::pack:: of fixations

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


Old flame

Slowly, the fires are being put out in my brain.  There are so many fires, so many that there is hardly any water left that sometimes there's not even a few drops to spare for any tears to fall.  

All it took was a spark for a new fire to start.  The mountains & trees were very vulnerable since they were so dry.  Raging fires that couldn't be contained for weeks.  I would become proud once I could finally accommodate 1 fire but, would soon lose control of another.  Containing all of these fires takes a lot of work.  Somedays the fires would get so bad that's all I could do.  

Fireworks were carelessly being lit off and people's cigarette butts weren't being put out.  I couldn't incorporate the new fires and keep track of all the old ones.  It was hopeless, until recently.  Recently I called in some Prozac reinforcements.  The reinforcements usually take 3-4 weeks to show up, but the smoke from my fires made the air so bad that people were complaining so the reinforcements were transported Star Trek style.  

Sometimes, I want to cry and I can't.  I laugh and I am shocked to hear that sound again.  Halloween was so hard.  I woke up so sad.  It took everything to get out of bed and go to Finn's Halloween parade.  I imagined Colum going with me in his lightning McQueen costume (or Buzz or Woody) and feeling so cool and being so excited while his big brother (Iron Man) waltzed by.  Finn would strut his stuff a little bit extra just so his baby brother could see how big and cool he was 'cause he was in Preschool.  Colum should've been there.

I thought for sure I would be better by the time we were supposed to go trick-or-treating....but I wasn't.  I didn't want to get out of bed and I didn't want to stop crying.  I didn't want to go without him.  I mean I go everywhere without him, I've been so strong haven't I?  I fight through the sadness and I go places without him.  I felt guilty because I wasn't able to show up for Finn, I wasn't being the Mom I wanted to be.  I couldn't.  I couldn't decorate for Halloween, I didn't want it to come.  I wanted to, Finn wanted to but I couldn't.  Luckily Ryan could.  

I was nervous to make any Thanksgiving plans.  What if I froze up like on Halloween?  What if the reinforcements decided to take the day off?!?  You can't predict what days are going to be hard and what days are going to be surprisingly easy.  Thanksgiving was a surprisingly easy day and we drank it in.  

Last week I got a strong desire to hang up Christmas lights outside of our house.  Finn was so excited and seeing his excitement feeds my soul.  Yesterday we put up our Christmas tree and I rather enjoyed it.  I'm actually excited for Christmas morning.  I'm feeling the exact opposite than I thought.  I thought I would hide from the world and shudder every time I saw a twinkling light or heard Christmas music in the grocery store.  But instead of feeling sad I'm feeling joy & I've found myself humming along.  I'm so excited to give Finn...to finally give him that magic of Christmas morning.  The one that I'm still grieving and honestly don't think I'll ever get over.  It breaks my heart that Santa couldn't find Finn or Colum last year at the hospital.  Finn got a tube up his nose for Christmas and another up his wiener (that's the classy term we use in our house for penis).  He had to be taken away from his family and never got to play with his brother again.  

Although, the future month is still unpredictable and there's always a possibility that an old fire will begin burning out of control, a brand new flame, a happy little friendly flame with a smiley face is burning right this second in my heart.  I'm coddling this little flame of mine.  I'm trying to baby it, embrace it, live in the present.  

I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving and drank up your time with your loved ones.  

Maybe it's the Prozac, maybe it's a Christmas miracle on 400 East Street.  But I know for sure that all your prayers, happy thoughts, and well wishes is most of it and I'm thankful... I'm oh so thankful!  

Thank you

Happy Holidays

The ::Packs::



I remember looking up as the head lights jumped the median and squeezing my eyes shut before the impact.  I remember that horrible smell and my ears ringing so bad that I was sure there'd be permanent damage.  I remember hearing a child cry and Ryan's painful moans.  I was drowning yet I wasn't under water.  I was terrified.  I was angry that people kept asking me the same questions over and over.  Why weren't they asking me important things?  I remember when they took Colum, I can recite the exact words that were said.  I kept repeating the words he has no pulse inside my head.  I remember screaming and losing control for a second, but quickly focusing back on trying to suck in enough oxygen so I could thrive long enough to get to him.  Breathing in was almost impossible.  I remember that the minutes felt like hours. 

I remember being pulled from the car and hearing my bones cracking.  My left arm kept falling off the stretcher and I wished I would just die every time it did.  I remember being in the ambulance and wondering why it wasn't moving.  I remember men shouting to remember to duck when approaching the helicopter since they had to leave the propeller running.  We will be at the Hospital in only about 7 minutes the kind man told me as the helicopter lifted off the ground.  7 minutes didn't seem very fast at the time, I didn't feel like I had 7 more minutes and I didn't want to fight for 7 more minutes.  I remember thinking about Christmas morning and knowing it was slipping through my fingers.  But what I didn't know is that most people don't remember this stuff.

On Friday Ryan, Finn, and I went up to the Hospital and met with our amazing AirMed team that rescued us.   I knew very little to nothing about what they did exactly until this happened to us.  They save lives.  They see so much sadness and suffering.  After they deliver critical patients to the hospital they are off to rescue the next person.  They are modern day superheroes and we are so grateful for them.  We were lucky that it was a clear night so AirMed had enough visibility to come to our rescue.  The accident happened next to a golf course, which turned out to be quite convenient for the possibility to park 3 helicopters next to a very busy road.  I can't decide if I want Finn to work for AirMed so he can live out his childhood superhero fantasies or be an Occupational Therapist when he grows up.  

Colum was buckled in his car seat behind me.  The flight nurse that took care of him told us that he was able to get his heartbeat and blood pressure back to normal.  "Babies and young children usually bounce back quickly", he said.  He had no idea what was wrong with him because he looked...perfect.  He gave him medication for pain and later learned that he wasn't going to make it.  His injuries were so rare they actually called the world specialist on Christmas Eve to take a look at his x-rays.  His spine was severed at the very top of his neck so there was no way that he would ever be able to breathe on his own.  He died.  My baby died while he was right behind me buckled in his car seat.  It's likely he didn't feel pain.  He was gone.  In a split second my baby was just gone.  Due to the severity of his injuries life support wouldn't really sustain his body for very long and that is why he had to go on Christmas Day.  

All of them came on helicopters from different places: Orem, Park City, and Salt Lake City.  All of them told us that when they arrived and saw our cars they didn't expect to find any of us alive.  They do and see this kind of stuff for a living and were shocked to see any survivors.  We learned that they administer medication to give patients amnesia, and that I was given this as well as pain medication.  Obviously neither of these worked on me.  I naturally have a high tolerance for pain medications, it actually runs in my family.  This is not a good thing and when I am in a doctors care and try to explain this it just looks like I am looking for a high.  I told them my memories of being wheeled into the ER and how I got the impression that I wasn't wanted.  I was horrified and the people surrounding me wearing white coats and scrubs weren't friendly & it felt as though they hated me.  There was one woman with light brown hair who held my hand and talked to me for a few seconds.  She told me I was going to be okay and had sympathy not anger in her eyes.  I wanted to speak to her, ask her not to leave my side, tell her how much I hurt, how scared I was, and how much I needed her to stay.   There were orders being shouted all around me and I was surrounded by young residents, and machines with monitors, tubes, and needles.  I remember my new Frye boots being cut off my calves and the scissors touching my skin as my jeans and blouse were cut from my broken body.  I felt exposed and shy but talked myself out of it.  

They were surprised to hear about a horrible experience I had when I was supposed to be asleep but was just paralyzed and could still feel my body crying in pain, and could still hear the things being said about me.  They encouraged me to talk to some one about my experience so it doesn't happen again.  That it's not supposed to happen, because I'm not supposed to remember.  The drugs didn't work on me.  

I asked them why exactly couldn't I breathe?  I asked dozens of nurses and doctors after coming to and nobody really knew.  Well, you had a ruptured diaphragm they told me.  They weren't sure until after the CT scan because they've only seen a handful of ruptured diaphragms.  Yes!  That makes sense!  I had no idea until 2 days ago that my diaphragm had been ruptured.  Closure.  Answers.  You had a lot of life threatening injuries.  You are lucky to be alive.  I've heard others tell us that, I've thought that myself from time to time.  But, coming from the superheroes it really sunk in.  We told them it was because of our Subaru but they didn't seem convinced.  

In a strange way I'm glad I remember some things... because I like to know.  I still had questions.  It's crazy having your baby who has no pulse being taken from the seat behind you and not knowing anything.  I couldn't speak because it was such a struggle to breathe.  Most of my family heading home that night heard on the radio that there was an accident and went around us to avoid traffic.  My Brother's family passed the scene and didn't recognize our car.  They had no idea until 10-11pm that night after somebody read about it on Facebook and then called somebody.  

I'm glad Colum was with these amazing people and it brings comfort knowing he was well taken care of.  The AirMed crew are some of the strongest people I've ever met.  
Just want to give a shout out to all of our Superheroes from AirMed:

Jim Howe
Doug Morgan
Josh Wall
Brian Simpson
Roxanne Fawson


All of our heroes.  Questions were answered and we were able to get some closure.  I love these guys.  Owe them our lives.

The ER/trauma room I was first brought to.  It was surreal seeing this  and being in there again.

This is where I got my first catscan.  I was paralyzed but could still feel like I was moving.  It felt like I was going through a tunnel.  I was terrified I was going to get cut open while still awake.

The table swings out... tight fit in there.

Finn would rather get bit by a spider and swing from buildings when he grows up but I'm hoping he won't be too heartbroken when he learns that probably won't happen.  Maybe this memory will inspire him to rescue people :)

The landing pad on top of the parking garage at U of U Hospital.  It's actually really pretty up here.

This is the actual helicopter I rode in.  I remember it being a tight fit and seeing it up close, IT IS TINY.  I vomited on poor Doug in here.



I'll never forget the time I saw those two pink lines when I'd finally gotten pregnant with Finn.  The first cycle of IVF didn't go so well.  They retrieved a significant amount of eggs but when they went to put the embryos in my uterine lining was freakishly thin.  I was told I'd probably never be able to get pregnant.  They implanted 2, that didn't stick and the rest were frozen.  I lied there and sobbed.  We went ahead and tried again with a frozen cycle.  My lining was fine.  5 embryos were frozen; 3 survived defrosting but only 2 were worth putting in.  

I cheated the morning of my 2nd blood test and took a pregnancy test from the dollar store.  That 2nd line didn't show at first and I remember I began to cry.  I remember crying out No, please not again... please let me be a Mom.  I looked down at the white stick again as the faint 2nd line began to appear.  It was 6am and one of the happiest moments of my life.  We were positive it was twins until the 7 week ultrasound and there on the monitor was just 1 gummy bear.  I'll never forget the silence on our drive home that day.  We both needed a moment to mourn the thought of having 1 instead of 2.  

Every waking moment was complete bliss.  Every time I got nauseous, every annoying pregnancy symptom that I'd dreamed about was finally happening.  He never kicked all night long, and always crossed his legs during ultrasounds.  I craved Coke and wasabi and everything bad.  On July 23, 2008 Finnegan Ryan Pack was born perfectly healthy.  

He was born a happy baby, slept through the night since he was 5 weeks old, and has such heart.  He would almost never wake up crying and his facial expressions would say Hello world, it's a new day.  He has a natural zest for life.  He's observant and complimentary.  His heart is so big, and he's got the most positive outlook on life.  He continues to amaze me with his euphoric charm.  Of course there are times when he can be a stinker but sometimes I can't help but ask myself how we were ever so lucky.  

He is a HUGE superhero fan and lovingly has deemed Hulk as the perfect heroine for Colum.  It's kinda stuck and I chuckle every time he says it.  Hulk is perfect for Colum for so many reasons, and Finn just knows.  Finn talks of his baby brother often and only thinks of positive memories.  Last week I met a friend for lunch/playdate and she had an 18 month old blonde boy, Declan that was also like a 'little tough guy'.  I watched Finn's eyes immediately gravitate towards him and not her other two who were just as deserving.  As we were leaving and saying our goodbyes Finn was patting Declan on the head happily saying We used to have one of you, we used to have one of you.  I could tell his big happy heart was shedding a little heart shaped tear for his blonde brother, as my eyes swelled up with tears from what coulda/shoulda been.  As I was pushing her stroller with her 8 week old in it Finn excitedly asked me if that was our new baby.  I know this dear sweet friend felt bad, and a lot of people do when they bring their littles around my broken heart.  But have no fear, because it fills me up with joy to see families and siblings enjoying each other because that is what Colum gave us with the short time we got to spend with him.

Finn with his monster jacket on last November.  We just parked and were going into Costco and he said he was just going to scare a couple people.  (Old Instagram pic...follow me Packx4)

Taking pics of the boys with my night vision camera.  The flash was so bright and Finn &Colum were laughing so hard.  In all the pics their eyes were closed from the flash.

There's just something so cute about little boy undies and little boy bums!  Just noticed Colum's little head in this old instagram pic.

Nightly wrestling match with Daddy and the boys.  Miss this so much.

I took a shower and when I came out this is what I found.  He knew it was naughty and he thought it was hilarious.

Rib City for lunch after Finn's Christmas program at his 1st preschool.  Colum was right there with us.

One of Colum's 9 month pictures.  We used this one for his obituary.  His smile was everything.  I love his eyelashes that curled up on the outer corners of his eyes.

Going around the block on his big boy bike.  One of our first times with out Colum.  Didn't comb his hair this day :)

Crappy cell phone pic of Finn and I on the lift at Snowbird late Summer/early Fall.  He's so handsome.
Finn, I love you so much.  I'm so proud to call you mine.  You've taught me so much and you made my dreams come true.  Thank you for being the best older brother that Colum could've ever had and thank you for keeping Mommy and Daddy from going to a very dark place.  We are so lucky!  Stay sweet.  

Love, Mom

***A very kind reader set up this fundraiser for our family and asked me to share it here on the blog.  I know times are hard.  We are so lucky that there are so many people that care.  So many beautiful gestures, so much generosity.  There's been a few people who've asked how they can help.  If you are interested click here.




Last year's Christmas Eve started with a crash.  Ironically the crash began a sort of metaphor of how my life is. 

You know when you get in your car to drive somewhere and you arrive at your destination but you can't remember how you got there?  You drove safely.  You just can't remember doing it.  That's how a lot of my days feel.  

Somedays I get a flat tire.  Somedays my car won't start and all I need is a jump start.  A lot of days I run out of gas way too soon and I just have to parallel park in bed.   

Sometimes I know these roads, but somedays they change on me.  New speed-bumps telling me to slow down, potholes to watch out for, dead ends.   I carefully watch the speed limit and try to not follow some one too close.  

I turn up the radio and Finn and I dance and sing to our favorite song.  Or I listen to my 'sad' song playlist on repeat.  When driving alone I cry and sometimes I scream.  I talk to him and I tell him I'm sorry. 

There are days, and sometimes those days turn into weeks that this ol' car just won't start.  

But, I'm slowly starting to feel like I've got a new engine.

I'm in the clear.  I've got to be in the clear now.  That's what I keep telling myself.  That's what Ryan keeps telling himself.  But then yesterday we hit some major traffic.  We are okay.  I've got my new engine and my gas reserves are being carefully monitored.  At least I'm out of the house and back behind the wheel.  Ryan is confidently driving his car that on the outside looks fine except for the bumper being held on by duck tape and anchoring cables.  But if you look under the hood you don't know how it's possible that this car is running.  The engine is getting overworked and I'm afraid it's going to break down.  Again.  I want the engine to have some rest.  I want his engine to get oil changes once a week as well as new coolants and fluids. Get polished, be well taken care of.  I hate that his engine is running on it's last leg, instead of just going for a spin or a scenic drive.  

I'm treading carefully not to over do it on this new engine of mine.  The first few hundred miles you need to drive carefully.  I just don't want to break down.  

Yesterday I got an x-ray and I'm so happy to say that my reproductive organs are intact!  There still could be scar tissue that doesn't show up on x-rays from all the internal bleeding/injuries but at least my fallopian tubes are open...TMI?  I've been dealing with an old companion that's all too familiar.  Some of my old demons have been poking out their little heads. Infertility, it can get ugly.  It's hard on top of all the other hards.  But something inside of me is letting go of the obsessing.  I'm getting to a more if it happens it happens state.  I think it's because my brain has finally convinced my heart that as happy and exciting as it will be to have another baby, it won't bring back Colum.  If we are lucky to have more children they may even all be brunettes.  Don't get me wrong I love me some brunette, but there's something different about that blonde glow, the glow Colum had.  I miss his glow.  The fight between my brain and heart wasn't a shouting match, it wasn't an inside voice, not even a whisper.  My brain just recently started giving my heart 'that look'.  My heart would refuse to see.  My heart wants to be whole again.  My heart is very stubborn and difficult to convince sometimes.  My heart has been running the show.  But my heart is too broken and is finally allowing my brain to intervene.  

Yesterday, I opened a bill right before leaving for the fallopian tube x-ray.  We thought all the bills from the accident were mostly handled.  Our attorney did amazing things and the expenses from the facilitie(s) are wiped clean which is HUGE and we are forever grateful.  The bill I opened was for the Radiologists' that did CT scans, x-rays, etc from 12/24-01/03.  It's ironic that this bill came when we were on our way to get an x-ray.  It's still pending.  I called and spoke with some one and apparently there are several still pending.  I was there for 2 months.  This bill was just for me, on those dates.  What about all the other dates?  What about Ryan, Finn, and Colum?  I know I had at least 100 xrays, MRIs, CT scans.  I think I had 20-30 surgeries.  We had 3-6 teams of Doctors working with us at a given time.  Teams!  When can I expect those bills?  Apparently there is a lot more bills coming our way.  

When we've gotten blood work done since we were discharged our insurance isn't covering it.  Our hormones are both completely out of whack.  The statements all say our insurance is 'exhausted'.  Is our insurance going to be too exhausted to pay all of these other bills that are still pending?  

 Why are we hitting traffic almost a year later?  Was there a road block?  Before yesterday I believed our future would hold familiar routes with occasional detours.  
Our financial future is still pending.  It is under construction.

Warning: There may be bumpy roads ahead.  Watch out for falling rocks.

Dear Insurance, 
You say your exhausted.  How do you think we feel?  

Before yesterday, I was so excited to write about how much better I'm doing.  How well my new engine purrs.  I was excited to write about something positive.  I'm going to have to do an investigation, the kind that you don't want to do because the results could be hazardous to your mental health.  But, I'm not going to break down.  I may be stuck in traffic but I'm going to enjoy the music and the scenery.  This car may be beat up but there's still some fight left.  

Thank you for all your kind comments.  Thank you for reading.  Thank you for all your encouragement and prayers.  I truly don't think I could do this without you.  This is the best therapy for me.


Killing time

"Good Grief".  I remember my Mom and Aunts using this expression as a child.  They usually used it when something was irritating or out right ridiculous.  Not sure where this expression came from but it makes sense because no grieving is good; calling it good is obsurd.  Grieving being good for you, now that's the philosophical question.

I believe you truly learn and grow so much from bad experiences, but I never wanted or expected this one.  The way humans grieve hasn't changed over time.  There's not necessarily a medication you can take, not a pill you can swallow that can take away this ailment.  It's definitely the most hopeless and vulnerable pain there is.  I now understand why women were supposed to wear black while in mourning.  So people wouldn't be alarmed when they broke down into hysterics over nothing.  People treated you with care because you were vulnerable, you were suffering, you were wearing black.  Not like when your boyfriend stops loving you and you feel like your world is over because deep down there is still hope.  Hope he will want you again or hope that you will find some one new.  Not like when your group of friends rejected you in middle school and you had no one to sit by at lunch and so you grabbed your orange and ate in the bathroom stall hoping to not be found and keep your sadness a mystery.  Not like when for years you can't get pregnant and you are terrified you never will.  You try everything and refinance your house to pay for it because there's hope, hope that you will get to have what others have.  A family.  

Colum.  No matter how much I hope, no matter how hard I work, or how many tears I cry I can't get you back.  I think in my mind when I get pregnant, I imagine it will be you.  I'm constantly reminding myself that it won't be you.  I WANT IT TO BE YOU.  You looked like me.  You looked like my brothers.  You looked like my Mom.  Your smile was everything.  You made me like my own smile because in it I saw you.  You were so strong and you loved balls and throwing everything down the stairs.  Uncle Chad and I were talking about you today, He couldn't believe how much you were looking like Uncle Scott (my brother) when you died.  I couldn't believe you looked like me, I don't think any of my siblings have children who looked so much like our side of the family.  And you're gone!  My child who looked like me the one with my smile, the one with my temper, and a talent for making people laugh is gone. 

Tonight was Halloween.  Remember how you just started walking (finally) last Halloween.  We pushed you around Grandma's neighborhood in the stroller and it was really nice weather.  You loved riding in the stroller.  You loved eating suckers.  Remember Mom could barely walk cause I'd just ran my big race a few days earlier.  I remember feeling so happy.  I had everything I ever wanted.  I've never felt so content.  You would have probably dressed up as Lightning McQueen.  It's the costume Finn chose when he was 2 and it used to light up.  We pulled it out of the Halloween box and we were saddened you weren't here to wear it.  It doesn't light up anymore.  How ironic.  You should be here to wear it.  You would've loved Halloween.  It was so hard and always is hard having one of my boys here without the other.  

I'm in some sort of a manic-depression part of my grief.  I want to pack a bag and just go far away.  If the only thing that is supposed to help this pain is time then I want to go somewhere.  Far away.  No stress.  I will kidnap Ryan and Finn and take them with me. I want to live through the rest of this time away from here, from everything that reminds me of you.  It will kill me but this kills me anyway.  I want to run away from my problems and just kill time. 

Today was hard, actually this whole week was hard.  I think one of the hardest parts of grieving is reminding yourself that they aren't coming back.  The world keeps turning and Christmas will keep coming.  Maybe we will become Jewish, skip Christmas and celebrate Hanukkah.  Ryan went to a new Dr yesterday and was told his leg will always stay paralyzed.  I cried, or was I already crying?   I used to be happy.  I used to be funny.  Now I'm just sad.  I'm depressed.  I'm grieving.  
Grief is not good.
Grieving is exhausting.

-Colum please send me another baby that looks like me, that looks like us... as selfish as that sounds.  Kids were going to tease you about your squinty eyes, the way they did me and I would tell you that they were just jealous and that they were beautiful & unique. You were going to give me grandbabies that looked like us and we were going to secretly be happy but also feel sorry for them.  They were going to get our wide feet and our toenails.  Their fingers would bend backwards really freakishly far and every finger would also be double jointed except for their thumbs.  Some of them would get my wrinkly palms and feet and Palm Readers would tell them they were 'Old Souls'.  We were going to laugh about it together and you would tell them it came from their Grandma and they wouldn't believe you until we showed them in person.  
...That's what was supposed to happen. 

[next day 11/1]:

I drove to the Hospital for my Dr appointment by myself.  They took my vitals.  "Your heartbeat is fast", they told me.  It's from driving here, I quickly responded.  I checked depression, anxiety, and joint pain on the form you fill out before the Doctor sees you.  The depression check is new.  I've been depressed this whole time, just never checked the box.  How do you tell the difference between grieving your 18 month old miracle, blue eyed baby who looks like you, has your temper, his Daddy's beautiful round head shape, your wide feet, and your toenails that grow up and depression?  It's all relative.  This is worse because there's no hope of him physically returning to our home.  I took a prescription for Prozac from my Doc. To at least just get you through the Holidays.  I wish Prozac would bring some hope but it's hopeless.  
Grieving is hopelessness.
Grieving doesn't end.

Time is of the essence.