Wednesday, September 20, 2017

4...6...2


Tomorrow it will have been four years since Jaylen left us. A day that I hate reliving, but that day will always be there. September 21, 2013 was the absolute worst day of my life. Every year as this day approaches, I feel stuck in a sense because I hate knowing that was "the day" that took my son. Every day is hard without Jaylen. He is missed every single day, but September 21 is yelling "THIS WAS THE DAY!"  It's so hard to explain, but I never look forward to September because of it. 


Not only is September 21 hard, but only four short days later, is Jaylen's birthday.  September 25 should be a day of celebration. Watching my son grow another year older each year.  Planning birthday parties, ordering a fun cake, wondering what to surprise him with, but instead we are left with an empty chair.  We always have a birthday cake on September 25. We always celebrate what would have been, but it's a tough pill to swallow looking at the empty chair that doesn't get to blow out those candles.  It would be six candles this year, SIX!!  

It's hard to picture Jaylen as a six year old little boy.  All I can see him as, is that almost two year old little boy that carried a couple of cars in his hand, along with his bottle, and blankie. Then you can't forget about the pacifier that he constantly had in his mouth.  Today, he would be so different.  I'm sure he would still keep us laughing like he always did.  I'm sure he would be as handsome as ever, but I'm left to guess...it's tough.  

I often drive by Kaia's school during the day.  The time I usually drive by at, the kindergartner's are always out on the playground playing.  Every time I see them, I like to imagine that Jaylen is in the mix of those kids playing too.  I often catch myself looking, wondering if I can see him.  He should be there, but he is not. It's hard to believe that he would be in school, running around with those other kids. You never think that your child won't be there.  Sometimes now, it still feels unreal that it was my child that was taken, but then I'm also constantly reminded because he isn't here. 


On October 4 this year, Taysen will be turning two.  I have been holding my breath for Taysen to get to this birthday.  I have had so much fear, since him being born, that he wouldn't make it to his second birthday.  I never feared my children not making it to their next birthday, until it actually happened.  Now, I'm grateful for each birthday that I do get to celebrate.  With Taysen though, I'm not sure if it's because he is a boy and our first rainbow after Jaylen, but I have wanted nothing more than to get past his second birthday. I can only hope that it happens! When October 4 comes and goes, I will be so grateful.  Then I will just continue to hold my breath for every birthday to follow...with each of my kids. I can only hope that I get to watch them all grow into adulthood and far beyond. 

With all the pain we have from losing Jaylen, there has been so many blessings that have come into our lives as well.  Sometimes it is hard to see the blessings, but they are there and continue to come. Life is hard. After losing Jaylen, I liked to think that we wouldn't have any more hard things to go through, but it doesn't work that way.  Trials will always come, but it is up to us on how we handle them.  I'm blessed with a supportive husband and amazing kids to help us get through the trials together.  



As this four year angel-anniversary approaches, it's hard to believe that we have made it four years, but we have.  I remember thinking after Jaylen passed, 'how will we ever make it?' I thought a lot about that five year mark and we are only one year away from it. Just crazy.  We can do hard things when we have to. Life is hard, but that is what life is...we were sent here to learn and grow and that is just what we are doing. 

Monday, August 14, 2017

The First Day I'll Never Get


There are a lot of first I won't get with Jaylen, but as the new school year is approaching, my mama heart is aching a little more these days.  It's hard to believe that Jaylen would be starting Kindergarten tomorrow. When I think of Jaylen, all I see is that two year old beautiful, brown eyed, curly haired boy, just starting to learn this world. I look at 5 year old little boys all the time now and try so hard to envision what my beautiful boy would look like, only left to wonder. 


Starting Kindergarten is a time of so many emotions for any parent. It's the start of independence in a whole new way. Watching our children move on to that new found independence. As both Ian and Kaia started Kindergarten, I was emotional.  Not because of going to school, but the thought of how fast they were growing up, where the time had gone, what this new adventure would bring to them, and letting go a little.  With Jaylen, my letting go was different than I had ever envisioned or hoped for.  I had to let go long before I had planned to and in a whole different way. 


As I shopped for school supplies this year, I wanted nothing more than to be buying that Cars back pack and lunch box for my soon to be Kindergartner.  I would watch other parents with their young kids, doing that exact same thing, wishing that I had Jaylen there with me in that moment.  Why did Jaylen have to go so young?  Why does our family have to endure this trial? Why, why, why?? So many whys that we will not have the answer to until we are with Jaylen again.  

I so badly wish I knew and could understand why we experience the trials that we are given in this life. I know SO MANY incredible families that walk this same journey in grief, losing a child. It is awful and each time that I hear of a new story, my heart shatters a little more.  Couldn't it have just stopped after Jaylen?  I hate knowing that others have to experience this deep pain that truly is a life long sentence.  It does get easier with time, but the pain is always there. So many first that we have to go through life, left to wonder, rather than to experience.  


Tomorrow as I take that first day of school picture of Ian and Kaia, I will be picturing Jaylen standing on my front porch, wearing that back pack, giving me a big grin, as he is ready to leave the nest and start his school years. I won't get the real image, but I will have it in my mind.  My heart will hurt, but I will put on a smile because that is what bereaved mama's do. We have to or we wouldn't be able to survive these "first".

I'm grateful that since losing Jaylen, we have been blessed with two little angels that have brought life back into our home. I will get emotional on their first day of Kindergarten too.  Maybe not for the normal reasons, but that we made it to that day. When you lose a child, I think the fear of losing another one is compounded. We've experienced the unimaginable, so we know that it can very well happen again.  I look forward to taking that first day of Kindergarten picture of Taysen and then Trinity to follow.  I miss Jaylen so much. This is a big, anticipated first that I will not get, but amazingly enough, we pick ourselves up and continue to move forward. 





Thursday, May 25, 2017

Added Blessings



Wow! It has been a long time since I have sat down to write.  There have been so many times that I have wanted to, but life has gotten busy for our family these past couple of years and as crazy as it has been, it truly has been a blessing!!




On April 17, 2017 we added a new addition to our family. Trinity Hope Garner was born at 33 weeks gestation, perfect and strong.  She spent 10 days in the NICU before joining our family at home.  Life has not slowed down since.  She and Taysen are 18 months apart.  None of my children have been this close in age and it's definitely a challenge at times.  Taysen still requires so much and can't quite understand when Trinity takes priority over him at times.  It is tough!  He loves his baby sister so much though and is so cute with her!  Always wanting to hold her and kiss her.

As I look at these two miracles that have joined our family in the past 2 years, I can't help but think of Jaylen.  There isn't anything more in this life I would want then to see him here interacting with his younger brother and sister.  I can only imagine what kind of brother he would be.  I also can't help but think of the role he played to get his siblings here.

Before we lost Jaylen, Mike didn't really want any more kids.  We had come to the agreement that we were done and our family was complete.  At times, I wasn't sure if I felt the same way, but we were happy and content.  About 2 weeks before losing Jaylen, I felt content and was confident that our family was complete.  The night we lost Jaylen that all changed. Immediately Mike and I both felt that we needed not one, but two more children.  I was surprised when Mike came to me and said that he had the impression in the hospital that we needed more because I had that exact same impression.

As hard and terrible as it has been to lose Jaylen, my mind often wonders if Taysen and Trinity would be here if it hadn't been for that terrible event.  I strongly believe that God is in control of our lives and plans are set before we even come here...so was this all part of the plan?  I think so. I'm not sure if Jaylen knew he needed to go in order to get his siblings here, but it crosses my mind.  Is that a crazy thought?  Maybe...but a lot of things in this life are crazy and don't go as planned. Ideally, I want all my children here, but I was given a different path to take and I've come to accept that.  Does it mean that I miss Jaylen any less?  ABSOLUTELY NOT!!!! But I have accepted this path and decided to focus on the blessings rather than the incredible heartbreak.  Now, three years ago would I be saying this? Probably not, but it's amazing what time can do for one's heart.  My heart still hurts EVERY SINGLE DAY for Jaylen, but I can breath again.  I can laugh without guilt.  I can love my 2 youngest children with all my heart, be grateful that they are now here, and that our family is now complete.  We may feel incomplete because we don't get to have Jaylen with us physically here, but we know he is close.  We know he is watching over us and blessing our family.

So many wonderful things have happened to our family in the past couple of years and I can't help but think that Jaylen has played a role.  I miss him SO MUCH!!  I so badly want him here, but I am so grateful for the almost 2 years I got with him and the knowledge that I will get to spend eternity with him.  That will be a wonderful time.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

A New Addition...


On October 4, 2015 we welcomed Taysen Anthony Garner to our family.  He was born at 33 weeks gestation, weighing 4 pounds 6 ounces and 17 inches long of perfection.  I had been admitted to the hospital six days earlier due to having contractions.  At 25 weeks into my pregnancy I was put on bed rest at home and we were fortunate to have Taysen stay put for another eight weeks.  On the night of October 3, Kaia and Ian had a slumber party with me at the hospital.  Little did we know that Taysen would make his appearance the following day.  We joke that he was just ready to join the party with his brother and sister because my water broke the following morning while the kids were still at the hospital with me.  Luckily we had time for someone to come pick up the kids and Mike to get there before he did come.  It definitely wasn't a fast, crazy delivery like Jaylen was, but still came earlier than we had hoped for.  We have been so fortunate with how well our kids have done being born so early.  

Being transported to Cook Children's Hosptial
After Taysen was born, he had to be transported to the NICU at Cook Children's Hospital in downtown Fort Worth because the NICU at the hospital I delivered at was full.  When Mike and I were told that he was being transported to that hospital, our hearts sank.  The only experience we have had with that hospital is the day that we lost Jaylen.  He was life flighted there, only for us to arrive and be told that he didn't make it. So you can imagine the hesitation Mike and I had about Taysen going there, even though Cook's is known to be an amazing hospital.  Luckily, the experience we had with Taysen was much different and after two short, but long weeks, he was able to come home and be with his family.  The staff treating Taysen was amazing and our experience was much better.  I remember after losing Jaylen, telling Mike that I pray we never have to go to that hospital again.  In some ways, I feel as if Taysen was meant to go there so we could have a better, more positive experience, which we did.  

My first time holding Taysen, 1 day old
Today as I stare at Taysen, it seems unreal.  I look at him in constant disbelief that he is here and real. After losing Jaylen, our hearts were so broken.  We knew we wanted more children, but after not having success for about a year, we thought maybe it wasn't in our cards.  Then to get pregnant, only to have it end in miscarriage, we were devastated once again.  So as I look at Taysen and what it took to get him here, I can't be nothing more than grateful.  Grateful to have another little one to love and raise.

Dreaming of Jaylen, or at least I like to think so...
Having a child is one of the greatest blessings that two people can be given.  Losing a child is probably the worst experience two people can go through and having a child after losing one is incredible, but also opens up a whole new set of emotions.  I have been missing Jaylen a lot lately.  I miss him every second, but my heart hurts a little more lately.  It hurts because I look at Taysen and am heartbroken that he and Jaylen won't get to grow up together.  I often wonder what they would've been like together, getting in trouble and causing havoc.  You know with two young boys, it would definitely create some chaos that I would gladly love to experience, but I don't get that.  All I get is to wonder how Jaylen and Taysen would be together.  I strongly believe that Taysen knows his brother very well though and that they got to spend some special time together before Taysen was born.  Often times when Taysen is sleeping and gives a little smile in his sleep, I like to believe that he is remembering his time with Jaylen.  I know that he knows his brother and I know that Jaylen will always be a part of Taysen's life, I just wish it was in a physical presence.
 

One will always be missing
The first day that Kaia and Ian got to go to the hospital to see Taysen was such a sweet moment.  Their hearts were broken the day we lost Jaylen too so to have another little brother to love on has been so fun for them.  Their eyes lit up the moment they got to see him and they fell in love instantly too.  As I was watching the kids interact with him for the first time and as I took a picture of the three of them, all I could notice was that Jaylen was missing.  In this joyous moment, my heart sank because all I could think about was that Jaylen isn't here.  There should be four kids in this picture, but you only get to see three.  That was the only thing I noticed in that special moment and it's heartbreaking.  There will never be the four of them in a picture together.  I will never get a picture of Jaylen and Taysen together.  I never knew that so much love and heartache can happen in the same moment.
 

I am SO GRATEFUL for Taysen though.  He definitely is a huge blessing that we had been hoping for.  As much as my heart hurts for Jaylen, my heart is over flowing with happiness that Taysen is here, healthy and strong.  There is a different feeling with this baby from my others.  I think when you lose something so special, you really learn to value each moment.  I have lost a baby so I know that it can happen.  With every cry that Taysen makes, every poopy diaper, all the lack of sleep that I am getting, etc...my attitude is different.  I cherish the moment.  I appreciate that I have this chance to love and raise another child.  My heart hurts and will always hurt that Jaylen is not here, but my heart is also so full that we have Taysen.

So in love and grateful!! 

Daddy's pretty happy too!!


Thursday, September 10, 2015

30 Weeks


Jaylen was born at 30 weeks gestation and I have officially reached that point in my pregnancy with our new addition, who is set to arrive in November.  This is a huge milestone for us, especially since at 25 weeks I was put on bed rest and we were unsure if we were even going to make it to this point.  So far, things have been going well and it is a huge relief to get this far.  Mike and I were always concerned that if we ever did decide to have another child after Jaylen, would we experience a premature delivery again?  Each of my children have come five weeks earlier than the last, so the thought of having a 25 weeker was terrifying. We weren't sure if having another child would be the right thing to do, but we always felt that there was possibly another spirit meant for our family.  We were so fortunate at how well Jaylen did for as early as he was and know it was nothing short of a miracle. We were allowed a few extra months with him in this life.  After losing Jaylen, we put our trust in what we had felt before and decided to try.  The thought of having another super early baby though was frightening and I'm grateful that we have made it this far.  We have been blessed with an amazing doctor, who I know, has helped us to overcome each hurdle with this pregnancy. 

Minutes after Jaylen was born





Reaching this 30 week mark has really had me thinking about Jaylen the past few days.  When you have a baby the last thought on your mind is that they will leave this earth before you.  I remember going into labor with Jaylen and being terrified of the unknown.  Would he be okay?  How big would he be?  Will he have long lasting effects from it?  It was scary!  But he was born perfect, just small and needed to grow.  Who knew that two years later, our little miracle would be our angel watching over us.  It's hard to get excited with this pregnancy because there is that fear.  Fear that another child will be taken from me.   Not only do I fear what could happen in this pregnancy, I have the fear of what could happen to one of my other children.  Living in fear is hard, but I have to remind myself constantly that we are not in charge.  I have to continue to trust in God that no matter what, his plan is better than mine.  I pray that I never have to experience another tragic loss like I have, but I am not guaranteed so I continue to just hope.  Hope that our new baby continues to grow well and be born perfectly healthy.  Hope that my other children have a chance to live a long healthy life as well.  Hope...hope is all we have and that continues to be what I hold on to.




My mind has been so preoccupied on keeping our new little guy inside the last little while that I haven't had much time to think about the upcoming events that are about to take place in our lives. The big two year mark of Jaylen being gone.  Not only has it been two years, but another milestone that we are about to surpass is one where Jaylen will have been gone from us longer than he was here with us.  That is a hard pill to swallow.  Then, on top of that, we should be celebrating a 4th birthday, but that too is something we do not get to do.  We will celebrate, we will acknowledge our little man's special day, but it won't go without a sting and a wish that he was blowing out four candles instead of us.  September is definitely a month I do not look forward to, but again with grief, each day is a milestone.



Year two of the grief cycle has been much different than year one.  The intense agonizing pain has worn off and adjustments have started to take place with the new norm.  This is both a blessing and a curse.  I think I cried a lifetime of tears in the first year.  I didn't know how to go on. I literally wanted to die, but I continued to slowly put one foot forward in front of the other and held on to each passing day.  Year two, for me at least, the tears have become more spread out.  The days seem to pass more quickly and life continues to go on.  Jaylen is still in my every thought, but I can think about other things as well.  I can think about Jaylen and it not consume my every emotion.  A blessing is that the intense pain that was there in the first year has slowly lessened and I am able to smile again, but then comes guilt.  I feel a constant battle in my head.  Guilt for not being sad all the time.  Guilt for living life.  Guilt for excitement of having another son, and so on.  Losing Jaylen has been the hardest thing I have ever had to experience in my life and being "okay" makes me feel like something is wrong with me.  I will never truly be "okay", a piece of my heart will always be broken and missing, but I'm moving forward...something that I never thought I could do.  That is the battle...surviving the death of my son!  Most would say, "but Jaylen wants you happy" and yes, I agree, but my mind says, "how can you be happy, your son is in heaven??!!"  

There have been a million questions pass through my mind since losing Jaylen, but one thing I have never questioned or wavered on is that I know Jaylen lives.  I know I will see him again and I know that this life is not the end.  Maybe that is why I am "surviving".






Sunday, June 7, 2015

Graduation


Best friends from the beginning

We attended Kaia's Kindergarten Graduation this past week and it was such an amazing event.  I couldn't believe that an elementary school would put on such an event for something "so small" as some people would say.  I have been so impressed with the elementary school that Kaia has attended and how they have made the "little things" important.  Yes, having a huge graduating ceremony for Kindergarten may be a little over the top, but our kids grow up so fast.  Some of us will not get to celebrate all the "little things" so these "little things" become the big things.  


As I sat down in the auditorium waiting for the event to start, they had a slide show of pictures from the year and music playing.  I didn't plan to get emotional that night, but I did.  I started to choke up and not because Kaia was moving on to the first grade, but because Kindergarten Graduation is not something I will get to experience with Jaylen.  He will never get to experience Kindergarten, Middle School, or a High School Graduation.  I will never get to watch him sing songs with his school class, hear his name be called by the school principal and be handed his graduation certificate by his teacher.  These "little things" are big things to a lot of us mom's that will never get this opportunity with one of our children.  Like Kaia's principal said at the ceremony, our kids grow up so fast.  Every milestone should be celebrated and I couldn't agree more.  I wish I would get  to celebrate these things with Jaylen, but I don't and I never will.  Instead, I had to experience a graduation with Jaylen that is something no parent ever wants to experience.  One that was not expected, one that is unknown.   


One graduation we did get, celebrating Jaylen's 1st birthday!!
I live everyday wondering what experiences Jaylen is having now.  What he is learning, who he is friends with?  I also live every day wondering what life would be like with him still here.  How tall would he be, what would he be saying, his favorite toys, friends, etc??  This life of the unknown is so hard.  Always wondering what my baby is up too?  I know he is busy, I know he is in a safe place, and I truly believe that he is with his little brother, preparing him to come to our home soon, but there is still always that wonder??  As I see other little boys that look close to Jaylen's age, I am always curious to know how old they are.  In a way, watching them and knowing that they are Jaylen's age, I feel like I get to see a little bit of Jaylen in them, even if I don't know them well.  It's a bittersweet thing...seeing other little boys living life to the fullest, giving their mom's a headache.  I so badly want that to be my son, but since it can't be, I look to these little boys and imagine Jaylen being there too.  



The past few months have been different for me.  I have been in a better place, which is actually a blessing and a curse as well.  I miss my son so much, but the agonizing pain has subsided and I don't see as much fog.  The blessing, the pain has lessened.  The curse, the pain has lessened.  With the pain lessening, it makes me question myself as a mom.  The mind plays horrible tricks and there is a guilt with not crying every single day.  I lost my baby boy tragically, I should not be able to function, but I am.  With time, the heart and mind learn to cope, they learn to adjust to the reality, which is needed to survive such an awful event, but I also don't want to become numb to this feeling.  The feeling of pain is a reminder of what was real, and that was Jaylen.  He was and is real.  


I will live for him!!

Life goes on, it has to.  I had two choices after losing Jaylen...to go on and live for him, or to give up and be with him.  As much as I wanted to give up at numerous times, I knew I needed to live because that is what Jaylen would want.  The pain is still there, the heartache of missing him will never go away, but I've learned to see color again.  There is hope to be happy.  I know that I will never be complete until my whole family is reunited again, a piece of me will always stay broken, but there is hope because I am breathing.  I am living and that is something I never thought I would do it again. 

Sunday, March 22, 2015

18 Months...Really??!



Recently I have had trouble sleeping.  This past week I have woken up almost every morning around 4am, unable to go back to sleep.  I don't like when that happens because that is when my mind starts to wander.  When the house is quiet, no distractions, it's almost instant that my mind goes to Jaylen and the events of that dreadful day.  Yesterday morning when I awoke, my mind was going like a whirlwind.  The past month or two have been different for me than in past months.  I haven't had much feeling of anything so when I was experiencing these feelings this past week and particularly yesterday morning, it was unexpected (but, then again with grief, nothing is unexpected).  As I layed there, tears began to stream.  I'm not sure if it was coincidence or not, but right then, I realized it was March 21st and Jaylen's accident was exactly 18 months ago.  

Eighteen long months without my baby boy.  It seems as if it has been an eternity since Jaylen has been with us physically.  Our lives have adjusted and my biggest fear has come true.  I think that is probably what I'm struggling most within my grief right now.  LIFE GOES ON...when I wanted the world and my world to stop, it didn't and we have continued on, adjusting to living life without Jaylen.  I never wanted to get use to Jaylen not being here, I never wanted him to be a memory, but slowly that reality has slipped away and all we have left are the memories.
   
Lately I've been questioning so many things.  I hear of so many miraculous events taking place to where people have survived something when they shouldn't have. I hate asking the "Why" question because it runs me crazy knowing that I will never get an answer.  Why didn't Jaylen survive??  Why didn't we get a miracle that day?? Why Jaylen...he was so full of life??!!  Especially when on that day, we were told that he was going to be okay, only to arrive at the hospital to hear the words, "he didn't make it".  Yesterday, after feeling a little sorry for myself, I was at the gym and a song came on by Taylor Swift.  It's a song that reminds me of Jaylen so much and brings tears to my eyes every time I hear it.  As I was listening,  a line spoke to me like it never had before..."What if the miracle was even getting one moment with you".  At that moment, I had a million flashbacks of Jaylen's life.  Entering this world at just 30 weeks gestation, perfect.  To stay in the NICU a short amount of time, only to allow himself to grow and get stronger.  He is my miracle and I got almost two years with him.  I will never understand why so many parents have to experience this kind of loss and pain, but I have put my trust in God.  That is why I try not to ask "Why"...he knows why and I believe that one day I will have that answer.  

We had the amazing opportunity to visit my parents in London for a week, recently. It was incredible and I fell in love with London.  It is a beautiful city with so much history.  I've never been one to understand the depths of history, but being there and experiencing it, was intriguing.  With every opportunity in life now though, there is still always that feeling of "I wish Jaylen was with us".  Nothing is the same, no matter how amazing something is.  



The first day we arrived, we went to see Buckingham Palace where the Queen lives.  Kaia was in heaven!!  Prior to leaving she had told me that she had to take her "most beautiful" dress with us just in case she gets to see the queen.  She also told me for days that she was "practicing her bowing" in case she gets to meet the Queen.  It was so cute to watch her excitement.  As we were standing in front of the palace, my dad says, "Let's get a family picture".  He doesn't know this, but my heart sank in that moment beacuse all I could think about was that this isn't a complete family picture...someone is missing.  I think that was the first time I had heard "let's get a family picture" since Jaylen's passing.  We took a lot of family pictures while we were in London and I wouldn't have wanted it any other way, but that again, is part of my "new normal".  Our family picture, my life, will never be complete again until we are all reunited.

 As the week went on in London, we had such a great time.  We walked a ton and the kids never complained.  It was pretty amazing.  The day before we left, we were walking through the park where Kensington Palace is (home to William and Kate).  It rains a lot in London and had that day.  The grass was wet and muddy.  As we were walking through the muddy grass, some mud splashed up onto the toe of my shoe.  I thought nothing of it and figured I would just wash my shoes when we got home.  As we got back and the mud had dried, I noticed that it had dried in the shape of a heart.  Coincidence?? Maybe...but in my mind and my hope, I feel as if Jaylen was telling me, "Mom, I am here. I am always here".  These are the moments that keep me going.  

As time has passed, the less I feel Jaylen close.  It can make life messy and confusing feeling so far away from him, but I know he is busy and "life goes on".  Life has to go on because this is a trial I was given and I have to face it.  I don't know why my son, Jaylen, was chosen to leave this earth before me, but I trust God. He must believe in me, along with Mike, Ian, and Kaia, enough to know that we could handle this and survive.  We are surviving...even if some days I want to crumble.  It's not the path I would have ever chosen for myself, but it was given to me so I'm doing my best.  One day I will stand before God, reunited with Jaylen and will have that answer, but until then, I am doing my best living this life without my beautiful baby.