Year 4

https://youtu.be/ChcR2gKt5WM

Before you read this blog post you have to listen to that song.

Alright folks, we are in Year 4. The year I have always had in my mind as my fall apart year. For those that have been reading since the beginning you will remember that early on I attended a grief group for parents whose children had died. In the group one of the leaders shared that she was able to continue on through life until year 4. In year 4 she went into a deep depression and found herself feeling lost in despair over the death of her child. So I thought that would be me too. I thought Year 4 would be the year I just couldn’t do it anymore. I think I might have been wrong. I don’t think I’m going to break. I’m not going to break because she is all around me. She is in me. I can do this because of her.

Ok I wrote the first part of this πŸ‘†πŸΌ about a month ago. I just opened the draft back up to finish and reread what I wrote. I sound kind of cocky don’t I? I mean really, why do I think I’m going to be the one that doesn’t break? I actually had the gaul to write the words, I’m not going to break. Very bold of me to be that confident. Here’s the deal – I don’t think I’m going to break in some grand, earth-shattering way. I think I have small, tiny breaks from time to time. I do have times where I just get overwhelmed at what my life has become. I get overwhelmed thinking about the fact that I should be raising 3 children right now but I’m raising 2. The significance of what I have experienced is not lost on me and it does weigh on me.

We have pictures and artwork on our fridge (as I’m sure most of you do). Ryan likes to be picked up and she points to all the people in the pictures while you tell her their names. Last week she wanted to do this and I just couldn’t. I picked her up and we got through the first two faces and then she pointed to Reagan. That day I just couldn’t. I had a small, insignificant, barely noticeable crack. I broke just a little bit. The thought of Reagan that day was just too much. So I put Ryan down, told her I was sorry, mommy just can’t do it today. It truly was one of the first times that thinking and talking about Reagan felt overwhelming to me.

I have always been a person to keep my personal feelings private. If you are reading this and you work with me I promise you it’s true πŸ˜‚ I’m a different person in my home life (blue is my primary color) than the person I am at work. The aftermath of Reagan has had both positive and negative ripples in my life. On one side I am calmer than I used to be. I don’t stress about the things that don’t matter. I have a unique perspective and just don’t waste time or energy on the little things. When it comes to Aidan I’m fairly certain I am overprotective and have anxiety about any additional harm or pain that may come his way. I find myself worrying about him more than I think is probably normal. I worry that he will forever be harmed from losing his sister. I’m doing my best to parent him but the way I parent him has been significantly impacted by the trauma we both experienced in the death of Reagan.

I share all this to let you know where I am at right now and share the song with you because music is therapy. 🎢 This song grounds me in what is important. It helps me focus on the pain and the joy. It helps me heal.

Fly like a cannonball, straight to my soul. Tear me to pieces and make me feel whole. I’m willing to fight for it and carry this weight. But with every step I keep questioning what is true.

This is the most accurate description of Reagan. She is the cannonball. She came into my life with a bang and such a fun free spirit. She left this earth just like she came in, like a cannonball. Hitting me deep in my would shattering me to pieces but keeping me whole. Her life and death has made me fight for what I want, fight for peace in my life, and kept me questioning everything along the way.

Fall on me, with open arms. Fall on me, from where you are. Fall on me, with all your light. With all your light, with all your light.

Yes! πŸ™ŒπŸΌ Soak up her light. She is our sunshine and our hope. She is what gives me strength and grace. She made me a better and stronger person because she gave me her light.

I close my eyes and I’m seeing you everywhere. I step outside, it’s like I’m breathing you in the air. I can feel you’re there.

I don’t visit her grave often. Maybe a couple times a year at this point. I connect to her in other ways. By the pink clouds in the sky. The butterflies πŸ¦‹ the sunshine β˜€οΈ the breeze around me. She fills my soul in the most unexpected ways. When I need her she is there. Walking alongside me. Guiding me to her light. She is everywhere and nowhere at the same time.

Fall on me. Fall on me. Fall on me, with all your light. With all your light, with all your light.

β™₯️

  • #whoisyourcannonball #everywhereandnowhere #sheismylight
  • #youaremyfightsong
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    Love and BAM, what?! β™₯️πŸ’₯

    So today was mostly a shitty day. It ended well with Aidan’s chorus concert but other than that it just sucked. Both my kids were crying today when I left them to go to work. So then I was crying. Yep I cried all the way down the daycare hallway and to my car. I drove to work and when I parked I opened up Facebook as I walked in. The first thing in my newsfeed was the below video.

    https://www.facebook.com/smith.maggiet/videos/869332613110828/

    Guess what? Yep you got it! I started crying again. Didn’t even watch the damn video. I knew exactly which one it was because I distinctly remember the day I found it on my iPad. So needless to say motherhood got the best of me today and I spent most of the day feeling like a failure.

    In my head I know I’m not a failure but that didn’t help today. My middle schooler was crying over his struggles with advanced math and my disappointment with his lack of attention to detail and focus. My toddler was crying because for some reason today she didn’t want mommy to leave her at daycare. She never cries when I leave but today she bawled her eyes out. I cried because I felt like I was failing everyone. If I’m honest my tears were probably also from being tired and overwhelmed with life.

    So I went to work and tried to leave my #momfail feelings at the door. I was definitely not successful at that today. I was grumpy all day. Didn’t really talk a lot and felt very frustrated with everything. I’m usually very good at keeping my personal and professional life issues separate but not today. Today my worlds collided. In spite of that collision I made it through the day pretty much unscathed and scooted out the door around 3:30 (of course that was later than planned) to go get the kids and get Aidan to his chorus concert. Aidan’s concert was lovely and even though he won’t admit it I think he enjoyed singing on that stage. He especially liked the song “I ain’t gettin nuttin for Christmas.” πŸŽ„ As I watched him on stage he seemed happy and joyful. Smiling and laughing with his friends while he waited for the concert to start. Singing with a little smirk during the sings. As I watched I was reminded that he was a normal 12 year old boy. I reaffirmed to myself I was doing something right with him. My baseball loving boy was in a suit with a bow tie and cummerbund and he was joyful. That is success!

    I also thought of how I reacted this morning over his incomplete math. I thought about my 12 year old that tends to give up and check out when he feels like he is failing. Kind of like how his mom felt today.

    😳🀯 I know that’s how you’re feeling right now. That’s how I feel too. You see, I realized tonight that while I find struggles and failures at work to be a challenge and an inspiration to do better next time at home, as a mother, the opposite occurs. Probably has something to do with the fact that I’m an orange at work and blue at home for Ntrinsx. Basically, I lead with my heart at home and my head at work. When I feel like I am failing as a mother I just want to stop. Stop isn’t really the right word. I really just want it to be easier. I want a break. I want to know be constantly worrying about whether or not he’s going to break. Constantly worrying about whether or not I’m going to break. It’s exhausting.

    You know who wasn’t crying today? Reagan. She was singing in that video. Singing in her sweet little 4 year old voice a made up song full of joy and love. Over and over again she sang “I love you.” β™₯️ Then she ended (or tried to end) with her favorite phrase, “BAM, what?” πŸ’₯

    So tonight after we left the chorus concert and after we finished working on math Aidan and I watched the video together. He said “oh my gosh, her song doesn’t make much sense but she got her ‘BAM, what?!’ in didn’t she?” Yes she did Aidan. πŸ’ž She also reminded us that life shouldn’t be so serious all the time. She reminded me that I am not a failure as a mother. She reminded me that as long as my kiddos feel love and support they will find their way. They will fight through their struggles and come out the other side. She reminded us that we are strong and we won’t break.

    At the end of the night I’m laying my head down feeling successful. Feeling like I am rocking it as a mom. Knowing that I am the best mother for my three children. Believing that with love and a little bit of BAM, what?! we will all be okay. β™₯️πŸ’₯

    Until next time ~ Maggie

    P.S. How handsome is Aidan?!?! He did tell me tonight I couldn’t say that out loud in public but WordPress blogs don’t count as public, right?!?! πŸ˜‰β™₯️

    Middle School Dropout

    Middle school has started. (Insert panic and chaos here πŸ˜‰). I am a momma on edge right now! He got all advanced classes, to include advanced world history, not sure how you get advanced world history when you’ve never even taken regular world history but whatever. All in all it’s been a good start to the school year. Aidan seems to be enjoying it and isn’t too much of. a miserable cranky person from having to get up at 5:45am every day so I’m going to call it a win! πŸ™ŒπŸΌ

    You know what does suck though?!?! All the projects! Seriously teachers! We had 1 project in all of his elementary school years and we are on week 4 with his 4th project! I am not a project momma! I can help write essays, do research, math problems (kind of), reading, but not projects. First of all it boggles my mind that advanced classes means more projects. Anyway, just a shout out to all the other non-project working moms (and dads) out there…I feel your pain. Teachers, be kind to us. πŸ‘©β€πŸ«

    Aidan is at a new school with only a few of his good friends. Most of them went to a different middle school down the road and he’s still a little salty that he didn’t get to go there but I just keep telling him this is helping him build character. I’m sure you can imagine the eye rolls I get at that one! While he doesn’t enjoy not seeing all his friends everyday he is enjoying changing classes and having more autonomy and independence. Also a win.

    We have also move to a video game free household during the week! That means NO FORTNITE! πŸ™ŒπŸΌπŸ™ŒπŸΌ Can I get a woot-woot from all the other mommas out there? Don’t really have anything else to say about that, just had to share because it has been amazing! My kid is actually pleasant since the video games aren’t even an option. Don’t get me wrong he still asks if exceptions can be made but I haven’t caved yet – just keep telling myself to stay strong! 🀣🀣 #deathtofortnite #momsunite

    Anyway, lots of adjustments going on over here at the Smith house. With one in middle school, the other in daycare, a demanding work schedule, travel baseball, rec baseball, and a new puppy 🐢 we are just trying to hold it together! If you happen to come across me and I’m crying in the corner now you will know why. Don’t be alarmed just keep on walking and let me get it out. πŸ˜‰πŸ˜©πŸ˜’

    To all you other moms and dads out there feeling the same pain as me right now I’m here for you. Well, not really. I’ve got my own shit to deal with. But you can know that I get you and we should have a drink sometime to commiserate. Until then god speed.

    Maggie

    Almost 3

    Facebook memories are a blessing and a curse for me sometimes. There is one post in particular that reminds me we are approaching the time of year where my pain began. It reminds me of the light I lost almost 3 years ago and the light I gained at the same time. It reminds me I am about to go through it all again. The wave of pain is coming my way.

    This 30 minutes of my life are as clear to me as if they occurred yesterday. Aidan was at flag football practice and it had started to drizzle so Reagan and I headed to the car. We listened to music, chatted, and were just silly together while we waited for her big brother’s practice to be over. She always loved to have photo sessions and that day was no different. Of course we had to take pictures and she had to get all her poses. She would always make sure to inspect them after and if there was a pose missing we took more!

    While we were sitting in the car the song “Fight Song” came on the radio. Reagan LOVED this song and knew all the words. She started singing it quietly to herself while watching herself in the side mirror. Of course, I started to video. It was a magical 30 minutes forever etched on my heart.

    For those that don’t know “Fight Song” became our/my anthem after Reagan died. We opened her funeral with a moment of silence as the song filled the church. It was a powerful and sobering moment. It was a way to celebrate Reagan and to impart some of her joy and wisdom on to others.

    Reagan left light wherever she went and with whoever she came to know. She was the small boat on the ocean. She was the one match that made an explosion. She is my fight song.

    That’s why the post from September 10, 2015 reminds me that the end is almost near again. It reminds me of the light she brought into my life everyday with her joyful spirit and her loving approach to others. But more than that it reminds me of the light I gained when we lost her. The loss of a child is not something any parent should have to endure but parents do. I do yet I endure. I can only do so because I understand the light I gained through Reagan’s death. She has taught me just as much in her death as she did in life. We should learn from our children. Learn to lead with love and kindness. Becoming a mother changes you in a deep and profound way. Burying your child changes you in unimaginable ways. As I enter this period of grief and process again what happened 3 years ago I will lean on Reagan for strength. I will lean in with love and fight through it with the hopes of coming out the other side with just a little more grace and hopefully a little peace.

    …like a small boat on the ocean…

    …I might only have one match but I can make an explosion…

    Until next time…

    Maggie

    Three Birthdays and a Wall

    Today we celebrated your 8th Birthday. The third one without you on this earth. That’s almost as many as I got to celebrate with you. We will always celebrate your birthday but tonight I realized that in just a few more years I will have had more of your birthday cake without you than I did with you. That makes me sad because we deserved to have many, many years of birthday cake together. It’s not right.

    Today has not been an easy day and I hate that. Today I cried the whole way to work and then sitting at a stoplight I got a text from a close friend and I had a minor meltdown. I had to sit in my car in the parking lot at work waiting for my tears to dry up and my eyes to look less red. I did not want to walk into work and have to answer any questions or get any funny looks. I just wanted to escape and work let’s me do that. I don’t have to focus or think about any of my stuff. It is an escape for me right now.

    If I’m honest this past month has not been easy and I hate it. I’m not angry anymore. I’m not sad. Not happy. I just am. I feel like I’m stuck. Not really living just going through the motions. I’ve hit a wall and don’t know how to get over it. I think I always knew this would come for me. I just didn’t know when. I remember back to the parent grief meeting two and a half weeks after your death listening to the mother talk about year two and three being worse than year one. Listening to another mother share that she didn’t hit her wall until almost five years later. My “wall” looks and feels different than how they described it but I’m there. I know I am.

    The crazy thing is that I always thought I would have some sort of trigger that would push me to this point. The spot where I just didn’t know what to do next. But I didn’t. There wasn’t any one thing. It just kind of happened. I guess since your death I have had a lot going on that has helped keep me focused on the positive. Buying the boat, becoming pregnant with Ryan, buying our house, starting a new job, Ryan’s birth, and now nothing. It’s just normal, everyday life now. Normal, everyday life that isn’t normal.

    Anyway, here I am on your birthday, at my figurative Wall. I miss you like crazy. I wonder what your voice would sound like now, how tall would you be? Would you have cut your hair yet or would it still be those long golden locks? I know you would be obsessed with your baby sister and spend all your time teaching her how to get into trouble and torture your big brother. Oh how I miss you. We all miss you.

    I know I will get over my wall. Just don’t know how yet and that is maddening in and of itself. This grief journey thing is for the birds. I just wonder if there is ever an end to this journey. My bet is no but maybe one day I will settle into a peaceful and content place in this journey. Somewhere on the other side of my wall I hope to find that place. Someday. For now, Happy Birthday my sweet daughter. I love you.

    #insearchofpeacefulness

    #happy8thbirthday

    #alwaysmyfightsong

    XOXO

    ~Mom/Maggie

    There’s always a choice.

    Lately life has been good. Each member of my family is happy, as a family unit we are happy and healthy, I’m enjoying my job, and all in all things are looking up. It wasn’t always that way of course and I (we) didn’t get here overnight. It won’t always stay this way but that’s life. You can’t expect it to always be good. But when it’s good you’ve got to enjoy it. I remember being in a pit, a deep dark pit I didn’t know how I was going to find my way out of. I knew I would. That was never a question. Not for me. The question was when and how.

    The When

    No particular moment. It just happened over time. It happened as time passed and I learned how to cope with the pain. I learned how to help others cope with the pain. I learned how to find the light and joy as Reagan did. The good hasn’t been consistent, it ebbs and flows. Lately though I’ve felt something more permanent about the current phase of my life. I’ve found a way to honor Reagan in everything I do even if no one knows I’m doing it. She is with me every step of the way. I have also found a way to focus on the parts of my life that bring me joy. My husband, kids, family, friends, and career. It will forever be a work in progress for me but it finally feels like the good is settling in and here to stay.

    The How

    Oh, the how. This has been the biggest lesson of my life. Honestly I kind of already approached my life this way. Reagan’s death has just amplified it for me. Made it even more clear that in everything you have a choice. You don’t control others but you sure as heck control you. You decide how you will respond. You decide what your next steps will be. You decide to make it good or bad. There is always a choice. It’s not always easy but it’s always there. Looking back I think I started making the choice to find the good in everything about two months after Reagan died. Now don’t get me wrong I am not smiling and laughing all the time. I still get angry and upset. I still find things that make me sad. But even in those times I am making a choice. A choice to allow myself to be okay with being angry or sad. Allowing myself to process those emotions too. But then making the choice to pull out of it. Not to stay in that space for too long. Make the choice to let go of the anger and sadness.

    I made the choice not to let it consume me. I am making the choice every day. So make the choice to feel the good, the bad, and the ugly. Without it you can’t appreciate the light. Just remember to make the choice to come out the other side sooner rather than later.

    Until next time,

    Maggie

    #whatsyourchoice

    #youaremyfightsong

    My Stand Up Moment

    This post is dedicated to my father-in-law, Bernie Smith. In a dreadful moment he laid the foundation upon which I could find the strength to stand up and move forward. A simple, honest moment and wise words from the heart of one grieving parent to another truly left a lasting impact. So thank you for your wisdom Bernie. Thank you. πŸ’–

    Third Grade Dropout<<

    before you read my blog post click the link above and watch. Watch and listen. Really listen to what he is saying to you. Once you have done that then you can proceed with reading my blog post.<

    My STAND UP moment happened on Tuesday, October 20, 2015 around 11am. It had been less than 24 hours since our Reagan took her last breath. It was a quiet morning. People were moving in and out of the house. Only ever staying for a brief moment. I barely noticed any of them. My thoughts were consumed with worry about how we were going to move on without her. I was lost.

    I didn’t really sleep the night before. I hadn’t really slept in days if I’m honest. Hadn’t really eaten either. I was just floating through the moments. Each day seemed to get longer than the one before. When I got out of bed on that quiet morning I wasn’t sure what to do. As I sat there just staring I picked up my phone and got on Facebook. It was around 8:30am at the time and as I started to scroll through my news feed I saw multiple posts about the death of my daughter. I saw posts from people that knew me and from those that didn’t. I panicked. In that moment by myself on the porch I panicked. She was gone. It was Facebook official. She wasn’t coming back and everyone knew it. Well, not everyone.

    My mind quickly shifted as I realized that several of our close friends and family didn’t even know that Reagan had been hospitalized. They had no idea. Facebook could NOT be the way they found out. They deserved more than that. Reagan deserved more than that. So I moved to the back porch and closed the door. I sat there and made phone call after phone call to tell our loved ones of Reagan’s passing. They all offered their deepest sympathies. They cried with me on the phone. One of my friends responded with, “Oh Marg, I have no words except I love you.” That was the most perfect response in that moment. And we cried. Then we hung up and both proceeded to make more phone calls. You see, for some of them I asked for their help. I asked them to help me make phone calls because I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to get to them all in time. They kindly obliged. Between each call I took a few minutes to gather my composure and work up the nerve to be able to speak the words again to someone else. To let the words, “Reagan is gone. She died yesterday,” pass through my lips. It took me a little over an hour to make the calls and at the end I was exhausted. For the first time since it started I felt the exhaustion but not in a tired I need to sleep kind of way. Exhausted in a way that cuts much deeper than that. My heart was exhausted. My head was exhausted. My body was exhausted. My souls was exhausted. I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t go forward. There was no way.

    I’m not sure how long I sat there by myself staring at the trees and creek out back but eventually my father-in-law walked out. He didn’t say anything at first. I didn’t say anything. We both just stared out the back window looking at the trees and creek. Me sitting on the bench and him standing to my left. Then he said to me, neither of us breaking our gaze, “somehow you will find a way.” He said, “You will never get over this. It will always be with you but somehow you will find a way. Time will help a little but it will always be with you. She will be with you.”

    I didn’t respond. I couldn’t. You see my father-in-law knows my pain. He too has a daughter that passed away at a young age. So I knew he got it. He knew a little bit about where I was in that moment. What he doesn’t know and what I didn’t know until much later was how much those words would stick with me. How much him telling me that this will always be with me but that I will find a way would help me stand up and keep going.

    Trust me, when tragedy strikes EVERYONE has words of wisdom or advice for you. Most are well-meaning but most tend to slightly irritate you or just piss you off altogether. If anyone else had spoken those words to me it would have angered me. Coming from him it gave me peace. In that moment I felt peace within me. Felt peace around me. The exhaustion subsided for just a few moments. It didn’t last but it was there. A glimmer of hope that I would find a way. That we would all find a way.

    799 days after those words of wisdom we are still finding our way but we are standing. Each day I choose to stand up. I stand for Reagan. I stand for Aidan and Ryan. I stand for Alex. I stand for myself. Some days I stumble but I keep going. It’s not a perfect journey and certainly not an easy one but I am finding my way. I think we are all finding our way through. Together we are doing it. With Reagan soaring above us and beside us we are doing it.

    As we move into a new year a lot of people will be making resolutions. Most of the resolutions will be about ones self. Goals to lose weight, eat healthier, run a marathon, etc. I challenge each of us to not only make a resolution about yourself but also a resolution to make an impact. Make a resolution to make each day greater than the last. To be kind and to approach each other from a place of grace and understanding. In 2018 I hope we all strive to be better for ourselves and for others. The last 800 days since Reagan passed have been hell on earth but each day I choose to stand. Stand with me. Standing together we can make quite the impact. How will you live in 2018?

    Cheers to 2018!

    ~M

    #juststand #bekind #howareyouliving

    #seekoutwisdom

    #youaremyfightsong #hugsandfistbumps