stacked under a counter and standing or sitting on them, so I wanted to check to see if anything was broken.  And inside I found a 4x6 picture in a frame.  This picture is of a feather that was laying on the gravel beside Jenny Lake the night before Matt and I (and a sister of mine and a sister of his) spread her ashes there.  A single solitary feather with nothing around it.  When I saw it, I felt profoundly that it was a sign that Cora was there with us.  When I scrapbooked spreading her ashes, I wanted to include that picture, and left a space for it, even though I couldn't find that particular frame.  So for nearly 9 years, there has just been a space waiting for it.

Needless to say, I forgot *which* book that page was in.  And so I pulled out Cora's scrapbook (it wasn't in hers, it was in the one I have for me and Matt), and a just a few pages in, there were her foot prints.  Her REAL foot prints.  I had forgotten that they had taken several sets and that I had put the best in her book and the rest in the box that I had found the others with.  And they weren't faded at all.

I cried.  Big wracking sobs.  Erin was in the room and very concernedly asked if I was okay, but I really couldn't describe just why I was reacting like I was.  Brokenhearted joy is really the best way I can think of.

So I scanned that page, so I can have digital copies.  And then I printed one, traced it, and made stamps out of it for an art project.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Capture Your Grief 2015, Day 1 "Sunrise"

Every October (which is Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month), CarlyMarie over at Project Heal does a "Capture Your Grief" photo challenge.  I can't say I will do them all.  But I will do the ones that speak to me.

Since the mornings are getting later, I am usually able to watch the sun rise as I take my older kids to school.  This morning, I okayed an update on my phone, which took a lot longer than I realized it would, so I didn't have my phone to get a picture until after I got home.  I wasn't feeling well, so I drove my Bigs the whole block to the school, watching the sunrise, listening to my four loud rainbows in the back of my minivan.  Many mornings I am irritable.  Mornings and I are not friends.  But this particular morning, watching the bright ornagey-pink sky get ever louder, listening to laughter, I was struck with a profound gratitude.  The gratitude that only comes after losing something precious.  I looked at my kids in my mirror, and I imagined one more.  There is one more seat belt back there, she would fit.  But there is an empty space, and the pain of that simultaneously takes my breath away and heightens the ecstatic joy of the four spaces filled with little, ever-growing bodies.  My life is blessed.

I took a picture once I got home.

PS, I find it funny that today is "intention" when I totally intended to post this yesterday.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Is this what acceptance really is?

I've discussed the stages of grief before, this isn't really what this post is about.

Anyway, I finished reading the book Allegiant by Veronica Roth last night (Spoilers if you haven't read it already!!)

I made a post on Facebook about how it didn't end the way I expected it to.  How I *expected* it to end was that Tris and Tobias would lose a lot of friends, but still end up being together.  Although part of me suspected that Tobias might die or have his memory accidentally wiped.

I didn't expect Tris to die.

And the read of the aftermath was very hard in the moment because his grief was so fresh and she was making his processing of his loss so real.

But I didn't hate the end.  I actually do think that the series ended decently.  Even hopefully.

But I had SO MANY of my friends comment on my post about how it was a terrible ending and that they hated it.  And many of these same friends haven't minded other deaths in other things.  So I had to stop about what made this particular death so much worse.

And I realized that it was the grief.  It's the grief, more than the death, that people are having such a visceral reaction to.  Why else would a series be able to continuously kill off main characters and still have people think it's great, but this one kills off one and it's terrible?

Don't get me wrong, I sobbed through all of the last chapters.  I've been there.  I've felt all that before; the numbness, the need to just forget everything, the clawing ache.  I, more than most of the people I know, feel like I have a right to hate that ending.

But I don't.  I'm actually glad to know that many of the things I feel are at least normal enough that an author can describe it and have it be the same range of emotions.  But since I have felt it, and am surviving it, I am not afraid of it.  I am comfortable in my grief.  Not that it doesn't hurt as badly sometimes as the day the doctor told me Cora had died, but more that I have accepted it as a normal, regular experience.  The same as being sad when a friend moves away, or disappointed when you don't get something you want badly, or being angry when someone says something mean.  I don't fear anger, or disappointment; I don't fear grief.

I have accepted it.

"Saying her name still gives me a little twinge of pain, a pinch that lets me know her memory is still dear to me." ~Tobias, "Allegiant"