Thursday, December 31, 2009

ringing in

It goes without saying that we'll be celebrating yet another holiday without our family completely here; another holiday with our girl in Heaven. But it's also another Thursday without her, another midnight not waking up to her cry and another morning will break without her at home.

But, the toast will mean a little more, our hugs will be a little tighter and prayers a little longer because we have her.

Cheers. May 2010 bring unparalelled happiness to anyone who reads Keely's name today.

God bless.

Psalm 4:8

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

new life to training

As I posted about before, I'll be celebrating Keely's life by running in my town's inaugural full marathon on her 3rd birthday. I've run countless races before and many marathons. I've trained for thousands of miles, many of which were on the same trails. I've had good training days and bad. Days where I had to force myself out and days I couldn't wait to go. This round has been different. I haven't yet had a day I had to force myself to get motivated or put off a training run. I feel so driven and I think it has to do with running this for Keely and for all the MISSing babies. With their names on my shoulders, I want to do them all proud and train my hardest to do well in their honor. Six days a week, I run. 3 days a week, I cross train. 7 days a week, I pray.

"If you fail to prepare, you prepare to fail."

Sunday, December 27, 2009

secret admirer strikes again

We visited Keely's grave Christmas Eve as soon as we got into town, before we even got to my parents' house. We lit our candle and shed some tears. While my heart is full always, even at the holidays, I miss my girl and wonder what mischief she'd be causing alongside her brothers. Christmas day, we went back to the cemetery; this time, to find a single sprig of lilies of the valley that had been tucked into the ground next to her stone. Upon arriving back at my parents house, we asked my family members if they'd stopped by to see Keely and left a gift. Nope, none of them. We assumed it was none of my in laws but asked anyway; no, none have ever been to see her headstone or visit her, nevermind on Christmas. So again, stranger, thank you. I think. I love that she has touched someone's heart and is visited when I can't be there but I do wonder who you are.

Possibly by chance the lilies of the valley were chosen, but there is significance in my own heart. Lilies of the valley have always been my favorite flower. I carried them in my wedding bouquet along with three hand blown glass lilies of the valley. They were tucked into the white roses on Keely's casket in the bouquet from Sam, Boston and I.

"For a Special Granddaughter; Every time we call out 'Merry Christmas', another angel smiles and hovers near. Merry Christmas to one of God's brightest and best blessings. Love, Nana & Poppy" ~Keely's card from my parents, her Nana and Poppy in her stocking at Christmas

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Merry Christmas in Heaven

We'll light a candle on Keely's grave Christmas Eve and stay until the flame dies. Her stocking will be hung with the stockings of her brothers. We'll wonder what might've been and miss her. Most of all, we'll give thanks that we had her at all.

For anyone missing a child or any loved one on Christmas, wishing you gentle days ahead and peace in the darkest moments.


"sometimes the most real things in the world are the things we can't see" Polar Express

Monday, December 14, 2009


Sometimes, I just feel the need to say her name. There are days I search out signs and memories; I hope someone else will notice and say it first so I know they're thinking of her too. There are many days like this around Christmas. Every child should be with their parents and siblings Christmas morning, in jammies, waiting to see if Santa's been there. Be with us on Christmas, miss Keely Rae. We miss you.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

little red flowers

The last two times at the cemetery, someone has left a little red flower on Keely headstone <3 Thank you, stranger.

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity." 1 Corinthians 13:13

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

visions of our sugar plum

Boston came to me this morning telling me that Marney (my grandmother, next to whom Keely is buried) took Keely to the movies to see Barbie and the Nutcracker. Where he would ever come up with such a story is beyond me <3 I'm glad he did though. 4 year old story or not, it brings me comfort and sounds like something my Marney would do.

Keely's Barbie

The first Christmas without Keely, what should've been her first Christmas, we got a Holiday Barbie for her. I collected them as a little girl and I couldn't bear to have an empty stocking for her every year so we put her Barbie in there. As I got out the decorations, I looked long and hard at the Holiday Barbie 2007. Keely would've been 2.5 this year. This is the first year she would've been able to play with her Barbie. But Barbie is still in the box and will stay there. Forever.
I know most bereaved families have a rough patch this time of year. It's supposed to be a time to be with your family and enjoy a kind of togetherness that we can never have. So close to perfect, but it can never be. I miss my girl. My boys miss their sister. My husband misses his girl. I love this time of year. I still do. I love it and it can never be the same.

"she'll be home for Christmas, if only in our dreams"

Monday, November 30, 2009

At the cemetery over the weekend, I looked above my head to see some birds flying south for the winter. They were flying in the shape of a heart <3

Coincidence? Probably, but I choose to believe otherwise.

"Faith is believing when common sense tells you not to" Miracle on 34th Street

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

giving thanks

In a few days, Americans will sit around a table with their families and give thanks for all we have. I will sit around a table with most of my family and give thanks for all I have as well as that which I don't have. We may not have Keely with us, but we have her, we had her and she continues to gift us with lessons beyond this life. I will be thankful for those other chairs at the table that used to be filled with loved ones, who are now at Keely's table. I am thankful every day for my children. Each and every one of them.

Monday, November 23, 2009

always the little things

Just seeing a post on a message board directed to "moms of girls" is enough. I am, but I can't answer.

"But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." Isaiah 40:31

Thursday, November 19, 2009

full circle....of friends

When Keely was born, we were blessed with a photographer from Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep to photograph our girl and are blessed daily to have those beautiful, tangible memories of her. A few months later, I became and affiliated photographer and later, area coordinator as well. In doing so, I've been blessed to spend time with some truly amazing families and honored to be in the presence of angels. Who gets to say that? Not just anybody <3 I feel so very lucky to have crossed paths with these lovely creatures and the families that love, and miss, them so very much. In an odd twist of fate a media person that I came into contact with a year and a half ago through NILMDTS lost their own child and remembered mine name. Such an honor to get to meet and spend a few precious moments with their child when first, they had come to me about mine.

I'm an oil portrait artist and have been for several years now. Since losing my girl, I have started my own non profit organization wherein I do oil paintings of children for the families they said goodbye to much too soon. I can't begin to describe the kind of peace this brings me and, I hope, the families as well. I love being able to do this in Keely's memory and give the gift of tangible peace to a grieving family. I have a waiting list that is, most likely, a year or more long. Again, I am so very blessed to be a small part of the lives of these beautiful souls.

And MISS. Mothers in Sympathy and Support. What could I possibly have done these past 2.5 years without MISS and the friendships brought to me through that wonderful organization. Lost. Some of the best friends on this earth were met there and I'm so very thankful for that.

All of these things were huge blessings in my life, huge blessings that wouldn't have been without my little girl's life. Every email from a MISS mama that makes me smile is because of my Keely and her angel friends that brought us together. So many little blessings.

I think of other bereaved families as kindred spirits, members of an exclusive club that no one wants to belong to but feels close to and protective of its members. For no matter how much others might try, they can't truly understand and all of us who do wish we didn't.

Monday, November 16, 2009

so very final

I had a lovely conversation with another bereaved mother. Though I often feel like a veteran at 2.5 years on this road, she had me trumped at 12 years. It was both sad and amazing at how very similar our feelings are. There are ups and downs, bad days and good, days when you feel like you could crumble up into a million pieces and times of such peace. There are days of purpose and lost days. There are days of missing her and days of missing her more. Not a minute goes by without a thought of her. 9.5 years from now, when I've been on this journey 12 years, it looks like those days will still be present. It's like the little old lady I see at the cemetery from time to time, putting flowers on Pearl's grave. Pearl's headstone says she was born and died on the same day in 1949 and her mother (I'm guessing it's her mother) faithfully visits her place and, I pray, finds some peace. If I thought about it, of course, my love and loss will still be there to the day I die. I just hadn't thought of it or maybe tried not to. So few things in this life are so very final. We can't know how long we'll be blessed with the loved ones we're lucky to walk beside, but we know that we can't in this life walk beside those we've lost. What this world is missing...

Sunday, November 8, 2009

they played her song

Hubby and I had our first solo date with each other since having in over 4 years! We went to see Dashboard Confessional perform with the Louisville Orchestra. I can't even put into words how good the show was. I'm not often left speechless but a.m.a.z.i.n.g.

They could've chosen hundreds of songs, literally. The second to last one was the one I was hoping to hear. My eyes teared up and my heart swelled. The song came out not too long before Keely's birth/death and we've always thought it special and appropriate. It's her song. It made a concert and night that would've been incredible nonetheless, unforgettable.

"We watch the season pull up its own stakes
And catch the last weekend of the last week
Before the gold and the glimmer have been replaced,
Another sun soaked season fades away

You have stolen my heart

Invitation only, grant farewells
Crush the best one, of the best ones
Clear liquor and cloudy eyed,
too early to say goodnight
You have stolen my heart
And from the ballroom floor we are in celebration
One good stretch before our hibernation
Our dreams assured and we all, will sleep well

You have stolen
You have stolen my heart

I watch you spin around in the highest heels
You are the best one, of the best ones
We all look like we feel
You have stolen my
You have stolen my heart" Dashboard Confessional

Thursday, November 5, 2009


I have plans for Keely's 3rd birthday. They were kind of made for me.

I'm a marathoner and our town is planning its inaugural full marathon for next spring. Last week, the date was announced: April 11th, Keely's 3rd birthday. I deliberated for a long time if I would feel like racing on her day and have decided to run, but run it in her honor. I will wear a tank that shows her angel wings on my shoulder and paint "running for our angels" across the back of my arms. If I am able to get permission from them, I'll have the MISS Foundation's website on the back of my shirt, along with Keely's name and date. I feel so good about this now. I can be active in my grief and maybe even spread a little awareness to my little girl's life and passing. I kind of feel like it was fate. We'll still have her balloon release as usual on Saturday and I'll run on Sunday. I only hope she'll be running with me <3

'Ask yourself: "Can I give more?". The answer is usually: "Yes". 'Paul Tergat

Sunday, October 25, 2009

a few things...

My posts are more sporatic as I fet farther into this journey, I feel less entitled to my feelings. Silly, right? It is what it is. I guess I'm feeling entitled again today because I want to get a few things out there.

October 15th came this year and rocked my heart a little more than it had in previous years. I wanted desperately to be a part of a walk but none in my area. Thankfully, there is a group near where we'll be moving to so I'm hoping to join them in the years to come; on October 15th and for get togethers now and then. We lit our candles for the wave of light. I couldn't even begin to count how many individual ones we might need; couldn't begin to count how many loving, grieving families that have touched our own hearts and shared tears with. So I just lit them all; every candle I could find in the house and let them burn at 7 pm. I cried often that night and can't even really voice why aside from the obvious. I guess just knowing how many people all over the world were grieving with me was both heartbreaking and cathartic; that so many children are missed and yet we aren't ever alone in that grief.

The grass has been cut at the cemetery one last time this year. It's beautiful there. It's peaceful and serene and everything I've been hoping it would be in the years it wasn't properly cared for.

"Do you hear me?
i'm talking to you
Across the water
Across the deep blue ocean
Under the open sky
Oh my, baby I'm trying " Jason Mraz "lucky"

Thursday, October 1, 2009

a little glimpse

Every once in awhile, I see a glimpse of what might've been. In my mind's eye, I can age that precious little face that didn't even get to see 40 weeks, aging her to who would now be a bouncy, bubbly 2.5 year old.

There's a Rice Crispies commercial that stopped me in my tracks. 2.5 year old girl with white-blonde hair and eyelashes to Texas. It's like a little peek and I'm so thankful for them. I find much peace in them.


"Now sleep, child of mine, while the stars shine above. I love you as much as a mother can love." I love you as much book, read in our home nightly

Friday, September 25, 2009

October 15th...

...a day to remember, honor and celebrate the lives of our little ones who left this world too soon.

Please mark the day on your calender, in your mind and with your heart. If you know someone new to this journey, say their child's name, help them know you will remember, light a candle. If you know someone well acquainted with their grief, say their child's name, help them know you will remember, light a candle. Years pass and we "handle" the grief better, we go days even weeks without tears. We find ways to honor our children, be it quietly or in the glare of the sun. To many, we are 'back to normal' but know that normal is very, very different now. Know that each of our childrens' names are behind each breath. Know that with ever milestone, a vital part of our family is missed. Know that we long to hear that you know that.

Spread the word that October 15th should be celebrated and remembered by all because everyone knows someone affected by infant and pregnancy loss, whether they realize it or not.


Sunday, September 20, 2009

and so it goes...

It's been a long time since I've written here. A very long time.

I've had a few of these moments since Keely died: moments where I feel such a deep sadness, missing her that I don't have the energy in me to write, to go to my bereavement group, to do much but remember and cry here and there. I'm always thankful for the beautiful life that I have but I'm always missing a major part of that life. Thankfully, her cemetery has been cared for so beautifully this year and I've found much peace there. There are still times, often, in this journey that I'm 2.5 years into that I stop and think "this is it. I have a child that has died." It will never seem normal. I'm not sure I'll ever truly believe it. We passed Sept 12th, the day originally thought to be Keely's due date (though it was waaaay off) and while most of the time I don't think of that day as one of "her" days, it does cross my mind. I see friends' daughters celebrating 2 years on this earth and wonder if she'd have curls or bright blonde hair like her baby brother. Would she be a wild woman? I suspect. Would she be a bit shy? Most likely not, but we'll never know for sure. That's the hardest part; the never.

Life passes so very quickly around me and I try to soak up every. last. second with my beautiful living children. How did they grow to be so big, so smart, so very them. My oldest boy is thriving in preschool. They talk about siblings and he talks about his brother. And he talks about his sister. My 4 year old is more wise to grief than most adults I know. He knows it's not only okay to talk about her, but it's encouraged, it's expected. His little brother will grow up knowing nothing else than it being okay to talk about the sister he never got to meet on earth.

My some miracle, her butterfly at the cemetery is still there. I didn't think it would make it over night and it's been 2 months so far <3

We're coming closer to the time to think about baby #4. As soon as baby #3 weans (whenever he decides that will be), we'll get to it! I'm excited to think about 2 lines on a pregnancy test and nervous for all the fears that come along with those lines. I don't think this go round will be quite as scary. I feel more peace as of now but it's easier to think of when it's an abstract maybe. But time will tell and I'm okay with that too.

And so while I'm sorry for the time I've spent away from the blog, I know I didn't spend it away from her. Not a minute goes by that all of my children aren't in every thought, every prayer. I'm so very blessed. Sometimes the strongest emotions cannot be spoken.

Monday, August 31, 2009

my dream

I had a dream about my sweet girl last night. She was still a baby, though a bit bigger than when I held her in my arms. She was wrapped in a soft white blanket with one naked arm peeking out, free. She was sleeping soundly and suckling in her sleep, just like her brothers did as newborns. This time, though, her beautiful lips were pink.

I love and miss my girl, think of her, speak of her everyday. Always


"I promise I will hold you, another time, another place" Joanne Cacciatore

Monday, August 17, 2009

Hallmark got me again

I have a new niece. She's beautiful and sweet and it does my heart well that she's here and healthy. For all those reasons, I thought I could handle picking out a "welcome baby girl" card. Not so much. After reading the first one, I knew it had been a bad idea but did I leave? Nope. Glutton. I read every last one and didn't find one that I could bring myself to buy. I opted for a blank pink card and wrote my own message. Just another one of those things that will never be the same, should I have a living daughter or not.

I haven't made many posts lately because I've been in a little bit of a funk. I'm hoping it passes soon and think while posting would probably make me feel better, it takes a bit of emotional energy that is lacking in me right now.

I've found a ton of things for Keely's grave recently but what's on there still looks nice so I'm stockpiling some fun things for later.

Missing you, baby girl XOXO

Saturday, August 8, 2009

6 years and a lifetime ago

6 years ago this week, we suffered our first loss; the loss of a honeymoon baby about 7 weeks along. I don't think we even realized at the time what we truly lost. Many friends and family don't even know about this baby but since Keely's passing, it has helped to know that they are in Heaven together. Since Keely's passing, I've thought more about our first baby, understood more and missed more. We may not have a grave to visit for you, baby, but we love you.

Psalm 4:8 I will lie down and sleep in peace for you alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety

Monday, July 27, 2009

numbers, numbers

It's funny how a little thing like a number, just one off, can ruin a day. Like, when someone is telling another how many children you have and they "forget" one. Three. I have THREE children. Which one did you forget when you said I had two? Do I need to ask? Do I need to correct you? I don't need to ask but I do need to correct you. Just because you've forgotten doesn't mean I have, or want to, or will. Never. Never will I let anyone else. Just because you misspoke doesn't mean you've forgotten but that's certainly the way it sounds and it's certainly the way my heart heard it. I think I'll "forget" one of your children next time I speak of them.

And on a somewhat lighter note, a song that makes me think of my girl:

"Love why’d you go so fast
pain why ya gotta last...
you knowI cant stop waking up to you
though you are gone I cannot face the truth honey
I cant stop waking up to you on my mind...
Love where'd you go so fast
pain, why you gotta last
those blue eyes, why cant I see them now..." The Midway State

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

her new decorations

Newish anyway. Early this month, we found a beautiful butterfly to put at Keely's grave. We took down the butterfly shepherd's hook that's been there since the beginning. Two years now. It was starting to look worn and when we saw this butterfly, it felt perfect for her. We put a new garland that the boys picked out for her and moved her pink sparkly butterfly from Nanny and Poppy to the garland. It's nice and summery. We had to take the windchimes down because there's nowhere to hang it but since it hadn't been there long, we'll put it back in the fall.

moving me

Our home is on the market. Keely's home is on the market. It's been a decision we made a long time ago and the time is now to do it. It was a decision we made long before losing our little girl. We left Chicago knowing we'd eventually be in or near my hometown (where Keely's buried). Our home has been on the market for nearly a year now, with no offers in sight (just the way of the market now, I think; fine by me). So we've had some time to reflect on what leaving means to us. Though we've outgrown this house, I wouldn't be ready to leave if we were staying in the area. I'm too attached. We have too many memories. Lord willing, we'll make millions of new memories with our sweet living children in our new house but we can't with Keely. She lived here. She moved here. Her heartbeat here. This is where we came after her heart stopped. This is where countless tears dropped. This is where we sat up for hours on end wondering why; wondering how. This is where we planned her funeral.

Along with moving, we'll be leaving behind the hospital and doctor that saw my care through all three of my children's births. I've become very attached to all of the staff, the places. I know them there. They know me there. They know Keely; call her by name. How can I walk away from that? A little part of me hopes we'll be here long enough for just one more baby to be born under our dr's care, at that hospital I'm so comfortable at.

And so I'm moved at the thought of moving. We'll have opportunities, new memories but the thought of driving past this home and having it not be mine is just too much to think of right now. We'll have to make new memories of our girl at the new home too. We'll have a garden just for her. Her painting will hang on its walls. We'll say her name and tell her story among its walls. We'll shed more tears for her there. But this will be where we first said goodbye. This home will always be special.

"home is where the heart is"

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

feeling so sad today

It's kind of funny. I prepare for certain dates: the angel day, the birthday, holidays. I prepare for certain events: births, funerals, even certain movies. I prepare my heart and my mind to know I'm going to be sad and to handle it the best way I know how and I think I do alright most of the time. Then, there are days of sadness that just creep up, for no known reason and my heart aches. Today is one of those days. I've felt it coming but aren't sure quite why. This morning, I felt compelled to go back to the days Keely died and look at my posts from a parenting board I'm on. I can't even bring myself to read them all at once but I keep going back. It's like watching a movie or reading a book. This couldn't be my life. Any second now, I'll wake up and all three of my children will be here, in my arms... Right?

From my journal the day after we watched her heartbeat stop:
"I've cried and prayed more than I ever have in my life. You'd think the tears would dry up; that I wouldn't have any more, but they are still flowing freely with no stopping in sight." 04/03/07

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

12 years today

My cousin is celebrating the 12th birthday of her daughter today. She would've been 12 years old. She was born still and I can remember hearing of her birth so well, though I was only 15 years old and many years from both motherhood and bereavement. Maybe it was some kind of unseen preparation. Emily is with my Keely, celebrating in Heaven and today we will celebrate her life too; though short, so very important.

"Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted" Matthew 5:4

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


I have many wonderful childhood memories that involve Michael Jackson and his music: rollerskating to it, Barbies dancing, my own breakdancing attempts.

One memory as an adult keeps ringing through my head in these days since his passing. When Keely died, our oldest son was just 21 months old. I have a vivid memory of rocking him to sleep with tears in my eyes and singing "Smile". It was a song made famous by Charlie Chaplin but made famous to me by Michael Jackson's HIStory album. There is a rumor that MJ's brother Jermaine will be singing this song at the memorial service today. It's a beautiful song with beautiful sentiment...

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
With your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just...

Light up your face with gladness
Hide every trace of sadness
Although a tear
may be ever so near
That's the time you must keep on trying[
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just...

Smile, though your heart is aching
Smile, even though it's breaking
When there are clouds in the sky
You'll get by...

If you smile
Through your fear and sorrow
Smile and maybe tomorrow
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile...

That's the time you must keep on trying
Smile, what's the use of crying
You'll find that life is still worthwhile
If you just smile

Thursday, July 2, 2009

vandalism or art

In order to keep up with the ever changing trends of photography, I follow a few different photography boards. In doing so, one photographer had posted a session titled "death of a marriage" and the session was a woman in her bridal gown, obviously distraught from the collapse of her union. Her face tear streaked, expression dark and the first image was her sitting on the gravestone of someone's whose last name happened to be "Payne". I get it. What I didn't get was what gave them the right to use this person's final resting place as a prop for their photo shoot. I bit my tongue because sometimes I don't have the energy to get into a discussion like this; where my stand would most likely be lost. It's not just some old building or abandoned home. It is where someone chose to lay their loved one, where they can come to mourn or to celebrate their life. I would be livid if someone sat on Keely's monument, nevermind if they were using it as a prop. Maybe I'm naive but I highly, highly doubt I would've ever done such a thing. I am an artist and I get that often artists break down common practice to make a point but I would never do so by blantant disrespect that I think this is showing. Maybe not vandalism but certainly disrespect.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

missing you always, especially today

There are some days I just look for an excuse to say her name. There are days that I can feel my heart physically aching. There are days that tears are behind my eyes that never fall. There are days I try to picture in my mind what our table would look like with all 3 of our children eating lunch. There are days I am just so sad. Today is one of those days.

I am a positive thinking person. I know that I am very lucky. Most days, I smile and it's always genuine. I've had genuine smiles today but there is sadness too. Much sadness. I miss her. It's heartbreaking to think what this world has missed out on, what my family has missed out on. Bad things happen. Some days, lots of bad things happen. There are some days that so many little bad things pile up until you are buried in them and it's hard to see past the bad things.

So today, I will say her name and feel better, feel comforted. Keely. Such a beautiful name for a beautiful girl. How I wish I could see it scribbled on a kindergarten drawing someday, with a letter or two backwards.

"don't count the years, count the memories" anonymous

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reading into words

I rarely get to say "all of my kids" or "the whole family". It's one of those things I never would've thought about before. How lucky to get to say all or entire. I listen closely to others as well: do they want a picture of all the grandkids? or all the girls get something... I am blessed in that they, too, are careful for the most part. My mom is very much aware of the definition of those words and their impact. I am so grateful for that. Wishing "we could all get together sometime" takes on new meaning as well. Those little things are so different now. Now and forever. I take great pleasure in the moments I get to say "all of my children", such as "all of my children's stockings hang on the steps at Christmas" or "I love all of my children". A simple and oh so important way to remember my girl.

I found the following article on helping a bereaved parent and I really like it. It's similar to the very popular "Bereaved Parents Wishlist" but adds a few things. I want to add that these lists aren't just for the newly bereaved, they still hold true years and years down the road...

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

peace at her resting place

I went to Keely's grave this morning and the rain stopped pouring just as we arrived. I love the way the headstone looks when it's wet. It's an emerald colored granite and the colors really shine after the rain, which seems appropriate. Her garland got chopped a bit by the caretaker but not too badly. We'll replace it this weekend, when we're able to come back. I'll take a broken garland here and there if it means the grass is being cut and trimmed. We went through a hell of a fight trying to get the caretaker to actually take care of the place. The people caring for the whole place (600+ stones) are doing a phenomenal job and it brings me such peace to go to her resting place and find comfort, not having to worry about the weeds. It's amazing the difference it makes on a bereaved parent's psyche. Today was a particularly peaceful day. You never hear much when you're there, maybe the occasional train whistle but there are no people around, no bustle. I love that about it. Today, though, birds were singing in full chorus and it was a dark morning, still very damp from a hard rain that fell. I could've stayed there for hours but a few minutes of that peace would have to be enough; my living children were ready to move on after they blew Keely kisses and Boston told her about the latest Spongebob show he watched.

"there will be peace in the valley for me someday" hymn

Monday, June 8, 2009

a ramble on forgotten "friends"

More than two years have passed since we last held our little girl. Even after this time, my opinion of some people is still somewhat dictated by the way they did or did not react to her death. I lost much respect for a few friends, but moreso gained much respect and appreciation for others. I try very hard to concentrate on those I love dearly and those that were there for us when it's hard to be there, when you don't know what to say, when there isn't anything to say. But, once in awhile, our paths will cross again with one of the "others"; one of those people I would've expected to be there, to be a shoulder or to respect the life of my daughter but they shied away or, even worse, treated her life as if it were less than theirs. My opinion of those few are forever changed, forever marred by their lacking. They missed out on an amazing little soul. They missed out.

And now, I prepare for a meeting of such. How do I react? I don't want to perpetuate a bitter, grieving, angry person. I am grieving and will be until my own meeting at the end of earth's life but feel some kind of responsibility to teach those I encounter that while a parent grieves her child always, the lessons taught by the angels are worth more than anger. I'm not angry; I've said many times and feel daily that I was lucky to have her at all. I am lucky to have what I do now, VERY lucky. Some social responsibility has me feeling conflicted. There are few enough of these people I could probably avoid them for the good part of my years but there's a spiteful side of me that knows that seeing me will cause them to remember her and that's what I really want; her to be remembered. I want them to know they let me down, or my husband down, or most importantly, my Keely down.

Like most things in life, I will look for a balance. I must find a way to show grief in a new light for those so unlucky to have missed her light.

This has been even more rambling than usual but that's pretty much how I feel right now. ****big, deep sigh****

Friday, June 5, 2009

She went with us...

We took our living children to Walt Disney World a few weeks ago. I had always been so excited to think of taking my children there one day, several times even. While I'll never get to take ALL of my children the way I thought I would, they were all there with us. We faced a ton rain but that didn't stop us from having an amazing time, celebrating how lucky we are to have what we do. Boston was insistent that Keely was there already <3 We wanted to release a pink balloon in her honor but on the day we planned to do so, lots of wind kept the vendors from being out. Sam asked a couple of Disney employees where we might be able to purchase a balloon. One of the employees went into a storage area to get us a balloon, even asking what color we'd prefer. She asked who it was for and after my husband told her, she insisted it was on the house. After kisses from each of us and a silent prayer, we sent her balloon up above Cinderella's castle (or as Boston says, Mickey's castle). The other Disney employee saw the balloon go and ran over to ask if that was ours and if we let it go on purpose. I thought we were going to get scolded for letting it go but when Sam told him it was ours and we did it on purpose, he just smiled sweetly. I now think he was going to replace it if it wasn't on purpose. I can't say enough for the good spirits and genuine kindness of 99.9% of the people and especially employees at Disney. It is why I adore that place; there's nowhere else like it on earth. As her pink balloon sailed away, Boston called to it "bye balloon, give Keely a kiss for me!"

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

meant to be!

I got some wonderful news today that a very good (even best) friend of mine is expecting again. All of our kids are the same age; even our angels and I like to think of our little angels as being together and the best of friends. Watch over the new baby, angels.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

another good bye

You never really know how people will react to the death of a baby. I definitely believe people show their true colors. People you don't expect much of really come through and others you had hoped to lean on are no where to be found. We are so blessed in that many people came through for us, showing their true, beautiful colors. One of those people was my great aunt Marie, my paternal grandmother's sister. She also happened to be my maternal grandmother's good friend as a girl. She sent us a sweet card, a beautiful bouquet to the funeral and also came herself. She cried with us and prayed for us. I was told that she spoke of Keely and her service right up until her own death earlier this week. Last night, we paid our respects and said goodbye in the very same funeral home that we closed Keely's casket in. I'm sure Keely greeted her at the gates.

Rest in peace. You're presence will be missed.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

be still, my heart

As Boston began to drift to sleep tonight, he tells us he'd like Keely to come back to us. As my heart broke into a million little pieces, Sam tells him that she can't come back to us but we're trying to get to her one day. We tell him that with God's help, we'll see her again. Boston then decides he'll build a rocket, wear a mask and fly to Heaven. "I need my sister right now"

Me too, baby. We all do.

in memorial, with great respect

On our way back from Disney yesterday, we stopped at the National Military Cemetery in Chatanooga, TN to try to find a relative's grave. It might be odd, but I find military cemeteries so peaceful and moving. You can't ignore it on Memorial Day weekend. Several times, my eyes welled up with tears to see all of those fallen soldiers, giving their lives for America, all those mothers who buried their sons and daughters, husbands and wives stateside who also paid a price so very high, children who will grow up with their parents' medals and memories alone. In walking along those graves, we found two babies's graves; an eight month old boy and a stillborn girl. The little boy's father was killed in WWII and both were buried there together. Both parents of the little girl served in the Iraq war; the entire family laid to rest there. The precision that the stones are laid out with, the unknown tomb (most likely where my great grandfather's brother is laid to rest, we were unable to find him); it's all so solemn and humbling. In honor of Memorial Day and every day we celebrate as Americans....God Bless our troops and their families.

"After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home" Ronald Reagan

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

leaving her grave

Sorry for being post-happy today, but somedays, there is just more to say.

I visited Keely's grave this morning and won't be back for 2 weeks. We're going to be on vacation. It's such a strange feeling to know I won't be back for awhile. We were gone for a week in September and that felt weird too. I feel bad. I feel like I'm abandoning her. I know it's just her memorial, her headstone but I'm supposed to take care of it. And I'm leaving it for a bit. I know she isn't there. She'll be with us. I cried leaving this morning. I'm sorry, baby. Mama will be back to care for your flowers.

"O Jesus, blest Redeemer,
Sent from the heart of God,
Hold us who wait before Thee
Near to the heart of God." from one of my favorite hymns, one that was sung at Keely's funeral

really annoying quote...

It's probably equalling annoying that most of my posts have a little quote at the bottom, but whatever...

I search for a new quote to use if I didn't have one in mind already. Upon searching one out for my last post, I ran across the following:

"We've had bad luck with our kids - they've all grown up." ~Christopher Morley

I get it. I get that it sucks for your kids to grow up so fast. I get that the time passes far too quickly. But what I wouldn't give for our "bad luck" to be growing up too quickly, or growing up at all.

It's one of those things you wouldn't think twice about if you weren't bereaved; I know I wouldn't have. In reading the book "The Middle Place" by Kelly Corrigan (highly, highly recommend it, by the way; coming from a girl who doesn't read much of anything other than the Bible or People magazine anymore, that's saying a lot), she spoke some of phrases that made her cringe since her battle with cancer, one of which being something "making you gag". Of course, that's not something I would've ever guessed to be offensive or hurtful to anyone. But after it coming to my attention, it makes total sense and makes me more aware of common phrases that may mean something totally different to someone else. There are a lot of these things now that I notice. It may not offend me but I'll avoid them to ease someone else's burden.

a fly on the wall...

I love overhearing conversations of 3 year it with their toys or other 3 year olds. I was able to be a fly on the wall at the mall playplace yesterday and listen to my oldest son tell his new found friend about our family.

Boston: "yeah, that's my brother Callum, he's a baby."
"I have a sister too, but you can't see her."
"My sister's name is Keely and she's an angel."

Other kid: "Cool! I have a cat. You can't see her. She's at my house."

Later that night, Boston said I make him "super, super happy" and that he makes me "super, super happy". True. So very, very true.

He went on to tell me that Callum, Keely and Daddy make me super, super happy. Again, couldn't be more true.

I love that he can verbalize these things now. I love that Keely's legacy will outlive me, through the love of her brothers. I love that he can talk to me, and others, about Keely without being affected by how society thinks we should talk about her. I love that he always includes her and his brother.

At that same playplace, a lady asked how old my children are.... "My oldest will be 4 this summer and my baby just turned 1". I pause there. I could leave it alone. She didn't ask how many I had and she probably was only referring to my children there. But I couldn't leave it alone. I couldn't not say anything. So I went on " and we had a little girl in between". She smiled and said something about how busy I must be, when I was saved by Sam, fresh from a haircut and ready for us to move on. I was able to mention all of my children without having to explain or get "the look", the look of pity and that's all it takes to make my day. I can promise you this: if I had quit where I paused, it would be haunting me. It's different for everyone and every grieving parent must answer those questions in a way that they feel best about. For me, I know that answer is to include her.

"Children are one third of our population and all of our future." ~Select Panel for the Promotion of Child Health, 1981

Monday, May 11, 2009

some random thoughts...

1. Yesterday was Mother's day. I was spoiled by my sweet boys, brought homemade cookies in bed and beautiful flowers. By chance, we sang one of my favorite hymns in church and had nice picnic style lunch. It was a wonderful day, near perfection. near. I feel so whiney that I can't bring myself to say perfect. I'm so very blessed; both to have my sweet boys here and to have had my sweet girl at all. Life isn't perfect, it wasn't meant to be. I feel guilty that that's apparent. Mother's guilt? Bereaved mother's guilt? Both?

2. Planning and packing for our vacation, I wish there was a little pink suitcase lined up next to Spiderman and Elmo. What lovey might she pack?

3. With every showing, we get closer (in theory) to leaving this home behind. This is where she lived. Lord willing, our family will go on to make memories in the new home we're building. But she was alive here. Her memory will carry on to our "forever" home, but her physicaal life was here and part of me wants to stay. Part of me will stay.

4. The boys are going to release a Princess balloon for Keely while we're at Disney World. I'm happy to include her in our trip and I know she'll be there with us. Boston is convinced she's already been.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

never go alone to the card section...

There's a fantastic Christian bookstore here that I could spend hours and hours browsing in. They have lovely paintings, sculptures and frames plus bibles and Sunday school stuff. I spent a lot of time there after Keely died. The day we watched her heart stop, I asked if I could come back in the next day for another check....just in case. I was hoping against hope that they were wrong; the machine must be broken. The next day, we went back in (with a slew of family) and you know how that story goes. After we left the doctor's office that second day, I requested we go to the Christian bookstore. I don't really remember why I wanted to go but I know no one would've told me no about anything that day. So we went and browsed and browsed. I got a little silver plaque that reads "cradled in the arms of the Lord, wrapped in his joy and love, I wait until we meet again, together in Heaven above". The little plaque set out at her funeral. We got a few other things but that's the thing that sticks out in my mind.

They have a beautiful card section there and unless I'm going for humor, I always go there for greeting cards. I went in last week for my Mom's birthday card and my eyes wandered to the Mother's Day section, specifically the "Difficult Mother's Day" section. In a strange way, I was so happy to see it; so happy to see grief acknowledged and so sad for anyone receiving one because of why but happy for them that someone else realized. In a muddle of emotions, I read every card in that section. Tears welled up but didn't fall. It was therapuetic in a way.

Don't take my original advice. Do go to the card section alone and have few moments to yourself. As grieving mothers, our Mother's Day is always a difficult one as we'll never have all of our children with us physically. Read each card, be heartbroken and be lucky all at once.

"how can life feel so alive and still feel like dying" Mason Jennings

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

the tulips again...

The petals from Keely's tulips have fallen off. Their time for the year has passed. For some reason, I hate seeing them gone. They lasted longer than I thought they would, given my lack of gardening skills. They were there for Keely's days and for that, I am thankful. I just loved looking out the back door and seeing that vibrant color. I will miss that until next spring. For now, the angel from her funeral (courtesy of some friends at church) and a garden stone from her funeral with a beautiful verse (courtesy of friend's of the family) will keep the planter full until the tulips bloom again.

"God, grant me the serenityto accept the things I cannot change;the courage to change the things I can;and the wisdom to know the difference." the stone in our planter

Thursday, April 23, 2009


I'm going to have to get used to this. It will come up for the rest of our lives. On one hand, I'm so happy to include her but I wish I could include more than her name or memory.

Filling out my oldest son's preschool application, it asks siblings to be listed along with their age.

Keely, sister, deceased.
Callum, brother, 1 year old.

deceased. It's so bizarre that word is next to my child's name. Is that something you get used to?

"One of the hardest things in life is having words in your heart that you can't utter" James Earl Jones

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Keely's balloon release

I've put off this post because it seems so emotionally taxing. That's horrible, isn't it? I always want her birthday to be a day to celebrate her life and the balloon release always brings tears. What is it about a bunch of balloons sailing off into wherever that brings out such emotion? Boston talks about them sailing to Heaven, to Keely; maybe that's it. Maybe it just feels good to be "sending" her something.
The day she was born and the day she was buried were unseasonably cold days, dark and dreary. It was that way on last years balloon release as well; coat weather. This year was different. It was a bit chilly but so sunny and bright. It was windy and the balloon sailed quickly. I passed off the camera to my sister and she took some beautiful pictures...
Keely's little brother slept through the whole thing and big brother was so proud. Boston chose the Powerpuff girls balloon; he was insistent that Keely would just love it. I think she did. Callum chose the butterfly balloon (with a little help from mama). We gave them kisses, said a prayer and sent them up to the birthday girl. We then celebrated life with a carrot cake made by mama and Boston, complete with a butterfly and sprinkles on top. Somehow, getting a picture escaped me :( But I will remember it.

Before we let them go, we all attached beautiful cards that were signed and colored by those that love our girl. We took pictures of each one to keep for her memory book. Her daddy's was kept private; just between him and his little girl. My father wrote a poem for her. Here are a few of the 25 we sent into the sky that day....


"Take to flight with angel wings,

and soar into the sky.

Your fair, sweet life was quickly gone,

to a greater call on high.

A short, sweet note in the song of life,

Earthtime you never knew.

A chorus sings of solemn peace,

way beyond the blue.

With God's grace, we'll someday see

Lights of eternal glow.

And greeting us at Heaven's gate,

the path that you will show.

To that great, loving throne on high,

where the Father waits for us,

May the circle be unbroken

for all the fair and blessed."

written with love by Keely's Poppy 04/2009

a little praise for People

A gossip magazine junkie as it is, a story on bereaved parents would certainly catch my eye. Any story on "How they're coping" in reference to bereavement (in this case, John Travolta and family) instantly puts me on the defensive because I don't like the idea that grief is being judged. I can see how one could read into that headline as "what they're doing to get by" but I read it as "how well we think they're doing" or "how well they should be doing". Doesn't make much sense, but it's a gut reaction. I skimmed the article while waiting for my turn in line and see a little box with a subject along the lines of "when will they get over it" or something of that variety. Again with the defenses, but I was pleased upon reading it that the answer was true: "never". So often articles of this variety will do a huge disservice to the bereaved community by offering a timeline. So often, others will offer up a timeline of their own so as to relieve their own discomfort at continuing grief. Kudos to People magazine for offering a little insight into the fact that grief doesn't go away, we just deal with it more privately. The small box spoke of hidden tears and it rang so true. My prayers are with every bereaved parent in the world to have to deal with the loss of your child under the glare of public eye seems hugely unfair so my thoughts and prayers are with the Travoltas as they walk this journey.

"No person is ever truly alone.
Those who live no more,
Whom we loved,
Echo still within our thoughts,
Our words, our hearts.
And what they did
And who they were
Becomes a part of all that we are,
Forever. " Richard Fife

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I miss my girl

Sometimes I just need to say that. I miss my girl.

Sometimes I just need to mention her name without a real reason. My Keely.

Sometimes I just want to tell her I love her the way I'm so blessed to be able to tell my living children. I love you, Keely. I miss you, Keely.

"love is all you need" Paul McCartney

the real reason taxes suck...

I did our taxes back in January but in honor of tax day, I thought I'd complain.

I hate filling out the dependents section.

How many children do you have? 3.

How many children do I have to SAY I have? 2.

I know it's purely technical but it drives me insane. I so badly want to put 3. I don't want to claim her as a dependent. I don't want any extra money. I just want to acknowledge her even on stupid tax forms.

Next year, I'll just hire an accountant and not have to worry about it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

tears in church

I watched the clock for the past two weeks....what was I doing this time two years ago today. As we entered church, I watched it closer. At 10:45 am on April 12, 2007, the funeral director arrived at the hospital and we had to say our goodbyes. It was at that time, two years later, that we arrive at our church service and hear/sing "Where the roses never fade".

"I am going to a city
where the streets with gold are laid
where the tree of life is blooming
and the roses never fade
Here they bloom but for a season
soon their beauty is decayed
I am going to a city
where the roses never fade
Loved ones gone to be with Jesus
in their robes of white array
now are waiting for my coming
where the roses never fade
Here they bloom but for a season
soon their beauty is decayed
I am going to a city
where the roses never fade
where the roses never fade"

It wasn't a big scene; no loud sobs. I wasn't embarrassed. Just some peaceful tears for my beautiful girl, in a Home I hope to see someday. My husband's arm around me and a kiss from each boy, I felt completely blessed. I feel Keely was there with us too. The song was to remind us where she is, how she is. Our little blessing, waiting at the gates. We would see her here on earth only one more time; at the funeral home for a final kiss and to close the casket. The single hardest thing I've ever done was close the casket.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Happy 2nd Birthday in Heaven, Keely Rae!

Today is the day, 2 years ago, that we held our sweet girl in our arms. The first and last time.

Two years ago right now, I was in labor. A quiet, solemn and painful labor, but not because of the contractions. At 8:55 pm, our sweet girl was born to earth, already in Heaven. How I long to hold her again. And I will, someday.

Today, we will send balloons to Heaven from your monument here on earth. We will miss you, love you, celebrate you baby. You are our girl.

A link to her birth story:

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the number of moments that take our breath away" Anonymous

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


Well, we survived the 2nd angel day. We survived, but not without a good, long cry; maybe a few. It's popular belief that the days leading up to the actual date are worse and that's proven true for me in the past (I feel like I've been doing this 20 years). I think that's why I was caught off guard when, this year, the actual date was much worse than anticipated. It's not just a sad feeling or thinking back to that day, both of which I had/did and both of which suck, to put it not so eloquently. It's an actual, physical pain. Grief is very much physical and exhausting. My stomach hurt, my arms ached, my head pounded. All day, I just wanted the date overwith but when I looked at the clock that evening at 10:45 pm, I panicked. I suddenly realized her day was almost over. Her day; one of the few days a year that I feel like I can truly show my emotions and how much it hurts to miss her and it was almost over.

The day itself was beautiful. Depsite a forecast of rain, it was 69 degrees and sunny while we took fresh flowers out to the cemetary. A dozen fresh, white roses, 4 pink mini callalilies (one from each of us) and my mom took a dozen pink tulips. As we laid them on her grave, the first butterflies of the season came fluttering by. Last year, the first butterflies we saw of the year came by to visit on her angel day. Maybe I read too much into "signs" but that's a pretty good one. I'll take it. That evening, as we returned home from the cemetary, the storm clouds rolled in and it poured rain. I found that all too appropriate. I love this house in the rain. We left the windows open and felt the wind. We spent some time going through her memory trunk and talking about those days, the little things we remember.

We were overcome with remembrances of our little girl. I was greeted on facebook with 25 messages remembering Keely and her day. It's unbelievable how much that helps, how much that means to me. We received some beautiful cards in the mail (I'll post photos soon). We have a lovely day planned for her birthday celebration. While these days are sad because they are the dates we lost her, they are her days and can't be all sad. Her life had much meaning and her lessons are still being learned. We are so lucky to have had her. We are so lucky to have our boys with us. We are so lucky.

A huge, immense thank you to everyone who remembered our girl, through a card, a prayer, an email or a thought. The love was very much felt and very much appreciated.


"Loved with a love beyond telling,Missed with a grief beyond all tears."

Thursday, April 2, 2009

2 years ago today

It's been two years ago today at 11:20 am that our sweet Keely Rae grew her wings. I will remember every moment of this day, every smell, every sound. In one split second, everything changed. One second that I will relive until my own second comes. My heart hurts, my arms ache.

People like to tell you things to make you feel better. I probably did the same thing to my friends who lost their children before I joined the club. Even with the best of intentions, there is nothing that can ease the sorrow aside from just allowing grief to happen and letting the bereaved know that you're there for them and sorry. One popular thing I've heard is that time will ease the pain. That's just not true. I told myself it would be true for a long time. While day to day life becomes more bearable, it isn't the pain easing, it's our handling of it that gets better. We get better at masking the tears in the card section at Target or better at not glancing at the pink layettes in the mall. We get better at holding back our tears but the heart hasn't mended and it won't.

Today is her day and my heart is broken. Right now, 2 years ago, I was a completely and totally different person. Two years ago right now, her heart was strong.

Mama misses and LOVES you, Keely Rae. You are my heart, my moon and stars. Watch over us. Your brothers and daddy miss and love you. We'll see you soon, baby girl; in the blink of Heaven's eye <3

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

the clock keeps ticking...

...and with each tick, the pit in my stomach grows, my heart aches a little more. One second closer to another year gone. One step farther out from having held our little girl in our arms. One more moment since her heart made a final beat. How did 2 years pass? It's a bitter pill to swallow to know that every year, for the entire rest of my life, April 2 will freeze time. I will be a little old lady, Lord willing, making my way to the cemetary to visit my girl just as I did this morning. We brought her some fresh pink azaleas from the bush out front; they still had dew on them. The sun was bright on her spot today but I can feel my heart sinking with each passing moment. Each minute until 11:20 am tomorrow will be a "last" from 2 years ago.

I had someone say to me this week, "that must've been a hard day". And a hard day it was, but the ones after that were worse and now, two years out, there are still hard days. The hardest ones are the ones that I allow a little acceptance of our reality in. This is it. For all I have and all I'm blessed with, she's missing. A vital, needed member of our family is missing. These are her days, the days to remember. The boys will help me remember and I will teach them. I'm sure they know far more than I could begin to fathom. I will always have my memories and they'll take from their sister more than a flashback from a certain smell but an engrained knowledge from a very young age and for our rainbow boy, even from birth. What a gift my children have given each other; the boys will give her a legacy and she will give them knowledge distinct to that of a bereaved family. May each of them wear it well.

Behind every smile, there are tears and behind every tear, there are smiles.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Two years ago today, I didn't feel right

I called my OB and told her that Keely wasn't moving as much. They brought me in and did an ultrasound. I was told she was perfect and I saw her beautiful beating heart and she danced around onscreen. It was the last time I would see her active and lively. Though I would see that heart beat one more time, it would be much slower and I would watch it stop.

To this day, I don't know what was wrong that day, if anything. I will always wonder.

"I believe that imagination is stronger than knowledge -- myth is more potent than history -- dreams are more powerful than facts -- hope always triumphs over experience -- laughter is the cure for grief -- love is stronger than death." Robert Fulghum


My sister and brother in law went overseas and brought us back bulbs. I am the anti-gardener. Try as I might, we barely have live grass in our yard. I thought I'd give it a shot anyway. Knowing we're going to move soon, we didn't want any more sentimental baggage to say goodbye to when the time comes so we decided to have a makeshift garden in a big pot outside the back door. It holds a stone from her funeral with a beautiful verse on it and used to house a flowering tree (I said I tried). Last fall, I planted the tulips with the hope they were right side up. Last week, we saw the most beautiful dark pink blooms break through.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

my poem for Keely

I wrote this poem months after she died.

Keely Rae
I miss the piano player fingers and ballerina feet
Of the perfect little girl we waited so long to meet.
Big brother says he loves you and he wants to play
With his little sister in Heaven he hopes to meet one day.
She had her daddy’s chin and her auntie’s big blue eyes,
We can all feel you visit us, but now it’s in disguise.
Black and golden butterflies, the wind gust through my hair,
My little girl in Heaven, with Jesus I will share.
So many things we’ll miss and things we’d wished to see.
We’ll mourn our loss everyday; too many broken dreams.
But our angel watches over us, I can almost see her face.
We’ll meet again, some sweet day, at Heaven’s perfect gates.
We know you’re happy, Keely Rae, and that we shouldn’t cry,
for there’s no need to dance when you have wings and you can fly.

~mama, 2007

it's pointless to wonder, but...

I do. Everyday, I think how old Keely would be, what she might look like, what she might act like. I think of the milestones that she would be hitting. I think of the kind of clothes she might be wearing. Would she let me fix her hair? Would her hair be long enough for me to fix? I know it's pointless to wonder. I know these questions will forever be unanswered. And still, my mind wonders, my heart wonders. I wonder how she would interact with her brothers. Would she care kindly for her younger brother or play wildly with her older brother or both? Would her hair have stayed blonde? I think so. Would she be big like her brothers or more delicate? A tomboy or a princess? Maybe a little of both. She would be coming up to her second birthday; we are coming up to her second birthday.

My mind knows better than to ask these questions but I still wonder. I think I'll always wonder. As my boys grow and graduate high school and college, get married, have children of their own, I will count my blessings for they are many. I know how lucky I am to have my living children and to have had my angel here for a time. It's up to us now to grow her memory, just as we raise our other children.

"When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight."
Kahlil Gibran

Monday, March 23, 2009

spring decorations

Last weekend, we changed out Keely's decorations; new windchimes, new garland, new flowers and a ceramic bunny chosen with love.

her invitation...

Sunday, March 15, 2009

her best friend, I'd suppose

Yesterday, March 14th, was a special day for a little boy very dear to our hearts. It was his 2nd birthday. I tend to believe he and Keely are best buddies. I know they're there together in Heaven, celebrating and rejoicing in ways we can't begin to imagine. One of the lights on this journey, specific to this journey, has been meeting his mama; someone I know I can count on, come to, cry with. We met through the most devastating of circumstances and bonded over some of the scariest times while carrying our rainbow babies. We've celebrated their lives and mourned their deaths. Yesterday, we lit our candle, said a prayer and honored sweet Jason. Everyday, we remember and MISS and love him and our sweet Keely. Much, much love. XOXO

"I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea,
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times its only me
I am hanging in the balance of a finished perfect plan
like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand." Bob Dylan

Friday, March 13, 2009

a little appreciation

There are a few of you I know read this blog regularly and I want to truly, honestly thank you. I cannot tell you what it means to me to know that others think of Keely, read her name, know her story. From the moment she died, I felt like one of my missions on earth is to see that she's remembered and not only by Sam and myself but by others. She did have a life. She was very much a person and she is very much loved and missed by her family by the day, by the moment. I have 3 children. Three so far. They are our sunlight and fill our hearts with joy; all of them, living and passed on. I kept a journal in the months after Keely's passing at the suggestion of my bereavement counselor but it never really seemed to help. It has been so therapeutic for me to know that she is not and will not be forgotten. This blog helps me know that and helps my preserve memories of her and our journey of grief and remembering that I might otherwise forget or get hazy at the least. I can preserve these memories for her brothers so they will know their sister in a (little) more traditional sense. Our oldest already amazes me at how much he understands and our littlest probably knows more than we will ever fathom. My hope is that they grow up to be more compassionate as a result of not getting to know Keely the way we would've hoped.

Keely's passing has offered me some of the best friends I have, through the MISS Foundation and my bereavement group; I know we never have to walk this journey alone and I get to know some of the little angels I know Keely's celebrating with in Heaven.

So, thank you. Thank you for reading, remembering and knowing my girl. I love you all!

the flowers

We shopped last night for new flowers for Keely's grave. Nearly 2 years down this road and it does still feel like a movie at times. I said to Sam as we browsed for flowers that our oldest son was extremely specific about "not too floppy" and "very pink for our girl" and "just right floppy" that I wondered if it would ever get easy to shop for flowers for the cemetary. I've done it countless times, go to the cemetary daily and yet, every time, it seems more "real". He said he was just going to say that he's finally at the point that he doesn't dread the flower store. It's nice now, that big brother is big enough to express an interest in what goes on her grave. One of the few things we get to actively do for our girl. I enjoy decorating her grave. There's something about the shopping for it, though. I can't quite verbalize it. I like to do something a little different every time we change them out. This time, Sam found a cute tin watering can and we chose several shades of pink flowers to pour out of them. We also got a new garland for around the base of the headstone; the one that's there is too wintry now and a garland for my great grandma Marney, buried next to my girl. I was very excited about her new windchimes; they're perfect. Sam and Boston continued their tradition of choosing a ceramic bunny for Eastertime for her grave. I'll post photos when it gets a little closer.

I haven't been able to bring myself to throw out anything that's been with her at the cemetary. It's all in its own spot in the garage. I thought maybe I'd just save the "special" things but it's all special to me. It's all shared time at her resting place. It's all been laid out to memorialze her. Maybe someday I'll feel differently or we'll run out of garage space but for now, it will collect.

Monday, March 9, 2009

party is planned

The invitations to Keely's 2nd birthday celebration are all ready to go. I'll post after they're out so the surprise isn't ruined :) We found a lovely poem to put on it, along with her name in the sand (thank you, again, Carly!).

I haven't decided between a cake or cupcakes but we'll make them like last year. Big brother really enjoyed that last year and now, little brother can help too.

We sent out cards for everyone to fill out with a quote, poem or message to attach to their balloon for release but before we send them to Heaven, we'll photograph each one for her memory album. And so it begins, with the "this time last year, this time 2 years ago..."

Esphesians 1:16
I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.

Friday, February 27, 2009

time to plan

It's the time of year that I am now planning two birthday parties; two very different birthday parties. Our beautiful little rainbow baby has blessed our lives here for nearly a year and a year and 12 days before his birth, we held his big sister in our arms.

Though this season brings tears and memories, I love it. I love the "excuse" to mention her name and use her image or beautiful words to mark her memory. I love getting together with family and friends to release balloons and messages to Heaven. Though I think I'll forever underestimate how emotional the balloon releases are, I love them. The significance and how very lucky we are for the constant reminder that so many other love her, remember and have her etched in their hearts. Her legacy continues.

Today, I will begin the invitations to her birthday party. I'm not going to use the painting of her because so many have not seen it yet. It's still a very private thing to share. I will spend hours choosing the right words, the right verse or poem to commemorate her day. I think this year, we're going to ask the others celebrating with us to write a little note to her or about her before the balloons are released. I'd like a photo of each writing to keep in her memory album. I need to decide what I'd like to put in the newspaper this year in her memory and if I'd like it for her angel day, birthday or both.

Two weeks after her birthday will be her baby brother's first birthday and though she won't be helping him open his presents, she will very much be with us.

"God gave us memory so that we may have roses in December" rectoral address May 3, 1922 St Andrew's University Scotland

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

a little stranger

A long weekend away took myself and my boys to a Children's Museum this past Saturday. We had a lovely day, played and learned, enjoyed the crowds of other excited children. My oldest son's favorite was the train exhibit. We had to check it out 3 or 4 times. One of the last times we were there, he made friends with a little blonde girl, probably just under 2 ***sigh*** A blonde bob with dark eyebrows, just maybe she looked a little like our girl would've at this age. Bittersweet to see Boston and what might've been, but seeing it with the comfort of our sweet rainbow boy eases the blow a bit. Not a day goes by that we don't think of, miss and love our sweet girl. One day, baby, we'll be back to you.

"How can life feel so alive
and still feel like dying" Mason Jennings

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

it still takes my breath away

The names we've chosen for our children aren't the most common names so when I do hear them, it really catches my attention, even with my living children. When we chose Keely's name, we knew there would be other Keelys because we chose it to honor my sisters. I love her name and, of course, can never picture her with any other name and certainly it should be hers alone ;)

I have begun to look around for birthday party decorations for my rainbow boy (hard to believe this time last year he was still residing in my belly!). Upon a quick internet search for birthday party favors, there it is... My breath catches immediately upon seeing it... her name. her name. How dare someone else wear her name? How dare someone else have a birthday, wearing her name? I can't help but look. A sweet little girl named Keely, celebrating her 4th birthday. Suddenly, the jealousy and hurt at a stranger choosing her name melts away. That's not my Keely. I'm glad for those people who get to celebrate the birthday of their little Keely at a party, not a cemetary. A little jealous? Maybe, but it quickly fades. I don't want someone else's Keely or someone else's girl. I want mine and that isn't in the cards in this lifetime. So here I sit, very blessed in this life nonetheless but missing my girl and thankful for my boys all at once. It's very possible, though I'm not sure how those who haven't said goodbye to their children too soon could understand. I don't think I could've.

And so, like many of my posts, the rambling has begun and the point probably lost but I feel better having said her name. And, thank you, to the strangers and friends that take the time to read her name, think of her name or think of her, keeping her very much alive.


"Keely Aimee, I'm sure you dreamed you'd do far greater things

But, Keely, I wish you wouldn't dwell on what could and couldn't be

I know how dreams can let you down

I've had some rude awakenings

But Keely, I still go back to sleep

In the dead of night you spring to life for me"

Keely Aimee, The Good Life

Saturday, February 14, 2009

quotes I love

"just one step, I beg you please
just one more step, my knees are weak
my heart is sturdy but it needs you to survive,
my heart is sturdy but it needs you"

Dashboard Confessional

easter dresses

We decided to start shopping around a bit for Easter outfits for the boys today. Going into the mall, I knew what emotions the dresses would bring out. In the week after Keely's death but before her birth, we had Easter. She was still with us physically but she was soaring already. We celebrated, mourned and prepared for her birth and burial...and the Easter Bunny. She never got to wear the frills of easter or a matching hat. She never ran out of her sparkly shoes, diving for an egg but those dresses, hats and shoes remind me of her and that she never did those things.

Only in my mind, I pick out which one I would've chosen for her this year and think of the size she might be. How much might she understand now? Would she be afraid to sit on the Easter Bunny's lap for a photo or brave beside her brothers? There is a pink, ballerina style dress with tiny delicate ruffles that would've been the one this year. Her wisps of white hair may've been long enough for pigtails.

My heart is filled with love and blessings. My two beautiful boys and husband light up my life but the part of my heart that belongs to Keely aches for her and I miss her so terribly. 2 years later, the wonders continue and on they will.

I won't buy the pink dress. There will be 1 empty space on the Easter Bunny's lap. But, we will visit her grave and leave a bunny or an egg, her brothers are in charge of that. We will miss her, but love her more and appreciate the presence of each other more. Easter, this year, falls the day after her birthday so her baloons should still be there with the flowers still fresh. And her basket will be full as is my heart. If only for my arms...

"The pain passes, but the beauty remains." Pierre Auguste Renoir

Thursday, February 12, 2009

for you, baby girl

In loving memory of Keely Rae, I've completed my first "Angel in Oil" painting. I decided to use my profession as an oil portrait artist to honor the memory of my little girl and the memories of her angel friends by doing free portraits for their heartbroken families.

How blessed I am to be a part of the lives of these angels.

I have also been honored since June 2007 to be a photographer and area coordinator for Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep infant bereavement photography; also in Keely's name. Because we know, all too well how important those photos are...


Wednesday, February 11, 2009


The end of winter, with a few frigid days followed by warmth takes me back to 2007. The day she died, I was in the doctor's office in jeans and a sleeveless shirt with my hair tied up in a bandana. It was warm and the sun was bright. Just before we knew there was a problem, the dr was teasing me about need new jeans (I was using the old rubber band trick). The day she was born, it was freezing. I didn't bring a jacket to the hospital; I didn't care about the cold. The day we came home from the hospital, it was terribly windy and very chilly. I can remember the wind blowing the car door hard as we tried to load up our things. I remember being wheeled out, empty armed, to wait for Sam to bring the car around. On the way out, there was a new mother. We had both just given birth and were going home but the home she was facing was much different than mine. I will never forget her face. She watched me go out, probably wondering why I looked the way I did, why I didn't need a carseat. I wanted so desperately to tell her. I wanted her to know Keely's name.

The day of the funeral started out chilly and got even colder as the day rolled along. The one time the sun was shining was after the funeral, on the way to internment at the cemetary. Sam was carrying her tiny casket out, I was behind him carrying Boston as he slept and the sun crept through the window. By the time we got to the cemetary, there was a light mist and a cloudy sky. It was very cold, especially for April 14th. I remember worrying that her flowers or ribbons would blow away.

And so, the days of in between, when you aren't sure what to expect of spring will always remind me of my girl and the days we said goodbye. Her days are creeping up to us again. How did 2 years pass us by? In the midst of remembering, we will celebrate and in the midst of celebrating, we will remember.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

my walk to see Kee

2 inches of ice and 14 inches of snow tried its best to keep me from Keely's grave. She is laid to rest on the back side of the cemetary, just on the other side of a tall hill. It was 3 degrees yesterday morning so we took Nana with us, knowing the boys couldn't get out in that cold. Unfortunately (though not surprisingly) no plow had touched the roads and the gates were still closed. I left the car running with my precious boys and my mom in there and began the trek over the hill. The wind was brutal and my feet rarely broke the ice beneath. Very dramatic sounding, eh? It was beautiful. Despite the cold, the sun was shining brightly and the snow absolutely glistened on my walk up. As soon as I made an impression on the snow, it was as quickly gone with the wind. From the time I stepped out of the car, I could hear her chimes. Such a nice sound to chase. I made it up to my girl and found her little angel statue completely submerged in ice and snow in a hard block. I dusted snow off of the garland and untangled her windchimes, though I'm sure they were just as tangled by the time I got back to the car. I had a peaceful moment, just me and my Keely, said a prayer, gave her kisses and made my way back to the car. Only the bunnies had been to see her; I could see their tracks in the ice. But she is with us, even when we can't brave the weather.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Her Name

We chose Keely Rae's name in honor of my 2 sisters (Stephanie Rae and Erin Keely) and for it's beauty.

The meaning of the name Keely is "Beautiful".
The origin of the name Keely is Irish.

The meaning of the name Rae is Diminutive Form Of Rachel Or Raymond (counsel protection)
The origin of the name Rae is English

Perfect for our Irish/English beauty

Sunday, January 25, 2009

25 random things

A post has been floating around Facebook where you post 25 random things that people might not know about you. I decided to do the same for Keely:

1. She's buried with a blue stuffed angel because I was so sure she was a boy.
2. She was born with her beautiful blue eyes open.
3. She is buried next to my beloved grandmother, Marney.
4. She weighed 1 lb 3 oz. but most likely lost weight after death, before birth. She was huge for her age!
5. My feet were crossed at the arches in the hospital bed and the nurse asked if I sat that way often (I do) because Keely's feet kept crossing that way when they tried to get her footprints.
6. She died at 11:20 am. 04/02/07
7. She was born at 8:55 pm. 04/11/07
8. She had wisps of white, white hair.
9. She was buried April 14th, 11 years to the day from my baptism.
10. Her nickname in utero was Baby Cree.
11. She is the only one of our 3 children we didn't know the gender of before birth.
12. Boston got to hold her.
13. She is named for my sisters (oldest's middle name is Rae, middle's middle name is Keely).
14. After her birth, we read "I Love You As Much" to her, just as we read to her brother every night. The last page says "Now sleep, child of mine, while the stars shine above. I love you as much as a mother can love"
15. The bouquet on her casket was white roses and lilies of the valley, the same as my wedding bouquet.
16. 62 bouquets were sent to her funeral.
17. Macy's will always make me think of her. That's where we found much of what she's buried with as well as what I wore to the funeral.
18. Her headstone is emerald green, which is hard to see in the photos.
19. We (hubby and I) designed her stone.
20. It was 30 degrees the day she was buried.
21. While in early labor, we watched the Style Network wedding show, trying to be distracted.
22. She wore a little pink robe in the hospital. The funeral home laundered it so she could be buried in it and we could keep her little pink dress.
23. The imprint of a foot on her life announcements are almost exactly the same size as her footprints.
24. I have a tattoo of pink angel wings on my right shoulder for her.
25. A little angel carrying lilies of the valley was stolen from her grave last year.

Monday, January 19, 2009

what happened...

So often we are asked for an explanation of what exactly happened to our sweet little Keely. If only we knew...

Upon our pregnancy with our sweet little rainbow, Callum, every test known to man and perinatologist was performed, including blood clotting disorder testing. My peri had a feeling we would find our answers there. As we waited for the results to come in, after months of wondering and hoping for an answer, I got my answer. My answer was that I didn't want to know. In waiting for those test results, I realized that knowing would be just as scary as not, maybe even moreso. And so, ignorant bliss is the path I longed for. Knowing what happened wouldn't bring our baby back but it may provide a safer entry into the world for our youngest and so then I did want to know. When the phone rang and my heart leapt into my throat, that half-prayer was answered. No clotting disorders. I was have half relieved, half terrified.

I have gone over every second of pregnancy, from conception to watching her beautiful heartbeat stop, looking for an answer, even a clue. None to be found by doctors or hunch. I don't know if it's better that way but it doesn't really matter now. The best medical guess is a cord issue, compression or entanglement that resolved itself while we planned the funeral, before her birth. And so it goes.

"This day is getting older, in fading light it's beautiful.
This wind is blowing colder, and too soon I'll feel it's pull.
Still, I took all my chances, earned myself an even score.
Try to learn my lessons well. And I don't have the answers,
for those questions anymore. Only love can be both heaven and hell.

So sturdy up, sturdy up your heart, for the road is long ahead.
I'll be with you even though we're apart, but your road is yours to tread.
And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes, slows your mind, mind, mind, so it goes... and so it goes, and so it goes, slows your mind, mind, mind.

I've grown old on this ocean, gave her all, my stronger years.
Gave my wife my devotion, when she died, the ocean my tears.
I've tried to teach you well son, all of everything I knew.
Of how to live this life be true.
Don't bow your head to no one, and no matter what you do,
if you start then see it through.

So sturdy up, sturdy up your heart, for the road is long ahead.
I'll be with you even though we're apart, but your road is yours to tread.
And so it goes, and so it goes, and so it goes, slows your mind, mind, mind, so it goes... and so it goes, and so it goes, slows your mind, mind, mind."

~The Beautiful Girls