Friday, December 30, 2011

saying goodbye and saying hello

Ringing out the old year and in with the new, but bringing the memory of our loved ones gone before in new ways, in ways we don't fully understand, in ways we haven't before. But, they are with us.

Wishing everyone missing someone a gentle, peaceful and even happy new year.

"Bring unto the sorrowing
All release from pain;
Let the lips of laughter
Overflow again" ~ James Whitcomb Riley

Thursday, December 29, 2011

couch jumpers!

The more time that passes, the harder it is to picture what Keely might look like if she were alive today. It gets harder to mould that almost 2 lb girl's face into that of a 4 year old and guess how she might fit in with her brothers, how they might quarrel or how they might snuggle up for a movie.

Just now, I was able to picture it. For the first time in a long time, I could picture a 4 year old girl, in jammies like her brothers, acting silly and getting into mischief with them. I could picture her blonde hair falling into a mess over her face as she jumps on the couch until they finally hear me calling to them.

A completely fabricated vision and yet, in it, I find peace. Millions of what ifs in a day, still. Always. And always still, peace because I know she's at peace.

Friday, December 9, 2011

a little girl's Christmas

We always choose to honor Keely at the holidays by sponsoring a little girl the age Keely would've been this year.

4 years old. Too grown for baby toys. Specific interests, likes, dislikes, a personality we'll never know. It was harder this year than I remember it being. I chose a sparkly pink sweater dress and sparkly shoes. Would she like those things? Would she be more of a tomboy? She'd have to be kind of tough to hang out with her brothers ;) Or they'd be her protectors. I was drawn to the little girl asking for dinosaurs because she most certainly would've been forced to play dinos, even if just a little. After looking through the Barbie aisle, they seemed too grown up for a 4 year old so her baby brother helped me pick out a fairy doll. Perfect.

Some little girl somewhere will open those gifts Christmas morning and I hope they are her taste and that she's excited and feels the magic of Christmas that my little girl never got to see. Meanwhile, my little girl will be remembered and missed and enjoying Heaven until we get there. We'll be experiencing the joy and magic of Christmas while experiencing the pain of an absence. Life is not fair but it is beautiful and fleeting, another lesson our girl sends home.

Wishing gentle holidays to anyone missing someone. XOXO

"The presence of her absence is everywhere"

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Where I've been...

I have been very absent from the blog, but of course, Keely is never off my mind.

We've moved. We've moved from the home she "lived" in. We've moved from the home we grieved in, in those early, darkest hours. We've left the town she was born and died in, the doctors who cared for her, her name on the brick outside the hospital.

It's been far more emotional than I could've imagined, though I knew it would be hard. It's something that's right for our family. If Keely were alive, she'd be nervous and excited as her brothers are. We've put up Christmas decorations, her stocking, her things. We've brought her with us, but it's hard leaving those places too.

We've decorated her grave (we're still about an hour from her grave, just in a different direction now) for Christmas. Beautiful white, sparkly tree and white sparkly wreath on her purple shepherd's hook, which wouldn't be complete without a pink butterfly too.

This has been a hard year for the family. My grandmother, then 6 weeks later my grandfather, both called Home. Greeted by a great granddaughter. I miss them all dearly. The holidays, while lit up with the sweet faces of my living children, are still missing the light of those gone on before us. Someday we'll understand.


Sunday, September 25, 2011

a bit of good news!

The cemetery sold! The man who purchased it/took it over/whatever is doing it as a labor of love. He's using the fall to repair where vandalism took place and mowing and weeding before cold weather sets in. Then in the spring, his plans are to replace some of the old roads with brick walking paths and add a gazebo and gathering fountain. He has also promised that no one helping will be arrested :)


Friday, September 16, 2011

lots to write but not much to say

My husband left early for work today; before the boys and the sun were awake. The baby and I woke up with him, to have breakfast together and see him off. Now, as the baby nurses back to sleep, I am taking in the quiet of the house. I hear the constant buzz of the ceiling fans and the occasional roll of one of the boys asleep in bed.

The changing of the seasons, the upcoming birth of a new nephew and even the still of the house make me think of Keely and how she'd fit into this puzzle were she still living.

There is an on-going battle with the caretaker (and I'm using the term VERY loosely) of the cemetery. There are hundreds of graves there and all have been horribly neglected while he continues to collect perpetual care funds along with a tacky and insulting "collections" box for donations at the entrance. On top of that he has threatened to have anyone mowing or pulling weeds at their loved ones' graves ARRESTED. Can you imagine??

"What are you in for?"
"Mowing the grass at my daughter's grave."

Street cred!

Not much more to say on that. We are continuing to mow the grass and pull the weeds. I'm guessing/hoping the police department will be busy with other things.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

what i want the world to know..

I saw a question posed today about bereavement... What would I want people to know about the my journey in grief.

The answer, to me, is quite simple: that Keely is in every thought, every breath, just like each of my children I'm lucky enough to still hold. She is still a member of our family, part of every day of our lives and one more thing... we love to hear her name.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

The Big See... this is going to be a long one!

The Big C is a Showtime series in its second season. I was a fan from the very beginning, watched the premiere and every episode since. It follows the life of a middle-ish aged woman and all the quirky people in her life after her diagnosis of Stage IV melanoma. Despite the description, it's a comedy and a comedy that is pulled off quite well.

I became nervous upon seeing the teaser last week for this week's: the lead character's over the top "crazy" brother (who throughout the first season chose to be homeless and unemployed in order to decrease his carbon footprint) and the woman carrying his child (the lead character's self-absorbed long time friend) experience a miscarriage at 18 weeks gestation after finding out they were carrying a girl.

Of course there would be nerves about watching an experience close to our own play out and all the feelings it might conjure up, but more than that, I was concerned with how an "early" loss would be depicted. I was right to be concerned. Though Keely was 22w3d when she died, I loved her just the same 5 weeks earlier. Have you ever heard of a parent that loved their child slightly less the day before? Unlikely.

A lot of it I was expecting. The phrase "It wasn't even a person" stung but wasn't unexpected.

What was both hurtful and fascinating was how Sean (lead character's brother and grieving father) showed his grief. He went "off his meds" and was, therefore, acting "crazy"....

Crazy, to them, is planning and having a funeral (albeit an over the top one, complete with sushi bar and photo booth). Crazy to them is publicly complaining about how society doesn't respect these little lives (and I've already read one naive blogger's argument that that isn't true. oh please.) He even got his child's name tattooed on him (though it was on his tush). What does it say about me that I have a whole lot in common with the crazy one?

Well I believe it says that we do live in a society that doesn't appreciate life or understand bereavement and certainly doesn't respect grief.

But nonetheless, it got someone's mental wheels spinning on bereavement and as they say, no publicity is bad publicity.

The highlight for me of last night's episode was the eulogy that this baby's life had in fact, touched many in various ways and if those characters were real people, they'd continue to be amazed for the rest of their lives at how one life could touch so many without their feet touching the earth.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Day of Hope: Ask me anything!

August 19th Day of Hope: "People view the death of a baby as just a sad thing that happened. These babies that die are not sad things that happen. They are people, much loved and wanted children. They are brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, grandsons and granddaughters. August 19th is about openly speaking about these children and celebrating their short lives."

In honor of this day, ask me anything. Is there a question you have about bereavement or stillbirth? Is there something left unsaid about Keely? One thing I've found in common with many, many, MANY other bereaved parents is the desire to talk about their children; that desire doesn't diminish with time but people willing to listen does. Take this day to ask a question...of me, of another bereaved parent, of Google even. Or all three. Grief isn't one size fits all so you might be surprised by the differences in answers and you might make someone's day.


Tuesday, August 16, 2011

what to say, what to say

It's been a somber summer. A summer of goodbyes and of remembrances. And, as always, life must continue. I don't really have a coherent post put together in my head, which is ironic because I spend much time on my daily runs authoring often lengthy posts on life and grief and just as my fingers hit the keyboard..........what was I talking about?

My parents brought back souvenirs for my kids after visiting Walt Disney World. I can always count on them to spoil my babies the way a Nana and Poppy should. With them, Keely is never forgotten. Whether it's a decoration for her grave or something for her shelf or memory trunk, it's something. This time, they brought a sparkly bracelet, full of colors and the magic of Mickey. It spurred a bittersweet conversation between my husband and myself. Is that what they might've brought back if she were alive? I thought it possible while my husband felt she might've been more of a tomboy (also possible given her surroundings ;) ) Oh what might have been...


Monday, July 18, 2011

one missing on vacation...

Loving, missing, remembering always.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

she came to play...

As our middle son (Keely's baby brother) was drifting off to sleep last night, he said "I hope 'Teely' comes to play with me again" So I asked him if she came before and he said "Yes, she tries to play me...lots at Nannie's {my mom} house" <3 <3 <3

Maybe it's his 3 year old mind wandering, but maybe, just maybe.

Monday, June 13, 2011

another goodbye, for now...

My beloved Gramps has gone to be with my Marney and my Keely. He died peacefully, in his sleep in the dark of night. Another unexpected goodbye.

It's so strange that when your child dies, it can feel at times that her life was a dream. I have to remind myself that it really happened. My child really was here. She really died.

When someone that has been a part of life since my own birth day dies, the death feels like a dream. I have to remind myself of the reality that he is gone.

So suddenly and so final. So familiar.

My Gramps, who taught me magic tricks and a positive outlook, how to bake persimmon pudding and drive a tractor, who now is reunited with my Marney and met Keely. My Gramps, so very missed.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

comfort in connections

When my Nana passed away earlier this month, I looked through thousands of photos to put in a memorial slideshow. I found significant comfort in one of them. On Keely's birthday in 2009, what would've been her 2nd birthday, we all wrote messages on a card to her, attached them to balloons and let them sail away to Heaven. Before we released them, though, I photographed them...

"Dear Keely,
I look forward to meeting you in your heavenly home. I know both my sisters are there- Marney & Rusie- to keep you company till I get to join you.
Love, Your Great Nana"

seconds in Heaven...

I haven't been sure where to record this. It's something not well understood and quite often met with skepticism, even from me. There are some things we just aren't meant to know (so says Deut. 29:29) and I consider understanding a direct connection in this physical world to the other side one of those things. I *want* to believe seeing Keely in my dreams is a little visit with her, a glimpse of her. Sometimes it might be, then other times maybe just a dream. All the same, I want to remember them. In the end, I want to remember this so I'm here, recording it.

My Nana came to my mother in a dream {if you'll recall, my Nana passed away last month}. She excitedly told her of Heaven, how she wished she'd come sooner; knowing real joy. She also told her to tell me not to say LIVING children anymore {I'll sometimes refer to my living children as that in order to include all of them besides Keely for whatever reason}. She said "Keely's LIVING, really LIVING". It brought on a rush of emotions, not the least of which was chills and gratitude. What a gift to have, even for a moment, a glimpse. Someday we'll understand...

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

Friday, May 13, 2011

missing more...

Tomorrow it will have been a week since watching my Nana's earthly life end, a week since she met my girl face to face. I feel so lucky to have that link to the other side. Lucky my girl met my Nana on the shore. Lucky my Nana will rock her until I can. So lucky and in a worldly sense, missing so very much. Life can be so short and so long all at once.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

greet your Great Nana at the gates, little girl

Keely greeted my Nana this afternoon on the shore of Heaven. I find myself thinking of my Great Grandmother, Eula. A mother of 5: a stillborn boy, my beloved Marney who died in 1991 at the age of 75, Riley who died in 1927 at the age of 7, Ruth who died in 1986 at the age of 62 and my Nana Helen who passed through the gates today at age 83. For the first time, Eula has all her children together. What a joyful reunion it must be.

"when the saints get to Heaven, what a day of rejoicing that will be."

Monday, April 25, 2011

just one

from her party...

visions of Keely

Last week I had a dream that I needed to let settle in my head before I spoke about it. It really got me thinking and I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

In it, Keely was about 4 years old; the age she'd be now. All three of her brothers were here as well, all the ages they'd be as well. My whole family was together. But it wasn't the dream I usually picture because in it, Keely was dying. She had cancer and we knew she was dying. That was the whole dream. Very simple but very vivid. I could smell the hospital even after I woke up. I knew the design on her hospital gown, the colors in the room. I knew the thoughts going through my head in the dream.

This dream has had my mind in knots. What I wouldn't give to have my family together!! I'd love for my sons to know their sister in an earthly way. I'd love to hear her voice, her laugh. I'd love to have her eyes look back into mine. I'd love even 4 years together...

But I know how selfish that is. I don't want her scared or in pain or who knows what else a family would go through when a child dies after you're used to waking up with or opening presents Christmas morning with them. I know she's happy and dancing in Heaven. It's us left that mourn and while we can't truly understand it now, this life is temporary.

On a similar note, I think my niece has a gift. A gift I fear she may outgrow one day so I'm recording these little glimpses now while I can. My niece is going to be 4 this summer. My sister and I were pregnant at the same time. Keely and her cousin were about 6 weeks apart. Her Daddy went to sit next to her on the couch and she said "No Daddy, you can't sit there. The girl is there." very matter of factly. She then went on to issue an extensive apology to 'the girl' on her daddy's behalf ;) So her daddy asked her about the girl. "She has yellow hair and green eyes." He asked her name. "Mommy, Stephanie." I find this particularly remarkable as Keely is named for my two sisters; their middle names. I have no reason to believe my niece would know this about her Mommy and our other sister (who ALWAYS goes by Steph or a nickname, never Stephanie). A few minutes later, she said "okay, you can sit there now, the girl went to sit with her Mommy."

Like we got a little glimpse of Heaven, of our girl. I'm so grateful.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

another birthday past

We made it through her celebration and then through her birthday. It was a lovely celebration of a beautiful but short life. Pictures will come soon. The last milestone is the 14th, the day she was laid to rest.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Friday, April 1, 2011

a frenemy returns

Frenemy: combination of a friend and an enemy.

My former constant companion the nightmare has returned, probably due to the looming dates on the calendar. An enemy because of the terror it can hold and a friend because I can wake up to know it was't real.

The worst nightmares are the ones you can't wake up from. Like any given night, life often contains both a dream and a nightmare and sometimes the dividing line gets blurred.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

the first of many lasts

2 years ago I blogged about 2 years before that.

That Thursday 4 years ago, I had no idea how life would change the next time I went in to see the doctor.

a happy update!

I called the foundation handling the memorial bricks yesterday, not expecting much to come of it. They were unbelievable! Immediately, she got in touch with the man in charge of installation and he went out and put it in!! We went to see it last night; couldn't get too close because the gates were locked (maybe since the brick was 'setting') but I could see her name <3 She's right by the fountain; a front row seat!

I hope those people know how much it meant to me. I told them but I doubt they realize how they made my day. I'm going to pay it forward by using a kindness card today.

If you aren't familiar with kindness cards, check it out:

It's a way I can feel good about someone reading Keely's name today.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

a change in plans

That's the story of life, right? Just when you think you have something all squared away... not so fast, lady! You would think I'd know this by now.

As tradition, each year we honor Keely's angelversary by visiting her grave and laying fresh roses down or throwing rose petals into the wind at the cemetery, just our little family. We also make sure a candle is lit at 11:20 am, the time of her passing. It's an emotional day and the anticipation is as bad as and sometimes worse than the day itself. The mental preparation begins much in advance. This year, I had been preparing for something different. To honor Keely's life, we purchased a brick with her name and dates to be set at the 'garden of peace' at the hospital where she was born. It was to be laid last week. Unfortunately, we visited there last night and no brick :(

I spoke with a woman from the foundation this morning and she was terribly sweet and helpful, putting a call into the man in charge of laying the bricks but my hopes aren't very high; low temps and snow/sleet the rest of the week will most likely keep any more from being set. So mental prep starts all over with a new vision in mind.

As a sidenote: how very, very, very different life was this day 4 years ago, before the storm. I had no idea.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

the windows are open and memories flood in

There have been some signs of spring. Those signs are fleeting for this midwestern family and it takes me back to the spring of Keely. I distinctly remember what I was wearing the day she died: a pink headwrap, long black fitted top, Hudson jeans and flip flops. That day was beautiful outside.

The day she was laid to rest was frigid. The wind whipped around us as we stood by her grave for prayers and songs. A light mist was falling that might've been mistaken for flurries at a glance.

Things change so quickly for a midwestern spring but how quickly a life can change course.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

ramblings nearly 4 years down the road

I don't know if people have forgotten. I don't know if their allowance for my grief has worn thin or out completely. I don't know if they think I should be over it or, worse yet,that I am over it. I'll set the record straight: there's nothing to get over. You can't get over losing a child just like you can't get over having a child. It's nearly if not completely impossible to know what it is to lose a child if you haven't just as it's nearly if not completely impossible to know what it is to have a child.

In a perfect earth, people would either understand your grief or at the very least respect it, but in a perfect world, there would be no grief to understand.

Someday, someday.

"Oh they tell me of a home far beyond the skies..."

Saturday, March 19, 2011

in the fury of the moment, I can see The Master's hand

My Bob Dylan (yup, I'm laying claim), he can read my mind. I've loved this song since long before having children and even longer before burying one of them. But I see this song as a vivid description of grief and living after part of you dies. xoxo

In the time of my confession,
in the hour of my deepest need
When the pool of tears beneath my feet
flood every newborn seed
There's a dyin' voice within me
reaching out somewhere,
Toiling in the danger and in
the morals of despair.

Don't have the inclination to
look back on any mistake,
Like Cain,
I now behold this chain of events
that I must break.
In the fury of the moment
I can see the Master's hand
In every leaf that trembles,
in every grain of sand.

Oh, the flowers of indulgence
and the weeds of yesteryear,
Like criminals,
they have choked the breath
of conscience and good cheer.
The sun beat down upon the steps
of time to light the way
To ease the pain of idleness
and the memory of decay.

I gaze into the doorway of
temptation's angry flame
And every time I pass that way
I always hear my name.
Then onward in my journey
I come to understand
That every hair is numbered
like every grain of sand.

I have gone from rags to riches
in the sorrow of the night
In the violence of a summer's dream,
in the chill of a wintry light,
In the bitter dance of loneliness
fading into space,
In the broken mirror of innocence
on each forgotten face.

I hear the ancient footsteps like
the motion of the sea
Sometimes I turn, there's someone there,
other times it's only me.
I am hanging in the balance
of the reality of man
Like every sparrow falling,
like every grain of sand.

Friday, March 18, 2011

fear and peace

Peace is a funny thing. I would say my life is peaceful. Peeking in our house at times, a stranger may not agree, but they can't see what I see.

I have 3 amazing living boys. Words cannot describe how much I love my 4 children; it's just this impossible, amazing, heart-wrenching, so deep in your soul it hurts kind of love. I have the honor of those children calling me, or knowing me, as their mother. I get to watch their lives begin, be a part of it all. With one, I've gotten to witness the end of that beautiful life on this earth. I've gotten to kiss 4 beautiful little foreheads, hold and rock 4 little newborn loves, sing each one a lullabye, read "our story" to each one. And though I only got to do those things with Keely once, I am blessed for that time. I am honored each night that I get to do those things with her brothers.

One thing that losing a child steals from you is your sense of comfort. Nothing is safe. And though I'd give my life to save the life of any one of my children, sometimes that isn't enough. That's a bitter pill to swallow. Oftentimes I can push the fear of realizing this truth aside and other times, it's consuming. Those times of fear, I find myself in hours of prayer. There, and there alone, there is comfort. Someday I'll have all my children together; something I will never get to experience on this earth in the way we all want to so badly.

I find comfort in coming here, to my place to say her name and relieve my fears. She's the only child I don't have to worry about. My life is peaceful, yes. But there are days I have to search hard to pull the warmth of peace back around my shoulders. As Keely's days near, I'll rely on the peace brought by my living children's smiles and laughs and the presence of my beautiful girl in my heart.

"There's a land that is fairer than day,
And by faith we can see it afar;
For the Father waits over the way
To prepare us a dwelling place there.

In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore;
In the sweet by and by,
We shall meet on that beautiful shore."

letter to Heaven

Missing you so deeply tonight, my girl. Please keep watch over your brothers and help us to know you hear it when we ring your chimes at night and each morning. You're constantly on our minds and in our hearts. Keely, you're so very, very missed and loved even more. XOXOXOXOXOXOXO

Monday, January 3, 2011

a big sister again

Keely became a big sister again last month to a 10 lb 12 oz baby brother. We will teach him about her. He will know her name, her face, her importance. He was born in the same hospital as Keely, the same hospital we got to hold her, the same hospital that has a memorial garden where her stepping stone will be set on her birthday this year.

The big brothers proudly wore their shirts and held up the matching shirt (with her name, to be made into a teddy bear) for the big sister.

"Life is not measured by the number of breaths you take, but by the number of moments that take your breathe away."