a garden for cooper

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

shortly after we picked the location for coopers service, my precious husband began thinking about what kind of tree we could donate to the arboretum in cooper's honor. since my precious husband has his degree in horticulture from cornell, i knew it we would not be planting an ordinary tree. he spent some time thinking and researching, finally settling on an eskimo sunset sycamore maple. what we did not know, was the politics involved in tree donation, and of course we are not the typical donors. my precious husband had a very specific place in mind where he wanted coopers tree planted. his vision did not mesh well with the overall vision of the arboretum, particularly since they paid a landscape architect a great deal of money for a master plan. however, after some back and forth, we were given more than just a spot for a tree, we were given a whole burm where we could plant whatever we wanted. better yet, it is located right next to the children's playground and soon to be planted children's garden. i can not think of a better spot for cooper's garden.

so monday after work, we planted the garden. well, my precious husband planted it and my mom, mother in law and i watched from the sidelines.

we will plant bulbs in the fall, daffodils, of course. i think it is a perfect spot for us to go and feel close to cooper. i know cooper approved of his garden because there was this one bird sitting in a tree watching us the entire time, just chirping away. it was if he was saying, " thanks dad for planting a garden just for me."

birthday bling

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

as of today, i have been on this earth 36 years. i certainly don't feel 36 years old and i don't know where the time has gone. my parents had the most spectacular birthday gift made for me this year. it was not a surprise, but when i opened it, i was flooded with emotion and in awe of the stark contrast that existed between the brilliance and delicate nature of the diamonds and the darkness and strength of the forged iron, much like the heart and soul of the women who came before me.

i have always loved jewelry, show me something that is shiny, expensive and pretty and i am in love. my grandmother had this gold bracelet with diamonds on it that i always loved. each time i would go visit her i would try it one. she always told me that i had to wait until my mother was no longer around before i could have it. my response was that since my mother did not share my love of jewelry she should just give it to me. my grandmother would just laugh. you see this bracelet was her mother's, hazel brown wallace, and it was given to her by her husband. My great grandmother was very specific about the gifting of things after her death. she left specific instructions in her will about this bracelet: "diamond bracelet goes to mary ellen and on to each daughter, no daughter in law might appreciate-HBW", to be exact. so, i knew that one day i would wear it, and not just on special occasions, i would have it reset and wear it all the time.

what i did not know and could not foresee the last time that i tried it on, at my grandmothers 80th birthday party, was how soon i would be wearing that bracelet. my precious husband and i had only been dating for a few months, and there was no way i could predict the journey we had embarked on. soon after coopers death, my mom and i were talking about the bracelet and that got the wheels turning. there is a great gallery, patina, in santa fe that has amazing jewelry and is run by the most amazing couple, who have become friends of my parents, and that dear reader, is who we turned to for help with this very special task. and the results were amazing!

the twelve diamonds across the top remind me of the women in my family, who have come before me, full of grace and strength.

the diamond on the back, a symbol of the one i lost, close to my heart.

the plate on the inside with coopers name and space for his siblings to come.

i know my grandmother is sitting with cooper today, telling him how i love jewelry, smiling at my mom and i, and just laughing.

spring has sprung

Saturday, April 25, 2009

my computer is virus free and running like new! i must admit it was hard to be away from the internets for 24 hours. and i definitely missed not having friday knitting, but i don't have any finished projects to share, so stay tuned for next week's edition of friday knitting.

i am happy to say that spring has sprung in our little corner of the world. here are some bits of spring for your viewing pleasure.

please enjoy.....


Wednesday, April 22, 2009

it started some time ago
with wegmans cut out cookies.
i ate them quite a bit while i was pregnant
they were our favorite sweet treat.

so i knew that i must have bird cookies at cooper's service.
i knew he liked them too,
because every time i ate one,
he gave me an approving kick.

i have been meaning to order the cookies for sometime.
maybe i was procrastinating.
maybe i didn't want to face the reality that may 2nd was fast approaching.
or maybe my head was trying to protect my heart.

but today was the day,
that i walked into wegmans and placed my order.
i was totally unprepared for the tsunami of grief
that was on the horizon.

"we don't have a bird cookie cutter", she said.
i replied, "can i bring you one?"
i must have birds, its for my son's memorial service.
we called him birdie.

if you bring me a bird cutter, i will make you bird cookies.
how did he die?
his heart stopped.
how old was he?
3 weeks.

there are now huge tears in my eyes.
she told me she was religious and that god has a plan.
more tears.
i am sorry about your son, i have to put my cat to sleep.
she just compared losing her cat, to me losing cooper.
more tears.

i just want to make it to the car.
i told her i would bring the cookie cutter tomorrow.
she said she would make sure the cookies were perfect for cooper.
crying on the way to the parking lot.

in the car, the tsunami hits.
sobbing uncontrollably.
i miss him so much.
on the phone with alli.
why did he have to die?

mascara and tears running down my face, i sat in the car for thirty minutes.
paralyzed by my grief
and the realization that cooper's service is going to be hard.
i thought i could be strong
that i had cried enough tears to get through it.
i thought i could put on a brave face
that maybe the wound had a healed enough.

but that couldn't be further from the truth.
the wound is just as raw as ever,
and i never seem to run out of tears.
the reality sunk in that may 2nd is going to be one
of the most difficult days of my 36 years of life.

closure is needed.
its part of the grief process.
its how you heal.
its how you move forward.

but i really need to get some water proof mascara.

favorite things monday

Monday, April 20, 2009

here are some of my favorite things on this rainy monday.

spring tulips in flower vase made by mom. i just love how it looks in my new kitchen and how it hangs on the wall. pure genius.

perfect for the cowgirl in us all! my girls from Knit Nite introduced me to this bottle of wine. i just love the label and it comes in various colors. i think i may have to collect them all.

and these are the cutest house slippers ever! and they are in my favorite color combination of the moment. i must order a pair of these!

2 weeks worth

Saturday, April 18, 2009

here is the latest batch of flock members. actually, it is two weeks work of birdies. they have flown in from maimi, glen cove, cedarburg, berrien springs, waco, rochester, canada, austrailia, grand rapids, wake forest and winnetica. i took a head count the other day, i have 206 coopers flock members! this is just amazing. and i know more are on their way. so many children and families will be comforted because of your willingness to knit birdies. i am certain that we will be able to supply the hospital with cooper's flock birds for a year's worth of surgeries, if not longer. so thank you again, dear readers. i am so inspired by all of you!

and don't you just love how b and s are in on the action?

friday knitting

Friday, April 17, 2009

today i give a big helping of coziness for the couch. my precious husband had been asking for a new blanket for the couch, the one we had was more for show than warmth, for some time. once we knew the date of cooper's surgery, i knew i needed something to work on while we were in the hospital. so i ran to the yarn store the night before his surgery and came home with a bag full of lush alpaca yarn. it took me some time after cooper died to pick up my knitting needles again, but as soon as the creative urge kicked in, i knew i had to finish the blanket.

my precious husband loves it. its the perfect size and has just the right amount of coziness for snuggling on the couch.

please enjoy.....

dear cooper

Thursday, April 16, 2009

my dear sweet precious cooper,

i can't believe it is time to write you again, it seems like just yesterday that i wrote your 4 month letter. and now here we are at what would have been your 5 month of life.

remember the daffodils i told you about? well, they are finally starting to open. the buds on the magnolia tree are swollen and ready to burst into color. it has been such a long winter, longer then most because of your absence, but i think that spring is thinking about staying around for a bit.

i see you daily in the birds that visit the back yard. one day a robin in the waterfall and last night while your dad and i were eating dinner, the most brilliant blue jay sitting by the daffodils. it is in those moments that i feel peace, that i know you are near and that i know i will be ok.

your yaya is coming to visit next week, as well as a lot of people who love you so much. we are having your memorial service on may 2nd, and people are coming from far and wide to celebrate your life. your great uncle mike is going to do the service and i know he will do an amazing job. he has an interesting perspective, being a cardiologist and an episcopal minister. and cooper the birds will be magnificent. you will just love all the birds that have been knit in your honor, all the love, hope and healing that has gone into making them is overwhelming.

oh cooper, i miss you so. i have good days and bad days, i think more good days as of late, but the bad ones are so difficult. and what i have realized about grief is that people move on, but your dad and i live with our grief everyday. it is so much a part of our day to day existence, as your pappous says, your death has become the fabric of our lives. he is a very wise man. but the disconnect between those who have moved on and us is difficult and i find myself getting irritated. not because i don't want to move on or think that moving on represents a betrayal to you, but because my wound is still so raw, the mark that your death left on my heart is deep and my heart is still broken. i suppose in time my heart will mend, but it will never be whole again.

i hope you know cooper, just how much i love you, miss you and long to see your sweet face.


baby love

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

it seems like i have been loving all things baby for the past year. first, while i was pregnant with cooper, spending hours online trying to find the perfect onesie or the best crib design, organizing his room and putting every small little wonder in its place. once he was born, i had so much fun putting all those treasures to use and i was in constant awe of how those tiny clothes were big on his perfect little body. now that cooper is gone, i imagine what it would be like to read books to him and watch him play. i often find myself in his nursery staring at his little clothes and toys, longing for what might have been. but i also find myself reading blogs written by mothers, researching the hottest must haves for baby, looking at maternity clothes, and bookmarking the things i wont be able to live without. a sign that i am still in baby mode and hoping we will have another baby in the not so distant future.

in my quest of all things baby, i stumbled upon a hat on etsy that i loved. i contacted the woman who made it and asked if she would sell me the pattern, she said that "the pattern would not be ready for sometime." so, i do what designers do, i came up with my own version, similar but uniquely my own. i need to tweak the pattern a little, but who knows maybe i will sell it to others who love all things baby. but overall i was pleased with the hat, but i needed a newborn model. luckily, my friend michelle just had baby kate. and she is the most perfect model.

this creative endeavor dear readers is the first bit of designing i have done since cooper died, which is a sign that my heart is mending and that gives me hope. hope that i will love all things baby for some time to come.

what i didnt tell you

Monday, April 13, 2009

remember my darling great aunt virginia? well, what i did not tell you is that she is an amazing painter. she hand paints the most delicate images on china. her subjects are small but have so much life in them, these tiny little brush strokes of color that make a profound impact, especially on the recipient. aunt virgina has always been a painter. I am lucky enough to own some of her pieces, christmas ornaments, a water pitcher, a bracelet that she painted for my grandmother and as of this afternoon the following pieces with birds on them. the first is a christmas ornament with a hummingbird on it and on the back is cooper's name written in the most perfect cursive. i don't know if aunt virginia knows this, but my dad's mom, mawmaw, loved hummingbirds and would watch them for hours. whenever i see one in the backyard, i know that she is close by. i have a feeling that i will start to see them in pairs, mawmaw showing cooper the way of the hummingbird.

aunt virginia included the following little diddy about hummingbirds: legends say that hummingbirds float free of time, carrying our hopes for love, joy and celebration. the hummingbird's delicate grace reminds us that life is rich, beauty is everywhere, every personal connection has meaning and that laughter is life's sweetest creation.

and then there was this delicate little box with all kinds of birds on it for my precious husband and i. i just love it so. and think it will be a perfect addition to my dresser and may even put some of sweet cooper's ashes in it. it seems fitting.

i continue to stand in awe of how my family, friends and strangers are showing their love for my cooper by making the most beautiful pieces of art. pieces that are the essence of who they are, pieces that let me know that i am loved and not alone, and pieces that help to heal my broken heart. i cant not thank you all enough.

texas birdies

Saturday, April 11, 2009

these darling little birds arrived this week from texas, made by my cousins sunny gayle and julie. they are just so precious! and yes the trees still look like its winter, even though the calender says otherwise.

wishing a happy easter eve.

friday knitting

Friday, April 10, 2009

today i give you my precious husband, to look at, i am not giving him away, and his hats. when we were dating he would ask when i was going to knit him a sweater, i told him not until we were married. i still have not knit him a sweater, not because i don't want to, but because he wouldn't wear it. he is a hot box and wears short sleeves year round. so at the end of my pregnancy i decided to make him some hats, cooper had way too many baby sweaters and it was hard to knit for myself due to my very pregnant belly. i think i knit both of these hats in two days time and both are free patterns. the first hat is we call them pirates.

and this one is lillehammer and can be found here.

please enjoy my precious husband and his hats. isnt he is the cutest?

4 months

Thursday, April 9, 2009

four months ago today the unimaginable happened, cooper died. time behaves differently while one is grieving. in some ways it seems like yesterday that we were at the hospital preparing for cooper's surgery and then in other ways it seems like an eternity since i held cooper in my arms, both versions of time are painful.

last week i felt like the fog was lifting a bit, but this week i am not so sure. i have been unable to get the events of that day out of my mind. us walking into the PICU to see a team of doctors and nurses hovered around cooper, the frantic energy that was in the room, watching cooper's nurse placing the emergent phone call to the operating room to get his surgeon, and the team asking us to leave the room, knowing that the unthinkable was happening. we had only been parents for 3 weeks but we knew we were experiencing every parent's worst nightmare. and then they came in to tell us that he was gone, his heart just stopped working. how do you wrap your mind around that? some days i still cant.

but the memory of that day that breaks my heart all over again, every time i think of it, was holding cooper for the last time. he didn't look like the baby who stole my heart the minute i knew i was pregnant. he was so swollen and heavy from all the fluid. he smelled like chemicals, hospital and death, not the sweet baby scent that i had come to love. no parent should have to hold their dead child. it the most heart wrenching pain i have ever experienced, one that shakes you to the core and makes you question the existence of faith and all that is good.

i don't want to forget that day completely, but i would like some respite from my memories, to have the ability to see some other image when i close my eyes. maybe in this instance time will be my friend. or maybe knowing that a family friend will become a grandmother for the first time today will allow me to have a little bit of faith and with faith comes hope.

blown away

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

sometimes i just check out. my mind goes blank, its like i am trying to make myself disappear. but a lot of the time i am thinking about cooper. today while i was driving home, i was thinking about the day he died, the sequence of events of that morning, and the words that his doctors and nurses said to me. those are images that are forever burned in my memory. those words have forever marked me.

i am constantly in awe of how cooper marked and touched those he never met. like triesch, a family friend and amazing artist, who sent me this platter. i sobbed when i opened it, not because it made me sad, but because i realized how deeply others feel cooper's loss. that realization makes me feel less alone in this journey. it is easy to think that i am the only one who hurts or is trying to make sense of why cooper died. but this amazing gift of triesch's heart and soul demonstrates that my precious husband and i are not walking this road alone. that losing cooper is felt by all who know and love us.

"show me the mark that death made" are written on the back of the platter. these six words sum it up so perfectly. cooper's life and death have marked me in so many ways, but the mark of his death cuts the deepest. triesch's gift shows me how cooper has marked many people and that blows me away.

made with love

Monday, April 6, 2009

i love to cook, but hate to clean. i made this very clear to my precious husband when we first met. and because we are the most perfect of matches, he cleans the house and in return i cook, really it's a match made in heaven. since cooking is my domain, part of my monday routine for the past two years has been to create a menu for the upcoming week and a corresponding grocery list. i take great pleasure in this task, looking for new recipes and trying to perfect some of my favorites. i had negelcted this task for some time after cooper died and have recently returned to my beloved monday ritual which i must admit feels good.

my precious husband always asks what is on the dinner menu each week and i always respond that he will have to wait and see. so when we remodeled our kitchen, i had the brilliant idea to paint the mustard yellow pocket door with chalkboard paint. a perfect place to post the weekly specials. and now my precious husband doesnt have to ask, but i secretly hoping he still will.

newest members

Sunday, April 5, 2009

introducing the newest members of coopers flock, just in from mississippi, arkansas, kentucky, massachusetts, delaware, illinois, minnesota, and michigan. they are just perfect and are going to bring so much comfort to so many children and their families. i am not sure what i love more, the birds or the sweet heartfelt notes you all write. thank you dear readers!

i just LOVE them so!

does my heart good

Saturday, April 4, 2009

these pictures arrived in my inbox today from tommy's mom. they made my heart feel lighter on this cold, grey and snowy day.

friday knitting

Friday, April 3, 2009

today i give you hats. hats knit with soft, chunky, lofty alpaca. hats knit with retro inspired colors. and hats knit with organic cotton perfect for coopers newborn head. hats are a great project when you need a bit of instant gratification. i knit quite a few hats at the end of my pregnancy both for cooper and my precious husband. note to self, get pictures of precious husband wearing hats, they deserve a post of their own.

please enjoy.....

or not

Thursday, April 2, 2009

travellers take note, it is advisable not to fly through chicago in the winter or atlanta in the spring/summer months if you do not want your travel plans disruptted due to weather.

i arrived at the airport this afternoon to find out that atlanta was experiencing severe weather, so severe that i would not be able to make my connecting flight forcing me to spend the night in the atlanta airport. the first flight i could get tomorrow was at 3 in the afternoon, making a short trip to texas even shorter, so i decided to stay in ny with my precious husband.

i had gotten over my anxiety and was very much looking forward to the weekend, but i did not want to spend the weekend in airports. that would have made me very grumpy and anxiety ridden.

so we will be back to our regular scheduled program here at lucends tomorrow. that's right dear readers friday knitting.

texas forever

austin is the only in place in texas that i would want to live.

here are some of the reasons why:

shiner bach beer
mexican food
spring like weather
salt lick BBQ
because when it comes right down to it, you can take the girl out of texas, but you can't take texas out of the girl.

so, i am off to austin, see you on monday. hope you have a great weekend.

turn your filter on

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

if asked to describe myself, i would say that i am an observer when it comes to people, that it takes me a while to feel comfortable around those whom i don't know very well and that i am initially shy. the disclaimer here is that once i get to know you, all bets are off. and because i am shy i don't like being the center of attention, having people watching me or trying to interpret my state of mind. this particular personality quirk is challenging when grieving. what i have realized and was totally unprepared for was how much people would be watching me and trying to get a read on my head space during this journey.

let me explain. every time i see a friend, family member or acquaintance for the first time since cooper died, it is like opening the wound all over again. it is emotional, it is raw and it is painful. but it is also uncomfortable because people don't know what to say or do and they look to me to try to figure it out. and i have to try to put people at ease before they say something stupid, not because they are trying to be hurtful, but because they don't know what to say which causes the the filter to be turned off and the words to come spewing out. my all time favorite is "don't worry you will have more children." yes, i will, but i would rather have cooper, thank you. lucky for them, my filter remains in the on position.

i tend to see new people in small groups because it is easier for me to control and not as overwhelming. but tomorrow i am getting on a plane to go to austin for the weekend where i will be seeing a lot of family all at once with no escape door. don't get me wrong, i love my family and as far as families go, they are pretty well behaved, but i am having some anxiety over the encounter. i know the initial few moments of the encounter will consist of trying to assess how i am doing and then how to broach the subject of cooper. but i also know that if i can put everyone at ease, the remainder of our time together will be swell.

and yes, i know that there is healing in the telling of our story, just as there is healing in being around family. but it doesn't make my anxiety about it any less.

so here's to being the center of attention this weekend.....