Friday, June 21, 2019

Raph the Giraffe

Most of you know that giraffes have held a very special place in our lives and a huge place in Brecken's story. We have accumulated everything and anything giraffe. Our collection continues to grow, but it will never get old. As many of our pictures and stories with giraffes in them have become evident, most of you have not met THE "Raph the Giraffe". He is no ordinary giraffe. He is special and he is amazing.

And here is his story.

When I was pregnant with Brecken, a giraffe named April (who resides at Animal Adventure Park in New York) became an internet sensation as millions watched her through pregnancy and birth on live streaming. April and myself were due with our babies on the same day. As we both went over due, her much much longer than me, it was often joked about that maybe I should stream my pregnancy and birth just like her. Although I never agreed to it, it was the beginning of the giraffe theme we gave to Brecken.

On March 4, 2017 when Brecken made his entry into the world, his wardrobe and our house was quickly filled with giraffe blankets, stuffed animals, and giraffe toys. In January of 2018, when Brecken was admitted to the hospital with uncontrollable seizures, his auntie Megan walked in the PICU with a giant 4.5 foot stuffed animal giraffe. She named him Raphael, the patron saint of healing, and around his neck, a key. The key to strength. And that was the day "Raph the Giraffe" was named.


Raph stayed at the bedside of our sweet little Brecken every day. He attended morning report with the doctors, nurses, and team. They dressed him and talked to him. He came home with Brecken after their 45 day stay in the hospital. And he went back and forth with Brecken to many more hospital stays. His love and strength followed. Raph was at home with us when Brecken gained his angel wings to heaven and the day we laid him to rest in his "special spot". Raph holds his permanent residency in our living room. Right where his love, strength, and guardianship will remain.

We love our Raph. He certainly is a special one.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

A Trip to the Lodge

Everyone has a place where they feel safe. Where they feel comfortable. A place where you can feel the deepest darkest hole in your heart but also feel the happiest joy. A place where you can cry and laugh in the same sentence. A place where you can be nothing but yourself but also be sitting in a group of strangers. A place that is freeing for the soul. That place, my place, was Faiths Lodge. 

My husband Daryl and I attended a long weekend in Danbury, WI at a place called Faith's Lodge early June. It is a lodge tucked away in the scenic countryside of northern Wisconsin. A place where dragonflies fly around, you hear nothing but the chirping birds, and look upon the beautiful lake that the lodge is next to. It is truly peaceful. It gives parents a time to reflect, get away, celebrate, grieve, or to refresh after the loss of a child. 

I was very hesitant to come to Faiths Lodge. As a "silent griever", I am really, really good at hiding my emotions. How would I be able to open up and talk about the darkest part of my life with strangers? Would I talk to these people? Would I spend five days crying? What would this weekend provide for me? Would it be beneficial for us as a couple? Would it just yearn for my sweet Brecken that much more?

Attending Faiths Lodge was hands down the best thing I have done for myself as I continue to navigate the difficult path of grieving my son Brecken. Even though I want to selfishly keep that weekend to myself, I cant. I have to share. Those five days while attending this retreat, I felt safe and I felt free. I was able to take away my smiley face mask and my superhero cape and be vulnerable and open. It was good for my soul. 

I met some of the most amazing friends, strangers no more. I was able to celebrate the short 16 month life of my little boy and share the hard and painful stories of the months after. We sat around the campfire and told each other our fears and our worries. But also told each other the best and favorite memories we had of our little loves. We laughed and cried, we grieved and remembered. And sometimes we didn't have to say anything at all. Because we all just got it. 

These people are my people. Right alongside me in this undesirable club. This club no one should ever have to be in. But they are the strongest most amazing people in the world. People I have learned so much about and so much from. Amazing moms and dads who think about and remember Brecken as much as I will remember their own. I thank Faiths Lodge and those I met during my weekend there. Brecken has some cute and strong little friends to play with in heaven, and that in itself gives me comfort.