To Tattoo, Or Not To Tattoo

I’m not a tattoo guy. Never have been. Not that I dislike them, I’ve just always known that if I were to ever get one, there would have to be a really REALLY good reason for it.

Then came the really REALLY good reason.

Very soon after we were told that Simon’s heart stopped, I thought I would need a way to memorialize him, to take him with me. I knew that a tattoo would be a way to do that. I had it designed in my head, I told people of my idea, and I had a good reason. Yes, it would be hard to answer the questions when people asked about the name on my arm, but it would give me a chance to talk about Simon. About my son.

So I went to the tattoo shop and got some ideas sketched out.

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I loved it. I scheduled an appointment. I was ready to go.

Then.

Then I got home, and Nolan IMMEDIATELY told me to “wash off the numbers NOW, daddy.” And I got worried. Worried that he’d hate it, worried that he’d resent it. Just worried.

Most of all, I worried about what Nolan would think if Simon’s name was on my arm forever, and his wasn’t. What would that do to his little two-year-old brain? The last thing I wanted to do was make Nolan jealous of the little brother he’d never meet.

Then, just a couple of days before my appointment, I changed my mind for good. I couldn’t do the tattoo I had wanted since we heard the news. I couldn’t put Simon’s name on my arm so people would ask me about him and so I could talk about him. I couldn’t do it.

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SO I did this instead.

Now I have Simon’s name AND Nolan’s name forever with me. When people ask, I get to talk about my boys. When I am thinking about my boys (as I do incredibly often) I can look down at my arm and I know that they are both with me, everyday everyday, always and always.

How Am I Doing? Well…

This was the text today from my wife.

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She’s really good at checking in, and really good at knowing the exact right moment to ask me this question. And she also completely understands when this is how the conversation continues…

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It’s the question we get all the time. And sometimes I answer “I’m OK”, and sometimes that’s almost the truth. Then there are days like today. Today sucked. It was hard as hell to make it through work. And I try to figure out why, and I realize that the fact is, there is no real answer.

It was hard because our son died.

It was hard because while I was getting updates on Nolan’s trip to the park and his cuddle session with mommy I WASN’T getting updates on how Simon’s naps were today or if he was eating, or pooping, or…whatever.

Every day is hard. Some days I just don’t have those little everyday thoughts pop into my head as much that remind me of what we’re missing. What we’re missing is utterly devastating, and I can’t imagine a life when it ceases to be so.

Every moment we don’t have what we were so close to having, what we SHOULD have is hard.

So I shut myself in my edit bay a couple more times than normal today to cry. And I ran a little faster at lunch to try to sweat out some of the pain (and to try to beat the impending rain). And I did my best.

But today was hard. And it won’t be the last time. I hope in time that days like today will be easier to manage, but I know they won’t stop. Because we’ll never have Simon.

To Tera on Mother’s Day

You’re stronger than you should ever need to be.

Your tears and grief show the absolute, unending love that you have, and will always have for Simon. They show your heartbreak and your emptiness. Your longing for our situation to change. To go back in time to before the worst, most painful night of our lives.

I, we, have dreamed of the day that we would celebrate you as the mother of our two children. And today we do. That makes the heartbreak even more real and even more raw not having one of them to hold, to dote on, to care for on YOUR day.

This Mother’s Day is a reminder of what we don’t have.

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But it’s also a reminder of what we do.

I’ll never forget the night that you became a mother. 29 hours of labor. An epidural that didn’t work at all. Nearly two hours of pushing, finally a crying baby, and I told you we have a little boy.

As Nolan sleeps in his crib I know what we have. And because I know what we have (and what we have is a truly amazing little boy who loves his mommy everyday everyday, so much), I also know what we don’t have. We don’t have the family we were so ready for. We don’t have Simon.

Today, Nolan, Simon and I celebrate you because even though today isn’t what you wanted or what we should have, it is still a day to celebrate your strength, your love for your boys (all three of us) and most importantly you…the love of my life and the best mom Nolan and Simon could ever want.

Hopefully Simon knew that. I truly believe he did.

Simon’s Nursery

The nursery.

That damn nursery.

The room where I worked my ass off to make sure it was perfect.

There’s so much that dads CAN’T do during a pregnancy, and so much we have absolutely no control over.

But then there’s the nursery. The room where I added one more coat of paint to the dresser to make sure it was perfect. Because that’s what I COULD do. I could get a room ready. I could get the furniture just right and measure and mark to hang the pictures Tera picked out and framed. I could make it the absolute perfect place for our little one to sleep, to play, to grow.

The crib, all the furniture, the bookshelves, even the books are all still there, but now it’s empty.

It’s also the room where Nolan brought his tools to help me assemble the crib, where we worked SO hard to make sure Nolan was as ready as humanly possible to be a big brother. It’s where I sat thinking, dreaming, about what it was going to be like to have our two kids running around and playing.

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And now it’s empty.

And I can’t go in.

I knew before we came home from the hospital that I wasn’t going to be able to go in Simon’s room. I didn’t really know why, but now I understand. It’s full of the clothes Simon was going to wear. We made signs to hang on the wall that my grandpa, Simon’s GREAT grandpa helped me finish up. They’re still hanging on the wall, but Simon never got the chance to see them or learn the story that makes them so much more than just some homemade signs.

I love that nursery. It turned out perfectly.

I love Simon’s room.

And I can’t go in.

I Wish I Could

The title of this post might be a bit misleading, because obviously I wish I could change what happened, but to be honest, I just couldn’t think of a headline that worked.

There are days, hours, moments since Simon died that I feel like an abject failure.

A father, a husband, is supposed to protect his family, and I can’t shake the feeling that somehow, someway I failed, and I continue to do so.

First and foremost, I failed to protect my son. I couldn’t keep him safe. Logically I know that there’s nothing I (or anyone else) could have done to protect him, but logic doesn’t exist in my world right now. I couldn’t protect him, and now he doesn’t get to grow up with a mom and dad that love him and a big brother that would have been the absolute best big brother imaginable.

I failed/am failing to protect my wife from the heartbreak, the shattering pain and grief that losing our son caused/is causing. I can’t protect her from the thoughts that creep in. The doubts. The nightmares. The worries. The anxiety. I can’t protect her from a world that says things like “everything happens for a reason”. I can’t.

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I wish I could go back and be the protector that Simon needed. That Simon deserved. But I know I can’t. I hope I can protect my wife from the unending pain of a loss that no one should be forced to endure. I hope I don’t fail Nolan and he is still able to grow up to be the happy, kind person he deserves to be.

I hope I can do all of this, BE all of this, because Simon, Nolan and Tera deserve that from me.

Impact

A month ago today we heard Simon’s heartbeat for the last time.

A month ago we had the nursery setup.

A month ago we were ready to bring our little one home.

We were ready for how he would impact our lives. The lack of sleep, the pacing and rocking to get him to fall asleep, the midnight (and 2am, and 4am, and…) diaper changes.

We didn’t get that impact. We got a completely different kind of impact. The kind you get when you are blindsided by news you never thought was possible. The kind of impact you feel when you hear the words that your child’s heart stopped beating.

Simon was stillborn, but he was still born.

Simon still made Nolan a big brother, and he’ll forever change how his big brother sees the world. He still made Tera the mom of two boys as she always dreamed she’d be. He’s still my little boy, and I’m still so proud to be his dad.

Simon can’t show us all what he could have been, and it may not be obvious to anyone other than his mom and me just how immense his impact will continue to be. But he has already left his mark, and he’s given me another job. It’s now up to me to make sure that the world feels his impact. That although his time here was WAY too short, he won’t be forgotten.

I will remember. Simon’s mom will remember. His big brother will remember. And we’ll talk about him often, so everyone will remember what an amazing, strong, perfect baby boy Simon was. We’ve been told that going through this unimaginable loss will make us more compassionate people, and that Nolan will grow up that way, too.

I sincerely believe that compassion and caring can change the world, and because of Simon, FOR Simon, we will do that.

That will be his impact.

Forever Young

I grew up a music fan. I’m a drummer. I have always secretly (or not so secretly) wanted my kids to grow up to play an instrument so I can go to their band concerts or sit in the freezing cold and embarrass them by screaming my head off at their marching band competitions.

It’s important to me.

From the day Nolan was born, I’ve sang one song to him every time I put him to bed at night. God Only Knows by the Beach Boys. The lyrics will always be special to me, and it will always be our song.

I may not always love you,
(I whisper to him at this point “don’t worry, I will”)
But long as there are stars above you,
You never need to doubt it
I’ll make you so sure about it.
Cause god only knows what I’d be without you.

Throughout Tera’s pregnancy with Simon, coming up with what “his” song… “our” song was going to be was a near constant struggle in my head. It may seem trivial, but this was really, really important to me.

I had a new idea seemingly every week. I couldn’t settle on the perfect one.

Then one day, about 6 weeks before we were supposed to bring Simon home with us, I did. It was perfect. Equal parts sweet and sentimental. Folksy and a little rock.

May you grow up to be righteous
May you grow up to be true
May you always know the truth
And see the lights surrounding you
May you always be courageous
Stand upright and be strong
And may you stay
Forever young
There are times that I hear this song in my dreams, or my nightmares. Or just ringing endlessly in my ears. I just wish I could shut it off. Why did I pick a song called “Forever Young”? I would give everything for Simon to grow up with us. To play in the band. To drive us crazy learning to play the trumpet.

 

To NOT be forever young.

I miss my little guy every day. Always and always.