March is full of mixed emotions for me. March is the month my wonderful mother was born; it is also the month my dad died. March is the month Charley and Price were born, and the month I first found out what it is like to hold your baby while he dies. March is hard.

My dad died when I was 9. Other than a cat we’d had, it was my first personal experience with death. I remember so much about my dad’s character – he was strong, and he was funny. He was not the kind of person you wanted to mess with. He had 5 sons and 1 daughter – me. I could melt his heart like butter. He gave me really high standards of what a man should be, and how a man should treat me. Kyle more than lives up to these standards.

I learned a lot at 9. My mom taught me there is no wrong or right way to grieve. Grieving is so personal, and different for everyone. If we don’t judge each other, we can be more honest. I knew Kyle would grieve differently than me, and I than him. We try very hard to let each other grieve the way we need to, and be honest about how things are feeling. My mom also taught me happiness can be a choice. She’s chosen to be happy, and to always push for more. When she sees things that aren’t right in the world, she does her part to change them. I remember telling Kyle early in our marriage my mom is the strongest person I know.

Charley doesn’t FEEL 2 yet. He’s doing great for himself, and although he has plenty of issues he’s working through, there is constant slow progress. His personality is stubborn and strong. It’s hard not to be reminded of Ezra at 2 (he died just 2 months and 8 days into 2 years old) with Charley’s birthday coming up, and note the marked differences. Even Charley’s birth itself was so much different from what we’d been used to. When Charley and Price were born, I’d been on bed rest for weeks, and was suddenly rushed into an emergency C section, with the twins instantly pulled away from us – we didn’t hold Charley for 3 weeks (Kyle didn’t until he was 6 weeks old), and the only time we ever held Price was when he died. Charley was taken straight from me to the NICU, and there he stayed for 191 days. It was a very hard time, during which we were in treatment with Ezra, and eventually lost him.

Developmentally, Charley is closer to 11-13 months than 24. He doesn’t walk yet (although he’s great in his walker), he doesn’t talk aside from a few sounds like “baby” and “dada” – of course I swear I’ve heard him say “mama” too. He’s just recently made huge strides in eye contact. We’ll be getting leg braces for him soon to help his legs and muscles sit correctly, and he’ll be getting eye surgery in April to fix his left eye, which doesn’t ever look where the right one is looking. 🙂

Within all that, it would be easy to continue to grieve and be overwhelmed by everything. Some days we are. A lot, in fact. My mom’s strength and attitude towards life are a constant reminder to me to see the smiles on Charley’s face, the warm Florida sunshine, and the love of my husband and friends. My mom’s birthday is March 14th. Every year on that day my mom turns 40. March 15th is Charley’s 2nd birthday. We’ll get together with loved ones, and enjoy the day. Our little family is strong, and we are re-learning happiness.