I want to write that this week was amazing, beautiful and everything I hoped my first week back at work would be.

Unfortunately I can’t write those words because they would not be true.

This week was hard, very hard.

Last year Tom and I left town at the beginning of the school year to take the sting away and not to subject ourselves to the pain we knew we would have while watching kids walk down the street that first week of school ~ something that was always so exciting and fun for our own family. This year I am immersing myself into that world ~ not sure if that was the best decision for my heart at this point.

I feel I’m pretty transparent so I kept my conversations with new staff to a minimum, in fear I would not be able to stop crying if I started~ something I very rarely do outside my home. Tom got most of my emotion and frustration in the evening or during one of our many phone calls this week. He has held me all week, checking in and reassuring me of options we have. I truly don’t know what I would do without him.

I knew diving back in would be difficult but I didn’t realize how difficult it would be. I haven’t slept much because I have a very active mind and when you add something, primarily stress, to it other things tend to creep in. Almost every night this week, typically starting at 1 am, I find myself going back in time and reliving my nightmare.  I can’t stay in this cycle because I know that it is not good for me or our new little one. We both need rest, a clear head and to stay as stress free as possible ~ something I’ve learned while managing my post traumatic stress.

So what now?

These next few months (ok, the rest of my days) will not be easy and I’m not going to pretend they will be. I have to remember always that I have a choice and, in making that choice, I get to decide what is healthy for me and for our family. I can’t say if going back to work is healthy or not yet, but what I can say is that I don’t want to give up just yet.

I’m not sure what will happen next week when the students come into the gym excited for another year of school. I’m not sure how my heart will feel when the 3rd graders walk through my doors ready to learn.

Anna would be in 3rd grade this year.

It seems like just yesterday she was nervous about starting 1st grade at a new school but excited that it was a school that her mama taught at. We walked down the hall that first day and she held my hand tightly, then, as we were saying goodbye, she whispered in my ear, “I love you mama, I’ll miss you.” She then walked to her desk, looked back and flashed me the “I Love You” sign, as she did every time I saw her at school.  She was brave that day and I was so proud of her.

Next week when my students enter the gym I’m going to focus on Anna loving that her mama is a teacher and on how brave she was when starting fresh in new surroundings.

I’m going to lift my head high, welcome my students and I’m going to be brave for my girl.
Walking first grade

That is all I can do.

Four More Sleeps

The count down would have started about a week ago. Anna would start asking how many sleeps till I start work and she gets to go to Tami’s ~ her favorite place in all the land <3.

Today I would say four more sleeps; and I would take a deep breath and realize our summer fun was coming to an end.

These were our sad faces on the last day of summer.

These were our sad faces on the last day of summer.

In four more sleeps I’m starting back at work. I have a new job teaching PE at an elementary school in our district, the same elementary school Abigail attended and where we first met. I will be teaching three days a week, grades 1-4. In the past I’ve taught Adapted PE and have traveled to every school in our district teaching kids with disabilities how to play. I loved my old job but always longed for a gym to call my own. I’ve spent the last week cleaning out the equipment room and working on lesson plans. This is a new adventure for me.

I’ve been told going back to work will be good for me by people who would like my pain to end.  My pain, whether I’m working or sitting in my house staring, will never end. I know that people just want to make things better, they can’t imagine so they try to fix it with their words. I’m here to say that after 22 months of living this life I know without a doubt that there is no fix.

I’m going back to work because I love teaching and I don’t want to lose my job. I’ve been blessed to have the past 22 months to focus solely on sharing love and joy, to begin learning how to survive with my children in Heaven and to figure out a new normal in our day-to-day life. I’ve been blessed by this time and I definitely don’t take it for granted.

There is not a day that I will wake and be grateful for “getting through” my loss. My grief will only end when I am in eternity in His presence and in theirs. I am surviving to the best of my ability and some days I do better than others.  Going back to work does not make my life circumstances “better” or mean that I am “ok” with my reality, it just means I’m making a choice to survive rather than hide.

My focus with my students this year will be love and joy (I’m sure that’s not a surprise). I feel blessed that I teach a subject that allows me the freedom to be creative and to teach life lessons. I want my students, all of my students, to walk out of my gym feeling loved and feeling joyful. I want them all to know that, no matter what, kindness is the key for success and being active can be a lot more fun then sitting watching TV or playing video games.

When Anna went to Heaven she was just learning how to read. When Abigail went to Heaven she was beginning skills that were prepping her for middle and high school. More importantly, when my girls went to Heaven they knew, without a doubt, they were loved and cherished. When my girls went to Heaven, we, along with so many others, knew that we were loved and cherished by Anna and Abigail.

It makes sad to think that there are kids out there that don’t know what my girls knew.

My goal this year is to make sure they do.


Some see a gym, I see a big empty canvas. I think there needs to be a big rainbow on the back wall ~ what do you think?

Her Wisdom

Our first summer together

This week I had lots of dreams about my girls, I think they know when I need to see them, interact with them and most of all need a hug.  I cherish my night time visits.

One of the dreams I had about Abigail was that she was a teenager but in her 8 yr old body. It was a very vivid dream and Abigail made me laugh by her antics (details I’m keeping for myself right now). What I appreciated most was that, being in her 8 yr old body, she took me back to our first summer together.

We were just getting to know each other and trying to figure out how this was all going to work. I can’t say it was always easy, it’s hard at times to blend a family, but Abigail welcomed Anna and I from the start. Losing her “youngest” status was difficult but she moved into the role as a big sister with pride and I think cherished the fact that Anna adored her ~ well, until Anna did everything she could to be like Abigail which added a new word to our sibling vocabulary, annoying.

Our relationship as mother/daughter was growing and she was truly a gift for me, a gift I never really knew I needed.  I had a lot to learn and she was doing everything to help me in that process. When we messed up I would often go to her and ask, “what can I do to make this easier?” We would then sit on her bed and do our best to figure out how to move forward. She was so insightful and open ~ wise beyond her years, something I don’t think I truly appreciated at the time.

Today I would love to sit with her face to face and ask, “Abigail, what can I do to make this easier?”

My heart longs for her so much.  I miss my Abigail!

Happiness Journal (from this past weekend)

concert 1I tried to post this photo this weekend from my phone…it didn’t work obviously. This week I’ve been riding the high of spending a weekend with dear friends, spending time in a beautiful house on Puget Sound and going to see my daughter’s favorite singer live. 

Anna would have had wide eyes at the sea of people all singing (and screaming) their favorite songs. She would have wanted to know every detail of Grace’s encounter with the very tall Taylor Swift and exactly what was said between the two of them. She would have sang her heart out; loudest when her favorite song came on, just like her mama did for her. She would have talked non-stop about how amazing and cool the concert was and would cite every detail to Tom when we got home. She would have wrapped her arms around me and thanked me a hundred times for taking her ~ that is the part I think I miss the most, Anna’s arms wrapped around me.

This weekend made my heart happy and to be honest I wasn’t sure how it would all feel.

I knew I would have pain with Anna’s absence but as I have said many times ~ when I show up, they show up.

concert 6 concert handsconcert 11concert 100cocnert 12taylor and graceconcert momsconcert 13



Back Together

taylor swiftI would be downstairs and I could hear the music start from up in Anna’s room loud and clear. A few minutes later the music was drowned out by her singing at the top of her lungs.

“We are never, ever, ever, getting back together
We (WHEE!) are never, ever, ever, getting back together
You go talk to your friends talk to my friends talk to me
But we (WHEE!) are never, ever, ever, getting back together”

Who was my little girl  singing to with such passion in her voice? Who was she never getting back together with and when was she with someone?

I went upstairs and peaked into her room and there she was dancing, singing and being so joyful all while sporting a scarf and a pair of “cool” sunglasses. She had no idea what she was singing just that she liked the rhythm and was able to memorize the lyrics. I smiled, and instead of turning it off, I decided to appreciate Taylor Swift for all of her good values, morals and for what she was doing for my daughter ~ she was bringing Anna joy.

Anna only played her Taylor Swift CD ~ that was her favorite and a gift from her big sister. She would listen to it over and over again, always pushing the back button to repeat her favorite, We are Never Getting Back Together, singing that one the loudest and with the most passion. Sometimes she would venture out of her room and sing her way down the stairs, always waiting for me to come and give her a wink or smile. I think she wanted me to be part of her concert.

I knew that one day Taylor Swift would be coming to town, or close to town, and that her concert would be our first together. I knew she would be so excited to see her live ~ when I close my eyes I can see her expression of joy in finding out she was going and I can see the look of excitement on her face as Taylor walks out on stage for her first number. We would buy t-shirts, a program and sing every song together, word for word. Well, she would sing them word for word and probably correct me when I messed up. The thought of this experience with her always made my heart happy ~ I couldn’t wait.

Anna glasses

The time has come and tomorrow night I’m going to see Taylor Swift in Seattle with some of Anna and Abigail’s friends and their moms. I am so appreciative that they have included Anna and I in this experience even though it will be hard. I will get a t-shirt, a program and maybe even a poster for Anna’s room. With tears in my eyes, I will sing each song, word for word, at the top of my lungs for my girl. I know, without a doubt,  she will be there with me, and although I won’t see her I will feel her joy ~ I know I will.

Experiencing life without my girls is extremely hard but I make the choices I do because in them I feel my girls presence. Often, in grief, we want to shut down and avoid the deep pain of absence. Somedays I don’t want to feel it anymore ~ staying in bed with a pillow of my head sounds so much nicer than facing  yet another day without Anna and Abigail.

I have found though, that in the midst of my deep pain there is another emotion that I feel even more deeply when I choose to open my eyes to Heaven and allow myself to see the possibilities it holds ~ I feel JOY.  If I closed myself off to “life” with my girls then I would never experience the joy they feel in Heaven. I think that is God’s gift to me in the midst of my suffering ~ a glimpse of the unimaginable joy they feel in eternity. So I choose to get out bed and experience life as it would be if my girls were physically here.

I’m going to our first concert together and it’s her favorite ~ Talyor Swift.

When I get to Heaven I know she will thank me for taking her and for not hiding and I will thank her for being there with me ~ always.

us 1