Our “New” Normal

I hate our new normal. HATE it! I’m told that will never change. Right now I believe them. Don’t get me wrong, none of this changes my love for my husband and the girls. It also doesn’t mean that I won’t continue putting one foot in front of the other and living.

The first couple of days were the worst.

We got home from the hospital around 2:30 AM on December 26th. I had been awake since December 24th. Beyond exhausted! I hadn’t let myself close my eyes at the hospital for fear of missing a single second that I had left with Cameron.

Our house was full of family that had flown in. My Mom met me with a hug. I was so happy to see nothing was put away. His presents were left right where I had stacked them when we opened gifts with Melia. On the counter was his last spelling test (100%). A piece of paper from his homework notebook on the table. It had been ripped out.

I walked to the couch. The last place he was before we left. His pillow and blankets still there (though it was now a bed for someone else).

new normal

All I wanted to do was curl up in his bed, with Reindeer, and sleep. But I didn’t. I walked into his bedroom. Just stood there and looked around. I wanted to see everything exactly as he had left it the last time he was there. It somehow made him feel closer.

The present he got when we first got to the hospital, I placed on top of his dresser. It’s still there today. I don’t have the heart to open it. He told them he wanted to wait until he opened his presents on Christmas Day.

That night I did sleep. I curled up with Reindeer, but in my own bed. I could barely keep my eyes open so sleep came fast. It was the baby that woke me at 6:08 AM for a bottle. I remember exactly because when I looked at the clock I started crying. Cameron would usually get up about that time and start begging to play video games until the rest of us got up.

This was the first time I realized that my life would forever be divided. Before and after.

Before and After

That morning when I got up, I was trying to keep a low profile. I realized the dog hadn’t gone out yet so I slipped out the patio door to take her out. The moment I opened the door and stepped out, I was overcome with grief. Cameron used to take the dog out every morning when he first woke up. I sat down by the pool and sobbed.

I find it’s the small things that suddenly hit you that have the greatest impact.

A song on the radio. Not necessarily even the songs that he liked. They don’t even always make sense. Most are about lost romantic relationships, but some of the lyrics fit and I lose it. Adele’s “Hello”. Meghan Trainor’s “Like I’m Gonna Lose You”.

School drop off. Every time I pull into the school, I look at the area we used to drop off or pick up at. Now we drive to the back side of the building to Melia’s entrance. The first two days back I cried the entire drive home.

There is a little bird house he painted that hangs in a tree in my front yard. It’s bright orange and stands out. Every time I leave or return home, I see it and think of him. He painted it almost 3 years ago. I’ve always had it hanging outside. I told my husband I want to take it down so I can put it in a box to keep before it gets ruined from the weather.

Tonight I put Melia’s lunchbox in the cabinet. It’s something I did with their lunch boxes each weekend. When I opened the door, my eyes were met with his blue Spiderman lunch box. Exactly where I put it before Christmas break.

He is everywhere I look. I just wish he was here.

I’m not constantly crying. In fact, there have been a lot of days I haven’t shed a tear. It feels wrong, but I just can’t. I’m so numb. It’s as if my emotions haven’t caught up to the reality. So I continue to wait for the breakdown. Even though I’m not crying, I’m constantly thinking about him. Devastatingly sad inside.

My husband and I have read a lot of articles. It seems what I’m feeling is very normal. Nothing about this is normal. We continue telling ourselves that everyone grieves differently and in their own time. I know this is true and it’s OK. I still feel like I’m not doing it right.

Our new normal sucks. The idea of creating new memories that don’t include Cameron hurts. Not that I have it in me to think about creating new memories right now. I feel as if there is such a void in my heart. Like a huge part of me died with Cameron and was left with him in that hospital room.

Nights are the worst. I find myself avoiding his little corner of the house once it gets dark. Not sure why. During the day it doesn’t bother me.

The other night I cried. Mostly because I remembered how happy we were. My focus has always been on creating memories for the kids. I wanted them to look back on their childhood and have so many happy days to reflect on. My greatest fear is that the girls will miss out because that part of me that died is the part that was so happy.

I am trying very hard to create “normal” for them. To smile. To laugh and play with them. Make sure they are happy and loved. Inside, my heart is broken. My mind is often somewhere else. Thinking about the boy that I miss terribly. The way things used to be.

We talk about Cameron a lot. The things we remember. The things we miss. It helps.

One moment at a time. One foot in front of the other. Figuring out our new normal. Our lives forever changed.

Additional Posts Related to My Grief Journey:

  1. How Has It Been 3 Months Since You Left?
  2. It’s Been 4-Months Since You Left
  3. What Are Good Days After Losing A Child?
  4. Depression After Child Loss
  5. 21 Things I Learned In Our First Year Of Loss

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14 Comments on “Our “New” Normal”

  1. I wish I could do something to make it easier for you I love you all so much but I can’t time is the thing like you said 1 foot in front of the other and 1 day at a time. Remember I am always here for you

  2. Well dear Emily…..to this I can relate a little. It does suck!!! Going on and trying not to dwell on what could be or might have been. For me the nights were the worst too. I think maybe because that was the time when a special life was ended and it’s the the time when things quite down with nothing to do and all you can do is think. The mornings were hard for me too. Waking up from a dream that was good or bad and you dont want to move on the next thing. A “new” normal is hard to achieve. It takes a long time. Sometimes the tears hit you when you least expect it. Let them come it is healing in a way. Makes you feel… It’s not going to be easy and you can’t do it wrong. I love you and will share more with you if you’d like. I don’t know how you are feeling and will never pretend that I do. All I can say is that I have felt similar when grieving and what works for me may not work for you but I will say that in time the hurt lessens but will not ever go away.

  3. Just wanted to thank you for sharing your story. I cannot imagine.. I cannot begin to let myself imagine your journey. I’m friends with Barry and Diane (spent my childhood in Titusville).. and have expressed my sympathies to them.. But I wanted to reach out to you and extend a hug.. from one mom to another.. Wishing you days where you can laugh without sadness.. knowing those were in your “before”.. Know that you and your family are in the thoughts and prayers of so many. Warmly, Lori

  4. My prayers are that God will comfort you and give you peace knowing that Cameron is now with Him, free of pain and happy in his loving arms.

  5. So very sorry for your loss. This really hits me in the gut. We have a lot in common. I have a seven year old, a preschooler and a baby. Can’t imagine the pain you are going through. I do understand grief a bit. I was 17 when my 21 year old sister passed away. And I also have had two pregnancies end in miscarriage. Just know you are not alone in this world. Grieving for you and praying for you in Nebraska. Your story was featured on “her view from home” and I couldn’t stop reading it. Very well written, and I think Cameron would have been proud of his Momma.

  6. Thank you Emily for your words. I have a close friend dealing with the loss of her son. How can I help her the most?

    1. Be there. Don’t ask how you can help. Just show up and do. Call/text and set the expectation that you will keep doing so to check in and there’s no pressure. If she wants to return a text, call, talk, or not…it’s all OK. Then keep asking the hard questions. Seek to understand and validate how you think things impact her versus making assumptions or suggestions about what she should do. She’s going to have a lot of people get weird around her and stop coming around. She needs someone that isn’t afraid when things get awkward or uncomfortable. Acknowledge all the crazy stuff she will feel. It is likely all normal even though it won’t feel that way. Say his name! Talk about him. Even if it makes her sad, it will mean so much! Good luck. XO Emily

  7. i agree, my mind is always in a different place…constantly thinking about Owen & wishing he was here & our memories with him…then switching to … when will we have another child, how will i feel if we have another baby and its not a boy, how will i deal with everything if i DONT have another baby. my mind is never present & i feel like i am making my daughters and husbands lives miserable, and i often find myself being a very crabby, stressed out person…mainly just wishing i could know what the future holds.

    1. New normal is never fun. There is always an element of wishing you could have them back. You never know how you will feel about things that happen in the future until they happen. You may think it will go one way, and then it affects you completely different.

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