Finish Line

Every year about this time I get an email asking if I want to purchase my Hippie Chick Run photos from previous years. The Hippie Chick was a run that Anna and I did together. I would run the 10k and she would meet me just before the finish line ~ it was our thing. The photos taken at the run are usually really expensive so I never wanted to purchase them.

This year when the email came it said that this was the last chance to purchase photos from 2013 so I decided to look at them once again, just in case. As I was flipping through the five that were taken of me this one appeared. I swear it’s the first time I had seen it. I cried remembering what it felt like to cross the finish line with my girls on each side. Every other year it was just Anna crossing the finish line but this year, our last Hippie Chick together, Abigail joined us.

holding hands finish line

I ordered some prints. This is my new favorite photo of the three of us. It speaks to my heart and when it arrived yesterday it was so clear to me why I love it so much. This is how I get through each day. Abigail holding my right hand and Anna holding my left, both gripping tight till I get to the finish line. The gold tons in the photo (that is how it came) represent Christ, He’s all around us wrapping us in His love and kindness ~ we are surrounded by His Grace.

The last couple of months have been tough. Fall lasted so long, there are still leaves piled up on our streets, and my PTSD has become something that is just with me instead of the usual waves that come every so often. Watching Alice grow, discover, learn and become a toddler has been wonderful and very emotional. There is so much I can say about mothering this beautiful little one in the midst of grief, but I will leave that for another time.

I have signed up for the Hippie Chick one time since the girls have been in Heaven but my heart wouldn’t allow me to go. After seeing this photo I think it is time to get in shape and prepare once again for “our thing” this Mother’s Day weekend. I know Anna would be super excited to have Alice run across the finish line with us.

This photo is what my heart needed the week before Christmas and our double birthday celebration on 27th ~ Abigail will be 16 (I can’t believe it) and Alice will be turning 2.

Anna and Abigail are holding my hands always and I am ALWAYS surrounded by His Love and Grace!

Arc of Love on Heaven Day

It’s been raining and the sun has been peeking through the clouds today, a perfect recipe for a rainbow on Anna and Abby’s 4th Heaven Day. We headed out on a walk mid-morning in hopes to see their artistic work fill the sky. I prayed for God to release His glory as a sign for my broken heart.

I prayed and prayed.

Then He answered.

Our rainbow today isn’t the traditional arc of colors that fill the sky, but rather the arc of love that has been cast on us from all of you, our community both near and far.

For the past 4 years you have showed up, unconditionally, and honored our girls by choosing to love. You have walked through the shadows with us, held us and cared for our girls by speaking their names, sharing their love and celebrating their joy.

Thank you for remembering, for honoring Anna and Abby and for filling our hearts with warmth and love.

Thank you for being our rainbow.

rainbow tree on heaven day

PS. This happened this afternoon in Forest Grove ❤

rainbow real on hd

Photo Credit: Samantha McKelvey ❤ 

Thank you girls ❤ I miss you so much!

Lifeline

In the weeks following Anna and Abby going to Heaven hundreds of cards and letters flooded our mailbox. I remember sitting with them, unopened, wondering how I was ever going to get through them all. I would sit each night opening just a few, because that was all my heart could bare.

We were the family receiving the dreaded sympathy card. I remember sitting amongst them in total disbelief that we were on the receiving end and these written words were intended for us.

“I’m so sorry for your loss.” People shared their memories, thoughts and condolences.

These cards were from friends, family, old classmates, parents, children and complete strangers – all wanting to take just an ounce of our pain away. I remember feeling so loved and cared for as I read each one, still in complete shock of my reality.

One letter that we received has come to my thoughts many times over the past 4 years. I remember standing in the kitchen the first time I read it and remember exactly how it made my heart feel.

The sender, someone that we did not know, shared of her own loss. Two children, first her son (9) then her daugther (16), many years ago. It was the next line in the letter that I remember most.

“My son would be 54 and my daughter 53.”

I remember my heart sinking ~ 45 years. I remember thinking that there was no way I could survive all those years without my girls. No way!

She included a poem that was given to her by her son’s teacher and also her phone number in case I needed someone to talk to. I never called but have thought of her many times as each day without passes.

Today, while chatting with a girlfriend at the grocery store, a woman approached us and asked if she could give me a hug. She said that I didn’t know her but she knew who I was. She told me that after my girls went to Heaven she sent me a letter with a poem.

Immediately I knew it was her, still surviving.

She told me she included her phone number because she had no one to talk to when her children went to Heaven. She wanted to make sure that I knew I wasn’t alone. Her number was a lifeline for me if I needed it. Immediately my heart was full of gratitude and connection.

I needed her lifeline today.

Tonight I found her letter and there it was, the poem and the number that I know I will call soon.

I’ll Lend You a Child

By Edgar A. Guest

“I’ll lend you for a little time a child of mine,”  He said.
For you to love – while she lives
And mourn for when she’s dead.

It may be six or seven years
Or twenty-two or three,
But will you, till I call her back,
Take care of her for Me?

She’ll bring her smiles to gladden you,
And should this stay be brief
You’ll have her lovely memories as solace for your grief.

I cannot promise she will stay,
Since all from earth return,
But there are lessons taught down there
I want this child to learn.

I’ve looked this world over
In search for teachers true,
And from the throngs that crowd
Life’s lanes, I have selected you.

Now will you give her all your love,
Nor count the labor vain,
Nor hate Me when I come to call to
Take her back again?”

I fancied that I heard them say,
“Dear Lord, Thy will be done,
For all the joy Thy child shall bring,

The risk of grief we’ll run.
We’ll shelter her with tenderness,
We’ll love her while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known
Forever grateful stay.

But should the angels call for her
Much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter grief that come
And try to understand.”

 

Happy Easter

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him.”  ~ Romans 15:13

Today I’m really emotional and extremely grateful.

He is Risen and through Him we have eternal life! I am so grateful for the love He shows me minute by minute and the hope He gives me in this broken life. I am extremely grateful for Heaven too!

Have a beautiful and blessed Easter! Happy Easter

 

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.