ground to outer space

I forgot.

I couldn’t believe I had forgotten…

Cookie and cocoa and lights. A tradition that matters. We started it Jennifer’s first Christmas. It was always a celebration of getting to be parents. A night I always remembered and appreciated how hard fought for these children of ours were.  As each year we went from 1 to 2 to 3 … 4… with our 4th child then we knew we be losing our first one..

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But I loved it. One of the only things that I actually have looked forward to these 2 seasons without her.. Because I remembered so much so fondly. The way she would get so excited.. Even showing her siblings that were just sleeping babies the lights. Squealing out to everybody whose window to look out of.

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She made a bag of cookies to bring to her doctors.
She made a bag of cookies to bring to her doctors.

I needed that. That remembering of the happy noises.

My boys fight. A lot. And they fight hard. It eats away at me and Tony. Its something we are constantly putting in an effort with. The other day .. just a random night after dinner we were washing dishes.. And we heard it.

Together we cried. Simple. Easy tears.

They were laughing. Genuine joy. True giggles.

Oh how we have missed that noise.

One we took so for granted. Her death stole that noise from this house. . from these walls.. So much that we didn’t even realize how much we missed it.

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I can hear it.. This picture makes me hear it.. The gut busting joy..

They were laughing. Genuine joy. True giggles.

And I needed that noise again that I had just heard. Looking at lights any night we are driving home, they carry her with us. They mimic what she taught them. They call out to each other about their favorite lights.. whose window to look out of. And tonight I believed they would talk about what cookie they are going to try next.

Its a tradition that matters. That we need.

I planned it all out, I would bake with them while Bridgette slept. I waited .. and then eventually I strapped a screaming baby to my chest. I baked a batch of cookies with each of my living loves. And she screamed nearly the entire time. By the time Tony came home I was spent. .. He walked in and looked at me and the night I was fighting for dissolved in front of me.

The boys wanted to take selfies with me while baking.
The boys wanted to take selfies with me while baking.

I didn’t want to admit it yet. I wanted to make it work still. But my ears were ringing and my heart was hurting. Illogical I know.. but I somehow thought how it might be different if she was there.. I yearned to have one more batch of cookies to make.

I begged for forgiveness and we postponed cookie, cocoa and lights by one night.

I felt empty and overwhelmed with failure. Guilty. The things at our last counseling session I had said I would work on ..

But it was a new day. We went to the gym and to Nicholas’ counseling session.. I took each boy out solo to use their money to buy presents for their siblings. .. I did end up baking one final batch of cookies. And I tried really hard to find forgiveness for myself. .

Charlotte was there.. just wasn't into pictures either night.
Charlotte was there.. just wasn’t into pictures either night.

I did ok.

Until we got in the car .. and then it hit me. It was the 19th. Pillow fight night.

i forgot. oh sissy i forgot..

I was so caught up in the day. Trying to make it right and lined up for a magical lights night.

i forgot. oh sissy i forgot..

And I was swallowed whole. Like the air was sucked out of the car. I turned to Tony and told him..

i forgot. oh sissy i forgot..

How? How could I do that? What was I supposed to do. I had it all planned out. Early dinner then pillow fight and looking at lights.. But I forgot. I forgot. A promise my heart made to hers.. The last December 19th I got to spend with her.. And I forgot.

nononononono

i forgot. oh sissy i forgot..

I had no other choice. So I tried to push it aside. Knowing I couldn’t get this night back again.. But I had a fleeting moment questioning Jennifer. Wondering how she could let me forget. Not somehow help me remember in time. ..

Then Jonathan said his stomach hurt. Bad enough he wanted to go home. Another failure of a night. Two attempts in a row .. But this time a double hit because I forgot pillow fight night.

I needed this night. I needed this to work and be magical. If I could make it a good enough night then that would somehow lessen the sin of forgetting my pillow night promise.

Charlotte wanted to go home too. She wanted to be with “brother”.  I asked Nicholas if he wanted to keep driving. He did. I didn’t .. but we did.

He looked up to Jennifer so much.. Wanted his balloon to match hers. He will still ask me if a food or color is something Sissy liked in order for him to decide what he wants.
He looked up to Jennifer so much.. Wanted his balloon to match hers. He will still ask me if a food or color is something Sissy liked in order for him to decide what he wants.

 I took him and a still sleeping Bridgette. All he kept talking about was the lights he saw a few nights before when my Mom had them. And it felt like he was hitting me over the head every time he said it. ..

Nothing was right. I wanted those voices filling my car. I had let all of children down. and then ..

“I wish sissy could see the lights”

“Really buddy? Looking at lights makes you miss her?”

“Yea because she can’t see them.”

“Hmm well I think actually in heaven maybe she can see ALL of them.”

“oh. ok..”

..exhale..

“But mom. How does she get from the ground to outer space?”

What followed was a long talk.. question after question about our souls and our bodies. About what happens when we die and about all the ways people can die. How children die. So many questions.. Deep ones. Logistical ones. Sad ones.

I tried my best to answer him. His needs immediately changed mine. I was no longer lamenting the voices I didn’t get to hear in car and instead just focused on the one I did. No longer feeling my own pain and guilt but rather his. the ache and worry and wonder of a 4 year old boy.

i’m sorry i forgot sissy

but see

i think i was meant to

your bubbas needed me.

i’m sorry i forgot sissy

and

thank you for letting me forget.

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..until there is a cure.

7 Responses to “ground to outer space”

  1. Just know that there is a community of people remembering Jennifer, even when you’re needing to focus on your living loves. She is never forgotten. Always here.

  2. Oh, Libby. My heart aches for you. It might not make you feel any better, but all mothers forget things. Especially mothers with 4 kids- add on a non-profit and a grieving family… well, most of us don’t understand how you do any of it at all. You’re not a failure, you’re amazing! I have healthy children and I forget things all. the. time. Things I feel guilty about and things I promise to hopefully do better next time. None of us are perfect, but the beautiful thing is you are still parenting Jennifer while she is in heaven. You’re still making promises to her, you’re still occasionally breaking them (like every parent does), you’re still attempting to include her in your traditions and memories, and you are still promising to be better next time- that’s parenting. Your relationship with Jennifer is still beautiful. xoxoxo

  3. I am remembering the beautiful lights at Babbs Creek–I hope you went there! You are so “on” for your children, all the time. You are responsive, completely involved and loving…forgetting the pillow fight night in the midst of multiple batches of cookies with a crying baby and taking the kids out individually to buy gifts is completely understandable. It brought tears to my eyes to think of laughter filling your household even without the guidance of your sweet peacemaker. Much love to the Kranz household in 2016.

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