Sunday, June 12, 2016

Just words, or are they?

Words... They have so much power. Sometimes it's not even so much the word being said as HOW it's being said that has an impact. Yet, sometimes it really IS just the words. No energy, no malice intended, it's just the words.

For me, the words are "Fetal Demise". In the days immediately following Boe's death, Adler and Cameron were in the NICU. This meant that Adam and I were in the NICU; we often heard the nurses and doctors performing their rounds at shift change. Each shift change meant listening to the nurses explain Adler and Cameron's situation like the next shift was hearing it for the first time. This meant hearing them refer to Adler and Cameron as "triplets resulting in Fetal Demise"; this meant hearing that over and over again. In the throes of our grief, with raw pain and anger, our sweet son, Boe, had been reduced to 2 words - Fetal Demise.

Adam and I never blamed the staff in the NICU for their words. Hard as they were to hear, we knew it was simply their training, and, quite possibly, their way of coping with the unthinkable. I haven't thought about those words for quite some time, but, recently, they seem to have resurfaced.  I, too, now find myself using those words.

Just over a year ago, my husband and I started a non-profit for our son, Boe. We provide flower arrangements for families who suffer a loss at the Labor and Delivery or NICU level. I have learned to recognize the hospital's number, and my heart breaks each time I see that exchange appear on my phone. I know what the words will be, I know what they mean. I know what I am being called to do for another family who finds themselves at the beginning of a very long journey.

Sometimes, I miss the call. I can't get to my phone quickly enough, but I always call back. There are times when the person who answers knows who I am and why I am calling. There are times when I have to use "those" words. There are times when I have to say to the person on the other end, "Hi, I'm Kirsten Kinowski with Boe's Blooms. I got a call about a fetal demise."

Immediately, they know with whom I need to speak. Immediately, I am thrown back to those days when I heard those words so frequently. Immediately, another little piece of me breaks, and I can only hope that it ends up with the family who will receive the flowers I bring in the next 12 hours. I can only hope that that little piece of me will help to weather just the tiniest bit of their pain.

Words. They are so benign and SO powerful all at the same time. They can bring such sorrow and pain, or they can provide great comfort in a time of need. #bringingsunshineduringthestorm

Wednesday, July 16, 2014


This place has been quiet for quite some time.  It's not that there is no more grief or that I don't think of Boe, because there is, and I do.  I just think that, right now, I am at a place where, though there is still grief and sadness, it has transformed.  It is not always right in my face consuming my every waking minute.  It has relinquished its spot at the forefront of my mind, and it has made way for beautiful friendships.  Friendships formed during the deepest and darkest moments that we could ever endure, friendships based on laughter through tears, lots of ugly cries and the rainbow after a raging storm; friendships that will last a lifetime.  My grief has also helped me move to a place of comfort.  It is not comfort with the fact that Boe is dead, for how could the loss of a child ever make anyone comfortable?  It is being able to have a conversation about him with my surviving children and answer their questions about him without crying.  It is seeing a drawing that my sweet five year old has made for him that brings a smile to my lips and warmth to my heart instead of a tear to my eye.  That being said, the quiet here is not because he has been forgotten, it's simply because I'm in a different place right now.  The following is an entry on which I've been working since March.  For many reasons, I've held off on sharing it until now.  I hope that by sharing it today, I honor the two people who inspired it. They are always on my heart and in my mind...

 If you read my last post then you know that I have been struggling with the very sudden death of my best friend from childhood.  She passed away in April, and there are times when I feel as though I am back at that exact time in that exact moment receiving the news that she is gone.  Those times tear through me  and open a very fragile wound, a wound just begun to "heal" (as if that is even possible), a wound just begun to stop being SO DAMN PAINFUL.  And then, the guilt sets in.

A song that we enjoyed together as teenage girls comes on the radio, and I cry.  My children ask why Auntie Kathleen had to go to heaven, and my voice quivers as I explain to them, as best I can, why such a fabulous, exciting, loving, and loyal person was taken from us so unexpectedly.  My daughter looks at the last picture of me and 3 of my best friends together; she points us each out with such pride, and I begin to feel such anger that one of us is no longer here.  And then, the guilt sets in.

Guilt. I feel guilty because even though I miss Boe tremendously, I feel like sometimes I miss Kathleen more. I cry more freely about her death.  I talk about her more often, or so it seems.  I speak to her, I think of her, she crosses my mind SO DAMN MUCH.

I can think of lots of reasons for this.  Maybe it is because her death is still so recent, the wound so fresh and tender.  I have had nearly 4 years to process Boe's death and how his absence fits into my life, I am still trying to figure out what to do without Kathleen being just a text or a phone call away.

Perhaps it is because I have a lifetime of memories with Kathleen.  Countless moments which made us laugh, cry, lash out in anger, hurt or disappointment, small little phrases or sounds we could subtly throw out and reduce the other to a heap of blubbering laughter within seconds (Ba ba babette!).  Knowing the opportunity to create more of these moments has been ripped away hurts me to the core.  I never had any of this with Boe.  With the exception of the times I saw and felt him in my womb, I have not one memory of him alive.  I never heard him cry, or saw his beautiful blue eyes.  With Boe, the moment to which I cling is holding his tiny still body in my arms.  The moment where I tried to cram a lifetime into minutes because it was all I'd ever have.  The moment I had to say "hello" and "goodbye" simultaneously.

It really angers me that I feel guilty, for I know that doesn't serve anyone, not them and not me.  It also doesn't solve anything.  They are both still gone, and they are not coming back.  They both hold such important and significant roles in my life, and they occupy such vast space in my heart.  I love them both dearly, but so differently and for such different reasons.  Maybe that should be the thought on to which I hold; maybe that should be the permission I can give myself to mourn, grieve and miss them differently.  Maybe this revelation will be what it takes for me to put aside the guilt and simply celebrate the wonderful and powerful presence they both hold in my life.  Maybe I'll finally let go of the reins, relinquish "control", and just let this be what it is.  Nasty.  Ugly.  Grief for two people who I hold so dear and miss so very, very much.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

April showers...

OK, so I know April has been over for quite some time, but it has been since then that I have been grappling with all kinds of really ugly shit.  April is the month when we found out that Boe might be showing signs of a struggle, April is the month that we did everything we could to ensure his survival, April is the month when my 3 precious boys were born, and April is the month I buried one of my sons.

Needless to say, since 2010 April has been a very bittersweet and emotionally tricky month in our home.  It seems that since 2010, there has been a shit storm circling our family every April.  Sometimes it smells much worse than others, but we are always well aware of its stinky, unwelcome presence in our lives. 

Fast forward to 2013.  We celebrated my boys' 3rd birthday with a wonderful party.  We had a "Stache bash" with all kinds of mustaches and little "man" inspired things; that's what they are, my little men.  Friends whom I have not physically seen in quite some time were able to come, and it was a beautiful day.  It was the last time I saw my best friend, it was the last time I hugged her, it was the last time I heard her speak in person.

7 days later she was dead.  7 days later my "person", the one who, except for my husband, knew me best was dead.  It was sudden, unexpected and horrific.  It was the kind of news no one wants to receive, and 3 and a half months later, I still cannot believe she is gone.  I still expect a phone call, text or Facebook message chiding me for being so silly, so na├»ve to believe that she is dead.  That message does not come.

She is dead, she is not coming back.  As if April was not already a hard enough month to get through, now I have to add the anniversary of her death to the list of turds that fall on my house every April.  Her death has left me lost.  It has awakened in me feelings and emotions that I thought were long packed away.  Her death has not made me stronger, and that breaks my heart, for she always said I was one of the strongest people she knew.  She'll never know how much that meant to me, as she was one of the strongest people I knew, and I admired her so.

So, I apologize if this space has been quiet for so long, but, as you can see, I've been dealing with some ugly shit.  I am not a better parent, wife or friend for any of it, and I think that is what bothers me the most.  I'm not sure what it will take to get myself out of this colossal shit heap in which I find myself, but I shall sure as hell try.  I'll try for her, I'll try for Boe, and I'll try for everyone else who loves me and needs me, for they sure as hell deserve better than what I can offer right now.  I'll also try because I know that in order to be that girl she knew, that strong girl she made me out to be, I have to be and do better than what I am right now.

And somewhere, I hear her singing, "Freedom!  Freedom! Freedom!  You got to give what you take!"  KGF, March 12, 1974 to April 27, 2013. 

Sunday, January 20, 2013

She talks to angels...

I did it. I have been thinking of doing it for a long time. Today, I went to see a medium.  I'll admit I was afraid.  I wanted to hear from Boe, and I was afraid that he wouldn't come through, or worse, he would say something that I was not prepared to hear.

She was warm and welcoming.  Boe showed himself to her as a man.  This did not surprise her,
for he is an old soul she said.  She told me he was very evolved and comfortable.  She told me he was only meant to brush this earth with his toes before he went on to bigger and better things, before he became an angel.

She told me that, even though she knows this is a cop out, he was never meant to be here and he is exactly where he needs to be.  She told me he is at peace and happy where he is, and he is always with us.

She told me what Adam and I believed all along, that he held on as long as he could for his brothers to survive.  He took the fall for them.  He is a hero.

She told me that he whispers to me, which I believe, because I sense him constantly.  She told me he is with us always.  She told me everything I hoped to hear. She told me my baby is happy, he is where he needs to be; she told me he is an angel.

Monday, December 24, 2012


It is almost Christmas morning, and I am ready to go to bed.  After visits from and to family and friends, trips to see Santa, wrapping gifts for all, baking, etc..., I am tired, but not too tired to reflect back on what the last 4 weeks have been like on our home.

The house has been full... of laughter and singing.  The children are more aware this year, than last, of the joy and wonder of Christmas.  They are learning Christmas carols, developing favorite Christmas movies, and becoming increasingly more aware that it means presents. 

The house is full... of the patter of little feet and the cries of joy as they discover our Elf, Diamond's, resting place for the day.

The house is full... of little hands reaching for bright lights and soft ornaments, even trying to pull needles off the tree.

The house is full... of little voices asking when we can go see Boe and bring him flowers.

The mantle, is full... of stockings waiting to be filled with Santa's goodies.  We now have Brody's stocking, so it is complete.

In spite of this fullness, I cannot help but feel a nagging sense of emptiness.  Yes, the stocking all hang on our mantle; but, as all have been taken down, bulging with Santa's treats, one remains hanging, filled only with notes and a mommy's hopes and dreams that will never come true. 

Yes, the little hands reach for lights and ornaments on the tree, but mommy's eyes always float to the booties which will never hold precious little feet.  They hang front and center to remind us of his presence. 

Yes, the carols are being sung, but certain songs cannot be heard without mommy getting tears in her eyes, for they speak of angels and peace, and she wonders, is he an angel?  Is he at peace? 

Yes, they run through the house squealing with delight and excitement, but he will never join them.

Even though there is a void which can never be filled, I also feel so filled with his presence.  I know he is here with us, watching and enjoying from afar.  I know there is a part of him that lives in his surviving brothers and his younger brother, as well.  It is a gentle sweetness, an innocence that makes me squeeze them that much harder or hold them that much closer.  I am full of love for him that cannot and will not ever be edged out by his siblings.  I am full of memories of the days that I did have with him.  I am full of gratitude that he is mine, and I am full of grace knowing that God trusted me with one of his precious souls.

Merry Christmas, sweet Boe.  I love you and miss you so very much

Christmas 2012

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Emotional Amputation

You see them out and about; living, laughing, going through life as if everything is fine, normal even.  Upon closer examination, however, you realize everything is not fine; it is not normal.  There is a piece of them missing.  I am speaking, of course, of an amputee.  Perhaps at some point in their life they were in an accident and received an irreparable crush injury, perhaps they contracted some sort of infection or had cancer.  In any case, it is clear that they are without one or more of their extremities.

They were not always fine.  They were angry and in pain, they might still be.  They had to fight to learn how to live without what is no longer there.  In some cases, they wear a prosthesis, but it is not the same.  It can never be the same.  The day their limb was removed from their body is the day their life changed forever.  It is not just a physical loss, but a loss of one's self, too.

Can't the same be said of the loss of a child?  What once was there is no longer.  The day our child died is the day our life, who we are was forever changed.  Now, we may seem fine, normal.  We live, we laugh, we do the same things as everyone else, but that piece of us is missing.

It has been reported that, years later, amputees say they can still feel their missing limb.  It hurts, it itches, it tingles.  I know that I can't speak for other Loss Mommas, but I know I can feel Boe.  I can feel him turning in my belly, I feel the weight of him in my arms, I feel the softness of his delicate skin.

It will never be easy.  Some days may be harder than others. I have lost something, and I shall never be the same.  I have had to learn to live with what is no longer here.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Doing Math

I do not like math, I never have.  In spite of the fact that I am incredibly linear and logical, geometry, algebra, etc..., it's all Greek to me.  I always had to work hard at math in school which only made me further dislike it.  I did not care why a+b+c=z or why the slope of a line could be determined by using the formula y=mx+b.  Who cares?  As long as I can figure what 40% off of those smokin' Christian Louboutins is, who cares what a quadratic equation is.  I'm just sayin'.

Here is a very simple equation that any first or second grader could solve:  3 - 1 = 2

Alas, it does not.  At least not in my world.  I live in a world where this simplest of equations will never appear just as it seems: concrete, clear, irrefutable.  When I was teaching first grade, we would define subtraction as taking something away so that it is no longer there.  This is where I start to struggle.  You see, my -1, Boe, is HERE.  He is in Adler's little face everytime he smiles, he is on my children's minds when, out of nowhere, they say, "Boe is night night" or "Boe, away, yeah".  He is in our home depicted in artwork and family photos.  Most importantly, he is in our hearts every single second of every single day.

Though he may not be readily visible, though he may not be tangible, he is here.  He has not been taken away so that he is no longer here, he is simply here in a different way.  So, mathematicians, scientists, those who thrive on proof, evidence, and cold hard facts, for now we must agree to disagree.  I shall never again agree that 3 - 1 = 2.  To me, 3 - 1 is still 3, 1 is just somewhere else. He is everywhere and nowhere all at once.  He is my little boy, he is a brother, a son, the playmate and best friend who is missed always, thought of constantly and loved forever.  -1 is Boe.