Happiness Journal

Today is my grandma’s birthday. I’m so glad that these two had time together here and I can’t help but feel grateful that, I know without a doubt, they are together now in Heaven.

Today this picture and the many memories of a love drenched childhood make me happy.

Harry’s Mom

Harry's mom

I remember dialing her number and hoping that it would go to voicemail. I had absolutely no idea what to say or do. I couldn’t fathom her pain and I definitely didn’t want to say anything that would make it worse.

She answered.

I cried and said that I was sorry. She said thank you and we both cried. I told her that I was there for her, not really knowing what that meant at the time, but I was there when she needed me (again I had no idea what that meant). I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to be a good friend ~ I had no idea how to be a good friend to someone who has lost a child.

It was the following Fall, and my friend’s daughter was in school and Anna was in pre-school. We would meet for coffee every other Friday.  I was extremely nervous, I didn’t want to be emotional in front of her and I didn’t want to make her feel bad. Sometimes I was at a loss for words, not wanting to say the wrong thing. Sometimes I said the wrong thing.

I remember one day we sat and talked about how people interact with her since Harry went to Heaven. She said the hardest was when people didn’t say anything at all, didn’t acknowledge her grief or even worse, avoided her. She said that in those moments it was extremely difficult because all she wanted to do was talk and share about Harry, share about his sweet face and his beautiful smile. She wanted people to never forget and the avoidance was a sign that her life was too hard for them.

What do you say to someone who is experiencing a pain you can’t even imagine ~ a pain you don’t want to imagine? What do you do when someone’s life is hard ~ do you avoid them or embrace them through their suffering?

There is no doubt that my words weren’t always the right ones but what I have learned through my own experience of grief is that my friend didn’t need words from me she just needed me to be present, to cry with her, laugh with her, talk about Harry with her and let her just be…on the good days and on the bad ones.

Talking about Harry brings her joy, especially when telling stories and when talking about how he filled the space in her arms. This joy often comes with tears because this joy is of the purest form of love and the distance between Heaven and earth can’t separate the pure love that a mother has for her child.

Her tears were ones of longing to hold, to touch and to kiss Harry.

I now know this same joy and experience these same tears and my friend has created a safe space for me to just be. For the past 15 months she has been a life line, sending me text messages letting me know she loves me, is thinking about me and is there when I’m ready to go get coffee.

Yesterday morning we had breakfast at a fun little cafe in our town.  We talked, shared stories about our kids, laughed and cried.  It was perfect.

She understands what my heart is going through in a way most don’t. She is holding me and I am holding her.

I love you Caroline!

Friends

 

PS. We both love talking about our kids and there is no greater compliment than to be referred to as Harry’s mom or Anna and Abby’s mom.

Donate Life!

donate life 1

Last Wednesday I was given the opportunity, by the 8th grade health teacher at our local middle school, to share with the students about organ donation and to share with them Abigail’s donation story. I teamed up with my dear friend Aimee from Donate Life Northwest and we spent the entire day educating the students about why it’s important to register to be a donor. At the end of Aimee’s presentation I gave the specifics about the lives that Abigail saved, about our experience in the hospital while the transplant team was trying to find her matches and about why it’s important to talk about all of this with their loved ones.

All of those students, in a few years, will be standing at the DMV and will read this question on their driver’s license application ~ Do you want to be an organ or tissue donor?  Yes___  No___

This question is one that most 16 year olds may not fully understand and may not want to think about. My hope, for the kids that are in our community, is that when they are asked that question they will all have a full understanding of what that means and will have hopefully shared their wishes with their loved ones (and vice versa). I hope when they check the box “yes” they think of Abigail.

I am a proud mom and I know that Abigail’s donation didn’t just save lives but will also continue to be a means to educate people in many years to come. I feel blessed to be given the opportunity to talk to her peers and share her beautiful story.

This past week a high school classmate of mine was put on the lung transplant list. He is in Ohio, in the hospital, and is now waiting, in critical condition, for his perfect match. I don’t know how it feels to be on that side, waiting.

What I do know is what it feels like to be faced with a decision in the most difficult of circumstances. I know what it feels like to be in shock from the horror of losing your loved ones and, through that horror, seeing a glimmer of light through what your loved one can give in their final hours.

Tom and I have absolutely no regrets from making the choice to donate Abigail’s organs….we only find joy in that decision.

If you are not a registered donor and would like to become one go to Donate Life America. If you are a registered donor then talk with those around you about your wishes.

I am praying for that family, that in their darkest hour, will make a decision that could potentially save Mark’s life. I am praying for Mark’s family. I am praying for Mark.

I am praying for peace that only God can give that surpasses all understanding.

We have a lot of photos on our refrigerator. The one that stands out most is the one of the little boy who received Abigail’s liver. Everyday it reminds me of how precious this life is, how proud I am of my girls and our beautiful love story.

Please register to be a donor and talk to those around you about your wishes!

If you would like more information about organ and tissue donation you can find it here or you can send me a message and I can answer any questions you may have or direct you on how to find them.

His Happy Place

linus nose 1

What do you get a dog that has everything? You let him spend time in his favorite room in the house, a place he is usually forbidden to go.

I took Linus up to Anna’s room to take a photo of him and Anna’s favorite stuffed animal…just like I did when we brought him home last March. He was so excited to be in her room, running around and sniffing all of her dolls and stuffed animals. I told him to get up on her bed and he jumped up with such delight and laid down in his usual spot right next to her favorite stuffed dog.

He sat for a few seconds, calmly. I had tears in my eyes.

We did a little dance as I tried to pose him just right ~ treats in one hand, camera in the other, Linus so excited to be in his happy place, stuffed animal in his mouth.

He calmed down, I took some photos and then we both just sat for a bit.

Anna and Abigail would love him so much.

As I stood up to take him back down stairs he refused. Put his head down on the bed in protest.

We stayed for a little while longer on his special day.

He will never fully understand what he has brought to our world, how he brightens our days and how his antics (both delightful and naughty) fill our hearts with such love.

He gets me out of bed in the morning, gets me out of the house for walks, he makes me wrestle on the floor and he brings a smile to my face when I don’t feel like smiling.  Those days when it hurts to bad too enter her room, he changes the focus so it’s all about him and helps me spend time there.

We are blessed to be his people.

Happy Birthday Linus, our healer!

Linus 2 months linus 5Linus bed

Happiness Journal

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There is so much to say….I am so grateful.

Last night I volunteered with Jess and Deb, two amazing friends, at the Dare to Be concert at Crossroads Church in Vancouver, WA. I sat and worshiped with a room full of women and felt the love of Christ with every note that was sung by Natalie Grant and with a beautiful message from Charlotte Gambill. At the end of the show they honored a woman that they feel has shown incredible faith through unimaginable circumstances…that woman was me. I had no idea it was going to happen.

God has shown me so much love and so much grace. He has held me, just as He promises He will, through a beautiful life before Anna and Abigail entered Heaven and is continuing to do so through the heartache of their absence.

Last night they asked for people to donate to the Anna and Abby’s Yard Fund and over $6,000 was raised. I am in awe and completely overwhelmed by the kindness of so many women I don’t even know.

Completely overwhelmed ~ I’ve been in tears all morning.

I trust God, I lean in and He holds me, He lifts me up when I am on my knees and when I feel I cannot stand and He protects me when I am in the depths of my sorrow. He is caring for my children until we are together again ~ Anna and Abby are in His presence. He is holding all of us.

God is Love and last night this Love was shining bright in a room full of beautiful woman and for that I am happy and so grateful.

This is my favorite song by Natalie Grant ~ it speaks to every part of my soul.