Sunday, August 22, 2010


So much in such a short time. We were on vacation last week. No Internet. No TV. It was nice. Allan and I would joke that we had nothing to talk about.

A week ago on the 13th we observed what would have been Ava's first birthday. We decided to get yellow balloons in her honor. I think it will be a tradition. It was a really hard day. A little harder than I imagined it would have been. You cry, you move on. You cry again, you keep going.

On the 14th we left for vacation. The bugs wanted to see Ava and Eric's grave for their birthdays. We decided we would go when Daddy could come too. It's not something I wanted to do, but I told Emily that I would go if she needed to go and I understand that. I told her that Daddy and I practiced going to Eric's grave while the matching bugs were babies so that we would be ready for when they wanted to go. She hugged me.

So Saturday was the day. In the furry of packing and forgetting stuff we made our way to the cemetery. This was one visit I've been dreading since Ava was in the hospital. To see the marker for your child and then to have to imagine a second marker with a second child next to it haunted me. To have to see it tormented me. Of course we couldn't find it right away. Then when we did I was shocked to see that the markers were vertically aligned, not horizontally. For some dumb reason, that made me feel better. As it turned out it wasn't as horrific as I thought.

Monday the 16th would have been Eric's 7th Birthday. What is so special about him (there are many many things actually) is that he made my dreams come true. He made me a Mommy. I love that that distinction is his and his alone. For his Birthday I usually like to take the girls on a fun adventure nothing too fancy, just different. This year we were on vacation so we took advantage of the day and rode a Steam train to a Riverboat and back again. It was nice. I bought an ornament for the Christmas tree.

What I thought about a lot on vacation was that as a parent you love to talk about how your children came into your lives. The First birthday is huge for remembering and encoding that amazing moment in your life when you became a parent to your child. When your child is no longer with you for that birthday or any others you feel like you can't recognize the day. You can't talk about the birth story. You can't remember all the joy and expectations. It's hard for the family to do, but it just makes those who listen uncomfortable.

I have so many amazing memories associated with the births of all my babies. I only have three that I feel comfortable telling about. But there were two others who I will always know about and who changed my life, profoundly. I don't want their stories to be taboo.

It's so strange. We treasure the memories of those who die in the "right order". We get together after an internment to "remember". But when it's not in the "right order" and your child dies first. The topic becomes trepidatious and sometimes taboo. But we love our kids, living or not, and we want to remember too. I think that it's harder to hide behind what we perceive what society dictates as "acceptable". It just makes the bereaved feel more excluded. I hope that through Ava and Eric we will feel more comfortable with our selves and with our emotions following "premature" death. If we remove the "supposed to's" and the "shouldn't have beens" then we can see that death stinks, but it happens to us all.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Have Joy. Spread Hope.

It looks as if we have ourselves a Foundation!!!

The Eric and Ava Benton Joy-Hope Foundation will be holding it's kickoff event on Saturday October 23, 2010.

The Joy-Hope Foundation will provide families who are grieving the loss of their child to illness with a "New Memory Making Getaway" and support Mitochondrial Disease Research. After Ava's death friends joined together to raise funds to send our family to Disney. We found the "break" to be a huge blessing for our family and are honored to be able to offer that to others.

We will be hosting the Have Joy. Spread Hope. Inaugural 5K Run/Walk Kids Fun Run.

The race Starts and Finishes at Brandywine Valley Baptist Church located at 7 Mt Lebanon Rd, Wilmington, DE. Registration begins a 9am race starts at 10am. The race is EdJaH Chip timed, a division of races2run.

Entrance into the race is $18 if you register by Oct 21 and $22 the day of the race. A family of 4 can register for $60 and Kids under 18 can register for $15 by Oct 21 and $22 the day of the race. The Kids Fun Run is free, but the children are encouraged to obtain sponsorship. The child who raises the most money will receive a prize.

There will be t-shirts for all who are pre-registered and there will be merchandise awards for the Top Male and Female finisher, the top three in 10 year age categories and the top 3 walkers.

There will be post race refreshments provided for all as well!

Online Registration is available through
The direct link is:

If you are not a racer or walker but would like to help you may send a donation to "The Joy-Hope Foundation" 220 Fieldstone Crossing Dr, Bear De 19701.

We will post when the Joy-Hope Foundation website is up and running! if you would like to peek at our logo.

We are a not for profit foundation, who is pending IRS approval. Donations are tax deductible to the extent which is allowable by law.

Monday, August 9, 2010


I started to train to run a 5K. The first 5k I will run will be for the Joy-Hope Foundation. It will be in October and once there is an online registration (by the end of the week) I will tell you all the details. For now I am lost in planning the event, getting the Foundation "live" so to speak and getting ready for our vacation in a few days.

So because I seem to have so much free time, what did I do today, while Lain and I are sick? Yup, we met my Mom and Dad and picked peaches. In 35 minutes the 6 of us picked 212 pounds of peaches. I think Lain was responsible for 50 all by herself. So now I get to peel and can peaches. Oh and I think I'm out of lids.

Crazy? Yes, but last year we did not get to pick peaches due to the arrival of little miss Ava. So I needed to do that this year. So we did. Now I won't sleep. Especially since I'm blogging.

Today I walked in after my run to find Allan trapped under drippy and smiley Elaina. It was 6:20am. There went my quite time. We drew pictures and cuddled. It was really nice. Lain drew a picture of 6 people- biggest to littlest- 5 holding hands with lines around the edges. She told me ," Mommy this is me, this is Emmy, this is Lexa, this is Eric, this is Ava and the biggest one is you. See we are all in a Stadium and all your children are holding hands with you."

Tonight was the first time in MONTHS that Lain asked me, "Mommy, why did Ava die and go to Heaven?"

Emily, on the other hand, is doing much much better. Thank you for all your prayers for her.

Lex is laying low right now, but she really was grieving the hardest early on.

Here's the thing. I don't think it's fair that I get to be PMS and have Ava's birthday on Friday. I think that is mean.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Questions and Answers

We are having a blast at Saddle Ridge Ranch I tell you. Although on the way home today Emily asked, "But why do they want us to get up sooo early?"

I had no answer.

I did have an answer for Alexa's two questions tonight. She cuddled right up to me and said, "Mommy, I hope that when I grow up I don't have babies that die. But if I do, will you pray for me?"

I scooped her up (which is getting hard to do with my leggy nearly 6 year old) and told her that I am already praying that that doesn't happen. I will pray for her and I will be right there to help her. I also told her that is why we are seeking testing so we can determine if the bugs need to worry about what Eric and Ava had.

Our devotion tonight was talking about how God created a bug to be a bug and you to be you. It was a nice reminder that He is in charge and Eric and Ava were created by Him and are not a broken mistake. Sometimes I need to remember that.

Alexa's other question was at story time- Bearstein Bears Go to School. They walk to school on the last page. But they take the bus earlier in the book. She wanted to know why they were walking to school. In a moment of what I can only consider as Mommy Brilliance I said, "To reduce their carbon footprint. Now get in bed so I can tuck you in."

So we are plugging on. They are learning to be H-A-P-P-Y because God loves them. I am trying to keep up with the pace of a busy snack kitchen. I guess I should take a moment and know that I can be H-A-P-P-Y because God loves me too.

Monday, August 2, 2010


I was looking at some pictures of Ava right after she was born. I couldn't help but think about how perfect she was and yet so horribly broken. Although we thought she was funny looking after birth, she didn't look terminal.

This week the bugs flit off to Vacation Bible School. This is Lain's first year of being able to go. She is beside herself. I was listing all the things she will do, but I started by saying, "Are you going to...." She looked at me and said, "I don't know, am I?" I told her yes they do do all those things at VBS. Her eyes sparkled. Then Emmy told her that snack is "not just, like goldfish...but it is really cool." I told her that she is going to be able to sing with her class for the Mommy's and Daddy's on Thursday night. She could hardly contain herself.

Last year for VBS I kept thinking that if I made it through that week I would be home free. All of our babies were early and I was getting close to the danger zone. But I wanted the bugs to go, so I kept thinking that once we cleared the week, we would be ready. We made it through the week last year and Ava came the next Thursday. It was my last year for just Mommy and Laina time. I was bummed about that, but comforted by the fact that I'd have an opportunity to have alone time with Ava. Something I knew would be next to impossible to come by.

So here we are a year later. In all honesty I was kind of hoping Lain wouldn't potty train until after VBS so I wouldn't have to let her go. I remember sending Emmy and Lexa when they were three and seeing how big they got that week. So this year, I'm gonna have a different week than I thought I would last year. I have to be ready for Lain to grow more and expand her horizons. I have to be ready for not having alone time with Ava.

I'm not ready for either really. This week marks the beginning of what will be a tough time for us. It's when the memories of when Ava and Eric were with us are the most vivid. Being in that time of year really does a lot to jar the memory. This is honestly what I've been dreading and here it is and I can't stop it.

Today in church I was thinking that I should try and turn this into a blessing that I can have all these memories flood back. I know that it is that way about Eric now. Like a breath of fresh air when I remember something I've either forgotten about or forgotten that I remembered. But in a 4 month life span those are few and far between.

The switch will flip, and the memories of Ava, while always cherished, are not going to come without a price. Sometimes I think I forget that she was real. I get so wound up in hearing her name and thinking about her at an arms length I forget HER. Then something jars my hardened mind. And bam there she is in it and she was real. I wonder if it's like that for the bugs too. I guess it's a way for us to keep moving on.

Ava's birthday is next week, Eric's three days later. I wonder how much I should bring that to mind for the bugs or if we should see where they take us.