Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The Prayer Flag Project

August 19th is the Day of Hope.

A day meant to remember children who have died.

I remember every day. Not just Ben, but so many other babies.

But the purpose of my participation in this wasn't just to remember, but to do.

There is a lot of healing in doing.

Making the flag, for me, wasn't about a finished product. It was about the journey in making it. It was about collecting the materials that reminded me of Ben, developing an idea, a reason, a picture, of something that was just... BEN.

I found a second hand baby swaddle. White. Almost brand new. Nothing special about it. Just a plain white muslin swaddling blanket, like the kind I used when Simon was born.

So I bought it. And I cried. Because I never got a chance to swaddle my little Bennet.

Other things I found either second hand or had at home already (being a collector of so many odds and ends). I didn't want to buy anything new for this. For me it was in the looking. The finding. The scrounging through meaninglessness and silly things and finding... him. Being able to see Bennet everywhere.

I ended up with a nice little pile of things.

That lovely white swaddle. Some fluffy white yarn. An old felted scarf that was a beautiful shade of tropical ocean blue and just kind of fun to touch. Odd bits of lace and ribbon. Shells. Driftwood. Glitter. Coloured paper.

And slowly an idea formed.

When Bennet was dying, and Phillip and I were stuck at the hospital in Hobart waiting for more and more tests, we were encouraged to get out of the hospital and walk around. We ended up spending most of our time on the waterfront, staring at the ocean, breathing in salt air. Wondering what was going to happen.

When we learned, a week later, two days after we go home, that his heart had finally stopped beating, we again ended up at the ocean. This time wandering a sandy beach picking up shells and one lonely piece of brown sea glass. Planning his funeral.

The ocean is a calming place. And ten months later, it still reminds me of him.

So I tied these things in to my little flag. The ocean, some shells, some paper stars. His name. All whimsical, childlike, and ocean-y.Something that completely reminded me of Bennet. Something that makes me feel like he's still part of me. Still part of my life. He's gone from me, but not forever.

The finished flag is beautiful. I held it and wept, and imagined what it would be like to have him here, nearly 10 months old, playing with the pretty dancing ribbon.

I placed it on his grave and sobbed. In the process of making, doing, searching, and most of all, remembering, I found help with healing, help with connecting to my grief and to my son. Taking that white swaddle and cutting it up and dying it (food coloring works better on skin than it does fabric. I just used watered down acrylics eventually to get the color I wanted). Stitching his name. Sewing paper stars. Weaving twine together. Sewing bits of ribbon, lace, and shells together. Using my hands. Making something for him. In memory of him.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Snow Day!

Phillip took this.
He's the only consistently early riser in our family.
For the first time since I moved here, we had snow at our elevation. Snow that STUCK. About two beautiful white fluffy inches of it.

Apparently, it was the first time in ten years that its snowed all the way down to sea level.

Phillip had the day off work, and we dropped any sort of schedule we keep to just enjoy the rarity of the snow.

We started out by putting on boots and coats while we were still in our pyjamas, before breakfast, and ran around outside enjoying Simon's enthusiasm over seeing snow for the first time he can remember.

After breakfast, we bundled up and were outside right away again. We were outside as long as we could stand. Snowballs were thrown, snow was piled up, we practised running and sliding on it, and Phillip even made a little snowman. We enjoyed every moment outside until little fingers and even big toes were red and nearly too cold to feel anything.

Inside again, warm with our roaring fire, I made the boys some hot coco to warm up. Simon's first introduction to "hot choc".

It is REALLY coming down!

Even Ippo wanted to come out and play in the snow
Side note: This is a really awesome cat
We have no snow shovels. Simon made do.

The beginnings of a snowman

Simon's snowman.
Or snow-pile.
How many snowballs can you hold?

Phillip's finished snowman

Warmin' up with hot coco

Oh yeah, that's some good stuff!

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Unexpected Pauses in Life

It seems that every time I make a new commitment to blog more regularly something happens to prevent that.

Early in July, Phillip sprained his ankle. With a warning that it might be a stress fracture (SPOILER: It wasn't).

Not a bad sprain. But since he works as a furniture removalist (aka a mover), it pretty much put him out of commission as far as work went for the last month. It also put him out of commission as far as household duties and taking care of the toddlerino went, too. (Also, the fear that it might be a fracture and it took a few weeks to get an MRI for it).

Now, I do the bulk of housework. As in... nearly everything. Because I am good at it. I am the best at running our household. I will brag about this because I seriously kick butt at running our household. It's just my thing. Most of the time, I honestly enjoy it. Phillip helps out by playing with Simon when, at the end of the night, dishes are being washed, counters are being wiped, floors are being swept, food is cooked or put away, and laundry is hung up to dry (we have neither a dishwasher nor a clothes dryer).*

(Only, lets be really honest here, it's not helping out. Simon is HIS child too. He's not giving me a hand, he's having some much needed one-on-one time with his son, They BOTH love and need it.) (No this is not insulting him, it's a simple truth about being a parent).

But that still means I'm not chopping meat and veggies and using a hot stove with a busy and curious toddler under foot, afraid I'll slip and chop off his fingers, or something will fall off the stove and burn him. Or I'll trip on him or his cars and stab myself (I can't be the only mom who imagines that happening, can I?).

The last month, with Phillip incapacitated and not able to play with Simon in the way they are used to, nor help out with anything around the house, gave me approximately zero time to do almost anything not deemed necessary. On top of that, we had several "special" days (his birthday at the very end of  June, then my birthday, followed by our wedding anniversary) that passed, and, because we're still heavily grieving the loss of our son, made for some super fun weeks of emotional messes.

Basically, I was an emotional wreck all month and just exhausted, physically and emotionally.

But, Phillip is now doing well. Ish (Sprains take a long time to heal). He's back at work on light duties and able to do more with Simon, though I'm still doing all the heavy lifting chores I wouldn't normally be doing (I actually really enjoy hauling in wood for the fire) on top of my regulars. And I'm setting out some self-care plans so I don't just... loose my mind. But THAT is all for another post.


Assuming nothing else prevents me from writing.

Because I actually have a list of things I want to share. An actual in-real-life written down LIST.

*Phillip DOES help around the house with more than just watching Simon. But I'm not taking the time to list all the jobs each of us do, and sometimes we switch some of them. He'll actually admit that I do most of the "house stuff". Just be assured he is an awesome husband who helps out, and he reads and edits everything I post.