Her Smile

Shortly after I wrote and posted yesterday Alice woke up from a nap. I could hear her making noises and bouncing herself in her hammock ~ yes, my daughter naps in a hammock and it’s the best thing ever. As I approached her, we met eyes and she smiled.

Her smile consumed my whole heart.

Even the desperate and broken pieces.

Each day I wake up, take a deep breath and make a choice.

Each day I make a choice to keep going. Yesterday I didn’t want to make that choice, I wanted to climb into the deepest part of my suffering and submerge my head in the water.

Then Anna and Abigail’s sister pulled me ashore and smiled. They need me to take care of her with all of my heart, even the broken pieces.alice-smile

Thank you for reaching out through your comments, texts and Facebook messages ~ your kindness means the world to me.

Desperate

I’m sitting with a list of things I need to do by my side. We just returned from a visit with family in Ohio and there is laundry to do and a trip to the grocery store in our plans for today.

I don’t want to do anything but snuggle with Alice.

I want to curl up with her, close my eyes and wish the next month away.

In one months time my girls will have been in Heaven for 3 years ~ my heart wishes so much that was not my reality, our reality.

Tom and I are struggling because the season hurts so bad. We are struggling because we both want so badly to reverse time, go back and change the course that our lives took 3 years ago.

We have light in our lives and we have so much sadness.

So much sadness.

I can hear Anna yell from upstairs, “Mom, make sure to get caramel sauce today at the store to dip my apples in at lunch.”

I can see Abigail’s grumpy face as she sits down for breakfast before school, she was never a morning person.

To hear their voices and to see their faces in person is what my heart so desperately longs for.

Desperate is how I feel these days.

I work really hard keeping my mind focused on the light instead of the darkness of my longing.

I’m not “ok,” I’m just working really hard trying to survive the pain and the darkness.

Today I just want to hug my girls ~ I desperately want to hug my girls.

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Anna’s House

This week has been a big one for my heart.

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First day of school 2013 

Anna would be starting the 4th grade, her last year at Dilley Elementary School. Abigail would be starting her first year of high school, something she couldn’t wait for even at the age of 11. I miss them so much.

This week we also sold our townhouse, the place Anna and I lived before we met Tom. This was our first home together and the memories from those first 4 years, just the two of us, will aways hold a very special spot in my heart. In this space I became a mom, Anna said her first words and it’s where she learned to walk.  We played, laughed and cried together in “our” home and every moment there with her will be cherished forever.

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I wasn’t sure if I would ever be able to let the townhouse go, there are too many memories and the thought of it hurt so much.  Then, about 4 months ago, God intervened.

Let me start at the beginning.

My story starts in 1998.  As I look back now, when I first met Eric and Kimi I had no idea the impact they would have on my life. I had just moved to Oregon from Ohio and I mentioned to Kimi, a co-worker, that I was looking for a house in Forest Grove. Kimi made a few phone calls and a few weeks later I found myself moving into the perfect little house in town with a beautiful garden space and a claw foot tub…both what I really wanted.

Over the next couple of years I became close with Kimi’s family, her husband Eric and their  4 daughters. I would spend time with them and often felt very grateful for the connection we had, especially being so far from my own family. My “soul dog,” Sampson, was the son of their dog Moab ~ this sealing the deal that we were family.

Sampson puppy

In October of 1999, in a Wendy’s restaurant in a neighboring town, the Schmitt family and I sat after church talking about life. Eric, being a pastor of the church I was now attending, posed a question that forever changed me, “do you believe with all your heart?”

Up until that moment, if you were to ask, I wouldn’t have known what I believed. I grew up Catholic so I knew a lot of prayers but really never knew what I was praying about. I started attending a Christian church shortly after arriving in Oregon and, after a few weeks, started to realize that although I believed in God I definitely did not have a relationship with Him ~He did not have my heart fully.

That night in Wendy’s with the Schmitt family was the beginning of a beautiful relationship with God. He had been pursuing me since the day I was born and I finally, after 26 years, stopped avoiding Him and said yes, I do believe with all my heart. That moment my life changed forever and my relationship with God became and will forever be the most important relationship in my life. It is only through Him that I can stand each morning and face another day without my girls.

Throughout the next couple of years I watched the Schmitt girls grow up and I remained close to Kimi and Eric. They were not only dear friends but role models for me, always willing to listen and provide me with spiritual guidance. I didn’t always like their advice, like when I introduced Eric to my long-haired, hippy, fire walking, pagan boyfriend and he asked, “but does he believe in God?” Needless to say they witnessed, without judgement (at least outward judgement), as I dated all the wrong guys and then finally met the right one, Tom. I couldn’t wait to introduce them to Tom ~ they loved him and still do.

On July 26, 2011 Eric stood in front of our friends and family and married Tom and I. We couldn’t have imagined it any other way, Eric knew my journey to this moment and having him officiate the union of our families, under God,  was perfect.  The day was filled with love and joy.

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Original Love Rocks that Anna and Abigail made for our wedding.  All in God’s Timing, Much Love ~ Schmitts

Anna and Abigail also loved the Schmitt family. I can still hear Abigail get excited when Pastor Eric was at church to deliver a sermon. I distantly remember one sermon that really spoke to her and gave her the words to speak Truth when someone close to her was commenting on how God hated certain types of people because of their sin. She shared with us how, after listening to Pastor Eric preach on God’s love for everyone, that she had the words to stand up to this person and let them know that God is love, not hate…no matter what.   We taught our girls that we are a family who believes and shows love, just like God. Eric preached to her heart and we were proud that she got it.

The Schmitt girls, Hadley, Mackenzie, Anne, and Taylor, grew to be amazing women  ~ each choosing their own path and making their own mark on the world. Watching Eric and Kimi parent their daughters in a loving, caring and fun home became our example. Tom and I look to both of them as role models, providing a strong Godly foundation but allowing for their girls to truly become the women God wants them to be. Sitting amongst their family during a recent holiday Tom and I both left feeling like we wanted to be officially adopted by them ~ the entire family, new husbands/boyfriends and all.

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The Schmitt Family 

 

On the night of Oct. 20th Eric and Kimi were there almost immediately. They stood by me, watching in disbelief, the horror that was now my life. They prayed for us, our marriage and for our peace ~ they begged God to wrap His arms tightly around our hearts and, of course, he answered those prayers. Since that night they have provided us with a friendship that goes beyond words. We have found that a lot of our friendships have changed with our circumstances, our relationship with Kimi and Eric has only gotten stronger.

When our life is too much for us to handle, Tom and I often look at each other and then will call them. To have friends who love you through the hard is beyond words for me. Knowing that, no matter what, they will be there with Truth and love is extremely comforting.

On Oct. 26th Eric spoke at Anna and Abigail’s memorial, sharing God’s love for my girls with the hundreds of people who attended. His words were perfect and he reflected on our girls with such love and admiration. I have no doubt that Anna and Abigail were proud of him and cheering him on from Heaven.

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There really is no end to the stories I can tell of how Eric and Kimi have impacted our lives and how I truly appreciate their friendship. There are people to whom you do life with and then there are people whom you would never want to do life without ~ I’m not sure where I would be without them.

coast with eric kimi

Now to God’s intervening.

Earlier this summer, while Eric was sharing with me that they were planning on selling their home and moving to a neighboring town, I, without really thinking about it, suggested they should buy our townhouse. He, without hesitation, agreed.

It truly was as simple as that ~ we had come full circle. Eighteen years ago Kimi found the perfect house for me and know I was doing the same for them.

The next few months we talked about specifics, our renter was able to find a new place within days of us sharing our plan and all the pieces fell right into place.

Through this process I have come to realize that what is important are the memories that Anna and I share with one another and that we were so blessed to have our home together. Now, it’s time for someone else to have memories there, I’m just so grateful that it’s Eric and Kimi. I love that I can take Alice over for dinner and show her the place that Anna and I lived.

Kimi asked if it was ok if they put a plaque outside the door that said, “Anna’s House.” Of course I said yes.

I am true believer that God puts people into your life for all the right reasons and with perfect timing.  Since the girls went to Heaven we have noticed this more than ever, appreciating all of God’s messengers.  Eric and Kimi have been there for me, and now we, through it all. I’m sure that has been God’s plan from the beginning.

Thank you Eric and Kimi for your friendship, love and guidance. We love doing life with you!

Alice thinks your pretty fantastic too!

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Happiness Journal

Happiness is watching your dog play with a new friend.

While on a hike this morning Linus met “Bo” (not his real name) and they chased each other, played in the water and frolicked like long lost friends. Just as quickly as “Bo” appeared, he disappeared into the woods never to be seen again. We were a little sad by his departure.

On the way home Tom said he was tired of always being sad. I agreed.  We then chatted about how, even though our hearts will always have sadness and longing for our girls, it was amazing how God also has filled us with so much joy. We both agreed that our morning hike was love drenched and that “Bo” was a big part of those feelings.

Thanks Bo for joining us on our hike today, giving Linus someone to play with and allowing us to feel joy in the midst of our sadness.

Although they were not physically present this morning, Anna and Abigail were definitely with us.

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Spaces

I wrote this post in July and never published it. Since I wrote it the walls have been painted and we are all moved in (this will make sense after reading the entire post).  The transition has been a good one thanks to Abigail’s nudges of approval. I’m so glad our girls keep us close just like we keep them close.

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Her room is nearly empty waiting for a fresh coat of paint. In the corner sits a book case that will soon be the color yellow, just like she planned. On the shelves all of her favorite things.

Tom and I spent the weekend rearranging our living spaces. We knew that after Alice was born it would eventually happen but have been waiting for permission from Abigail to begin. Tom said this weekend was good so we started the painful process of going through Abigail’s belongings and cleaning up her space so we could move in. Her space, like Anna’s before Alice arrived, has pretty much gone untouched since she went to Heaven.

As we went through drawers and belongings, we cried, we laughed and we connected with our girl in Heaven. Abigail had hidden away a lot of lists ~ lists of the things she wanted to do, places she wanted to go, words that were important to her (some in other languages she wanted to learn) and a list of the people in her life and what she liked about them.

I read aloud, “Anna ~ generous, Emily ~ kind, Ben ~ generous, Susan ~ loving, sweet, kind, Mom ~ nice, loving.”

I paused, looked at Tom and read the last one, “Daddy ~ the person I love the most!”

Tom was and forever will be Abigail’s rock. When I met the two of them they were very much like Anna and I ~ inseparable. Tom was a single dad taking care of his 8 yr old daughter full time. He was working hard to provide for her and being the best dad ever. Their connection was one of the many reasons I fell in love with Tom.

I reflect often on how my heart feels missing my girls but in this moment all I could do is reflect on how Tom’s heart felt ~ he misses his girl.

Abigail adores her dad. She is his biggest fan and she stands by him through thick and thin. Even now, she nudges me towards her dad in tough times, whispering in my ear to take care of him.

Their relationship was, is and always will be beautiful.

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There were a lot of treasures found that day. It never ceases to amaze me how they come into our lives right when we need them ~ which is pretty much every second of every day❤

 

 

 

Lucky Bunnies

I can tell stories about Abigail’s bunny B-Rab ~ how he used to live in the house, how he loved to hang out with the girls in their fairy garden, how a 10 yr old Abigail decided to give her bunny to Anna and how Anna used to sit in front of the house with B-Rab in the wagon advertising, “pet B-Rab for .25.”

The girls both are taking care of B-Rab in Heaven now ~ he arrived there shortly after they did.

Yesterday the light was just right in our room so I decided to take some photos of Alice and her bunny. It’s her favorite toy and she holds it very close most of the time.

She has lots of little stuffed animals ~ dogs, cats, bears, a pelican, kangaroo and even a buffalo.

Little B-Rab is her favorite and it makes me smile.

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