A day for celebrating, also, maybe crying.

Today is Landon’s 5th birthday! We celebrated the last few days with bubbles, music, cuddles, and balloons. He is doing very well right now, and seeing him smile is a highlight of any day.

Big brother helped set the stage when it was party time by putting out a few blue and green items. Blue, for Landon.   Green, because like me, he doesn’t know how to celebrate Landon without remembering Nolan. And that’s just fine.  He even found a way to take his sister’s new Elmo letters to creatively spell their names as one. Today, one without the other just wouldn’t be right.

Looking back over the last 5 years, and even the final months of the pregnancy, I always knew that we had some hard days ahead. And I knew that if there was a window where we were celebrating a birthday for 1, that day would be among them. This is Landon’s second birthday without his brother, and this one is no easier than the last.

This is a 5 year anniversary of sorts for me too. I’ll admit I often think of my own timeline as before the twins were born and after. I’m not who I was. And among all of the things I feel, both good and bad, I feel an immense gratitude that through this God has allowed me to become stronger.  My survival is largely based on my ability to both celebrate and grieve simultaneously. To smile through tears, and to cry through smiles. Today, one without the other just wouldn’t be right.

I am thankful to have so many happy memories of Nolan, and that he isn’t suffering or declining.

I am thankful that Landon is doing so well, and that he is growing and smiling, and bringing joy to me still.

I am thankful strength is not measured by the absence of tears. But rather, those tears are just evidence of memories of that which has made us stronger.

Happy Birthday Nolan!

Happy Birthday Landon!

Someone got a taste of icing…

For Crying Out Loud

Grief is a difficult beast.  You would think one would want it to disappear, you would think one would want to be able to move beyond grief, to get past it.  But sometimes the even harder part is, the absence of grief can cause guilt.  Sometimes, grief is welcome, because with it comes memories, feelings, and a reminder that that which you are grieving was very very real.  And worth grieving.

I’ve been very anxious off and on the last couple of weeks.  Initially I couldn’t put my finger on it, and maybe I’m still not 100% certain as there are plenty of reasons to feel stressed right now.  But I’m starting to believe that it is because this time last year, I knew we didn’t have long left with Nolan.  I knew he was declining, and was getting tired.  This time last year, even more than over the course of the last 4+ years in general, the clock was ticking loudly, but we didn’t know how long the timer had left.  This time last year, I was off of work, and I committed to going and doing, and creating a few special memories no matter what the summer held.

I am home with Landon today, for happy reasons.  D is taking a well deserved long weekend, I’m enjoying a quiet day with Landon, and doing some spring cleaning at the house.  I wanted to go through school papers from the last couple of years with the intent to reduce most of the stack down to a meaningful set of keepers.  In that stack I found pictures drawn by our oldest son, of a family changing over time. First a family of 5, then of 6 with a new baby, then of 5 once again.  I found a wish for a baby sister, before anyone else knew I was pregnant.  I found blue and green artwork for Landon and Nolan, with stamps, feathers, and glitter. And not long after I had just looked at pictures from this time last year, when my family included 4 kids at a children’s museum, I found sweet cards from Landon and Nolan, including flowers made with pudgy little finger prints.  I touched Nolan’s finger prints, and I cried.

And cried and cried.

I welcomed grief like a familiar friend who “gets it” like few others do.  Then grief and I cried some more together.

Then humor stepped in, as it often does.  And while I’m crying like a broken woman in my kitchen, I receive a message from someone on facebook that I amaze them.  So I laughed at the juxtaposition of who I must seem to be vs who I often am, and wondered if Nolan was at least smirking a little too.  I put those sweet fingerprints back in a safe place, I wiped my soaked face, and I said good-bye to grief until next time.  But I thanked it for coming, because sometimes, remembering is healing, and hurting is healthy, and some tears are just meant to be cried out loud.

For Nolan

Balloons have gone up from near and far over the last week.  We encouraged anyone who wanted to participate in honoring Nolan’s short life to do so by releasing a green balloon.  The response brought me to tears last Saturday, and has brought a smile to my face numerous times since.  
Some of our family members kicked it off.  Friends, school mates, and strangers who just love Nolan right along with us joined in too.  We had balloons going up in many states, on both coasts.  We even had balloons going up in Europe!  Nolan’s school made Friday a green for Nolan day, and it felt like half the town dressed in green.  Karson even got to lead his class in another balloon release.  All of this has been such a loving and warm follow to such a difficult time.

I have nearly 200 photos.  It would be more but I tried to choose one per group. But sometimes I could not narrow it down because some interesting things happened…

Do you see any shapes? 

Green orbs like this were everywhere…

Here are the pictures for your enjoyment.  Nolan’s send off was beautiful, and it’s safe to say he has plenty of birthday balloons to help him celebrate today! THANK YOU to all who participated!