Monday, March 30, 2015

Spring again. Goodbye again.

As warmer air creeps in past the curtains of my open windows, it's Keely's time of year again.

On the day she died, I was wearing summer clothes - a pink headwrap, a black tank top and flip flop sandals.

On the day she was born, a cold wind whipped through the air, a dark sky cried freezing rain we barely felt.

Cold nights and warmer days, these are the days that remind of that time.  Those early, dark days spent in shock, planning her funeral, planning her birth.  We stayed up, unable to consider sleeping.  We watched videos in otherwise silence.  I can name each one.  Our food left uneaten, so many words left unsaid.

We've come a long way from those days when we didn't know how to face a life where our child's life ended.  It still feels so surreal.  Our child's life ended.  Those words, or something similar, have crossed my lips countless times in the past 8 years and each time has it's own sadness that it's true and  a welcomeness that I can speak of her.

Her brothers and sister speak her name often, always including her in our family moments.  She is very much with us and very much alive in that sense.  We are lucky.  We are grateful.

But she is still gone.  Gone from our arms, gone from these moments in the way she should be present.

Only a fabrication in my own mind of what life would be like if she'd lived survives.

The first butterflies of the year and an occasional rainbow will have to be enough; reminders that she lives in other ways.

I know how you feel..

I debated in my mind whether or not to post this here.  I try to keep Keely's place a very positive, hopeful reflection of her contribution to this world.  But it is also a place of grief. 

7.5 years into my bereavement, I have some small things to offer the bereavement community, the newly bereaved, and also those looking for ways to support the bereaved.  Some of those ways are beautiful, supportive acts of kindness, and some ways are simply knowing what not to say, knowing when not to speak, knowing when to stop what you're doing and acknowledge nothing can be done.

I read something a few weeks ago that has bothered me since.  An acquaintance of mine has a child battling cancer.  Cruel, awful, heartless, frightening cancer. Her child.  They've been at the battle for 3 years with her 6 year old- half her life.  As they gear up for their 3rd round, she alerted our group to the news.  One response grabbed my attention.

"I know how you feel"....

She went on to say that she had spent several weeks waiting on news regarding her friend's husband and his cancer.  Let's just overlook that this was not her child or even a member of her family.  Just look at those powerful words alone.

Grief is a personal, very individual journey and those words simplify something with an indefinable complexity into a common thread. 

Choose your words carefully and understand that, often, less words are more powerful than a thousand.  There are no words that can ease the burden of loss, but there are words that are always sweet; like hearing my child's name and to know she's remembered.  To hear 'I'm sorry'.  To hear (and see) "I'm here to support you in whatever way you need'. 

Grief cannot be compared.  Comparisons are in vain.  Every person has a different perspective, different memories, a different outlook than the next, even when grieving the same person or a similar loss. 

Words can't change our grief but they are powerful still.  Words can aid in healing or cut like a knife.

Choose them carefully.

~Originally written in July 2014

Thursday, January 8, 2015

I've been here...

Though I haven't posted in quite some time, I've been here.  I've been writing.

I feel like I'm walking a delicate balance right now.  Almost 8 years into grief, I know some things.  They feel like secrets that none of the veteran bereaved told me when I was fresh on this journey.  But now I see why.  There are hard, definite truths that are hard to swallow.  You don't want anybody to rush to those truths, or to know them too soon.  Because it's always too soon.

I've written several posts that I felt like I needed to sit on, wallow in, even.  I needed to make sure they were ready for other eyes to see them, knowing that some of those eyes will be tear stained from the early, darkest days.

So please know that I'm still here, praying for you, wherever you are in this journey.  You are not alone.

Thursday, August 28, 2014


From the very early days of Keely's death, I wanted people to know that I wouldn't give back the time we had with her to take away the pain.  Her life MEANT something, to us and to many others.

I want to say how very lucky we are.  We've had our downs.  Obviously, if we could have all of our children in our arms, we would.  But that isn't the hand that was dealt and still?  We are very blessed.

I read the following on Facebook today....  "Life couldn't possibly get worse."

That's like tempting fate, if you ask me.  It can ALWAYS get worse.  Nothing negative ever came from counting your blessings.

I am beyond grateful for my children.  Even though we buried one of our beloved, we have 4 beautiful living children and 1 beautiful angel.

For every mother who's children fight tooth and nail constantly, there's someone wishing their child was there to throw toys around the living room.
For every mother who's buried her child, there's a woman wishing she could get pregnant at all.
For every couple struggling with infertility, there's a woman wishing she could find the love of her life to try with.

There is always someone praying for what you already have.

I have moments of ingratitude but I hope that my legacy as a whole, both to my family and to strangers I pass on the street is one of gratitude and love.

How's that saying go?

"Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about.  Be kind always."

(thank goodness for google or I'd never quote anything right!

Thursday, July 24, 2014


There isn't much I get to do for Keely as her mother.  I can miss her with every ounce of my being every day of my life and I do.  But, there is more.

When babies and children die, their legacy is quite simple.  Babies don't discriminate.  Babies aren't jealous of the neighbor's house.  Babies aren't worried about the clock or the number on the bank deposit.  Babies have an agenda, though.  A very simple agenda.  Love.

Jesus called us to be like the little children.  Jesus called us to love.

In Keely's honor today, and every day, I will love.  I will love my children more than words can say.  I will love my husband beyond the boundaries of this life.  I will love my neighbors, strangers on the street.  I will love.

It isn't always human nature and oftentimes I fail.  But every day I will try a little harder.  Another gift Keely gave us; a desire to love more.


Saturday, July 19, 2014

What will I do with today?

We've spent the better part of our adult lives working towards our "forever" house, building a place that our children will grow up in.  We've spent a lot of time saying "after the house is done" or "after this baby comes".....

And now we're here, in this sweet place in life where we are comfortable and very, very blessed.  We have a home we love, a school the kids love, jobs we love.

Now we are in this place we can sit back, appreciate our blessings and remember our girl at peace.

This is my place to talk about her, miss her, remember her and think about how life would be if she had lived.  It might feel sad to read at times.  It is sad.  We miss her with every ounce of being.

But we HAD her.  She is ours.

I would do it all again just to have that little bit of time with her.  She's an integral part of our family, just as each of our babies are.  She is with us always.

Grief is daunting.  In the beginning, the shock is overwhelming.  There is no preparation. Then you come to a point where you realize that grief is a part of you that will follow you always.  It's overwhelming to think that if I live to be 110, that ache for my child gone will still be there.

To look forward in early grief (which is a different time for everyone!), it's daunting to think about a sadness haunting the rest of your days.  I'm here to tell you that the missing, the sadness, the hole is always there, there is happiness too.  There will come a day that you aren't taken aback by laughter or be genuinely happy.  Genuine happiness isn't lost to the bereaved.  If anything, I feel like it runs deeper.

I remember a saying that I clung to in early grief.  It was a part of Keely's 1 year birthday celebration.

Our joys will be greater, 
Our love will be deeper, 
Our lives will be fuller
because we shared your moment.

Soak in those words.  They are so, so, so very true.  Keely gave life a deeper meaning because she reminded us how very short it might be.

If you're in the early days of grief, do what you need to do to get through the day: cry, scream, go on a long walk, watch The Food Network, talk to someone.  It's different for everyone.

But know you'll feel happiness again.  It isn't that you will forget or move on, it isn't that there won't be tears behind your eyes for your little love not there Christmas morning or all the missed birthdays, but it's that you're grateful to have had that little bit of time at all.

Laughter will come again.

So now that are lives aren't as fast paced and hectic as they have been at times, I can reflect on our blessings and thank God for another beautiful day.  A day I have to do something kind in memory of our Keely and a day to relish the hugs, kisses, and love of our living children.

I hope today is a gentle day for all the bereaved.  I hope the sun shines in your windows or on your face or that the sky cries with you, whichever you need more.


"Laughter through tears is my favorite emotion." ~Steel Magnolias

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Another goodbye, but of a different kind.

The posts on this page are few and far between now.  It isn't for lack of words or lack of thought.  It's a part of bereavement so heavy, even the veteran bereaved don't mention it.  It's a weight we'll likely carry til our own passing of this life.

At some point, which is different for everyone, the shock wears off.  It sounds like a good thing, but it isn't.  The shock is protecting us from the grim reality that this. is. forever.  Never will we have even a single photograph of all of our children together.  Never will we see a child at each stocking hung at Christmas.  Never will the question "how many children do you have?" not send a lump into our throats.  Never. Never. Never.

When the shock wears off and we realize these nevers, there's a heavy burden that our heart carries.  Yes, it scars over and we have our new normal but never (there's that word again) does it not ache.

It seems too much to mention that to newly bereaved.  They'll all know it eventually anyway.

When other sad things on earth happen, I can go to my grief.  We're well acquainted now and it's almost a comfort.  I know what I'm doing there.  So when my heart is called by worldly sadness, I can go to my grief of missing a child and know that what is weighing on my heart and mind isn't all that bad.


I grew up in a lovely house in an apple orchard on the top of a hill in southern Indiana.  My parents built the house a few years before I was born.  The house sits on property my family has owned for generations and 120 years.  Also on that property is the family home.  It was purchased by my great great grandparents and passed down through the generations.  My aunt lives in it now but that time is passing.  The house will likely be leaving the family in the very near future.

It's a day in my life I never thought I'd see.  It's going to be/already is a hard goodbye.

It was a place that, throughout my childhood, housed many different members of my family in different stages of their lives, through happiness and heartbreak, through struggles and comfort.  Through generations and passings, it has been the heart of our family.

It was the meeting place for many, many family reunions, Thanksgivings, Easters, and Christmases.

I have known harder goodbyes in my life, of course.  The unexpected are always the hardest.