Friday, May 13, 2011

Mother's Day Month of May- Blog 2: Letters from Mom & Mimi

You, Ellie, attended your brother's 5k last year!

Dear Ellie,

My heart goes out to all parents who have lost a child, like your Dad and I. Even though they never could formally diagnose a genetic disease, doctors said it was most likely a genetic mutation that wreaked havoc on Kyle's poor little body. I think it's important to recognize Moms who have their children in heaven this month.  Ellie, we call you our first take-home baby but it was Kyle who first made me a mom.

Your baby brother Kyle

We all go through the grief process when someone we love dies and there was a time that no one really saw that except for your Dad and Mimi when I was just plain angry (I took it out on the flowers that were sent to the door... whoever started that awful tradition of sending things that die within days, was just plain terrible- what an agonizing reminder of death!).  So, I needed refuge.  I found the most comfort in making sure Kyle's life had purpose. For me, talking about my son and acknowledging him brings me comfort and it validates what we went through. One of the NICU nurses said that she felt sad for moms of infants who die because they are not publicly recognized for their loss like someone whose son is older would have. She said even though moms like us don't grieve over a lot of memories since there aren't many, we will grieve over the memories we wished we could have- like watching our child walk for the first time, sending our child to kindergarten, kissing them off to prom, driving them to college, walking them down the aisle, and welcoming grandchildren.  That pain will never subside.  And no, time doesn't heal wounds.  Not for parents who just want one more day, one more minute with their child.  There isn't a day goes past that I don't think about your brother.  But that doesn't mean I can't have find happiness in celebrating his life.  And that is why I always want to count Kyle as one of my children and I always want those who know us to do the same- it validates his life for me and it validates the choices that we made as Kyle's parents that no parent should ever have to make.  Kyle made me understand and appreciate motherhood in ways I'm not sure I would have reached without him.  Ellie, because of Kyle, I know you are miraculous!  All life is.

You and me Ellie in front of pictures of Kyle. 

I found a lot of healing in creating a scrapbook with your Mimi of Kyle- all of the memories I did have. And I look at it- not as often as I used to and Ellie, you look at it with me. 

I'm not going to lie Ellie, your pregnancy (as happy as we were) was nerve-wracking through the end. And when we got to the hospital for your delivery, I had a panic attack reliving Kyle's birth.  Having back-to-back babies like that can be healing but it also can be extremely painful.

The biggest thing that helped the most is having Kyle's name live on. Kyle's scholarship gives meaning to Kyle's life for me and helps me understand why things happen the way that they do. I also think that Kyle would be proud of me.  I bet he is happy that you baby girl can participate in this wonderful cause.  If anyone reading the Blog wants to join us for the 2nd annual 5k (in which all proceeds go towards the scholarship and is tax deductible) or just wants to donate, I have attached the information at the bottom and I have created a website.  To visit it, please go to Our first walk-run far exceeded my expectations so I can only imagine how wonderful this year's 5k will be!  I want to thank my Dad for initiating the set up of the scholarship and giving me a healthy place to grieve that not only lets Kyle's name live on but helps others in such an amazing way.  Ellie, just like you, we love your brother very much.  Remember, it's important to have purpose, experience happiness, and find your peace!  

And now from your Mimi…

Your Mimi always counts Kyle as one of her grandchildren too (hence the #2!).

Hi Ellie Rosebud.

I thought this blog would be easy to write but obviously I was wrong.  At this very moment I am at my (let me count) 26th typed word and I have already drank 3 cups of tea.  It's been type, type, delete, delete, type, type, delete, delete.  But I shall continue trying.  I think my difficulty in writing this week lies with the thought that I wanted to tell you so much about your mom; her personality, what she was like as a baby through her young adult years, the things she and I have in common and activities we love to do together, her marriage to your daddy, your brother's birth and legacy, your birth and the laughter you bring to us daily.  I could write chapters Ellie, but because today is the actual day of Mother's Day, I feel the need to "not" start at the beginning but rather nearer the end.  My blog today needs to be about your brother Kyle as he is the "one" who made your Mom a mommy.  So here goes:

Today in honor of Mother's Day I am writing about your mommy Ellie and her first pregnancy, for she more than most women has felt all that belongs to this holiday.  The happiness, the sadness, the anticipation, the devastation, the smiles, the tears, the unknown, the finality; all this at a very tender young age.  And the part of her that never wavered?..  Her Faith.  Let me take you to August of 2008 and a phone-call that I received on what I remember to be a beautiful, warm, sunny day.  It was a call from your mommy Ellie, an elated call!  She took a home pregnancy test (well, actually she took about 30 of them all at one sitting to make sure of its accuracy) and they were all positive!  Oh Ellie... in that very moment your mommy was so ecstatic, so filled with maternal love, your Poppy and I couldn't have been more happier for her and your daddy as we knew they would make phenomenal parents!  (You are now living proof of that testimony!)  Daily life seemed to go rather smoothly during her first trimester.  Your mommy and I chatted at least a dozen times each day never tiring of baby talk.  Each conversation was all about "how to decorate the baby's room", "possible names", "nursing or bottles", "what to buy", "baby showers", "can you love a baby too much" to name just a few of the many topics we would discuss and re-discuss.  And then one day after some routine testing at the doctor's office, your mommy and daddy's world came crashing down.  Things weren't the way they were supposed to be anymore.  That was a certainty, but the uncertainty was that no one seemed to have an answer as to what happened and what was yet to come.  It is here Ellie that I must tell you about your mother’s strength.  At that very moment she became the lioness and her unborn baby was the cub she would protect fiercely for all their days together no matter how long or how short.  Ellie, I took the first plane to Denver to be with your parents, to love them, to support them, to pray with them, and to take over some of their daily schedule allowing them the time needed to absorb and categorize their emotions of what will be a forever moment etched in their hearts and souls.  And even though there were many tears shed, your mom decided that she would do everything in her power to bring her pregnancy to full term and hoping beyond hope to deliver a healthy baby boy.  I must state here Ellie that I truly believe Kyle chose your parents as he knew how special they were.  He knew that they would not only take him to term, but also allow him to fulfill his God given purpose in a very short time following his birth.  He knew they would love him through all the heartache and he knew too that even through their greatest sadness they would be able to let him go seeing and understanding that he was not meant to be here for more than 11 days.  So with that being said, your mommy made sure to stay mentally and physically positive all through her pregnancy. With so many patron Saints to help in this time of need, she and I prayed many a Novena especially to Pope John Paul II. (She mentioned in her blog our prayers to St. Blaise... there is a funny story with this one Ellie but I will have your mom personally tell it to you someday!  Let's just say that it is a miracle I didn't accidentally set her on fire!)  Along with the daily novenas each day, your mommy and I together would also mental image a healthy baby boy.  But on her own she had to make sure she ate healthy and drank lots of fluids.  Thankfully she had pregnancy cravings of which she willingly gave in to (which by the way were tomato/mozzarella sandwiches **thanks to Panera** and she would eat them 24/7 if she could!  How her skin pigment didn't turn a permanent shade of cherry red is mind boggling!).  And I believe she drank enough water to fill a small sea!  She did everything in her power to stay fit.  Never once did she complain.  And never once did she say " Why me?"... for she knew to say those words would mean to pass this heartache on someone else.  And that is not who your mommy is.  She let her faith guide her decisions Ellie as she always has, confident that it would not fail her and it never did.  With the love and support of our wonderful extended family, much research was done on Kyle's condition and a doctor from Boston, along with 2 separate doctor's from CHOP in Philadelphia, and your Uncle Doug gave their professional opinions.  And even though the odds were stacked against your brother, each doctor agreed that there is more to a "life" than just "medical science."  So back in Denver an amazing out of network doctor was found who gave your parents that same bit of hope ... that no matter how small, your brother had a chance of survival.  With that information your mommy did all she could physically and mentally to bring her pregnancy as close to full term as possible (Kyle was born 2 months premature).  The morning she was scheduled to deliver Kyle, February 18th 2009, she went in to the hospital with tears in her eyes and an amazing smile across her face.   

Your Daddy took this shot of your Mimi and Mom outside of the hospital right before Kyle was born.

And while in the delivery room she and I said dozens of Hail Mary's while your dad kept a careful eye on the actual delivery of Kyle.  Her heart was filled with so much love Ellie, an unconditional love that she knew her son would feel and know.  The moment right before Kyle was born your mommy made two wishes.  1.) That he would take a breath of life... which he did as soon as he was born and right before they applied a breathing tube ... and 2.) That he would open his eyes for her before he went to Heaven... which he did on his 9th day birthday.   

This is your brother Kyle peaking at your Mom for the first time.

Oh Ellie, can I just tell you that he made your mommy so happy by doing both!  Through her tears of sadness, Kyle allowed her to shed tears of joy too.  I am in awe of your mommy Ellie for the woman she has become.  I've always said that your mom came into this world as an "old soul." She has compassion like no other, intuitiveness about her and wisdom well beyond her years.  She loves completely Ellie and wants always to share that love.  You can't help wanting to be connected to her in some way for her spirit and positive outlook is infectious.  Instead of falling into a deep depression, which would have been completely understandable, your mommy rose up seeking out a way to make Kyle's "life have purpose" and his "purpose to have life."  The medical staff in the NICU of St. Joseph's Hospital were an amazing group of professional women and men.  Because of their insight, their compassion and their expertise it only made sense for your parents to create the Kyle Russell Callahan Scholarship.  It has become a wonderful way to allow his memory to live on by helping fund the education of a young adult entering the medical field.  As proud as your parents are of Kyle for giving them 11 precious days to just love him, I believe Kyle is equally as proud of them for finding a wonderful cause in carrying out his purpose.   I've always said Ellie, that Kyle is Love and Love is Kyle.  He changed many lives in a positive way and will continue to do so for many years to come.

Since this blog is somewhat lengthy already and I haven't even begun to address your mommy before she was a mommy, I will defer from writing it now and enter it into our future blogs.  I hope I accomplished here what I set out to do Ellie, and that was for you to see how much Love and Faith are very much a part of your mommy's being.  I also want you to know Ellie that even though I did not mention your daddy's name much in this blog; he was your mommy's rock.  He took care of her, he protected her, and he loved her with all his heart.  It was your daddy and mommy together Ellie that got them through their firstborn’s life and loss.  I will talk more about your daddy in our June blog honoring Father's Day.

This is your Mom and Dad loving Kyle just a little over a year before you were born Ellie.

So Ellie, I guess the lesson to be learned here is to not harbor pain but rather find ways to help with the healing of it.  Sharing stories, creating a scrapbook, finding a beneficial cause to honor a loved one, using a friend’s shoulder to cry on are just a few ways that may help. No one is ours to keep, therefore we need to "love" unconditionally for "time" is to be appreciated.

Next week Ellie I think we should blog about the wonderful characteristics and memories you have given us in your first year of life.  I think your mommy will find writing this blog to be quite enjoyable as she could fill pages upon pages with stories about your spunky spirit!  I would also like to add a poem befitting to the conversation of this month.  What do you think Kimberly?  

Till next time precious one.
Love, Mimi


  1. WOW!!!!!!!! No other words, WOW and tears. Love to all....

  2. Have to agree with Kathy just WOW, this was the best yet, I cried and laughed with this blog of Kyle and his purpose. Although we never had the opprotunity to met Kyle we share in his purpose in life to treasure the moments we have, not knowing how long anyone of us has here on earth. Kyle is a angel in heaven and looking out for his family for which he was blessed to be part of. Kim and Justin ,Mic andEddie you all showed such amazing courage and strength throughout Kyle's life.

  3. I knew when I heard that you were writing about Kyle this week that I would need some quiet time to read the blog, and I am sure glad that I waited, because i read and re-read your words and while they brought tears to my eyes, they also brought a smile to my face knowing how much you two women love your children and how you will always put your family first. You are both are so strong, and so insightful. One of the worst possible tragedies imagineable happened, yet sitting here and reading this, you both emanate such hope and love, that I can't help but smile and cry at the same time. I love you both and am so looking forward to celebrating Kyle's life once again this July! What a wonderful amount of good he has brought to our lives and the lives of so many that never will have the chance to meet, but whom I am sure he will continue to smile down apon from heaven above.

    I love you both!

  4. Beautiful words written by two beautiful mothers. Your strength and courage are so inspirational and certainly helped me through a tough year last year.
    Like with so many others, despite not meeting Kyle, he has certainly changed my life, if nothing else than bringing his Mummy and I closer together.
    With lots of love Catherine x

  5. So wish you lived on this side of the pond Cat! I would love to have tea with you all the time. You have lifted my spirits this year too- I'm so lucky to have you in my life!