Happy Birthday, Emmett

Happy birthday my sweet baby boy.

I can’t believe it’s been 365 days since I held you. My heart has never loved another thing so greatly until it met you. I think of you each and every day. I still wish for all of the moments that were taken away from you, me and daddy.

I miss you with all of my being but I know you’re in a better place where you aren’t in any pain and nothing can hurt you. But, oh, how I wish I could’ve protected you from that.

Birthday Quote - Emmett

There’s a whole world of family and friends that love you and who never were able to meet you. I hope you look down on them sometimes and see just how loved you are even though you’re so far away.

Your tree is starting to bloom. There are tiny little buds on it ready to blossom in the warm summer breezes ahead. Your Nana sent a cute little solar figurine of a little boy with a turtle that’s sitting under it now. Your Uncle Bumppo sent flower bulbs that me and Daddy will plant this weekend. Your fur brother Dakota sends the biggest cuddles and wet kisses.

Daddy bought a cupcake for your first birthday in heaven. We’ll blow your candle out tonight together and snuggle listening to Disney music for our little Mouseketeer. I hope we can see you in our dreams where I imagine you’re bouncing around and giggly, loving all that life has in store for you.

We love you Emmett. Always.

 

A Grandmother’s Story: My Journey in the Wilderness

Sorry I’ve been away for so long. It’s been more than 2 weeks since the last post. Been struggling with a few things so haven’t felt up to writing either physically or emotionally. Hopefully, I can catch up this weekend to get some thoughts down. In the meantime, my Mom has patiently waited for me to post her most recent piece. Thanks Mom! ~Christina

“Wilderness,” according to Merriam-Webster Dictionary is defined as a wild, uncultivated, uninhabited area, undisturbed by human activity. Oxford English Dictionary describes it as “an inhospitable region.”

Years ago, when I first came to America, I experienced this type of “wilderness,” when I lived in Alaska for several years with my biological father and his family. I was around 9 years old. Even though we lived inside a military base, the areas surrounding us, were uncultivated and uninhabited. We were surrounded by wilderness with acres after acres of evergreen trees, which during wintertime, especially after a snowfall, looked like lovely white Christmas trees. The homes and buildings looked magical with frozen water freezing mid-stream, forming icicles around the edges and from the rooftops. It was beautiful.

During the weekends, my father would take me to the wilderness, probably for two reasons. One to enjoy nature and also to teach me several lessons, such as fishing, dangers with wildlife and active listening. We would get into his two-door VW bug. As he drove, he would tell me to stay near him and he would say, “It’s beautiful here but it’s dangerous to be out by yourself, so stay close, listen to me, or you will become an appetizer for a bear!”

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Papa McKing out fishing in the Alaskan wilderness

When we got to our destination, he would strap on his holster, a gun on each side of his hips, fishing poles in one hand and a bucket in the other. Sometimes, I wondered if he was even familiar with some of the places he took me. But, he just seemed to know what to do. On one trip, he taught me how to shoot his pistol and shotgun. He said, “You’ve got to be prepared, just in case you need to help keep our family safe.” (I was the eldest of his three children).

A serene stream was a few yards away from our car. He would teach me to fish for trout or salmon. Sometimes we would go by the rocky beachside to catch clams, crabs or other shellfish. We would clean whatever we caught during the trip right where we were, if the weather permitted. We would cook our catch over boiling seawater and open flames. No need to get a permit from the KOA. Nope. It was as open as it could be. I loved it! I have never tasted fish and seafood like that since leaving Alaska. You’ve heard of the famous Alaskan King Crabs? They are large and delicious. It’s become a family favorite. Some crabs are larger than myself. (Another story). It was peaceful and quiet, the sound of your breath would often be deafening. Sometimes, I would think to myself that I would scare off the fish. I was just so young and naive. What did I know? My dad taught me which berries were edible. My young siblings and I loved to pick them off the tiny shrubs. No need to wash them, my father said. It’s all natural. To this day, I remember how delicious those wild salmonberries, red currants, cranberries and wild blackberries tasted. However, my father was always nearby, carefully fishing or cooking our catch, and keeping a keen eye on us, reminding my siblings and I, not to go too far. “Remember the bears,” he would say. Especially when we were picking the berries. Fresh berries and fresh fish always seem to attract wild animals.

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October Link Roundup

pumpkinWe were shopping a week or so ago and came across a display of baby Halloween costumes outside a store, already on clearance… the little Nemo’s, pumpkins, monkeys. All of them were so cute to bundle a newborn up in. I was so looking forward to dressing Emmett up this year.

I wasn’t even really all that sad seeing them. It was more this pang of disappointment in my chest, knowing that we’ll just be missing out on something this Halloween. It has me looking towards the larger holidays still to come – Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s – all with a bit of dread, instead of the usual excitement. We were walking around Home Depot this past weekend, looking at Christmas lights. Deep in my heart thinking that we have to continue through the holidays just without Emmett. It sucks. Plain and simple.

Yesterday, I was just a mess. Couldn’t find the will to get through my work to-do list, fighting a migraine. I left the house around lunchtime just to get together with Brett to see if he could cheer me up over a cup of coffee. I still have those days that are just harder than others. I wish I didn’t. I wish I could just move on, forget sometimes that this has happened to us. But I can’t. I hate crying myself to sleep at night, silently whimpering and grasping for the dog in the dark since I can just feel him breathe next to me. Something real. I find myself laying my head on his chest just moving up and down with his breath. Sometimes that’s the only thing that can calm me down as I count his breaths, slowly and methodically and drift off into a not-so-peaceful sleep.

Grief and loss just sucks. You have to continue even after the heartbeat of your loved one has stopped. Some days you can muddle your way through but others it’s so hard with the longing and the wishful thinking clouding your brain.

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I’m a Bad Daughter

I’ve been a bad daughter lately.

Let me step back…

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My Dad, Joe; me; and my brother, John, at my grad school commencement from Emerson College in May 2007.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m adopted. My Mom, Liza, shared some of her insight about why she decided to put me up for adoption in one of her previous posts. An uncle and his wife adopted both my mom and I, so I was raised essentially calling my mom, my “sister.” She moved to California when I was still pretty young, I think maybe 5 or 6 years old. We didn’t see each other much, maybe every few years or so. Upon talking with her and reading her reflections about our relationship, I now have a slightly better understanding of why we had such a distant relationship for so long. It wasn’t until recently, that we’ve become closer and  I started referring to her as “mom,” which is a completely different post for another day.

My adoptive parents – Joe and Dona – were great. Just much older. They already had grown children. My “youngest” brother, John, and I are 18 years apart. He’s like my second dad. My Dad was born in 1930 and my Mom in 1924. So…if I do the math right…they were 51 and 57 when I was born. Mom would always tell the story about the judge who did the adoption. He commented that, “Why would someone your age want to adopt a child?” She always said that they didn’t believe she was that old and they took 10 years off her age on the adoption papers. Don’t know if that’s really true or not…

Mom died back in 2001. I was 20 and a sophomore in college. My dad, who is the youngest of 13 kids, is still going at 86. He lives in a senior home back in the hometown that I grew up in.

Now, we can get into why I’m a bad daughter…

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A Grandmother’s Story: I Can Only Imagine

Today, my Mom is back with a post reflecting back on yesterday’s candlelight Wave of Light for Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Month and Remembrance Day. I’d like to thank the dozens of people all over the country – family and friends – who took the time out on a Saturday night to light a candle in honor of our sweet baby. It means the world to us. Watch our video message and candlelighting. ~Christina

Yesterday, I woke up feeling angry not having Emmett with us. I don’t know if it had anything to do with the fact that October 15th is National Pregnancy and Infant Loss Remembrance Day. Since Emmett’s due date has passed, I feel as though I missed another milestone and many other milestones.

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My mom’s candle for the Wave of Light at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15, 2016. #candlesforemmett #pailawareness

I keep thinking I should be with Brett and my daughter, holding a new baby, cooing and aww-ing and making all kinds of crazy noises that grandparents make. Fussing over how to change a diaper and reminding everyone, “hold his tiny head carefully.” That’s what grandparents are supposed to do. Is this how you’re supposed to feel after a loss? Does anyone else out there feel like this as a grandparent who has experienced a loss?

Just last week, my family had another tragedy. My sister’s fiancé lost his only son, Brandon, to a violent crime. What’s really tragic is, he just turned 21 a week earlier. He had a lifetime of things to still experience. Now, there’s another parent struggling with grief. Another parent living with the “what if’s,” regrets and pain. Another parent changed by circumstances. It was extremely hard to see all of Brandon’s friends at his memorial service. All of them so heartbroken and so young. How will his friends be affected by his passing? I know for me, as I said on my previous blog, whether someone lives 90 seconds or 99 years, in Brandon’s situation, 21 years, his loss impacts our lives.

It hurts to hear from people when they say, “Oh, your daughter is young, she can have another child” or “You’ll have another grandchild.” When I hear this, I feel like I’m supposed to forget Emmett. I’m supposed to make my daughter forget Emmett. Why should I trivialize his life because he didn’t live 99 years? Again, anyone else feel like this?

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What’s a Grief Burst?

I was searching the house yesterday for a frame for another photo when I came across this picture below:

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I found myself on the floor, crying uncontrollably. Why would a cute picture of Winnie the Pooh, Kanga and Roo have me so emotional?

This was a picture my in-laws gave to us for Emmett’s nursery. The Pooh Bear themed nursery that we never completed. I had completely forgotten they had given this to us and it just brought all of these emotions to the surface. My legs were weak and my eyes fuzzy.

We were supposed to paint the walls a light green. We were going to get decals of the Hundred Acre Wood gang to go near the crib. A fun-themed growth chart that looked like Pooh’s tree to watch our baby grow through the years. We already had a heffalump toy for baby to play with.

It just became to much to handle and the tears started to flow. I’ve learned to just let them happen. The chaotic breathing. The wet sleeves and drippy nose. The swollen eyes and fogged up glasses.

I never heard the term “grief burst” until I attended a support group meeting for parents going through loss. So, what is it?

What I experienced is a grief burst. A sudden wave of emotions and grief that can hit at any time. Some of my bursts are caused by triggers I know and can avoid…like no shopping at Buy Buy Baby or Babies ‘R Us for awhile. Avoiding sappy diaper and Hallmark commercials. Most Pixar movies, including “Up”, are off the table for the foreseeable future.

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