::pack:: of fixations

life after tragedy. living while grieving. love and triplets.


Beautiful Pain

Some of the realizations I'm experiencing about Colum's death are bringing up emotions of anger and sadness.  I've always been sad, I'm sure I've been angry but knowing that my baby was hurt so bad that it killed him and neither Mommy nor Daddy could be there makes me down right pissed off.  I woke up and decided to watch the funeral video about 5 times this morning.  I always cry when I watch it.  I choose to watch it.  I choose to feel this way.  Sometimes, well most of the time I enjoy feeling the pain.  It's a beautiful pain.  It's the only way I can teleport myself back to him.  It's where I can feel him, see him, remember all of him.   I feel free.  The dark cloud that follows me gets a little less heavy.

I remember my Mom telling me how Colum would open his eyes whenever she would talk to him and how hard it was for her to believe he was brain dead.... or whatever was wrong with him.  I'm angry because I don't really know....I wasn't there.  I couldn't be there.  Ryan and Finn couldn't be there.  I know he wasn't alone.  I know loving family members and the amazing hospital staff was all there.  Maybe even all the Gods and Angels in the heavens were even there.  But we weren't there.  We didn't have a choice in the matter.  I'm also angry that I wasn't able to attend my son's funeral.  I, his Mom was not there and it hurt, and it still hurts and I'm angry about it.  I remember in the days following his death overhearing that some one had pictures of him while he was on life support with his eyes open.  They had ran all the necessary tests and his injuries were in-operable.  I imagined when he opened his eyes that there would be nothing there.  It was Colum minus the Colum.  We would ask to see these pictures but we never saw them until the topic was brought up recently and I insisted.  They understandably didn't want to upset us.  The first thing that we were sent was a video.  After watching it I now understand what my Mom was talking about.  In the video my Dad bends down and starts talking in his ear and his eyes open in response, he blinks, it's as if he's even looking around.  He looks medicated but he looks like Colum.  Please know I'm not angry at family for not sending this footage earlier or for sending it at all.  What I'm angry about is why couldn't it be me by his bedside talking to him and his eyes coincidentally responding.  My baby needed his Mom and Dad and I can't help but feel like I failed to protect him, to comfort him, to be there to love him.   It was scary, my baby was scared and I wasn't there.  I don't know what his exact injuries were and it makes me angry.  I don't understand why he was brought over and we had to take our child off life support ON CHRISTMAS DAY!  

I'm convinced there are two different personality types out there.  Those that like to know and those that like to live in denial.  I'm a 'like to know' kinda gal.  I think there are pluses and minuses with both types.  Ryan tends to be more of a 'live in denial' type (and also Finn).  I think he helps balance me out sometimes and hopefully I him.  I want to know what his injuries are and why they were inoperable and why his eyes weren't opening for us, or why we didn't get to see that and then maybe say goodbye a few days after Christmas.  I don't know if I've ever shared on here that my Birthday is the day after Christmas.  Even after the accident Finn remembered and told every person he saw that day that today was his Mommy's Birthday.  I was told they brought him into the ICU to tell me Happy Birthday and I just started talking about Colum and crying so they quickly took him out of there.  But even if they/we kept him on life support a few days would that've made our Christmas' any better?  

Whenever I'm driving Finn and my niece Brooke to/from preschool we always pass the cemetery and we always say "Hi Colum".  The other day as we passed I was struck with an uncomfortable thought and I was grateful to be wearing sunglasses because the tears began to fall, Halloween is gonna suck this year.  Halloween, Thanksgiving, and then Christamas and my Birthday.  I'm glad last Halloween was such a beautiful day and we took Colum around from house to house in his stroller and I have those memories of him in his alligator costume.  He'd just started walking at 16 mos and we were so happy.  

A few days ago I woke up at 4am and couldn't go back to sleep.  I got on my phone and got on Facebook which is very rare.  There's a Mom who took her twins to Little Gym when Finn and I went to the Mom and me class.  Colum was 5 weeks old & I'd tote him along with us and I remember in the beginning he would sleep and as he grew older he'd kick his legs to the music while watching contently in his car seat.  That Mom reached out to me after the accident and told me one of her twins had to have a heart transplant when he was very young.  I don't know her well at all but there on my Facebook screen was a post about a little boy who was living at Primary Children's Hospital waiting for a heart.  He'd lived there for 155 days and had just recently got the news that there was a heart for him.  I clicked on the post and watched a video about this little boy playing at the hospital with PICC lines and tubes hanging from his little veins.  Every post and comment I saw about this precious boy and other children who'd received hearts said something on the lines of, "Please remember to pray for the donor family who gave us this precious gift during times of tragedy".  

Donating Colum's heart is something I'm very proud of.  It made me wonder maybe somebody desperately needed his heart.  Maybe somebody else's child had been living at the hospital for 100+ days waiting.  And although I'm horrified just thinking about Christmas and how close it is getting, maybe someday I will be content with it.  Maybe I can try to change my outlook on what happened that day.  I will never be able to change the timing of Colum's death but in it he gave life.  I don't know the exact time of his death but perhaps I can live in denial of my own fantasy of the family receiving the call they'd been waiting for on that Christmas Day. The biggest gift that money can't buy.   Our little tough guy is a hero and my pain is beautiful.

My friend Shauna (whom I posted about here) told me she would be back at Primary Children's because baby Norah would be having surgery there last week.  I rescheduled Dr appointments and made our schedule work so we could finally go and meet them.  They have moved Norah further North to a long term care facility since I wrote that post.  Although it's been 9 months since our accident I've always wanted to go to the PICU and see where Colum was and I was hoping I would be able to meet the charge nurse (I believe her name is Tami Webb) who was working that day.  As time goes by I learn more little by little about things that occurred when we weren't there.  The charge nurse who was working the day shift (probably came in around 6am) stayed there until 1am, pulling strings and making it possible for Colum to be wheeled over to the U of U hospital.  She and many many other people who worked so hard to make that happen for us I consider to be angels.  Shauna arranged for the charge nurse on duty to research which room Colum stayed in and luckily it was empty so we could just stand there and cry.  I instantly felt comfortable with Shauna and I feel a strong connection with her and Norah.  She went out of her way to help us despite her baby having a pretty major surgery on her soft palet while running into additional complications.  She cried with me & Ryan just minutes after meeting for the first time standing outside of room #2.  Just right across the hall from Colum's room was Norah in what the staff had previously named 'Norah's corner' of the PICU.  Shauna pointed out some of the stickers that remained from her long stay and the only place she knew to be home.  As I approached Norah's bed I immediately felt just how special this little baby is.  I like the idea that Colum and her met while he was passing through on Christmas night after Norah had turned blue for the tenth time.  The nurse was unable to fix Norah's trach and the room quickly filled with staff members responding to the emergency.  Shauna said she picked her up and rolled her on her tummy and patted her back and it was the first time Norah was able to begin breathing on her own again without the bag to help her.  Shauna said most of the staff was deeply saddened and wiping tears from their eyes from a terrible tragedy unbeknownst to her that she'd later learn to be Colum.  Norah and Shauna had been just across the hall from Colum, this small detail makes me feel strongly connected to them and they will always hold a special place in my heart.

To say that Norah is tough is an understatement.  Although she is tiny (about the size of a 2/3 month old baby) she blows me away with her strength.  She is beautiful.  And so is her Mom.  Although our stories are nothing alike I really feel that Shauna understands.  It's just this is what happened to you and this is what happened to me.  Neither one is worse than the other.  It doesn't matter, we just can talk & cry.   A lot of times when talking to people about what happened to us either two things occur: 

1) Awkwardness!  I can't help people from feeling uncomfortable and I can't not talk about Colum or the accident.  There are very few people that can listen to me that I can tell they don't feel awkward when I'm truly saying what's on my mind.  Our therapist explained to me that sometimes it makes other people hurt and they don't want to and they try and ignore it or change the subject.  Also, after I talk to some one sometimes I'll get text messages later apologizing that they were awkward because they didn't know what to say.  This always comes as a shock because I had no idea it was awkward for them and I feel hurt and alone.  I've started to consciously become overly aware and am really self conscious of how people perceive me.  2) Competition.  Most of the time it's unintentional and they are trying to relate on some level.  But a lot of time people tell me about something that's happened to them or somebody they know that seems a lot worse to them and it feels like they are trying to downplay our tragedy.  It's insulting when people do this.  Most of the time it's people that barely know us but there's been a handful of times where it's been people I've known for years.  I usually change the subject and cry after these encounters.  Most of these people don't have children and I know they just don't have a clue but it still hurts.    

I know I've wrote about Colum hitting me whenever I'd try and kiss him.  Something I think about often is a little inside joke we had going.  When he would be buckled in his carseat and I would be driving sometimes I'd turn around and look at him.  I'd do anything to see that kid smile.  It could brighten any mood.  So atleast a couple times while driving around when I would be at a stop sign or stop light I'd turn around and smack my lips and make kisses at him.  Sometimes I'd say, "Oooh, I'm gonna get you and kiss your face" in a voice that sounded like I could barely contain myself.  This always got him to smile.  But sometimes I'd turn right around and do it again right after and maybe again after that... he'd crack up laughing.  He was helpless being buckled in the back seat unable to slap me.  It probably sounds really weird but we thought it was funny and it always made us laugh.  I miss our little joke.  I still miss my blue eyed boy.

*Kisses, little man.


  1. My family was driving home from my Step-Mom's on Christmas Eve last year and had to take a detour because of the accident. I felt such an extra sadness for who ever was out past all those police cars. When I got home and saw the news and learned about some of the details my heart ached for your family. Not sure why your story gets to me so much, but it does, and I think of your sweet little boy everytime I drive down that part of the road (which is often). Not sure where I am going with this ramble, but even though I'm a total stranger I wanted to send some extra love and strength this entire Holliday season. You and your family deserve it.

  2. As I was just reading your post, my mind was reminded of a little blinker on my blog. It flashes the saying "Every Day Matters". As I was just reading this, I so appreciate your sweet memory of your little man last Halloween. I recently made a decision to quit my "dream job" RN position and work as an RN elsewhere for the sake of my children. The 12 hour shifts didn't allow me to make Every Day Matter. I was supposed to work until 11 pm this coming Halloween :(
    I can tell from your posts, and from the times we have met, that you treasure your highest role in life, being the mother to your precious babies, and that you place that above EVERYTHNG ELSE. This decision has been hard for me. This puts that difficulty in perspective in a MAJOR WAY. Thank you for your example.
    While, one day, I plan on (and will be so thankful to be) working in the hospital and be someone's angel there (as also mentioned above), your precious memories of last Halloween teach me that Every Day Matters.
    Thank you to you and Angel Colum. I am so thankful for the lessons that I have learned from you and your sweet boys. I wish with all my heart you could hear your blue eyed babies' sweet laugh. I am SO SO SORRY :( I pray for your peace and comfort every day. -Much Love-

  3. I stumbled across your blog this evening, and I know sorry doesn't help the pain, but I am so so sorry for the unfortunate events that have happened in your life. My heart aches for you and your family. Thank you for sharing the beautiful funeral video. I'm not one who cries that often, but I was definitely crying my eyes out within 5 seconds of watching it. Your sons are very adorable, and your story has definitely left a permanent place in my heart for your family. I will be keeping your family in my thoughts during this difficult time in your life. -Sending tons of love your way.

  4. I'm a faucet-eyed, mascara smeared, snotty nosed, blubbering mess right now after reading your last post. I'd be in group 3)the ones who make you feel awkward for crying so hard that they can't get a word out to tell you how they wish this tragedy never happened to you and they could take away the pain. I don't cry easily let alone tear up, but what has happened to your beautiful family gets me every time. If our paths are to ever cross (maybe at next year's Walk for Colum) I'll try hard to hold it together, but I can't promise. I think of you daily.

  5. I think that would be so hard to know you couldn't be with colum while he was in the hospital. So sorry you couldn't be there with him. I also didn't understand why it had to be Christmas that they took him off of life-support. And to learn your birthday was right after that day, is so heartbreaking. I'm glad that you can find comfort in donating his heart and I'm glad you were able to give someone else hope. I would have a hard time knowing I wasn't there with him too, but I hope you know that Colum knows and understands why it wasn't possible for you and Ryan to be there. I hope you are doing ok. And seriously we need to get together. I love that Colum would hit you when you tried to kiss him. Preslee doesn't hit us but she is not cuddly and hates kisses. I think they would have been good friends.

  6. As I was reading your post I realized you were talking about our friend Matthew who received his 2nd heart transplant after being in the hospital for 155 days. We were introduced to this family when they sent us a letter shortly after Gabriel had died. They had heard about us through a mutual friend and they wrote us a letter telling us how great is was for us to let Gabriel be a heart donor. They hadn't had any communication with their donor family and had mixed feelings about it. We hadn't had any communication with our donor receipt family either since it'd only been a few weeks. Matthew's mom and I quickly became friends and were able to answer questions for each other that only someone on the other side of our situations could answer or understand. I consider it a sweet mercy that Matthews mom wrote that letter to me she and Matthew have been more help to me than I think they'll ever know.

    On another note I'm so glad you feel it is important to express all these emotions on your blog. For me it was a relief to express some deep feelings and I usually felt a bit better when I was done crying all over my keyboard. My emotional posts are fewer and father between now but every once in awhile I just have to vent. Every time I think of your sweet family and all you've had to endure my heart breaks for you. I only understand the heartache of the lost child and not even in the same manner but I want you to know that I think of you and your sweet Colum often and pray that you'll feel him near and feel comforted.
    Love Amy (Gabriel's Mom)

  7. gorgeous momma,
    I have something for you, Ryan and Finn. Is there a address I can send it to?


  8. I recently heard this song by Pink and thought of you. It's really a beautiful song. I hope you think so, too.

  9. Kelly,

    I have a song I want you to listen to when you have a moment or two. I just noticed the comment above me also requested a song for you, so sorry for the redundency, but this song seemed to hit home. It is called "Beautiful Heartbreak" (like you titled your blog post, "Beautiful Pain") and it about enduring unbearable pain and heartbreak, but it becomes beautiful remembering the past and the loved ones lost, and then moving forward in life. There is a religious background to it, but I believe the message is great.

    The singer is Hilary Weeks, and I actually saw her at a conference live once, and she talked about this song. At the end when all the people are in the field when they are holding up signs about their own heartbreaks, none of the stuff on the signs was made up. They honestly hired random people and asked them so just write something on it from their own lives. I can't watch this video without crying because of my own heartbreaks and the pain others go through, but it can be amazing how this unthinkable anguish in our own lives can turn into something beautiful someday.

    I hope this helps a little and gives you some comfort for the upcoming holidays.


  10. I heard this song and I immediately thought of you. I don't even know you but I have read your blog and I cry eveytime I do. You are a terrific writer and I cannot even imagine what you are going through. Just wanted to share this with you. Just copy this link to your browser. http://youtu.be/PFYm9LKsuUo

  11. I'm glad you have this blog. Here you can vent and let everything out. Praying for you and your family.

    And glad you take comfort in the fact that your little Colum helped another family in their time of great need. The greatest gift.

    Hugs to you and yours,


  12. I keep coming back to this post to write a comment, and I have no idea what to say. I don't know what to say that would help your pain. I am just so sorry you have to endure this. I truly am. I am angry for you too. None of this is fair and I know life isn't fair, but this truly isn't fair. Your accident has so many levels of tragedy within it. All I can say is that I am praying for you every day that your cute little family can heal, physically and emotionally. I hope you know how much you are loved.

    Your precious baby made the ultimate sacrifice. He truly is a hero and an angel. I hope you feel his love surrounding you. I know he lives and that you will see him again. Families are forever and he'll forever be yours.

  13. I totally love you guys, Kelly. I felt so honored to be there with you last week. You guys are so awesome, and I am so glad that our paths crossed, though it was under the worst possible circumstances. I feel so connected to you guys, and can't wait to hang out.

    Am sending you love, hugs, and a long stream of cursing. :)

  14. I think it is perfectly understandable that you are angry. I hope you feel able to contact the hospital to get answers to some of your questions. I am pleased you have met with Shauna and she has been able to give some comfort. You should be very proud of yourself for donating Colum's heart, and for the dignity you show every day.

  15. My stomache felt empty reading this post. I'm glad that Norah was there with your little man! I think of you guy daily!

  16. Just heard a beautiful conference talk on losing a child and I thought of you and your sweet colum. The Lord said "as I live ye shall live also". I know this life is not the end and you WILL see your precious baby again!! I just felt the need to tell you that! I pray for continued comfort for your family!!

  17. i am so very, very sorry. i'm feeling pretty angry right now, too. i wish i could take even a little of your pain away.

    sending you love from one hurting mom to another...