How many more sleeps?

This post was originally posted in March of 2014 and reposted today because I miss my travel partners.

plane

“How many more sleeps till Nana’s house?” The question asked hundreds of times in past 7 years.

Anna would always be so excited about our pending trips back to Ohio. She loved visiting Nana and Papa, so much that as a toddler she would announce to the entire plane “We’re in Ohio”, upon landing in Cleveland.

During these many trips across the county we developed some really fun games, learned how to not kick the seat in front of us and found that novel toys and new Wonder Pet videos were the key to a day of traveling. We also had many discussions about what the “little bag” was for. Anna, in her 7 years, never once got sick. For her the barf bag was more of a means to make an awesome hand puppet to entertain her Mama.

In 2011 Abigail, Anna and I made a trip to Ohio for spring break. I knew that it was going to be one of many trips back East that the three of us would take during this time. I promised the girls that we would try to get back every year during the Spring to see family and to go on a little adventure together. They loved that idea. In the Fall we were already planning our March visit to Nana and Papa’s new house.

During that very first trip I knew that Abigail was a little nervous. She had never really flown without her dad before and although she was really comfortable with Anna and I, I knew that she was probably going to get a little home sick. I felt so blessed to have her with us and to introduce her as my daughter. Anna was excited to show her Nana’s house and to introduce her to Isabella.

On the first leg of our trip all was going according to plan until Abigail looked at me, a little green, and said she wasn’t feeling well. I knew this was going to turn from a joyous plan ride to a smelly, yucky, barforama real quick. I can deal with a lot of stuff but one thing I can’t deal with is someone throwing up, not even my own kid. So here I am, in a very confined space about to experience something I knew was going to make me gag. I was hoping she was just imagining that she was sick, you know when kids just feel a little woozy and nothing really happens. This was definitely not the case as she was starting to convulse a bit. I looked at Anna, eyes wide and said, “quick Anna, give me the barf bag.” Anna promptly reached into the pocket in front of her and grabbed the hand puppet, I mean barf bag.

I put it up to Abigail’s face and, as she held it, I rubbed her back saying a little prayer, “please God, don’t let me barf.” Abigail did get sick but I never saw it, everything went into the bag. When she was all done she looked at me and said, “I feel much better.”

Sometimes that’s all it takes.

I was so proud of her that I stuck out my hand and gave her a high-five along with telling her she was a rock star. We all laughed and continued to give the high fives every time we retold the heroic story of how we, all three of us, worked as a team to make sure the barf went in the bag.

I’m smiling as I type, thinking that my girls are giving each other a high-five as I retell the story.

Our first trip back East as a threesome was amazing. My family loved Abigail as their own and the cousins bonded as if they knew each other since day one.  My heart was full each night as Abigail would give my dad a big hug and say, “good night Papa.” I know his heart was full of love too.

We did have some issues with delays on the way back home but ended up in a fancy hotel in Chicago. Every trip since then my girls would pray that we would have delays so we could jump on the beds in Chicago again. Such great memories of our adventures together.

spring 18 spring 6spring 32 spring 13 spring 21spring 30

This week my heart has been heavy. I’ve been struggling to pinpoint the cause, worried that maybe it was due to bringing Linus into our lives to soon. I’ve talked with friends about their spring break plans, I’ve watched the weather change as the sun beams through our windows and sensed the spring fairies presence as I watch the tulips and daffodils starting to take form in the front yard.

This morning the reason for my heavy heart dawned on me.

This week, Anna would be asking over and over, “how many more sleeps Mama till we go to Ohio?” I would be replying in single digits. We would be dusting off the suitcases and I know that both girls would have a pile of their favorite clothes sitting neatly on the floor waiting to be packed. They would ask if I was secretively putting together a goody bag for the plane and secretively I would be.  They would want to sleep in the same room, something they loved to do when something exciting was approaching.

We would all be so excited!

My heart is heavy because I want to hear Anna ask, “how many more sleeps Mama?”

100_0258

Photo taken by Anna on a trip to Ohio.

As for bringing Linus into our lives too soon. He is our healer sent from God and I truly know this to be the case. As my heart is heavy, he fills it with Joy. I’ve watch all week how this little guy has brought happiness to those he comes in contact with. Our community, our close friends and especially Anna and Abigail’s friends needed Linus. We needed Linus. He brings a smile to everyone that comes in contact with him and that brings a smile to my face.

I just wish my girls could snuggle with him, he’s a good snuggler and so are my girls.

Crossroads

crossroads.jpg

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.

Anna’s President

Anna was two years old when President Obama took office. I remember sitting watching the inauguration with her thinking that she would grow up with Obama as her president. I was pleased with this fact because I knew he was good man, good father and was someone who was going to run our country with integrity.  I also was proud to know that with my vote, along with many others in our country, the first African-American president was elected.

I’m sure, like many, I was emotional watching his very first speech that day and found myself chanting, “yes we can” and dancing around the room with Anna. I knew in my heart that positive change was on the horizon for our country and it felt so good.

A couple of months later, after spending a day with her dad, Anna returned home with a new baby under her arm. Her granny had found it for her and Anna was smitten with her new addition. We sat that afternoon talking about her little one and, as I did with all of her dolls, I asked her what her baby’s name was.

She looked at me with proud mama eyes and then shouted, “Baby Obama.”

I smiled, gave little Baby Obama a kiss on the forehead and welcomed him into our family.

baby-obama

Anna and Baby Obama

 

I have an unsettling feeling in my gut this week. You know, the one you get when something really good is about to end. I’m not going claim that I know everything about politics or that every decision President Obama made while in office was perfect, he wouldn’t even claim that.  What I will say is, as a mother, I am proud that Barack Obama was my daughter’s president, a man who did lead our country with integrity.  This statement holds a lot a weight in my heart because he is the only president she ever knew.

On Friday night I think I may hold onto Baby Obama and his Aunt Alice for a while and daydream about the day Anna and I danced around our family room singing “yes we can.”  So mI will also continue to believe in the power of love and hold onto the hope that President Obama talked so eloquently about last week during his last speech to our nation.

President Obama was not only Anna’s president but he was mine and he and his wife will forever be role models for me as a parent and as an American.

I’m praying for our country and it’s leadership.

Home on Heaven Day

girls fav. blog.png

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 

rainbow-over-tree-ldl

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 ❤

 

1, 2, 3

Planning Anna's birthday

October 17, 2013

Anna was so proud of herself. She sat in the backseat and read aloud while we traveled to our destination. It was our “date night” and we were both very excited to be alone together ~ we had a birthday to plan and milkshakes to drink.

1, 2, 3  ~ I am happy!

She flipped the page and continued,

4, 5, 6 ~  I am happy! 

I could hear another flip of her Hello Kitty notepad that she loved to carry in her purse.

7, 8, 9 ~ I am happy! 

I remember thinking how old she was getting (almost 7), writing words all by herself and reading her poem to me.

10 ~ I am happy!

When I close my eyes I can still hear her ~ it’s as though she is sitting next to me whispering in my ear. The sound of her sweet voice saying how happy she was and is now in Heaven.

1, 2, 3 ~ I miss you Anna!

dsc_0335

Poem by Anna Dieter-Eckerdt Ring by Lisa Leonard Designs

Permission

For two years the hardest place for me to go in our house is Anna’s closet. It was where she spent a lot of her time – which may sound very strange but it’s almost big enough to be a room on it’s own. It was not only her closet but her office, apartment, Baby Mary’s room and her hang out spot.  I have beautiful memories of both the girls playing house together in this space. Anna would be so thrilled to be “hanging out” with her older sister and Abigail was thrilled to be “playing” with her younger sister.

This space has gone untouched for two years.

I’ve been spending some time thinking about where to put our little one’s clothes. She is sharing a room with her big sister Anna but, after we made that decision, I also decided that the closet would be off limits, that’s Anna’s space. This morning, my nesting instincts in high gear, I found myself at a loss on where to store this littles belongings.

I then heard her faint whisper, “Mom, it’s ok she can use my closet.”

It was so clear that I yelled to Tom that Anna just gave me permission to use her sacred space for her sister. We both cried.

This morning I have been in Anna’s closet longer than I have in the past two years. I cleaned it, reorganized some of her things, put away things I know that she wouldn’t want her sister to get into (yet) and then made some room so that they can share this sacred space.

While cleaning out drawers and looking through half used notebooks I found new treasures which made it so clear to me why today, of all days, Anna whispered in my ear.

Today my daughter, once again, gave me reassurance that Heaven is so close and that both my girls will be very present when their little sister arrives home.

closet