May 06

A letter

Dearest Friend,

I was just about to text you these things, and then I realized that there were more people out there feeling the same things that you must be feeling right now, so I sat down to write. You have/still do love me so well, and you’ve always listened to me, let me cry, and just let me be. You’re just solid. You always have been and always will be.

I miss you.

A lot.

I wish I could sit with you right now, but we’re far away from each other, and I hate that. You will act strong this weekend, and you’ll love your momma and your friends well, but I know deep down your heart is sad. And frankly I’m sad with you. I wish you were a momma right now, but you’re not, and dang, it’s just not fair. I don’t understand why your journey is so hard, and I wish I could make it easy for you.

You will be a momma, but ya know what, that’s not what you wanna hear right now. I get it.

The Mother’s Day after my miscarriages and after losing Mary Anna were miserable. I was thankful for my momma and for her role, but all I could think about was that I wanted to be a momma. Everything seemed miserable those weekends.

Now today, you love my William so much, and I am thankful for him, but I sit here with my sparkling water wishing that we could drink a latte and eat a blueberry muffin together and just cry, because my heart hurts. I miss Mary Anna, and I know you would let me feel crappy and you would miss her with me. And on the flip side I wanna feel crappy with you, because I want you to be pregnant and you have to endure this weekend and wait…. I know you’re tired of waiting. You should be.

Feel free my sweet, solid friend to be mad, frustrated, confused, and I know you won’t, but for the love just scream a cus word out loud! Don’t listen to other people’s stupid comments. Be free to feel and think what you need to. It’s okay.

You are worthy my friend.

And I love you.

And I don’t know why life has to be so hard, but I am thankful that in the hard times that we have each other.

Love always,
Kar

Apr 24

There’s Grace…

A lot of my writing hinges from the reality that there is so much that I wish people would have or will currently say to me or do for me or release me of. I was encouraged to write early on after losing Mary Anna, and I wrote more frequently back then due to the lack of a toddler hanging on my leg, and now my house is busy and messy and different than it was almost 3 years ago, but there’s still so much that I continue to learn.

I got to church this morning and realized that I had lipstick on my teeth, my dress had a stain on it that I forgot existed {should’ve given it to goodwill last time I wore it}, and my head just hurt. I’m basically 9 months pregnant, and I am just flat worn out. I debated being embarrassed about my nice stain, and then I figured I’d forget it. Thanks to a friend who recently gave me the book For the Love by Jen Hatmaker {get this book}, I have had a recent attitude of I just can’t do it all.

A lot of the last 3 years of my life have been spent battling guilt. Guilt because I….

should or should not be in counseling…

haven’t made this or that person feel comfortable enough in my grief…

should or should not have more kids this soon after losing a baby…

haven’t gone to this or that event..

need to be released.. wait need to do more…

told to walk away from a relationship…

being guilted because I walked away from a relationship

leave William more with a baby sitter and then feeling guilty because it’s too hard…

guilt, guilt, guilt.

We are just too hard on each other people… I mean really. I have felt more shunned and less love than I would care to admit. And yet, most of the time, I am left to feel like it’s my fault, because I have changed. Why yes, I have changed. I lost my daughter. I am not the same.

BUT I am not supposed to be.

As we sang this song in church today, I began to really listen to the words with my eyes closed, and I realized that I am not enough for most people, but I am enough for my Savior.

Yesterday we hung curtains in sweet Mary Kathryn’s nursery. They were the same curtains that we hung 3 years ago in Mary Anna’s nursery as we anticipated her life. William was riding the cozy coupe around and Dan was measuring to make sure they were perfect, and I stood there and began to weep.

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Guilt.

I felt so guilty trying to prepare for MK using MA’s stuff, yet I felt guilty for feeling guilty. D grabbed me and hugged me, and little W was making truck noises and babbling at our feet. There was mercy there in that moment.

So as I stood and sang these words:

Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong and perfect plea,

A great High Priest whose name is “Love,”
Who ever lives and pleads for me.

When Satan tempts me to despair;
And tells me of the guilt within,

Upward I look and see Him there
Who made an end to all my sin
….

I realized that there is a release from this guilt, and I just can’t do it all. I just can’t.

So we eagerly await our 3rd baby, and we process what we can and do what we can, and we just try our best to cling to each other. As we lay in bed last night, D asked me if I was okay. I quietly said, “I think so.” And he said, “You know, I don’t know how we are here or how we are having another baby and how we are making it. I really don’t. If it weren’t for Jesus, we wouldn’t be here Karebear.” I gave him a hug, and we went to sleep.

Thankfully that great High Priest is the reason we can Keep Walking.

Happy Sunday. Enjoy your people today. And take a nap. That’s what we’re doing….

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Keep Walking baby boy, Keep Walking.

Apr 11

Hallway

A friend texted me the other day and asked how I was, and she told me that she likes when I write, because it gives her a window into my heart. I told her that my computer had been in a closet for almost two months now, and I promised to write soon.

Well the computer is finally plugged in and working, so here I am…

We bought our first house after almost 7 years of marriage! Whew! It has been a whirlwind. We decided to buy a house that needed a little TLC, and after we moved in, we started a pretty major renovation. We thought that since Chip and Joanna Gaines seemed to do it so easily that we had this under control, but yeah not so much. Although, I am pretty sure that our version of “fixer upper” would’ve made for some good t.v.

For the past two months, we basically weren’t able to live in our house although all of our stuff was here, so we spent weeks and weeks going back and forth to my parents and eating out a lot, because we had no kitchen. All of this to say, we have learned a lot, we are in our house, and we would do it all again, but we would do it very differently next time. If there’s a next time!

So as I sit down to realize that my bank account was overdrawn, we have put too much on our credit card, my to do list is full of things that I can’t do very pregnant alone, and my head hurts, because I never finished my cup of coffee, I decided the best thing to do was just to start writing again…

I am due with our second baby girl so soon, and I am just a mess.

A true mess.

I realized a few weeks ago, that the hallway to our bedrooms makes me really sad. Every place that we have lived in has always had a “space” for Mary Anna, and now we fill up this hallway as we prepare for Mary Kathryn (p.s. that’s new baby girl’s name). Another baby girl. Another house where Mary Anna won’t live in. Another place to process that MAC is gone.

I stand in Mary Kathryn’s room, and it is a lot to take in. There is pink in our house again, and it is a lot for my heart to try to understand.

Last week our pastor called because he knew that we were paddling up-stream a lot these days, and he offered to come by and help me with some stuff around the house. He and a friend showed up, and put together MK’s crib, and moved tons of boxes into our kitchen, so that I could unpack them. We had been using the nursery as a storage room for everything that could not be put up due to the dust and holes in the ceiling that were caused by the renovation. So this room that is going to hold my newest little girl soon has just been hard and a true literal and physical disaster.

As I have slowly made my way through the boxes and started sorting baby things and getting more prepared for her, I have realized that each time I turn the corner to walk down our hallway that something is yet again missing. I feel overwhmeled with gratitude for this new life that is coming soon, but yet our house still has a huge hole. And it’s not in the ceiling anymore.

So I’ll just continue to try to tackle all of this. Day by day. Moment by moment.

D and I skipped away last weekend for a short babymoon, and we spent most of our time sitting by the water processing all that has been going on lately. We planned for the future, took a nap, ate way too much, and cried a good bit. Most of these emotions finally came out, and we both realized how hard it is to welcome a new life into our home.

William was the sweetest treasure after our loss, but it was truly a lot emotionally to process him living and Mary Anna dying. And you would think it would get easier, and honestly it just doesn’t.

So here’s to April. A new month. A new house. Hopefully not a new baby until May, but a new baby! And a new start for the Caldwell family.

I think I’ll do what I normally do about now and that is forget my epic to do list, and try to take a nap.

In the words of baby William: night night truck, night night dog dog, night night mama and dada, night night. night night.

Feb 18

Insomnia

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It’s 5:50 am.

I’ve debated lighting for the two bathrooms, whether or not I should put a fan in William’s new room, how many bar stools that I should order for the island, had a glass of milk, checked instagram, checked pinterest, deleted emails, and so on…. Oh, and minor detail, but there’s a batch of pumpkin bread in the oven too.

It’s safe to say that pregnant insomnia has struck again.

I am quite sure that I’ll have a headache by about 9 am, and be begging for nap time by about 10 am, but dang what do you do!

My head and heart have wrestled with so much lately. And after a conversation a few days ago with my best friend, I can’t quite shake her words of deep love for me.

She called to talk through how to love a friend who recently lost a baby, and the truth is that I need to take some lessons from her on how to love others, because she somehow without any deep loss herself, has come to the dark places with me and never left my side. We talked through a few practical things, hurt for her friends’ loss together ,and then she told me something that went a little like this:

Karebear, as we drove to her house last weekend, we just sat in silence, and I kept wondering, “God what are you doing…”, and all I could picture was the drive to Auburn after you loss Mary Anna, and the look on your face the first time that I saw you. I’ll never forget the look in your eyes and hugging you. And all I could think is how much that Mary Anna has changed me, and how much watching you has changed me, and somehow I know that God will do something through this…

Her voice was shaky, and she began to cry, and so did I. But the truth is that I’ve cried more as I have recapped her story and her love for me and her willingness to care that much. It’s reminded me of hearing her car drive up to my house after she without thinking twice jumped into it and drove hours and hours and hours to be there for me, and I honestly will never forget how she grabbed me and squeezed me and wept with me.

As I wrestle with hurt and feeling like I let relationships down with the changes in my life after losing my sweet baby, I can’t help but hear my sweet friends words over and over again…

God must be doing something through all of this.

I sat on that couch yesterday in my counselors office, and I told her my hurt and struggles, and she quietly reminded me that once you hit deep dark places of grief and loss that you can’t go back. You are different, and nothing will ever make you look at the world the way that you used to. For that, I am grateful.

Sweet Mary Anna,

I’ll never be able to thank you enough for changing my view of everything… of insomnia, of baking pumpkin bread at 5 am, at stupid house renovations, about loss and love and pain. I am tired and my tummy hurts from drinking milk to try to make me go back to sleep, and I know your little brother will be up all too soon, and yet all I can do is sit here in the dark and listen to the birds chirp and wish that I could sneak into your room and kiss you right now.Yet, I can’t, and somehow the way you have changed me gives me such great joy all at the same time. 

You saved me baby girl. You saved us all. We love you so much.

-your momma

One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple.

For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble;
he will conceal me under the cover of his tent;
he will lift me high upon a rock.

I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and let your heart take courage;
Wait for the Lord!

parts of Psalm 27

Feb 05

Buddy

It started Wednesday afternoon with two cappuccinos and some cookies. I got home from counseling holding two much-needed headache relievers, and I handed one to D, opened the cookies, and we began talking. I was telling him about my session, and we began to cry and vent and laugh. It was good for the soul.

I recently started counseling for the first time ever in my life. It has been good for me to process not just Mary Anna, but honestly ever major event that has happened to me. I usually come home with a headache, because I cry a lot, but I am thankful by the push of some good people in my life that I started going.

All of this to say, as we were starting to hear our little Buddy make his cute noises in the other room as he was waking up from his nap, Dan told me that he loved me. Sometimes that’s all you need. We had a fun afternoon, just the three of us which seems to rarely happen due to long work days from daddy bear.

Dinner out. Groceries. Ice Cream.
Check! Check! Check!

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Then yesterday, I just flat had a hard day. I was crying a lot and laying in the fetal position most of nap time, and when I got William up from his nap I said these words to him:

You make me miss your sister more and more,
and your sister makes me love you more and more.

As I was laying in bed telling Dan that my head was hurting last night, he leaned over and told me that he loved me and told me something else that was fascinating:

hey karebear,
I am glad that our life hasn’t been easy.
It makes me love you, Mary Anna, William, and baby girl even more.

So today, as the sun is shining through the windows, and I actually am sitting here in blue jeans and have on mascara. Little miracles people. I realize that Mary Anna taught me to love William in a way that I never could have if it weren’t for her life and death.

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My buddy makes my head spin most days. He’s all boy and loves to live life on the edge. His personality is big just like his body! I need a part-time job just to keep up with how much he eats, and yet he loves so hard and so deep. He sits by the window in the mornings and evenings waiting on daddy, because even though he’s a momma’s boy, he is also a daddy’s boy. He is ALL boy. He is my buddy.

And for all of these things. I am thankful that my life hasn’t been easy. On the days when I feel like I might lose my mind, I realize what a gift that my William is to me. The Lord has entrusted me to be his momma, and that is such a tender thing.

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Thank you buddy for helping us to Keep Walking.

Jan 22

Snow Day

Well I am not sure that you can quite call it a snow day yet, but there are some flurries outside, and our back porch looks white ish at the moment.

I just woke up from a nap, and I went into the den to read a bit. Dan was making fun of me last night, because I order a lot of books and never read them.

It’s true.

So in an attempt to prove him wrong, I sat down by myself in the quiet to read a little. I slowly opened a book called Rare Bird that a friend recommended to me about loss and grief, and I have avoided it because it gives me puffy eyes and makes me sad, but something about the cold and loneliness that I was feeling made me want to go there today.

So after checking instagram and getting annoyed at someone posting about why we should avoid sugar. Seriously? I mean i like sugar. I snuggled on the couch with my sad book.

I continued to read this moms recall of the day that her son died, and I wept.

I go back there from time to time, and when I do it hurts. The day my baby girl died was the worst day of my life.

So I stopped reading after a chapter or two like I always do, because I am not a good reader, and I began to eat an apple, because of that annoying girl on instagram saying that we should eat more salads, and I emptied the dishwasher and began to hate the snow. I hate the snow. I hate it.

Why you say?

Because it would have been Mary Anna’s first snow, and we are about to buy our first house, and we are about to have our first baby girl after her, and it seems like 2 1/2 years later that firsts would end, but they don’t. They come and they hurt.

Now my sweet William is awake, and my inner debate is if I should online shop, go to Target, or play in this snow that I have decided is really annoying me right now.

Grief just stinks.

I have been avoiding my feelings so much lately, because all of these firsts in a new town with new faces seem so daunting. The afternoons seem long with reruns of Curious George, and my sweet baby boy needs me now, and I just want to write and write, but I can’t. Because I am a mom. And mom’s don’t get snow days.

Thankfully since I don’t like snow days.

Obviously.

Jan 08

Friendship

On Christmas morning a dear friend texted me and asked how I was. I replied very honestly, and told her that for some reason this year buying gifts seemed really hard, so I just did not buy gifts. I didn’t buy my husband, parents, or friends anything, and I really barely bought William anything. Something about thinking about or purchasing gifts brought up an immense amount of grief.

I would feel really sad or angry, and I knew the root was feeling overwhelmed at the thought of another Christmas morning without Mary Anna. It just hurts. It just really deeply hurts.

She responded this way: you’ve always been so good at not doing something just because you think you should. another Christmas where y’all have so much to be grateful for even in the midst of your sadness. just wish we were close enough to celebrate this time of year with y’all.

I teared up as I read this, because she has always been consistent in supporting me, and not making me feel guilty when my grief comes out in odd ways, and for this I am thankful.

Loss has taught me so much about friendship. About who I want to be my friends, and also how so many friends just don’t want to go to the hard places with you. It’s just life. We wanna do the fun things, but we really don’t like the hard things.

I mean I get it. I don’t desire hard things either….

Dan is good about listening to podcasts on the way to work, and he came home the other day, and told me that I had to listen to this certain one. Today while cleaning toilets something pricked my heart to look up that sermon, and I am so glad I did. And I am here writing, because I think everyone MUST listen to it.

Hopefully we can all find ways to not feel guilty for not being the friends that we should be, but instead yearn to dig deeper into our friendships and love each other richer this year.

Keep Walking my friends.

Jan 01

French Fries

Dan and I were talking the other night before bed about New Years resolutions. We’ve never really been big on them, and so just to be funny, D told me: ya know… I think my resolution is going to be to eat more french fries. I mean really we don’t eat enough of those in our house. He’s right. We don’t eat enough french fries in our house.

I often sit down to write and assume no one will read this, and if that’s the case it’s alright, because my writing is less than superb, and most of the time it’s more for me than for anyone else. With that being said, here’s to 2016!

As I watched my boys this morning run around the house and giggle, smile, snuggle, and do all the things we enjoy doing when daddy is home for a rare morning, I began to think that Dan was onto something. I think I want more french fries this year too.

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I want to:

snuggle more and run errands less

forget my to do list in leu of a donut run with my baby boy

stress less about what’s in our bank account and more about what’s in our hearts

eat more french fries

play in puddles

love harder without regrets

stay in the hard places with my friends

spend more time making messes and less time cleaning them up

bake more

and drink more coffee of course

say yes more and no less

travel without over thinking the budget

relish being a stay at home mommy

go on dates more

and maybe eat more french fries too

you get the picture…

Life is just too short. Let’s Keep Walking into 2016 with a new kind of resolution. Amen.

 

For this God us our God for ever and ever; he will be our guide even to the end.
Psalm 48:14

Dec 08

Extrovert

We were having a casual dinner at our house recently with some friends that we have recently become really close with. They’re the kind that you feel like you’ve known them you’re whole life, yet wondering where they have been all your life at the same time! So needless to say, we are still getting to truly know each other at this point.

As we were eating some greasy hamburgers grilled by Dan, the guy said to me that he would guess that I was an introvert, and Dan was an extrovert. Well anyone who has known us a long time would laugh at that.

I remember when D and I first started dating that I would have to nudge him to talk to people in crowds. He is typically more reserved, and I am more loud. He gets his energy from down time, and I get mine from being with people.

I really need people.

Yet even though this comment kinda bothered me at first, I kept chewing on it, and I realized his statement was profound. I think grief has caused me to be much more introverted.

As we drove to a new small group, I realized this exact statement to be true, as my hands started to get clammy, and I just was nervous to walk into the house and meet new people and express my prayer requests. D had to give me a pep talk to go in.

As someone told me, You really should come to the women’s retreat… What! A retreat full of women that I don’t know, where I am stuck in a cabin with them all weekend? Talk about claustrophobic.

Lastly as I was having an emotional talk with my big sister recently, and we were discussing how different that I had become since Mary Anna.

Now these differences aren’t all bad, but it’s almost like I am having to re-learn myself. Especially when someone who barely knows me begins to peg me more than I can peg myself.

So, I am slowly learning myself more lately, and realizing that maybe his comment, that he probably doesn’t even remember, is more true than I knew it was. I still need people, but my heart and soul are much more introverted now.

And somehow Dr. Dan has become the life of the par-tay! Who would’ve thought?!?

And baby William, he is the party!

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My sweet Mary Anna,

Your life was so real that it hurts. I am thankful that you have caused me to learn who I truly am.

Christmas makes me ache for your soft skin and your sweet face so much more. I hung your stocking with care this year, and I can’t bear to make a Christmas card, because I wish you were on it with us. Thank you for always truly being with us. I will never look at a manger scene again without knowing how much you teach me of baby Jesus.

I told your daddy as I cried the whole way home from church this past week, that I still can not fathom how God could have saved Jesus from the cross, and he chose not to for a sinner like me, because I would not have made that same choice when it came to your life.

Merry Christmas sweet angel baby.

We love you deeply,
your momma

Christmas tree 2015

Keep Walking

Nov 29

Time heals all wounds…

I was sitting today watching this sweet little girl coloring on her church order of worship. She had the cutest little braids, one on each side of her head, and she had 3 colors in her small little hands. I think we were praying? Or something like that I am sure….

And I just sat there with small tears welling up, and thought…

This morning I woke up feeling sad, and as I watched that little girl during church, I could not shake the feeling.

It came around time for communion, and I sat there debating if I should take of the elements. I wondered if my heart was fully trusting of the Lord or not…

I closed my eyes as we sang The First Noel, and I just quietly prayed.

And as I eventually ate the bread and drank the wine, I realized that time truly does not heal all wounds.

For days, months, and years after we had Mary Anna, people said this really annoying phrase to me: time heals all wounds.

This is one thing that I would say to please never say to someone who is hurting. Just don’t.

Because time helps but time does not heal completely.

I heard that it was all of the “firsts” that were the worst. And then I heard that during the “firsts” you were just numb, so once you got through year “two”, then things would be better…

But you just can’t put that kind of pressure on people.

I sat in the corner of my parents kitchen and sobbed uncontrollably the night before Thanksgiving this past week, and I told my mom that: It just does not get easier to not set a place at the table for Mary Anna. 

And guess what? It was my third Thanksgiving without her, so what time does do is give you perspective and time to grieve and process, but it does not make the pain go away.

So I woke up the next morning, and found index cards for everyone sitting around our table, and I wrote out verses of thankfulness to our King of Kings.

So I took communion this Sunday while praying: Lord help my heart understand your will, your plans, and help me trust you even though it just hurts. It hurts bad. I just miss her, and I wish Mary Anna was coloring in between me and D. But I trust you Lord.

You see as we end thanksgiving and we look towards the season of the coming King, let our hearts draw near to the brokenhearted. Let us try not to push them away with our timelines and weariness of their sadness.

Because that is exactly what Jesus does. He draws near to us just as we are without any restrictions and clearly just says to us: Trust in Me. For I am enough.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures forever.
Psalm 136:1

Happy Thanksgiving and Keep Walking, my friends!