Harry

Today I’m thinking about the dance party that is happening in Heaven. Our friend Harry is 8 today and he’s celebrating with my girls. My dear friend Caroline, Harry’s mom, is spending the day with her family spreading love at Doernbecher’s Children’s Hospital in honor of her little boy. There is so much love to spread in his honor.

Caroline was one of the first people I connected with when I came to Oregon so long ago. I loved going into her 2nd grade classroom at Gales Creek Elementary School and watching her teach. She was always so calm and loving. I knew right then that I had a lot to learn from this amazing woman.

Through the years we would connect at school, through email when I moved back to Ohio and even once on a high ropes course. Her daughter, Lucie, is someone I would seek out when I was teaching, wanting to steal a hug from her to get me through my day. She is very wise beyond her years and so delightful.

After Harry went to Heaven, Caroline and I started meeting for coffee on Friday mornings. At first I wasn’t sure what to say or do; how do you comfort someone that means so much to you after they have lost a child? I realized that being there in that space with her was all I needed to do. We talked, shared stories, we laughed, we cried and we created a bond that God had a deeper plan for.

I would leave our meetings with such a deep love for my friend whose heart was breaking from missing her little boy so much. I would pick Anna up from school after our coffee date and would hold her a little tighter, give her more kisses and hug her over and over again. I was doing this for Caroline because she could not love on her baby anymore. I never wanted to feel that pain and I was so sad that my friend had to.

The night my girls went to Heaven I asked someone to call Caroline and ask if she could come be with me. My girls were now with Harry and I didn’t know what to do. She came, hugged me and loved on me in a way no one else that night knew how to. She had a deeper understanding of what was to come and knew I just needed someone to be by my side.

When I’m sad I can look at her and she gets it. When I’m struggling I can call and she understands. God’s plan is so much bigger than anyone knows and my friendship with Caroline, started so many years ago, was part of that plan. I love that God knew we would need each other and that our kids would all be playing in Heaven together celebrating Harry’s 8th birthday, riding unicorns and sliding down rainbows.

Today, on Valentine’s Day, I’m celebrating Harry! Happy Birthday sweet boy, you are so loved and so missed!

Harry bowling at Anna's 4th birthday party.

Harry bowling at Anna’s 4th birthday party.

One foot in Heaven

On Saturday my big old dog went to be with his girls. It was incredibly peaceful and I know that at the exact moment he went my girls were waiting for him. I could feel it. I told Tom that I wished I could reach through at that exact moment and just hold their hands for a second. He was thinking the same thoughts. We both felt the peace of Heaven surrounding us.

I always feel a sense of peace even in my hardest times. I feel this overwhelming sense that everything is good even though my heart is breaking.

Before the accident one of my biggest fears was that something was going to happen to me. Cancer, accident, weird illnesses…you name it I worried about it. The thought of leaving my family and having everything change for them was very upsetting. Tom and I have a will that outlines exactly what we want to happen just for this reason. My wishes of how much time Anna would be able to spend with Tom and the kids, my parents and other extended family is all outlined.  Our community is tight and the thought of her not being a part of that due to me being gone was hard to think about.

I wanted to live till 100 and experience all there was to experience with my kids, grandkids and life here on earth.

This all changed the day my girls went to be with Jesus. There is no need for a will or for any fear of not being here on earth anymore. I now have one foot in Heaven. Each day that goes by is one day closer to the day I get to join them. With this said, I also have a tremendous knowing that I have a lot to do here to honor my girls, to honor God and to take care of Emily and Ben before it’s my time. I know there is a plan and I am in motion to live that out, heartache and all.

How am I doing this? Where do I get my strength from? The answer is really simple, God. I have put ALL of my trust in him. How could I not, he is taking care of my girls, Tom and I. I see this in everything that has been laid out in front of me since the accident. Community coming together and loving each other, people taking care of us in ways I didn’t even know we needed, lives being changed for the better, people coming to Him for comfort and the peace that surrounds us even in the darkest of times.

I feel this amazing sense of peace that my girls are with me and I feel, see, smell and hear signs of this all the time. Little things, that if I didn’t have one foot in Heaven I probably wouldn’t even think twice:

  • An overwhelming smell of Anna’s favorite soap. Not all the time, but when I need it most.
  • A hummingbird outside my window the first day back in the house – that’s the  first time I’ve seen a hummingbird around our house thanks to the cat population!
  • More birds – geese honking as they fly overhead while I’m lighting the candles at dusk.
  • An overwhelming sense to buy a book that once read at home says all the right things at exactly the right moment, not to mention that after taking off the bargain sticker it’s revealed the author’s name is Anna.
  • Wind blowing, whispers of I Love You Mama in my ears.
  • Abigail whispering, as if she is standing next to me, take care of my dad Susan.
  • Double rainbows, single rainbows and lots and lots of sunny days during rainy season in Oregon. Sun is out right now actually.
  • Finding Anna’s glasses in a place that allowed me, once finding them, to move an inch further in this process of grieve. It was also a sign that it is alright to take pictures again even if my girls are not the subject of those shots. I found her glasses in my camera bag.

They are here and when I don’t feel them I know they are probably comforting one of the many other people who need to feel them.

I know longer look up when I refer to Heaven…I look around me.

So, if you ever see me give the I Love You sign and there is no one around, know that I’m giving it to my girls because at that moment they are giving it to me too!

Family Beach Trip 2011 (one of many)

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I Miss….

We sent this picture to Emily and Ben. The girls were missing them tons and wanted them to know.

We sent this picture to Emily and Ben. The girls were missing them tons and wanted them to know.

I Miss…

~ playing games with the girls at night; Uno, Jungle Speed, Wig Out, 1313 Dead End Drive and our new favorite The Game of Life.

~ snuggling with Anna in the morning.

~ telling the girls to stop fighting.

~ hearing about Abigail’s day at school.

~ playing Cafe with Anna…I would cook dinner and she would belly up to the bar with her babies and pretend she was at a Cafe.

~ Anna asking for a bednight snack.

~ Abigail asking questions about whether 6th grade was a good time to have a boyfriend.

~ laying in Anna’s bed while she brushed her teeth and danced around her room.

~ kissing Abigail goodnight and having her grab and pull me into bed with her.

~ Anna so intently watching Tom shave.

~ telling the girls I don’t have enough energy to play lava monster at 7:30 pm and having Abigail give me a hard time. (I’m not a night person)

~ giving Abigail a hard time at 7:30 am when she was grumpy and didn’t want to dance around with me. (She’s not a morning person)

~ that we understood this about one another but still gave each other a hard time anyway.

~ how my girls made me want to be the best parent I could be.

~ having kids play hide and go seek in our house. Many times trying to find Abigail because she knew all the good hiding spots.

~ having Ozilline knock at the door around 5:30 to ask for a play date and then hearing Taylor Swift blasting from upstairs 5 minutes after her arrival.

~ the girls asking to go get ice cream, over and over and over again.

~ Anna holding my hand.

~ Abigail asking if her hair looked stupid or was sticking up on the sides. It always looked fabulous.

~ dropping Abigail off at school and rolling down the window just as she was 5ft from the car and Anna and I screaming, “I love you Abigail.”

~ the look she gave us when we did that.

~ new artful creations emerging from the studio.

~ hearing Abigail and Tom talking in her bedroom.

~ monkey bars in the morning before school.

~ relentless request for sleep overs with friends.

~ the excitement that filled the house when Emily and Ben were coming for the weekend.

~ seeing Anna at recess and having her kiss and hug me a hundred times.

~ watching Anna ride Tiva.

~ having Abigail show me all her new Tap moves.

~ hanging out at the dance studio watching Anna in her tap class.

~ the smile she gave me when her eyes met and she knew I was watching.

~ listening to Anna care and nurture Baby Mary every single day!

~ hearing the loud music coming from Abigail’s room, even when the door was shut.

~ picking Anna up from her dad and listening to stories about her weekend away.

~ watching Tom dance with my girls.

~ elaborate dance productions in the family room staring my girls.

~ looking through the American Girl Doll catalog with Anna while snuggling up in the big red chair.

~ the excitement of finding Joey Francisco, our elf, each morning in December.

~ thinking about their future.

~ Anna giving me the “I Love You” sign as she drove away with her dad for their weekend together.

~ watching Anna lift Sampson’s back-end up so he could stand up.

~ sitting at the table and eating dinner as a family.

~ asking Anna to stay in her seat while eating dinner as a family.

~ talking/fighting with Abigail to do her reading.

~ being amazed that even when Abigail loved her book she would only read for exactly 30 min.

~ listening to the excitement in Anna’s voice because she was finally learning how to read.

~ listening to Abigail’s plans for her future.

~ listening to Anna’s plans for the future.

~ planning birthday parties with lots of surprises.

~ hugging Abigail and having her squeeze me really tight.

~ hearing Anna shout from the shower, “Mama where are you?”

~ hearing “Mama.”

~ planning family adventures.

~ finding our journal under my pillow and reading Abigail’s latest entry.

~ writing an entry back and telling her how proud I am of her.

~ talking about and then writing down 3 things that made Anna happy each day before she went to bed. Looking at her drawings of those 3 things the next morning.

~ watching Wonder Kratts and Curious George before school with Anna.

~ movie nights snuggled on the couch.

~ asking the girls to pick up their shoes.

~ paying out allowance.

~ listening to the girls plan for their allowance.

~ laughter.

~ watching Anna continuously move throughout the house every single night.

~ Abigail’s sweet singing voice.

~ Anna singing “We are Never Ever Getting Back Together,” by Taylor Swift at the top of her lungs.

~ finding love notes on my night stand.

~ my girls, I REALLY miss my girls.

This list can go on and on. I pray for continued peace and know that I will spend eternity with my girls. Until then, I will miss them terribly and will cherish the life I had here on earth with them. Under His wings I will find refuge. I am forever grateful His grace and for the time I had with my girls.

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness is a shield and bulwark.   Psalm 91:1-16

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Below is a post from Kaden’s mom last night – thank you to all that prayed and continue to pray for this family.

“Kaden is looking great. Has breathing tube out and he is already sitting up. He is back to his bossy self. Hoping he sleeps well and he is on the road to recovery. It will be long road but first hurdle is over. Praise the sweet Lord. Please keep up the prayer it has worked a miracle today. One happy momma!”

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 “Donor Family”, one 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! 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 pray for the donors family, they pray 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 families were 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!

Donating Abigail’s organs was not a hard decision to make. I know that if Abigail was asked she would have made the same decision. I am so proud to be her Mom and so blessed to have had the last three years with her here on earth.  I look forward to an eternity with both my girls. I know that Abigail is taking such good care of her sister now and probably has a pretty bad stomach ache (if you get stomach aches in Heaven) from eating too much chocolate from the chocolate stream! I smile at the thought…I always told her too much will make her belly ache.

If you are reading this and are considering being a donor, here is a link to sign up.

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

Donate Life:  http://donatelife.net/

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Sitting on a Cloud

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I love thinking about Anna and Abigail sitting with their feet dangling off the edge of a cloud watching me move through this world.

I remember one time when the girls and I were talking about Heaven, Anna asked what it looked like and happens when you get there. Abigail jumped in with this beautiful fairy tale like description of angels, the ability to fly and take different forms, fluffy clouds, and streams of chocolate that ran for miles…basically everything a little girl would want it to be.  At first I wasn’t sure about Abigail’s interpretation because I didn’t want it to sound better than the girls being with me.

Selfish I know.

I chimed in with something like, yes it’s a wonderful place and someday we will all be there but we don’t want to go there right now. Anna, with a serious look on her face, wanted me to reassure her that going to Heaven was only going to happen when we were old. I remember wanting to ease any concern she had, I said that was the plan but sometimes we go when we aren’t old.

I was so afraid that one of her friends would pass or if something happened to me she wouldn’t understand. I would tell her that when the time comes and I do go to Heaven (hopefully when I’m really old) that I would be her angel, that I would be safe with Jesus and I would always watch out for her. I wanted her to hear me saying that and not someone else after the fact.

During those moments the thought of them going to Heaven first never crossed my mind.

These conversations are what I think of now. I am so glad we talked about it and that Abigail shared with me her fairy tale description.

I hold on to that place of happiness.

I close my eyes and I can see my girls soaring high above the clouds, I can hear Abigail scream to Anna that the chocolate is the best they’ve ever had, I feel them comforting me when the ache in my heart is unbearable and I can hear them laughing as they jump from cloud to cloud…doing cartwheels and perfect flips along the way.

I can hear Anna whisper, “I love you Mama, Abigail was right it is amazing here.”

Heaven is real and my girls are there.