Saturday, April 23, 2011

A Brave Face

We really know how to put on a brave face.

Our therapist asked us Wednesday if we talk to each other about our feelings. The answer, no. We just don't have the energy. We get up, go to work, come home, eat dinner, play with Addie, get things ready and have a few minutes at the end of the day to zone out on t.v. We are exhausted. Grief is physically and emotionally exhausting. It takes a HUGE amount of effort to slap on a brave face during the day. I wonder who sees the truth?

I wonder how many people realize that we are still and will forever be in pieces. This hasn't gotten any's harder. I wonder who sees the red puffiness around my eyes in the morning from a night of crying. I wonder who can tell that I start EVERY day with tears on the drive in and they usually fall freely as I sit down at the desk in my classroom each morning. I wonder if my coworkers know how much I am hurting on the inside. How many of my students notice how often, during a math lesson, I will catch a glimpse of Travis' pictures on my bookshelf and lose my breath? Or how when I point to something I notice my "Travis" tattoo and pause. Rides in the car just about kill me. EVERY.SINGLE.SONG. reminds me of what I have lost. I cry big sloppy tears when I drive. I wonder who can see my interactions with Addie and how strained they are. She is such a wonderful baby and I can't fully embrace her because everything she does reminds me of Travis. I wonder if anyone can sense the guilt I feel about that.

I smile, I laugh, and I can do a nice job of acting "normal".....but I am broken. My spirit is broken.

I met a heart family last night that have a 6 week old son who is in the NICU waiting for his Norwood. I wanted to meet them to tell them that all this pain and the constant worry when Travis was was all worth the 16 months we had with him. I think it would have been worth it even if I had only had 5 minutes with him. When they started their journey Travis was vivacious, happy and alive. He was a success story. I don't know what happened. I just honestly can't believe we are in this place now. One of the ones that didn't make it. They called me brave. I think they are. I mean they sat there and looked their biggest fear in the eyes. They are just beginning this journey and trying to cling onto hope and they were brave enough to come meet me knowing that our story doesn't have a happy ending. I wish so badly that it did but the truth is.....HLHS is a horrible syndrome. People just don't see that even those who are doing well have parents who suffer extreme anxiety, worry constantly, wonder just how long they have, panic at the first sign of a stuffy nose, stay up worrying about SATs, and live with a constant, painful fear of being in this place where we are at. Nobody wants to be here and sometimes people don't even want to acknowledge those of us that are.

Someone posted on facebook today "Life is Perfect". Our life right now? Not even close. It was....we held it in our hands for a few months....our perfect. Now, it is gone. And we have no choice but to slap on our brave face.


  1. You wrote this so perfectly. I could've posted this myself. People tell me that you never get over it, but that the pain does become less intense. So far it's been getting more and more intense and I honestly don't see it getting better, ever. Every day is another day that I've lived without him. 3 months tomorrow. The time goes by, but my heart is shattered.


  2. Praying for you everyday, from far away. I am praying that you will find some solace in your grief during this Easter season--- I just keep thinking, as I read about and pray for too many families who have lost sweet children to CHDs;--- I just keep thinking-- Oh, Thank you Jesus for the HOPE of HEAVEN. The HOPE provided by the horrible death and Amazing, Grace-filled Resurection of Jesus. I am so sorry that your Friday and Saturday are so long and dark, and sad and HARD. But I am also SO GLAD that Sunday is coming!!! I will continue to pray for you each day--- as you put on your brave face.
    In HIM--- Jennifer Scruggs

  3. I can never think of anything perfect to say to you. I wish I knew. But I am always here with you. Checking, praying, thinking about you. Everyday.
    You should really be a writer I have decided. Just a side note ;)
    Love you

  4. I am so sorry for all that you have been through and what you are experiencing right now. You write so eloquently about the pain of your loss. We lost our daughter to a severe congenital heart defect at 31 weeks. We never had the chance to attempt to surgically correct our baby's heart, but I know that I very easily could have been walking in your shoes. I have great respect for the tremendous loss you and your family have endured.

  5. I can see it, everyday, the pain in your eyes, the emptiness you feel when coming home, the sadness so deep that you can't talk about it. I can see when you smile at Addie, you see Travis. I can see that you put on a brave face, but inside you are broken and only God knows how much I want to take it away from you Nicole. All of this breaks my heart as I grieve for Travis and his Mommy & Daddy.