Thursday, September 18, 2014

Hidden Treasures, Part II

by Jenni Dolezilek Sternberg.

NOTE: This is part II of a two-part series. Please click here to read Part I.

The first thing I realized was how strong hope is. Even though there felt like there was little hope, it hadn't disappeared. When we talked about trying to have other children, I felt I was crazy to try again, but there was a tiny shred of hope that was still there. Every day there was a new hope that the day would be better than the last, sometimes it was and sometimes it wasn't.

I realized how strong my faith was. Two months after losing Cameron, Paul and I attended Thanksgiving Eve services at our church. We left halfway through, me in tears. He brought me to my parents and I told them I was so pissed at them, they had cultivated such a strong faith in me, that even though I was so mad at God I still believed, and that made me mad. But I also know my faith got me through.

Also, after losing Cameron, I am convinced without a doubt that there is a Heaven and that is where he is. I still have a lot of doubts at times but, I know that in my very core, Heaven is real. I so look forward to going there and holding Cameron again.
Since having my two rainbow babies- I feel I love them more since I lost my son. It is one of those things that can’t be explained- for I surely would have loved them more than anything either way, but I truly believe the hole in my heart left by Cameron allows me to love my other children even more. I certainly do not take them for granted. Many times I watch them sleep, or just hold them, with tears in my eyes, and thank God for them and pray for their safety.

It has also taught me determination. My husband and I were married less than a year when we lost Cameron. I know statistics show that marriages often fail after the loss of a child. And we have had many struggles, not all of them due to losing our son. But I have been determined for us to stay together. He is the only one who knew and loved Cameron like I did and understands, so, I know we have to stay together.

I also am awed at how much strength I have had and of course I am only strong through God. How could I survive through the unthinkable? I am amazed I am still here- putting one foot in front of the other. I know I can get through anything- I’m proud of making it through this and am so grateful to God for carrying me through it day-by-day, sometimes minute-by-minute. I have seen so many times that no matter how bad it is, there will be good again.

I now view the world differently. I am much more understanding of people who have losses. I also see that everyone has difficulties to live through and we all need to treat each other with a little more grace. I've learned you can’t judge someone, especially if you haven’t been in their shoes.
I’m working so hard on becoming a better person and I think everyone can benefit from trying to improve themselves. I've been going to therapy for years and slowly, but surely, improving myself. Maybe all those years ago at group I was expecting to be a finished, better person, but now realize that I am still working on it.
One day about six years ago I had an epiphany. Instead of asking why this happen to me, I flipped it over and said how grateful I am that I got to be his mom. From all the people in the world and from all that have ever lived, God chose me to be Cameron’s mom. That is humbling. I wish the story ended differently. I wish Cameron was here today. But I wouldn't give him up for anything, even though being his mom has included terrific heartache. I am so blessed to be his mom and no one can take that away. I will be his mom for all eternity.
For years I have wanted to do big things in memory of Cameron. I was so frustrated that I wasn't able to. But when I look back now, I know people have come to me for advice when a friend has lost a baby. People have said they admired our faith and how we have gotten through. I have done small things to help people. At Grief Group one time a few years after Cameron’s death, one of the facilitators told me that Mother Teresa once said, “Not all of us can do great things but we can do small things with great love.” That really stuck with me. Then not too long ago, someone on a face book page was talking about the little random acts of kindness they had done in memory of their little one. And it all just hit me: THAT is what we can do.
And so this year we started “9 Days of Remembering Cameron” on September 11-19. (He would be turning nine on the 19th.) I am asking people to join us doing random acts of kindness on those days; little things with great love for our little guy. This is the first September in nine years I have felt peace and hope.
It took a lot of digging but, I have found some hidden treasures. The most important is: I am a better person. For one thing, I am Cameron’s mom, what could be better than that?

Good luck in your treasure hunt.

I hope you find a lot of treasures.

~ ~ ~

Jenni Dolezilek Sternberg owns and operates an in-home daycare/preschool, which she has done for 10 years in Minnesota. Before that she was an Elementary School teacher and will hopefully be an author in the future. She has been married to her husband Paul since Fall of 2004. And she is most proud of being a mommy to 3 children: Cameron, Katarina (7), and Jakob (3). Cameron lived 57 minutes after he was born on September 19,2005. He was held in loving arms his whole life. We continue to hold him in our hearts and do things to make sure he is not forgotten. Find more on Cameron’s Facebook remembrance page, IROC (In Remembrance of Cameron).


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