Tuesday, March 25, 2014

3 Years

I've been doing a lot of remembering today. I'm enjoying "most" of the memories. As I look through pictures of Caleb's earlier years, I laugh at some of my favorite pictures of him. The pics from his last 6 months are the hard ones to see. He changed so very much during that time because of the steroids that it hardly seems possible that it was the same little boy.


 It feels odd to sum up his life in 18 pictures. But pictures are are the only tangible evidence of his existence. People who never met him will only ever know about him through pictures and the stories we tell about him.

I started the morning using the "On This Day" feature in FaceBook to look back at my newsfeed from 2011. As one can imagine, I was kinda preoccupied that day. I was so surprised to see how many people posted about Caleb that day and asked for prayers for our family as we were going through the most difficult day of our lives. It's three years later and today I saw much of the same thing. It's good to see that he is not forgotten and has had an impact on others. He meant so much to so many people. We all mourn his passing.

We have started a tradition of sending 5 gold balloons to Caleb twice a year - his birthday and his angelversary. When we did our balloon release for Caleb's 8th birthday, Caden had a really hard time with it. Richard and I began talking to him a couple weeks in advance of today to remind him what we are doing and why. He told us, "I don't want to release balloons. I don't want you to release balloons. I don't even want to see it if you do."

We decided to get 6 balloons this year (5 gold and 1 blue) so that Caden could keep at least one balloon. Then we told him we would each take two balloons to send Caleb, but Caden had the choice to release one, both, or none. He chose not to release his balloons. Since we gave him the option, he did much better this year.

We love you, Caleb.
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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

Friday, March 21, 2014

Today...


Three years ago yesterday....
  • Caleb spent his last day in the sun. He practiced throwing a baseball in preparation for opening day of baseball. He played with sidewalk chalk with Caden. It was a great day.

Three years ago today...
  • Caleb left home for the final time. He couldn't speak any longer. He wasn't eating. He wasn't able to swallow his meds any longer. 
  • We were finally told there was nothing more they could do to help. We were told to "make him comfortable for the time he has left," which was anywhere from 4 days to 4 weeks.
  • Caleb entered the hospital, at his request, for the last time. We would be there until he died. He never slept in his own bed again. He never saw his dog or cat again. He never saw his best friend again.
  • He never left that blasted hospital bed again.


I've been by myself during the days this week because Caden's been spending time with G-ma for spring break. I've actually kept pretty busy and have been doing okay. Until today.

Today:
  • I can't stop thinking about Caleb, no matter how hard I try.
  • I cry for the child we've lost and the man he will never become.
  • I weep from memories of his final days.
  • I laugh while recalling wonderful memories of his entire life.
  • I pray for a cure for all kinds of pediatric cancer so no other parent has to endure what we have.
  • I HATE what cancer did to our little boy and how it has impacted our family.
  • I LOVE that Jesus is now taking care of him.
  • I LOVE that Jesus continues to comfort us and change us, for the better.
  • I LOVE that, one day, I WILL see Caleb again.

Tomorrow...
  • I don't know what tomorrow holds, but I do know Who holds tomorrow. And I am thankful for that.

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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

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Just an ordinary drive, until...

I picked Caden up from pre-school today and was taking him to get a haircut. Just an ordinary drive, until...

Me: Hey, Caden! Yellow truck!
Caden: Mom, you're not playing the game right. Yellow trucks don't count. Those were Caleb's rules and he's dead now, so I get to make the rules.
(Way to go, son. Just drive that knife deeper into my heart and twist it around a few times. You didn't mean to make me cry. You were just stating a fact - Caleb is dead. How could either of us know that grief would choose that moment to rear it's ugly head and cause me to lose control?)
Me: Oh?! Just because your brother is dead, should we stop playing things he liked? Should we get rid of things that were his? Okay, we won't ever play the "Yellow Game" again. Then, let's get rid of Super Mario Brothers, Star Wars, Super Mario Galaxy, and Super Mario Cart because they were all Caleb's, too. Then we'll get rid of Candy Land, Chutes & Ladders and Mouse Trap along with all the books in your room that were his. Oh, then there's half the toys that are in your room. They were his, too. Is that what you want? Should we just get rid of everything that reminds us of your brother. Because I can't do that. And it really hurt my feelings that you would even say something like that to me.
Caden: No, Mom! That's not what I meant. I'm sorry. I didn't mean to make you cry. I don't want to get rid of those things. I don't want to get rid of anybody's things.
(Yep, I lost it. Totally lost it. Took out my grief on my 5-year old son. Caden didn't deserve any of it.)
Caden, how could you possibly know that it's all I can do to get through each day this month without breaking down in a pile of tears. How could you know how much it tears me apart when you come out of your room at night saying, "Mom, I miss my brother." There's no way you can understand how much it hurts that you even know about death so early in your life. You're only five years old. You weren't quite even 2 1/2 when Caleb died.

I never know when grief will strike. I never know HOW grief will strike. The most mundane thing can be taking place. Then, BAM! "Hi! I'm Grief! Just wanted to make sure you haven't forgotten me. I'm still here!"

These next couple of weeks will surely take their toll as we approach March 25th. For those who say, "This, too, shall pass," I say, "Not bloody well likely." We'll never stop grieving Caleb. Our grief may change as the years continue to pass, but it will likely always be here. Hiding in the background. Waiting for the most inopportune moment to slam us to the ground again. It doesn't get easier. We just learn how to cope with it better.

Oh, and after we got home, I did apologize to Caden for what I said and how I acted. And, sweet little boy that he is, apologized to me, again, for making me cry. We then held each other and cried together. Then Caden said the most profound thing to me and I just know that he means it to the very depths of his soul.

"Mom, you know that when we die, we'll get to go to Heaven and Caleb will be right there waiting for us, right next to Jesus."

And with that simple comment, peace came over me again. Thank you, God, for giving this special little boy to us.

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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