Homeless Heart

It is strange going home and realizing that you don't have a place.  That in one way or another, you have lost all your friends and your family are strangers.

I love this house.  I love the fireplace that looks like the one I would read in front of as a little girl.  I love the kitchen that we worked so hard for.  I love the transformation from our labor...  I hate that it is quiet.  It is silent because of the absence of friends.  Ghosts of yesterday remind us that we are alone.  The chaos and the laughter are missing.  The deep, into the night talks are nonexistent and the hurt is so very tangible.  I love this house but I mourn all the brokenness that came with it.

I would give almost anything to have my friends back.  To be able to talk about my hurt and my fears.  Conspiracy theories and pterodactyls.  To laugh as the kids run and the awkward feelings of six year olds.

I wish I could find a place, and bring everything together.  My best friends and my family.  To watch to six year old boys get outdone by the little cheerleader.  To watch Tripp try and handle three four year old girls.  To hold the only baby that brought me comfort after Logan...  I want to sit back and throw around military jokes,  to listen as the one says he will never get married if picking a door color is so much trouble, to have the comfort I did just a few months ago and the comfort of my family.

But I can't.  Friendships are lost and family is broken.

And we are so very alone.

Tiny Titan

This was my speech at the memorial service
When I was stationed in Corpus Christi, someone asked my pastor why we never see miracles like they have in the Bible.  He quickly replied that miracles happen every moment of every day, but often the state of our heart blinds us to them.  Logan showed us that, every day.  His life was a testimony of God's grace, love, and joy.

Before I go any further, I want to clarify that God did not take my child from me.  The Bible clearly states that God does not wish for children to die.  Death is not of God, but even death could not hide Logan from God's grace.  He passed away quickly, peacefully, and without pain.  That is a gift.  He died knowing he was loved.  He never knew a day of suffering.  He had a perfect birth, life, and death.  That is grace.  My baby will never know a day of suffering.  From the day he was born there was something different about him.  My heart ached, almost knowing he would be temporary, but we are all on borrowed time.

Logan loved to laugh.  He was always trying to make someone smile.  He was an easy baby who adored his puppies kisses, chasing Cammy, and reveling in Owen's adoration.  He loved spending the mornings with Lucky and helping me unfold clothes or undo any knitting or crocheting that I had apparently not wanted done.  He was the master of finding what the vacuum lost.  He hated the nose sucker (bulb syringe), unless Sean was using it.  He thought Ian made the best fart noises.  He loved and took comfort in Bart pacing with him.  He also loved to remind his Aunt Megan that "3-ora" was more comfortable in the chest area.  He also loved to stick his tongue out at you as he wiggled his bum.  His Daddy and Owen were his heroes and Mommy and Cammy were his princesses.  At the end of the day, he let me know that I was a great Mom.  That is something I never believed until him.

Now we are left wondering about the present.  How deep is it?  How wide?  How much of it is ours to keep?  After David became king, his baby became ill.  David mourned and fasted.  He spent his days crying out to God.  One day, while he was in his room, the baby passed away.  His servants were terrified to tell him, but when David found out, he got up, dressed, and asked for breakfast.  His servants were confused, telling him he mourned at the wrong time.  David replied "Someday, I will go to him.  He will not come to me."

Logan is in God's house, waiting for us.  He is surrounded by family.  A sibling, aunts, uncles, cousins, and so many more.  The Bible speaks of how we are known in heaven as we were on Earth.  He is still my son, and because he was my gift, those that are connected to us are connected to him.  I will see my son again.  I will cherish the time that I have here now, but I look forward to when I will be home with him.  I will try to live my life with the joy that he taught us.  I will strive to be the woman of Proverbs 31, "She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.", for my son and my God.

(There may have been more, but this is what was in my notes from that day)

Dark Room

“It's so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.” 

I don't remember him.  I desperately search for songs about death so maybe... just maybe there will be emotions brought out.  Emotions that I should have embraced when they were fresh.  Emotions I should have acknowledged.  I didn't get to hold my baby and I didn't get to cry.

I don't miss him.  How can you miss a dream? Some sick trick has taken over my mind.  He wasn't real.  I can't remember his scent, his laugh, his touch...  But I feel like the ghost.  My two little ones desperately search me out, but babies, Mommy died months ago... without a scream, a tear, a fight.  

My skin feels like an over sized costume.  It hangs off of me.  A gaunt,  ghostly face is in the mirror.  She is vile and made up of everything I deplore.  She is weak and terrified.  She is so filled with anger and seething with desperation.  She is a monster. I want to claw the reflection away.  She scares me.  I scare me.

When did I become this ghost?  We're these things always apart of me?  I have become so careless and destructive.  How could the loss of a baby make me so sick?  I feel like his death was the death of everything good in me.  I feel like I am trapped in time.  I can't make sense of anything anymore.

Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?

Save me, O God,

    for the waters have come up to my neck.

I sink in the miry depths,
    where there is no foothold.
I have come into the deep waters;
    the floods engulf me.
I am worn out calling for help;
    my throat is parched.
My eyes fail,
    looking for my God.

Almost 30

Dear Cammy,

   I want to share some information with you that my mom told me.  Those goofy/lookin boys you are going to know as kids, the ones all the girls overlook because of how weird they are, their weight, their height, their smell (although, admittedly, that doesn't always get better), or their acne, those boys are going to be golden when you hit 30 (some may even out by the end of high school, but that is another topic).  I want you to know, I can not wait till 30, because I am going to be surrounded by some beautiful and amazing men.

   I talk to these guys all the time.  A couple of them are HUGE deals in your life (Yes, tomorrow is Friday and Bart will be here), but I know stuff about them your sweet little eyes can't comprehend.  Things that they may not have enjoyed from their childhood have defined them as amazing men.  Men that I am blessed to know.  Men that I am comfortable letting be a part of your life.  Little one, those goofy boys that girls will tease or run away from, be their friend.  When you hit thirty, you will be surrounded by the Princes among men.  I know thirty is inconceivable to you, but I promise it isn't old.  I am looking at thirty in a couple years, and amazed at how very young I am... but that is a different talk.  Anyways...

You know that kid that just moved from another state?  The one with a little extra weight who is very shy, ok a bit socially awkward?  When he grows up, he will be your saving grace when you husband is at work, and you have a screaming, sick baby.  For the next two years he always brings a spare shirt, and never complains as your children spit up on him time and time again.  When he hits 27, he decides he is tired of being over weight.  Without posting every pound, he slowly and with determination drops his excess weight.  He also promptly brings over his "fat pants" to donate to your husband who for the first time in his life, gained weight.  You may not always understand him, and he may not understand you, but he will be there when you need him.  That kid is Ian.

You know that other overweight boy?  The one who is always cracking jokes and being the funny guy?  The one all the girls will put in the friend zone?  When he grows up, he becomes one of the best Dad's EVER.  He grows up, gets in shape and blossoms into a beautiful man.  There is a saying (a horrible one but mostly true) that someone has "fat kid personality",  those usually are the best kinds of people.  The are nurturers because so often they were left out.  They have no idea how beautiful they are because so often they were over looked.  They know how to crack a joke, because that was the only way they could get noticed.  Yes, that "fat kid" that no one pays attention to will grow up to be Tony.  He may be a little flighty, but one heck of a man.  He is one of your Daddies best friends.  I promise to drag him and his family around more.

Or that kid who talks funny?  Maybe he stutters or he just sounds funny?  The one that kids make fun of for being dumb.  Sometimes he fights too much, or some times he just can't sit still...  He isn't dumb, it turns out he is quite brilliant.  He grows up to go to school for something that takes way more smarts than I have...  When there is a freak accident and you have to rush all of your kids to the E.R., he goes out of his way to try and cook a meal (but also buys lunchables just in case) so you and your kids have food when you are exhausted and leaving the hospital.  That is such a huge thing for someone to do, especially for someone who doesn't have kids, and who is an EMT and every extra second off work is dedicated to school and sleep.  Yet, despite his crazy schedule, he takes time to try and help you.  That kid is Sean, someone I wish you could know better.

And Lord help me.  You know that new kid who is"Hot but a stoner"?  All the girls are falling all over themselves for him.  You know better (because you are my daughter), but he just wants to fit in.  You know that he could be so much more.  Part of me wants to tell you to stay away, the other part can't because I always hung out with the stoners (less drama).  He just wants to fit in and is going about it in all the wrong ways.  Don't worry, just like the rest of this ragtag group, he grows up.  He becomes an Army Ranger.  He just became a daddy (Yes, he still married one of the pretty girls).  He may have a crazy, busy life, but he is as loyal as they come.  When the world starts crumbling, he is there. He moves mountains to be there for your family.  40 cheeseburgers of mountains.  He gets on the floor and plays with your boy like it is the best thing in the world.   He is Justin.  Yes, your teenager.

Don't forget that quiet boy.  The one who sits in class and doesn't say a word?  If you are anything like me (so far, poor thing, you are) you are going to gravitate to him.  You see that there may be a hurt there.  He doesn't say much, because unlike most people, he thinks before he speaks.  He is wise beyond his years.  There is a strength in the quiet ones.  Try, sweet one, to learn from them.  You two are so very different and lead very different lives, but he becomes one of the best friends you and your husband ever had.  The nights where you are afraid, and your husband is at work, the quiet one will talk to you until your husband gets home.  Even if it is just the wind blowing, he holds you up until your husband can take over.  He also holds your husband up when you can't.  He spends every weekend with your family, being the Uncle to your children, that every kid needs.  He has walked through the flames with you.  He fights for your marriage (for both sides), when you and your husband feel like there isn't any fight left.  That quiet boy is one of the strongest men you will ever meet.  He is Bart.

One last one, Sweet Thing, one last boy.  That small, loud, feisty boy.  I know you can't stand his type.  He is always in trouble for cracking jokes.  Rumor has it he has slept with every girl in the neighborhood.  There are also rumors about drugs you didn't even know existed.  He is loud, obnoxious, and overwhelming.  It seems like he is always doing something for attention. Yeah, I know the type.  All those things are cries for help.  Don't worry, this boy also grows up and gave up the "fast, free, fun life" to keep a girl and her son off the street and falls in love.  Love is a crazy thing.  He fell in love with a girl who hated parties and drugs, so do you know what he did?  He quit.  He gave up all those things for a girl and her son.  He becomes a strong, stable, hard working, deeply loving, loyal, husband and father.  He is the most incredible man that I know.  Darling, I am honored to tell you that he is your Daddy and he is my hero in so many ways.

Every single one of those men are worth loving.  I would be more than thrilled to know that you found someone like any of the men I mentioned above.  I have some bad news for you also...  most the "hot guys" from high school...  Stay the "hot guys from high school".  Most of them are stuck in their "glory days".  They get fat, drunk, and even more obnoxious.  Staying drunk and living in the past is not nice to anyone (another good lesson for you). The point is this...  Who you are the first 18 years of your life, does not always define who you will be for the rest of it.  Those boys that may not be popular now, will be the ones who make the world amazing.

Yup, 30 is going to be amazing.


Mr. Williams, I'm sad and was wondering if you would sit with me for a moment.  No, I don't want you to try and make me laugh.  I just want you to sit on this balcony with me and wonder why there are flamingos here and know that I am sad also.

I am still amazed that I am here.  I have never wanted to come to California. My husband is here on business, and asked me to join him.  You see, our baby died in April, and I drove the eleven hours here because I was desperate not to be left alone in my head.  I didn't want our other two children to be lost in my head with me.  I wanted to reconnect with the man I love after a loss that tore us into people we didn't know.

I was standing in a Celtics tourist shop, when the Scott said he texted his wife that you had died.  He laughed and said his wife responded by asking his pant size.  I almost fell to my knees.  You can't be dead.  You just can't.

I have hardly cried since my heart was ripped out three months ago.  I was reminded that I am human and so very small.  Your story though, it brought a burning to my eyes.  I quickly shuffled through the tartans to try and hide my grief for you, all the while damning my decision to leave my medicine at home.

You can't be dead and neither can he.  You, Sir, have touched my heart in very vulnerable places.  Your joy was always overshadowed by a grief in your eyes.  I have always wanted to just sit by you. Just to sit.  Not for Robin Williams the celebrity, but for Robin Williams, the man who bared his soul to the world and was dismissed. I, sir, saw your soul.  It was a beautiful one.  Not because of your gift for comic relief, but your desperation for humanity.  I saw you behind every joke and all the makeup. I saw you and I saw myself.

I am so, so deeply sorry that it hurt that bad.  I come to you with tears streaming down my face.  I am so sorry it hurt.  It hurts in ways you didn't know it could.  You can smell and taste your grief over everything. I understand. I know that you told yourself to be strong for your spouse and children. I know that sometimes that just isn't the answer.  I am so sorry it hurts so bad.

But I need to tell you that I am angry at you.  I'm angry that you gave up.  I'm angry that I am sitting an an island, aching to hold my son and now you.  I would have hugged you and told you to let it out. I would have told you that I feel alone also, but that it can and will get better.  I am personally hurt that you are gone.

I am so sorry that it hurt so bad.


Maybe I'm the one
I'm the one who will fall
Lay me down
On a bed of stone
I will wait for you
As I rest my soul
I will watch you ride
When you reply to the call

Hero, hero
Hero, hero
Hero, hero
I wanna be a hero, hero

It has been almost two months.  My baby would be walking by now.  He may even been cooing Mama.  Two months since my world crumbled.  I pulled Cammy into bed with me last night, just to feel a little body next to me, but she has out grown the babyish flesh and at some point started coming into a child's body.  She has left toddler hood behind and Owen...  Owen has become a boy.  There is nothing baby about them anymore.

I still reach out, at night, to wrap my arm around him.  To rub his soft belly and breathe in his scent.  To feel his fingers wrap around mine as she sighs contently.  There is only an empty bed, cold sheets, and his scent long forgotten on his belongings.

My Titan was my affirmation in life.  He is the first one who I could nurse.  The first one who looked like me.  A child that actually could be acknowledged as mine.  Owen and Cammy both look like their Dad, Logan was mine.  Each of my children have fulfilled me in inexplicable ways.  They have taught me and blessed me so much, but Logan was my heart song.  He was my reward after years of struggle.

Our life was perfect.  We have a beautiful home, Lucky had his dream job, Owen's Dad and I were getting along, and we finally had the last piece to the puzzle.  I was untouchable.  Our life was as close to perfection as one might dare dream.  Finally.  Finally, damn it, I could breath easy.

My love.  My heart song.  My reward.  My end.

It is so hard to breathe.  It is so hard to know my heart is still beating.  I feel guilty when I see Owen and Cammy.  Guilty that I failed them.  Guilty that they had to learn of death so soon.  Guilty when I see Lucky.  Logan was the only namesake to the McConnell's.  I gave him a son who could not stay.  I feel guilty when I look in the mirror.  I feel guilty that people can't see my pain.  That everyone assumes I have moved on.  Guilty that in a way I have.

My only solace is I know I will see him again.  I know he will know me and love me.  I know he is waiting joyfully, seeing the plans that God has for us.  I know all these things and take joy and comfort, and some days that is enough...

But on the days that I see flashing lights in my rear view mirror, I flash back to that day.  When I go to the salon, I wait for the call.  When I leave my house without Owen and Cammy, and whoever is with them calls me...

Mirror Ghosts

"We are like ghosts, like mirror ghosts really.  Instead of spirits without bodies, we are bodies without spirits.  Empty shells with the wrong person trapped inside or with no one inside at all.  Mirror Ghosts.  Half a million, half a billion, geese, half a world, probably, of mirror ghosts.  Just Bodies taking up space... Walking around empty."
~Murphy's Boy, Torey Hayden

"Where is your silverware drawer, Nina?"  The numbing buzzing in my head was broken.  How long had I been sitting at the computer?  Was I even doing something?  Nina... My Mom's pet name for me.  Mom.  Oh, Thank God. Mom...  But the silverware drawer...  A silverware drawer...  Did we have one?  We must... but where is it?  Where... Bart must have seen the confusion on my face.  He gave me a knowing glance and pointed Mom in the right direction.  He looked at me again for a moment, he must have known, and went back to moving baby stuff.

Mom had gotten in late Tuesday night.  A bunch of incredible people moved mountains to get her here.  Dad would be here Friday.  Mom, thank God, had taken over.  Between her and Bart, the baby stuff around the house was being discreetly packed away for when I wanted to deal with it.  I don't know where I was, but by the time I "woke up" for a rare moment of regular consciousness, the house was quietly in order.

I won't sound the least bit humble when I say I have always taken pride in my strength and my wit.  I am logical more than emotional, which has earned me the title "Ice Queen", on quite a few occasions.  It never bothered me.  I felt good being stone cold strength and logic... but now my castle was melting and my mind was falling into disrepair...  Where is my silverware drawer?   Where was I?  Who am I now?

It was humbling to be on the opposite side of the spectrum.  To find out how truly weak you are.  To not have an answer.  There were so many questions.  Everyone's phones were ringing.  I was thankful that my family had jumped into action, and were helping alleviate some of the pressure... but so many questions.  I was wanting to scream again.  Just turn the damn phones off!!!  Let me mourn my baby in peace!  How do I know where the flowers should go?  What do flowers matter?  Bring me back my son!

I was thankful, and truly blessed that so many people reached out to us, in so many ways to help and give peace.  Honestly, I do not mean to down play any gift, or comment, or hug.  I took comfort in so many peoples love, but I was broken.  I am 26, what do I know about planning a funeral?  I should have at least 60 years before I have to think of burying a loved one.  I'm still just a girl, and though I didn't say or show it, I was clinging desperately to my Mom.  My Mom...  Who instead of ever being able to hold her grandson, was helping plan his funeral.  My heart ached for my parents.

My Aunt had set up a "Go Fund Me" page for Logan.  We didn't have life insurance or any savings.  The thought of funeral costs and whatever other bills you get was simply overwhelming.  She called me and asked if I had looked at the page.  No, I hadn't.  I was ashamed of getting hand outs.  We should have been better prepared, not asking for the welfare of strangers.  I pulled up the page and saw that the goal was $10,000.  It felt like a punch to the stomach.  Ten Thousand,  Ten!  "My God...  Is this how much it costs to die these days?", I asked her.  I wanted to be sick.  How in the world would we come up with the funds?  Then I saw something incredible.

Donations were poring in.  I was shocked.  Bart and Lucky came running in.  "Did you see the site?"  Angela was texting me.Everyone was in awe.  Donations, anywhere from five dollars to a couple hundred, kept popping up.  How?  Why?  Who?  It was again a humbling moment.  Someone said something about how there is still good in the world.  It wasn't about the money to us (Although thank you so much) it was about the heart.  Someone, maybe one of you, took a moment to try and do something positive.  To shine a light in the darkness.  I was on my knees, later, thanking God for showing us such blessings.
We were sitting in the funeral home.  I'm looking at the man talking.  I can see his moth moving.  I'm sure he is saying words.  I just feel numb and hear that buzzing and flat line noise.  I can smell my Mom's perfume.  She is talking to him.  Lucky, oh Lucky, you look so tired.  Bart?  You look like you are fighting this also.  Humming.  Buzzing.  Flat line.
"Nina?"  Mom looks worried for a minute.
"Yeah, uh, the simple ones."  I think they are talking about the cards for his service.  I don't know any more.  I don't know what is going on.  Urns.  We are looking at urns now.  My baby is on a table and I am picking out a box for him.  How big of a box?  Why a box?  I know I was glaring at them.  None looked decent enough for my baby.  A box...  All they were were boxes and poorly shaped vases that someone stuck a lid on.  I tried to hide my disgust.

"I need you to make love to me." I whispered.  It was dark.  Most everyone in the house was asleep.  I was terrified that I had said it, but it was true.  I could feel myself shutting down.  Falling deeper into a hole that I knew I would never get out of.  I needed his love.  I needed to feel alive and human again.  I just needed to feel.
"Okay, come here."
"No.  I can't.  I can't do it.  I need you to make love to me.  I just can't do it right now."
"Whitney, I can't force you."
How do I explain this?  How do I tell you that I need your touch.  I need you, but I am just so broken and removed that I can't reach out.  It hurts.  It hurts so bad to touch you.  To think of being intimate and to love.  I don't want to hurt...  I can't lose you...
"You wouldn't be forcing me, but I need you to do this.  The longer we go without touching the chances are that it will never happen.  I don't want to lose you."
I could feel his hesitation.  I knew he didn't understand.  I didn't understand.  I couldn't explain, but I needed him.  I needed the man that God gave me.

So he did.  He kissed where my tears should have been.  He offered quiet words and he gave himself to me.  His love helped the start of my heart healing.

...I found the one my soul loves.  I held onto him, and wouldn't let him go...
Song of Songs 3:4