next day

The next day..

Other parents at our bereavement said the Monday after camp is hard… I thought we would slide past that since we are still fully immersed in child loss … no breaks. This weekend wasn’t a rare chance to talk about her death for us.. we still get to do that a lot..

It was in a whole unique way though.. with people who simply got it. With people who we simply got. .. and what we found out…

it rocked us.

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**fruit snacks on pizza. They loved it**

Today was a sad, sad sissy day.. For me and Tony and Jonathan… maybe even Nicholas too… but its so hard to read him. There was a lot of tantruming and acting out from him today.. could be that he is 2… or it could be that he missed her today too..  or it threw him sensing all of our pain.

or it could be something different entriely.

This part of being a family in the grief cycle is so difficult. Trying to sort out what is normal childhood issues and what is grief manifesting itself. I don’t want to be wrong and stifle their emotions… I don’t want to be wrong and allow poor behavior.

This will be our forever in parenting too I realize.. it won’t stop when they are 13… I saw that this weekend.. with kids that had lost siblings years earlier.. I heard it from the counselors, that they came back year after year as children, to share and try to grasp their grief at the different ages.

I used to judge other parents…allowing their children to, in my eyes, misbehave. Babying them.. or being to strict. Even having a child far too old in a stroller.. no more. What do I know? So many variables now that the family could be going through. .

.. .who would have looked at this 6 yr old in a stroller and known she was just a over a month away from her death?DSC_0395

 

I didn’t.

 

DSC_0577This is Tony’s final week off of work. We are both pretty darn scared for him to go back.. but we are making the most of this week. Today was a recovery day.. we were all too off our game to plan much.. But we tried to make it a fun day. I drew a tattoo on Nicholas after we told them that Daddy was getting a new one tomorrow evening.. His was a heart that says mom. Jonathan asked for one too.. a mom one and a sissy one that also says “I miss” above the heart.

We shared a picnic outside after the boys helped Tony change the oil in his car. We used to do that daily around this time last year. I would pick JLK up from preschool and she would ask to have lunch outside. We shared some of those memories today. Nicholas didnt have much to contribute but seemed to just listen to what I shared..  .

Inside Jonathan found my old diaper bag.. the one still packed from our last oncology appointment.. sitting where I laid it down. I haven’t been able to move it or go through it. Jonathan looked into it and found her watch.

oh that watch.

It was a Ariel watch that changed colors.. she loved it. It was something she could show the endless doctors and nurses we talked with each day.. something that seemed to amaze them.. and deflect attention away from her just for a moment. I remember so well her fingers with a bandaid on each finger from chewing them down to almost nothing…pushing the button to make it light up.DSC_0105

When I saw it again.. I cried. I couldn’t stop it so I embraced it and tried to talk with Jonathan about it. I told him what I remembered about her wearing it. I told him how sometimes memories just flood back.. I shared a little bit about how it gave her something to not be so scared at her radiation appointments.. I kept crying when he asked to wear it.. the pride DSC_0581he felt.. a few more tears when he insisted on showing it to his little brother.

He knew how much it meant to me.. that it was a big deal for me to trust him to wear it.. he took it very seriously.. taking it off to go to the bathroom to be sure it didn’t get splashed on..

After the picnic we planned out the rest of our week.. trying to make sure we get everything done we want/need to. One thing Tony is hoping to do is a campout at home. We don’t have a tent.. so he planned to go to Costco to get one.  I felt ready to go.

i wasn’t

Not at all. It was one trigger after another.. Seeing the girls dresses.. remembering talking with Jennifer about buying matching dresses for her and Charlotte.. knowing Costco was one of the only places that carried both their sizes. That was the most important thing to her for Fairy’s wedding… that she and Charlotte matched. .. same for Thanksgiving and anytime she could put them in even semi matching outfits..DSC_0015 DSC_0134

She whole heartedly loved having a sister.. I loved giving them the gift of each other.. The loss of sisters is a unrelenting mourn.

Then so many gluten free foods. I told Tony I wasn’t ready… that this was a bad idea. He offered to leave.. but I knew the kids would be upset if we didn’t finish the trip. I cried quite a few times. .. It felt like the walls were closing in on me.. So hard to feel all of that but keep it together for my boys.

Next up was crossfit. Neither of us wanted to go..But we did. It was a hard workout today.. but the amazing thing was our brains had no room for anything but the movement of our bodies for that short amount of time.. It was kinda like a reset button.. Like when I have a migraine.. if I can just sleep for 5 minutes I can wake up feeling much better.. that was crossfit today.

We left feeling tired.. but with some relief.. I realized how rare it is my mind isn’t thinking of her.. she consumes me.. Its draining..

..and I feel really awful saying that.

I love her. I want to think of her all the time.. it just hurts so much.. I think pain take up a lot of mental energy. I’ll take it though.. because right now all I have is the memories and the pain that comes along with it. I will sheepishly admit though.. it was nice to have a momentary respite.

We ate dinner together .. family style like she loved. Our boys then fought.. they argue a lot.. I’m not used to it since its was so rare with Jennifer and Jonathan. I gotta look at that more. Try to figure out what I am doing wrong. To raise them up to be each others champion.

Jennifer and Jonathan were truly best friends.. I am sure I compare too much..I waste energy wanting her back… lamenting the relationship that was lost.. not only between the two of them but also how she was teaching them how to treat each other.. It was just so different when she was alive.

With her gone I am so scared…. so very scared that the glue that held them together is gone.IMG_1279

I let all of us be too dependent on her.. How was I to know we would all outlive her?

Today was hard.. much harder than I expected it to be..

I guess the next day really always is.

 

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32 Responses to “next day”

  1. Dear Libby, you said it so beautifully and the same time it is so said to read this that I can hardly keep my tears from running down my face while sitting in my office. JLK was such an amazing part of your family and truly missed by everybody. I think Jonathan will be wearing that watch proudly every day and that it can become a strong symbol of his connection to his sissy.
    Glad you could go to this camp and be surrounded by people who understand you very much.
    Thinking of you a lot….

  2. Oh Libby. I have many things to say, but not sure where to start – or even if it’s important. What is important for me is that you know I am here reading this today, and every day.

  3. In tears for you as always. It just plain sucks that they dont have their older sister around anymore. It really really sucks. I am so so so sorry. I know my words dont mean much. I hope you are able to cope with this last week off for tony and his first week back next week. I will pray for you both to have strength. Still reading, always.

  4. I am feeling so much sadness for all
    Of you- but especially you and Jonathan. You write so vividly and it just breaks me heart. I didn’t know her and I miss her too. I think, for all of you. So much love to the Kranz family

  5. We love you Libby. You Tony and Jonathan, Nicholas AND always Jennifer. I am here. I will always be here.Im sticking with you all the way. #LOVE4JLK♡

  6. Yesterday I went to see Heaven is for Real. Get movie. Cried the whole time. But, happy tears. You should go see it. Hugs to you

  7. I love every detail in every story and I love JLK. I see many things in her that I see in my own child who is the same age as jennier. They are only 2 weeks apart. I couldn’t imagine being the strong mom you are even if you don’t feel it your amazing. I read EVERY time you post!! I just have too.

  8. You know some of my kids bickered more than others. They will move thru it. And they are so close in age nobody is mature enough to step back and say “oh he’s just being my baby brother ” what’ll happen I think ( and I could be full of it ) is that they might fight but not with Charlotte. That’ll make it a whole new ball game. Hang on for the ride mama !! Seems like kids change all the time

  9. Keep pushing thru Libby. You are such a great mother and will always do whats best for your children. Dont ever doubt yourself. Im still here for you!

  10. Praying for all 6 of you, and that this week together brings more memories, pictures, and hopefully some good moments. Praying that next week continues to show you all your new normal. Praying for Jonathan and Nicholas and their brotherly bond (by the way, my younger brothers, 3 years apart, fought all the time but were also the best of friends before Andy passed). Praying for Charlotte and the fact that she has been robbed of her big sister. Praying for your continued strength and for some breakthrough with Jennifer’s tumor so there is some purpose in all of this. Praying for the 3 other kids I have read about in the last 3 days who have been diagnosed with DIPG. And, as I will be forever because of you, i’m in this fight raising funds and awareness.

  11. Every blog I read tears fall from my eyes. Everyday I wish I could just give all of you such big gentle hugs. I will continue to read each and every blog for as long as ypu write them. You ate a wonderfully strong and loving woman and mother! I have never met any of you yet I always feel right there with you all.

  12. I want to say that I “look forward” to your blog, but then I think to myself how sad and heartbroken you are writing it…so I shouldn’t say that. So it’s not really that I “look forward” to it, but I look for the inspiration within it. Your raw emotions. The way you semi-sort things out in your heart, then question it with your mind. It reassures me that we probably will never have the answers and that it’s ok to be confused. Life can be pretty shitty at times, and we are only human. It’s not fair and I’m angry at life a lot. Then you talk about the little spurts of happiness within the grief. I am starting to do that more because no matter what I go through, my children are my life and I find happiness in them…even when they have tantrums.  

  13. My 6 year old daughter is the same with her baby sis, loves matching…and when I match with them both it’s even more fun, she eats it up. My daughter would have loved Jennifer! She gushes over the Disney princesses too, strong big sister, always leading the way. I never realized till you said it here, about depending on her…I think that is us too. Is that good? Is that bad? She seems to adore it, she received a special recognition at school for being “caring”…she loves to volunteer at recess/lunch to help tidy up with her friends. JLK would be on that same path! Strong leader, caring, beautiful, silly…

    I am sorry we are all missing out on Jennifer…it really brings me to sobs. I see my 6 year old daughter and think of you…I don’t know how you do it, I cannot fathom.

    Your voice, your honesty, it is an intimidating reminder of the depths of human strength…sorrow, and endless love.

    I wish I could give her back to you, wish you didn’t need to write this blog…

  14. It sounds like today was a very mixed day for you. A lot of pain but some beauty too. The images you paint of Jonathan’s tattoo and his tenderness and understanding with sissy’s watch are exquisite and really give insight into the rare and beautiful characters of your kids. I know you have doubts but from where I stand you are doing an incredible job. Your concerns about how Jonathan and Nicholas interact without their big sissy actually reminded me of the quote you have here on your home page: “Our Love” Where it was born from and where it will always remain” Just as your love for Jennifer will always remain undiminished, the same can be said of her love for all love for you. I think that Jennifer’s love will still help carry her brothers through their rough times with each other just as it always did.

    Love and prayers. Xx

  15. Everything you have created as a family is the glue. She was a strong, strong, glitter-filled ingredient, but the glue she helped make is still in the gluepot.

  16. Everyday I read your words because it is important for me to do so. Yes, it would be much less painful for me not to read your words or look at your pictures and carry on with my day. My husband asks me why I read something that hurts me and makes me cry, he doesn’t understand. Jennifer’s story is so powerful. I feel so many emotions -for a stranger. And how can that be? BUT, I believe I was lead to you for a reason. You are teaching me. Maybe because when I look at Jennifer I see my 6 year old daughter, who is so similar. I look to myself and try to put myself in your shoes, which is unreal because my path in this life is different. But your words have enlightened me to ask many questions. Questions I never thought to hard about. When you went on the trip to the museum and wanted to stand on a box and yell about cancer, that stood out to me. I look around at people and want to say wake up! Cherish your little ones every second of the day, forget the little stuff. Everyday your words make me think harder. I think of everything I have ever heard about what happens to the ones we love when they go to Heaven and we are left here. Yes, with many others we love, and love deeply, but we are still here on Earth with most of our soul missing. Because I know that is what I would feel. What makes me hurt so much for you is the fact that you know she is in Heaven, but all the details are missing. Reassurance or a sign that you know she arrived and is okay. What a Mom needs to know here with her babies on Earth everyday of their lives. So why would the arrival in Heaven be different? I heard a phrase that we all remember Heaven subconsciously, but if we were to remember it consciously, we would never ever want to be here on Earth, because it is the ultimate paradise. We would want to go back, but since we have a job to do here we cannot. Until our job is done. I pray for God to give you a sign that she IS okay and she has arrived and is with you at all times, holding you and her Daddy and brothers and sister. One poignant thought from an earlier post about Jennifer being such a good Sissy to her siblings and that she was made to be a Mother, maybe she is tending to her other siblings that didn’t arrive on Earth in Heaven. She is with them until her whole family can all meet together there. Someone once told me children under 4 can see loved ones from Heaven more readily than any of us. I would find comfort in that. Because I am certain she is always with you. My heart picks up on the phrases hoping it is all true, because I may not have yet experienced such pain, but because I am a Mom three times over and I love so many people, I will have to experience the agony of them leaving me to go to Heaven. Your words are teaching me how to be able to do that. And I’m not ready, I’ll never be ready, but because life is unknown, I will have to be. Hugs to you Libby.

  17. Libby, I am here reading you and hugging you in my heart and crying for you… Keep sharing, keep breathing, keep doing whatever it is you need to do. I really really loved something you said today, about raising the kids to “be each other’s champions”. Really resonated with me. I’m going to strive for that with my 2 girls… Thank you so so much. Love from a faraway friend.

  18. There is so much I want to say. But can’t find the words. I wish I could gather you all in my arms and make everything ok.

  19. I’m still here and impressed by your strength, Libby. Very sweet that Jonathan is wearing her watch. Smiling through tears. Sending big hugs your way.

  20. I read your blog every day and usually people’s comments as well. Reading Nichole’s comments, that’s so what I wish I had had the words to say. My husband also asks why do I read something about someone I don’t know that just makes me sad. I can’t really explain it, but it just seems that as hard as it is for me to read it, it’s a million times harder for you to write it and live it. When you talk about Jennifer I see my silly sweet 7-year-old daughter and it takes my breath away to think about anyone having to see their child go through everything you went through together. Your blog has taught me a lot of things, how to really pay attention and cherish moments with my kids, to try to be more open and less judgmental of other people because they might be going through some terrible thing that isn’t written on a sign hanging around their neck. So I will read as long as you write this blog, even when I’m crying like a big baby wherever I happen to be.
    On a different note, I love that last picture of Jennifer with her little lip sticking out wearing a shirt that looks like it says “Happiness”. Would love to hear the story about what she was pouting about 🙂

  21. Through the sharing of your journey on this blog, I am inspired daily in many ways. I think of you often and your words today really hit home about being judgmental of other parents. I also agree with Erika M, and I wish I had a little of your glue to shore up things at my house.

  22. Sadness on a whole new level with your post about losing the big sister. My girls (4 1/2 and 7 months) are in love with each other. I never expected the sibling bond to develop so quickly and in this way. Today I’m praying for Charlotte. What a tragic loss of such an important relationship. Just wanted you to know how much I get that part, at least. Thinking of you all. Much love.

  23. Hi Libby, your posts are so hard to read yet I’m drawn to them like so many others. I read them daily and when I skip a day I feel bad. Because I could stop reading all together and pretend that your loss doesn’t exist… just ignore it and go on being happy with my kids and family. But I keep reading. Your posts help me set my priorities in life straight, help me understand what happens when people are grieving. You describe your feelings so perfectly. A lot of us who haven’t experienced child loss get a little peek into this scary world. Today after reading your post I realized that we had children die in our family too. It was way before our time, but yet somehow it affected the whole family. My grandmother lost two sons as babies (at 6 weeks and 6 months old to diseases that are preventable today by vaccines) before my mom and her sister were born. My grandmother struggled mentally for a long time, I think the grieving never really stopped. My mom grew up being overly protected by her parents who worried that they would lose her or her sister too. The baby brothers were part of the family even after their deaths. Even today (after more than 60 years) my mom still visits their graves and puts flowers on them. I never thought much about this but after reading your story I understood how difficult this must have been for my mom’s family. And why it’s still important to them to remember those two babies.

  24. dear libby I love you and your fam although I only met you 3 includind charollette and my angel I hope to be able to see you soon and know that she will forever be in my heart

  25. I think that it is wonderful that you were able to attend the camp, and that your whole family was able to share the experience and learn from others in “the club”. I’m sure it was a total culture shock having to return to the real world, but perhaps you are stronger because of it.

    I know it seems impossible right now that Tony will return to work next week, but I think you will do better than you think you will. My husband was only able to take one week off after our son died. That is all that we could afford…there was no choice. And I managed, because I had to. You will do the same. Let things slide a little if you have to…it won’t be the end of the world.

    Take care of yourself, and keep doing what you’re doing. You are doing a perfect job at everything. Always thinking of you, Libby.

  26. PRAYING FOR YOU ALL, may her love, your love, your husband and children’s love engulf your family always. You were so lucky and still are to share such depth and pure magic of love. I am so sorry for your loss, your pain. The love your family shares is a gift. In the midst of this loss, the light from your love of one another is blinding. God bless your family during this time and always.

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