One Year

April 24th, 2009 | by Dawn |

As the year anniversary of Kevin’s death approaches I have been thinking about my lack of posts on this site. I have left most of that up to Matt. He is a more eloquent writer than I – he seems to put his feelings into words with a skill that I seem to lack.

To be honest, I was afraid that if I posted my true thoughts and feelings over the past year I would be judged or committed- neither of which sound too appealing to me. I also wondered if anyone would want to read the ramblings of a grieving mother.

The past year has been difficult to say the least. Having to get up everyday and do what seems unimaginable to most parents can take its toll. Living without Kevin is something that I am surprised that I am able to do… and look so normal doing it.  The way I figure it, I had two options. I could lay in bed and watch Forensic Files reruns for the rest of my life or learn to live again. I chose the latter. I am still a mom and I have a responsibility to my daughter. I have to show her that we can recover from tragedy. I have to comfort her and tell her that it will be ok again when sometimes I wonder if it will. I can only hope that in time this will get easier.

Matt and I have been in therapy since Kevin died. We work on a lot of things, but mostly things that were there before Kevin died, but because of all the grief/stress they come to the forefront. It doesn’t seem fair that in addition to having a child die and just dealing with the raw sadness one must also deal with lingering issues that have been there the whole time. But that is just the way it is. We are doing well, we have our ups and downs, but we love each other, our life, and our kids.

I came across a saying that I thought fit perfectly. “Let go of the life we have planned in order to accept the life we have waiting for us.” While this is definitely easier said than done, I feel that this is what we truly need to do. Even though Kevin is gone, we still have a “life waiting for us” , we just have to be willing to accept it. I have to let go of the guilt associated with living again. Be ok with saying that I can learn from Kevin’s death and be a stronger person.

I wish I had something a little more inspirational to say. But basically some days just plain suck. Other days are ok. I even catch myself feeling somewhat normal again on occasion. I expect that in time the normal feeling will come more often and the sadness and grief will fade into something more manageable.

The following poem has helped me for years. I read it often when Kevin was a baby and I still find comfort in it.


Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible without surrender
be on good terms with all persons.
Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even the dull and the ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons,
they are vexations to the spirit.
If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain and bitter;
for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.
Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.

Keep interested in your own career, however humble;
it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.
Exercise caution in your business affairs;
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals;
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially, do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.
Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.
Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe,
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive Him to be,
and whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery, and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann, Desiderata, Copyright 1952.

Lastly, I thought I would just post random thoughts that I have had over the past year.

Holidays are hard. It is very obvious that someone is missing.

I cry in the car on the way to work. I know exactly when I have to pull myself together in order to not be red faced when I get there.

I wonder if I will ever meet a soul as sweet as Kevin.

I will never forget the wail that Emily let out when we told her that Kevin died. No mother should ever have to hear her 8yr old in so much pain. I never ask “why me”, I often ask “why Emily.”

I can’t change anyone- I can only adjust how I react. You don’t want to know how much therapy it took for me to realize this.

I am learning to open up a bit more- not everyone is out to hurt me.

I accept that Matt can have a completely different reaction to the same situation and it doesn’t mean that he doesn’t support me.

I will never “get over this” or have “closure”, I will learn to make room aside the sadness to enjoy life.

I am not always emotionally stable- I am ok with that.

Humor (the inappropriate kind) is a great coping mechanism. So is having a glass (or two) of red wine after a long day – pre preggo,of course.

I understand why so many marriages can’t handle the death of a child. Luckily, I think Matt and I will be ok.

Boundaries are important.

I swear a lot more lately.

I have learned to quit apologizing or feeling bad about my beliefs, decisions, and the way I live my life.

I still see the beauty in life and am looking forward to meeting our baby girl.

I really wonder where I would be without the gentle, unconditional support, and guidance from my mom.

I dread cleaning out Kevin’s room, I cry just thinking about it.

I worry about Emily. She had her life redefined at age 8. I hope she will be ok.

I am very lucky that my husband is so stable. I wish he had more room to “not be ok” sometimes.

Kevin taught me so many things. I am learning to live the calm, peaceful, and simple life that he seemed to embrace.

  1. 6 Responses to “One Year”

  2. By Jeni on Apr 28, 2009 | Reply

    This is amazing, Dawn. Thank you for opening up and sharing it. Beautiful.

  3. By Joanna on Apr 28, 2009 | Reply

    I love your last line. I too have learned to live the same way and it has changed the way I live for the better. You are truly an inspiration to me. I am supposed to be the older, wiser sister, but you are my true inspiration and hero. I love you and support you in everything you do.
    P.S. – I agree – our mom is truly amazing!

  4. By Liza Mueller on May 1, 2009 | Reply

    This is really good Dawn. I love the honesty. You are a great woman.

  5. By Jonny & Troy on May 1, 2009 | Reply

    beautiful …

    thank you for sharing your words and also that incredible poem.

    we are remembering kevin and thinking of all of you.

    -jonny & troy

  6. By Anna on May 1, 2009 | Reply

    Thank you both so much for sharing. I think of you all so often.

  7. By Stephanie Wainwright on May 3, 2009 | Reply

    Very well written Dawn. I have such a deep admiration for you. Hugs to you.