Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Changing Christmases


Such fond memories always.  

My birthday is Christmas Eve and I remember each year on my birthday we would travel down to my Polish relatives in a suburb of Detroit.  We'd sing on the way and admire all of the lights.  We'd celebrate my birthday with my small (but huge-hearted) family.  My brother, cousin and I would "tap-dance" on my Uncle Joe's linoleum bedroom floor and run throughout the small upstairs apartment that overlooked the world.  

I'd get (what felt like) mountains of birthday presents (perhaps compensating because I had a birthday where all the other children would too be showered with gifts).  Auntie would roll dollar bills for each birthday I had~ when I turned ten she didn't cheat by giving me a ten.  She rolled up ten brand new crisp dollar bills.
They'd sing Sto Lat to me and we'd cut into a flowered cake from the bakery and then it would be "Christmas."

There's something about childhood Christmases.  
They are so wrapped up in magic and warmth and family.
At least mine always were.

But so many years have passed since my early Christmas celebrations.
New traditions have started.
Christmases change.
Most of the regular faces we saw each year are gone.
My Busia, My Great Uncle Joe, Great Auntie, Grandpa Jonasen~

But my Nana is still here.

What a survivor she has been!
Lived through the Great-Depression, her son's death in a car accident, the death of her first Great-Grandson and the death of her true love.

She doesn't know it, but I've watched her for so long.  Admired everything about her!  Her beautiful grace but mostly her ready smile and amazing laugh.  Where most people my age are starting to see lines in the mirror and cringe, I remember from a young age smiling on purpose to get those lines like my Nana had... They showed she was happy.  She laughed.  They showed she walked with a big heart.

My Nan has dementia.  Anyone who knows someone with that knows that it can be incredibly annoying, and sad, and at times... scary.  Through that, she has kept that sense of humor, often telling us with a laugh, "I have a great memory... It's just short!"

Although her dementia at times has left me in tears like it did when I made THIS video, it seems the next day that smile is back and I find myself whispering 'thank you's' to heaven.

It's not her dementia that is changing this Christmas.  It's her heart.
The big, beautiful heart.

My Nana has always been in amazing shape- though she's had heart problems before.  We first figured this out when she was complaining of air quality on her walks and switching parks (I think she was in her 80s).  A doctor's apt & major emergency surgery later... it was her heart.

Because of the marvels of modern medicine, that ticker of hers did not slow her down!  She continued to walk and, for many years, even crawled on the floor with her Great-Grandchildren.  We even shot nine holes of golf on her 90th birthday!

But 'running' down to the lake one day she landed awkwardly on a step and broke her hip- And while just a bone, something else seemed to break- though we didn't know it then.  I feel like since that day, I've watched that strong, amazing woman change. Weaken.
But her heart was always so big.  So strong.

Tonight she is spending her 8th consecutive night in the hospital.
It's her heart again.
She's sleeping a lot but has woken up to crack the occasional joke- and even answered my mom's cell phone when she was out of the room (I didn't know my Nan knew how to answer a cell phone- we both had a good laugh about that).  But the last two days she's been really tired.  Sleeping a lot.  
Her big heart is working too hard. 

It's my birthday tomorrow &
I just want her home.

Isn't that what we all want.
Those we love- those we miss-

As I sit here with my own heavy heart, I think of other friends who have lost children, parents, friends this year.  Friends for whom, Christmas won't be like those Christmases past.  Friends who would give anything to have them Home.  

Barb's Dad.

Thinking of you all this Christmas season and saying a little prayer.  I know your Christmas is Changing.  I pray that you find peace in it.  That you find comfort that although they are not with you... perhaps they are~


Sunday, September 28, 2014

An Unusual Peace

You may think that this post is about Andrew's recent birthday (ELEVEN!!), but it's not.
I chose to only write about that day in his journal- not here.

This post is about something that happened just last week- and when I heard the words "Unusual Peace" at church today, I couldn't help but be taken back to that moment.  I realized it was time. To take a moment, pause and exhale (through my words).

You see, I am not someone without worry. In fact- I DO worry!  I worry about things like money (although I don't really need to), my children's happiness, political changes that affect my job~
But when it comes to those serious things you think I SHOULD worry about~ I don't.
I have had an "Unusual Peace."

And I've had it twice now.

The first (obviously), I've mentioned many times before on here.  The night I became a mother. The room was quiet. I knew he was gone and yet I had the strangest feeling of peace.  That everything was going to be OK.  I don't understand it now, I didn't really think about it then. But that's what it was.
An Unusual Peace.

So on to that second time~

Ironically, it started back on September 15th~ the eleventh birthday of my boys.  As I do every year, I went to my OB and then I went for my first mammogram~ a baseline. It was no big deal and after I spent the afternoon in the garden, talking to Andrew, lighting his candles and watching his balloons soar as tears streamed down my face.  But there was a peace.  An understanding.  When I look back at the entry in my journal, I wrote about the word "stay."  I had heard it so many times on the radio that morning and it stuck with me.  I had so wished him to stay but that afternoon I felt he had, he never really left me~ not really. An Unusual Peace.

But those moments surrounding Andrew have happened before. None like that first September 15th, but they have happened.

And then~

I got a call later in the week that I needed to come back for a second mammogram.  While they told me the first time that they had gotten 'good' pictures and that I'd probably see them next year, they asked me to come back.  I figured once they REALLY looked at the pictures perhaps they realized that something was blurry (or something).  I have no history of breast cancer and I was checked a few years ago for something that turned out to be an inflamed milk duct.  
When I went back, it was clear to me that their call was not about blurry pictures...

This time there were more pictures than my first time and when I was done (and the 'good' pictures were taken), instead of having me get dressed again, I was asked to sit back in the back waiting room in my gown.  I watched as three other women who came after me, got dressed and left.  I thumbed through magazines trying not to think about it~ but I was.

Another lady then came to get me and said they needed to do some ultrasounds.
I was right.  This was certainly more than a 'blurry' picture.

I walked calmly to the dimmed room and watched the screen of blacks and grays emerge as she did my ultrasound.  This was so different from ultrasounds I have had before- no blinking heartbeat or outline of a baby~ just an ocean of grey blotches- 

At one point, she zoomed in and clicked a button on her machine that brought up a rectangle around a certain area.  The screen lit up in color around where she had zoomed in and I piped up, "Is that showing blood flow?  I seem to remember that from the ultrasounds I had when I was pregnant."  She let me know it was and that that was good.  What she was looking at was a lymph node because the blood was present.  I exhaled a bit and thought about that enlarged milk duct.  How my breasts were amazing!  They had fed four of my kids after all- kept them alive.

She did a similar thing to my left breast.  I heard the click of the button but unlike the first time, the color was not present.  I didn't really know what this meant.  I had this feeling that this ultrasound was bad news, but I couldn't be sure.  There was no denying the bad news when I saw Andrew or E- their chests silent~  but this... I didn't know what it was but I assumed it was bad. 

She gave me some towels to wipe the gel and told me to lay back and take a little nap.  She'd be back as soon as she spoke with the doctor.  When I asked her if she would tell me if it was bad news, she said they absolutely would.

I watched her leave the room as I laid my head back on the table and let my eyes close.  I tried to process everything that had just happened and what I felt was probably happening.  They had found something.
Where I normally should have been crying or worried or scared~ I wasn't.
It had found me.
That Unusual Peace.

I remember lying in that same hospital. Staring at a ceiling and feeling it.
Laura, you're going to be OK.  I got this.
I thought about Jeff, and the kids and that began to worry me, but then I heard it again. I felt it again.
That Unusual Peace.
I was quite calm as I thought about how I would tell my husband, my parents, my children.
I thought about who I would try to get to sub for me if I was too sick to teach.
I thought about what a strong lesson it would be for others.
Me~ I've already learned this lesson.
I talked to God.

I would think about my husband~ the kids~ and I still went back to that feeling. This was going to be OK.  Bad things can have the happiest of endings.  Andrew taught me that.  These horrific things can grow you and change you and open your eyes to the most incredible of blessings.
I got this.

I sat and listened to the ticking of the clock and with each beat I felt it. Peace.  I willed it to grow. 
And it did.

The door opened and the ultrasound tech who had examined me said I was all set and could go.
She said she'd see me next year.

That was it?
That was it.

And then I worried.  Something had to be wrong.  They didn't call me back for more pictures and THEN ultrasound me if they didn't see something! But, I thanked her, wrapped my arms around me and headed back to get dressed.

So much like that night- the peace- and then the worry that following.  The wonderings.

I plan to call my doctor and ask more about the results.  What prompted more testing? Why had they ultimately decided to just let me go?  SHOULD I be worried?

I try to go back there~ to find it~ that Unusual Peace, but it's gone again.

I know it will find me.  It always does in those moments and places where and when I need it most.

And should you need it,
I pray it finds you too.
That it will let you know~
You got this.
Don't be afraid.
That Unusual Peace is there for the taking and I can tell you without a doubt.
There is nothing better.

I went back to Andrew's journal. The one word I kept hearing.
He never left.
Unusual Peace.


Monday, September 8, 2014

Top Ten Things You Should Know

Tonight I sat through Joey's LAST curriculum night of Elementary School.  

It is September and of course my mind is all over the place.
Tomorrow is the six year anniversary of my losing E.
September 15th with be the 11th year anniversary of my kissing Andrew goodbye.

But tonight, I thought about Joey.

As we were leaving his school, we saw a piece hanging in the hallway.  "The Top Ten Things You Need to Know about Joey" it read.  I have to say as I went over each number, I secretly loved that he remembered his brother.  I also openly loved that his brother wasn't the number one thing about him. Finding a balance between Joey and Andrew has been difficult at times.  Andrew is a part of his story, but there is so much more to him.

He is Joey.

10- He makes comic books on his desk.
9- He likes all kinds of pasta and soup.
8- He's been to Fort Mackinaw.
7- He saved his brother's life.
6- He's been in an underground cave.
5- He used to live across from Commerce.
4- He was born with a twin brother that died.
3- He has a pet baby parrot.
2- He lives close to most of his friends.
#1... He ran in a 5K race.

Reading his list made me smile.  Of course I knew all of these things (and so much more) but what HE chose is what made me smile.  I could add a million more things that you should know about Joey, but instead I'll add to what he already told you~

To me.
He is Joey.

10- His mom loves how talented he is at drawing the expressions of others through his art. He is amazingly talented and was able to read (and draw) expressions at a very young age.
9- His mom loves that he says her mac-and-cheese is the BEST- especially because it is one of the only things she cooks (dad is the chef) and comes out of a blue box.
8- His mom loves his interest in history.  Something that the two of them share though perhaps he doesn't know it.  She also loves that he questions the same current events that she does.
7- Not only did he save one of his younger brothers when he fell in the water before he could swim, he saved his mom when she was drowning in her own grief.  He continues to be an anchor for her.
6- His mom loves that he has a sense of adventure and while he really has been in an underground cave, she loves that he can create all sorts of caves in their house even if it's with some sheets and cushions.  He has an AMAZING imagination.  One that she hopes he will never lose!
5- He used to live in the house where he and his brother grew in his mom's belly.  She would sit in that rocking chair and sing to them and read them both books.  They would kick and get so excited when they heard her sing (or perhaps they were telling her to stop). :-)
4- He was born with a twin brother that died and his mom LOVES that he remembers that but LOVES even more that he is JOEY. JONASEN. JOE. The one who was meant to stay and be here and be all these amazing things.  She loves that he stayed.  He has important things to do in this life.  He's already done so very, very much (see 7). She can't wait to see what his future holds and enjoys every minute of the journey with him (well... most minutes). 
3- He has a mom who is obsessed with animals... dogs... fish... tortoise... bird... She hopes Joey never asks for a snake or tarantula!  She loves animals~ but not all equally.
2- One thing his mom hears again and again from his friends' parents is how kind he is.  How well mannered he is.  How sweet he is to others.  While she already knows all of this, hearing it from others makes her swell with pride.  
1- His mom LOVES that he runs and is healthy.  She also has begun running and makes sure to put in at least a half hour of exercise before she starts her day.  While walking in the summer, a man saw his mom walking and told her, "That's the most important thing you're going to do today!"  She remembered that and tells herself that on days she doesn't want to hit the treadmill- which is almost every day.

Running on the treadmill to be a healthy mom WAS the most important thing she did today.
The most important thing she will do tomorrow is read her son HER top ten "Joey Take" on Joey.

He makes her smile.
He lightens her spirit.
He makes her dance, and sing, and love.
Because he is.

Monday, September 1, 2014


Although I'm a teacher and still trying to cling to that "not knowing what day it is" mode, I woke this morning with a strange feeling.  And I remembered.

It's September.

It's been eleven years and I still don't know how I feel about September.

It's the month I lost my son.  Learned what it felt like to have a piece of my heart die.  The month I held him, loved him, turned from him as the nurse placed him in his bassinet so I wouldn't have to see him leave me~ forever.

It's the month I became a mother. Looked into the eyes of my son. Learned what it felt like to have a piece of my heart beat outside my body.  The month I first held him, loved him, nursed him, took him home to start this great adventure of life together.

September is when my life ended.  September is when my new life began.
A story that often has two parts.
Sadness.  Joy.
Anger. Forgiveness.
Pain. Love.

Early on I believe my brain made a choice.  Even in those early moments, seeing that beautiful pink baby at my side~ knowing he was getting colder~ staring at those eyes~ knowing they would never open~ I made a choice.

I would not waste this.  I would make him matter.  Always.

Yesterday I was in church and the message was "Why do bad things happen to good people?"

I have found myself asking that same question over the years.

When my friend's mom was diagnosed with cancer.
She lost her son.
Her husband had a stroke.

Another friend struggled with infertility for years.
Finally became a mother to a beautiful little girl.
Her daughter diagnosed with cancer at six week old.

And just this morning learning that my friends' seven year old daughter died last night.  
A little girl who survived when her triplet brother and sister did not.
She's now reunited with them.


There are so many questions that I have, that I know will never be answered.
So many "Whys?"

That first September, I experienced my worst and best moments.  Separated only by one minute.
10:35.  10:36.

That first September I chose to make him matter.
To "Not waste the Pain."
To make Andrew count.
To learn from him.

And this September, I plan to do the same~
As I watch my eleven year old start his last year of elementary school.
Play on the soccer field.
Tickle the ivories.
Smile. Laugh. Hug.
As I watch one, I will also remember the other.

September Sucks.
But how grateful I am (and always will be).
For September.

(Please keep Rick, Kathy, and Cali in your prayers as they are missing their daughter/sister so very much. God-speed sweet Morgan. Dance and run with your siblings. Smile. Laugh. Hug.)

Monday, July 21, 2014

One Word, Three Stories, Spread it.

Although I don't post here often, I know that this blog of mine gets quite a bit of traffic.  It is not often when someone asks me to write a post (though I love it when they do).  That happened recently when I heard from Heather.  I let her know that I would be honored to write a post~ and then we were out of town, my mac met its untimely death thanks to a glass of water~ and in that time I had more opportunities to pause, think and reflect on what I might say...  What you may not know is when I sit down to write posts on this blog, it takes me all of ten minutes.  A big exhale if you will.  Something that has been on my heart~ pulling on me~ and putting that 'something' onto a computer screen seems to be a big exhale.

There have been many words that have sucked the air out of the room I was in over my lifetime.  Words that have made it impossible to exhale because I couldn't take a breath. I find that those in my youth "I want to break up" were not quite as bad as those when I got older "I can't find a heartbeat."  There is one word though- ONE WORD- that has the power to suck every ounce of air out of the room the moment you first hear its two syllables.


One word. One word that far too many people have heard.  Far too many people have been a victim to its ability to stop time- remove all air from the room- leave you empty. 

Heather had written me telling me her story and asking me to share it~ for stories like hers and far too many others, need to be told- need to be read.  Yes, they change the lives of those who first hear them- in that room- with that doctor... but the changing doesn't end there.  It goes on and it continues.  Like cancer, the changing of lives grows and spreads.  Sometimes to people (like me) who have never met the person who first heard the diagnosis.  I think of two people who I have written about on this blog.  People I didn't really know- but still their stories changed me:  Maddison and John.  Today I want to add three more stories.  Stories that need to be shared- and spread.

She had just given birth to her only daughter (Lily) three months before she heard one word.  Cancer.  She was given only 15 months to live. And during that time I can only imagine what went through her head... She learned that she had a rare form of cancer called Mesothelioma.  Now cancer has many forms but this one she learned was totally preventable.  It's a cancer caused only by asbestos exposure.  The kind of of cancer that by spreading awareness (like the campaign to quit smoking) can save lives.  Heather has asked me (and you) to "Take a moment for Meso" and check out mesothelioma.com.  Miraculously Heather is still alive.  She heard the word eight years ago but she was able to have a life saving surgery that included the removal of her left lung and is not thriving.  She has long since passed her 15 months and would like you to take a moment to hear her story.  One story- spread it.

He had just learned that his wife had been diagnosed with Ovarian Cancer a few months before, and then that he had lost one of his twin grandsons, Andrew, when he first heard the word.  Cancer.  He was told one year.  The name of his cancer was Multiple Myeloma.  He searched and looked and tried everything he could.  He had so much to live for.  A few weeks before Andrew would have been in heaven a year, he had a moment with Andrew's parents.  They told him it was time.  To tell Andrew they loved him, wrap his arms around his grandson, wish him a happy birthday in heaven. My father-in-law had not been conscious for days but after we had our moment to speak with him alone, his breathing immediately changed.  His wife came to the hospital, put her arm on his and spoke two words, "I'm here."  He took his last breath and went to see his grandson. One story- spread it.

Vivian. Beth. Lawrence.
Beth's and Lawrence's story began seven years ago.  It consisted of one miscarriage and several different specialists telling them it was impossible- two years of holistic treatments- and finally spending all of their savings on a barely successful IVF.  But it was successful!  A miracle baby!  She was so beautiful.  A head full of dark hair and big beautiful eyes.  While she was given the name Vivian, she quickly became "Panda"~ a sweet name for a sweet child.  It had happened.  Their dreams had come true.  The best things are worth the wait and I imagined this was why... this was why all those years of praying for my friend to have a baby she hadn't~ until now.  Panda was meant to be.
What they thought was a simple cold turned out to be their biggest nightmare.  They heard the word no parent ever wants to hear.  Cancer.  In Panda's case it's name has four letters ATRT.  She was having trouble breathing and swallowing and then they learned she had a huge brain tumor.  At six weeks of age, when they removed the tumor, it had already grown almost two more inches and had metastasized down Panda's little spine.

I have a cross I wear around my neck and as I put it on each morning I say the names of those on my heart.  Those who have been heavy on my heart or those who pop into my mind for some unknown reason.  I simply say their name~ thinking God knows.  I have said Panda's name every morning and night for a year.

Yesterday I joined Beth and Lawrence as they were surrounded by friends and family who sang "Happy Birthday" to their miracle.  Panda has been through more in her 12 months of life than I can even imagine.  She has overcome and beat so many things but it is still an uphill battle... But one that her parents and so many others are willing to travel with her.  One story- spread it.

Just like my story is mine, I know there have been those before me who have the same words, "No heartbeat" who have shaped who they are.  Sadly, I know there will be those after me who will hear those same words.  Not remember who they were before they heard them.

Just like the three stories I shared today, there are countless others who have gone before and will come after.  But they are not alone.  Share their stories.  Say their names.

You may not realize it but you are not the same person you were yesterday.  Moments happen and they shape you- change you- maybe just slightly- maybe so drastically you don't remember the person you were before~ but you will be changed.

I have been changed by one word that has included people I do and do not know.
Please take a moment to think of them.  Say their names.  Spread their stories.
Maddison, John, Heather, Jim, Panda.

Be changed.
Remember them.
Their stories may change the way you look at life.  Maybe just for today, but maybe forever.

And please, continue to keep the strongest little one-year-old miracle I know in your prayers.  I know when God chose her parents He chose two of the most amazing people he ever made.  Say their names too.

Love you Beth.


For more information about the cancers in this post, please click on the words "One Story. Spread it" to learn more.  To hear the stories of Maddison and John, click on their names.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mother's Day as a Verb

Mother's Day

What is it about this day in my 10 years of being a 'mother' that has left me dreading it more often than not.  I've thought about how I (someone who is surrounded by four healthy and beautiful children), could wake feeling melancholy~ maybe even a bit upset by what day it is... Why?

Perhaps it is because I'm thinking of my friend who never did become a mother.  A faithful church-goer on all days (except this one).
Perhaps it is because I am remembering my dear Auntie who dreamed of being a mother~ but never heard anyone call her by that name~ and she confided in me once how sad that made her.
Perhaps it's because I am thinking of my dear friend (with no children that people see) who desperately longs to be a "mother" (as defined by the world).
What if we were able to change that definition...

What's in the name "Mother."
When I think of mother the words that come to mind are not nouns, but verbs~
One who loves.
One who cares.
One who heals.
One who teaches.
One who hugs.
One who puts others before herself because there is someone out there who needs her to... in that time... in that moment.
What if we looked at Mother as not just someone who had a baby emerge from her womb and then raised that child, but one who loved bigger than herself.  For isn't that what a mother does?

Thinking of the women (and men) out there who are hurting or perhaps thinking that this holiday isn't for them.  Think again.  Maybe it is.

Wishing the mother who delivered and mothered me and all the other 'mothers' out there who have loved me a peaceful day.  You are remarkable.  You are a mother.

Happy Mothering Day~

Monday, March 31, 2014

Scar Tissue

"It has been said, 'Time heals all wounds.' I do not agree.  The wounds remain.  In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens.  But it is never gone."
-Rose Kennedy
(Thanks Angie)

Cobi was the dog we shouldn't have had.  
Cobi wasn't a smart dog, but he would come and sit and stay and do almost anything 
if you had a treat in your hand.
You could set a treat on his paw and say, 
and he would sit there and stare at that treat until you said, 
and he would gobble it up.

Cobi was the dog that could be sleeping and if you said, 
he would jump to attention scanning the yard.

I think of those things now and I smile.
And then I cry.
Because Cobi is not here.

Cobi was the dog that followed me everywhere those days before I delivered the boys.  I would get up in the night, unable to sleep and walk in the nursery (my bags packed for weeks).  I would rock in the chair and sing and Cobi would be under my feet.  He heard all the books I read to the boys.  
He was always there.  
I remember the night before I delivered waking up... Did I feel something?  No.  But there Cobi was.  With me.

When we brought (just) Jonasen home, he was there.  He lay under his bassinet or at the foot of anyone who held our new baby.  He was always watching.  
So many times he found me as I sat crying, curled in a ball on the floor
 trying so desperately to be happy when inside I felt so sad.  He was there.  
With me.

Over the years, Joey grew and so did our family.  Cobi was there through all of those moments. He watched as each new child came into our house. We moved. We said goodbye to precious family members. Celebrated birthdays.  He was always there.  
With me.

And now he's not.

Cobi got sick in January.
I thought it was a simple cold, a runny nose.
But there was blood.
And then weight loss.
And more blood.
He didn't come to see me in the mornings.
He slept most of the day.

I prayed he'd get better.
When he didn't, I prayed he'd let me know.

On March 16th I became worried.  I called for Cobi outside and he didn't come.  I looked in all his favorite places inside and he was nowhere.
Although it was freezing outside, I didn't bother with a coat.
I wrapped my arms around me as my heart pounded.
Screaming in my ears!
Oh God, No!  Please let me find him.
"Cobi!" I screamed. "Cobi!"

And there in the darkness he came to me.  Slowly but surely.
I looked into his sad eyes and I knew.
It was time.
He was telling me.

Saying goodbye to Cobi was one of the hardest days of my life, and I have had many.
What I didn't realize was that saying goodbye would rip off that scar tissue.
That the memories of loss and brokenness would come flooding back 
as if I took the knife myself and cut a fresh new wound.

Here I am.
Curled on the floor.
The only difference is...
He's not with me.

Today we got the call.
He's ready.
His ashes are ready for us to pick up.
And again~ the scab ripped.
The memory of holding Andrew's ashes in my hand...
I can see it and feel it as if it was still happening!!!
They're not with me.

And I hate it.

To quote my daughter (wise beyond her nine years on earth), 
"Eventually we will get used to Cobi being gone."
~We will not get 'over' it.
~We will not be 'healed in time.'
We will get used to it.

For years after Andrew died, I would blow a kiss to heaven each night.
While I think of him (still) every day, 
on the edge of every thought, 
I don't always pause to blow that kiss.
The scar tissue grew over. The pain lessened.

For the last few weeks, I've been going outside on my deck.
Wrapped in nothing but my arms saying those last words I whispered to Cobi.
"I love you. Now go catch a squirrel."

There is THIS wonderful book by Cynthia Rylant called Dog Heaven.

"When dogs go to Heaven, they don't need wings because God knows that dogs love running best.
He gives them fields. Fields and fields and fields.
When a dog first arrives in Heaven, he just runs."

Ah~ when I close my eyes and see Cobi on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, I imagine him doing just that... Running.  Perhaps after that squirrel.

And later the book reads, 

"God knows that dogs love children more than anything else in the world, so He fills Dog Heaven with plenty of them.  There are children on bikes and children on sleds.  There are children throwing red rubber balls and children pulling kites through the clouds.  The dogs are there, and the children love them dearly."

And Andrew and E (and all their friends) are there~ 
with him. 
They're laughing as that giant spotted tongue of his engulfs them in stinky kisses!

"Dogs in Dog Heaven have almost always belonged to somebody on Earth and, of course, the dogs remember this.  Heaven is full of memories.  So sometimes an angel will walk a dog back to Earth for a little visit and quietly, invisibly, the dog will sniff about his old backyard, will investigate the cat next door, will follow the child to school, will sit on the front porch and wait for the mail.
When he is satisfied that all is well, the dog will return to Heaven with the angel.  It is where dogs belong, near God who made them."

We'll see them (all) at the Rainbow Bridge.
What a reunion it will be.

Please pray for me tomorrow.
The vet called and he's ready.
I don't know if I am.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

My Keepsake

I have mentioned before how much I appreciate hearing from people who read my words or have heard my story.  Last week, a woman contacted me and said that she had stumbled across my blog and was touched by my story.  She works for an online retailer called Everlasting Memories -a website that specializes in cremation urns and memorial jewelry.

Memorial Jewelry.

I remember how much~ especially in those early days... months... years...~ that I felt I NEEDED to have something to wear.  
Something to touch. 
That would remind me of him.

It seems that most people I have met on this journey long for SOMETHING.  A piece of jewelry, a tattoo a keepsake...

She sent me this LINK to the website and asked that I look at their products and choose one as a gift to me!!  As I looked through all the jewelry, I was so impressed with the pictures that I saw.  They had pendants in all shapes and different kinds of metals.  They also had cremation jewelry which was also beautiful, but since I do not have any remains from E, I felt that I didn't want to go that route.  With so many choices, I hardly knew what to pick. So I didn't.

 I sent her a picture of four of my blessings that was taken last summer.  I remember trying to get them to smile at the camera and it was an epic failure. That was when they turned, still hand-in-hand and looked to the sea. I captured perhaps my favorite picture of them.  A moment.

Looking out at the sky ~ beyond~ as I often do.

I knew which picture I wanted her to use and I gave her some writing that I thought would be nice on the back.  I asked her to please choose a jewelry piece that SHE would like for me to have.  She said the picture made her cry~  That she'd love to surprise me, but asked which color I preferred.  I told her I thought I would like something in silver and for her to choose the rest.

She did.

Two days later (yes... two days!!!) I got this.
A beautiful keepsake indeed.
Something precious and perfect that will hang around my neck
as they do my heart.

I opened up the box and saw what at first glance looked like a smooth mirrored diamond and then it caught the light~ just right~ and there they were.  Four of my blessings.
It was so beautiful. Clean. Perfect.

I turned it over and saw my words~ in a beautiful font she chose for me.
To watch four grow
And see two again.

It came with a thin petite chain of 20 inches.
And stole my breath.
I very much recommend you check out this site.  For yourself.  For someone else.

A beautiful keepsake.
Thank you, Hallie.
I will treasure it always!


Tuesday, January 14, 2014

A Living, Breathing Reminder

A living, breathing reminder.

That was what Jonasen was.

There were moments that I would look at him and instantly find myself wondering...
~What would Andrew's laughter sound like?
~What toppings would he want on his ice cream?
~What kind of book would he have chosen at bedtime?

Those moments still find me.
They found me tonight.

Jonasen (Andrew's twin) is at that lovely age where his permanent teeth have come in and (un)lucky for him, they have come in quite crooked and on top of each other.  To make room in his mouth, he currently has an expander~ an awful thing that is attached to his teeth and slowly pushes them apart.

When he got it, I knew it would hurt.
Moving one's teeth can't be a pleasant feeling.
My husband had had one when he was younger
and sadly in no way sugar coated what it would feel like.
I believe the words "worst pain ever" came out of his mouth.
Each night, you have to take a tool (called a key) and turn it.
This pushes the teeth out and expands the jaw (hence the name).

There was no way my husband would turn the key...
He said he'd turn it maybe a week or so later when it no longer hurt as much.
And so I prepared myself.
To hurt our son.
21 turns.

I was so fearful before that first turn.  
He got ice cream.
I had wine.
And we did it together.
He held the side of his face as he felt the pressure and tumbled into my arms the moment it was over.
And we just sat there.
Holding each other.

Dare I say it was nice?
I don't recall the last time my ten year old son climbed into my arms, on my lap and I just held him.

And so this has gone on~
16 turns.
16 nights.
And each one ends with him climbing into my lap and me holding him.

Tonight after I turned the key and he crawled into my lap I said, "Joey, does it still hurt?"
He looked up at me, smiled and said, "Not really..."
He folded back into my lap and I held him there as I have every night for the last 16 nights.
I won't let my husband turn the key.
I now look forward to an excuse for my ten year old to still need to cuddle his mom.

As he sat there tonight I thought of how blessed I was~
And Andrew was there.
Joey became a reminder...
And I wondered~
What would Andrew's laughter sound like?
What toppings would he want on his ice cream?
At ten, would he have crawled into my arms and found comfort?
Just like his brother?

And tonight I realized...
It doesn't matter.
Though there will be times that Andrew comes into my thoughts.
That I compare and wonder.
I will just treasure what he gave me.

A few weeks after I delivered Andrew and Jonasen, I asked my doctor,
"Why did you have me come in a week early to be induced?"
(my pregnancy was perfect and she was going to let me go two weeks late)
Her reply, "God just put you in my head."

Andrew died the day I delivered him.  They could tell by his coloring.
Like Andrew, Jonasen was wrapped in so much cord. 
Had we waited, this post would not exist.
There would be no living, breathing reminder.

So today, as Jonasen sat so warm and lovingly on my lap~
As we just held each other~
I didn't wonder about Andrew.
I thanked him.
For my sweet Joey.