Linus the Healer

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No words today just a photo of two girls, Anna and Abigail’s best buds, holding Linus. Can’t help but look at these three and think about how much my girls would love this fluff ball. Linus is definitely here for a reason and I’m sure it’s to heal a lot of broken hearts.

Love seeing all of these smile!

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Big Bev

When I was little I had an imaginary friend named Laurie, no relation to my best friend Laurie. My imaginary friend Laurie was a couple years older than me and wore her hair in a bee hive hair do. She also wore 50’s style clothing, something I think I got from watching to much Happy Days throughout my childhood. If I close my eyes I can still see her.

I remember talking to her when times were rough and feeling that she was the only person that understood me. I don’t think about her much anymore or at least I didn’t until Anna started talking to Bev.

Bev was Anna’s imaginary friend. There were actually two friends, Big Bev and Little Bev. When asked, Anna could give a full description of what the Bevs were up to at any given moment. When asked she would pause, look up to the sky as though she was in deep thought and then give you a play-by-play of what Big Bev and Little Bev were doing.

Big Bev and Little Bev traveled back and forth to Ohio with us, played with Anna in her room, sat with us at the dinner table and were always in the car with us when traveling to and from Tami’s house. They were a constant in our lives when Anna was 3 years old but remained a topic of discussion well past her toddler years. After blending our families, the older siblings loved to ask Anna about Bev to see what she would come up with. Abigail once said that her “friends” and Anna’s were traveling in Africa together. I’m sure my “friend” Laurie was with them too.

This video is one of many bath time interviews Anna and I did while it was just the two of us. She had so much to say and I am so happy I got a lot of it on video. I loved asking her questions and hearing her thoughts.

https://vimeo.com/88817051

After the girls went to Heaven my dear friend Amy came from Pennsylvania to be with us. Amy’s husband is in the military,  and when our kids were babies, Wil was stationed in Iraq for a year. During that time Amy and I would talk on the phone two or more times per day and discussed the happenings of our little ones and the joys and struggles of being a single parent.  I’m not sure what I would have done without Amy during this period of my life. Being a single parent is hard but when you have a dear friend to share it with, it makes it fun. We would call for absolutely no reason other than to hear another adult speak. I cherish those phone conversations with my dear friend.

A couple of days after Anna and Abigail’s memorial service Amy and I sat in the car talking. We started sharing memories about Anna’s friend, Big Bev  Amy then pulled out a little medallion, the St Theresa Medal, that was given to her by a co-worker to give to me. The co-worker insisted that I have it and at the time Amy thought maybe it was a little strange that this woman, who doesn’t know me, was sending her with a gift. Her co-worker, Bev, told her that she thought it was important for me to have it. This precious medallion now sits on the nightstand next to my bed. It’s amazing how a kind gesture from a total stranger can have so much meaning. I’m sure there was a higher power orchestrating the exchange and I can’t help but wonder if Anna is hanging out with her friend Bev now. I wonder if she really looks like me. 

Student of the Month

abigail graceThis morning I went to the Student of the Month Assembly at Abigail’s school. I was invited by her dear friend Grace because she was chosen for student of the month. I am honored she asked and feel blessed to be able to be a part of her celebrations. I loved looking across the gym and making eye contact with her, both of us feeling joy to be in each other’s lives.

During the assembly I stood next to Abigail’s teacher and felt her love and support; being in that space was very difficult for me and she knew that. October 17th was the last time I was at an all-school assembly, Abigail was participating in a dance-off and won. Unfortunately I didn’t see her dance (although I do have a video of it now) but did see her excitement when announced as the winner. Of course I was proud and smiled knowing her dad would be so happy that all those late night dance parties paid off.

I was standing by the exit door when her teacher lead the kids out of gym and I could see that Abigail was surprised to see me at first, her school was not typically one that I taught at. As a sixth grader, Abigail’s reaction to me was a little different than Anna’s. She was out of the running, hugging and kissing phase. I told her that I wouldn’t embarrass her too much if I ever saw her at school; so I gave her a smile and walked over to her and her friends. She hugged me, and told me with pride that she just won the dance off. She was excited to see me and my heart was happy.

Today I stood in the gym looking around at Abigail’s world. A world she loved to be in. She loved her school, she loved her friends, she loved her teacher and I know that she would have gotten student of the month this year. I know, because I asked and her teacher said she would have.

So proud of my Abigail and Grace!

Thank you Miss Grace for letting me be part of your world, for being a role model to Anna and best friend to Abigail. You are truly a blessing to our entire family. Love you!

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The Playground

We would sit every night at the dinner table talking about our day. Tom and Abigail on one side of the table and Anna and I on the other. Anna often needed to be reminded to stay seated, always finding a reason to get up and get something that was forgotten. Abigail liked to pick through her food, no mushrooms, onions or cooked carrots for her even if they were hidden deep inside that nights concoction. Our conversations were about friends, work, playdates and school. I loved this time during the day, everything slowed down as we shared a meal together. When we were almost done with dinner the plans for after dinner activities started to formulate: board games, dance parties and, more often than not, heading over to the District Office park for some hot lava tag.

After clearing the table and helping with dishes the girls would head over to Jacob and Michael’s house to see if they could play. After we finished the final touches of cleaning up the kitchen and tea was made, Tom and I would then make our way over to the play structure where we would find kids hanging, sliding and running from the “lava monster”, who was trying to tag someone while keeping their own feet on the ground. If the monster felt lucky they could hop up and try to tag someone as quickly as they could, only having 5 seconds, which was being counted off by all of the monster’s prey. Lots of laughter, and sometimes the occasional declaration of not feeling the game was fair, was heard by all the neighbors that lived around the park. So many good times were had in this space, the District Office playground, or what we like to call “our yard.”

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Yesterday afternoon Tom and I met with a group of Anna and Abigail’s friends to begin planning the playground remodel. With tears in my eyes I told the kids that we needed their help to figure out what we should build. Their task was to draw their ideal playground, keeping Anna and Abigail close to mind while doing so. “Pie in the sky” I told them, whatever they would like to see – put that down on paper.

The talk around the table consisted of what my girls like to do while playing on the playground. Anna liked to swing, spin and climb. Abigail liked to play tag and “hang out” with her friends.  Both girls loved being outside. One theme that emerged from a lot of the drawings was the idea of a giant tree with slides and zip lines coming from the top. There were some cool water features, rock walls and lots of ropes to hang from. I wish we could create every single drawing but I know that, when the kids sit down at the next meeting, with assistance from my new friend Martha and my dear friend Tom Gamble, they will begin to see their ideas merge together and begin to become a reality.

The thought of incorporating their friends into this process has been there from the beginning when we first thought this would be a perfect way of honoring our girls in their community. Tom and I could have gone through the books and picked out what we thought the girls would love but having the kids, Anna and Abigail’s playmates, be part of the process seemed to be a way to honor their friendships. Our girls have a lot of friends and they meant the world to them.

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Photos taken by: Emma Gaty

This process of healing, engulfing yourself in meaningful purposeful work (thank you Amy), is what I find helps me through some of my emptiest times without my girls. Being able to provide this type of process to their friends feels good and also gives them an outlet to celebrate their friendships with Anna and Abigail. I’m already looking forward to our next meeting where we dig into the books and start piecing all their ideas together.

We are not just building a play structure but giving the whole park a makeover, ideas include a larger picnic area for community potlucks, birthday parties or for pre-teens to “hang-out”; decorated animal cut-outs that will line the fence, poles with long ribbon streamers to blow in the wind and a more universal surface so that all kids can access the play space. These are just a few ideas we’ve had and I’m sure there will be more that come from the kids.

We are striving to make it the best community park EVER!

We are so grateful for all the support we have already received for this project.  If you are interested in helping or being part of this project in any way please send me a message at alovedrenchedlife@gmail.com so I can get you on our email list.

We are amazed daily at the love and support we receive from our community. We are hoping that this park will not only honor our girls but give back to the community that has supported us through this journey.