Saturday, May 11, 2013

Reflections on Mother's Day After Year 1

One thing that has really bothered me recently is all of the people posting things about their children being their reason for living. There have been times in my life where I could completely relate to this statement but it is a very difficult reality for me to grasp right now.  I know that my children were my reason for carrying on many days when they were toddlers.  As a young mother, sometimes my identity was found solely in being a mom.  I guess right now I feel like if this has to be a person's reality for a short time, it is okay but it is not okay long term.

There are two very big issues that are smacking my reality right now as to why this cannot be a good thing.  One thing that happens is: They grow up.  These little ones that we spent so much time loving and caring for, teaching, leading and guiding are one day going to turn 18.  Not that we will no longer be their mothers, but they will not need us nearly to the extent that they once did. I realized from a very young age the reality is, as parents, from the point of birth we are preparing our children to become independent adults.

We teach them to walk, talk, feed themselves and potty. Then we teach them to write their names, fill out checks, make purchases and pay bills. We teach them responsibility through getting their homework done on time and putting their bicycles away when they are done riding them.  It is good that we teach them to be independent. Upon creating the earth God instructed Adam to care for his family, care for creation and not be dependent on any one person for his livelihood.  So it seems in following our creator we should be promoting independence in our children.

The Bible also instructs us to leave our parents and cleave to our spouse.  Knowing this commandment we should be on a constant quest to prepare our children to be responsible adults, spouses and parents.  The reality of this is; although I would love to have my children around forever, I do not want them to be dependent on me. Thus if my sole reason for living is my children once they marry, parent and or age out of my care, do I still have a reason for living?

I would hope that before such a time I find some other reasons to live so that I am not tempted to give up on life and not enjoy my children as the strong independent adults I have assisted in forming.  I also hear a lot about the blessings and how enjoyable grandchildren are.  I would hate to loose out on the many blessings God provides for parents of adult children by giving up on life soon after they leave the nest.

The other less obvious reason for not having our children be our sole reason for living is we may out live them. I realize this is a taboo subject and we would like to think this will never happen to us but it happens around us daily. There is nothing we can do to prevent it. Obviously if a parent could prevent out living a child they would do everything in their power to do so.  I once saw a saying once, "If I had to choose breathing or loving you I would take my last breath loving you." This is so true for mothers. We would do absolutely anything for our children. We have an innate desire to keep our children safe from birth to forever.  The reality is this is not reality.  There is no way to protect our children forever.

This is one truth that I wish I didn't know anything about thus would not think to mention it in a blog like this, but in my world this is my truth. God saw fit for me to out live my oldest child.  The irony of this situation is I lived for this child for a long time.  He had some special needs and I did everything in my power to insure that he was advocated for and then learned to advocate for himself.  I did my very best to make sure he was on a level playing field as his peers.  There were sometimes things we could not always provide, but these things were never hindrances to his well-being.

I have always been blessed to have an amazingly supportive husband so that we could attempt to meet all the needs of each of our children.  A lot of times it would be one parent with our oldest and the other parent with our other three children.  This was our world and we functioned well in it.  This reality came crashing down, when our oldest son was killed, we were devastated to say the least. Had my sole reason for living been this one child I would feel very worthless and without reason to live now.

I can honestly say that I do struggle with the world of worthlessness at times.  I did, for a very long time, find my entire self worth in caring for my children.  I found my full identity in being a wife and a mom.  I will always be a wife and mom and can find great pleasure in this. I cannot however, find my full worth in this identity because changes in the structure of things occur.  Sometimes these changes sneak up on us and sometimes they hit us square in the nose.  Nonetheless, the point remains, if our entire worth is wrapped up in being a mom when one of these two situations occur it will flatten us.

The reason I believe I am so passionate about this topic is both of these situations happened to me simultaneously. I had a child pass away and another leave for college within months of each other.  We would like to think both happen with no warning, but that is not the case.  Although, college years or adulthood seems to sneak up, we know the ages of our children and where they are in life.  We may not want to readily accept it, but adulthood doesn't really sneak up.  We need to be responsible parents and prepare ourselves for the departure of our children or their "leave and cleave" as much as we prepare them.

The other situation, in fact, may sneak up on us. We need to be proactive as parents to not find our full self worth in our children knowing that anything is possible.  Tomorrow is not guaranteed. My grandmother would say, "Don't put all of your eggs in one basket." This is a hard concept to face when we are in the thick of parenting.  We must keep focused on the true goal which is preparing them to be successful independent adults.  We need to find our self worth in God alone not in the jobs He has blessed us with here on this earth.  With our sole focus being on the fact that, "This is not the end."  "We are not home yet."

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A year out

Today is one year from when I last saw Corey alive.  I still have the same regrets.  I still have the pain in my heart that is indescribable.  It is a pain that makes a person wonder if life is really worth living.  Of course it is worth living especially when you have a husband and 3 other children along with family and friends.  So with that I have had to figure out how to live in the pain because one thing that is certain, the pain doesn't go away.

There are days when I think the pain isn't as intense and days that it may not feel as intense. I have learned to not let that fool me because even though it may not be at the fore front it may knock me out for the count if a memory comes to mind or a person walks by that reminds me of Corey. I heard it once described as waves of an ocean.  You can see them and feel them in short burst but at times they are intense enough to knock the wind out of you.  These waves supposedly get further and further apart in this grief journey.  I have to have faith that this is true but I haven't fully experienced it yet.  My grief still feels like I am standing in the middle of the ocean instead of at the edges.

I really can not say that the fog of denial has fully lifted because there are still days that I wonder what he is doing or when he will come home.  Some days I let myself ponder in these thoughts.  He must be hanging out with a various group of friends.  He is 19 so he will be around when he needs something.  It feels good sometimes to just let my mind wonder and imagine what could or would be happening.  I do not know if this ever stops.  Maybe one day I won't let my mind continue in the story line but for now it gives me comfort.

Then there are days that the reality of cold cruel death stare me in the face.  These are days that I am stifled in life.  I can't get out of bed.  I might not shower or even eat.  I don't answer the phone or text.  I am just overwhelmed with pain.  These days I can't think of anyone but myself and the child I carried inside me and then went through hours of labor to birth.  I forget that there are others in pain who may be struggling, whose life Corey touched.  In these moments of pain no one else can possibly relate.  It just hurts.

There are days that I am in intense pain but it is different than what I have described above it is a sympathetic or empathetic pain.  It is the pain that is ever present in the eyes, words and actions of my other children and my husband.  I see it in the eyes and words of our sisters and brothers, our parents, and grandparents.  I see it in the eyes and words of Corey's dearest friends. It is a pain I won't ever understand.  Pain that is all about knowing that my closest and his closest loved ones are hurting, hurting with the intensity that I hurt.  Oh how this breaks my heart all over again.  I can not imagine loosing a sibling, a grandson, a nephew, a best friend.
It gives me joy to know that he had so many important people in his life.

He made such a big impact on so many people.  I am certain it was in part due to his infectious smile and laugh.  He could make anyone laugh no matter the situation.  He had a dance he would do that would make the worst mood lighten.  He could also tell stories or jokes that fit any situation.  He was a well cultured well rounded young man and new how to play to that end. Because of some social issues he had, he didn't know when this was appropriate or not so he would literally make everyone laugh even if it wasn't "the right time."

My boy, my heart.  The kids have a saying "The struggle is real"  I could certainly echo that right now.  This day, this year mark.  This struggle is real.  More real than seems possible.  It hurts and it is real.

Princess Carrissa our favorite daughter turns 17

When I found out I was pregnant with our 3rd child it took us a little bit longer to get excited.  We already had 2 boys who were only 1 and 2.  The 1 year old still had multiple surgeries ahead of him.  We had no idea how we would handle another baby.  We had been using the latest form of birth control it was implanted into my arm right after the birth of our second child.  There were several complications very early. There were thought to be 2 babies, then what was thought to be a miscarriage.  This was a very difficult time.  When we went back to the doctor several weeks after this trauma to have test ran we found out there was still a baby and SHE had a heartbeat.  The doctors ran test and said she was a normal forming, healthy little girl.
We had decided that Gene could name the girls and I could name the boys.  We had been tossing around several names for this baby and could not make a decision we both agreed on.  One day we were shopping at a church rumage sale and a little girl came up to us and asked about our young boys.  This little girl was very pretty.  When she asked what the boys names were she volunteered her name, Carrissa.  When the child walked away Gene looked at me and smiled and said that's it that is what I want to name our baby.  We quickly agreed on the name Carrissa.
Several months later, we gave birth to a very healthy baby girl, Carrissa Elaine Whitten.  Born November 22, 1995.  She was the most beautiful little girl we had ever seen.  Her big brothers instantly fell in love.  Carrissa was a delight.  She had a big smile and big brown eyes.  She was a joy.  Eleven short months later we gave birth to her best friend Isaac.  So she is the 3rd of 4 children and our only girl.  She has enjoyed this position from the start.  She loved baby dolls and dresses.  She also had a very special bond with mommy and daddy and each of her brothers adored her.  

Carrissa loved dresses, baby dolls and having her hair done.  She also liked to be a little helper, taking great care for her brothers and making certain they did not get into trouble.  Right before Carrissa turned 2 we moved our young family to Lincoln, Illinios and both Gene and I attended Lincoln Christian University.  We moved into Married Student Housing where there were a lot of other young families.
As a toddler, Carrissa loved tea parties, lady bugs and her brothers.
As Carrissa grew into a little girl she wanted some separation from the world of boys.  She joined girl scouts and played softball and was very good in school.  During her teen years Carrissa has found a love for serving and worshiping at church in various areas.   She has enjoyed student athletic training and Fellowship of Christian Athletes. She also enjoys throwing the discus for the track team.  Carrissa is a very strong young woman in heart mind soul and spirit along with physically.  She can certainly hold her own with anyone she meets if she needs to.  Most people that meet Carrissa love her.  She is very easy to get along with and has an amazing worldview.  We are VERY proud of this young lady.

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

20 years, to have and to hold, till death do us part

Monday, December 14, 1992

I, Dana Elaine Sanders, take Eugene K Whitten to be my lawfully wedded husband to live together in marriage!

I promise to love, comfort, honor and keep him for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, and forsaking all others, being faithful only to him so long as you both shall live!

11 months

This blog, like all of the rest, is going to be fairly raw.  I have to say that I am going through a medication change and some health issues so I am having an extra difficult time.  I do not know if I would feel quite so depressed if it were not for some of these issues.
I have realized in the past few days that we are quickly approaching the year mark of Corey's death.  I knew this was coming it is no big surprise what has surprised me is the drastic shift in my life.  I have went several weeks without needing any extra prn medications such as Klonipine etc.  Now all of a sudden I am needing at least one per day.  All of the coupons and commercials mention March.  Every time I hear March I begin to panic.
It ends up being a vicious cycle because when I panic then I feel guilty and then hungry after that sleepy and it repeats.  I have to say I end up hating myself.  I may well be closer to a breakdown now than I was any point during the past year.  I attempt to hold it together for the sake of my other kids and husband.  Thinking about that makes me feel panic again.  I just want to scream.
A month ago when I went to have my medication refilled I was told it was $639.00.  I had been on this medication for about 6 months and it was working really well.  Because of the new year and having to meet our deductible I had to pay almost the full cost for it.  Needless to say I had to be put on a less expensive medication.  I have been told different solutions by several "helpful" people.  I wish people would think through things before they give such helpful advise.  Yes some companies will help pay for medications the issue with that is it is a process to get the help it takes approximately 2 months.  These type of medications have a series of really bad side effects when you abruptly stop them.  If you can not afford the medication during the time it takes to apply for the help you are up a creek.  That is all I will say about that since it is the most common advice given.  I am given advice like I don't watch the same commercials everyone else does. And yes, I know people are just trying to be helpful but sometimes helpful would just be to listen because the advice isn't really helpful.
Also, after several months worth of testing I have been diagnosed with cystic kidney disease.  I have a cyst bigger than my kidney should be on the inside of my kidney.  My right kidney is now non functioning.  I mid March (there's that word again) I will be having it removed.  I am a little nervous about this.  I will be in the hospital for several days etc.   
Then comes the end of March.  The 21st will have been Corey's 20th birthday.  ugg.  Then the 29th, CJ's 19th birthday is the year anniversary of Corey's death.  This is a hard one.  I am hating it.  Have no idea what to do or how to act.  I want to make it a great birthday for CJ but wow how hard will this be.
Then its also Good Friday.  Just in case I forgot... God went through the same pain I did having a son die on this day.  Good thing His conquered death so mine could live forever more and I could have the promise of being reunited with him again.
That was easy to type but not easy to grasp.
I miss my oldest son more than anyone could possibly understand.  I feel like I just heard this news of pregnancy yesterday, just gave birth a few days ago, just held him in my arms, just sent him off to school, just dried his tears over the first girl, just took him on his first drive, just went to his graduation, dressed him for prom, oh God where did the time go? Where did my heart go? Is he really gone forever from this earth?
I love you Corey Whitten.