Tuesday, May 20, 2014

War Wounds

It's been four and a half years since my Gabriel died.  Four and a half years...four and a half years since I've seen my son, touched him, kissed his cute little cheeks, whispered "I love you" in his ear.  Gabe would have started preschool this last September.  He would be a Twinkler at the little red school house where his big sister went to preschool.  He would turn five this year.  Five...that's a big birthday.  I wonder what his personality would be like? What he would look like? I wonder how much more chaotic our lives would be with three kids running around the house?  The wonderful wonderful chaos children bring to your life.  I cherish this chaos.  I wish I knew the answers to all of these questions.  I wish my Gabriel was still here with us.  I wish his Christmas stocking didn't hang empty on the mantel while Kayla and Parker gleefully dig through their stockings.  I wish Kayla didn't have to know the heartbreak of losing her little brother.  I wish Parker could have known his big brother.  My list of wishes could go on forever...

My "war wounds," as I call them, run soul-deep.  You do not come out of a battle for your child's life unscathed. You do not hold one of the loves of your life in your arms and watch him die, and wake up the next morning, or ever again, the same person you were before the battle began.  There is a Gabe-sized hole in my heart that will never be filled.  All the money in the world cannot fill this hole.  A dream-wardrobe and Pottery Barn-style house cannot fill this hole.  Having another child did not fill this hole.  It is a Gabe-sized hole and only Gabe fits in it.  I am always conscious of this hole.  It will never go away.  Some days it hurts more than others.  Some days it takes all of my strength to get out of bed and put one foot in front of the other.  Yes! Even after four and a half years my heart still aches for my son, and it always will.  I am learning to live with the hole.  I can laugh and smile.  I can run around and play with Kayla and Parker.  I can get out of bed and take care of my family.  I can still live! I'm not the same Shannon though... 

For as far back as I can remember, I have had the ability to "smile while drowning," as I call it.  The world can be imploding, and there I'll be, trying to some how salvage some good from it, always walking through life with my glass half full, and a smile on my face.  As I get older I'm beginning to wonder if this "ability" is a blessing or a curse.  It has gotten me through some tough times in life, but on the flip side, it makes it appear as if I'm always "ok," and I'm not...I AM HURTING! Every day I look at my beautiful Kayla and Parker and think how blessed I am to be a mother to these two amazing little people, and then I stop and think wait...I am mother to three beautiful and amazing children, but Gabe is not here...Gabe is dead...and the Gabe-size hole begins to ache.  A moment later the Eggos pop out of the toaster, Kayla starts yelling that Parker is attempting to scale the brick around the fire place again, and life keeps going.  This happens every day, usually multiple times a day.  And the fears...those mommy-fears we all get as soon as we are blessed with the title of "mommy." The fear that something horrible will happen to one of your littles, whom you love and cherish more than anything in this world...the fears are worse now, they are real now.  If Gabe could die, than anything and everything horrible is possible.  If Parker naps longer than two hours, or sleeps through the night, the only possibility is he's dead.  If Kayla hangs upside down on the monkey bars, the only possibility is she will slip, land on her head, and die.  These are the type of things that now run through my head on a daily basis.  It would be easy to let them take over, to wrap my kids in bubble wrap and never let them leave the house, to warn them of every bump and crack in the side walk that might lead to tripping, or worse...but I fight.  I fight back the fears.  I cannot loose another child.  I cannot bare the thought of sitting in another funeral home making arrangements for another one of my children's bodies, but I will not let the fears win.

My journey with Gabe, and now after, has lead me through Hell and back. The aching hole in my heart, the fears for my other children's lives...the world is not the same place for me as it was before Gabe.  I am not the same Shannon that I was before Gabe.  I view the world differently, my patience and tolerance for the stupid things I hear people complaining about is not what it was before, and I must remind myself "it's all relative, perhaps the worst thing that has ever happened to them is a broken finger nail." All of these factors are heavy weights to carry.  I feel mentally exhausted, and alone.  It's hard for me to admit these things because I've always been so good at hiding the hurt, and smiling while drowning.  The truth is I feel very very broken.  I feel love, and laughter and joy and appreciation for every day I am on this earth too, but also pain.  It is part of who I am now.  The war wounds have left deep deep scars.  I will keep fighting forward though.  My Gabriel was a fighter and so am I...

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


A couple weeks ago I was having one of "those" days. My amazing husband took one look at me and said "leave, you need some Shannon-time." At first I refused to go, it felt wrong, I had a child to take care of, unfinished chores, and that always present mom-guilt. Upon threat of being carried out to the car, I fianally left. I decided a trip to the mall could only mean trouble, so I headed to the nail spa instead. I sat there in complete silence (it's not like I could carry on a converstaion with the woman doing my pedicure even if I wanted to) for an hour, and it felt great. When I finished there I headed to the movie theater. I had never been to a movie by myself, and it seemed like the perfect day to give it a try. I sat there for another two hours in complete silence. I could feel my sanity returning and my hazy brain becoming clearer. By the time I returned home, I felt like a new woman. I forget how important it is to just be me. I get so distracted by being a mom, wife, sister, daughter, friend, that I forget about Shannon and her needs. It feels wrong to say "I need," but I need to learn how to. I must learn how to conquer that "always present mom-guilt" I mentioned earlier, because if I don't take care of myself I will not have the strength to take care of others. Part of learning to take care of myself is finding balance.
The movie I saw by myself was "Eat, Pray, Love" it's a wonderful movie about a woman who is searching for balance, peace and her own path in life. While sitting there watching this movie, it hit me, balance. I feel so unbalanced. How do I mourn my son (truly, honestly, with all my heart mourn) while being a good mom to my daughter? Since Gabe passed away I have been powering through. A week after he left it was Thanksgiving, then Christmas, a trip to Disneyland, Kayla's Birthday, etc, etc...I have been moving through the last 10 months like a steam train. We have had event after event, trip after trip. I realized something the other day, did I even enjoy any of those trip or events? My body has been moving, but was my mind, my spirit, truly present? I feel like I've been ghosting through life for the last year. I'm tired of it. I want to feel life, I want to enjoy the journey, and so I must feel with my whole being the depth of loss of my son. I must learn how to balance. If I give all of me to one, then there is nothing left for the other. So this is my new journey in life...balance.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

A New Journey

As I sit here, trying to think of a way to compose all of the thoughts floating around in my head, I am reminded of the many nights either Jesse or I would get back from the NICU at midnight, then sit down in the library of the Ronald McDonald house and update Gabe's blog. Back then, it was just a part of life. We had to keep all of Bubba's adoring fans up to date. Shortly after Gabe passed, we stopped blogging. Lately I've been thinking it would be good (for me) to start blogging again. Even though we are no longer on Gabe's journey, Jesse and I (all of us for that matter) are now on a journey of our own. After a hard day battling for my son's life, I always felt better after blogging. Every day is a hard day now, so why not try blogging again?
I know no other way to describe the grieving process, then to refer to it as a journey, because that is exactly what it feels like. Trying to figure out how to navigate life after the loss of one of the loves of my life, is complicated. There is a constant swirl of thoughts and emotions twisting through my head. At the same time I have a 3-1/2 year old who needs her mom; a house that has yet to figure out how to take care of itself; bills that must be paid; meals that must be made, and oh yeah, I'm a wife too. What used to seem like a simple balancing act, is no longer. I like to say that I'm "ok," that I'm moving forward and dealing with the death of my son, but I'm not, and it's taken me almost 9 months to admit this to myself. Now comes the task of allowing myself to be a mess, to not be "ok," to ask for help so that I can take care of myself. I prefer to be the one taking care of others, so this is not easy for me.
I will be forever grateful for those closest to me; those who stood by my side on the battle field; and those who stand by me now. I know that I am not the same mom, wife, daughter, friend, person, I was before Gabe came into our lives. I know that with time, parts of me will heal and return, and I also know there are parts of me that will never be the same again. No matter how much time passes, or how many professionals (I keep forgetting to make an appointment with a therapist) I speak with, there will always be a piece of my heart missing. When Gabe left this earth, he took a piece of me with him. I can feel the hole in my heart all the way into the deepest depths of my soul.
As much as it sometimes stings, I will take the pain. I would rather be "broken" (as I feel I am now) than to have never known my beautiful Angel Gabriel. I don't know if he was sent here to teach us, or to learn from us? Perhaps it's a bit of both, but no matter what the reason, I thank God everyday for choosing us as "mom" and "dad." The lessons I learned from my son, will never be forgotten. How one little boy, bound to a bed by tubes and wires, could touch me and so many others so deeply, is beyond me. When I think of the pain my baby endured during his battle; when I think of the hurtles Gabe had to jump over just to make it another minute, hour, day...I am forever humbled. His strength is inspiring, and will live on within me forever.
Breathe in...breathe out...one foot in front of the other...one day at a time...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


"A moment in our arms, forever in our hearts"

Gabriel Lee Aguilar
July 1, 2009
November 16, 2009

Join us as we remember and celebrate our precious Super G, who so deeply touched and blessed our lives.

Saturday, January 16, 2010
~Memorial Service 11:00am
~Reception immediately following

Twin Lakes Church
2701 Cabrillo College Drive
Aptos, CA 95003

Friday, December 11, 2009

December 11, 2009

Breathe in...breathe out...one foot infront of the other...one day at a time...

It has been almost one month since we walked out the front doors of the LPCH NICU, without our Gabriel. It's hard to put into words how we made it out of the hospital that night, towing behind us a wagon full of Gabe's stuff, but no Gabe. I always knew it was going to take a miracle to fix G's body, but I always, always hoped it was possible. I had too, how can you ever give up on your child?

I will always remember November 16, 2009 as the most horrible and most beautiful day of my life. We took Gabe up to the roof of the Hospital. We found a spot under a tree with lovely purple flowers, and there, with Jesse by my side, I cradled my son in my arms. It was the first time I had ever held my son without tubes and wires inbetween us. It was the first time I could stare into his beautiful face without anything blocking my view. It was only then, seeing Gabe more at peace and more content then I'd ever seen him before, that I realized how much he had gone through. I've always known that we pushed Gabe and his body, but it wasn't until that moment, on the roof, that I saw the real Gabriel. He wasn't in pain anymore, and I knew we had made the right decision. We snuggled Gabe close and told him how much we loved him; how proud of him we were for the battle he had fought; and that it was ok to go now. Gabriel took several breaths on his own, and then passed quickly, quietly, and peacefully.

How do you go forward in life after loosing a piece of your heart? We haven't figured this one out yet? I'm not sure that the pain ever goes away, I think you learn how to live with it. Some days are worse than others, and sometimes there are tears, and sometimes there are smiles, when we think about this beautiful little boy that forever changed us. Because of Gabe, I will never be able to look at life the same again. In Gabe's short time on this earth, he opened my eyes to what is truly important, and for that I will be forever greatful. He will always be our son; we will always talk about him; his pictures will always be scattered about our house; and his stocking will always hang with ours at Christmas time, just as it is right now.

Gabriel will forever be my Super G and my inspiration for life.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Gabriel Lee Aguilar
July 1, 2009
November 16, 2009

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Our Angel

In a few days our precious son Gabriel will have his Angel wings.

After receiving devistating news on Friday, about Gabe's brain, we have decided it's time to let our son go. This is the most difficult decision we have ever made. The thought of saying good bye to our baby, leaves an excruciating pain ripping through our hearts. Jesse and I must do what is best for Gabriel though, not us, and we feel we have made the right decision.

Thank you for respecting our space, as we try to collect ourselves and figure out how to move forward in life, with a piece of our hearts forever missing.

Gabriel, you are Mommy and Daddy's hero!