Thursday, July 2, 2015

My Other 'Middle' Child

Two years ago I took the time to write about Isaac, my middle child. Isaac had nearly five years with Addie before she died. Because of this, he was the one I was most concerned about, so he was the one who did the grief groups with me. He was the one with the late-night talks. The extra hugs. The extra attention.

Meanwhile, Tripp was left asking me who was going to fill his sippie cup as I lay crying on the kitchen floor.

It's Tripp's turn now and this post is long overdue.


Tripp was eight days away from turning 3 years old when Addie died.

Happy Birthday, Tripp. 

I remember his birthday quite well, which is nothing short of amazing considering the fog of grief and all.

Maybe I can remember the details of that day because, well, it was excruciating.

There, I said it.

My 3-year-old's birthday was excruciating.

I remember sitting on the edge of the fireplace with a video camera in my hand, watching it all unfold on my two-inch screen. He opened not one, but two Captain America action figures, and I sat there waiting for it all to be over. Waiting for an acceptable amount of time to pass so I could go back to my bed and pull the covers over my head.

I spent most of the summer like this.

I spent most of that year like this.

Oh sure I took the boys places. To the park. Swimming lessons. Museums. Even on horsey rides.

But I wasn't there.

It was like I was a spectator to my own life. I watched it; but I didn't live it.

And so, I missed Year 3 for Tripp. One of my most favorite years. That year when everything that comes out of their mouths is cute and sweet and lovely. That year when Addie couldn't say tomorrow and said 'tah-mah-wer' instead. That year when Isaac called hot dogs 'dah-dahs.'

I missed it.

Today Tripp is 6 years old and I feel like I'm just getting to know him and how remarkable he is.

I don't mean for this to be a Braggity McBrag post. I'm simply trying to capture what it's like to live within the same bubble as this little guy.

 And Tripp is just that: a little guy. He weighs maybe 40 pounds. Soaking wet.

He's actually what you might call scrappy. Just ask Isaac.

And while he has 27 t-shirts in his closet (seriously, I counted them), he never seems to have one of them on. And yet, he produces at least three "dirty" shirts each day.

He's out there. Definitely. I mean out there.

I'm not sure if he can't hear me half the time or chooses not to.

Regardless, I find myself falling deeper and deeper in love.

And here's why:

Tripp can't wait to grow up and be a chef. 

At Subway. He plans on working Mondays and Tuesdays because that way he can have a bunch of days off. He's more than a little concerned about being fired, so he plans to become a dog trainer if he ever gets canned from his cooking gig.

He loves the Royals and sweets. Stuffed animals too. He's up for just about anything that involves a ball. Basketball, baseball, golf, you name it. He swears he's better at Isaac at certain things. He's certainly better at throwing a cheap shot or two.

I can't remember if this was the 1st, 2nd,
or 3rd time he broke his collar bone.

His favorite color is orange and his second favorite is green. Brown comes in a distant third. Somebody has to love brown, I guess.

There's a lot of emotion in that little body. In fact, he can't hardly contain it. It bubbles out at times for better or worse.

Sometimes I have to ask him if he needs a little extra love - usually after he's done something like touch little sister Landry's arm. Repeatedly. Like to the point of that sweet little girl letting out an ear-piercing scream that would be an indication that perhaps he should stop. Just stop. Touching her arm.

He's quick to laugh.


Especially if bathroom humor is involved.

You can just about guess what he thought of
this word coming up on the iPad.

He's quick to stomp off when things don't exactly go his way.

Quick to dance.

And quick to love.

In fact, Tripp's the one who tells me on a nearly daily basis that I'm the best mom he's ever had.

Yes, you read that right.

The best mom he's ever had.


Our Next Move

Note: This is the 13th and final update I made to Addison's CarePages site. 

Posted Jul 30, 2012 10:25am
Four months and four days have passed since we joined the club no parent ever wants to be a member of.
Birthdays have come and gone.
School dismissed for the summer.
We survived Mother’s Day and Father’s Day. Barely.
And yesterday Isaac and I went on our first back-to-school shopping excursion. By excursion I mean a trip to Amigo's, Target, and Famous Footwear. (Soooo different from Addie and my annual event)
That must mean school is right around the corner.
Four months and four days have passed.
Time marches on. But how?
Today I realize it’s time for me to move my writing from the CarePages site to the blog I created when we first started our country adventure two years ago. After all, nobody visits CarePages to find out how a family is doing after the hospital stay comes to an end.
So, if you want to see how our story develops, feel free to follow us at If you take the time to peruse previous entries, you’ll notice a much different picture of our family emerges.

My last post was December.
As a former English teacher I spent time teaching kids about the tone of a story and the voice of a writer. It doesn’t take an A+ student to realize the tone of our story has changed as has my voice.
Hopefully I can provide a little insight as to how one family is handling the worst life can throw at them. I can’t promise it will always be pretty. Grief can be a dark, dark place. So, if you’re not up for it, I understand.
In time, however, I look for a story of hope to emerge. I cling to that possibility.
I can't promise I'll be the most consistent about posting either. Some days I write at a frenetic pace. I couldn't stop the words if I wanted to. Other days? Nothing.
If I understand correctly, you can subscribe to that website and email notifications will go directly to your inbox much like they do on CarePages. You’d have to ask one of my three followers for the details on that. (insert smiley face)
For now, I do want you all to know how much we appreciate the support you’ve shown us thus far. Whether it was a visit in the hospital, a note to Addie, a donation to the humane society, a meal, a hug, an ear, we are so grateful to have each of you in our lives.

Light Bulbs & Life's Not-So-Little Mysteries

Note: This is the 12th update I made to Addison's CarePages site. In this entry I announce my pregnancy. A local reporter said it best when she wrote, "a heartbeat where there was so much heartache." 

Posted Jun 21, 2012 9:33am
In the weeks following Addie’s death, I cursed the sun.
How dare it shine when my world is falling apart?
I cursed the roses in my garden, the daylilies too, and especially, the $7 plant that I rescued from a Wal-Mart parking lot last summer.
It could barely hold up its head last year.
This year, it’s thriving.
How can I nurse back to health a scraggly plant that I could give two cares about, but my daughter? No.
I cursed the light bulb in our bathroom. Still do, actually.
The same darn light bulb that we’ve never had to change in the two years we’ve lived here.
It continues to shine.
So I’ve lost a child and gained a wee bit of crazy.
Here’s something else I’ve gained.
The knowledge that life goes on even though we really don’t want it to.
Summer activities have resumed.
Softball. Swimming. And Saturday night, the sound of fireworks somewhere in our neighborhood.
Birthdays have come and gone.
First Tripp, then me, Isaac, and this past weekend, Scott.
And perhaps the cruelest reminder of them all, my belly continues to grow.
Oh yes, did I forget to mention that?
The same day Addie got sick – that beautiful day of sun and softball out in the front yard – we found out we were expecting our fourth child.
So, while Addie, Isaac, and Tripp busied themselves around the house, Scott and I sat in disbelief on our sectional down in the basement, trading thoughts on the changes that would need to take place this fall.
Sleeping arrangements (we have a three-bedroom house).
Baby gear (we sold it all at the garage sale).
Daycare (we’ll have three in daycare).
These are the things we worried about.
And then Addie got sick.
But not to worry, it’s a viral infection, doctors said.
Let it run its course.
Over the next few days we did just that.
But at the same time, I also did a few things any other pregnant woman would do.
Take another test (and another one after that).
Call David’s Bridal and discreetly ask if they’ll be able to do anything with the bridesmaid dress I’m supposed to wear in four months. And then ask that they call my cell (not my home number) with their answer so my mom who’s home with my 9 year old doesn’t find out I’m pregnant (just yet).
Call around to find an OB in Lincoln, but quickly get frustrated that a couple of the doctors wouldn’t do appointments after 2:30 in the afternoon. Who can be gone from school that much?
Google “is it safe to run while pregnant” and find out that it is OK as long as you keep an eye on your heart rate. Continue to run and monitor up until the day we find out that Addie’s illness most definitely is not a viral infection.
It’s Acute Myeloid Leukemia.
And it’s going to take her life.
So while we’ve been fumbling our way through this bottomless pit of grief, asking day in and day out:
"Why Addie?"
“Why our sweet daughter?”
“Why, why, why?”
We’ve also been wondering why a baby and why now.
Apparently, life goes on.