Thursday, October 10, 2013

A Season of Change

The change in seasons officially began September 22. The warmth of the summer to be exchanged for the brisk air of fall. All of nature prepares itself for the harsh reality of the cold depths of winter.

I'm feeling kinda like that right now. My heart seems to shrink as I face a totally different kind of "season." From October through March, I feel like I'm living in a dark place that few things can penetrate, except the memories.

October. How I despise you now. You are a month-long reminder of the beginning of the end. For the next 5 1/2 months, I will walk through those days of pain over and over again. Each day, a memory of what was happening will surface, stab my heart and crush my mind until I can barely breathe, much less move. I will exist on auto-pilot because I have to.

October 10, 2013, marks exactly 3 years since Caleb was diagnosed with DIPG. A tumor the size of a walnut inside his brain stem. A death sentence.

I can still vividly recall almost every moment of that day. The sights. The sounds. The smells. My thoughts and actions. Caleb's actions.

My heart breaks a little more each morning that I wake up and Caleb's not here.

This past weekend we attended our second bereavement camp at Camp Sol. We met new families who have lost a child and reconnected with people and families we met last year. It is the one place I feel that I can really express my grief in any way I want to and the people there TRULY understand. We can cry, laugh, rage, and have fun (sometimes simultaneously) - without judgment. I love what Camp Sol does for grieving families. I love what Camp Sol represents - Healing.

When we arrived on Friday afternoon, one of the first things we saw near our cabin was a family of deer. It was breathtaking to be standing so close to them. They stayed there long enough for me to take a couple of pictures.

One of the first activities for the weekend was for each family to make a family flag to represent the family member they are there to remember. I started pulling together materials for the flag and hunted for the letters we would need to put on it. After I gathered all the letters together and arranged them on the flag, I looked down and noticed that I had not spelled Caleb's name, but Caden's. And my first tears of the weekend started. It upset me. I thought to myself, "What kind of mother forgets how to spell her child's name!? What else am I going to forget about Caleb?" Fortunately, a couple volunteers were nearby to help me calm down.

As the weekend progressed, the weather began to change. It was finally beginning to feel more like fall. We had a beautiful remembrance ceremony on Sunday morning in an outdoor chapel with a small stream flowing next to it. All the emotions of the weekend poured through that stream.

Camp Sol is a fantastic place for us to go. At the same time, I kinda dread going. It's held twice a year. Once in March (anniversary month of Caleb's death) and once in October (anniversary month of diagnosis). So, my emotions are already out of whack when I get there. But, I thank God that Camp Sol is available to us and there are people there to help me work through the emotions, especially all the intense emotions of the start of my third season of grief.

Hello, October. What do you have in store for me this year? Starting over in a new city?  Leaving my cell phone at a rest area? Yeah, I can handle that.

We still miss Caleb every moment of every day. He is always in our hearts, always in our thoughts, and is loved today, tomorrow, in ALL ways to infinity and beyond.

Angel, Richard & Caden

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