Thursday, June 25, 2009


Please do not ask when I pass and you see them,
of what happy occasion they mark.
You don't want to know, it hurts too much to explain,
this attempt at lighting the dark.

Please do not smile when you see these Alstroemeria,
whose meaning in devotion does lie.
They are not from a lover, or a sign of celebration,
but instead this babylost Mother's sigh.

How could I convey so that you would understand,
my need to visit Peyton daily atop that green hill?
Or the longing I have to see her smile one more time,
making her grave that much more painfully still?

How could I explain that I need something living
to be where my dead child has gone?
Or that bringing these flowers is just another way of showing
that even without her, this mother's love goes on?

Could I make you feel what I felt when I broke,
watching her struggle for breath and then go?
Or what it feels like to have speaking into thin air,
be the only type of Motherhood I know?

Yes, please do not smile when you see me passing,
or ask from what happy celebration the flowers come.
You are better off not knowing that stories like this exist,
or how quickly one's life can come undone.
~Kristin Binder

Sunday, June 21, 2009

(Father's) Day

I can see it in our nieces faces,how they always light up when they see you, how you offer seemingly endless energy when you play with them.
I could see it in the way that you joked lovingly with my full belly, how you got anxious with each phonecall as we neared my due date, and spent hours getting the carseat just right in preparation for Peyton's birth.
You were meant to be a Father.
I don't know if I ever told you this, but it was you that made me want to have a family.
I have been so fortunate to receive your love, to know your kindness, and I wanted to share that- you, with a child.
I guess that's what saddens me most this Father's Day.
We live in a world full of men dodging responsibility and child support, a world where entire television shows are centered around child denial and paternity tests, and it just seems so unfair.
Unfair that you, who so wanted and loved our child, who studied through weary eyes the packets of information that they gave us, even when it didn't make sense, and searched and searched for options and ways to keep her with us, you, who were so obviously born to be a Daddy, should have to be childless on your first Father's Day.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

For Better Or For Worse

Three years ago today, I married my best friend, on a rainy Saturday over Father's Day weekend. We celebrated with family and friends, made commitments before God, heard toasts and danced, and dreamt of our happy future together. It's amazing how far removed you can feel from the "you" of just three years earlier, when you are hit with something like we were with Peyton. Yet, despite all the pain and fear and sadness and anger, our love has endured.
The statistics on any marriage making it nowadays are a glass half full at best, and the statistics on marriages surviving the loss of a child are staggering (some studies citing a 90% divorce rate). When reflecting on the arrival of this third anniversary, there is no doubt in my mind as to how we have made it through another year despite the pain of this loss... hard work. Marriage is not always easy, it is not always for better, but it is always our top priority. Early on in this journey through grief, we were fortunate to have parents who reminded us that we couldn't just take for granted that we would stay together through this. This dose of reality has inspired us to constantly work at keeping the lines of communication open with one another, even when it would have just been easier to shut down.
Waking up this morning and thinking about this day, about what it means and represents, I thank God for having given me the insight early on to marry not just "mister right," but the "right man." So many couples vow to be together for better or for worse, without realizing that the for betters are not a guarantee, and the for worses are not necessarily fifty years away. They repeat a chain of words that they have heard uttered hundreds of times in life, in movies, in stories, and don't really understand their meaning or the depth of that commitment. For Better or For Worse means, I will not run from you when times are uncomfortable. I will not start over with someone else because it is easier. I will not turn my back on you when you have turned your back on yourself. I will not judge you, but instead try to understand.
In our short marriage, the for worse came far more quickly than either of us could have ever imagined. We are just kids ourselves, we could never have anticipated being tested this way or having to endure this kind of pain. I don't know why God has laid this heavy cross over our shoulders so early on, and most days my mind just gets stuck on the anger that I feel over that, but not today. Today I am thankful for the love of the right man, my best friend.
The majority of this last year of marriage has been spent in a state of pain and sadness, and as easy as it would be to get sucked into that abyss permanently, we cannot allow this loss to define our whole marriage. Sometimes I forget how young we are, how many years there are still ahead. Even if just for today, in the bittersweetness of this week that meshes both a day that celebrates our commitment to, and love for one another, and my husbands first Father's Day, I will hold out hope and believe that we have had our share of for worse, and the for better days are still to come.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Pain Is In The Permanence

I talk about you all the time
-But you don't come back
I work to honor your short life
-But you don't come back
I replay it over for some answers
-But you don't come back
Was there an option that we missed?
-But you don't come back
I scream at God for the injustice
-But you don't come back
I beg you for your forgiveness
-But you don't come back
I imagine how different our life should have been
-But you don't come back
I make deals with God
-But you don't come back
I question how this could happen
-But you don't come back
I blame myself and the doctors
-But you don't come back
I promise next time to do better
-But you don't come back
I wonder where I went so wrong
-But you don't come back
Was there something I could have done differently?
-But you don't come back
It's so hard not having any answers
-But you don't come back
I'm your mother, my heart's broken
-But you don't come back
Can't you see how much I miss you?
-But you don't come back
I tell you daily that I love you
-But you don't come back
Each night I pray it's all a bad dream
-But you don't come back

That is what hurts the most
that my pain, and love, and grieving
are not enough to bring you back
~Kristin Binder 

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Bend in the Road

There is a woman whom I have never met, and now know all too well. She drives the same streets as I do, shops the same stores, calls the same town home; but these are just similarities, and sadly, our connection runs much deeper now.

From the refuge of my home, where I have hidden out behind my grief these past several months, I couldn't help but notice the commotion that passed in the late afternoon. I heard the sirens, saw the succession of flashing lights speeding up the main road, and attributed it to a racing firetruck. It wasn't until a neighbor visited tonight with the news, that I put the pieces of what I heard, and what he was telling me, together. 

The story he told was one of youth and tragedy, and like so many that have come before it. It was the story of a sixteen year old girl without a driver's license, her sister's stolen car, a bend taken too quickly, and a vigil of candles now lighting the street where she drew her last breath. I am only 29, high school still feels like yesterday, and yet I heard this story with new ears tonight.

In the past, when told of such sad news, I have always related to the speeding teen. I could identify with their youth, the reckless behavior and false sense of being invincible. I would feel angry that they had been robbed of time, and grieve for their short life, lost before ever having the chance to take flight. What I failed to truly understand was what this meant for those that had to go on living without them. It's not that I didn't care, it's that I didn't really know. 

Tonight it hit me, that my perspective on hearing such a story is so profoundly changed. My heart sank with the knowledge that this poor woman, nameless and faceless to me, has been forced by circumstance into her first day in hell, and I began to pray for her to have the courage and the will to make it back. Losing a child is searing and unforgiving in its hurt. It pounds at you body and soul, without reprieve. I know of the struggle she will have just for breath these first weeks, of the darkness that lies ahead, the questioning and the guilt and the anger. It is a pain that no bereaved mother ever wants another to feel. Tonight I cry not only for that girl's life, cut so tragically and senselessly short, but also for her mother, who I know has just lost a piece of her soul, gone forever with her child at that bend in the road.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Everything Happens For A Reason

Everything happens for a reason. 

This, the most common of platitudes, is one that I have heard, and cringed at, a hundred times since Peyton died. Everything happens for a reason is a perfectly acceptable phrase to use when consoling a friend through the loss of a job i.e., losing this job will lead you to the next even better job; or through a tough break up i.e., no longer being with him will open you to the opportunity of meeting the next even better guy etc. etc. There is however, no reason so great, that it would justify the pain of watching your child suffer through chemotherapy, or the unrelenting grief that comes with watching her slip from this world to the next.

Today, while en route to a doctor's appointment, I sat stopped at a red light blocking me from making a left onto a main street. My light changed to green and I started to move forward, but luckily, out of the corner of my eye, sensed a car hurling toward me at far too fast a rate of speed to be someone who intended to stop at the red light before them. My reflexes engaged, I felt my foot hit the break, and watched in utter disbelief as this idiot woman screamed through my pathway, oblivious to the fact that she had just nearly caused a major accident.

 In that moment, sitting behind the wheel, heart pounding and thanking God for my reflexes, I realized that everything doesn't happen for a reason... sometimes things just happen. Had this woman hit me, she would have seriously hurt me or worse at the speed she was travelling, and there would have been no great meaning behind it... it just would have been. 

I have spent the last eight months trying to figure out why Leukemia chose to break our hearts. Why this happened to Peyton, to me, to us - and the reality is that there is just no reason. Life, for better or for worse, and without much concern or thought for those that it affects, just happens.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Sea Glass

It was recommended months ago that I find a journaling through grief group to help me process some of the emotions that came with losing Peyton. I was lucky to find a group to meet with on a near weekly basis, and the support from these women over the last several months has meant more than any words that I could write. This weekend I went on a retreat with them to the Mercy Center in Madison. I walked along the shoreline, combing the sand for something to bring back to Peyton that was representative of my experience with the group. I found three beautiful shells; one yellow, one orange, and one brown and white, that looked like the face of an eagle. I also found three beautiful pieces of seaglass; blue/green, clear, and brown. When I went for my daily visit with Peyton on the top of the hill where she is buried, I shared with her my experience from the weekend and what I had found for her. I described to her what shells were, how they ended up on the beach and what they looked like. I told her why I had chosen the ones I had, and detailed the vibrance of their colors. Then, placing them near her picture, I moved on to tell her about the three pieces of seaglass that I was holding in my hands; and in starting to speak about them, realized just how much their experience mirrored mine.

I told Peyton how most people find seaglass on the beach and admire its beauty, without giving much thought to all it has endured to wash up there. Like the bottle that these smooth pieces of glass came from, at first I was shiny and full and had purpose; but then she passed and it shattered me. Sharp and broken, I cut out in every direction, the pain so overwhelming that it hurt those who reached out to hold me. The grief and the anger dulled my spirit, and the waves of emotions pounded me relentlessly. The reminders of losing her were everywhere, crashing down on me without reprieve. As I entered Peyton's bedroom - crash. As I passed happy mothers on the street - crash. As I felt the emptiness she left in my arms - crash. I tossed and turned in that current, and was left disoriented by its attack. My sense of direction gone, I just prayed to safely reach the shore. In an instant, I , like the broken bottle, lost my ability to hold, support and protect what had come from within me. The tears washed over me, leaving only dullness where there had once been shine, and yet through it all, like the sea glass, I am still here.

This beach is certainly not what I had expected, and sometimes when the tide comes in real high, I can feel the waves coming back for me, but I won't give in. I know that no matter how safely I land in the sand, the rhythm of those waves will always be close enough to feel, but I am staking my claim on this piece of shoreline, and in doing so, know that I will be left standing. I am forever changed. My life had been clear and transparent, each step seemingly planned out for me before I reached it, my purpose well defined. Life has deepened me, washed a different perspective over me that I could never have imagined, and left me worn. I, like the blue/green, clear and brown shards of glass that I found this weekend, have stood in the path of the universe, feeling each blow in its efforts to pound me out of existence, and like the shards of glass, have not been lost to the sea. 

People walk the beach and see pieces of seaglass, something tangible to take home as a reminder of a trip, but I know that there is so much more to their story. I know that these smooth little stones hold a special kind of beauty and wisdom, one that can only be attained by surviving the journey.