I wrote shortly after Cooper passed away in 2017, and again on his due date the following year. It seemed only fitting that I write, once again, in April of this year.
This seems to be the time of year when I feel the courage and drive to put my thoughts together in a more formal way. It has become almost a yearly reflection of how Cooper has changed and shaped me and the direction of my life.
This post will be quite different, as I am quite different. Last year I lay in bed on Easter Sunday and not much was certain in my life. It was as if a bomb had gone off in the
“life plan” that I had up until 2017. I wasn’t entirely sure what my life would look like, but I tried to simply live in the moment and remain positive. Thinking too far in the future seemed scary, like it could all get ripped away from me if I tried to plan anything. I made the decisions that felt right in the moment, and tried not to think too deeply about anything. Yes I had met someone special, but even that was something I often took a step back from, not wanting to get too close or too serious too fast. Everything was uncertain at that point in my life. Was I ready? Had I really healed? Had I processed everything enough?
I did allow myself to feel the pain of what had happened to some extent, but mostly I think I was likely still numb. Last year, as April approached, so many friends and family asked me if I had plans to celebrate Cooper’s birthday in some way. The truth was- I didn’t. Did that make me a bad mom? I planned all Kinley’s parties, yet as Cooper’s birthday approached, I didn’t want to think about it so I pushed it away. I didn’t plan anything until the day his birthday arrived and I finally decided I would reach out to some people to see who could come and simply let off a few balloons. It was completely last minute, but it was all I could handle in the moment. Looking back, I’m not sure I had really dealt with the loss the way I have this year.
This year when I have felt down, or sad, I have looked at pictures, made a photo book, and most importantly, let myself cry with the person I now love and trust completely to be vulnerable with. I have opened up about each and every painful thing I experienced; from calling in a panic to the nurses to “HELP” when I was alone with Cooper and he started to turn blue and struggle to breathe, to the moments sitting alone at appointments where I was told things I couldn’t wrap my head around. “He could come out totally fine needing a few braces to straighten his feet, or more likely, come out with a neurological genetic disorder which could be either manageable, or cause him to not be able to eat or breathe.” I told him how I stared blankly at the genetisist who was trying her best to explain something not even she fully understood, panic setting in. I sat with social workers they sent to me, at first wondering why on Earth I would need a social worker because MY son was going to be fine, only to later realize as they handed me tissue boxes that this might not turn out the way I envisioned. I spoke of the sleeping pills I had to take, and the hours I spent laying awake, searching for answers- in my own mind and on Google- that could somehow make sense of this wrench someone had put in my plan. I cried to him about the moment I knew he was gone and had to listen to the doctor declare his death, to choosing an urn and leaving the hospital without him. He held me, and unlike most, he unfortunately understood my pain on so many levels.
I say wrench in my plan because that’s what it felt like at the time, a wrench, a bomb, a sudden left turn when all your life you knew that you would be heading right. But that’s not what it was. It was in fact the opposite. It was a gift. Cooper was a gift. He was my savior. His 6 day life caused a sudden left, which turned out to lead me down the exact path my life was meant to take, I just never would have known it.
I was a fighter, I still am. Which can be both good and bad. I think I would have always fought for my marriage, albeit a marriage that was perhaps never going to work. I worked hard to convince myself I did want the marriage since I had beared a child with that man, but that was never the man my soul was meant to be with. I read every marriage book I could find, went to 4 different cousellors, and spent hours researching what could be done to make a marriage work. Initially I thought that’s what Cooper would have wanted. I realize now Cooper would want me to be happy, and he was one of MANY signs leading me away from a situation in which I would never be truly happy.
Only now as I am living such incredible happiness, safety and security, am I beginning to understand the true purpose of Cooper’s life. I never knew the feeling of unconditional love in my marriage. I walked on eggshells, trying to minimize conflict while also trying not to fall victim to too much abuse without standing up for myself. Now that I am away from that, fully away from conflict and in an environment with nothing but love and respect, I exhale and I thank Cooper. His short life had the most loving and incredible purpose. It takes a truly special soul to agree to live a short 6 day life in order to save the life of his mom, and send her on a journey to find true happiness.
That’s all I can share for now, without revealing too much of what will eventually become a book. A book which will tell my story. The story of enduring extreme adversity in a marriage that was never meant to be. The story of meeting and falling in love with a man who has endured and overcome more than anyone I know. A truly special soul who treats me better than I could have imagined. The story of losing a child but taking on two more children who I truly love as my own. The story of finally feeling safe to feel and share all the pain I went through with someone who has been through similar, different, but similar pain.
This year I did make plans for Cooper’s birthday. I didn’t make them alone, because it still hurt a lot, but I made them as a team with the love and support of this incredible man. We had breakfast as a family, a new family of 5 in the home we will all live in together. We jumped on the trampoline as a family and laid down on it looking up to the sky telling Cooper we loved him. We went to the park together and met up with one of my best friends who has always been there for me. My two biggest supports, my mom and dad, came over to be with the kids so we could go to the NICU to drop off a donation. I cried in the hallways that I walked so many times while Cooper was alive. Sometimes we need to cry, and I’ve realized that in the right moments, that it is necessary. On that day, that was the right moment, and it was all I needed. We came home to decorations and balloons in the house, and made cupcakes with Kinley. We did Sparklers in the backyard and Kinley went to bed so easily that night. I lay down at the end of the day with this incredible man, beside a bouquet of flowers he had given me, feeling so completely loved and satisfied with the day we had.
Things aren’t so uncertain now. There’s a new plan, and I’m not scared by that. This time I feel it’s the right plan, and I thank Cooper for that everyday. I can’t end this without also thanking Danielle. The man in my life had a first wife, the mother of the kids I now look at as my own. She too, left this Earth far too soon. I know she is with Cooper looking down, thrilled that the plan they both had is taking shape.
I can’t wait to see what the next year will bring. I am hopeful for so many great things, but also always willing to take on more adversity because I know in the end, it’s a gift- a bomb in the moment, but a gift in the end that will leave lessons I could never have learned otherwise which will help shape a life that I know will ultimately lead to true happiness.