To Lucas, Who I love.

This time a year ago we were all waiting on pins and needles for your arrival. The year previous was exhausting, heartbreaking, and almost too much to bear. We went from utter despair to complete joy in what seemed like a matter of moments. We said goodbye to your sister, and in a blink of an eye, we were filled with cautious optimism for a child that was promised. That would be you.

Oh, how I love you, young man. I love your knowing smile and your needy cries. I love your curiosity and your vocal objections. I love your blonde hair, your fat pointer finger, and those baby blues that look into my soul when it’s just you and I. The trust that isn’t spoken, rather expressed, as you let me help you grow. I love everything about you and I’m so happy to be on this journey  with you.

You’re turning one and you have a whole life in front you. There’s  so much that I can’t wait to share with you, but I promise to be patient and let you experience those things at your own pace.  With that being said I know you won’t be perfect and neither will I, so let’s figure this thing out together. I’ll teach you what I know and you teach me how to love, even when the sting of loss is still there.

I’m going to need you more than you know, and I’m so glad you’re here. Thank you for one of the best years of my life. I pray that you feel the same way. Here’s to a lifetime of memories we haven’t shared yet and the journey we’ll go on to make them.

Happy birthday Lucas.

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Let’s Get Digital, Digital: A 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

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I don’t know when it happened, although I’m sure it wouldn’t be hard to pinpoint, but sometime in the last couple of years, there was a conscious push toward digital cards in the hobby.  Why not really, at least from the card companies perspective, it’s easy. I’m not fully aware of the P’s and Q’s, but the cost associated with the digital card has to be a fraction of the physical card. So, from a money making standpoint I can understand the allure to the platform. But from the collector’s standpoint, I’m not sure I get it. Far be it from me to act as if I’m the end all be all of the collecting world, but I can’t be the only one, right?

If I am being completely honest, I tried, I really tried, to get in on movement, but I just don’t see the appeal. The effort that is needed to compile the cards is just daunting to me. CptI fully understand that there is the possibility of some of the cards turning to physical examples but in the long run, that aspect doesn’t appeal to me. I’m not a collector in that sense of the word. I, on the other hand, want to flip it as fast as possible for as much of a  return as possible. I’m not the guy who thinks he has to make his box back, still, a little something would be nice. So, last year in the office when we caught wind of the prices of Topps Bunt cards on the secondary market I was shocked.

Our collective jaws dropped when we saw the realized prices on a digital autograph. It was beyond me, but time after time these cards would sell for just stupid prices for something that was intangible. Though Topps was the first ones we noticed in the office, with Bunt, Kick, and Star Wars, it wasn’t long before Upper Deck and Panini got in on the digital collecting craze.

If you listen to my podcast you are aware of the love-hate relationship I have with Upper Deck e-Pack. My friend Mr. Kinsely will stand by his convictions as he tries to build cards from the achievements list, but I don’t have the patience to do such a thing and keeping up with the checklist is my biggest hassle. With that being said, the hockey programs that RinneUD has rolled out for e-Pack are so tempting, but I’m not crazy about the turn around time on the shipping from Seattle, and the Young Guns that end up on COMC kill the market, in my opinion.  I fully understand how and why it’s fun for the collector, but it’s just not for me.  So good luck to all you Sainted chasers out there trying for the silver and gold foils.

Still being honest, it was Panini that drew me in the most. I actually spent money there and considering the NFL seasons of one Dak Prescott and Zeke Elliott who could blame me. It was the mystery of what was behind that $9.99 paywall that was tempting. It could 18641611_10211876618768513_722587565_obe anything, it could even be a boat (10 pts if you get the reference). The money I spent paid off in a big way, or at least I thought, but here I am some 9 months later with screen shot after screen shot of digital autographs, mem cards, inserts, and parallels and I can’t seem to move a single one of them on the secondary market. I will leave a few examples below in case you are interested.  If you care to make me an offer there, or on e-Pack, you can find me by searching my username EricN116.

The fact of the matter is I knew better. It’s like when I fell from the top of that bounce house ladder back around Easter. I knew I shouldn’t have been in that contraption. There was nothing in there for me, but my pride and my curiosity got the better of me. Next thing I know I’m laying at the foot of said ladder, writhing in pain, praying to God that I did not crush a child on my fall from the top. A few codeine, a walking brace, and some crutches that were testing their weight limits later, I had learned my lesson. I hope you digital collectors out there are having fun, but you can have it. I will stick to getting my disappointment in a box from the LCS, the way God intended.

…….also, I’m sorry for the very punny Olivia Newton-John title of this entry.

Private Dancer: My Day with Pat Neshek, A 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

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“So, what do you collect”, was the question that started my relationship with Pat. I knew all about his collection, but he knew nothing about mine. Well, if I had one. Truth is, I don’t collect at all really, at least not in the sense of most people in the hobby. I have pieces, little odds and ins, but as far as collecting goes, there isn’t much to speak of. Making the moment even more awkward was the faint sound of Tina Turner’s “Private Dancer” playing on the radio. I promise you I personally could not have picked a worse radio station to have on in that instance. Thank you, Jack FM, for helping me really set the tone for the rest of the day.

I was able to play off the music by stating that I was actually driving my wife’s car and was not familiar with the presets, and quickly asked him if he had any AB’s and if so what his walk-up music was. Pat was gracious and laughed of Tina’s sultry serenading, and enlightened me to the fact that he had no career at-bats in the majors, but had he, his walk-up music would be something by Lamb of God. If you’re counting at home folks I am now 0-2 at the plate with the 11-year major league veteran in my passenger seat.

Complicating the situation, even more, was the fact that I missed my exit on the way back to the office, thus took a detour to the airport that was anything but convenient. I’m now 0-3 with one last plate appearance if the guys ahead of me make it through the lineup again. Alas, and much to my chagrin, we made it back to the office in a reasonable amount of time and the reason for the visit was put into full swing, collecting.

Pat was tired as the Phillies had played a double header the day before and did not arrive in town until 4 am Monday morning. Complicating his situation was the fact that he had given up the gaming winning home run in the ladder half of the back-to-back. 18552785_10211818756601995_1529299059_oWalking through the doors of the Beckett offices changed that. He lit up and was just like a kid in a candy store. We sat down, got on the mics and record a solid podcast that covered his collecting habits, his career, and the hobby in general.

We then took a tour of the building and that was when Mr. Neshek was at his brightest. Our library is a pretty cool place for the novice, but for guys who live and breathe this stuff, well, its a little bit like West Virginia, almost heaven. Pat opened box after box just thumbing through the last 10 or 12 years of baseball history, sharing stories about guys he’s faced along the way. Batters tales, career stats, and highlight home runs he may or may not have given up. It was the insight that was only going to be brought up in that type of situation, and it was awesome.

18516860_10211818756321988_583514417_oPat stopped and spoke to everyone, never rushing away from the conversation. He signed every auto that was asked for and he talked shop with anyone that would listen. In short, Pat Neshek is just a huge card collecting nerd, and that made the whole experience that much better. He even hinted that after his MLB career is up he may want to get into breaking, and I think he could pull it off.

On our drive back to his hotel he was all smiles. At one point a very nice sports car, which I won’t try and name, went flying by us and he remarked how ridiculous that was. Turns out he has been driving the same early 2000’s car he’s had since he was drafted, and his wife drives a mini-van. In other words, he’s just a regular guy with a wicked side-armed delivery who’s been pitching for a decade in the MLB, and he loves collecting baseball cards. For those keeping score at home, I was 1-4 on the day, but that lone hit won the game. Turns out he gave up 2 walk-offs in less than 24hrs, at least mine didn’t count for a loss.

I didn’t know Pat before Monday, but I’m happy to call him a friend now.

 

 

Coca-Cola Monsters of the Gridiron – A 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

As I described in my last entry, I’m from a small town.  So small in fact that I’m 99% sure Emmittthat if you were to ask me if I knew someone from said small town, the answer would be yes. Of course, you would have to allow me the handful of names that have moved there since my departure, but, for the most part, it’s full of families that have lived there since I was a child. Even though it’s grown a little bit since then, the integrity of the town is still very much the same. All but one or two of the structures that stood when I lived there are still standing, with the additions of a few more business around them.

One such structure that has since become repurposed is the building the local IGA store was. For those of you not in the know, that stands for Independent Grocers Alliances. Think stories of Piggly Wiggly or other small time stores that really can’t compete with your Krogers, Fred Myer’s, or King Soopers, all of which are owned by the same company by the way. The store in question here was known simply as Levels.

It wasn’t fancy at all, in fact, it was far from it. When you walked through the automatic doors, if they worked, you were hit directly in the face by the smell of stale air conditioning, cigarettes, and regret. It was a small town store at it’s finest. Somewhere in the middle of that store, my parents told me the first lie I can remember. It wasn’t about Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, or the Tooth Fairy, I don’t fault them for those, rather it was boldly declaring that Shasta Cola was just as good as Coca-Cola. Upon tasting the difference between the two, I questioned if they even loved us.

Funny little word, “us”. Those two little letters butted up against each other was the answer to my question. We were told Shasta Cola tasted the same because there were five kids under the roof and my parents were working with a fixed income when it came to bills and groceries. So, if we did get cola of any sort, it was always Shasta, because that was what they could afford. Nevermind the fact that somehow, by what I can only assume was the abundance of the Lord, a 12 pack of Coke always made it into the basket for my parents. I think that is why I have trust issues.

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Dinner time in our home was always an event. When feeding five kids there were always staples on the menu. Hamburger Helper, spaghetti, goulash, chili mac…….come to think of it, it was all just meat and noodles. We would sit around our dinner table and like a game of Russian Roulette, my dad would pick one of us to pour him a Coke.  When it was my turn, I would always sneak a sip in the kitchen before I brought it out to the table, that, as it were, was when I figured out the lie.

On one such occasion the hand of the almighty choose yours truly to pour his soda for him, and as I opened the 12 pack I noticed a pack of cards glued to the top of the cardboard that I ripped away.  My heart stopped for a brief moment as I had to devise a plan to keep these for myself. As luck would have it, I was the only one of the five kids that cared anything about cards, but my brother was greedy, and I knew he would try and finagle them away if only because I wanted them.Thomas

What was I to do? I couldn’t take them back into the dining room for all to see, that would spell certain disaster. I couldn’t whisper to my dad because that would let the other four know I was up to something. So, I slipped the pack in my pocket and waited until the timing was good to bring it up to dad.

Dinner was excruciating, not because we were having meat and noodles again, but because I was sitting there with a pack of unknown goodness burning a hole in my pocket. I’m sure all of you know that filling. It’s like picking up a blaster while you’re out shopping and not being able to contain yourself when you get back to the driver’s seat of your car. You have to rip it open, but not before you share a picture of it in every Facebook group you are in with a status update that reads something ridiculous like, “Retail Therapy” or “Lunch Break” because you need as many “W’s” as possible before you tear back the thin film of plastic to get into the $20 that you most likely just wasted.

FaulkThis, however, was the early ’90’s and blasters were not yet available, but the inside of 12 packs of Coke, around Halloween, were ripe for the picking. All I knew in that moment was there were cards in my pocket, and I had to keep cool through dinner so that I could have them.  We finished eating, cleaned up the kitchen, and started to get ready for bed. Everyone dispersed to their own corners of the house, but I hung out with dad for a moment. It was then that I pulled the pack from my pocket and told him that they were from the new 12 pack of Cokes in the kitchen and I asked politely ( you get more flies with honey) if I could keep them.

The air grew thick with anticipation as I waited for what seemed like forever, but in reality was mere moments. My dad smiled a smile that only he could, and said come with me. He took me out to his work truck and handed me another three packs that he had been saving for me. He knew all along and was waiting until the moment was right to give them to me.

We sat outside in the cool evening air of a fall Texas sunset and opened four packs of the most worthless football cards since Pro Set. I remember the Emmitt Smith and Steve AtwaterAtwater cards, but what was most important in that moment was the time that I was spending with my dad with no interruptions.  Being a middle child is hard, being a middle child of a blended family is even harder. The man I was opening those packs with was actually my step-dad, but he never once treated me as such. He died within four years of that moment, and as I was standing next to the plot they buried him in I tossed in the Smith and Atwater. That moment was ours, and I wanted to make sure he carried it with him to the other side.

My oldest son isn’t into sports cards at all. I’m pretty sure he couldn’t care any less about them. He does, however, really enjoy superheroes, so every chance we get we open a pack or two of whatever random superhero packs my LCS has. The contents never matter to me, rather the experience he has flipping through those cards, and every time we do it the smell of a cool fall Texas night fills my nose, if only for a moment.

Walmart, a Bo Jackson Story – A 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

Ask anyone about my age who their favorite athlete is and I would be willing to bet you 8 out of 10 answers would be Bo Jackson.  The man was “beast mode” years before anyone knew what that term meant. What’s more is, everyone my age has a Bo story. It’s aways the first time they saw him break a bat, hit a home run, truck The Boz into the end zone, or beat Alabama as a freshman. It all really just depends on how far back you go into the 80’s. I realize that if you are reading this I’m probably not telling you anything new, but please allow me to help out the novice.

In ’91 Bo’s football career was cut short on what looked like a routine takedown as he Bowas blistering the Bengals on another signature long run. Bo, whose legs resembled tree trunks,  was powering down the sideline when Kevin Walker brought him down and just like that, the greatest athlete I ever saw play sport was done with his football career.

I was 10 years old ’91 and in my infancy as a card collector. I didn’t know much about them, but I did know everyone, who was anyone, in the small town I grew up in was collecting them.  Small is an understatement. We had a stoplight and a population of just about 1800 “folks”. On Sundays, the population would surge to 2000, but only while church was in service.  There were three churches there at the time, one was a Fundamental Baptist Church which was directly across the street from the First Baptist Church. I never really understood that, but I was 10, what did I care. The third church was just past the vaunted stop light but I don’t recall much about that one, expect that was where Mr. Swaford attended service who was a very nice man, the town’s patriarch if you will.

Oddly enough there was a baseball card shop in town.  It was run by a not very edpersonable lady who was trying to cash in on her Kevin Maas collection just like everyone else at the time.  She never had wax, but plenty of binders full of cards that had survived the ’80’s. I distinctly recall picking up an ’84 Eric Dickerson Record Breaker from one of those binders.  That was nice, especially from the local aspect seeing that he was a Texas legend and a star at SMU, but he wasn’t Bo Jackson.  Even more frustrating, at least in my 10-year-old mind, was this mean old lady didn’t have the Bo’s out there in gen-pop, rather she kept them behind the counter with her Kevin Maas cards. Looking back that just seems laughable now, but in that moment of collecting, I can see why that was. Nonetheless, my options of obtaining a Bo Jackson, of any kind, were very limited. The kids at school weren’t trading them, the lady at the card shop was hoarding them, and I wasn’t savvy enough to talk either of them out of one. My collecting hopes and dreams were shattered at 10 years old.

Then, something amazing happened, massa WalMart opened in the next town over, something my town’s patriarch would have never allowed to happen. I didn’t know much about WalMart at the time, but I did know that the one close to my grandmother’s house carried sports cards by the front registers.  I guess they were looking to cash in on Kevin Mass too.  So, my chances of pulling that 1991 Topps Bo Jackson had just got exponentially better.  All, I had to do was suffer through a car ride over to the newly constructed mecca of shopping in Parker County, and I could sift through rack packs, hangers, and other card displays until I found what I was looking for. The dilemma, however, was convincing my mother to let me tag along. No one wants a begging child with them as they are trying to get their shopping done, but I assured her that I would be at the front of the store by the cards and I would not be any trouble at all. She allowed it, and my quest for Bo began.

Parking at a new store anywhere is never easy. Everyone is clamoring for spots closest to the door, well, that really isn’t unlike everyday shopping now, is it? However, this situation seemed magnified as this was WalMart, in the south, on a Saturday.  Now, in my 30’s, there is a list of things I would rather do than be at a WalMart on a Saturday looking for ’91 Topps, but on that day, it was all I could think about.  We parked, walked inside together, and parted ways. I assume she went to the garden section, but I found myself standing in what could only be described as heaven. It was a whole wall full of all things card related, right next to register one.

My search began as I was thumbing through the hangers, quickly glancing for my hero on the top of any of them. I then moved on to loose packs, holding them up to the light to see if I could notice Jackson rounding the bases…………come to think of it, I guess I was packing searching…………oh well, Bo would be mine this day come hell or high water, but I kept coming up empty with every attempt. Then, like a sign from God himself, a light shined on a box on the bottom shelf of the display full of packs and hangers that had not been put out yet.  I reached in, pulled a couple packs out, and there on top of what was remaining in the box, was Bo staring me in the face.  It was destiny, #600 was mine. I walked to the register, paid for the pack, the only one I bought that day I might add, and went and found my mom who was knee deep in small town Wal-Mart goodness.

Our ride home was great. We made small talk for a while, and then she asked me if I had found Tradedwhat I was looking for. I remember smiling from ear to ear as I told her yes and explained to her the saga of Wal-Mart and the search for Bo Jackson.  She even gave me five bucks because she had planned on buying a couple of packs for me to help me with my collection. All in all, it was a perfect day.

Come Monday, I was anxious to get back to school and share my excitement with my classmates who were collecting too. Which I did, and then Jimmy Smart showed me the ’91 Topps Traded Bo Jackson, # 58T, and I hated him.  Stupid Jimmy Smart and his White Sox Bo Jackson.

Something in Common – A 30 Day Baseball Card Challenge

PatI’ve never met Pat Neshek.  I would even go so far as to say he wasn’t even a blip on my radar until the 2017 WBC, but as I am preparing to sit down with him next Monday for an interview on Beckett Radio I can’t help but find myself drawn to him. There are many reasons for the attraction really. He’s a side-armed slinger and I’ve always dug that. He’s a former All-Star, what’s not to love about that. He’s had a long MLB career which is something you have to respect. Plus, he’s great with his fans, is a collector of sports cards and autographs, and he’s awesome in the collecting community, but there’s one more thing. Something in common, if you will. Just like me, he’s experienced the loss of a child.

I won’t pretend to know all the details of his story, but I could vividly express to you mine. I will spare you those, but what you need to know is that infant loss is far too DSC_7652commonplace. In fact, it’s 1 in 4 families. That’s 25%, which means a lot of us have something in common, but rarely is a word spoken of it.  The common ground that all families play on is littered with memories that will never happen for some. That’s a harsh reality, but it’s the truth. A tough pill to swallow to say the very least.

Pat and I are the same age but took drastically different paths in life.  His lead him to an 11-year career in Major League Baseball and mine to a seat behind a microphone where I try and wax poetic about cards and sports. We’ve both had our struggles, but notwithstanding we have walked through the hardest thing in life and chosen to share the hope that’s left behind when such a tragic loss takes place.  His son’s name is Gehrig and he lived just a mere 23 hours after he was born. My daughter’s name is Olivia, and she never took a breath in this world.  Both of them were beautiful and meant something to families that dearly miss them now, and it is those ties that bind so many others.

In the days, weeks, even months after we lost Olivia it was the kindness of complete strangers that help carry us through. Some of that came in the form of finances, some of it came in the form a hot meal, but most often, it came in the form of just an open shoulder to cry on and an ear to listen.  My daughter may have never opened her eyes, but I see them every time a random act of kindness takes place. This hobby, this community that we are all a part of, is full of good people that go that extra mile to help someone out or to make their day. Pat Neshek is one of those people and all you have to do is take a look at his website to see how he is more than willing to give back to fellow collectors.

My card today is the 2017 Topps Heritage # 71 on this simple fact that Mr. Neshek and I Neshekwill have a lot more to talk about than he may realize. Of note, there is also #71 variation that denotes the “traded” moniker and verified by the CODE#CMP in the bottom right hand of the card.  In all honesty, I have never been into Heritage as it’s known for being a set-builders set, and that simply isn’t who I am as a collector. However, I cannot deny the staying power of the Heritage brand, as set collectors chase after these cards by the case.  For a product that typically yields a hit per box on average,  Heritage defies the modern collector’s habits as they hunt down Real One auto’s, Clubhouse Relics, and the often mammoth list of variations and short prints.

Pat and his family welcomed their son Hoyt into this world back 2014, and much like that scenario, my family and I welcomed Lucas into this world almost a year to the date after we lost Olivia. He’s nothing short of a gift from God and every day that passes I thank the Lord for him. He makes me smile every time18193454_10211671294955546_1053567787727074776_o I look at him, and he smiles right back at me. In all that though, I still miss my Olivia Grace, and I always will. Sometimes life isn’t fair.  Sometimes it gives you all you can take, but then people pick you back up to help carry you until you can get your feet back on the ground. As I sit here and write this I’m reminded of so many that did so much for us in our time of need that I can’t help but feel overwhelmed. I want to especially thank fellow Twitter user and blogger @DubMentality who encouraged me to write again. We all do this for different reasons, but he helped me better understand mine. I would also like to thank friend and blogger Kin Kinsley for inspiring me with his musings, though I doubt he even knows it. Finally, my wife, who doesn’t understand a thing about sports cards, nor do I think she really cares to, but she knows it’s what I love so she gives me the space I need for it.

And for Olivia and Gehrig and to the many families that have experienced an infant loss, just remember, God is good, and the hope that remains will sustain you until the end.

Sometimes, but Hope

I have been trapped here for days, this place between honest cries and fake smiles. In my heart of hearts, I believe it is well, but the whispers I hear would lead me to believe otherwise. Seventy pictures, some black and white, others in color, are all I have left to remind me of what should have been. And as I sit, waiting expectingly, for a new life to begin, I long for one that was. I miss you seems redundant. Like a broken record that plays over and over and over again in my head to the melody of a lullaby that I used to know. I don’t understand this. I don’t understand how our loss fits perfectly into God’s greater plan, but such as faith. Still, a hint would be nice.

I don’t think that’s too much to ask. And far be it from me to challenge what the Creator has in store, but sometimes your memory is just too much. Sometimes, it all that I can do not to say your name just so I can hear it one more time. And I know that I’m not alone, but sometimes even those closest to me feel miles apart. Sometimes.

You see, you were just right here, and I can see you in the distance, but you’re just not clear. You’re waiting there in the valley under a willow tree nestled between two mountains, but a lifetime is as close as I can get right now. It’s selfish, I know, and believe me I’m sorry, but there isn’t anything I wouldn’t give to have you here with me. Just one smile, just one, is all it would take for this heartache to go away.

But don’t mind me love. These are just the ramblings of a broken hearted father who wants something he can’t have. In place of that, he has been given hope, and that’s a beautiful thing because hope knows no fear. So even in my darkest moments, like this one, there is a light that shines, and that light is hope. “Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies”.

I miss you, Olivia. I miss you in ways that I did not even know were possible. And from time to time this human experience is all too real. The pain that comes and goes. It’s overbearing and relentless, sometimes, but hope.

Love,

Dad

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100 Words of Love Too

I love…..

Finding out what makes my son laugh and the innocence in his questions. Olivia Grace and a child to be named later. Jace. Andy Mineo. The healing in hope and the freedom in my Father. Newly found salvation.  The comfort in my wife’s arms and the passion for truth in her eyes.  Good morning kisses and sweet dreams ones too. Tears of joy. Open doors and opportunities taken. Singing in the shower. Social Club Misfits. Lazy Sunday afternoons during football season. “Chopped” and chill. #FATPACKS. Holding hands in the car.  Otis Redding. The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon.

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Your Room

We’re having a boy. Wait, let me rephrase that, Megan is having a boy. I can’t stand when the male in the relationship loudly proclaims that “We’re having a boy”, or girl for that matter,  when in reality we aren’t doing anything. However, the female in the relationship is doing plenty. Making lungs and other internal organs, eating for two, sleeping for one, and just all around being uncomfortable. The gift and the curse I suppose. Whatever form you choose, mom is carrying your little brother.

That’s hard to think about. You’re little brother. The gift and the curse. I have to admit that I was selfishly praying for another girl, just so we wouldn’t have to redecorate the nursery. I didn’t want to have to take down something that was created for you. At least with a little girl, we could still see the purple butterflies dance across the wall. The pink ribbons and bows could still be displayed, and my heart wouldn’t feel so broken when I rocked her to sleep. In some little way, you would still be in there, waiting for the sun to creep through the blinds as I kissed her good morning. But now, well, I will have to find you somewhere else.

What no one tells you about the pregnancy after a loss is the full range of emotions that you go through. To be fair there is plenty of literature on the subject to be had, but that has to be something sought out on your own. No one ever just grabs you by the hand and says, “Hey, this is going to suck and be amazing all at once”. I guess it’s a personal space thing or something, and believe me, there is plenty of space to be filled.

So, your room. I’ve known in the back of my mind for months now that it was going to have to change. I’ve put it off to avoid the conversation because that’s just not something I think I’m ready  to talk about. That room was my sanctuary where I could go and sit and wait for you. It’s where I could always find you, no matter the distance. So, having to change it will be the hardest thing I have had to do since you went home. A task, I’m afraid, may be bigger than I’m capable of.

You see Olivia, my heart, it just can’t take it. And while I’m completely overwhelmed with the joy of welcoming your brother to this world, I’m not quite ready to put you away. That’s sounds awful, I would never just put you away. What I mean is, I’m not ready to move on to this next phase, and I’m not sure I can find the strength to do it at this moment. It’s definitely bigger than me.  A yoke that my shoulders cannot bare.

I can hear Matthew 11:30 being whispered behind me. I know it, I’ve lived by it since November, but those words seemed muffled right now. I keep telling myself that everything will be fine, the memories there aren’t being put away, rather they are just going to be relocated. Maybe to the office, a few more pictures in the hallway, and some in our room. But, if I’m being honest, its not the pictures that I’m hung up on. It’s all the memories that won’t be had that is breaking my heart. At least not with you.

On one hand I can’t wait to meet your brother. I can’t wait to see him do all the things I had anticipated you doing. But, on the other hand, I can’t get past the fact that its not you. The clock keeps ticking…….tic toc……..tic toc……tic toc, and there is no way to avoid the task hand. The day is coming when we are just going to have to put away or fears and face the pain. Whenever that is, I pray for strength enough for both mom and I to handle it. For now, well, just know that we love you, we miss you, but we’re just down the hall.

jar

 

Never Far Apart

If ever someone was going to love you the way I would be able to, it was her. If ever someone would be able to love you in ways I that I would never fully understand, it was her. If ever someone was going to show you a world that only you and she would understand, it was her. Your mother was going to teach you to fly. Your mother was going to send you into orbit and watch as you became the woman you would have been. Oh, my sweet girl, your mother had dreams for you that not even I could grasp .

Today must be hard for her. Loving on one but missing another. I don’t know what that’s like from a mother’s point of view. I can tell you from a father’s perspective that it’s the most difficult thing I do every day. But the burden of a mother who lives through that pain must be heavier than I could imagine.  The weight of it all. The what ifs. The maybes. The uncertainty of this finite existence when we experience that final jolting stop. From a father’s perspective we see it for what it is, an unyielding truth that will always be. But for a mother, well, I imagine, they will always see it for what it could have been, a love story.

She loves you, Olivia. She loves you in a fierce and passionate way that rages from the depths of her soul. It is a true and pure love that knows no equal. A love that can only be expressed in sleepless nights and early mornings. An enduring love that doesn’t see limits or boundaries, nor is it separated by any distance. It is present. It is here. It is now. And it always will be. Just like you.

I saw it in her eyes the day she told me that we should be expecting you, and I’ve seen it every day since. I find solace in knowing there is another who could possibly care for you the same way I do. Enough to bring you up in everyday conversation just so we can hear your name roll off our lips and into the universe where it will echo for eternity until it reaches you. I pray you hear it.

And just like any good love story, there are obstacles to overcome. She worries too much about mistakes she hasn’t made with your brother. The parenting sins of  the previous generation still linger in her head, fresh on days like this, but the truth is, she’s not anything like that generation. She’s rooted in solid ground that cannot be plowed, and that is evident in your brother. She has so much to give and does so without reservation. The tale of any good parent I assure you.

When the antagonist is finally overcome, and she realizes that her doubts and fears were no more suited for reality than the lies of her oppressor, it’s then that the love story can reach its climax. That is where her freedom will be found.

She’s a good mom, Olivia. I dreamed about watching her love you. I dreamed about seeing her extend to you every once of her being just like she has done for Eli. And she would have too. She would have been perfect, just like she is now.

E & O