Anna Caito 10-18-2017
I love that she is finding an outlet in writing, just like mom...
Every once in awhile it hits me. That punch you in the face, take away your breath, overwhelming grief. When one thing can take you 9 years back in time and leave a weight on your chest as if you are in the middle of the Nightmare once lived. It doesn't last long, but man does it hit hard. Today it hit me.
It may seem as if my mission to find Cinnamon chips was a bit crazy. Although I love to make Cinnamon chip scones and share them with those I love, there is a deeper meaning behind making them each year.
When we lost Emma 9 years ago I was lost. I was moving through the days trying to exist in a world I no longer knew. I was trying to be the best mom I could be to Anna, while trying to live life without my other daughter. One of the only ways I found peace was sitting on the bench near her grave. I spent hours by myself staring into the sky. Staring into the back of my eyelids as they burned with tears of regret and sorrow. I often stopped at Panera and got myself a cup of coffee before I went. The first few times I looked in the case of desserts and walked by. Trying to lose the baby weight from a baby you don't have is like a cruel joke. One day I scanned the scones and saw a Cinnamon Chip Scone. I thought, screw it, I'm going to the cemetery to visit my dead baby, I'm getting the damn scone. For 6 months I sat and ate my scone and had my coffee while at the cemetery. For awhile after, once pregnant with Connor, I swore I wouldn't eat them, fearing it would jinx me. I should have just eaten the scone then too. After we lost Connor I went back to get a scone on my way to the cemetery and they no longer had the same ones. It was like a sign to me that they were for my time with Emma. Just Emma.
Baking has always been a way to help me stop thinking. To focus on something else. I started baking a lot more when mom and dad got me a kitchen aid mixer shortly after we lost Emma and Connor. Then I found the copycat recipe for Panera Cinnamon Chip Scones. They are delicious. I love them, but that first bite every time takes me back. Time stands still and memories take over. So I make a few dozen more and I share them around. It is a feeling I need to feel every once in awhile. A taste that I will never forget.
I have been giving a speech about how thankful we are for children's hospital for a few years now. Any chance I am given I am proud to speak about how they saved our daughter's life and all of the other times we have had positive experiences.
The last time I spoke, I was on my way to Main Campus when it hit me. Out of nowhere I realized that this must have been the place where my brother passed away. That each time my parents came to see my child and console me, they were in the very building where their son had died. Because I wasn't sure, I called my dad to ask.
He told me that yes, Mikey died at Children's Hospital that Labor day in 1978. I apologized for never realizing that they had such trauma in this place they have gone to selflessly for their grandkids and for my sister and I. I realized as we spoke that 2 years to the day after Mikey had died, I was in the NICU at the very hospital. I spent 21 days in the NICU being admitted at 3 days old. They attempted to transport me by ambulance from my pediatrician, just as they had my brother before me, but I was well enough that mom drove me herself.
So the first time my parents were back was when Cincinnati Children's Hospital was saving my life on the anniversary of my brother's death.
When I spoke with my Dad about Mikey's short stay he told me they were admitted on Friday with Spinal Meningitis and he seemed to be doing better. Then a few days later he went septic. Dad told me of another little boy who was in the room next to Mikey. He had the same diagnosis and the same prognosis. When Mikey died on Monday, September 4 my parents left the hospital without him. The little boy who had been in the room next door walked down the hallway with his mom in front of them. Dad said he never understood how Mikey could be gone and this little boy was able to walk out of the hospital.
This story Dad shared with me has given me a whole different perspective with Mikey's story having such a tragic ending. It has also had me thinking of who this little boy who survived may be today.
Fast forward to yesterday. I was messaging with an old friend when a message she sent me back in 2013 popped up. She had told me about how her husband was 4 when he contracted Spinal Meningitis in the summer of 1978. I could barely believe my eyes as I read the details and asked her again. Her husband had gone septic as well. He had recovered. He had walked down the hallway with his mother out of the hospital. Although she couldn't remember the exact date his mother remembered it being near Labor Day.
As I sat and reflected on all of the stories I have been told of my brother. The new things I learn and the glimpses of who he might have been, this left me speechless. Could it be the little boy who walked out in front of my parents is this close to our lives?
Fate has a weird way of working itself out. God has a way of showing us what we need to know, in a time when we are ready to know it. As the anniversary of Mikey's death is upon us, those years when the dates and days line up perfectly, this timing is uncanny.
I have spent as long as I can remember struggling with creating "memories" of my brother through learning about him. Every time I think of him, see his picture I say a prayer for peace. My parents are the most kind, caring and positive people you could ever hope to encounter. They have chosen happiness even after the deepest sorrow imaginable. I am so incredibly blessed to have roll models to strive to be like. Please say a little prayer for mom and dad this weekend.
As I told a friend a few weeks ago. Some days like birthdays and anniversaries never get easier.
Time may heal us , but grief has a way of making it stand still again.
I see you mama
My heart is broken for you
I know a glimpse of your pain
As life pounds you down
As Hope gets harder to have
You have hope
As the emotional and physical pain
Of praying and hoping
Of excitement and positive thoughts
lead to immense heartbreak
You move forward
I know each loss is a part of you
Each baby has a piece of your heart
Each loss was your child
A child you prayed for
A child you planned for
A child you dreamed of
From the moment you thought just maybe
From the moment you got that positive test
From the moment you prayed that this pregnancy would be that one time
As you travel this road
Of uncertainty and sadness
Of hope and faith
When the path gets so dark
When you feel so alone
Know you are not alone
I will remember each of the babies
You dreamed of
I see you mama
You are not alone ....
My best boy.
Some nights I need to stop.
Stop and think.
Stop and reflect.
Stop and remember.
When you are at your worst.
When it brings me to my worst.
There is more than either of us know.
Sometimes when the moon is full.
Sometimes when Daddy has to leave.
Sometimes when there are big changes.
Sometimes when you know I need my attention elsewhere.
Sometimes it is the perfect storm.
You make things difficult.
You get a reaction.
You know how I work.
I raise my voice.
You lose a privilege.
I take time to quiet my mind.
You take time to make some noise.
We meet and we talk.
I tell you I know why you are having a bad night. That it doesn't make it okay.
That I understand how you feel.
Sometimes we need to sit and hold each other.
I have a different set of rules for you.
I learn something new everyday.
About the person I hope you become.
About the amazing person you already are.
About the parent I need to be for you.
You hate to be alone
You love to tell stories
You sing along to every song
You are caring
You are kind
And amazingly you.
Sometimes I need to remind myself
I only ever ask you to be the best you.
Sometimes I need to remind myself
That the best you is pretty amazing.