Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Memorial Day Weekend

6 years ago, we were married on May, 28th, 2005. 

This year, we decided to take a last minute trip to the Outer Banks.  It's a common destination for anyone who lives in Hampton Roads with amazing beaches on the coast of North Carolina and only a few hours away by car.  In usual Shannon format, I researched all the things to do and talked to people.  I looked up lists and ratings and comments from people on all sorts of websites.  Just as I did with our honeymoon, I created a schedule of activities and things to do.  I made reservations and made sure we did as much as we could in our 3 day trip.

We left at 4:30AM on Saturday and made the 3 hour drive to the north end of the Outer Banks (or OBX as the locals call it).  We arrived at Duck Donuts shortly before they opened at 7am.  Duck Donuts is a chain found only in OBX where they actually make the donuts to order right in front of you.  They were yummy!

Don't you love the Pajama top with the swimsuit bottom?

So, next we headed up the road to a spot where you can drive on the beach for miles and miles. It was fun but a little nerve-wracking for Eric. He watched a you tube video that advises you to take the air out of your tires before driving on the beach. I was a you tube skeptic which made Eric extra nervous, but it turned out that all the other trucks had their tires aired down.  Who knew?

We did some amazing things, spent a lot of time at the beach, and really enjoyed our son, Jeremy.  To be honest, it had been an emotionally draining few weeks dealing with Savannah's Birthday in Heaven, so it was nice to be away from the phone, computer, and all the reminders of our daughter who is physically missing from our family.

It was a great trip and I think it's safe to say that we are OBX fans!  The pirate adventure was a HUGE hit!

Hope your Memorial Day Weekend was just as amazing as ours!  Thanks to all of the Military men & women across the world who work so hard to keep us safe each and every day.  I am so proud of my husband and the job that he does!

Until next time,

Reflections of the Casey Anthony case

I’ll admit it ~ I am a court TV junkie. I have watched the David Westerfield case, mostly because it happened in San Diego while I lived there. While pregnant with Jeremy, I watched the Anna Nicole Smith hearings about who would make decisions regarding her burial and paternity testing of her daughter. Recently, I have been watching the Casey Anthony trial. I remember watching all of the news coverage on it and just being heartbroken when they found her remains. It was horrific and I still get sad when I think of all of the potential that little girl had in front of her before having her life taking from her.

Today in particular, things struck a huge cord with me. Casey’s father, George Anthony was being grilled about an attempted suicide attempt. I listened to comments from commentators and others who thought that was fake. I know for a fact it was not fake. I have been there myself. I have lost my purpose in life and considered taking my own life and wanting to be with my daughter.

For me, it happened in February 2010. My husband was on his 2nd deployment since losing Savannah. I was alone and it was Valentine’s Day. It had nothing to do with Valentine’s Day, but it was exactly 9 months earlier that was May 14th, my due date with Savannah, who was still very much alive within me. If only I had said something or done something differently. Everyone has agreed that if I had delivered her one week or even one day sooner, Savannah would be here today. I felt enormous pain and guilt that as a Mom, I had somehow failed my daughter. I felt alone and isolated. I didn’t know anyone who had been through the loss of a child. I reached out to everyone in my family. It was the darkest time of my life. I remember thinking that my husband would find someone else and Jeremy would have a new Mom, one who could be happy and play with him. I felt that I had nothing left to give. I wished more than anything that I could go back to that day and take Savannah’s place. Why her? Why now? I had lived a good life, gone to college, had fun, got married, and had a baby already. Savannah got none of that.  Why couldn't it have been me?

Back to George Anthony ~ he was a grieving grandfather. When you lose a child, whether it is yours or a grandchild in such a manner that is unnatural, people react differently. But I can tell you that he saw the same potential and future for his granddaughter that I had for Savannah. It’s true that he had almost 3 years with Caylee that I never got with Savannah, but the pain is the same. To know that another human is responsible for your child’s death is unbearable and unless you have experienced it personally, there is no way to understand it.

I admire how George Anthony and his wife reached out to others and have continued to advocate for missing children. They kept the memory of their granddaughter alive by turning their own personal tragedy into something positive. This is also what I have tried to do with Savannah’s story. I tell people about the risks and concerns with military hospitals. I talk about what I did and what I should have done differently. I tell people about all of the advantages of delivering at a Catholic hospital (they will always do everything possible to save your baby no matter what the circumstances and are ethically bound to do so). I will continue to use Savannah’s story when invited to speak to teach nurses, doctors, chaplains, and other healthcare workers what to do and what not to do when a baby does die. The only way that I was able to pull through my darkest days was to find my purpose again. My purpose is completely different from before May 17, 2009. Before that day, my purpose was to be the best mom, wife, friend, sister, and person I could possibly be. May 18th and beyond, my purpose became much clearer ~ I still strive to do all of those things, but I am also an activist for Stillbirth Awareness and talking about the failures in military healthcare. I have joined forces with other groups and organizations to bring awareness to these issues and to educate others on things you can do to be proactive in the future.

Sometimes, it takes those darkest days when we feel we have lost our purpose in life to really find out who we are, who matters, who stands beside us, and who supports us unconditionally. My daughter’s life taught our family so much about support, love, and the bonds that only blood can bring. She is an amazing example of how one person can make a difference ~ and it’s not me. It’s all Savannah. She just uses me as her voice.

I hope that people realize that passing judgment on what is or isn’t appropriate methods of grief is hurtful and unnecessary. At the same time, I realize that unless you have walked in my shoes, there is no way you could ever see things from the same perspective.  Do you know what it's like to leave a hospital with a carseat in the backseat of your car, a suitcase full of newborn clothes, dresses, and hairbows and come home to a beautifully decorated nursery with no baby?  None of us know how anyone else feels, but it’s important to remember that when someone reaches out for help, that we be understanding and show compassion and empathy. You will never know the weight of the cross that each one of us carries on the inside.

Until next time,

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The blessing of May Crowning...

Maycrowing is a special tradition that I remember from being a little girl.  It always happen in May, the month of Mary, and is such an honor to partake in if you ever have the chance.  As a side note, this is part of the reason why I LOVE the Month of May so much that we selected our wedding to occur.  I got the priviledge of watching each year throughout Catholic school, and when I became an 8th grader, the girl selected to do the actual Crowning of Mary, is a wonderful girl who to this day, I have the priviledge of still calling a friend.

When I heard through our Church Bulletin that it was going to take place on May 22nd after the 11am mass (the mass that was being offered for Savannah), of course we were going to attend.  They had the recent 1st Communicants dressed in their dresses and suits partipate in the saying of the rosary and then bringing flowers to Mary.  It was amazing and meant the world to me.  Eric and Jeremy had never been before, but I think they enjoyed it too.

Here is a picture of the "May Crowning."  It brought tears to my eyes as I remembered my years looking forward to this ritual each year.

Until next time,