Category Archives: “C”

I just looked at the last blog post I did and couldn’t believe it was six months ago!  I’m always thinking of things to say, and they are constantly gelling in my head, but I never seem to get to the computer to actually draft a blog post.  I really enjoy keeping my few readers up to date, but it’s been hard to write for some reason.  Life is a roller coaster and emotionally-speaking so am I.  Ugh.  This grief thing is not fun.

That said, I will say that we are doing ok.  People always ask, so I’m putting it out there.  Through God’s grace and mercy we are surviving, and I’m just glad the year of “firsts without Csaba” is over.  On to year two now.

What drew me to writing a blog post today though was not for an update of sorts.  I was compelled by some messages Tom received from a mom whose youngest daughter knew Csaba at school last year.

The backstory is that Tom recently did a pro bono inspection for a family who wanted to move from a relative’s basement to a new home.  The only connection between them and us, at first, was the desire to help out another local family via our church’s compassion ministry.  I have to say how amazing it is to donate (expecting nothing in return) our time and resources to others and, amazingly enough, still get something out of it.  Really, that’s the beauty of service to others…that God does indeed work all thing together for good (Romans 8:28).

The payment in this case was some precious memories that came out after the inspection was completed. Actually, the memories are more bittersweet, as I will explain…

Csaba started school at LA (abbreviated for privacy reasons) in August of 2013.  He started as a third grader even though developmentally he was still performing at a first grade level and his IEP showed an IQ of 71 (which, for comparison purposes, is about 2 points above the average for down syndrome).  Honestly I don’t know how many people knew this about Csaba, and maybe some of you are surprised.  I held this information close to the vest as I didn’t want people’s pity (ironically enough, as that seems to be the norm these days) and I certainly didn’t want Csaba being treated as “different”.  In retrospect, my intention was simply to protect my little boy.  School is rough for an average kid, but it can be simply unbearable for a child with special needs.

In spite of my desire to protect him though, Csaba was different.  And kids knew it right away.  After Csaba passed away, I heard all sorts of stories about him and his time at LA.  Many of them were good memories, and they warmed my heart.  I believe that kids with special needs have a “fast pass” to God that allows for a purity of heart and unmuddled belief.  Csaba had that.  He was always a happy exuberant kid, with a passion for Jesus at 10 years old that rivals mine at 40-ish.  Those are the stories I love hear.  It all made me so proud.

But there is some heartbreak too.  Let me share an excerpt from the aforementioned message Tom received from the mom he did the inspection for…

I [just] realized that that you are Csaba’s father. I had no idea, what a small world. My daughter, who was with us yesterday, used to attend LA and when she was there Csaba was a new student. She knew him well and spent a lot of time with him. She was also new that year and realized that he was sitting alone at recess. She and her best friend friended him and would try to eat quickly to get to the playground to spend time with him so he wasn’t alone. She was not at LA when we heard the news as I homeschool now but she was so upset as were so many. I am so sorry and have kept your family in my prayers even though I have not known you.
You are such a blessing to so many, including my family.

And then just today, Tom received this message from the mother’s older daughter:

I want to start off with this quote: “When God brings people together, then it’s always for a reason. Instead of worrying about the reason, it’s better let time unravel the reason for you and till then you should enjoy the beautiful now and the person God brought into your life.” God is always involved with all aspects of our lives. He influences the people we will come into contact with and how we come into contact.

This may not make sense now, but it will in a minute.

I want to tell you a short story about my little sister, J (the little girl with black hair that was playing with the dogs). J is 10yo and went to LA last year for 4th grade with her best friend & neighbor K. Anyway, My Mom went to J’s parent/teacher conference one day last year with Mrs. D. Mrs.D proceeded to tell her about how J and K befriended a little boy in 3rd grade who they saw sitting alone during lunch and recess because he was new to the school and didn’t speak english well. The girls told Mrs.D they wished the 4th and 3rd graders had the same lunch and recess times because it meant that this boy sat alone for 15 minutes before the 4th graders were released. Mrs.D proceeded to tell my Mom that “She wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.” This little boy was your son, Csaba.

Whether it be Gods will or your guardian angel, Csaba, they both wanted you to meet 1 of the little girls that made a positive impact on your son’s life here on earth. They became Csaba’s 1st friends at LA.

Needless to say, these messages affected me profoundly.  Tom made the mistake of reading the first one to me in a restaurant and I proceeded to dissolve into the “ugly cry”.  He pretty much regretted doing that, so the second one was read to me at home (thankfully).  Now, I have to confess, I already knew about Csaba’s challenges in finding someone to play with at recess.  We had talked about it and, ever the cheerleader, I would encourage him to seek out other kids (namely boys) who had no one to play with either.  Or I would tell him to join in a game and hopefully they would include him.  I fear I forgot how unforgiving school kids can be.  I wish I had listened better.

ok, my point..?

Oh wait, let me digress a moment.  I recently read the book “Wonder“…about a 5th grade boy who, after being homeschooled his whole life, chose to enter public school in fifth grade.  The catch was that this boy had a face that was severely deformed.  The book narrates from viewpoints of several main characters (various friends, a bully, a sister, etc.) and really delves into their thoughts and resulting actions.  This book is fifth grade reading level, but I wanted to preview it before I read it with P over the summer.  It made an impact on me all the same because I of course thought about my boys’ special needs the entire time.  While neither of my boys is/was deformed physically, their brains are/were deformed (or, for lack of a better word, mentally disabled) by Fetal Alcohol Syndrome from their birth moms’ abuse.  It’s not reparable.  It’s what they will (and did) live with their entire lives.  Sadly, It’s a heartbreaking reality of many kids born in Eastern European countries.  And my boys were no exception.

Aaaaaaanyway, my point in this blog post (that is becoming more like a stream of consciousness) is fairly short and sweet.  Even though my initial reaction was extreme heartbreak for my son, I saw it as a teachable moment for me.  I believe firmly and avidly that the kindness that my kids show to others (especially those who are “different”) has a direct correlation to how I raise my kids.  I am forever grateful to the girls who be-friended my son during his time at LA.  It’s kids like that who will make this world a better place.  I wish more boys had done that though, and maybe that’s a challenge to those reading this who have boys.  Teach your sons to have compassion, to seek out those who are having hard times, to be-friend the lonely.  If they are at reading level, have them read Wonder (I’ve heard at some schools it has been required reading…which is awesome).   Hey, it really is ok if boys are tough and sensitive at the same time! ;)

But most importantly (and I know this has been said ad nauseum pretty much everywhere) BE the person you want your kids to emulate.  If you demonstrate constantly what real love and compassion is, then it’s very likely your kids will follow suit.  I mean, who knows.  You just might have a talk with a teacher someday who says she “wishes her own children will do the same thing if presented with the same situation.”   

Thanks for reading!

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Happy November, the month of thanks!  I wish I could say I’m unequivocally thankful, but I can’t do that right now.  I think the pending holidays are dragging me down with the knowledge that, for the first time in seven years, Csaba won’t be with us.  I really can’t fathom that and I wish I could just lie down and sleep through it all.  But that would also mean sleeping well into the new year because of Csaba’s birthday in February and the anniversary of darkest day of my life…March 9.  So, next summer would be a good time to awake I guess (obviously though, that can’t happen).

So I pray that God will give me the strength to get through it.

With E and P, I have to move forward.  I have to trudge on and make sure they have great childhood memories and that I NEVER take their presence in my life for granted.  So we did participate in the Halloween dress-up & trick or treating this year, even though I constantly found myself reflecting on last year’s Halloween.  While not ideal circumstances then (Tom had just flown back from his second trip to Latvia and was sick as a dog), I would prefer that an infinitesimal amount over how it all feels now.

Ok, shake it off (thanks Taylor Swift, now I have that song in my head).

Here are pics from this year’s Halloween.  Some were taken a week ago at the Elizabeth “Trick or Treat Street” festivities and the last few were taken last night when we went to an adjoining neighborhood for candy collection.  It was fun and different because, here in the country, it’s impossible for kids to walk miles and miles to each house.  So some good people from our country market got together with folks in the neighborhood and had four hay wagons for kids to ride and stop at various (read: willing) houses.  It was the first time doing this and some valuable lessons were learned:  wear a winter coat, a hat, and gloves; bring a blanket to sit on because that hay is very pokey; and maybe some hot chocolate in a thermos (with a splash of Bailey’s) for the adults would be good.  Next year I’m all over it!  Tom is off hunting this weekend so my friend, her son, and her grand-daughter who live up the street were able to join us (thank you Cindy!).

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Good friends.

Good friends.

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This is a miniature horse dressed as a witch. Adorable!!  I want.

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P asked this “alien” where his spaceship was. I think he was serious.

My Elsa (and yes, I know there were hundreds of them this year)

My Elsa (and yes, I know there were hundreds of them this year).

The Sinclair dinosaur in front of the store was dressed as a horse this year.

The Sinclair dinosaur in front of the store was dressed as a horse.

Hayride time!

Hayride time!

Today is a national day of mourning.  We mourn the loss of life experienced on 9/11/2001 when evil people attacked our nation.  We mourn the loss of American freedoms we had before that horrific day, and we mourn the soldiers who have given their lives to continually fight against the evil of that day and on.

But we also can honor the people who continue to fight, the people who give everything they have to keep us safe and secure.  All the soldiers, veterans, firefighters, policemen, EMT’s, and other first responders deserve our respect not only on this day, but every day.  I personally want to thank them all for their service and sacrifice.

We started the day with an amazing Patriot Day assembly at the kids’ school where we commemorated 9/11 with a color guard, men and women in uniform, and a reminder of why this day exists in the first place.  I’m proud that my kids are in a school that does this!

The school also decided that today was a good day to dedicate the benches that were donated by our old neighbor, his family, and his optimist club.  Two beautiful benches were constructed on the playground with plaques in remembrance of Csaba.  They are so beautiful (I want one at our house!).  The former third grade class who knew Csaba also surprised us with painted rocks to put around the benches.  It was so moving, and I’m glad I had my camera with me to capture it all…

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Thank you to everyone who has contributed to this wonderful memorial.  It means the world to our family!!

Here they are, the obligatory back to school pics!  As you can imagine it was with bittersweetness that I took theses photos.  Dare I say, I almost didn’t.  But I did, and the kids humored me. :)

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Peter

And this one, which I was unsure about doing at first…

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But Csaba is here in spirit, so I included the kids holding a photo of him from last year’s pics.

This past Sunday I had that rare treat of being (kind of) alone in the house.  E was taking a much-needed nap and Tom and P were out running some errands.   A few days before, I had recorded a movie called “Rabbit Hole”…for the reason that it’s about a couple dealing with the loss of their child.  In my grief I tend to gravitate towards scripture, books, people, etc. who can help me define what it is I’m going through.  I don’t know anyone personally who has lost their child, but I have found people via social media and sometimes it helps to watch a movie about the subject as well.  It’s just good to know I’m not alone, I guess.  No matter how many people rally around me, no matter how many friends encourage and walk beside me, they are not feeling what I feel.  The total and complete loss, the pain of so deep a sorrow that I no longer “just cry”, I sob.  Sometimes it even gets to be too much to see other families so complete and happy.  All their kids are healthy and thriving, and the complaints of typical, crazy childhood behavior makes me want to scream, “at least your children are alive”!

It’s hard.

Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate every sweet and comforting gesture by those friends.  Truly!  And honestly I couldn’t get through every day without them.  But every now and then I’m just plain jealous of happy, whole families.

(Sidebar) What I really don’t get is, we adopted C out of obedience.  We adopted a special needs child who no one wanted, a child God brought us to.  So why was he taken from us?  Why does obedience to God sometimes lead to grief?  I am so confused.  But that’s another blog post.

Anyway, in this movie, “Rabbit Hole”, there’s this scene between the mother who lost her son and her mother who also lost her son  11 years previously.  If anyone wants to know a tiny bit what grief feels like, this sums it up very well…

I scrape my knuckles on that brick A LOT.  Maybe someday the weight of it will be more of a soothing reminder of my amazing son and his short life, and it will be fine.  But right now it’s mostly just pain.  A heavy, blunt pain.

Last night I had a dream.  We were frantically running around the house, cleaning it up, and I remember telling P to make sure his room is picked up and C’s bed was ready for him…because, you see, C was coming back!  It was all so real, so vivid.  When I woke up I felt happy again for just a moment.  Then it all came crashing back and I realized it was just a dream and C is not coming back after all.  After that brutal realization, I did my crying sobbing, got out of bed, and went about my day.  Just like I do everyday…one foot in front of the other.  One moment at a time.

All with the heaviness of a brick in my pocket.