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.

“Alone Time”

Alice and Tom are asleep upstairs. When she awakes in the early morning hours he takes her upstairs so I can sleep, uninterrupted, for a couple of hours. When I get up I usually find them asleep in the rocking chair.

Tom and Alice sleeping

I whisper, “are you good?”

With eyes closed, he smiles and nods yes.

My heart melts.

With some time left on my “alone time” clock here I sit, blank page in front of me.

To left of my computer I have my favorite picture of Anna and I ~ cheeks pressed closely together (our favorite photo pose). It was taken the 3 days before she went to Heaven.

I’m glad I didn’t know that was going to be our last photo together.

cheeks

Photograph by Nicole Zena Photography

I was getting photos taken of Sampson and I knew I wanted some of the three of us, the way it was in the beginning ~ Mama, daughter and their big old dog.

Sampson was getting old and struggled getting in and out of the car. It was his last adventure away from the house and I knew we had to make it a good one. We brought a loaf of bread because we both knew that he would do anything for bread. Anna picked off pieces trying to get him to look in the direction of the camera. I can still hear her laughing because a loaf of bread was definitely more than enough to keep his focus.

I can still hear her laughing.

I look at our photo everyday and I can still feel her face pressed against mine. I can still hear her laughter as she danced around holding a chunk of bread. Sometimes I worry about the time that has passed since this photo was taken. I worry that one day I  will no longer hear her or remember how she feels. That wave of fear knocks me off my feet and brings me to my knees.

In those moments I beg God to never allow that day to come. I beg Him to always allow her and her sister to be close and for me to remember and feel.

Today, I hear her laughter and I am grateful.

 

Back Together

taylor swiftI would be downstairs and I could hear the music start from up in Anna’s room loud and clear. A few minutes later the music was drowned out by her singing at the top of her lungs.

“We are never, ever, ever, getting back together
We (WHEE!) are never, ever, ever, getting back together
You go talk to your friends talk to my friends talk to me
But we (WHEE!) are never, ever, ever, getting back together”

Who was my little girl  singing to with such passion in her voice? Who was she never getting back together with and when was she with someone?

I went upstairs and peaked into her room and there she was dancing, singing and being so joyful all while sporting a scarf and a pair of “cool” sunglasses. She had no idea what she was singing just that she liked the rhythm and was able to memorize the lyrics. I smiled, and instead of turning it off, I decided to appreciate Taylor Swift for all of her good values, morals and for what she was doing for my daughter ~ she was bringing Anna joy.

Anna only played her Taylor Swift CD ~ that was her favorite and a gift from her big sister. She would listen to it over and over again, always pushing the back button to repeat her favorite, We are Never Getting Back Together, singing that one the loudest and with the most passion. Sometimes she would venture out of her room and sing her way down the stairs, always waiting for me to come and give her a wink or smile. I think she wanted me to be part of her concert.

I knew that one day Taylor Swift would be coming to town, or close to town, and that her concert would be our first together. I knew she would be so excited to see her live ~ when I close my eyes I can see her expression of joy in finding out she was going and I can see the look of excitement on her face as Taylor walks out on stage for her first number. We would buy t-shirts, a program and sing every song together, word for word. Well, she would sing them word for word and probably correct me when I messed up. The thought of this experience with her always made my heart happy ~ I couldn’t wait.

Anna glasses

The time has come and tomorrow night I’m going to see Taylor Swift in Seattle with some of Anna and Abigail’s friends and their moms. I am so appreciative that they have included Anna and I in this experience even though it will be hard. I will get a t-shirt, a program and maybe even a poster for Anna’s room. With tears in my eyes, I will sing each song, word for word, at the top of my lungs for my girl. I know, without a doubt,  she will be there with me, and although I won’t see her I will feel her joy ~ I know I will.

Experiencing life without my girls is extremely hard but I make the choices I do because in them I feel my girls presence. Often, in grief, we want to shut down and avoid the deep pain of absence. Somedays I don’t want to feel it anymore ~ staying in bed with a pillow of my head sounds so much nicer than facing  yet another day without Anna and Abigail.

I have found though, that in the midst of my deep pain there is another emotion that I feel even more deeply when I choose to open my eyes to Heaven and allow myself to see the possibilities it holds ~ I feel JOY.  If I closed myself off to “life” with my girls then I would never experience the joy they feel in Heaven. I think that is God’s gift to me in the midst of my suffering ~ a glimpse of the unimaginable joy they feel in eternity. So I choose to get out bed and experience life as it would be if my girls were physically here.

I’m going to our first concert together and it’s her favorite ~ Talyor Swift.

When I get to Heaven I know she will thank me for taking her and for not hiding and I will thank her for being there with me ~ always.

WE WILL BE BACK TOGETHER!
us 1

 

Flutter

I remember the first time I realized the flutter in my belly was actually Anna moving around. It was the first time I felt a life growing inside of me. I smile at the memory of lying in my bed, hands on my belly, realizing that I was going to be a mom ~ Anna’s mom.

Years later, while cuddling her in bed, we would talk about how she was the only one that had ever heard my heartbeat from the inside. She loved that fact and so did I.

Last night I felt the flutter, it was subtle but I know it’s our little one stretching, moving, and if it’s anything like Tom, dancing. This little one can also hear my heartbeat from the inside. I’m sure that Anna feels honored to share this with her little brother or sister.

There are times in our lives when our journey or life circumstances create a realization in our hearts and minds that may not have been realized if things were different. I have to be honest and say I would trade my life circumstances any day and stay in the dark about many things that have been brought to light since the girls went to Heaven ~ unfortunately I don’t get to choose.

I have witnessed the life cycle of my child. I was there when she took her first breath and I arrived, to a scene no one should ever experience, shortly after she took her last.

I remember holding her little hand for the first time, amazed at the fact that my body helped create this little being ~ I knew right then she was going to teach me so much about life.

I, unfortunately, also have the memory of holding Anna’s hand in the funeral home ~ her body no longer breathing life and I knew right then that my girl was also going to teach me so much about what happens when a life, as we know it, ends.

It was there I was enlightened.

It was there that my deep deep suffering was accompanied by a tremendous peace ~ a peace that should not come to a mother experiencing the loss of her children. A peace, that to this day, I sometimes struggle to fully understand.

It was there when I realized that Anna and Abigail were not gone but rather holding us in a blanket of hope. Their physical bodies, the ones we created, were gone but their souls were very much alive.

It was there that I opened my eyes to the gift that God was giving me, the realization that Anna and Abigail were not ours for the keeping but rather His and in opening my heart fully to this He gave me the gift of their eternal presence which I feel daily through my peace.

Last night, as I felt the flutter, I was enlightened once again by the gift of a little soul wrestling around inside of me. Tom and I created the body but God, He placed the soul for us to nurture, care for and love until it’s time for it to go Home.

Drawing in my Bible

There are mornings when it seems I can’t quite make it happen. I’ve got orders to process, emails to write, a dog begging for a walk, a blog post to ponder over or I just simply,  choose not to. I know it should always be my first priority and when I do start my day off in the Word it always helps my hurting heart. It never ceases to amaze me that, when I make the choice to start my day off in prayer and in the Word, the words that I read are exactly what I need to hear.

It’s always as though God is whispering His truth into my soul.

About a month ago I was meandering through Pinterest, just for fun, and came across a pin which lead me to this website ~ Illustrated Faith. This site then lead me down a creative adventure of the world of art journaling in your bible.

I immediately got online, ordered a journaling bible, some water-soluble pastels and pulled out all my watercolors, markers and colored pencils I had stashed in our studio.

I knew that what I had found was the a key to unlocking the creative side of my faith. I love to draw and be creative but often find excuses of why I don’t have time. Being creative is what I did with the girls ~ Tuesday art night, weeks of having the dining room tabled piled high with art supplies, our own art studio equipped with everything you need to create.

I miss my creative partners.

About a week ago my journaling bible was finally delivered. I cleared a space at the end of our dinning room table and set up a little creative space for myself. All my supplies within arms reach and photos, that I usually keep in my bible, out where I can see them.

For the past week I have faithfully spent time sitting, reflecting, reading and listening to His whispers. I then create in my bible what I feel moved to create. Sometimes it’s taking a scripture that really speaks to me and rewriting it in the margin. Sometimes it’s illustrating how the words look and feel in my mind and heart. Sometimes it’s just underlining and highlighting my favorite scriptures. It really has been very organic and has nicely woven my interest of art with my passion for listening to God and reading His Word.

I may still have excuses some mornings of being too busy to make it to this space, but I really feel that being introduced to this method of studying the bible is yet another nudge from Heaven to keep me anchored in the Word.

Following His nudges have never failed me and being creative at our dining room table connects me to my two all-time favorite artists!

bible journaling 2