Crossroads

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Two weeks ago I sat here staring at a blank post, wanting desperately for the time I needed to write. I didn’t want to think about how long my little one would be napping or whether I should be checking things off my to do list. What I wanted more than anything was to connect with my grief and longing in the way I used to. I wanted to sit and wait for the words to come without trying to force the words out because I was pressed for time. My heart felt extremely overwhelmed.

Since the girls went to Heaven I have used this space as a way to connect with our memories as a family, share my heart through my grief and also share how, even in the deepest of suffering, my faith in God has allowed me to have joy. Through this space I have connected with so many people who have broken hearts just like mine, and I have always felt that sharing our story of love, hope and faith is something I should do for the rest of my days. God gives me peace each morning and I feel compelled to share that peace with others.

In the past couple of months I have also been feeling a nudge to share more of myself and my journey as a mom of a little one. Again, I have struggled finding the time to write and figure out how to merge both my present and my past together in words.

Two weeks ago as I sat staring at a blank post I came to a crossroads: do I stop writing in this space and ask God for peace in that decision or ask God to show me what I need to do to continue to write and share our journey, which now includes life with a little one?

I sat and prayed.

Later that same day, not expecting an answer so quickly, I saw a post by a friend of mine. She is a managing editor of a blog that is looking for new contributors.  Portland Moms Blog is a space to foster and support the community by connecting Portland-area moms to information and parenting perspectives unique to the city and region. Basically it is a collection of moms writing about mothering from their own unique and diverse perspectives, all living in the Portland metro area.

I sent a message to my friend asking if she felt it was something I could do. Her response was, “OMG, you SHOULD!!!”

Later that night the fear and anxiety of not being a good enough writer started to take space in my thoughts. I started to question how I would have time as a scheduled contributor when I didn’t have time to write on my own time for my own blog. I started to doubt and let that fear of the unknown make my decision for me.

Then it hit me. This wasn’t my decision at all. I had asked God for guidance and He was giving it to me. I just needed to trust that the door He was opening and be obedient. That is when the peace came and I thought about the mom that is out there suffering in the same way that I suffer. The mom, like me, that couldn’t relate to a mom’s blog because “those moms” still had all their babies. It became so clear to me that our story of grief is not the only story of grief in this area and that in writing in this new space I can give grieving moms a voice.

In trusting Him I know that I will also be able to find the time, find the words and share my story in a way that honors, not only my mothering, but the many other woman that mother through a broken heart as well.

Today I am honored to say that I am now a contributor to the Portland Moms Blog. I have no idea where this new venture will lead me but I do know that it is an answer to prayer.

Last Sunday there was a gathering of the contributors and leadership team of PMB. As I sat amongst these woman I couldn’t help but be grateful for the opportunity to not only meet them but also share stories of mothering with them <3.

Home on Heaven Day

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Three years ago today my girls went home.

I’m sure for them there was some shock and disbelief, going to Heaven wasn’t part of our family plan ~ not yet anyways. When I close my eyes and think about where my girls are now I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of peace through my deep pain ~ my girls are in the presence of God.

And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.  Philippians 4:7

In the moment they entered Heaven I know that God opened up His loving arms and held my girls for a very long time ~ He’s still holding them (and us ❤ ). They were now physically separated from Tom, myself and everyone they love and I know that they were probably worried about all of us. I know that there is protection when little ones go to Heaven, protection from seeing our suffering. Anna and Abigail  I know see the whole picture of their love and joy before them – they have a front row seat to God’s glory playing out.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. Romans 8:18

I daydream about Heaven all the time now.

In my daydreams I think about Anna, my little nurturer. Knowing her heart and her love for little ones I have no doubt that one of her responsibilities in Heaven is to hold new babies as they enter. When I close my eyes I can see her beautiful smile as she looks down at these infants, lost too soon to this world, but taken care of by my girl. That is a perfect job for Anna, her own Heavenly childcare. I also know that she has her sights on her little sister, Alice. I’m waiting for the day that Alice shares her secrets from Anna with me.

As for Abigail, well, I can say that she is probably keeping everyone smiling, performing in some way for everyone around her. Abigail also, I’m sure, is keeping her loved ones here very close. She always wanted her family to be happy and “ok.” If you personally know her and think you hear or feel her presence don’t doubt that one bit…I often hear her whispering,  “take care of my dad, Susan.”

Today, on Anna and Abby’s 3rd Heaven Day, will you close your eyes and daydream about Heaven with me and open up your heart to God’s love and joy? Choosing to trust Him with all of my heart the day my girls entered Heaven, not only has given me strength, but also has opened my eyes to a place that is so beautiful and filled with an abundance of love and joy.

This place, Heaven, is where my girls call home.

Those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.   Isaiah 40:31 

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I have set my rainbow in the clouds, and it will be the sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  Genesis 9:13

Thank you all so much for your love, prayers and support. Our family is so fortunate to have such an amazing community, near and far, that have chosen to join us in honoring our girls by loving others.

Love and Joy ❤

 

Abby Style

Abs and friendsI remember worrying about them on the night my daughters went to Heaven. I remember asking God to hold them and comfort them. I remember my heart aching for their loss ~ my loss.

I remember wondering if these children would ever be the same after something so tragic invaded their lives. I cried for them because they would wake up and not have my girls to call, to tell secrets to, to talk about life with, to laugh with and to celebrate with all the milestones they had yet to encounter. They were all so little and life was so hard.

When we were in the hospital waiting for Abigail’s organs to be matched a group of her friends came to visit and say goodbye. As we were gathered around her bed I pulled back the covers to show them her mismatched brightly painted toenails ~ I wanted them to know that she was still there beyond the machines that were helping her breath. Through our heartache we all smiled, laughed and told stories about how she loved to sit and paint each nail like a work of art ~ something we now call Abby Style. I remember how my heart felt as I saw each of them trying to make sense of what was happening. I remember wanting to take their pain away. I remember wanting for the nightmare to end and for us all to wake up. I remember holding her toes and being so grateful for her artistic ability.

I am so grateful for the friendships Anna and Abby have ~ as a mom that is one thing I wanted for my children, to have solid friendships and to know what it felt like to love and  be loved by friends. My girls have both and those friendships have truly transcended through the toughest of circumstances.

This weekend two of Abigail’s dearest friends, Savannah and Grace, came over to help me with her quilt square for the Donate Life Threads for Life Quilt. These girls have become involved with Donate Life in honor of their friend and have been helping to share her donation story with their classmates, inspiring them to become a registered donor.

These two girls mean more to me than I think they could ever know. They have made a connection with Tom and I on a level that helps us stay connected with where Abigail would be at this moment in time. This connection is not due to pity or obligation, but rather is one based purely on the love they feel for their friend. When they hug Tom and I we not only feel their arms wrapped tightly around us but we also feel Abigail’s arms.  I have a feeling that they would say the same thing about hugging us…they feel Abigail too.

After doing some sewing they went to their friend’s room, sat on her bed like teenagers do, and reminisced about the good old days when life wasn’t so hard.

The door was shut so I couldn’t hear what was said and that is exactly the way Abigail would have wanted it.

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Thank you Savannah and Grace for loving Abigail with your whole heart and for loving her parents just the same. She is so lucky to have you both. Love you ❤

 

Heaven Day

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Came out of our house this morning to this ❤

Last night I slept the entire night (which is not normal for me these days) and woke up feeling totally covered in prayer.

Thank you ❤

The anticipation of a day is sometimes the hardest when dates on the calendar have meaning ~ holidays, changing of a season, birthdays and Heaven Day.

Heaven Day ~ a date on the calendar that marks that we are another year closer to our girls.

The past 2 years have flown by…I truly feel like it was just yesterday Abigail was picking out Tom’s clothes for church and Anna and I were making waffles for breakfast. I’m grateful that those memories are still so vivid and that they feel so close.

I was told early on that year 2 was the hardest. We are through year 2 and I can say that it’s all been pretty hard. The longing in my heart for Anna and Abigail will never change and/or ease ~ never. What I can say is that in choosing to love, in choosing to celebrate their lives and take all of the focus off the negative and put it all on how beautiful my girls are (not were), both inside and out, keeps them here with us.

Shortly after they went to Heaven I had a tremendous fear that one day they would just go away. That I would have to say goodbye for good and that I would be expected to move on.  My fear was that someone someday would say, “Susan, it’s time.”

I made a commitment to the girls and to myself  that I would not do that, ever, I promised them that their legacy would be far-reaching and I would do everything I could to hold them tight for as long as we were apart. I am sure that in Heaven, seeing the whole picture, they have no expectations for me. Being their mom, which will never change, I will always take care of them ~ I can’t imagine ever “moving on” from that.

On the morning of Oct. 20, 2013 I was proud of my girls for the young ladies they were becoming. I remember feeling so blessed to have such a beautiful, loving and caring family. I remember daydreaming about what they would do in their lives and who they would become.

This morning, Oct. 20, 2015, I am still proud but in ways I would have never imagined.  Anna and Abigail have shown me what it means to truly love and to do so without expectations. They have been a light and a link to the Hope that we all can have through God.

One day there will be an Oct. 20th when we are all together in Heaven seeing the whole picture and feeling the purest of love and joy there is.

I can’t wait for that day!!!

Thank you all again for your constant love, support and prayers. We truly feel blessed by each and every one of you ❤ heaven day

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.

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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!