When the dog bites, when the bee stings, when I’m feeling sad….

I want to write some witty upbeat post.  I want people to read it, and laugh, and think, ‘Oh, wow.  She’s doing well, given the circumstances.’ Then again, I want a lot of things that obviously aren’t going to happen.

I went to campus on Tuesday.  I had scheduled a walk with two other professors in some woods that are part of our campus.  We walked along, and I listened to the older professor talk about the history of the woods, the plants, the trail.  Then he took us off the trail to show us a tree.  On the way back, we must have brushed against some sort of hive. Pain.  A few stings.  The male professor turned around so I could take off my pants and make sure the bees were gone.  Pant-less on a trail with my colleagues.

Later that day, in a parking garage, walking around and around, up and down, trying to find my car.  I can’t.  Minutes pass.  Trouble breathing, tears forming.  I call my husband.  I can’t find my car, I say.  I am sure I parked it at C 3 and it’s not there.  Press the panic button, he says.  Yes, panic.  I press it.  I hear the car below me.  I press it again, following the sound down to C 1.  Relief, but disconcerting.  I was so sure it was at C3.  I want a panic button I can press about life, a beeping noise that will alert people to my panic and guide me to security.  No button.

I listened to a 20-minute self compassion meditation.  May we be safe, may we be peaceful, may we be kind to ourselves, may we accept ourselves as we are.  Suffering comes from two main sources,  the recording says, from ourselves not being as we want, and from our lives not being as we want.  Yes, I am not who I want to be.  My life is not how I want it to be.  The voice tells me to repeat the following, ‘May I accept my life as is.  This is the way things are.’

Then there is the prayer: God, give me the strength to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.  I need this.  I need this wisdom.  I don’t know what I can control.  I self-blame,  I self-criticize but it does not help.  So please, give me this strength, give me this courage, give me this wisdom.  I am waiting.  I am waiting for a lot of things.

It’s gray, pouring rain, reflective of the way I am feeling.  I was going to volunteer at Eli’s school this morning for big truck day but it was cancelled because of the rain.  So I put a laundry in the machine, put the dishes in the dishwasher and now am trying to figure out what to do with the day.  I realized that I don’t actually do anything when I have chunks of free time–perhaps I am afraid to do something enjoyable when my son is dead, perhaps I think about all the work I ‘should’ be doing, and freeze, perhaps because doing anything requires too much effort.

At night lately, Eli has been asking me to sing ‘Favorite thing’ from the Sound of Music.  Does singing help?  Do voices joining together bring unity?  Make things better?  Can I think of my favorite things and feel some relief?  If only my pain were just from bee stings, and not from the death of my son.

My favorite things from yesterday: singing with Eli, watching Heroes with my husband at night, friends who check in on me, who don’t give up on me.

 

Advertisements

Thought-emotion disconnect

I am tired of people either directly saying or implying that 1) it could be worse and 2) I need to accept my reality.  My head ‘knows’ these things.  But my heart doesn’t.  And emotions don’t work that way.  I am so grateful that I have Eli.  He gets me out of bed in the mornings.  He makes me genuinely smile, and even laugh.  But as we explained to Eli when we thought we were bringing home a live baby, love does not exist in finite amounts.  Loving Sidney, we told Eli, would not mean we would love him any less.  So why is it so hard for people to understand that deeply grieving Sidney’s death doesn’t mean that I don’t love Eli enough or appreciate him enough?  It just means that I love(d) both my sons, and my heart is broken because one of them is dead.  Grieving Sidney does not mean that I don’t get that I have other things, a loving husband, a safe home, a level of material comfort.  I can walk, I am not in fear for my life, I have opportunities.  But Sidney’s death hurts me in a way I have never been hurt before, and I can’t just bounce back from it.  I am trying to heal, but I am feeling a lot of pressure–some from myself and some from others. I want to say that I have learned all of these things since Sidney died, that I have become a stronger person, one who really lives in the moment, knowing that with the next, my whole world could come crashing down. But I just feel like I am a weaker, more broken version of my previous self, instead of someone who has all these new insights and a much more profound connection with life.  I read a quote that said that in grief, the moments of joy seem that much more joyful.  And I am trying to get there–I really am.  At night we talk about two things we are grateful for, that we appreciate.  But it is getting harder to do this day after day with no clear change.

I have also recently heard from a number of people that I need to accept that I might just have one child, and that that is a lot more than some people have.  Again, I know that.  I know that some people struggle with infertility issues.  I know that some people have tragic losses with their first babies–including some dear wordpress bloggers- instead of with their seconds.  I know that some people never find a partner with whom to create the families they want.  But ‘knowing’ that doesn’t just make me okay with my situation, with what I have.  I am not able to control my mind and emotions in that way.  Even the grief counselor basically said to me that I should just tell my mind not to be anxious.  And I said, okay, well how do I do that?  And she didn’t really have an answer (she never would have asked me to just turn off my grief/sadness, so why she doesn’t get that anxiety similarly can’t just be shut off is a bit beyond me–I’m all for counseling and therapy but why is it so hard to find someone helpful.  It makes me feel like a lost cause.  I am willing to say that I need help, that I can’t grieve alone, that I am ‘failing’ at grief.  But I don’t know how to reach out and get the help I need.  Perhaps I will save for another post figuring out what type of counselor I would even ideally want–and would love to hear from others about what a ‘good’ counselor is able to do).

But for my own sake, I do think I need to figure out a way to put my hope in something other than having another baby.  I realized that after Sidney died, my mind needed to grasp onto an alternate future plan, and I just kind of created, without even meaning to, a plan that involved me getting pregnant again quickly, eventually resuming my old job full-time and being functional–hence the feeling of just being on hold.  Did I want or accept this alternative plan?  No.  Did I think that I would ever just be okay with another baby a year or so later that wasn’t Sidney?  No.  But I am realizing I just assumed that it would happen.  I somehow need to accept that I cannot plan for these things, that I don’t know what will happen, that I have much less control over everything than I thought.  You would think that Sidney’s death would have completely convinced me of this.  He died for no clear reason, a death that still does not make sense to me.  But I think my mind was in such a state of shock that it does what it knows best, which was try to plan and to have something to hold on to.  But it’s not helpful when that ‘plan’ is one that I really can’t do a whole lot about to make come true.  So I need something else.  And I don’t know what that is yet, or how to come up with something else to give me a hope. And this puts me sliding back down one of those dear grief waves, looking for a ledge, a knob, a hand, something to grab onto, to ground me, to help me climb back up.

On hold

It feels like my life is on hold.  It was moving forward in what felt like a typical fashion.  Not perfect by any means.  But more your normal ups and downs.  Then May 3rd.  Sidney died.  I delivered him.  And from that moment on, everything has been off.  I don’t know how to plan-how can I plan when I don’t know when or if I will ever be pregnant again or have a living baby.   Can I go to a conference in April?  I don’t know.  Can I take a vacation in a few months?  Can I go do research in Peru?  What will the next three years of my career look like, when right now, I am barely getting any work done?

I want to have another living child and I am so scared that it won’t happen. I know. Stress is not helpful.  I know.  It hasn’t been that long (except that it has if you think about how long I have been trying for a second living baby, rather than just trying since Sidney). I know that my life should not be on hold.  That I need to live it.  For my sake.  For Eli and my husband’s sake.  For Sidney’s sake.  I ‘know’ all this. But I don’t.

I got my period again yesterday.  A crushing blow.  A reminder that there is no baby inside of me.  A spiraling of fears about my broken body, a body that I used to trust, a body that is failing me now, failed Sidney.  I was just talking with another loss mom about this–about how doctors don’t take her seriously and tell her that a year of trying is normal.  But she says, “it is not normal for me.”  And this is where I get angry at medicine.  They need to look at what is normal for her instead of talking in abstract general terms.  And even if something is ‘normal’, why shouldn’t someone be able to get help sooner?  Many people have said to me that there is only a one in five chance of getting pregnant in any given cycle.  But where does that number come from?  I find it to be meaningless.  Is that of all women everywhere ‘trying’?  Does that mean they had sex every day around ovulation?  Once at some point in their cycle?  These numbers mean nothing.  And anyway, they are not helpful when someone is talking about her greatest fears, her trauma, her feelings of  being re-traumatized with something as simple as the arrival of a menstrual cycle.

I didn’t mean to write about this in such a public way.  But apparently I did.

Irritability, postpartum depression and moments of normalcy

I am irritable this morning.  I try to make at least one plan that gets me out of the house for each day–I had two for today set up–a walk and therapy–and they both got cancelled.  I am not sure what it means when even the therapist is cancelling (really, it means her child is home sick, and nothing more, but it feels a bit like a low).  I have a whole list of things I ‘should’ be doing, mostly work and house related, but it is hard for me to get anything done.  Meetings with other people I tend to stick to, since someone expects me, but anything that needs to be self-directed, which is most of my career when I am not teaching, pretty much falls by the wayside.

My moods change so much from day to day.  It’s a bit frightening to me.  I don’t know when I will feel the claw of anxiety tightening at my chest, unable to breathe or think clearly, or when I will just feel a more dull sense of pervasive sadness and emptiness.  I think that my hormonal fluctuations play a big role in the intensity and specifics of how I am feeling.  I would never be doing ‘well’-don’t get me wrong–but some days I feel a lot better than others.  So I finally decided to make an appointment at a women’s mood disorder clinic.  I scheduled the appointment in August–they had a cancellation for mid-Sept instead of to wait until December/January (add this to my list of reasons I hate doctors.  If people need help, and are brave enough to call, they should not have to wait months to get it).  I went last week.  To sum up, the doctor thinks that I have postpartum depression, exacerbated by grief and trauma.  She said that anxiety is often a main way that postpartum depression manifests itself.  I don’t necessarily disagree with her but the diagnosis upset me.  I don’t want postpartum anything if I don’t get Sidney.  It’s not fair.  I actually liked this doctor well-enough, for a doctor.  She said that my cluster of ‘symptoms’ was more important than any label or diagnosis.  But at the end of the appointment, as if to confirm she were right, she had me fill out this little PPD diagnosis questionnaire.  It has questions like: “In the past seven days, I have looked forward to enjoyment  with things….always, hardly at all, etc.  In the past seven days, I have felt sad…”  Yes, I do feel sad.  No, I don’t enjoy things the way I used to.  But isn’t that normal given our situations?  This is where I get confused.  I would like to do something about  my anxiety, and my inability to make myself focus on work.  Those seem like they might be symptoms of complicated grief, unnecessary and not beneficial.  But shouldn’t I still feel sad?  I don’t know.  I just don’t know.  I will go back for a follow-up appointment with this woman.  But everything feels so complicated.  And of course, one of the ways that my anxiety manifests itself is inability to make decisions.

This weekend was mostly low-key.  On Sunday am, I took Eli to a park to meet a few of his school friends.  And I had moment where I was talking to one of the other mothers, and  I almost felt ‘normal,’ where things felt almost pleasant.  And I even have had a brief second where I thought, “Okay.  My son is dead. No big deal.  I will get through this.”But then in other moments, it will hit me like a ton of bricks, my heart will catch in my chest, and I will think, “my son is dead.  Yes, big fucking deal. It is not about focusing on my breathing, being more mindful, or any other sort of trick.  Sidney is dead.”  I still have intense moments where I think, “How could this be real? How could this be my life?”  So maybe I do have postpartum depression.  But there is something about the almost normalcy of that diagnosis that also scares me.  That I am just one of the women more sensitive to hormonal fluctuations around pregnancy.  But the difference is that other women with PPD’s babies are alive, and Sidney is dead.  And that is a big difference.

How would you all answer those questions about: in the past seven days, how often have you felt sad, have you cried, have you looked forward to things etc?

In the mean time, I liked this picture and quote that someone else shared.  It reiterates the importance of community, support and connection.elephants

Reactions

I went back to campus for the first time two weeks ago.  Since then (and actually really long before that), I have been thinking about the ways in which those who know what happened react to me.  I have found that their responses can be categorized in four main ways, although the first and second are related.

The first is that people are simply empathetic.  They may tell me something to try to make me feel better, or they may just sit with me, but they are trying to empathize, relate and support–of course, to varying degrees of success.  But even when people say the wrong things, that they are trying and recognize the trauma and pain of my loss, usually makes me okay with this response.

Second, which I think actually relates to a desire to empathize, is when people tell me the worst thing that has ever happened to them, usually with a preface of, “I know this doesn’t compare but when X”.  I have learned about multiple miscarriages, rape, marital problems, severe depressions, deaths of siblings, parents and other family members, a divorce, work problems, insecurities, and even about someone killing someone with his car (he was not found at fault but still had to live with that guilt).  For the most part, I am okay with this response.  I like learning about other people’s lives, like that they feel they can make themselves vulnerable, and feel a little more at ease in a world where everyone is broken.

The third response is that of pure awkwardness, not saying anything or not knowing how to react.  When I arrived on campus, I had a colleague meet me at the car so that we could walk to the department together.  When we arrived, we ran into another colleague going off to teach. This is a colleague who I like.  He literally didn’t make eye contact with me, and only talked to the colleague I was with.  Afterwards, he told her that he felt like an ass but that he didn’t know what to say.  Surprisingly, I am okay with this response.  His awkwardness was to me an indication that he did actually get how horrible Sidney’s death was, at least on some level.  And in many ways, there really isn’t anything to say.  Sure, it would be nice to have him say something like, “there are no words” or “I have been thinking about you” but really, I didn’t mind his discomfort.  I went to donate blood in memory of a little girl who was born via emergency c-section and then died shortly after.  I met her mother recently for lunch and a yoga class, but had never met the father.  I didn’t know what to say to him, and felt awkward, even having experienced something that within the bigger picture of the world is somewhat similar.  So I just said, “I wish we were meeting under different circumstances.”  But thinking about my own awkwardness makes it easy for me to understand how people who care, and even get it, might not know what to say or how to reach out, so instead do nothing. Especially with colleagues, and people who I don’t know well, I am okay with that.  I am trying to be more understanding of family and people of whom I have higher expectations.  Their silence hurts me–many sent an initial email or called, but then nothing for four months.  Rational me thinks it is awkwardness, not knowing what to say, or what to do–just like my colleague.  I am sure it is exacerbated by me not really being a phone person, especially when I am not doing well.  So I can understand that they don’t know how to reach out.  But the silence can still hurt. And at least with the colleague, I can visibly see his awkwardness, so I know that he recognizes something big occurred.

The fourth response though is the only one with which I have real problems.  That is the response that Sidney’s death is no big deal–and in this response, people don’t even use the name Sidney, or want to acknowledge that he was a real boy.  This is along the lines of, “You should move on,” “pretend it’s just a miscarriage,” etc.  Luckily, I haven’t had too many people actually say this to me.  It is more reflected in surprise at the intensity of my reaction (which I don’t get.  How do people expect me to react to the death of my son?).  As written about earlier, the interim chair saying, “It wasn’t sure if you would just move on, but clearly you’re not,” someone well-meaning calling my parents because he was worried about how intensely I was reacting, a sense I get from some people that I should be doing more, moving forward.  Luckily, I haven’t gotten too much of this, but this is the one that makes me angry.  The only way it can make sense is if they are not thinking of Sidney as my real son, as a real baby, because otherwise, honestly, how do they really expect me to react?  I don’t think I would get these reactions if an older child died.  Rational me, which really is not around all that much anymore, thinks perhaps actually imagining what happened to me and Sidney, and what happened to many other baby loss families, is just too horrifying, so they don’t.  Their way of coping is to pretend that Sidney was not real, because the horror that something like this could happen, did happen, is just too much.  But even if that is the case, it makes me so angry, to deny Sidney’s existence, to deny the impact he had on me, on our family, is to take away the little I have left of him.  So this is my least favorite response by far, the only one that really makes me angry.

A few other random thoughts:

I took Eli to his first day of Sunday school today.  I didn’t expect to have any emotional reaction whatsoever, but my anxiety is/was extreme.  There were way more people doing drop off than I expected, perhaps because the school goes all the way up to the seventh grade.  I felt a slow tightening in my chest and just wanted to get out of there.  So I rushed it, and now I am at home, panicked that he is alone and miserable, thinking of his little voice, saying, “Mama, stay.  I don’t like the toys here.” But I just left.  And I know I am being crazy, but I am scared that someone might attack the temple or something.  I am just trying to make it until noon, when I can scoop him back into my arms.  Luckily, the Sunday school for threes only meets once a month.

We took a nature walk yesterday and Eli found a rock.  He said “This is for baby Sidney at the cemetery. I think he will like it.” I told him that he was a good brother to think of Sidney.  It is bittersweet for me when he mentions Sidney on his own.

I have only been back to campus twice so far, and I will go again on Tuesday. I guess it’s been okay.  I have had a colleague meet me at the car to minimize random encounters I might have on the way in, students who don’t know what happened, but on Tuesday I will make the walk by myself. Having meetings and talking to students, including my first PhD student, has been good for me, I guess, especially since I am doing it in such small doses.  I agreed to be our department representative to the faculty senate, which meets for the first time Tuesday, though, so we will see how that goes.

I did run into a student from my global poverty class.  He knew what happened, and said, “Can I give you a hug?” He told me the class was devastated, and that he was there for me, happy to help in any way he could, whether with research or support.  It was kind.  The graduate student who told that class what had happened said that she heard an audible gasp when she told them.  I also met with an undergraduate who is doing an independent study with me.  Most of the meeting we talked about her readings.  But then at the end she started to get teary eyed, and said that she was always there for me, that she was on skype all the time.  It was sweet.  I know I won’t ever take her up on it, but I appreciated the gesture nonetheless.   I will try to think of these acts of care when I feel all alone, when people on campus inevitably move on or do not understand why I am still devastated and broken.

I took Eli to starbucks yesterday morning.  It was too much, a long line, lots of mothers sitting outside with their babies.  “Figure out where your limits are” says the therapist.  So at least, I figured out one. Starbucks on a sunny Saturday morning….

On mothering myself

I don’t want this to be my life.  There is nothing about having a dead son that I want.  I suppose that is kind of obvious but it is a thought that races through my head at various points throughout the day.  I don’t want to feel proud of myself for getting through each day.  I don’t want to feel proud of myself for going to restaurants or yoga class or other places where who I will encounter feels out of my control.  ‘Be compassionate to yourself’ they say.  “Be patient. You would never be so critical with Eli.”

As a baby loss mom, I have so much love trapped inside of me, wanting to get out, my love for Sidney, with no real outlet, or at least not a clear one.  Of course, I love him, and of course, some of that love does come out, as I gaze at his pictures, as I think about my pregnancy with him, or as I talk to him at the cemetery.  But a lot of it doesn’t really have an outlet, and it definitely doesn’t get returned to me, with a giggle, a smile, a feeling of satisfaction as I gaze at a sleeping baby in a drunken milk stupor.

I have this great desire to mother but I am not very good at mothering myself.  I never have been.  So is there a way to take some of this bottled up desire to mother Sidney, and all of the love I have for him, and be kinder to myself (and also to others, of course)?  I don’t really know but it’s an idea I have been thinking of. There is physical health.  As Eli’s mother, I dropped everything when he cried to nurse or to rock him when he needed to sleep.  So is there a way now to prioritize my own physical health, to make sure that I am eating well, exercising and sleeping well? Maimonides, a great Jewish scholar, said something about how the body is the house for the soul, and if it is not in good physical health, than the soul cannot be either.  So if I want to keep living in a more active sense of the word than I am doing, then I need to take care of my physical health.

The harder part for me is the emotional mothering, speaking to myself with kindness, helping myself not feel alone and supporting myself as I try to live without my precious Sidney.  How can I sit with myself, tell myself to take small steps, be there as I try to do small amounts of work, as I venture out of the house, as I learn to ‘live’ again?  This is the hard part.  I have a critical voice inside of me, yelling, telling me I am worthless, that I can’t do anything, that even if I did not directly kill my son, I let him die, or my anxiety weakened his immune system, and somehow, in someway, his heart stopped.  I write these sentences and I am full of shame.  I leave the house and I am full of shame.  But if Eli ever talked that way, I would hold him tightly, I would kiss him, and I would tell him that I loved him, that it wasn’t his fault, that he was perfect in his imperfection.  So why can’t I do that with myself?  I barely do work, paralyzed, frozen by fear of failure, or thinking what I do is meaningless, unable to focus.  I feel a pressure to live life more fully since I need to live it for Sidney now too.  But if I am living for Sidney, then perhaps I can figure out a way to mother myself, the way I would have mothered Sidney.  I would not yell at him as he learned to live again, after the most traumatic experience that he’d ever experienced.  I would tell him I was by his side.  So why can’t I be by my own side?  I don’t know how to mother myself yet, but I am hoping that writing these thoughts out will help me continue to think about the idea.  A friend of mine who has dealt with anxiety issues of her own, although not related to the death of a child, said that her therapist suggested carrying a picture of herself as a child, and actually talking to that younger version of herself, thinking about what she would say, and the kinder, gentler tone that she would use.   So I will work on mothering myself, in all of its painful glory, as I go kicking and screaming, protesting, since I don’t want to mother myself.  I want to mother Sidney.  (I should say that I do also think that we need other people, no matter how kind we can be with ourselves.  I just saw an article that said that social isolation is as deadly as smoking and worse than obesity, so clearly we need people.  But of course, how do you go about building community when it’s a) hard to do for me in the first place and b) I am so damn broken in the second?)

I took a break from writing this and went to yoga. At the end, the teacher said that the hard part was showing up, that what we are in this moment is enough.  Enough? I am miserable.  I might be enough, but enough for what? (I actually liked this teacher , but I got kick out of this blog entry by Megan Divine on yoga after death. http://www.refugeingrief.com/the-new-yoga/).  I am trying to really live in the moment, to be present, but how do you do that when your heart is broken, and the present is without Sidney?  It has occurred to me that there would be some peace in being delusional, in somehow being able to convince myself that nothing had happened, and to truly believe it, and to not realize I was delusional.  But alas….I have maintained some grasp on reality, however tenuous that grasp may be.

A few other things:

Someone finally asked me how many kids I had.  She said, “How old are your children?” I said, “Eli is 3.5.” And I left it at that.  She said, “Do you have any others?” Seriously, woman, why would you push me? I said, no, but I wish I had said, “Yes, Sidney.  He would be four months today if he had lived.”  But I didn’t.  I regret this.  I didn’t like the woman though, and don’t plan to engage with her much again.  She also offended another woman by saying, “I don’t understand how people can have babies in their thirties.  My kids were already much older.” Luckily, the other woman responded that she had just turned 35, and was single, and scared she wouldn’t find someone and wouldn’t have kids, and would be grateful to have kids in her 30s.  Some people just dont’ think.

Yesterday, my husband and I had a date day.  We took a walk in the woods.  Then we had lunch and saw a movie in the theater–I hadn’t been since a few weeks before Sidney died, when I had thought to myself how it would be the last time we could have a date night in a while.  We saw Come Hell or High Water.  I liked it.  Except that I cried during the preview for Deepwater Horizon when Kate Hudson watched an explosion over skype, and feared her husband’s death.  I felt her grief.  And then I cried again during opening credits, the tune of the music reminding me of an old prayer, and then the words a Sidney Kimmel production flashing across the screen.  Sidney’s name in print on a big screen.  My beautiful boy.  But it was a nice day in my new fucked up normal.

Four months

Dearest Sidney,

My dearest baby boy.  It has been four months since I kissed your cheek and held you in my arms, four months since I had to say goodbye to you, before I ever really said hello to you.  I don’t remember exactly what I said to you before the nurses took you away for the last time.  I think I said, “You are perfect. I love you.  I will love you forever.”  But what words are really adequate to say to you before they took you away from me for the last time?

I miss you, Sidney.  I miss you so much.  We spent the first part of the day at a playground and pool.  And then we were invited to a BBQ.  I don’t think we would have been invited if you hadn’t died.  We were invited by a kind mother from the temple, a mother who saw my pain over losing you and reached out.  Your brother enjoyed playing in the large backyard, running around.  I talked to a pregnant woman, who has a 3.5 year old.  I remembered being like that woman.  I listened to a midwife at the party talk about home births.  I thought about how out of place I felt, how lost I am without you.  And I missed you.  I constantly miss you.

As I write this letter, I think about how if you were really going to read this, I would make the letter more positive.  I would not lie–we try not to lie to Eli and I wouldn’t lie to you–but I wouldn’t want to only tell you of my sorrows, to put the burden for my broken heart on you.  So it is hard to know how to craft a letter to you, my precious little son.

Eli has been talking about you  more these past few days.  He went back to school for the year, to his new class.  We had to make a poster about Eli and his family to hang on the school wall.  We have no picture that adequately captures our family.  So Eli picked out a red heart sticker, and we wrote a big S on it.  S for Sidney.  S is one of the letters that Eli can identify, my dear boy, and he knows your name starts with S.  And red is his favorite color.  I asked Eli if he wanted to put it on his poster, and he said yes.  He said that it represented that he was a big brother still, even though you died.  And yesterday, we took a drive.  We went to a new playground a few counties over, to get to the countryside.  And Eli picked a flower.  He said, “Here, mama.  This flower is for baby Sidney.”  You need to know you are remembered.  You need to know you are wanted and loved, even though you are not here with us.  My heart aches for you, my dear boy.  It always will.

Sweet dreams, my beautiful Sidney Louis.  Sweet dreams.

I love you, always and forever.

Love,

Mama