They Will Fall

The leaves on Anna and Abby’s Tree are still pretty green. In the next couple of weeks, maybe even days, they will turn beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow.

Then they will fall.

They will all fall and another year will start.

Fall is a mix of emotions because there are so many reminders of the exact moment my heart was broken and it is filled with so many beautiful memories of our favorite season together. Each morning when I open the curtains, and I see the leaves changing, I can either focus on that one moment or I can choose to focus on the millions of other moments that fill my heart with love and joy.

Some days, it’s hard not to be consumed by the brokenness I feel and fight everyday.

Most days, I choose the path that brings light to my memories and my girls.

Today, we decided to celebrate so we went out hunting for special leaves to add to our collection.

love-drenched-life.com

I think these leaves were sent from Heaven and Alice agrees.

 

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.”

 

I’m not going to lie…

I’m not going to lie, I’m struggling. My heart hurts so bad. I hold on and find joy in my days for Alice and Tom but in the quiet moments, like nap time and in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep, I sit paralyzed with my reality.

I miss Anna and Abigail so much.

No sugar-coating or telling you that time heals ~ my heart hurts the same today as it did on Oct. 21, 2013 when the sun came up and my girls were gone. Actually, I think my heart hurts worse today ~ it’s been so long since I’ve held them.

This is a very long road.

I’m working through it all, taking care of myself and trying to balance my life so that Alice and Tom get the best of me. I won’t lie though, it’s hard, very hard.

I sat down to share that I wrote another post for Portland Moms Blog today. This is what came out instead.

I miss my girls.

summer 2013

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.

The Pain

The pain is indescribable, the desperate feeling of wanting something so bad and knowing that it will never be again in this lifetime. The problem that you can’t fix.

The pain grips me tight as I come out of a daydream and my reality sets in ~ they are not here, they are in Heaven.

The pain of isolation ~ even when you are surrounded by people who love you and care, grief is still very isolating.

The pain and sadness I feel for Alice as I watch her grow ~ she will only know her sisters through photos and stories.

The pain and exhaustion that waves over me as I watch the first leaf prematurely fall to the ground in front of their tree ~ It’s almost that time of year again.

I hurt.

I miss my girls so much.

girls and dolls

 

“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.