One year ago (yesterday) I lost my beloved little man. Brett became my guardian angel. It is truly hard to believe that a year has come and gone and that I have survived it. Has it been easy, absolutely not. Do I ache for my son every day? Yes. How did I do it? I pushed through one day at a time with no expectations for myself. I didn't look to far ahead and sometimes planned things at the last minute, something that is not one of my characteristics, but maybe this is part of the 'new' me.
When you lose a child, your entire world turns upside down, inside out. You feel as if your heart cannot break any further and at many times you feel as if it no longer beats inside you. Your world stands still and you really wonder if you are in a dream, no, make that a nightmare, that you can't wake up from. You tell yourself that if you could just have those few days back before everything went so terribly wrong, you would take them and never go forward.
Brett last few days with us were great. He left us with some great memories. On Friday, we took family pictures outside in a cold, brisk 40 degrees. I was determined we were going to get a good shot of all of us since Chris was home to enjoy in the 'fun'. The kids were troopers through it all. Jackets on, jackets off, 'stop smiling like that', look at the camera, no fake smiles - yeah you get the idea. They were greatly rewarded with Little Ceasar's pizza and hot bread sticks. To them it made it all worth it! Saturday, we went to see Santa and see two live reindeer's and take family pictures in front of a huge Christmas tree and a few haystacks that kids just had to sit on.
Later that night we took a drive up the 75 at exit 68 to see a fantastic display of moving Christmas lights where were drove through for about half an hour. The kids ooh'd and ahh'd over the many displays. (The pictures which are still in my phone because I can't bring myself to delete them.)
- and most of all he loved life!
It's the day before Thanksgiving. Why is it that Thanksgiving is the day that smacks you in the face and makes you think about why you are grateful. Do you every ask yourself why don't we think about this every day? Now I have to admit, that was me last Thanksgiving. The day that I sat down and thought why I was so thankful. But not any more. I think about my gratitude and my blessings everyday. One of the many lessons I have learned since that dreadful night last December.
So tonight on this Thanksgiving Eve, I thought I would share a few things I am so grateful for:
- My Life.
- My children.
- My hardworking husband.
- Andrew having his last surgery on Tuesday and that he is finally DONE!
- Raising $1800 to help kick off Brett's Blessings foundation and all the people that helped bake the baked goods.
- Phone calls and text messages to see how my day is going even though it's been almost a year.
- A Safe Place to Heal.
- Journey of Hope
- A friend that got my $700 speedometer repair work done under warranty.
- Old friends that have stuck by me through thick and thin, even though I may be an emotional wreck.
- New friends that don't questions my motives and support me as if they have known me for years.
- Giordani, Swanger, Ripp & Phillips law firm and Cindy Grossman for helping me set up Brett's Blessings foundation and doing it pro bono!
- My neighborhood and the people in it.
- Stonebridge United Methodist Church.
- Facebook - for all the many resources it offers.
My list could go on and on, but then I would be here all night.
I must admit it's hard to be thankful during this holiday because I am still grieving so much and Brett is constantly in my thoughts. The holidays are really tough. The anniversary of Brett's death is soon approaching and Christmas is just around the corner. But what I have realized is that I was given four in a half years of love and joy from my sweet little man. Something that can never be taken from me although he was taken too soon.
So I challenge yourself when you wake up every morning to ask yourself what you are thankful for. Unfortunately, life happens at a blink of an eye. You should cherish the moments - always.
I leave you with this beautiful picture of all three of the kids from last Thanksgiving. So happy and grateful that I have this picture to remember it. Love you Brett. I hope God is saving you a turkey leg.
This has been a rough week and it's only Tuesday. It's the week of Halloween and I am dreading it. My 'first' Halloween without Brett. I didn't buy any Halloween decorations until last week because I didn't think I was going to, but Andrew wanted them so bad and had asked a million times if I was going to get any and I decided to do it for him and he was thrilled with my $10 Walmart decorations.
Today was an emotional day for me. I went to my counselor and got some much needed aggression and tears out for an hour and carried on.
Later in the afternoon, the mom's group that I organize in McKinney (McKinney Mom's Meetup) had an event at Walls of Clay. This is a pottery studio where you can go and paint your own pottery with your children or have a mom's night out and the mom's can paint a piece of pottery. For this event, we took our children to the studio where either a foot or hand of your child is painted and placed on a platter and the art work is done for you. (My kind of deal since I am sooo not an artist). I did this event last year with all three of my children and today I took two. It was hard to not go back to last year. Brett was not the kind of kid that liked his hand painted, (nor his foot for that matter) so getting his foot painted and placed on the platter was not an easy task. My poor little man cried through the entire ordeal, but it was well worth it. I received my platter three days after he passed away . . . three little reindeer's made out of my babies footprints. What a keepsake I will have for the rest of my life, something I would never be able to do again. I managed to keep myself composed at the event and probably spoke Brett's name about ten times to keep things smooth and then I started to crack after Andrew and Danielle did their hand and footprints. I went to the bathroom, cried for just long enough to get it out, and then rejoined the members/friends that were still there.
My day didn't stop there. I proceeded to take my kids to Chick-Fil-A for dinner. I couldn't resist since after all it was for a good cause, Baker Fundraiser Night, 15% of all purchases from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. went back to Andrew's school and the kids were so good after sitting at the studio for 3 hours. I walked in, order our meals, sat down and realized I had not been at that Chick-Fil-A since the Burdick Family Fundraiser was held. Chick-Fil-A held a fundraiser for an entire day that was for my family and hundreds of people came out to support my family. It was amazing to me to see people walk in with flyer's already in their hand to give to the cashier after they paid. A lot of these people were total strangers.
The kids and I came home and Eileen and I started watching The Biggest Loser. This season has one particular contestant that I was immediately drawn to from the start. Her name is Abby. You see, Abby lost her husband, her 5 year old daughter and her 2 week old son in an automobile accident 3 years ago (2.5 years from the seasons taping). When I first heard her story I immediately thought 'that could have been Chris. His entire family could have been gone in the blink of an eye.' I never thought about that before until Abby's story. I always thought 'Why Brett and not me'? I still don't have that answer, but I do know that Andrew and Danielle need their mommy. Andrew told me that last week as he hugged me in the pantry while we were getting snacks to pack for his lunch. He said "Mommy I am so glad you weren't hurt in the accident." It was totally out of the blue and my heart jumped. Maybe that's why it wasn't me.
Abby has found strength in herself to want to "live and not just exist". Sadly as I watched through my tears, Abby got voted off tonight. Why? Not because the other teammates decided it was her time to go, but because Abby asked them to send her home. She saw that her four other teammates needed to be there more than her because she had found herself again because of the ranch and was ready to go home. Her teammates had it right, Abby is a kind, loyal, giving person. She may not have been the Biggest Loser, but she is my Biggest Inspiration. I hope to find myself to be like her one day, living and not just existing. Thanks Abby, from one mommy to another.
I am back. I know I have been MIA for a few months and really for no particular reason. Today I thought I would share some pictures and thoughts of my summer.
Ever think your kids don't love each other? Take a picture like this and look at it a couple months later. You won't question it.
Nothing like extended family to hang with on the weekends. Laughter is good for the soul. God couldn't have picked a more perfect place for us. Pictured: Andrew, Danielle, William, Matteo, Lauren, Emma, Caleb, Luke and Baby Jake.
Danielle and Luke (who lives across the street) have been the duo this summer. If you ask Danielle who Luke is she will tell you "My boyfrien". The innocence of two year olds. This is one of my favorite pictures. Who knows, it may be in their wedding slide show! LOL!
And one of my favorite pictures of Chris and I. This was a self portrait at the park. Chris was a great sport this day and went to the park with the family on one of his days off with a bunch of moms and their kids with the mom's group.
Another self portrait of my babies. My greatest blessings in life.
Life is life. I still have bad days, but good days are in their too. Brett would want me to have them. I am now going to counseling once a week and it is helping me a lot. My counselor is wonderful and helps me put things into perspective. Andrew, Danielle and I also go to a support group every other Thursday. Andrew loves it! The next few months are going to be rough - I have several "firsts" that I must endure, but with love and support I will do it, one day at a time and with my little man watching over me. Love you baby.
I started my day out pretty slow, woke up around 9:30 and laid in bed until my phone rang and it was my girlfriend and we were going over the plan for the day. We decided to head to another friend's house to go swimming and just relax and enjoy the sun.
As with many things, I walked into my friend's house and instantly thought of Brett. The last time I was at Lisa's house was with Brett. I could see him everywhere. Lisa has a little boy that is the same age as Brett, so I of course look at him and analyze everything he does and know that Brett would be doing the same thing. The silly jokes, what he says, how he moves, how he acts.
It wasn't until today that I saw how much Andrew needed his brother. Teh boys were playing all day together. Video games, jumping on the trampoline, different dives in the water, the "let's see who can get who in the water first" game. It hit me all at once and this sadness came over me and I have not been able to let it go. Brett should be here doing these things with Andrew. Being that little brother that Andrew wanted so badly and now will never get back. It make me so emotional and sad and yes, angry. I just don't understand why this has happened to us.
I took the first step into getting some help. I went to a family grief support center for a "pre-screened" meeting. The kids and I went about a week ago and I have decided it might be something useful for Andrew and yes, possibly myself. They have the kids make some sort of craft and then talk about their loss afterwards. I think this will be so beneficial for Andrew to talk to other children that has experienced such a loss. For Andrew to be able to talk openly and honestly without the pressure of saying something that might spring tears to my eyes will be a great thing for him. Danielle will be able to participate when she is three, which amazingly is less than three months away.
As for me, yes it will probably be good for me, but I am hesitant because me going to this group is reliant on Andrew continuing to want to go and the last thing I want to do is to make him do something he doesn't want to do.
What I think I have figured out is that one on one counseling might do me some good. It's not just the fact that I have forever lost my son, but it's also how I lost him. The car accident, the screams - mine and Danielle's, the ambulance, the sirens, the helicopter, seeing my son's lifeless body being carried out of the van, the hospitals and machines, seeing a grown man doing CPR on my son's chest, the words "I'm sorry there is nothing we can do", the dreadful decision to take my son off life support, watching them remove the breathing tube, "time of death 2:57", agonizing everyday if I did the right thing, should I have waited. No one can fathom what it's like to go through all of this unless you have been through it. I can now see why my pastor said "your life has forever changed. You will never be the same again." It took me a while to get that. I thought I am strong. My dad died, my grandma died and with time it got better. But little did I know that when a child dies, a piece of you dies with them. There is forever a whole in my heart never to be filled again.
So I think I have finally decided to put myself first. I know I have said this before, but I think I have mustered up enough of that courage to make a call on Monday for myself. I guess there is nothing wrong for asking for help - something I have never done.
So today, Andrew came up to me with this sad look on his face and said "Mom, if you don't want me around . . ." I cut him off before he could continue. I said "What? Honey what are you talking about." He said that he had overheard me ask Chris "when are you coming to pick him up"? I had to explain to him that I was asking his dad when he was going to be home to take him on the trip because he was wanting to do something every minute of the day. A trip would help with his boredom. I told him that I always wanted him around and NEVER wanted him to go any where. He smiled and said ok with a kiss and a hug. It's amazing what little ears hear.
Love you big boy! (Andrew's nickname since he was a baby.) The picture below is a self portrait from a week ago.
I think with the help of two of my closest friends I have realized that I need some help. I thought I could put on this brave face and smile when I needed to and that everyone would believe it, but those that know me best figured out that I am in a bad place. I am angry. I am hurt. All of these emotions I feel, I don't want to feel. We hit the six month mark of Brett's passing and I am in worse shape than I was before. I am going to look into some professional help as I have figured out that I can't do this alone. I guess I can finally admit that to myself and to others. My love to those you have figured me out and came to me with your concerns.
Today has been a hard day. Actually the last two have not been so good. I don't know why. I guess it's the way things go. You never know when you are going to have a crappy day or when you are going to have a good day. I try to fill my days with things to do and that helps until everyone is gone and I am by myself and then all I do is think.
Today I did nothing. Stayed in my jammies all day and sat my rear on the couch. I was constantly looked at the family picture above my fireplace mantle and wished that everything was different. That Brett was here and cuddled up next to me on the couch like he always was. But he's not. Life is really unfair. It's been a really crappy day. But I wasn't the only one thinking today.
Andrew came up to me this evening with a book he called "one of Brett's favorites." The book was Big Brother, Little Brother. Andrew said "I used to read this to Brett all the time. I really miss him." I held him tight and asked if he wanted me to read the book to him. He did. All it took was the reading of the first page before my words cracked, but I managed to go on for Andrew's sake. I finished the story and Andrew begin to cry and buried his head into my chest. I begin to cry, not for myself, but for the pain that Andrew is feeling. I wish I could make it all go away. Isn't that what moms are suppose to do? It hurts to know that I can't do a damn thing about it. I can't just kiss it away or give him a big hug and tell him it will be ok. It isn't ok and I don't know if it every will be.
While reading the book, there was a picture of the big brother helping the little brother do karate and I had a flashback of the picture I took of the boys at Brett's belt testing. My two handsome boys. We love you so much Brett. There is not a single minute that goes by that you are not thought about. XOXOXO.
Christina and I met in the eighth grade when we both started the same junior high. She was from Ontario. Ca and I, from LaVerne, CA. I passed Christina a note asking her to be my 'best friend'. Funny how little girls do things, huh? Little did I know, she really did become my best friend. Who would have ever thought I would be one of "those" women that I heard as a little girl say that they have been friends with someone for over twenty years? Holy crap, that's me!!We have been friends for 21 years! WOW!! Seriously, when I was 12, I thought my world was crumbling because I had to move to a new city and make new friends. I never knew that the path that God was laying for me would bring me such joy for the rest of my life.
Liz and I have been friends for the same amount of time. Liz is Christina's sister. Although I have to admit, when Liz and I first met, we fought like sisters for a couple of years. I think in some ways we are very much alike and that is the reason why we butted heads for so long. But all in all it worked out for the better and here we are.
Together, the three of us have been through a lot. Several broken hearts, drugs, alcohol, fights over a boy, the accident of their uncle, the death of our grandmas, the death of my father, the reunion with my biological father, the moves (Christina to Australia and I to Texas), weddings, pregnancies (six total) and then the death of Brett. Through it all, we have managed to hold on to our friendship no matter what the situation.
I received a phone call from Liz a month ago telling me that Partylite had cancelled their trip to Mexico because of the swine flu. That was the bad news. The good news, that Partylite was paying them for the trip they earned and that Liz and Christina were still going on vacation and taking me with them! WHAT? Are you kidding me? Your paying for me to go on vacation?? I am so in!! And I really needed to get away from it all. The memories, the mound of toys in my dining room, the pictures, the pressure. All of it.
So off to Cancun we go. We left Friday (5/22/09) morning. I flew from DFW on a 9:00 a.m. flight. I knew this was going to be a fabulous trip when I heard the announcer ask everyone at Gates D21 and D22 to stand and clap for our soldiers returning home. We stood and clapped for at least 15 minutes for these brave men and women who risk their lives everyday to protect us. Thank you to them! I sat down and imagined what happy reunions were going to be taking place as they saw their families for the first time in a year.
I arrived in Cancun at 11:45 and proceeded to the Gran Melia Cancun resort. I checked in and when I opened the door I immediately dropped my luggage and went straight to window. To my surprise I saw that we had a balcony with two chaise lounge chairs - SWEET! I stood and looked at the view for 10 minutes. I couldn't believe I was there. Here was part of my view. How awesome is that!
I proceeded to get a few things out and put in the bathroom, hang a few dresses, put my shoes in the closet. And then I decided I am going to get some sun out on the balcony. Changed into my suit, laid out for an hour or so and then decided I needed food. I rang for room service - which I was tickled pink because I have never done it! Even more amazing to get the bill and have it say I owe $0.00!!
Christina and Liz arrived a few hours later and we decided to check things out. But as we went to put the Do Not Disturb Sign on the Door we couldn't help but laugh at it in Spanish. Check it out.
No Molester?? LOL!! From that point on we would say "Did you put the No Molester sign out?" I don't think we will ever call it a Do Not Disturb sign again!
Our first night in Mexico was relaxing. We talked, we laughed, we ate sushi, we drank, we played cards, we laughed some more. Perfect first night.
We slept in the first night, order breakfast in the room and then headed to the pool. We decided we would go into town that night to check out the night life. After an hour long bus ride (because we missed our stop) and a 35 minute walk (we again missed our stop) and a taxi ride (to get to the place we were going) - we ended up at Congo. It was worth the wait. We had a fabulous time! Drinking, dancing, laughing and people watching. Here we are our first night out.
After zip lining they took us to a water hole to cool off in a covered jeep. Here we are looking forward to getting wet!
And here we are at the water hole, before getting wet. We got really good at self portraits!
The fourth day, we relaxed by the pool for the entire day. From 9:30 to 6:00. We ate, drank, laughed, swam, drank some more and laughed harder. What a great day! The last night we went out again to Congo, just this time we knew where we were going and it was a quick 10 minute bus ride. We met up with some people we met at the pool bar to have some dinner and a drink before heading out. This was the three of us having a shot - but I can't remember the name of it, but it was good!
Here Liz and I are dancing on the bar with our friends Michelle and Tiffany.
And this is one of the last photos we took together.
Saying goodbye on Wednesday was very emotional for me. I gave them both a big hug and a kiss and started to cry. I got in the van heading back to the airport and asked myself what I did to deserve such great friends. They will forever be my sisters. Luv Ya Like A Sis. Christina and I signed our many letters we wrote to each other in high school this way. Twenty one years later and I still love them like my sisters!
Today I received some 'information' that absolutely infuriated. I was told that an acquaintance, which will remain nameless because I am the better person here, are spreading awful rumors, accusations - what ever you want to call them - down right lies. The rumor is this: I have taken the toys that I have spent countless hours on collecting for Brett's Blessings for children that are Children's Hospital in Dallas and have sold them on Craigslist so I could afford to buy a car. Are you kidding me? Has this person lost her mind?
Now if you know me, you know I would NEVER EVER do this. For those that don't know me and follow my blog, let me assure you I would NOT do such a despicible thing. I am not a fraud. These toys are going to bring so many smiles to children faces that it makes my heart happy. I sent this "person" an e-mail today saying exactly what I felt:
"It has come to my attention that you are spreading hurtful and VERY UNTRUE rumors about Brett's Blessings and me. How DARE you tell anyone that I am selling those toys on Craigslist for a car!! Are you out of your mind? I am sure that you never in your wildest dreams thought this would get back to me, but guess what it did. I don't know what the hell is wrong with you, but leave me and my son out of it. I cannot believe that you have sunk so low. I knew you talked crap about people that were your "friends" but we weren't even that. If I find out that you are spreading more rumors about this beautiful foundation I had set up in memory of Brett I will sue you for slander and that is a promise! You have screwed with the wrong person."
I could have been just as cruel as she, but I chose not to. But I do wonder how people can be so shameless as to spread vicious lies about someone's child that has passed away. A child I can no longer hold, hug, kiss, feel breath. How could they? I can honestly say this is nothing I would even wish upon her.
Now, I will tell you this. We did get a new car and it is exactly what we wanted. Something bigger than my Nissan Quest. Something to make me feel safe - something I have not felt in any car since the accident. Somthing to make my children - whom still fear driving at night time - feel safe. Did I get this car, by being a fraud and using my little man, my child to do it. Absolutely not. I had a lot of help getting this car. First I had the help of the Ewing Dealership in Plano. The owner of this dealership heard about my family tragic loss and out of the kindness of their heart loaned me a car for six months. Why? Because they are good people and knew my family needed help.
This is the 09 GMC Acadia that was loaned to my family that I will forever be grateful for.
The car that I bought was a 2005 Suburban. Low miles. My wonderful neighbor Maris Opfar got me a fantastic deal on this truck. He knew how much this meant to my family. The need to feel safe. If you in the need for a stand-up car salesman, Maris is the man to go to. Go to the Sewell Hummer dealership in Plano and ask for him and tell him Amber sent you.
And this is a picture of my safe zone on the road:
Is it anyone's business how I paid for this vehicle - No. But I will tell you this, it was paid for by the love, genorisity and kindness of friends, family and total strangers. Not by toys for a great cause.
No one has the right to judge me or anyone going through this awful experience of the loss of a child unless they have gone through it themselves and even then, we are all different.
Will Brett's Blessing be effected by this, not if I can help it. This will be a strong wonderful foundation that God has put in my lap and I will make him proud and I will make my little man proud as well.
As I woke up on this morning I wasn't thinking of myself. Mother's Day for me usually goes like this: Go to the mall, take the time to try on some clothes, do a little window shopping, have some lunch, do a little more shopping, maybe buy something and most importantly do it without the kids. After all, I deserve that one day out of the year, right?
But that's not what I was thinking this morning. The thought of another dreaded "first" flooded my head. My first Mother's Day - minus one. Minus one of my beautiful children. Minus my little man. My Brett. I think today I actually understood what Mother's Day actually is. It is a day to celebrate all the good and the bad that come with being a mother. Not all Mother's Days go as planned.
I talked with one friend today that was struggling to keep her daughter's fever down, a fever she has had since Friday. I talked to another friend that took her son into an urgent care because she was up all night with him because he had croup. I saw another friend today that held her daughter close because she was sore from a surgery she had on Thursday. I saw another friend that cradled her daughter in her hospital room because she had been vomiting and had diarrhea for three days and was extremely dehydrated. Yes, this is what being a mother is all about. To protect them. To hold them. To kiss them. To be the one person they can trust to be there for them no matter what the cost. Did they plan their Mother's Day to go the way they did? Nope, but things change at the blink of an eye.
Obviously this is not a day I ever envisioned myself having. Was it hard? Extremely. Was it hard on Chris to not be able to be here for me today. Most definitely. Did I had that void? Just like every other day, just more so. Did I cry - when do I not? Was it a typical Mother's Day - absolutely not. But what I learned from my "first" Mother's Day without Brett is this: Every mother should be grateful to be called Mommy. It is the most important job we will ever do in our entire lives. Children are blessings. The most precious gift any of us will ever receive. Cherish them every day because you just don't know how long you will have it. I was blessed for four years with Brett. My little man. And yes, he still called me Mommy.
This was our traditional Mother's Day photo taken today:
And in honor of my little man, this was our Mother's Day photo last year:
I told myself that I would write this blog entry the day after Brett's Celebration - April 19th. Well as you can see, it is three weeks later. I totally crashed and burned after his celebration - yes for three weeks. I found myself sitting on the couch again, not wanting to move or do anything. Not even to socialize with friends, which is not a common occurrence for me. I think after the hustle and bustle or getting things organized and prepared for two months and it finally coming to the date and having it done and gone was hard to wrap myself around the thought that I had nothing to focus on but my grief.
But on this eve of Mother's Day, I find myself wanting to write. Not sure why, but God works in mysterious ways.
The rain had poured for three days prior to Brett's Celebration, but the day of could not been any more beautiful. The weather was about 76 degrees and windy. She I could have done without the rain, but I would take it over the rain, at least the wind would not stop this beautiful day of remembrance.
I started my morning off by going to church and listening to beautiful songs song by people of various ages and to great sermon. After the service, my family, Chris, Andrew, Danielle and myself joined Stonebridge United Methodist Church. Myself and the children were baptized and to my surprise I felt some sense of strength during the baptism. I devoted myself to God and am leaning on Him to help me with this devastating experience that I was chosen to have.
I headed home after feeling a sense of peace and telling myself to focus on what this day means for me and my family. I help set up tables, chairs (donated by Bounce House of McKinney), red table clothes and photo centerpieces for the 150+ plus guests that we were expecting. Below is just one of the 10 centerpieces we had made. My sweet little man:
At about 2:00 p.m. we had lots of family and friends arriving for this Celebration of Brett's Life. At the tender age of four, he truly impacted so many lives. The most things people remember about Brett is his smile and his eyes. He was a handsome little boy with an infectious smile. You couldn't help but smile back.
We were blessed to have the main course donated by a local restaurant Chicken Express. Stan, the owner provided seven pans of chicken, buckets of gravy and 3 pans of his delicious rolls. The corn and potatoes and desserts were made my Jessica Donato and her parents Kathy and Loren. Truly an unbelievable spread.
As the children played on the bounce house donated by Hip-Hop Bounce Co. and the swing set they laughed, ran and just had some good old fashion fun. I sat and observed the children and told myself that Brett would be proud. At times I could imagine him right out there with all his friends.
Chris, Andrew, Danielle and myself released first:
And then everyone else. What a beautiful site to see 150 red balloons floating through the sky - I can imagine it's just like angels flying.
I had a couple of people that were not at the Celebration tell me that they saw the balloons and loved it, not even knowing what it was for.
I would like to take this time to do a couple more shout outs. Thank you to Heather and Laura and the parents of Brett's preschool class at Sunshine Kids at SUMC for donating the drinks. Thank you to Ann for doing a beautiful job on the invitations. Thank you to my hood girls (Tami, Andrea, Ann, Maureen, Nichole, Dina and Kim) for helping put together the Brett's Blessings insert and stuffing envelopes. Thank you to Meredith and Jon, Shelly and JD for helping fight the wind and taping table clothes on the table and blowing up 150 balloons. Thank you JD for the awesome sound system for the music. And last, but not least, to my friend and guardian angel that has kept myself and my family grounded since the accident occurred. Christie. You are truly an inspiration to me and to all that know you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for the late night talks. Thank you for putting up with my rants, my anger, my sadness and my many stresses about this Celebration.
Today is April 17, 2009. Brett would have been 5 today. I woke up this morning and immediately started to cry. This is THE most difficult day I have yet to experience.
My day was suppose to go like this - friends meet at my house at 11:00 a.m., go to the cemetery, proceed to lunch. How did my day really go? Well the good old Texas weather messed up my plan and everyone knows that I don't like when something doesn't go exactly as planned. I feel like I fail. The rain started to fall about 10:45 a.m. and it was pouring buckets. My girlfriends and their kids hung around my house for about 45 minutes in hopes of the rain passing. We were out of luck - it just seem to rain even more.
Plan B in effect. I decided we would go to lunch first and then head to the cemetery. We went to Cotton Patch, which seems to become a favorite of mine and Mom's (Eileen). The place was packed, but fortunately we were able to get tables. We enjoyed our lunch and left about 1:40 with the rain still falling and the wind blowing about 40 mph. I was going to the cemetery and nothing was going to stop me - not even mother nature.
Just as we got to the cemetery and bought our flowers, the rain stopped and the winds died down. Someone was watching over us. It was an unexplainable feeling to be at my son's grave on his birthday and what was even more surreal is I was there at the time he was born - 2:03 p.m. We cried. We laughed. We prayed.
I was told by a friend to make sure that I take time to myself today to remember my sweet boy, this would be my only "first" birthday. I did just that. As everyone left I had time to talk to Brett - mother to son. I knelt beside Brett's headstone and sang him Happy Birthday and told him how very much I love him and miss him as I felt his pictures on his stone.
My heart breaks today - again. My life is like a roller coaster and I am waiting for the day that I can get off of the ride. It might be a long ride.
As I sign off today, I thought it would be nice to share some pictures of Brett from his 4th birthday. Happy Birthday Baby, I Love You!
This is Brett at his favorite pizza place, Peter Piper Pizza. He had his party here.
I haven't written in about a week, although there were many times that I thought about writing, but honestly I just didn't have the strength to sit down and type it.
April is going to be an excrutiating month for me. A month of many "firsts". I have my "first" Easter and my "first" birthday - both without Brett, within a week of each other. I also had some "firsts" that some people wouldn't think about.
Last Saturday was the Easter Eggstraganza Egg Hunt with my mom's group. My assistant organizers and I put a lot of time and preparation into this egg hunt and we were ready. I personally was getting ready to face another "first". My "first" egg hunt with Brett. I had such pain in my heart knowing that my little man would not be there gleefully running around scooping up eggs and showing me what he got in his basket. What made things worse is that I didn't have any of my children with me that day. Andrew decided he would rather do a sleep over - ok, I would still have Dani. Um yeah, not exactly - 101.7 fever. I managed to muster up enough energy and head to the park and do what I said I was going to do. The entire way to the park, I thought of Brett. My heart ached. I mean really ached. The day got even worse when I was about two miles from the park and the damn car ran out of gas! Ugg, could this day get any worse! Thankfully my friend Christie was behind me and pulled over and helped get me to a gas station. The day didn't get worse, it ended up to be a beautiful day and everyone enjoyed themselves. I made it through the day with a happy go lucky smile - although those that are closest to me knew it was a day from hell for me.
Andrew had his first baseball game of the season last Friday. It was a bittersweet day. I got to see my son that went through four surgeries on his right leg after the accident, hit a baseball and see him run a triple. What a miracle he is! I am so grateful for him. But I did have that ever so present pain in my heart again when I sat in the bleachers and watched two of Brett's friends play, bicker and fight with each other. My baby should have been there. It was my "first" litle league baseball game without him.
Danielle has been sick most of this week and I really did not get out of the house much, which was almost a blessing because I had no desire. None. That is not like me at all. I am usually a "mover and shaker". My desire this week was to sit my rear on the couch and fall asleep. I did manage to go to a local craft store and spend my gift card that my mom got me for Christmas - it only took 3 months, but I need the house to be ready for Brett's Celebration.
Today, I took Andrew and Danielle to the mall to get Easter pictures taken. We didn't do the traditional Easter Bunny picture because Danielle really didn't want to and I didn't have the energy to stand in a line for two hours for her to scream her head off after being placed on the bunny's lap. So I took them to Picture People and I do have to say, that I got some really great pictures of them. Both together and individually, but again I had another "first". My first time to have the kids pictures taken without Brett being in them. As I stood behind the photographer to get their best smiles, Brett was constantly on my mind.
This entire month is really sucks. It's like feeling the pain all over again of the night I had to let my little man go. Constant stabbing of my heart - I wonder how much a person is suppose to take. Does this really get any easier? At the present, I just don't see how.
I do know that my most difficult day is still ahead. The day I gave birth to Brett - April 17th.
I am looking forward to his Celebration. I am looking forward to honoring my little man and seeing a couple hundred people in my back yard with toys for Brett's Blessings and many memories that will be shared.
Today, I ask everyone to say a little prayer for me and my family for the upcoming week. I am going to need a lot of strength and it has to come from somewhere because at the moment it is not within me. I am going to need help.
I heard something on the television today that had absolutely nothing to do with my situation, but it totally related to me. "I am strong, but a strong person also has to allow themselves to be vulnerable." A lightbulb went on.
I was a very shy child - (yes I know some of you find that hard to believe) - until my life came to a halt. I experienced what I thought was the most pain in my entire life - the loss of my father. Jim Perdue was a wonderful father of six children. He was happy, young, full of life, a good husband, a great provider. He cared for me, he loved me, he was my daddy and he was not blood related. He was my step dad, although those words never crossed my lips. He was my daddy. He passed away on a cool California night in January of a heart attack at the age of 44. I thought my life was over. There is nothing that can replace that special bond with your father.
With the passing of my father came strength. I told myself that if my daddy wasn't going to be there to protect me then I had to do it myself and make him proud.
The strength has helped me get through a great deal in life, but for some reason, my strength seems to be deteriorating within. It is hard for others to grasp this, but I do because this is my life. My own personal hell.
I cannot hear, see, touch or smell Brett. I cannot hear his sweet voice. I cannot hold his hand on his way out from preschool. I cannot hear him breathe as I cover him up at midnight before going to bed. I can only see his sweet smile in pictures instead of right in front of me. The only way I can touch him is to go to his gravestone marker and touch the pictures we had placed on it. This by far is the greatest pain I have EVER felt in my life. I still wake up EVERY morning thinking it was all a bad dream.
People look at me at being that strong willed, out spoken person and that I am just going to bounce back to being my "normal" self. I have no idea what normal is, I cannot just sweep this under the rug and move on. This is my life. I lost my child. I AM vulnerable. I looked up vulnerable in the dictionary and I read "capable of or susceptible to being wounded or hurt." Yes, that is ME. I need others to be my strength until I am strong enough on my own. Sometimes the strong need to be carried, held, loved.
I have always been the one to give. For me to receive so much from so many was not an easy task, but I have learned to accept it because I NEED it. I have learned that I am on a downward road that I need help climbing back up and am hoping to do so in time - with lots of help.
I have learned that to be vulnerable is to be human.
Today Shelly and I walked into a Christian book store in search of a bible that I can actually understand. I looked at several bibles and decided I need to wait until I can afford one as they are not cheap if you want a good one. So I proceeded to look at all the gadgets they had in the store - crosses, key chains, bookmarks, etc. I got some great gift ideas and will be going back as my girlfriend's birthdays approach. I looked a books and read a few back covers, none of which screamed read me. Shelly and I were leaving and I said I wish they had some books on grief from authors that lost children. Well low and behold, they did. Shelly said they do and took me to the Grief book section. We sat down on the floor and proceeded to look through the books.
I found books for loss of spouse, how to deal with grief, becoming a widow - none of which I was looking for. A book title then caught my eye Roses in December. The author is Marilyn Heavilin and she has lost three sons. This book screamed "read me". I felt almost an instant connection just by her title since I lost Brett in December. The next book I picked up had a red balloon on it and is called Safe in the Arms of God (truth from heaven about the death of a child). This book also caught my attention, but not the initial title, but because of the picture on the cover. A sky with a cloud and a single red balloon. You see we will be doing a balloon release at Brett's Celebration - red balloons because it was Brett's favorite color. It seems ironic to me that both these books had some symbolic meaning for me. They screamed out my name. I decided to buy both. Maybe these books will give me some peace? Just not sure if anything will ever help answer my questions.
Andrew, my eight year old, was cleared to run and jump again after almost four months! We were very excited to hear this good news. It means that he can be "normal" as he calls it. He can play baseball, do karate, participate in gym class and just be a kid. For those that may not know, Andrew's leg was severely injured in the automobile accident that took Brett from us. He had four surgeries over a twelve day period with one more to go in about six to eight months.
I woke up this morning at 6:45 when my alarm went off and proceeded to hit the snooze button three times before actually getting my rear out of bed. I was extremely tired since I didn't get home until 1:15 a.m. from bunco with my hood girls. I had every intention of leaving at 11:00 until Maureen, Ann and I started talking and needless to say the time got away from us. It was probably a good thing as well since all of us had our share of alcoholic beverages that night. Gotta love bunco.
Ann offered to pick up Andrew for school this morning and to my surprise she was very awake and even going to the gym afterwards! Wow, I told myself to snap out of it and get yourself going. It was going to be a good day. I had to get ready for Andrew's award ceremony. He had no idea that I was heading up to the school in an hour to see him receive, not one, but two awards. It was going to be a great surprise!
I went to the school and sat there as I watched him search the audience of parents to see if I was there. He finally made eye contact and flashed that smile that melts my heart. The first award he received was for loyalty to friends and classmates. The other was for All A's on his report card. I am so proud of him! For a kid that has has his life turned upside down he has truly shown me that he IS strong.
I excused myself to go out and have a good cry in the car - after all, I couldn't leave as Danielle was looking forward to playing with her friends. That wouldn't be fair to her. I managed to get myself together - or at least I thought I had until I walked into the bounce house area. I sat down and begin to cry again. Some of the preschool mom's walked up to me as they passed out hugs. I said to them "What are the chances that I would be here on this day?" Seriously, I thought, God why are you doing this to me? I ended up having a nice conversation with Janice and Amy and talked about Brett's Blessings and how important it was for children in the hospital to know how special they are.
I made it through the rest of our time at the Zone, came home and put Danielle down for her nap. I was absolutely drained. Physically and emotionally. Just when I think things are good, I get thrown another curve ball. I picked up Andrew and William today from school and brought them back to my house and of course they wanted to play the Wii - their all time favorite thing to do together. Chris got home from a long road trip and he immediately knew something had happened. He put his bag down and was right there to talk about it. Since he was home I took the opportunity to take time for myselfe and go lay down for a while. I ended up taking a three hour nap, something I think my body needed.
I always told myself that I would never move out of the State of California. I was born and raised in California, I knew nothing else. I loved the beach, the mountains and the weather. My mom was there, my friends were there, my work was there. That was my life.
In April of 2006 Chris and I decided to take a trip to Texas because the house prices in California got so out of control that we "had to do something" with the impending arrival of Danielle. Eileen (Mom) stayed home with Brett and picked up Andrew from school everyday. We could not possibly ask her to take care of another grandchild - although I am sure she would have gladly done so. We had been renting a house for three years and it was only suppose to be for one - we were waiting for those prices to drop and they never did!
We arrived in Texas on a sunny June 100 degree day. It was beautiful. The wind was blowing and it was nice and warm. We were here to see if someday Texas would be a place we could call home. We wanted to check out the areas and houses and see if it was a match for our future. We came with the intention to "look".
We met with our realtor, Orlando at our hotel the day we arrived and he took us to several places and homes in Frisco. We were stunned to find that the huge backyard we had envisioned with space for a pool and lots of room for the kids to play was not an easy task. The yards were so little everywhere we looked until we found a house that we loved, with the perfect backyard - one problem it was already owned! Orlando mentioned several times that he wanted to bring us to McKinney. He said we would love it. It had lots of new, young families - perfect for what we were looking for. I looked at Orlando and said "Find us this house on this size lot, that's not taken and we'll talk."
That evening Orlando called us and said "I found a lot. I will meet you at the hotel lobby at 10:00 a.m. and take you to it." It was perfect. A third of an acre, where the house we wanted would fit nicely on it and it had enough room for a pool and lots of play area. The next thing I knew, a deposit was made and Chris and I spent the entire day picking out all the upgrades we wanted - the laminate floors, the double sink, the single shower and tub, the types of doors, the patios, the stoves, the carpet, the padding, the brick. It was so overwhelming. When Jerry came at me with the color of the grout for the tile in the bathrooms, I honestly did not care at that point. I said "pick what you like." I was exhausted.
Chris and I went to Stonebriar Mall and ate dinner at the food court. I was floored by how big that mall was. (Needless to say the malls in California are nothing compared to here.) Chris and I sat down and I burst out into tears. He asked me what was the matter and I said "I can't believe I am going to go home and tell my mom we are moving to Texas." It was really a heartbreaking thing to do. My mom is my life line, my best friend.
With mom's love and support, six months later we moved to Texas. I myself was scared to death. I would know no one and I had no idea if I was making the right move or if I would be wanting to go back to California in a month. Danielle was 3 months old, Brett was 2.5 and Andrew was 6. I was now official a stay at home mom relying solely on my husband's income. A totally new concept for us.
It wasn't until bunco started that I really got to know my neighbors and found that I was so blessed. You see, in my neighborhood, NO ONE judges anyone. There is no "keeping up with the Jones'". There is no talking behind someones back when they walk out the door. People leave groceries on their neighbor's doorstep when they know that times are tough. We watch each other kids. We vent to each other about life. We go to movies. We go to coffee. We play bunco. We meet at the park. We gather outside of people's home when tragedy strikes and are eager to help with ANYTHING. They sing Christmas carols on Christmas Day. These are women that I am so proud to call my "hood girls".
I am so grateful that Orlando brought us to McKinney, that he brought us to this neighborhood. Out of all the neighborhoods in McKinney, we got this one.
About six of my "hood girls" came over this morning and helped me put together Brett's Celebration invitations, stuff the envelopes and write the names of those invited. By myself this would have taken hours, with their help it was about 45 minutes. How awesome is that?
I can say, that without a doubt that "someday" is here. Texas is home. Maybe one day Texas will be home for mom and Paul.
Tonight I leave you with this: Follow your heart, you just never know when your "someday" will be.
Last night was a restless night for me. I found myself waking up every hour from 3:00 a.m. on. I simply could not get Brett off my mind - even in my sleep.
I went to Andrew's baseball practice last night and was talking to two other baseball mom friends. They both have sons that started tee ball. Their first game is this week. These boys are both four years old. Brett was suppose to be on that team, he was also suppose to have his first tee ball game this week. We had it all figured out last year. Peyton, Derek and Brett were going to be on the same team. They played together at every baseball game their big brothers had. Amy, Kara and I were always looking at them play and of course trying to figure out who hit who or who did what. All three were looking forward to when it was their turn to play on the field. I realized at that moment that my little man was not going to have his turn on the field - at least not where I can see it. I silently cried on the way home so Andrew didn't notice and I cried on my way to my friend's house for an evening out with the girls.
I manage to contain myself before heading into Marta's house - after all I didn't want to damper the evening. I even thought about cancelling, but thought a night out would help and it did for a few hours. I had a great time with some old and new found friends. We ate, laughed, drank, laughed, played Wii fit (wow that hula hooping really works those abs!) and laughed some more. One of my best girlfriends Meredith even took a road trip with Michelle to Walgreens to get a Baby Gender test and it said a GIRL. We are so hoping that test is right! Only two more weeks Mere until the ultrasound!
When I left Marta's house around 11:30 p.m., I found myself thinking about Brett's baseball team that he will never be on. How is this fair? I still ask myself "why me"? Why my Brett? I have so many questions and no answers. I am so frustrated!
I got home, went to the computer and pulled up this picture. This is a picture that I took on the way home from California from the airplane window. You see, I wasn't suppose to be on this 6:45 a.m. flight. I took an early flight home because Andrew was sick. I think this was something that God wanted me to see. This is Brett's view from heaven:
What a beautiful view. This in some strange way gives me just a little bit of peace. One day, my little man, I will be walking with you again and holding your sweet little hand. Mommy loves you.
As I prepare for Brett's Celebration of Life on April 19th, I have so many mixed feelings.
Brett's birthday is April 17th, he would be turning five. Normally about this time of year I have picked the location of the party, the invitations are done, Brett has chosen his character theme plates and napkins and he is bouncing off the wall with excitement. Instead, I find myself staring at an invitation with a picture of Brett and his contagious smile and the words "A Celebration of Brett's Life in honor of his birthday". Something is so wrong with this. He was suppose to be turning five. He was taken way too early.
I think Ann said it right - "It's bittersweet." I find myself stressing about every detail of this Celebration. I want it to be ABSOLUTELY PERFECT. Chris knew his wife all too well when he thought I would "stress out", but I am trying my best to keep it under control. I love you honey.
We have so many people that are helping with this Celebration that "thank you" just doesn't seem like enough, but it is all we have to give right now.
Today I sent an e-mail out to a lot of my close friends asking for them to dig through two years of pictures and send me any and all pictures that they have of Brett and his friends for the photo book that I am working on. My friends got to work and I already have received some e-mails and photos. Today I would like to share with you one of my favorites. I gasped as I saw this picture. I have never seen this picture before, but I do have to say it is beautiful. This is my little man last year at Halloween. Who could not adore this face?
This Celebration is not only for my immediate family, but also my extended family that loved Brett like their own. Chris and I have started - well I guess you could say foundation, but it's not there yet. We have called this yearly annual toy donation Brett's Blessings. I racked my head for days on what to name "it" and Chris came up with this in a minute and what a perfect name it is. Brett was a blessing. What better way to honor my child than to make other children, of all ages happy?
Brett's Blessings will help bring smiles to children in the ICU at Children's Hospital Dallas. My mission is to ask everyone that I know if they would be willing to donate a new, unwrapped toy for many children who are in the ICU. This year we have picked the ICU department specifically because this is where Brett spent his last few hours before passing away. I hope that next year I will be able to spread this toy drive to Children's Medical Center in Dallas as I have now been told by two people that they have nothing like this. Who knows, if this toy drive gets really big, I might just be able to do it this year. Wouldn't that be a blessing. Please spread the word.
So today I leave you with this: Open your hearts. Give to those you don't know. Someday you might be in need of the same.
Last night I went to the movies with Lisa, Meredith, Becky and Christie - four of some truly amazing women I am proud to call my friends. So usually we all trust each other instincts fairly well, especially when it comes to our Girls Night Outs. So I decided that I was up for something a little different. Not the typically comedy, love story kind of movie, something a little more suspenseful, a drama.
So I logged on to the Allen Cinemark website and see the movie "Last House on the Left". It looked good in the quick preview I had seen and it sounded like what I wanted - something different. Send out an e-mail, everyone is cool with the movie choice. Great!
Meet up at Starbucks at 8:15, talk the two hours away over memories, kids, husbands, stress, etc. - you know what we are good at - talking! We go to the theatre, buy our tickets, get our snacks, hit the potty (yeah you can tell I am a mommy) and sit down. Well as we are sitting there watching the previews and almost every single preview was a horror flick that was coming soon. I looked at the girls and said "This did not say it was a horror flick." We all had this worried look on our face. The girls were wondering what I had gotten them into and frankly I was thinking the same thing myself.
So the movie starts with a car accident coming from absolutely no where. And if you know me or have read my first blog, this is not a good site and/or sound for me to experience not even in a movie. I quickly covered my eyes as my girlfriends' eyes immediately went to me and asked if I was ok and wanted to go. Needless to say the scene was horrific and was very graphic. My eyes continued to be covered until the girls gave the go ahead to look. I decided I was fine and was going to continue to watch on - after all how much worse could it get. Let me just tell you without the details, it got ten times worse. The plot in itself was a good storyline (girl gets kidnapped and raped, left for dead, goes back to her parents house and her parents get the ultimate revenge). The one problem - it was extremely graphic!! Awful! I think they need to be more descriptive on those movie summaries.
After the movie, we all just sat in our seats and were like "Wow, what did we just watch." I was put on MOVIE PICKING PROBATION UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE as we stood outside the theatre and talked for another thirty minutes!! Sorry girls! But all in all we had a great night and I am sure that I have been forgiven by now - that's what friends are for.
Andrew left to go on a quick road trip with Chris to Southern Texas before the end of his Spring Break. They left at like 5:00 a.m. - although don't quote me because I was not awake enough to see the clock - all I could think was thank goodness I don't have to get up.
I rolled out of bed at about 7:40 a.m. to the sweet sounds of Danielle yelling "Mommy come get me out!" So it really wasn't that sweet since she was screaming, but hey you know what I mean. I got her breakfast, sat on the couch with my large morning coffee and sat and listened. My house was way too quite. I only had one child at home, which was one of my many "firsts". This was Andrew's first trip with his dad since the accident so all the other trips Andrew went on I had Danielle and Brett. Now for most moms, this would be pure pleasure, but for me not so much.
So I was grateful that I had invited my friend, Becky to bring her daughters Chloe and her new baby Laken over for a visit. It will help occupy my time as well as Danielle's. The day started out great. Becky and I have really not had much time for visiting since December so it was a great time to catch up. We somehow managed to talk about clothing for our kids - after all isn't it always about them? So I took her upstairs to show her some clothes I have bought for Danielle. Well of course, Danielle decided to take a poop just as we were settling in upstairs. I told her to go downstairs and get a diaper and the wipes. And this is what I she came with:
Yep, the powder and it was everywhere! Becky and I could not help but laugh out loud. Danielle of course started to laugh and shake the powder some more. I quickly ran downstairs to grab my camera, because after all this was a kodak moment. Danielle followed me downstairs and I was still able to grab a shot of this mess. Sometimes you have to laugh. The girls managed to get into their girly girl outfits and after FIVE pictures we finally got a cute pic with them both looking all ready for their party in the playroom.
I have realized after four hours of this happening that Dani didn't mean it. It was an accident. Although it looks like this now, my girlfriends that bought me this beautiful bench are looking into what the person whom they bought it from can do for me. Worse case scenario, I will buy another one.