Friday, October 29, 2010

The Bag

In 16 days, Erik will have been gone for 1 year. Unfortunately, I can remember that day like it was yesterday. The pain hurts just as bad today as it did back then. My heart is just as broken today as it was back then.

This coming Tuesday will be a year since we said goodbye to Papa. I can remember telling Erik about Papa being gone. In his sweet little voice, he just looked at me and said "so Papa is in heaven with Aunt Margaret?" (who passed away in August of last year). He just sat there for a moment and finally looked at me again and said "I sure am gonna miss him Mama". And then he hopped down off my bed and went back to playing. I would've never thought in a hundred billion years that 12 days after saying goodbye to Papa that I would also be saying goodbye to my son. I seen the inside of a funeral home more in those 2 weeks than any person should ever have to do. We planned Papa's funeral and then planned Erik's funeral in exactly the same way we did with Papa. They both had wooden caskets and were dressed to a T. I love God more than anything else in the world, but during those 2 weeks, I was questioning if he even existed. How could he possibly take Papa AND Erik from our family within 2 weeks? It still doesn't make any sense to me, but I know that He has some sort of plan. I just wish he would put it into effect sooner rather than later.

No parent should EVER have to bury their child. Parents are SUPPOSED to die before their children - of old age. I am devastated over the loss of Papa, but he has lived a long, long life. He had plenty of stories to tell about his very interesting life. He had had the chance to actually live! Erik, on the other hand, hadn't gotten the chance to live at all. He a very fulfilling 5 years, but I just know that he was going to be someone someday.

Anyway - to the point of this whole blog.

In the process of planning Erik's funeral, the subject of his hair came up. Before he died, he was trying to let it grow out so that he could start wearing it curly again. Erik was constantly watching me fix my hair in the mornings and he loved it when I would "fix" his like mine - meaning curly. Erik had a head full of beautiful hair. The funeral home called and asked what I wanted to do with his hair. I told them that I wanted to come fix it because nobody else could do it the way I could. They didn't think that that would be a very good idea. I agreed. I suggested that his hair be cut back short again, but that I only wanted the lady who has cut his hair all of his life do it. They agreed, but I had to get Mrs. Wanda to agree to it as well. Out of the kindness of her heart, she drove to Ware Shoals and cut my precious baby's hair one last time. In the whole process of this going on, I demanded that every single strand of his hair be saved for me. I had planned to pick it up a few days after burying him, but here I am almost 365 days later, I still haven't picked up the bag containing his beautiful hair. I know he's gone. He's been gone for 11 months and 14 days. I know he's not EVER coming back, but I just can't make myself drive up to the funeral home and pick up the last thing that I will ever have of him. I can't do it. Getting that bag will really make the fact that he's gone real. And I don't want it to be real. I need my boy back - more now than ever. He was my sunshine and could make me smile when nobody else could. The feel of his little arms around me was all I needed to make my day 100% better. A kiss from his little "fish" lips could always make everything better.

Here we are at Halloween again. I can see him now getting all dressed up in his chaps, cowboy boots and cowboy hat. I still have his hat and his boots, but he went to heaven ready to be the cowboy that he was here. I sometimes regret burying him in his chaps, but I know that they were his most favorite thing.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Papa


I've written many posts about the pain of losing a child. It hurts. It's awful and there have been times that I simply just wanted to die so I could be with my son again.

What I haven't written a lot about is losing my father in law a little over 2 weeks before Erik died. My husband had to experience the loss of his Dad as well as his first born child in a span of 2 weeks. I've seen my husband at his lowest points this last year. I've came home to find him crying. I've seen him after he's been crying for hours on end. I've seen him fall into depression and not want to do anything but sleep. I try to console him and tell him that it will be ok, but damn it, I really DON'T KNOW if it will ever be ok again. This coming Saturday will be one year since the last time I saw "Papa" alive. I had taken the kids over to show him their Halloween costumes. He was so excited to see them. I can remember how his face always lit up when his grandbabies walked in the door. He loved them like they were his own and would've done anything for us and for them. He was one of the greatest men that I've ever had the pleasure of knowing. I miss him dearly, but I know that he and Erik are having a ball!!

Kyle and I have been dating for a little over 7 years. When we first got together, I remember going to his house and walking in the door to hear Papa say "damn girl, are you gonna get any taller" and then he laughed. Even through all of mine and Kyle's hard times, Papa never chose a side. His concern was always on our children. He was there for all of Erik's birthday parties - whether it was a swimming party, "pasture" party, or the party at the farm. He didn't miss them. He even walked close to a mile to get to the girls first birthday party at the park. Nothing was going to keep him from celebrating their life!

Kyle and I are trying our best to keep his memory alive since the girls were so young when he passed away. The girls recognize him in pictures and still say "Papa's house" when we ride by what is know Kent's house. He was a great man and I just wish my girls would've had the chance to know him like everyone else did.

RIP Papa (6/23/09 - 11/3/09)


Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A New Decade - July 27, 2010

It's hard to believe that I'll be 30 years old this time next week. I can remember when I was a teenager and thought that 30 year olds were OLD! Back then, I could've never imagined my life would be where it is today. I always imagined that I would be the unwed mother to about 5 kids lol. Not that I was planning to sleep around or anything, I just didn't want a husband. I knew I didn't want any kids before I turned 30 because I had planned to spend my twenties partying it up and causing trouble. But I guess the saying to tell God your plans and watch him laugh is true!

I was 23 years old when I REALLY fell in love for the first time. I was head over heels in love with a boy that caught my heart 10 years before. He never acknowledged me back then, but somehow or another always found his way to me when he wasn't attached.

I was 23 years old when I got pregnant with my sweet Erik. I had never in my life experienced so many emotions at one time. I was scared to death - not only of being pregnant, but telling my family I was pregnant and had only been in a relationship for 4 short months. I was in love with someone I hadn't even met yet. I was nervous, excited, worried, giddy, happy, sad, mad, and crazy!!!! Kyle and I decided that this was God's plan for us and we took the next step and moved in together. I didn't tell me family I was pregnant for another 3 months. And it only came out then because my oldest sister was preggo at the same time and I was tired of hearing all of her "baby stories" - jealous, yeah, I know. 7 months later on September 1, 2004 at 9:55 p.m., I welcomed the most beautiful baby that I had ever seen into the world. I was so grateful that he was healthy and finally out of me!!! I swore that night that I was NEVER going to be pregnant again. Me and pregnancy did not get along very well.

2 years later, my baby boy was no longer a "mama's boy" and wanted to spend most of his time with his Daddy - who he looked up to big time! So, I, got the itch for another baby. I call it temporary insanity, others call it the "baby itch". Kyle and I actually made plans to start trying for a baby soon after that. I don't think he was ready for another, but he knew not to argue with me or deny me. Month after month of nothing, I decided that it wasn't meant to be for us to have another baby, so we quit "trying". Which I believe was another "sign" because a couple of months later, my marriage almost fell apart. I took Erik and we moved into our own apartment in Greenwood. We were happy, but I knew Erik missed his Daddy and I still had this longing for another child. Somehow or another, Kyle and I managed to work out our differences and he moved in with us in August. By September, I was pregnant, I just didn't know it yet.

Come the end of August, we were doing some birthday shopping for Erik's 3rd bday party. We were in Walmart and my Mom asked Erik what he wanted for his bday and he said "a baby brother and a baby sister". I about fainted. I told him that he could give that idea up because we couldn't give him that. On September 9, just a week or two after Erik made his request, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, I was pregnant. I can remember being in the bathroom and peeing on the stick with Erik looking on so curiously. He wanted to know every single detail of what I was doing and why I was doing it. When the 2 little lines showed up, I told him to run into the bedroom where Kyle was and tell him that he was going to be a big brother. I don't think Kyle was quite as thrilled as we were. And so began our journey of becoming a family of 4... or so we thought.

Fast forward to Thanksgiving, 2007. I had made plans to cook my first Thanksgiving meal for my family. In the midst of peeling potatoes for the potato salad, I had a very strange feeling. 2 seconds later, I was gushing blood everywhere. I ran into the bathroom and screamed for Kyle. He immediately called my mom and told her to hurry down to our house because we needed to head to the ER. Kyle and I sat in the bathroom and just cried because we just knew that I was losing our baby. Erik being the loving child that he was, came in the bathroom and made sure I was ok. A lot of time spent in the ER and a completely ruined Thanksgiving meal and we were headed back home with the news of not only were we not miscarrying, but we were gonna be blessed with twins. WOW!

A very rough 23 weeks later and I was being induced. I had reached my maximum stretching capabilities and Kaitlyn was not going to wait another day longer to be born. I couldn't walk, I couldn't eat, I couldn't do anything but cry! On May 1, 2008, we welcomed Kaitlyn into the world at 9:49 p.m. Almost 30 minutes later, her much smaller sister, Sienna came into the world screaming at 10:16 p.m. They were both very healthy and I was very happy to not be pregnant anymore!

I would tell you a little about the next few months, but honestly, it was all a blur!!! I can remember lots of diapers, lots of bottles, and not near enough sleep. Kaitlyn and Sienna are now 2 very healthy and happy little girls though. And that's all that matters.

18 months later and my world literally came crashing down around me. Everything I knew about happiness was crushed. Everything I knew about love diminished. Everything I knew to be my future was a distant memory. My first born child lost his life in a freak 4 wheeler accident on the afternoon of November 15, 2009. My life will never be the same again. I pretty much remember going through the next few months in a complete blur. I did what I had to do as a mother to twins, but that was about it. I dropped out of school because I couldn’t concentrate on anything for an extended amount of time. Adjusting to life without part of my heart wasn’t going to be easy.

Kyle and I decided that the best way to cope with Erik’s death was to have a place of our own and begin again. We moved out of my mom’s house and into our own little home. We brought most of Erik’s things with us and have semi – memorialized them in some way. Our computer/play room houses the majority of his stuff – signs from his room, 4 wheeler helmet, poster the kids at school made him, school work he did in his short span of kindergarten, his back pack from school, Christmas ornaments that are in some way a tribute to him, and many, many other things. At the end of our hallway is a shelf with all of his favorite things. At first, we didn’t want anyone touching that stuff, but that’s a lot easier said than done when 2 two year old’s have access to it. We have pictures of Erik all around our house – just small reminders that even though his body isn’t here on this Earth, his spirit will live on no matter where we are.

And now on to present day. I feel like I have grown more in the last 8.5 months than I had in the last 29 years. My life isn’t anywhere near the path that I wanted to be on, but it’s the path that was chosen for me and I’m ok with that. I miss my boy dearly – with every single breath I take, I think of him and wish that that part of my life could be different.

This weekend I will be going to get a tattoo just for Erik and I can’t wait. So, as I embark on a new decade, I look forward to the many things that God has in store for me. Here’s to my 30’s – may they be A LOT better than my 20’s!!!!

6 months - May 14, 2010

It's been 6 months since part of my heart was ripped out of my chest.

It's been 6 months since Erik last told me he loved me.

It's been 6 months since the last time I seen his big ole' brown eyes.

It's been 6 months since I experienced pure hell.

I heard so many times that "the pain will never go away, but it will get easier to deal with". I'm still waiting on the easier part to come. Nothing about losing my sweet boy has been easy.

I've somehow managed to not let losing Erik consume every single second of every single day, but it's still not easy not having him here with me. It's not easy going to places and realizing that the last time I was there was when Erik was with me. It's not easy when his name comes up in a conversation. It's not easy when I go watch Jake play ball. It's not easy watching my girls play and wondering why God had to take Erik from me. It's not easy listening to Big Green Tractor, but when I hear it, I turn it up and sing at the top of my lungs. It's not easy watching my nieces and nephews play together and seeing how different they are now. It's not easy seeing 6 year old boys. It's not easy when Kaitlyn and Sienna get in a mood when all they wanna talk about is their bubba. It's not easy thinking about all the things that will never be.

Nothing about losing a child is ever gonna become easy.

I miss Erik as much today as I did the second I knew he was gone. And even though I know that he's in heaven, I still worry about whether he's ok or not.

So as tomorrow comes and goes, I will try my best to remember all the good times that Erik and I had. Lord knows that we had more than a lifetime of fun together.

6 - March 31, 2010

Tomorrow my nephew turns 6. 5 months from tomorrow, my baby would've been six. 1 month from tomorrow my baby girls will be 2. Tomorrow is going to be rough. No doubt about it. I am in no way prepared for it. I saw my nephew at my Mom's this afternoon and when I mentioned tomorrow being his bday, I had to leave because I got all choked up. I love this little boy like my own child, but it just isn't fair that he gets to be 6.

Since we never found a needy family for Erik's Christmas stuff, I'm going to give Jake the skateboard that we had for Erik. Jake got one for Christmas, but it got run over and they haven't been able to find him another. I just hope I can make it through the bday party on Saturday long enough to see his face when he opens it.

Anyway.
Erik and Jake
Best buds at Erik's 5th bday party

7 Pounds - March 22, 2010

I'm going to apologize in advance, because if you read this, you're gonna think I have gone completely insane!

I'll keep this short because I'm exhausted and I honestly can't cry anymore. Up until 3 days ago, I was a subscriber to Netflix. I canceled our membership when I got the notification that I had sent a movie back that I then realized, I never watched. Couldn't justify spending the $$ every month and not watching the movies. Anyway. I check the mail on Saturday (one day after canceling our membership) to find a new movie from Netflix. I was confused because I knew I got the notification that I had indeed canceled the membership. I pulled the movie out tonight and made Kyle watch it tonight. I had heard of Seven Pounds and knew that it was a good movie, but I didn't really know what it was about.

We started watching it and a good hour into the movie, Kyle and I were completely confused. He told me to turn it off several times because it was "dumb". I told him to keep watching because it had Will Smith in it and I was pretty sure he wasn't going to make a "dumb" movie. So, we kept watching.

It wasn't until the very end when I realized that "Ben's" plan all along was to commit suicide and save other people. I knew that he had watched Ezra who was blind and slowly fell for Emily, who needed a heart. I didn't put it all together though.

At the very end when he sit in the tub and lets a jellyfish attack him, I was heartbroken. Then I realized what his plan was all along. I sat there in tears when Ezra got his eyes and Emily got her heart.

Doesn't mean much to you huh? Well, let me put it to you like this. Ben was Erik. No, Erik didn't commit suicide, but he gave eyes to a blind person and a heart to someone who needed one.

Now, what are the chances that I cancel my Netflix membership and still get THIS movie in the mail? What are the chances?????????????

Erik Quarles - you are still as sneaky as ever. I love you always and forever!

4 months - March 14, 2010

Saturday night, Kyle and I (and the girls) went out to eat at Red Lobster. We were sitting there waiting on our table and 2 couples sat down beside us. The girls were being their typical entertaining selves and one of the older ladies asked Sienna what her name was. And of course, like always, she replied Erik. I corrected her, but she kept saying Erik. I told the lady her name was Sienna. She then asked Kaitlyn, and Kaitlyn too replied Erik. I told the lady her correct name. The lady then asked who Erik was. I felt a panic attack coming on. I told her that Erik was their brother. She asked how old he was. I said 5. She turned away. I was relieved. For a moment. Sienna then got my phone out of the bag and was babbling on and on about whatever and the lady noticed. She asked if she was talking to Erik. Sienna said yes. Luckily at that moment our table got called. I think that was God's way of helping us avoid the "well where is Erik" question. I probably would've lost it right then and there had the question came up. Here I am answering all these questions like Erik is spending the night at Grandma's or something. Which I was quite content with. I have been wondering all day how I would've answered had she asked that "question" and to be honest, I probably would've answered the same way Kaitlyn and Sienna do when we ask them where Erik is. He is at home.

On this day, 4 months ago, my baby boy went home. On this day, 4 months ago, half of my heart broke into a million tiny pieces that will NEVER be put together again.

I heard a song on the radio the other day; one that I've heard a million times before, I've even sang along to it and cried. Little did I know that this same song would have a real meaning on this day, 4 months ago.

The song is by Kenny Chesney. The name of the song is Who You'd Be Today. Here's the chorus...

Sunny Days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
I feel you every where I go
I see your smile, I see your face
I hear you laughing in the rain
Still can't believe you're gone
It ain't fair, you died too young
Like a story that had just begun,
but death, tore the pages all away
God knows how I miss you
All the hell that I been through
Just knowing that no one could take your place
Sometimes I wonder, who you'd be today....

....Sunny days seem to hurt the most
I wear the pain like a heavy coat
The only thing that gives me hope
Is I know, I'll see you again someday.


These past 4 months have definitely been the hardest of my ENTIRE life. I keep trying to tell myself that there is no way it can get any worse, but lately, I'm really beginning to wonder. Baseball season has started and it hurts SO BAD that my boy isn't suited up and getting ready to play. That child absolutely loved baseball. I can't remember a day last summer that he wasn't dressed in his sliding shorts, baseball pants, and cleats. He had worn a spot in my Mama's yard where he and the other boys had slid into home so many times. There were days that I could've sworn that Erik could've filled a sand box with all the dirt in his clothes. His goal was to get as dirty and as nasty as possible. He did a pretty good job of that. It's gonna be so hard going to my Mama's house when it warms up and going swimming and not having Erik there swimming with me. He was a great swimmer. I can remember him being terrified of the pool at the beginning of the summer last year and being like a pro by the end of the summer. He was swimming in the deep water, going under, and being like a little fish. And even though it was summer and extremely hot most days, Erik still had to get fully dressed and "work". He would put on a shirt, usually long sleeved, long pants and those cowboy boots. He had to have a hat too. And depending on what kind of "work" he was gonna be doing, he had to have tools. Just like his Daddy. There is a huge gash in one of the trees at my Mom's house where Erik was constantly trying to saw it down. I'll have to remember the next time I'm there to take a picture of it. It's quite impressive for a small kid who was 4 at the time most of the sawing took place.

On tonight's episode of Extreme Makeover, Home Edition, a family had a very sick son who had recently had a heart implant. The whole show talked about how important it is to become a donor. In that instant, I was proud of Erik (and myself and Kyle) for making the decision to donate Erik's organs. One of the ladies speaking at the end of the show talked about how one family's sacrifice saved her life. My heart smiled.

Tonight as I type this Note, I'm thinking of all the things that I would say to Erik if I could have just one more day with him. I would apologize for all the fussing. I would tell him how beautiful he is. I would buy him anything in the world that he asked for. I would kiss his lips a million times, but most of all I would look into those big beautiful brown eyes and just tell him that I loved him over and over again. It doesn't seem like it's been 4 months, but at the same time, I feel like it's been forever. I miss him more than these words could ever express and I love him more than he ever knew. He was my heart, my soul, my little buddy, my cowboy and my scooter (that's what I always called him "scooter"). I yearn for the day that we're together again and can't wait to hold him in my arms, but until that day, I will hold him in my heart and smile when I think of him.

Bothersome

I've come to realize that not only did I lose the most precious thing ever given to me in November, I also lost what I thought were some great friends. Nothing like being used and then forgotten about when you need friends the most.

Thankfully, I've had some even better friends come into my life since Erik died and I am so grateful for them.

Ok - that is all for now...

Proud - March 6, 2010

Yesterday as I was opening the mail, I came across a package. I opened it to find a gold medal from LifePoint - the organization that harvests organs from people who have died.

When Erik died, we opted to donate whatever could be used. Since he was so young, the only things that could be used were his corneas and his 4 heart valves.

Getting that medal in the mail made me even more proud that Erik was my son. I would much rather have him here in my arms, but since I can't, knowing that other people, possibly kids have been helped brings me peace.

Rest in Peace sweet angel - Mama continues to be proud of you every single day!

Snow Day - February 13, 2010

After I posted that last note, I got to thinking about how selfish I sounded. I honestly didn’t mean to sound so selfish because I truly am grateful for the 5 wonderful years that I had with Erik. He made my life worth living and I gained so much from him.

I know that there are a lot of parents who have said that having a kid “saved” their life, but when I say that Erik saved mine, I mean that. Before I got pregnant with Erik, I was on a very destructive path. I was going out every single night and basically drinking my life away. The 12 or so months before I got pregnant with Erik are almost a complete blur. When I got pregnant with Erik, I vowed to be the best mother that I could be to him and do whatever it took to give him a good life. I think I made good on that promise. It wasn’t always easy. It wasn’t always fun and games, but I loved every single second that I had with him. Even down to those seconds we spent arguing and fighting about what clothes he was going to wear to school or whether or not he was going to brush his teeth before going to bed (I always won that argument btw!) Erik was a total joy. He was opinionated, determined, and the most loving child I’ve ever known. He may have been slow to warm up to new people, but once he got to know you, he loved you and more than likely, you fell in love with him.

Anyway. With all the beautiful snow that we’ve had in the last 2 days, I can’t help but thinking how much fun Erik would’ve had. He never got to experience real snow like we just had. He never had the chance to go out and play for hours and build a snow man, or ride a sled or eat snowcream. The first time it snowed when he was alive, he was too little to do anything but look at it. The second time (which was March 1, 2009), it turned to ice the next day and wasn’t worth playing in. He would’ve had a ball playing in the snow with us. As we were out riding dirt roads last night, I could hear him laughing in the back seat at the doughnuts that Kyle and Big D were doing. I can hear him telling Kyle to do it again. I could hear his little country voice telling Kyle to get in that mud hole one more time. We went over to a friend of ours this morning so that he could pull the kayak behind the 4 wheeler. I instantly thought of Erik going crazy on his 4 wheeler just to see how bad he could mess up the snow. I could see him taking off through the snow and just eating up every single second of it. I imagine that he would’ve played so hard by now that taking a nap would’ve been his idea – or maybe he would still be begging Kyle to play in the little bit that’s left. Either way, I know that he would’ve loved to experience real snow.
Racing season has started up again too and I’m really gonna miss hearing Erik and Kyle go on and on about Jimmie Johnson. Erik was obsessed just because Kyle was. He never sat down to watch a race, but he would always ask who won. He ragged me about not liking Jimmie Johnson and loved rubbing it in my face when JJ won. Which was quite often!

I didn’t really have a point in writing this note other than to talk about my boy a little more. I miss him like crazy and it seems like my computer is the only “thing” I can really talk to him about without getting looks of pity.

Continue loving your kids for me and if they wanna go out and play in the snow “just one last time”, take them! (if just for me! – I promise you won’t regret it!)

What Never Was

I've tried my best to look back on all the good times that I had with Erik and all the experiences that I shared with him. He truely was a very blessed child. He got to do things in his 5 short years that most kids never experience. He got to go to places and do things that most grown ups never have the chance to do. We made sure that he got to do those things - never thinking that fateful day would ever happen, but just because we wanted him to have a fun life.

I honestly do have peace knowing that I got 5 wonderful years with Erik, but deep down, a part of me really is sad that I will never get to experience a lot of firsts with my baby boy.

Erik never learned to tie his shoes. He always had on velcro tennis shoes or those dang cowboy boots. At Erik's last visit to the dentist, we were informed that he was about to have his first loose tooth. I never got to keep one of perfect little white teeth. I'll never be able to give my son "the talk". Or be pissed at him for breaking curfew. Or witness his first kiss with some little girl as I'm waiting to pick him up in line at school. I'll never meet his first girlfriend. I'll never sit in awe as I watch my son graduate from high school. I'll never see him throw another baseball or swing another golf club or shoot another jump shot. I'll never get a call from school saying that he got caught skipping school that day. I never even got to see my 5 year old baby accept an award at Award's Day. I'll never be able to sit down with him and apply for different colleges. He'll never be a college graduate.

I'll never be able to sit in a crowded church and watch the look on my son's face as his beautiful bride walks down the aisle. I'll never hold Erik's first born child. There will be no children to carry on our family name.

You see, as a mother, you want certain things for your child. All I wanted for Erik was for him to be happy, healthy, well - rounded and successful at whatever he wanted from his life. I can honestly say that I got to see him achieve all of those qualities at the young age of 5. He was by far the happiest kid on earth. He was beyond healthy - a little skinny, but he was healthy. He was very well - rounded and I made sure that he never failed at anything he attempted. I made sure he understood that it was not ok to just give up. I instilled in him the value of try and try again. I made sure that he knew that I supported him no matter what. We didn't always agree on everything and to be quite honest, we fought like cats and dogs, but that's what made me love him so much more. He was just like me. Stubborn and determined.

I really don't know where I'm going with this note. But I had just been thinking about all these things for a couple of days now and just decided to put them here.

I withdrew from school so that I could grieve my son properly without having to hold back tears whenver I thought of him. I wanted to be able to look at his picture and cry for hours if I needed to. Or just to be able to say his name over and over and over again and just be able to do that. But in the midst of quitting school, I've done the one thing that I always made Erik promise he would never do. I quit. I gave up. I threw in the towel. In some ways, I feel like I have let Erik down. If I would've known that he would have died on November 15, 2009, I would've never went back to school. I would've soaked up every single second I had with him. I would've read him 100 books like the other mothers of kindergarten students were doing. I would've let him stay up 10 more minutes because I wouldn't have needed to start studying as soon as he was in bed. I would've let him have little debbie cakes for breakfast every morning - hell, every meal of the day if that's what he would've wanted. I would've let him wear his cowboy boots to school on PE day, because he could run and play just as well in those as he could in tennis shoes.

There are just so many things that I wish I could change about the past year. There were times that I thought Facebooking was more important than getting in the floor with my own damn kids. I've put Erik on the back burner before so I could reply to a freakin' text message. I hate myself for that. I hate myself for shooing Erik away when he would wake me up at 7 in the morning during the summer. I hate myself for not going swimming with him every single time he jumped in my mom's pool. I hate myself for not just making my marriage work for my kids because those weekends I lost will never be gotten back. I lost so much time with Erik. Hell, who knows, if Kyle and I had not separated that last time, I probably could've kissed my baby good bye or prevented the accident in the first place. I hate myself for that.

I'm sure most of you reading this think that I've jumped off the deep end. Maybe I have. But the one thing I don't need from anybody reading this is to tell me I'm a great mother. I already know that. Since day 1, my kids have came first. My kids define who I am. I live my life because they depend on me. I don't need any of you telling me that I need to talk to a counselor or a psychiatrist or whatever. What I need is my son. Nobody can put things in perspective for me. Nobody can make me understand why God had to take my baby on that Sunday afternoon. I don't care that God needed a very special angel. I need Erik here with me. I need his sweet little arms around my neck. I need to hear his voice again. I need to see the sparkle in his big brown eyes. I need to smell him. I need to touch him and I need to tell him I love him.

Ok. I'm done for tonight. Sorry if I just rambled, but I cried hard enough typing all this out, I can't bring myself to read over it for errors.

My Sweet Angel

Some of you know Erik personally. Some of you don't. Nobody knew Erik like I did though. So, this is what this little note is for. To tell you all about my little boy.

To this day, I can remember the exact second that I got pregnant with Erik. I can remember Kyle looking at me and saying "you better take good care of my baby". We still laugh about that. Because of Erik, I can no longer eat skittles. Being pregnant really sank in for me when I threw up a whole bag of skittles at work one day. I remember being too terrified to tell anyone in my family that I was pregnant. So terrified in fact, that Kyle and I took a vacation 4 hours from home with the sole purpose of taking a pregnancy test! Crazy, yes I know! I can remember peeing on the stick. It was just before midnight on New Year's Eve 2004. Kyle was asleep and I decided to sneak into the bathroom to do it. I was so nervous, that I missed the entire stick!!! I cried out to Kyle and told him that I couldn't even pee on a stick, how was I going to take care of a baby. We laid back down and fell asleep. I woke up again at 3 a.m. and sure enough, there were 2 pink lines! It was at that second, my life changed forever. The ironic part is that the next morning, my Mom called just to tell me about the crazy dream she had had the night before. She dreamt that I had just given birth to the most beautiful baby girl with the fullest head of curly black hair she had ever seen. I about fainted! Keep in mind that it was another 3 months before she even knew I was preggo! I can remember being at Broadway at The Beach and calling Heather to tell her my wonderful news. She was so excited for me!

My pregnancy with Erik was rough, to say the least. I was sick as a dog and had no energy. I gained weight like I was eating for 4 instead of 2. The roughest part came in May when I started having contractions. I had been told many years before that I would never be able to carry a baby to full term, so when those contractions started at 20 weeks, I prepared myself for the worst. Luckily, a constant drip of terbutaline and monitoring twice a day kept the little booger inside of me 3 days shy of his due date.

I went into labor at 9:22 p.m. after a 3 hour walkathon around Wal-Mart. No sooner than we got home & put the groceries away, my contractions started. Nothing regular, but enough to alert me. I went on to bed only to be awoken around 4 a.m. with the worst pain ever. I got up and went to the bathroom and the "show" had started. lol. I told Kyle that he wouldn't be going to work that day because I was going be having our baby. I called my sister and then my doctor who told me to come on in to the hospital. I showered and even managed to straighten my hair before walking out the door. We got to the hospital around 8 a.m. and sure enough I was in labor and dilated to 3 cm. We got checked in and got the ball rolling on having a baby. Around 9 p.m., it was time to push. I told Kyle and the doctors that I would be holding my little boy before 10 p.m. The doctor told me not to get my hopes up. Low and behold at 9:55 p.m. my little angel came into the world screaming his little head off! He was by far THE most beautiful baby I had ever seen. He was simply perfect!

The next year flew by. Erik said his first word at 9 months, and no I’m not talking “mama” or “dada”, he said tractor! Our preacher was there to witness it! He was walking by 10 months and running by 10 months, 1 day (not really, but close!). I could tell that Erik was extremely intelligent before his 1st bday. He caught on real quick and was so independent that it drove me insane. He was supposed to be my baby, but here is this toddler wanting to do everything all by himself. We celebrated his 1st bday with a swimming party at my mom’s. Erik had a blast. He had cake from the top of his head down his diaper and everywhere in between. I can see that day just like it happened yesterday.

The next few years went by even quicker than the first year. Before I knew it, Erik had his 2nd bday party, then his 3rd bday. I will always remember that 3rd bday. That’s the bday he asked for 2 baby sisters!!!! (And keep in mind; this is before we knew we were preggo, let alone having twins). We had his party at our old pasture – we called it a tractor party. He had a bday cake shaped like a cow and we even managed to get close enough to our real cows to take some pictures. Everyone got to ride on the tractor. We had a wonderful time! 9 days later, I took a pregnancy test and discovered that Erik was going to be getting a baby brother or sister after all. I can remember Erik standing in the bathroom with me while I pee’d on that little bitty stick once again. He asked me what I was doing and when I told him that I was seeing if Mommy had a baby in her belly, his little face just lit up. He was beyond excited and took it upon himself to tell Kyle our exciting news. It never failed that each and every time someone would ask him what was in my belly, he would say, a baby sister AND a baby brother. He always made sure everyone heard that “and” part. I guess I should’ve paid more attention myself because 3 months later, the “and” part was confirmed! Erik loved talking to my belly and rubbing my belly. He talked to his sisters through my belly button. It was the sweetest thing. He told them how much he loved them and that they were going to sleep with him when they were born. He begged them to come out and couldn’t understand why he had to wait so long to meet them. I started having trouble with the girls around 21 weeks (sound familiar???). I was in and out of the hospital too many times and finally in February, I got put out of work. My heart was broken when my doctor told me that I couldn’t lift anything heavier than 5 pounds. How could I go 20 more weeks without picking up my little boy?! My many trips in and out of the hospital had Erik terrified of hospitals. He thought that every time I had to go for testing that I was going to have to stay the night. I remember when I was there for 3 nights. Erik cried every single time he had to leave me there. He begged to stay and got mad when Kyle and I told him he couldn’t. He would bring me breakfast every morning before school and even managed to talk Kyle into buying a gift shop bear so that I wouldn’t be alone. When the girls were finally born, Erik was the proudest big brother I had ever seen. He told everyone that they were HIS babies and didn’t mind introducing them to anyone that was looking our way. He loved holding them, feeding them and was quite interested in trying to change a diaper – until they were dirty anyway. Then he went on and on about how bad they smelled. He truly was a wonderful big brother. He would get in the floor with them and attempt to play with them, only to get frustrated when they wouldn’t play back. He loved laying with them and talking to them.

Another year passed by and everyone has really grown up. My little boy was getting ready for his first day of kindergarten. He was thrilled. Me? Not so much. Taking my little boy into school was rougher on me than it was on Erik. He walked into that school like he had been doing it for years! He sat right down and immediately started talking to the girl sitting beside him. I cried simply because I knew my little boy wasn’t so little anymore. After those first 2 days of school, I swear I thought Erik was going to get kicked out. He had 2 bad days the first week, but after that he never had another bad day. This proved to me that I had done a good job raising him. By now, the girls are 16 months old and Erik is turning 5. It was around this time that Erik decided that he wanted to grow up to be a bull rider. I cringed at the thought of my little boy climbing on the back of a 1200 pound beast and hanging on for 8 seconds. I tried my best to talk him into a career in baseball or basketball, but he wouldn’t budge on the idea of being a bull rider one day. I finally decided to support him – only in hopes that he would eventually come around and decide to do something else. We had his 5th bday party at my cousin’s farm and Erik was in heaven! He got to play on tractors, ride horses, run around and do whatever he wanted to do. The sparkle in his eyes let me know that it was THE best bday party he had ever had. I couldn’t have been happier to see him so happy. Erik was doing very well in school and would come home every day with something new and exciting to tell me. He had began making a life long list of friends and was well on his way of being the well rounded little man that I had always wanted him to be.

September rolled on around and then we were in October. While other kids were picking out costumes of Spiderman, Batman, Vampires and everything else that was available, my boy was telling me that I didn’t need to spend money on him a costume because his Uncle Kent already had gotten him a bull rider costume. So that’s what he was for Halloween. A bull rider. Not a cowboy, which is what a lot of people thought, but a bull rider. He didn’t feel too good Halloween night and everyone could tell it. He was ready to go home after an hour or so of trick or treating. I didn’t argue! We made our usual stops at my grandparents and then at Kyle’s house. Little did I know that Halloween would be the last time we would see Papa alive. He died the following Tuesday. I can remember sitting Erik on the side of my bed to tell him. He didn’t cry. He just turned to look at me and with the biggest, most beautiful brown eyes; he looked at me and said, “so Papa is up there with Aunt Margaret?” I simply answered yes. Aunt Margaret died last year. Papa’s funeral came and went. That was an extremely rough week. Erik begged to spend the night with Kyle the Friday night after Papa’s funeral. I didn’t think Kyle would let him, but sure enough Kyle let him stay. There’s one thing about Erik that nobody could deny – he loved his daddy with ALL of his heart. He wanted to be just like Kyle.

This brings me to the most recent past. The weekend that completely turned my life upside down. Kyle decided to keep all 3 kids for the weekend so that I could finally get some rest. I had to stay at the hospital with my mom on Friday night because she had just had surgery that morning. I talked to Erik that night on the phone and told him that I loved him and to be sweet and that I would see him on Saturday. When we got home from the hospital, I called Kyle and told him to bring the kids over later. After all of them left that night, Erik called me and asked would I bring him some shorts over because he didn’t have any. The child couldn’t just sleep in his underwear; he had to have something on top of them. Kyle told me that I didn’t have to bring shorts over if I didn’t want to, but like always, I told him that I would do anything for my kids and I meant it. I took Erik his shorts and he jumped up and gave me the biggest, tightest hug he had ever given me. He showed me his new tractor that he had gotten at Wal-Mart earlier in the day. He thanked me for bringing his shorts and told me more than twice that he loved me as big as the sky. Kyle walked me out on the porch and told me that Erik had been crying on the way home and when he asked why, Erik simply said “I want you and Mama to get back together for Christmas”. I just shook my head and told Kyle that I was sorry that I would have to disappoint my baby, but us getting back together wasn’t going to happen. Kyle hung his head and walked back into the house. I left and honestly didn’t think another thing about it. Kyle called me the next morning to see if I would come get the girls because he wasn’t feeling well. He said that Kent had agreed to let Erik hang out with him so he could keep playing. I went and picked up the girls and as soon as I got out of my car, Erik jumped out from behind the tractor and scared the piss out of me. I scooped him up and gave him another big hug and told him that I missed him so much and wanted him to come home with me and the girls. He told me that he wanted to keep playing. I didn’t argue with him because I knew he was having a good time. He walked in the house with me so that he could tell Kyle he wanted to ride his 4 wheeler. He didn’t even give Kyle a chance to answer and out the door he went, with his helmet in tow. Once I got all their stuff together, I walked back outside to see him sitting on his 4 wheeler waiting on Kyle to start it. He already had his helmet on. I told him that I needed a hug and a kiss before I left. When I seen what a hard time he was having getting his helmet off, I told him that I would just kiss his hand instead. I told him I loved him and to be careful and that I would see him around suppertime. I never thought in a million years that that instant would be the last time I would ever see his beautiful brown eyes again.

I got the girls home and we played for a while and then I laid them down for a nap. I started on my usual list of Sunday chores – washing clothes! The girls woke up around 1:30 and I got them some lunch and then we played. Our Sunday company came by and like always, I had left my phone in the bedroom charging. The next thing I know, Kent is pulling in the driveway like a maniac and he and Kyle are running to the door saying that we have to go because Erik has been in a bad 4 wheeler wreck and that he is being air lifted to the hospital. We take off towards Greenville. That 45 minute drive was by far the longest of my life – up until that point anyway. I start calling and texting as many people as I can think of telling them what’s going on and to start praying. I text Heather and tell her to meet me at the hospital because I knew that I was going to need her support. Me, Kyle and Kent get to the hospital about 2 minutes after Heather did. I go flying through the doors of the ER only to find that my little boy hasn’t made it there yet. The lady says that it’s not abnormal for people in cars to beat the helicopter to the hospital. That was the biggest bunch of bull I’ve ever heard. She tells us to have a seat and that as soon as he arrives, she’ll let us know. We hadn’t been sitting there for 2 minutes when Kyle gets a call from his uncle saying that Erik had in fact been taken to the hospital in Greenwood – which is only 20 minutes from my house, but an hour and a half from where we were. I was IRATE!!!!! We begin the long drive to the other hospital. Now this drive is really taking forever. It was literally the longest drive of my life. And that’s with Heather going 90+ mph. Kyle finally got a call from the flight nurse telling him what was going on. They gave him the number for the hospital and he called to see if he could get any information at all. Turns out that one of his best friends from high school married a girl who works in the ER. She knows Kyle and I well. He spoke with her on the phone only to find out that we REALLY needed to hurry to the hospital because Erik was in bad shape. I had to hear what she had to say for myself, so I called. She told me the same thing. It was in that instant that I knew my baby boy was gone. Heather begged me to stay optimistic, but my motherly instinct kicked in and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to tell my baby goodbye.

We finally got to the hospital and were escorted into a room so that the doctor could talk with us. He started talking and all I heard was blah, blah, blah. I knew he was trying to sugarcoat what he was trying to say and I didn’t want to hear any of it. I just wanted to find my baby and hold him in my arms. I blatantly asked the doctor if Erik was dead and when he didn’t answer me, I cussed him out and blew out the door calling for Erik. The nurse grabbed me and took me to him. What I saw will forever be etched in my mind. There was my perfectly sweet little angel laying on a cold ER table with wires and tubes and bandages all over him. He was still and cold. I begged him to wake up and begged and begged and begged. I kissed his face in hopes that my breath would revive him. Nothing I done worked. My baby was gone. I fell to the floor and just screamed. I yelled at God and demanded a reason why he had to take my child. My first born son. My heart. My everything. When I was able to stand again, I just held Erik. They still had the neck brace on him and he was still laying on a body board. They weren’t able to remove the tubes from his mouth because the coroner hadn’t come yet. He had bandages on his sides where the surgeon had tried to insert a chest tube to help him breathe. His hands and face were triple their normal size. He didn’t look anything like himself. I couldn’t bare the thought of leaving him in that cold room alone, but we had a crowd of people waiting outside to hear what was going on. They all knew as soon as I walked through the doors into the waiting room. I cried harder than I ever thought possible. Was this real? Was this really happening to ME? Had a just told my family that their grandson and nephew was dead? I made my way outside to try and get some air. I fell to the ground and immediately I felt sick. I think I dry heaved for 10 minutes before I finally realized that nothing was coming up. I had to make the dreaded phone call to my sister and mother who were patiently waiting at home to hear what was going on. My sister just screamed into the phone and I could hear my mom doing the same.

To be continued...

January 17, 2010

I've been debating doing this for a long time now. I think have finally moved onto the actual "grieving" stage if there are such things as stages after the loss of someone whom you love so deeply.

You're probably wanting to know why I'm sharing this on Facebook. It's simple actually, for me, anyway. Kyle is very detached. He only wants to talk about the memories we have of Erik. He doesn't like talking about what could've been or what would've been. My mom can't even hear Erik's name without breaking down. My grandparents, who have also lost a child, can't talk about Erik either. Everyone else seems to be too busy with their own lives to worry about what's still going on in mine. They say otherwise, but their actions go right along with what I've said. Yes, all of you have said that you are here if I need you, but each and every one of you know that I'm not one to seek out help even when I need it the most. That's just not my style. So that is why I've chosen to do it this way. I can talk and talk and talk and talk and nobody has to listen really. Read, sure, but nobody has to see the emotions and pain that is still so raw that it hurts more than you can EVER imagine.

Ok, here goes. Grab your box of Kleenex and hold on!

As strange as it sounds, starting back to school last week has been the hardest thing I've had to do since losing Erik. Thanksgiving and Christmas were hard, but for some reason - being back at school has been twice as hard. I think it has a lot to do with being back in a "normal" routine and not having Erik as part of that routine. It feels really strange to get the girls up and ready for school and not be getting him ready too. I miss all of our morning fights about what he was gonna wear to school or eat for breakfast. He really was a pain in the ass when it came to school mornings.

On my 2nd day of school, I had to tell my classmates a little about myself. I knew that I was going to have to do this - I prepared myself for it. Or so I thought. The second I said I have 3 kids, I lost it. Yes, I still have 3 kids, but then to follow that sentence with "1 of which is now in Heaven" is what hit home. My sweet little boy should still be here with me!!!! I NEED HIM HERE!!!!

I've been moving small stuff into our new house all week as well. No big deal. Pack some boxes, move some stuff. I think it was Wednesday when I got the nerve up to pack Erik's belongings and drive them to where they sit now. He has his own little place at the end of our hall way where his most favorite things sit on 5 shelves. The first shelf contains some pottery that I made for him and then something he made on his own. I can remember the exact moment I was making the inch worm for him. It was at Jordan's (Heather's little girls) bday party. I had brought Chandler (my niece) with me and I was 5 months pregnant with Erik. That inch worm was the first thing of perfection that I had to have for Erik. I had to have it perfect because I knew that I wanted to put it in his room. The other thing I had mentioned was a piece of pottery that Erik made. It is a lion (I think). He made it at Chandler's bday party. He was around 3, I think and had been sick, so wasn't really into doing it. I think he painted about half of it by himself and then stopped, I finished the rest. It too, is perfect! He also has a Clemson car and a little tiger on that top shelf - Lord knows the boy loved some Clemson Tigers. On the second shelf are most of his John Deere Tractors. They fill that shelf and the very bottom shelf up. I think he got a new green tractor with every trip to Walmart. I can remember at one point counting over 50 tractors. I have no idea where most of them are - probably buried in the sand box at Mama's somewhere. On the next shelf is his collection of Jimmy Johnson cars. He jumped on that bandwagon because of his Daddy. They loved Jimmy Johnson. Erik's library number at school was even #48. He also has a little sweat rag on that shelf as well. He got this idea from my mom. Working outside = sweat and when you sweat, you need a rag to wipe it off your face. On the next shelf is his baseball stuff - his glove and 2 batting gloves and 2 trophies from the 2 years he played in our little church t-ball league. The first trophy has his named spelled wrong and of course, he wasn't happy with that. We never got around to fixing it because we just figured that there would be hundreds more and that one would just eventually be boxed up somewhere to make room for more trophies. If we had only known. I don't wanna have it fixed now, because it wouldn't be the same. His cowboy spurs are on this shelf as well. On the very bottom shelf lies the remainder of his John Deere tractors and his other love - 4 wheelers. He didn't have many because it was a new found love. One that didn't even last a year actually. He got his 4 wheeler for Christmas in 2008. He didn't live to see another Christmas.

Above the shelves are 2 pictures and 4 hats - the pictures are from school, the ones his teachers and classmates made for us. They hold some of the last pictures ever taken of Erik. Ones that I didn't take. For those that know me, know how bad this hurts. I was an avid picture taker - especially of my kids and when I discovered that the last digital picture I had of Erik was from 2 weeks before he died, I lost it. How could I not have taken more pictures of him?! The 4 hats were his favorite hats - 3 Clemson hats and 1 PBR hat. He wore the heck out of those hats!

So that's Erik's place in our new little home. His pictures of on the walls around us, but that shelf is Erik. It was him. And it is what he was about. I love that shelf and the memories that it holds.

Pretty soon, my best friend, Heather is going to be throwing me a house warming party. For those of you I've tagged that are invited and actually come, you'll see the shelf and what I've explained to you. You'll probably shed a tear because it'll become real once you lay your eyes on it.

I think this is all for tonight.

Christmas, 2009

My First Christmas in Heaven

I see the countless Christmas trees
around the world below
With tiny lights like Heaven's stairs,
reflecting in the snow.

The sight is so spectacular,
please wipe away the tear,
For I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I hear the many Christmas songs
that people hold so dear,
But the sounds of music can't compare
with the Christmas choir up here.

I have no words to tell you,
the joy their voices bring,
For it is beyond description,
to hear the angels sing.

I know how much you miss me,
I see the pain inside your heart.
But I am not so far away,
We really aren't apart.

So be happy for me, dear ones,
You know I hold you dear.
And be glad I'm spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.

I sent you each a special gift,
from my heavenly home above,
I sent you each a memory
of my undying love.

After all, love is a gift
more precious than pure gold.
It was always most important
in the stories Jesus told.

Please love and keep each other,
as my Father said to do.
For I can't count the blessings or love
He has for each of you.

So have a Merry Christmas and
wipe away that tear.
Remember, I am spending Christmas
with Jesus Christ this year.