Tag Archives: death

A 5 year tale of transformation

5 years ago this afternoon, a few new friends were over making iron on t-shirts with the aspiration of starting a mom’s group at church. I didn’t know how these women would become a life support for me while Owen was on life support (and continue to support me in the years to come). Little did I know that Tony Maroni’s pizza would be the last meal I had with all four of my children healthy. I didn’t know my little sister would be a rock at home so I could hop in the ambulance and focus on breathing.

These past five years started with a mother’s worse nightmare coming true … and have taught me what healing feels like. It’s taught me how surrendering brings strength. When you can’t breath … a mother’s hug, a friend’s card in the mail, a therapist’s ear, a Sunday morning church service, a family remembering your baby brings the air you need. My family and friends have literally breathed for me at times.

To my friends and family, thank you for walking these 5 years with me. Thank you for carrying me when I wasn’t able to stand and for bringing the sunshine through my rain storm.

I still cry during the month of May at random times of remembering what life was like. I am still moved by other women’s stories of loss and wish there was something I could say or do to lessen their pain, knowing all too well there isn’t anything I can say or do but listen, pray and just show up.

Thank you for being a part of a beautiful story of healing. You have helped me. You have helped my family. Without you, this might not have been a story of healing but rather just tragedy. Owen’s story is a beautiful tale of transformation. A beautiful monarch butterfly and you as the cocoon that have wrapped me with protection and shelter.

As Logan and Weston have told me, Owen lives in my heart now.

Love, Mel


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Filed under Grief, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

To each and everyone one of you (yes, I’m talking to YOU!) …

Four years ago – I wrote this blog: https://bissingfamily.com/2011/05/26/nothing/

Today, there is so much more. There is Josie who takes good care of Owen’s heart. There is an unnamed girl in IL who was given more time with Owen’s liver. There are family and friends whom I met in the midst of my grief and now I have NO CLUE how I could ever live without! I bubble over with care and love from the angels God has sent my way.

To each and everyone one of you (yes, I’m talking to YOU!), thanks for loving me and my children. Thank you for walking this path with me … I didn’t have a choice but you did. You chose to weep and cry with me 4 years ago and you continue to walk with me today. I am totally convinced that life is about who is on the journey with you, rather than any destination. It’s about the love we share, the support we offer and the truth we speak. I know with God all things are possible and I believe that he makes it just a little bit easier by giving us each other.

My gratitude for for family, friends and internet besties is endless. If there is ever a time when you need a sister to walk with you, I’m here. I’d be honored to pray for you or to be a listening ear. It’s the least I could do after all the healing you have offered me. Ya’ll are like my life band-aids ūüôā

God is good all the time. All the time God is good.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Owen's Gone


November creeps in … the hole of Owen’s death starts to bleed again. I find myself having the ugly cries in church – every Sunday. I feel broken and weak. Funny how it almost hurts more two years later than it did days after Owen was gone. Perhaps the numbness of it all is still wearing off.

November is the start of all my Owen memories. It starts with the triplet’s birth. That Monday night when my sister and I gave each other mud masks in my hospital room. The goofy belly dance I atempted during Dancing with the Stars. The fetal monitoring that showed the baby’s heart beats didn’t have the accelerations they should. Then the news that they were just fine and everything was status quo. The Tuesday morning I woke up to more fetal monitoring and the news that the heart beats were a little faster than they’d like. Waiting for my “regular” nurse to come in at 7am and then the news that I had gone from 5 cm dilated to 7 cm dilated over night. WE WERE HAVING BABIES! The phone calls to our friends and family. My in-laws jumping into the car to drive down from Green Bay. My brother leaving school and my sister driving back from Watertown. All the happy, excited memories. The risk of so many things going wrong and everything being just fine. The peace I felt that evening when all three of my newborn babies had entered the world safely.

The months to come are filled with memories of lack of sleep, struggle, questioning if I’ll ever survive this. Soon the memories of hysterical “field trips” and first smiles. Falling in love with making my own baby food.

Then the night my entire life changed … all of our lives changed forever. The night that I gave my own child CPR. The taste of blood and the shaking from adrenaline. The desperate prayers that my child would be spared, but the deep knowing that he was already gone.

In the moments, hours and days of Owen being on life support I had all the time and space to sit and digest what was happening around me. Now in the the midst of “normal” life, I feel like I’m drowning. So many leaking holes in my water vase. So many that I can’t plug them all. My water is running out so much faster than it’s being put in. It’s depleting to matter how hard I struggle to keep it all in. So rather than mend and patch the brokenness, it’s all gushing out – I’m broken and drowning.

Tell me I’m normal. Tell me I’m not the only one falling apart at the seams. Stuggling to keep it together. This has got to be normal. Even in the midst of my own mess, I know there are others far worse off than I am. I know there are mothers who are just starting their journey of grief. There are mothers who will never hold their babies. There are single moms who are stuggling to pay the bills. There are mothers who can’t feed their children. I’m making it. I’m still above water, barely.

My mom told me to embrace the pain. Absorb it and process it. Don’t try to stuff it back in because it’s messy and you might not give the impression that you were hoping to make. But rather, be real. Be what you feel and act what you believe. I believe it’s ok to be sad. It’s ok to cry. So why do I try to stuff it all inside when that’s exactly how I feel? If you process the yucky stuff it turns into strength. It becomes “where you came from” rather than “what you are.”

In November, I miss Owen more than other times of the year. Please don’t take that as I don’t miss him other times of the year. It’s just a closer kind of pain. All the memories come slapping me in the face.

Sometimes when I write these horribly broken and sad blogs I fear that I sound weak or broken. I fear that people will take pity on me. I don’t write these words for sympathy or pity. I write them because they are real and honest. They are me. I write them because I find healing in sharing the hard truth. I pray that others will find comfort that they are not alone in their own sadness.

I continue to pray that God will use this horrific loss to make something good. I pray that he will use me and give me strength to be a blessing in the world. I pray that my ears and heart will be open to receive his message. I pray that those I love will feel just how much I care about them. I pray that my life might have a slight impact on just one person. Don’t let my loss go to waste – let good continue to come from it.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

2 Years Ago Today …

Today marks two years since I last saw Owen alive, since he drank his last bottle, smiled his last smile and took his last breath on his own. ¬†Today is almost more significant to me than his¬†official¬†death date (May 26). ¬†Perhaps it’s because today is when everything changed. ¬†Today was the day everything was flipped upside down and inside out. ¬†My “perfect” family of 6 was changed in a very big and un-fixable way.

This is also a time when I think about the EMTs and firemen that invaded my home.  Their faces are on my heart and their jobs are in my prayers.  Last year I brought the fire station a meal as a way to honor them and to say thank you for all that they did.  This year I decided to do the same.  So yesterday we brought the fire house that responded to my 911 call a meal.  We spent over an hour with the station Рthe boys got to sit in all of the fire trucks and ambulances.  And when I say all РI mean every last vehicle in that garage!

Last year I was a little disappointed to find that the man who gave Owen CPR wasn’t able to attend the meal. ¬†They explained to me that he had a class to be in. ¬†I couldn’t picture his face. ¬†I could see him on his knees in the nursery, I could see his hands on Owen’s chest, but I couldn’t remember his face. When I looked around the room this year, I recognized him immediately.

I spoke with him for a bit towards the end of the visit. ¬†He apologized for not being able to save Owen and said that he still feels like there was more he could have done. ¬†I was surprised to hear that he felt that way. ¬†I have always been so eternally thankful to him – I have never blamed him, wondered if he could have done more or even wished he would have done something different. ¬†I knew he had done his best. ¬†He was my hero in all of this – he revived Owen’s heart so that he could be an organ donor. ¬†Without him my journey would have ended on May 21, 2011. ¬†Owen would have passed away silently as so many other infants to. ¬†But Owen was given a chance to tell his story. ¬†My family was given five beautiful days in the hospital – sitting around Owen’s bed, all piled on top of each other, laughing and crying and saying good-bye to our beautiful baby boy. ¬†This EMT gave this gift to me. ¬†It’s been the only part of this journey that gives me peace and healing – two little girls lived through the death of my baby boy. ¬†I lost so that others could win. ¬†If Owen’s heart had not been revived, he would have only been able to donate his heart valves – that’s it. ¬†This blog wouldn’t exist. ¬†I wouldn’t have found my love for writing. ¬†Being about to speak about my faith so openly wouldn’t happen. ¬†This entire journey would have ended in one night.

I wanted to find the words that would let him see into my soul and see what I saw in that night. ¬†I wanted him to know, with¬†certainly, how thankful I am. ¬†It was by far the most painful experience of my life – but I’ve also be so richly blessed through it. ¬†Isn’t there a bible verse about “blessed are those who grieve for they are comforted”?

I am surprised by the emotions that still sneak up on me. ¬†My mom came over today on a whim, just to keep me company. ¬†I didn’t know I needed company, but her being there made me feel better. ¬†I continue to be thankful for all the prayers my family and I received during Owen’s hospital stay and continue to receive. ¬†You are what made my story start to feel like it was serving a bigger purpose. ¬†Thank you.

Owen Рmom still loves you.  I always will.  We speak your name in our home.  We pray for you at night.  Your brothers will grow up knowing about you.  Chunky Monkey.  Buddha.  Oh-Dee-Doe-Dee.  Owen.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Owen's Gone


Time … it’s been two years. ¬†Two years since I saw Owen alive for the last time. ¬†Two years since my home was filled with EMTs and policemen. ¬†Two years since I was just a “normal” triplet mom – not the triplet mom that has to explain where the third one is.

I’ve painted my nails orange. ¬†I’m bringing dinner to the firehouse that answered my call on May 21, 2011. ¬†I’ve invited my closest friends and family for a bonfire. ¬†Time has changed May in so many ways. ¬†Last year I was so anxious. ¬†Counting the days until the anniversary would arrive. ¬†This year, it sort of snuck up on me. ¬†All of a sudden I found myself saying “I really should plan something – I can’t believe the anniversary is next week already!”

I told a friend on the phone, “I’m doing ok. ¬†I feel strong. ¬†Of course I would do anything to have my son back, but it’s hard to feel beat down when I have been so richly blessed out of this terrible thing.” ¬†See, I also believe that Owen is with the Lord. ¬†There is no better place than that. ¬†He is with the ultimate protector. ¬†I don’t need to worry about where he is or if he is suffering or hurt. ¬†He is dancing and singing. ¬†He is experiencing a supreme happiness. ¬†So when I look at my earthly life – I know I don’t need to worry about Owen anymore. ¬†I am free to graciously accept the blessings that have been poured down on me.

I’ve been thinking about what a difference two years makes and I thought I would read my blog post from two years ago: The Magic 8 Ball Knows All¬†(May 20. 2011) Jaden said I would have another baby – a girl to be exact. ¬†Could he have been¬†foretelling¬†Josie? ¬†The heart I grew and cared for during my 33 weeks and 3 day¬†pregnancy¬†would one day keep another small girl live? ¬†It’s hard to say. ¬†Perhaps it was my god-daughter Leighton? ¬†I’m so in love with her and pray for her as though she were my own child? ¬†Again, hard to say …

I am hung up on just how unknowing I was of what the next day had in store for me. ¬†I had no idea what was coming or that the picture I posted would be the very last I would ever take of my Owen with his eyes open. ¬†I suppose that’s how most¬†tragedies¬†hit – unknowingly. ¬†Smack out of no where.

I’ve got my owenge planned for the week. ¬†I’ve laid my heart in God’s hands. ¬†I ask for His protection this week and for this healing spirit to¬†rejuvenate¬†my broken soul.

Love, Mel

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A Lenten Devotional for Good Friday

I was asked to write a Lenten devotional for Good Friday – my reaction? ¬†Seriously? ¬†Can’t you just give me a random day in the middle? ¬†I’m not equipped to write a devotional for Good Friday! ¬†I’m so young and there are far wiser people in my church who have so much to teach.¬† My pastor assured me that I was fit for the job. ¬†So here I am – with the devotional I wrote for the members of my church and I’m sharing it with you. ¬†God Bless you on this sacred Good Friday in Lent.

John 19:17-37

25 Standing near the cross were Jesus‚Äô mother, and his mother‚Äôs sister, Mary (the wife of Clopas), and Mary Magdalene.¬†26 When Jesus saw his mother standing there beside the disciple he loved, he said to her,¬†‚ÄúDear woman, here is your son.‚Ä̬†27 And he said to this disciple,‚ÄúHere is your mother.‚Ä̬†And from then on this disciple took her into his home.¬†28 Jesus knew that his mission was now finished, and to fulfill Scripture he said,¬†‚ÄúI am thirsty.‚Ä̬†29 A jar of sour wine was sitting there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put it on a hyssop branch, and held it up to his lips.¬†30 When Jesus had tasted it, he said,¬†‚ÄúIt is finished!‚Ä̬†Then he bowed his
head and released his spirit.¬†31 It was the day of preparation, and the Jewish leaders didn‚Äôt want the bodies hanging there the next day, which was the Sabbath (and a very special Sabbath, because it was the Passover). So they asked Pilate to hasten their deaths by ordering that their legs be broken. Then their bodies could be taken down.¬†32 So the soldiers came and broke the legs of the two men crucified with Jesus. 33 But when they came to Jesus, they saw that he was already dead, so they didn‚Äôt break his legs.¬†34 One of the soldiers, however, pierced his side with a spear, and immediately blood and water flowed out.¬†35(This report is from an eyewitness giving an accurate account. He speaks the truth so that you also can believe.)¬†36 These things happened in fulfillment of the Scriptures that say, ‚ÄúNot one of his bones will be broken,‚Ä̬†37 and ‚ÄúThey will look on the one they pierced.‚ÄĚ

It was August 6, 2012.  My mom called me at work to let me know that they weren’t going to treat my grandpa anymore.  They were just going to keep him comfortable.  It was an ending that I knew would eventually come but I had no idea so soon.

I left work immediately.  I walked into his hospital room and there he was Рlying peacefully with his eyes closed.  I hugged my family.  We gathered around his bed to say a prayer.  I prayed with all of my heart and all of my soul that this wasn’t really happening.  Please God, save my grandpa.  Don’t let this be happening right now.  If only he would open his eyes.  Tears screamed down my face and my heart raced with the desperation of my prayer.

We spent time telling funny stories about Grandpa.¬† How he loved to wear his green and gold zumba pants with his suede slippers.¬† The sound of his laugh.¬† The way he insisted on having his hair cut ‚Äď ‚Äúif you can‚Äôt wash it with a wash rag, it‚Äôs too long.‚Ä̬† There were stories of his wisdom and strength, and how he beautifully loved my grandma and all of his children and step-children.

I remember what the room looked like and where the couch and hospital bed were positioned.¬† I vividly remember the ‚Äėcomfort cart‚Äô parked in the corner of the room ‚Äď stocked with snacks and soda.¬† I remember the sounds of the room too ‚Äď the laughs, tears and then this rattling.¬† It was ugly and monster-like.¬† Grandpa‚Äôs breathing was slowing down and with it came a sort of moan and rattle.¬† The sound was unnerving.¬† Freighting really.¬† I had never heard something like this before.¬† (I didn‚Äôt know that this was a normal part of dying.)

The change in Grandpa’s health weighed down the room.  Our chests were tight with grief.  At some unknown time, the sound started to blend in with the other sounds of the room.  It was rhythmic and became predicable.  It was almost comforting and soothing.  There was a tipping point when the absence of the rattling became more uncomfortable or frightening than the actual sound.  The rattling meant that Grandpa was still alive.

From something that was so ugly came something that I wasn‚Äôt sure how to live without.¬† In the face of loss or pain, we cling to anything familiar ‚Äď grabbing at rocks as we tumble head over heels down the hill of loss.¬† What happens when Grandpa takes his last breath and the rattling stops?¬† Does that mean I go home?¬† Then what?¬† I‚Äôm not in control of what happens next.

At some point, the frightening and ugly parts of life become comfortable and familiar.¬† The weight of the cross we each carry absorbs itself into each step we take.¬† Our flaws blend into who we are ‚Äď they begin to define us.¬† I am an alcoholic.¬† I am divorced.¬† I am homeless or jobless.¬† I am a failure.¬† When we look in the mirror, all we see is our cross, our brokenness.¬† No matter how broken, it‚Äôs the part of us that we know intimately.

What happens when I no longer have to carry the cross on my own?  What would I see in the mirror if I no longer had a cross on my back to carry?

We know that Easter is coming.  We can be confident that every Good Friday will be followed by Easter.  We might not know what Easter is … or what it will unfold, but we can be confident that it’s in the near future.  No death or darkness is ever without an Easter.  Our cross will be lifted.  It is no longer our own to carry.

It‚Äôs ok to find comfort in the rattling of your life.¬† It‚Äôs ok to take time to rest in the known misery.¬† But don‚Äôt get stuck there.¬† Let go of the known sadness and open yourself up to accept a ‚Äėnew normal.‚Äô¬† Easter is coming.¬† When you catch a glimpse of it ‚Äď don‚Äôt lose focus.¬† The healing is just beginning.

Love, Mel




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Owen’s Medal of Honor

When we pulled up to the¬†Governor’s¬†mansion my mom instinct to get all the kids out and across the street kicked in. ¬†I found myself dazed on the driveway – putting on my name badge, posing for a group photo in front of a beautiful fountain. ¬†Then I knew I needed to find a restroom before the ceremony started – the Diet Mountain Dew I had on the car ride was kicking in. ¬†The line was so long that by the time it was my turn it was time to find our seats. ¬†I grabbed a cookie on my way to the back of the tent, where my family was already seated and waiting for me.

It wasn’t until the ceremony started that they announced that Gov. Walker wouldn’t be attending. ¬†I’m not going to lie, I was peeved. ¬†Our time to honor Owen had already been postponed a year and now we weren’t even going to have the medal presented by who was promised? ¬†I’m not sure if those of you who do not live in WI have heard on the news, but there was¬†a mass shooting in a Sikh temple¬†in a Milwaukee suburb (Oak Creek). ¬†We were told that Gov. Walker was “spending time with the families effected by the shooting.” ¬†Now, I’m just going to be brutally honest – I was hurt by that. ¬†The shooting was¬†DEVASTATING,¬†HORRIFIC and TERRIBLE … but the Donor Network ceremony was honoring 209 families who have lost their loved ones. ¬†There were 6 deaths in the Sikh temple shooting. ¬†Didn’t really seem like he chose how he could reach the most people – he rather went to where the news cameras would be. ¬†The terrible and bitter thought of ¬†“just because my son’s death didn’t make national news, means that he’s not worth Gov Walker’s time.” ¬†It was a horrible thought and it felt even more horrible. ¬†I was a little ticked that he was not going to be there. ¬†Let me also end by saying, I am actually a Scott Walker fan and am not looking to start any kind of political debate. ¬†I simply felt like it was just a political move … and I can’t stand politics.

That being said – the ceremony was really something special. ¬†The instrumental music that played while each loved one’s name was¬†announced¬†was perfect. ¬†The weather was beautiful and the view of the water was calming.

We were third in line to¬†receive¬†Owen’s medal. ¬†I carried Weston, Doug had Logan and Jaden walked proudly between us.

As we paused to wait for our time to walk, I looked up and felt the wind get knocked out of my chest.  I flashed back to the funeral Рwhere the musical was playing, and I was standing at the back of the church looking at a sea people.  I looked down the aisle and just focused on Rebecca Kleefisch (Lt Governor of WI) just as I had focused on the large picture of Owen at the altar.  The only thing I could do was breath and put one foot in front of the other.


(love this picture because it shows the craziness of what our family is really like)


We received Owen’s medal with honor. ¬†We¬†received¬†a heart felt thanks for Owen’s gift. ¬†Logan and Weston were especially loved. ¬†Then we made our way back to our seats. ¬†I realized just how my grief had been replaced with joy in so many ways. ¬†I had not felt the heart stabbing pain in so long. ¬†Perhaps it’s because I turned it all over to the Lord from the very beginning. ¬†Perhaps it’s because I have two boys who have replaced my pain with smiles. ¬†I am so busy loving Logan, Weston and Jaden. ¬†It does NOT mean that I don’t love Owen. ¬†It just means that I gave myself permission to be happy. ¬†I have allowed myself to love what I still have.

As Logan and Weston grow, I have come to know each of them individually. ¬†They have started to show their personalities and preferences. ¬†This is a part of Owen I never knew – he was too young. ¬†I know he was much calmer than his brothers, but even that is different between Logan and Weston now. ¬†I remember the nights that Logan just WOULD NOT SHUT UP! ¬†And now he is the calmest and cuddliest of the two. ¬†Who knows what Owen would have been like. ¬†I can spend hours¬†hypothesizing¬†and guessing how he would have played into the mix. ¬†But it would have been just that – a guess. ¬†I feel like I’m grieving someone I hardly knew. ¬†A personality I never met or saw. ¬†It’s hard to¬†imagine¬†what my life would be like if he were still here. ¬†There really isn’t a huge¬†gaping¬†hole anymore. ¬†The boys have outgrown all of the clothes I had in sets of three – their drawers are filled with blue and green.

The pain and¬†awkwardness¬†is still there every time I call them triplets to a stranger and they look at me puzzled and ask where the third one is. ¬†Then I think “crap, I’ve got to go there again.” ¬†But the thing is they ARE TRIPLETS! ¬†I don’t know that I’d ever be able to call them anything else. ¬†I just hate having to explain my story over and over when it’s become an intrinsic part of me. ¬†I just want to be able to introduce my children without a sad story that goes along with it.

As I sat in my chair, I noticed the photos some families were carrying up with them.¬† A few rows up a father carried a photo of (who I assume to be) his daughter ‚Äď maybe 9 or 10 with beautiful long red hair.¬† It felt like she was looking right at me.¬† I could imagine what a joy she must have been to have around.¬† Her family must still feel her loss in the family.¬† Her smile and personality had already made an impression on me, surely in ten years she was a huge part of her own family.¬† I found myself wondering how she died.¬† Was it illness? Or a sudden accident?¬† It felt rude to walk up to these strangers and ask them such personal questions.¬† So instead I said a prayer for her family.¬† I prayed that they would feel the comfort of my thoughts. ¬†I prayed for their beautiful daughter who was the hero to someone else.¬† I confessed that I was thankful my child was taken from me so early ‚Äď only having 6 months to grieve seemed like the long stick when compared to ten years.¬† I know it‚Äôs like comparing apples to oranges, but I find myself thinking this more and more.¬† I thanked the Lord for giving me Weston and Logan ‚Äď so that I had something to love in his place.¬† When I miss Owen, I hug one of the other triplets a little tighter.¬† I sing Owen‚Äôs bed time lullaby to the other boys.¬† Perhaps that‚Äôs why the hole doesn‚Äôt seem so empty.¬† Maybe I just filled it with loving the other boys more ‚Äď simply because they are here with me.¬† Not because I love Owen any less.¬† I think it feels like I don‚Äôt miss Owen as much because it‚Äôs become natural to use my love for Owen on the other boys.

When we get home from vacation, I’ll find the perfect place to display Owen’s medal.  It was a beautiful ceremony and will be remembered always by myself and my family.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Organ Donation

Private Practice

Someone should have warned me about the Private Practice episode this week … whoa. ¬†If you aren’t a Private¬†Practice¬†watcher … one of the characters, Amelia, is pregnant with her deceased boyfriend’s baby. ¬†She finds out that her son doesn’t have a brain. ¬†He won’t live much more than a few hours after birth. ¬†So she decides that she’s going to carry the baby to full term with the plan of donating her baby’s organs. ¬†What you don’t find out until this episode is that she can’t technically donate them because she son will never be able to be declared brain-dead – he still has brain stem activity. ¬†So she has to convince her doctor friends to harvest the organs.

Took me back to 355 days ago … when Doug and I were fighting so hard for Owen to donate his organs. ¬†It was the only good thing that could come out of something so ugly.

Amelia said that she didn’t want to see or hear her baby – just take him away. ¬†I remember my feelings as the time came closer and closer to Owen having the surgery, I wasn’t sure I wanted to hold my dead baby. ¬†I didn’t it to erase all the memories I had of holding him alive. ¬†As a true mother, she changed her mind in the last minute. ¬†She looked at her baby, with no brain, and cried at how beautiful he was. ¬†I still think that Owen was the most beautiful baby even when he was hooked up to all the machines, tubes all over the place. ¬†He was still beautiful with his skin pale and cold. ¬†There came a crucial moment when Amelia needed to decide if she was going to hold him until his last breath or if she would hand him over in hopes that he could still donate his organs.

I remember the entire walk down to the operating room. ¬†I remember the elevator ride. ¬†The way the temperature of the hallways were so much cooler when we got to the operating floor. ¬†I remembering having to force myself to let go – to be ok. ¬†It was now or never. ¬†There was no turning back now. ¬†I remember Doug’s eyes as he reassured me that it would be ok. ¬†It was time. ¬†I can still picture the swinging doors closing as they took Owen to his final place. ¬†We stood with our pastor and watched as he was wheeled down the long hallway into the O.R. at the end of the hall. ¬†I stood there for a long while – unable to move. ¬†Un-wanting to move. ¬†I wasn’t ready to leave his side yet. ¬†But I had to be ok – I had to let go at that very moment. ¬†There was no turning back. ¬†I knew it was what I had to do – but I had all those feelings of not wanting to. Amelia’s moment of truth in this episode – man, I could relate.

It was choosing to let go because the good out weighed the bad.  Saving two lives was far more valuable than holding Owen until his body failed him.  What would have come of his death?  A good blog to read?  It had to be more.

What made me totally lose it was when they showed the organ harvesting. ¬†Of course I know it’s Hollywood surgery but ti’s something that I’ve never pictured before. ¬†The silver bowls and ice that they placed each tiny organ on. ¬†How small each organ really was. ¬†The child’s face on the body cut open. ¬†Innocence¬†being cut wide open. ¬†I focused on the breathing tube. ¬†The one tube that wasn’t able to be removed when I held Owen. ¬†I¬†received¬†texts from our organ transplant coordinator as they harvested each organ. ¬†But I could never really visualize it. ¬†I had a storybook image – but nothing as real as this was.

I wouldn’t say what I was feeling was horrible … it wasn’t good either. ¬†It was just a lot of emotion. ¬†All at once. ¬†Yes I cried – wailed even at some points. ¬†I couldn’t¬†breathe¬†because my chest felt so tight. ¬†But still I wouldn’t say it was horrible. ¬†It was just a lot. ¬†I welcome the pain. ¬†I welcome the emotions. ¬†I know I need to feel them to continue to heal.

I just wasn’t expecting to get all that out of a weeknight sitcom. ¬†How many other donor mom’s out there were watching? ¬†I hope it helped you to feel what you needed to feel. ¬†I’m sorry it’s got to hurt so bad. ¬†It sucks. ¬†It really sucks. ¬†But welcome the pain – embrace it. ¬†It only hurts bad for the first little bit — then it turns into a reminder that you are real. ¬†You are a mom. ¬†You are an organ donor mom.

I just wish someone had told me before I watched it! ¬†It caught me so off guard. ¬†I would have had the tissues a little closer too …

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Organ Donation, Owen's Gone

Owen’s Face

I lay in bed … Listening to the thunder. I smile as I think of what the Schaefer kids would tell me … It’s the angels laughing.

I can’t picture what his face looks like. I close my eyes and I only see a blank face. A face without eyes, nose or a mouth. I don’t look at pictures of him. Although I think of him every other minute. Seeing his picture reminds me of how really gone he is. If I keep him in my heart, then in some ways he feels as though he is still alive. That part of my son isn’t gone … The part that I carry with me. It’s the same part that had me worried when I didn’t know exactly where his ashes were or the part of me that found comfort when the officials would update me as to where his body was and where it would go next. It’s the part of a mother that never stops worrying.

I carry each of my kids in my heart. I pray for each of them. I meditate on their names. I hold them up. I cherish their little souls and I ask for the strength and wisdom to be the Lord’s arms in hugging them. I do this for all four of my boys.

When I look at his picture … His face is forever frozen in time. Forever having a gummy smile. His baby face. Those large, round, dark eyes. I want to see his face. I want to look at him all the time. But it’s just more proof of the loss … A different kind of pain than just remembering he died.

It’s looking at a face that has life and then remembering his lifeless eyes while doing CPR. It’s seeing him giggle and coo in home videos and then remembering his doll like stillness at his funeral. It’s disgusting knowing that life once filled those eyes. Knowing that looking at a picture of my own flesh and blood can hurt so badly.

I welcome the pain as much as I fear it. The more I welcome it the quicker I will become accustomed to it. The less interrupting the pain will be. If I open myself to it … The pain will be absorbed and become part of my flesh. A pain that will make me stronger. A pain that will eventually hold me together. It becomes the bricks in my foundation. Apart of the path that is life.

So tomorrow I’m going to look at his picture. Stare at his face until the pain is numb. Then I’ll do it all over again. Convince myself that I will see his face again some day … Remind myself that he is still with me … And forgive myself for not remembering what he looks like some days.

Love, Mel


Filed under Grief, Owen's Gone, Posted by Melissa

Thoughts to Ponder

So many parts of church this morning rang true to me. ¬†It was like all these truths that I know I need to believe or act upon, yet I find myself just ‘not wanting’ to. ¬†Why can’t things just “be” for a while? ¬†Why does it always feel like I have to fix or improve upon something. ¬†I move from one broken part of life to the next. ¬†Car accidents, death of a child, marriage issues, friend squabbles — is there a break in site?

Your entire story can be changed with the right inspiration. ¬†I know how quickly life changes, from experience. ¬† From happily putting my kids to bed, with the anticipation of some card games and maybe a cold beer – to an ambulance ride and a funeral eleven days later. ¬†With a split second decision to sit at a computer in the parent’s lounge on the fifth floor of Children’s Hospital – pouring my soul over the keyboard, begging for prayers. ¬†I was just going to get a soda with my brother, but the empty chair and blank computer screen showed itself as the right kind of inspiration. ¬†Now here I am sitting in my kitchen, pouring more of myself onto the screen. ¬†My entire story has changed from “freak show mom of spontaneous triplets” to “grieving mother whose faith is worn on her sleeve in hopes of giving others hope.” ¬†I’m still trying to find my way through life – trying to figure out where to go from here. ¬†But my story is very different from it was a year ago.

Pain shapes people in a new way. ¬†It has changed every fiber of my being. ¬†The way I look at life or other women in the grocery store. ¬†Just because she doesn’t have screaming kids in their cart, doesn’t mean that she isn’t a mother. ¬†Just because there are two faces doesn’t mean that they are twins. ¬†Pain becomes the shadow that follows you everywhere. ¬†It isn’t screaming and kicking and yelling — my pain has quieted down at least. ¬†But it’s still there. ¬†I still find myself awkwardly telling new acquaintances that I have four children – then panicking at the thought of having to clarify. ¬†I’m new. ¬†Like the tender pink skin under a sunburn that has peeled away. ¬†Like the fresh raw skin under a blister, never having seen the sun before. ¬†Even the slightest touch can be felt. ¬†The pain is intense. ¬†But with time, the skin thickens. ¬†It toughens and becomes worn. ¬†My pain has made me new again.

It takes far less courage to cling to the past than to look to the future. ¬†I remember Doug’s terrified eyes while in the hospital – “he’s got to be ok.” ¬†We both clung to the images of all three boys starting their first day of school. ¬†Three cap and gowns at graduation. ¬†Three weddings. ¬†While these events hadn’t occurred yet, they were the dreams of the past. ¬†They were our hopes. ¬†It was terrifying to think that we would only have two.

Just when you think the story is at an end – Jesus rises out of the tomb. ¬†Owen’s death, his funeral – I thought it was an ending. ¬†Never did I think I would still be blogging. ¬†Never did I think I would be entertaining the thought of a book. ¬†Death is so often thought of as an ending. ¬†Yet there are so many new beginnings. ¬†A new life without your loved one – a new normal. ¬†New experiences. ¬†Another beginning. ¬†The story isn’t over – it’s just beginning.

All of these amazing thoughts to digest – to be inspired by. ¬†To find hope in. ¬†Yet all I can think about is how much work it sounds like. ¬†Isn’t there a time in life when you just get to “be?” ¬†To exist? ¬†Why does it feel like I’m always trying to fix, mend or heal something in my life? ¬†Deaths, relationships, housework. ¬†Why can’t I just sit and enjoy the nice house we have? ¬†I feel like I must always be cleaning something. ¬†There is always work to be done. ¬†Why can’t a relationship ever just work? ¬†I feel like I am always having to try to find new ways of approaching topics or explaining myself 12,000 times. ¬†When do I get to enjoy all that I have worked so hard for? ¬†I’m tired. ¬†I’m ready for a break.

Please don’t take pity. ¬†Please don’t tell me to hang in there – I’m not giving up. ¬†I’m not throwing myself a pity party. But rather, these are the true thoughts and battles. ¬†The huge exhale as you swing your feet out of bed “here we go again.” ¬†One foot in front of the other. ¬†One cup of coffee at a time. ¬†Sometimes it just gets tough to keep moving forward. ¬†But it’s the right thing to do and I’ve never been afraid of some sweat or discomfort – as long as it’s for the right reason.

Love, Mel


Filed under Faith, Mommyhood Meditations, Posted by Melissa