Tuesday, May 25, 2010

and so it goes

Well, I knew if I wrote about how we were having a good week last week the tide would turn. Alexa was missing her sister like crazy yesterday. One of her school pictures was of Ava in her bed at the hospital. Then she lost her first tooth, so that seemed to break things up for her.

Elaina told me at lunch that she likes Dr. Murphy (her pediatrician), but not the other doctors. The hostival that was Ava's. That's what I'm scared of. She also asked me if Eric was a baby that was ours too. She is really trying to wrap her mind around so many things. The other night she was telling me about how Uncle David talked about Ava and God and Ava was in a box. My brother conducted the graveside service. I am so grateful that we have a little one who is so young but can express herself so very well. What a blessing so that she doesn't have be trapped by her thoughts.

Last night Emmy woke up crying for her sister at 1:30am.

I absolutely hate that these kids have to deal with this. It quite possibly breaks my heart more than the loss of my own children. We just use these moments to ask questions, talk, cry, hug and pray. I don't always know the "right" thing to say, but I try my best.

After Eric died I was in Carter's with my Mom. I was pregnant with my now toothless big bugs. I happened on a Very Hungry Caterpillar outfit (one thing we used to call Eric) and just cried. Put the outfit back and kept on shopping. It was significant in that I realized then that I would go about my day, cry, then go about my day. I think the girls are hitting that stride. It's just that with each developmental leap they have to frame their understanding of their loss. We revisit, reframe and then put on a leotard and twirl.

Monday, May 24, 2010


We had a really busy week last week. I spent most of it really focusing on my jewelry making and updating my Etsy shop. The catalyst was that I had the honor of making and donating some pieces for an Ebay auction in honor of a 4 year old little girl, Susana, who is fighting a battle with cancer. Her parents are missionaries in Haiti and now back in the states to help their daughter fight fight fight. Their story has touched me. They have a (almost ?) 6 six old daughter as well. I really identify with some of the feelings they are having as they support their sweet child fight the fight of her life. To learn more about this family go to www.howcantheyhear.org . The last update I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with what Susana's mother was saying.

So I designed a prayer bracelet for her and donated other bracelets as well. If you would like to assist this family, please go to www.ebay.com and search "auctions for susana". There are 174 items up for bid. The auction ends on 5/30/2010. 100% of the profit goes to Susana's medical fund.

By participating, it's a small way I can bless in a way that I have been so abundantly blessed. It is an honor that God is allowing me to think and live this way. On my Esty site (www.etsy.com/shop/4ladybugbracelets) I feature two prayer bracelets, one for Susana, one for Haydon. 50% of the profit from the purchase of either of these bracelets will go to family fund for each child.

Haydon is a 15month old little girl living with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, Type 1 (SMA). It's a fairly common, rare neurological condition where the afflicted patient progressively looses strength and muscle tone. Haydon's family loves, advocates and fights for this beautiful child every day. She is a beautiful and sweet baby girl. (She's tough too). SMA was one of the very first things that the doctors worked Eric up for when he presented at the hospital. This is close to my heart as well. Haydon's story can be found at www.caringbridge.org/visit/haydon/journal .

There are many other things cooking for our family right now. The Joy-Hope Foundation is now Incorporated. Step one- check! Now we are on to the next steps that will enable us to take tax-deductible donations!

Our family was one of the featured families in my Alma mater's (Grove City College) Alumni magazine, The Geedunk.

There are still a couple other things in the hopper, so to speak. So more to come later on those.

As for our family. I am happy to say that this past week the black cloud around the house was a little higher and a little grayer. The emotions of grief were not so intense for all of us. There were breaks in the battering waves. It was really nice. This week Elaina hit a developmental spurt and is thinking and processing what she can understand about Ava and her life and death in a new light. That always leads to tough knock you on your rear questions. I choose to look at that as good.

Right now Emily and Alexa are now focused on "Z" week at pre-school and have mixed emotions as to whether or not they want summer vacation to come. They really love school and don't want to miss their teachers, who have done so much for them this year by supporting, nurturing and loving them. (They taught them lots of stuff too!) Then again there is Kindergarten on the horizon, so of course there is the lure of getting bigger! (We are going to give Homeschooling a whirl next year!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)

Allan and I are desperately trying to squeeze out time together in the small windows we have with each other. We are trying to keep the household going, work, grieve, work at the Foundation, and have some fun as well. Right now it may seem crazy busy, but it feels balanced.

Why? Because I actually spent some time in prayer. You would think that I would be more disciplined about that by now. Ugh.

Elaina is alone and it is quiet. That is my sign that I am done blogging for today.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Family Times

Driving home from a Birthday Tea party with Elaina I thought,"we should go to the beach and play hooky from church tomorrow." I dismissed the thought as it was getting to be afternoon and it's the bugs' favorite Sunday School teacher month. They hate to miss.

After Lain and I had been home for awhile Allan came up to me and said, "we should just play hooky tomorrow and go to the beach." I told him I thought the same thing. So after a couple phone calls, a gazillion questions, and wild screams of excitement, here we are. Bugs are all tucked in a queen size bed while we relax and listen to the waves crash and the live band express themselves.

I can't tell you how many times we have wanted to make a hasty jaunt and for some reason or another decided that we can't, shouldn't, don't feel like it. Why?

The nice thing is that the girls are really transportable now. Not much gear is required. Not too much schedule adjustment and we are off. It is nice. A perk really. I see other moms with that dazed look that only happens while we are in the thick of it (baby, toddler, young preschooler phase). I realize that I am the mom that is coming out of the thick into the more relaxed (I am using the term loosely here) phase. I do like how much easier it's becoming. I remember that is why we were thinking against another baby. Now it's oxymoronic.

We are enjoying coming out of the "thick" and into the "thin" of parenting. We have a size family that we intended. But there is always that twinge in the back on my mind and in the center of my heart. I should be in the thick of it. I should be more tied down. Then again I don't know if "Should" is the correct word. If I should be that way, I would be that way. That is not what God intended for our family.

Last time we were here I was pregnant with Ava. We talked about all the adjustments we would have to make should we come down to the beach for a week as a family of 6. We are here for a night as a family of 5. Because it was a spontaneous trip I didn't get a chance to think about all the "what if's" and "we don't get to's" that I would have otherwise. That's a good thing. We're here to relax and have fun as a family without the pressure of the memories. They are there and we all feel them. Yet they haven't been a dark cloud on our getaway. I am so grateful that we get to do this in the "thin" and treasure or sweet babies who are not with us at the same time.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mother's Day

Today I learned that it is possible to feel special, appreciated, loved and deadened inside simultaneously. It's so weird to love the family you have with you and miss the one that is not.

Whenever I allow myself to think that we have two children, that I carried and we loved, held and cared for in our home, in Heaven I think that my heart stops. I am overwhelmed that we have as many children in Heaven that the average American family has. It's like a whole family. It's too much to handle on a good day, honestly. I usually try to separate them. It's holidays when the death of my kids hits me in the face.

I'm not griping about how blessed we are with our 3 surviving children. Not griping at all. But I'll tell you I'm not warm and fuzzy about Mother's Day either. Actually, I never have had the opportunity to be.

Eric made me a Mommy. My dream came true. On my first Mother's day I had empty arms. Then I had the girls. Then we had Elaina. But each year while I treasured all that we have, knowing all too well how quickly it can be gone, I realize that I don't want to celebrate the day. Oh the girls enthusiasm and love help, but to keep up the facade all day is just hard.

This year I am just numb. Honestly I appreciate all the love and support I have gotten and do get. To go to church for two services and then to work for 8 hrs is a long time to keep it together. I have to say though as much as I am loved and supported I would rather just have my kids. It's that simple.

I get angry that a simple man inspired day just intensifies the grief that I feel as I walk my walk. A day that is meant to show love and respect is always tainted. It's true that I am not the first and hardly the last who struggles with this day in the face of grief.

I just wish that it didn't have to be this way. But the apple was eaten. Christ was born. Christ died for us. Christ rose from the grave. This is why I can make it through a day like today.
This is why I can experience joy juxtaposed with sorrow and find hope through my despair. This is why I can love my kids like crazy and cherish their specially selected gifts. This is why I can freely grieve for my sweet baby boy and baby girl who I long to hold.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Gift

On the way to our niece's birthday party today we talked about how Ava went to the hospital on The bigger bugs' birthday (say that 10 times fast). They were expressing how they were sad that she got "sick" on that day. They asked my why she was crying and they were thinking that it was because she didn't want to leave them.

I confided that I have been upset about Ava going to the hospital on their birthday as well. They each confided that they are sad and upset about it too.

I told the bugs that Ava was probably crying because she couldn't breath well and that she was uncomfortable and needed help. Then I realized that I began to notice that she was having intermittent issues since the Thursday prior to her admission. She has a doctor appointment on Thurs, and was said to be fine. I went back to work Fri, Sat and Sun. her breathing was eating at me and I was hoping that she would make it through the weekend. I have been beating myself up that I didn't get her help sooner. Knowing that the only thing that I would have done was bought a few more days away from home.

It dawned on me. Ava was fighting her way thorough and I thing she was trying to stay with us the best she could. She was home on the bugs birthday. They got to hold her, kiss her and love her in their arms. If she went to the hospital anytime sooner, they wouldn't have been able to even see her. There were no visitors under the age of 16 at the time due to the H1N1 Virus. I told the girls that Ava tried to stay with us as long as she could. Her little body needed help but she fought long enough that they could be together on their birthday.

As I write this I realize that since I've been focused on the negative of that day I missed the fact that Emily and Alexa and Elaina got to each hold their sister for the last time, on Emily and Alexa's Birthday. The pictures we have are solum. The bugs knew that this was big. But the gift that they were given was priceless. What a present.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Elaina's Bedtime Conversation

For four and a half months now Elaina has been asking me "Mommy why Ava in Heaven?"
For four and a half months her answers to the question generally stay the same.
For four and a half months I watch my little buggie boo process death.

It's a tall order for someone who was 2 1/2 when her sister died.

For awhile there Elaina would tell me that she was a baby and then she died and then she came back and was big. (Not Oh-Fish-ally Big, I'm convinced that she will be 4 before that happens) just regular B-I-G.

Tonight Elaina asked me, "Mommy, why is Ava in Heaven?" (Even the question phrasing is maturing).

Following in my role, "Elaina, why is Ava in Heaven?"

"Mommy, she was sick. ummm what's next? Oh she went to the hospital and then she died."

"Elaina, does everybody who goes to the hospital die?"


"Right the hospital can help people get better too."

"Mommy, a lot of babies. No Some. No. Mommy, there are lots of babies that don't die. But Ava did. Can you get me a lot of books?"

"Mommy! That's not a lot of books!!!!!!!!"

"Mommy,When I feel my poopoos and peepees coming out I will runtothepotty."


Just like that within the parameters of routine our three year old builds on her understanding and takes another step.

I love to watch her organize her thoughts. I hate the topic.

It's not always about Ava

It seems these days that once a week something breaks and we need to get it fixed or get a new one. There's lots of work that this house needs to have done on it some of it is necessary due to the age of the house, others it's necessary due to the poor work done by the builder. Regardless, the work needs to be done and that costs money.

I am grateful that we have been able to take care of all that is going on. Now we are encountering complications. The front door we ordered is too big for the frame, so of course, the only one they can find is twice the price. So we remeasure, and make decisions. The air conditioner is not working. All basic maintenance that we can do has been done. They guy comes out tomorrow.

Now we have a window with condensation in the middle of the panes. We thought there was an ant infestation, that seems to be resolving. The car didn't pass inspection. All basic maintenance. Some more costly than others. Our roof needs attention as well.

Allan is working mandatory 10 hr OT weekly. I miss him. Elaina is constipated and it's because she is strong willed and she is controlling it. She doesn't want to go.

All of these events are in control (well I wish Elaina didn't have so much control over one of the events). They are going to be taken care of. But I find that I am down. All of a sudden I am not OK. I was handling it. Now I'm done.

It's silly, I don't want to go backwards I want the door fixed. I want to know how much the car and the A/C will cost to fix. The door has been bugging us for a couple of years now. I just want it to lock and unlock without fanfare. I would like to have the new storm door up so that we don't have to watch our feet for the handle that falls off when we use it.

I worry about Elaina not going. I NEED her to just be OK. I know that this her freaky psychological control issues, but sometimes I get irrational and think that there is a lurking mitochondrial disease that will take her from me. I remember feeling this way when Emmy and Lexa were babies. Just *poof* and they would be gone.

I thought I was alone. I cried. The big bugs flew in and saw me. They asked me if I was sad about Ava. Oh look at that suddenly it was all about loosing her. They gave me Teddy to hold, Emmy played me a song on Daddy's broken Ukulele. Alexa suggested that I pray and she prayed with me. Then Alexa drew me a picture of Ava at the hospital, Emmy got me some photos and made a book about Ava.

Then I cried because my bugs are just so awesome and wonderful.

What it boils down to is that I don't feel safe and secure. I feel like we very easily can have the rug ripped out from under us before we know it and we will be aimlessly rolling in the abyss, again. Safety and security are emotions that are underrated. We need to feel both in order to thrive. Otherwise we waste our energy searching for ways to attain them, usually by looking down a rabbit hole of things, spirituality and what feels good in the moment.

Today I struggle with feeling secure in my environment. Finding safety in things that work and having a nest egg. I need to remember that my only security and safety is wrapped in the Arms of Jesus, the rest is temporary stuff. Resting in those things will lead to temporary feelings of safety and security.