Celebrating

I’ve been spending a lot of time sewing in our studio.a2 pillows

After making Abigail’s quilt square for the Threads of Life Quilt I decided that I would take the concept for the square and turn it into a pillow, Abigail’s pillow. The concept is the same as the square, the tree is one that we designed to put on the back of her favorite green sweatshirt and the leaves are made from fabric used to make pillows in her room, her favorite homemade pajamas and lots of other fun projects we have created over the years.Abigail's pillow

Of course I then created Anna’s pillow, which has a giant heart in the center made with six layers of fabric. Anna loved to draw hearts, I have hundreds around our house that she has drawn, painted, hand stitched and embellished. The fabric for the hearts came from the same fabric used to make a quilt for her crib, pillows in her room, pajamas that she wore on a regular basis and her homemade dance bag that now carries her dirty socks.Anna's pillow

I would love to eventually make and sell the pillows and put all the proceeds into the Anna and Abigail Memorial Fund. Portions of this fund will be used to build the best playground in the world in honor of my girls. We are also in the process of developing a foundation in their name which will continue to give to our community in a variety of ways. I’m still working out the details and trying to figure out how to start a foundation (I will write more about this at a later date). So much to do.  I love figuring it all out and watching as God puts the pieces and people in place to make it happen.

I’ve been so busy celebrating my girls and it feels good. I figure that if they were here I would be making their lunches, taking them to activities, listening to their stories, helping them with their homework and many other joyful parenthood responsibilities.

I would be taking care of them.

I may not be able to physically hold them now but I can hold them in my heart and celebrate them in new ways, ways that will keep their creative, energetic and lovable nature alive.

I will do this till we are together again, that is my promise to them.

I will never stop celebrating them!

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My Beautiful Girls!

A Love Story

Yesterday I had a conversation with some folks and in that conversation I brought up Little Miss Anna; I could see in their faces complete heartache and discomfort. I know a lot of people do not know how to respond to the current state of our lives; I struggled last night because of this, wondering if bringing up my girls really does cause people more pain. It doesn’t cause me pain, I love talking about Anna and Abigail.

This morning I was sharing this with Tom and we had a discussion about our lives, both before and after the girls went to Heaven. We both have the same viewpoint; we do not want our lives viewed as a tragedy but a love story.

People often say that they can’t imagine what we are going through, my response is always the same – “Don’t try”. Our hearts are heavy with not being able to be with Anna and Abigail right now but they are also filled with a tremendous amount of peace, love and joy! We have lived such an amazing life with our girls here and we have no regrets. We are focusing on the love and not the tragedy.

Someone very close to Tom and I helped me through some of my PTSD in relation to the night of October 20th by asking me what exactly happened that night. At first I said my girls died and then she said, “no, what really happened.”

On the night of October 20th, Jesus came and got my girls and HE LOVES THEM SO MUCH. When I close my eyes I can see how beautiful that must have been for them. I can only image the glory that they were witnessing at that exact moment and my heart fills with love and joy thinking about it!

Our life is not a tragedy but a love story and I will always talk about my girls and share that love story with anyone who wants to listen.

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Hope

I once heard a sermon years ago where the Pastor, a dear friend of mine, talked about our life on earth. He said that our lives here were a dot on a continuous line. I remember thinking, a dot, that’s it, that’s all we have. At that moment my hope was in my life on earth and not in eternity. Over the years I have come to realize the importance of this sermon and have found solace in the fact that our lives on earth are indeed a dot.

Since October 20th I’ve thought more about those words and what it means to me. I have also witnessed many people whose ability to understand what happened to my girls is caught up in the fact that their hope is of this world and not eternal. I can understand that if you only live for your life here on earth that my girls have then just vanished.

Taken from this world to soon. Gone. Never to be seen again.

I would assume also that the emptiness that you would feel from this tragedy would be extremely intense and hopeless. You may feel regret of all that you did not do or say and wonder how you will ever make it through another day knowing you will not EVER see, hear or feel them again.

My hope is not of this world. My hope is eternal. My girls did not vanish they simply relocated to Heaven, to soon I will add, but that is where they are. They are in eternity and someday I will be there too. This brings a smile my face in a time I should not be smiling.

My grief is mine and I walk with it every single minute of every day for the rest of my days here on earth.

This walk is hard, taking my breath away at times.

I will say though, my grief is comforted by the hope that exist in eternity. I know that one day I will yell my girls names and they will come running to me in Heaven. I will see them, hear them and feel them again. That day will be so amazing.

I know, without any doubt in my mind, this to be true.

For now though, while I am living in the dot, I will remain grateful to God for his grace, I will share his love with others and I will live a life that will honor Anna and Abigail and make them proud.

My hope is eternal and one day we will be together again!

Dieter Family Vacation in Traverse City Michigan 2012

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Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. ~ Romans 5:2-5

Proud

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The mail comes mid-day and lately we have lots of it. Cards, medical bills and all the usual junk mail. Yesterday we got a letter from the PNTB, Pacific Northwest Transplant Bank. We have been receiving letters from them thanking us for our donation and welcoming us to the “Donation Family,” a family we are very proud to be part of.

A couple of weeks ago we received a little box with a letter inside telling us that both of Abigail’s kidneys, her liver, and one cornea were successfully transplanted. We got a little description of the individuals that received these organs and tissue but nothing specific.

Yesterday we got our first letter from a recipient of one of Abigail’s kidneys. The letter was beautiful and talked about renewed life and how he will never forget what was given to him. He thanked us with all of his heart – he was so grateful! There was also a letter from another family member which described what happened during the week of Oct. 21st. How they received a call from their cousin, the recipient, on their way home from a Bible study. They wrote about how their cousin had to get to Portland by 8 am on the 24th, the morning after Abigail left for surgery.

They talked about how this donation was an answer to prayer and how much they prayed for the donor’s family, they prayed for us!  They said they are living through everyone’s prayers – just like how we are living through everyone’s prayers. Tom and I cried. Abigail saved someone’s life, she gave someone hope for a brighter future.

I remember thinking as I was saying good-bye to her that someone was getting that call they’ve been waiting for. That a family was happy because their family member was getting a new lease on life. I remember those thoughts comforting me while I was kissing her forehead for the last time. She was such a giver and she now has given the ultimate gift. We are so proud of her and we are so looking forward to meeting the individuals that she blessed with her organs.

When we meet, I will tell them about my girl and what her life was like. I will tell them about how she had so many friends and family members that loved and adored her. I will tell them how she was never afraid to try something new, she was so adventurous. I will tell them how creative she was and how our lives are now filled with her beautiful creations. I will tell them everything about her…I will tell them they are so blessed to have a little piece of her because she was truly AMAZING!

As a parent you never think that making a decision to donate your child’s organs is one you will have to make. Making the decision for our daughter was emotional, but not hard because we know that if Abigail was asked, she would have made the same decision. This choice of giving life is Abigail’s ultimate legacy and for those who were gifted, we will forever feel a connection. They are our family now too.

I am so proud to be Abigail’s mom. I look forward to the day when we are together again <3.

Update (10/23/2017)

It has been 4 years since I wrote this post about the day Abigail gave the ultimate gift of life. Since then we have received a letter from her other kidney recipient and have had the opportunity to meet her liver recipient.  We also found out this past year that her pulmonary valve was given to a young girl in California which ultimately saved her life.  Her gift of life continues and we are so proud of her and her little sister!

If you are reading this and are considering being a donor, here are a few links that will give you more information.

Donate Life Northwest:   http://www.donatelifenw.org/

Donate Life:  http://donatelife.net/


Abigail Donation