Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Places: The End of the Dock

Time has really gotten away from me....

There are still a couple more places I wanted to share from our vacation in September.

As you can imagine, Matt & I don't get much alone time - not before the kids' bedtime anyway.  I also have spent the last few years pregnant and not able to do much - and when I've been able to physically, I've struggled to let loose and have fun mentally. 

The first morning we were at camp, after we made coffee, I said "You, me and the dock, honey?"  and we grabbed a bible and our coffee and went and sat in the sun.  We read together while the kids played near by in the water. 

very thankful that Des is taking on my love of photos.... thanks, Des!
Since we've been home, when life starts to get crazy and we're craving time together and with God, Matt will say "You, me and the dock, honey?" and we pretend our kitchen table is a little dock in Maine.

Des asked if she could go in in her clothes.  The type A in me debated if I wanted her clothes to get dirty.  I reluctantly said it was okay.  One at a time, the kids joined.... and before I knew it - and much to everyone's surprise - I jumped in in my clothes.  OK, the truth is I've never stepped foot in that water in the 4 years we've been going to the camp until that very moment.  The water is not my kind of swimming water :/  But I can't tell you how good it felt to let go and just live in the moment.  And the kids thought it was so exciting that Mama was swimming in her clothes!  It's all about the memories!

The dock held sweet memories daily...
Me & Asa hung out and watched Daddy & the kids go in the kayak. 
This boy doesn't sit still very often, but for this period of time, he just sat and rested with me.
Asa & I watched from the porch as the boys sat and talked on the end of the dock.

Matt was laying in the sun and I turned around to find Sam copying him :o)
And then one morning, as I sat to read my bible, I discovered a regret I didn't know I had.  When I was pregnant with Rachel, I started reading her Ecclesiastes and never finished.  I decided I needed to finish what I started and so I read out loud, sitting in the warm sun.... and while I did, I wrote these words:

I sit reading, toes grazing the cool water and I wonder why I didn't do this more.  I think of the day I read these words to her in my living room and I wish I would have finished them.  I don't have many regrets, but I found one this morning under the warm sun.  I can't get it back and so I close my eyes and cry.  I cry because I feel like I let her down.  I cry because I miss her.  I cry because I didn't follow through.  What if she could hear me?  What if she knew I didn't do what I said I would?  It's just 12 chapters and I couldn't make it through?  I look at the pages knowing the words would have been perfect for her - for me.  I start to read in hopes that she can hear me still.  I move to the side of the last piece of wood, desperate for her to join me here and I imagine her little toes dangling in the water with mine.  I softly whisper to her that Mama wants to read her something and I pick up where I left off so many months ago.  I look to my left as I hear Desirae say softly from behind me "Mama, there's a dragonfly"  I move to take a photo and she flew away... for just a moment she sat with me and now I sit alone again.  I look around the pond feeling the greatness of God's creation as a gentle breeze causes me to close my eyes.  I open them again and start to read....
To everything there is a season.  A time and a purpose under heaven.  A time to be born and a time to die.  A time to mourn and a time to dance.... All are from dust and to dust they shall return.... a day of death is better than the day of one's birth... sorrow is better than laughter for by a sad countenance the heart is made better....Cast your burdens on the waters....as you do not know what is in the way of the wind (the wind suddenly picked up so much that I struggle to keep my pages down)...Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child... so you do not know the works of God who makes everything
And as I read the last line of the book of Ecclesiastes, I felt my regret fall away.  The seat beneath me feeling harder and less comfortable than it did over an hour ago, the spot next to me still empty.  I closed my bible and I know it's time.  Time to go back to the busyness of the family I have in the camp behind me.  I sweep my feet through the rippling water one last time and stand up.  I breathe in the mountain air and listen to ta little bird chirping.
I hope you heard me girl.  I'm sorry it took me so long.  Mama loves you.
Throughout this time, this huge dragonfly kept coming and sitting next to me on the wood.  At one point, it flew so close to my face, it took my breath away.  I wanted to get a picture, but every time I moved to get the camera, it flew away.  After I got home, I received the photo disk in the mail from Rachel's Race.  There was a photo that the photographer had taken that day... I had seen it on her facebook page and even commented on it, but didn't realize it was on Rachel's sign because I didn't see all the phtos yet. It was on the string of the sign and apparently hung out there for quite a while....
Jenna Doughtry Photography

Friday, October 26, 2012

Rachel's Puzzle Update

Rachel's Birthday Puzzle is on it's way....

My type A personality just loves that it's symmetrical :o)  And my mama's heart is loving that it started with the girls of the family - which I had no idea would happen when I wrote the numbers on the back since I couldn't see the front! 

Thank you to everyone who purchased a piece this week!!  We have 16 pieces in, 93 to go!

Who is on the back of each piece?.....

 1.  Jason Corbett
 2.  Elizabeth Corbett
 3.  Sebby Mardon
 4.  Donna Wynot
 5.  Donna Wynot
 6.  Donna Wynot
 7.  Donna Wynot
 8.  Donna Wynot
 9.  Jennifer Tate
10. Jennifer Tate
11. Alisha Guilmette
12. Nicole Caviris
13. 'Litte One'
14. The Meehans
15. Cindy Winden
16. Cindy Winden

43. Rachel Alice Aube ♥

Underground Aging

It's not often I cry at Rachel's grave anymore... I more or less just make sure everything is pretty and then leave.  Today on the way over there, things seemed to be falling into place too nicely...  the stops we made were all 'in and out' with well behaved children and nice service.  Desirae even commented on how nice one guy was. 

I should have known it was the calm before the storm.

Or maybe it's more along the lines of the fact that I wasn't preoccupied mentally and emotionally with all my little troubles when I got there.

Either way, after standing at her grave for a few minutes, a little girl on a bike and her dad rode by.  I heard her voice and her giggles from a distance as they talked while they rode around.  I looked back to the ground where my little girl is....  I used to struggle with the visions in my mind of what the underground aging process looks like, but that hasn't happened in a while either.  I've slowly learned how to snap back from those thoughts and not allow them.  Somehow today, I couldn't stop it.  And in a unexplainable kind of way, I wanted to know.  So I went there.

I pictured her blanket (identical to the one I sleep with) and her little sheep (identical to the one on her hope chest) and my imagination tried to do a 'this is what she would look like after two years underground' photo edit.  And as I saw her little face in my mind, no longer looking perfect, a feeling that I have yet to feel standing on that ground hit me.

A relentless anger.

A real physical reaction to how little control I have over this. 

Total devastation that my baby is in a casket disintegrating in the cold ground.

Instantly tears starting to fall, but they weren't soft.  They felt heavy and cold.  I angrily wiped them away.  But I couldn't keep up with them.  My jaw got tight and, like a little child infuriated by the injustice of the world, I clenched my fists and firmed my stance and growled in frustration.

If you've ever seen a mother give birth, you know the involuntary noises her great pain brings.... yep, I sounded similar in the cemetery.  And I didn't even care if any of the many people there to walk, bike and walk dogs heard me.

For 3 minutes I felt an anger that could have taken down Goliath with my bare hands.

And then I wiped my face and went home. 

It's all part of my journey through anencephaly.... and the aftermath it leaves after taking my child away.  I know I'm not the only one who has these feelings or thoughts - but somehow that doesn't make it any easier.  She's still my girl, in the ground - no matter how many times I have heard or thought "she's not really there."   She is.  Her toes, her nose, her fingers (does she still have dimples on her knuckles?), her eyes, her long dark hair..... it's all there.

And I'm still here. 

Standing alone on the ground that separates us. 

Waiting for an eternity that won't.

And no matter how thankful I am for that promise - it still hurts like hell on earth.  It still burns like a lake of fire in my soul.  I feel the effects of sin and I hate it.  I hate it with every inch of my being.  I hate that it took my daughter from me.  And I wish God would have stopped it.  He could have.  Why didn't He?

Tonight, as we drove home, I was again so disheartened by the halloween gore all around.  There is a yard around the corner from us that has a fake tomb stone that says "RIP Miss N Cranium".  It's all I can do to not go there, tell them that my daughter was missin' her cranium and DIED and it's not a freakin' joke and ask if they would put a tomb stone in their yard that says "RIP cancer patient".  I mean seriously, is this what we call 'festive decoration'??  And the caskets and fake skeletons coming out of the ground everywhere ..... ugh.... really bad timing for my day.  As I write this, I'm wondering if that actually initiated the scary thoughts in my mind.   But that's a whole other story... and a very sensitive subject so I'll stay away from it.  But I just don't see how all the evil things that are idolized on this 'holiday' can be considered harmless.... they certainly 'harm' me year after year.   But I guess if 'it' doesn't happen to you, then none of that would seem important - just something else I need to get over...  and besides, with all those cute ladybugs and candy how could it be a bad thing?  Maybe if people put cute ladybugs and superheros all over their yards, I'd feel differently... ok, I'm getting off the subject, no hate mail please.... I'm so not in the mood. 

Today was hard.  End of story.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Battle Scar

I've been having a hard time lately with the idea of waiting on healing...

Or should I say the idea that everyone else is waiting on my healing.  I'm actually fine just where I am.  But somehow it always seeps through the well-meaning comments....

We're waiting for you to be all better.

I struggle with the idea of grieving being a possible past tense... I grieved.  ??  Makes no sense to me.

But some say it about their own journey.  Some think grief is supposed to come and then go.  And some think if it hasn't, then there must be something wrong....  with me...  or my perspective... or my relationship with God... or in the choices I make for me and my family.

And everyone just wants the same thing.... for me to be all better.

I want it too.

But there is a difference between a wound and a scar.  Wounds heal, scars last a lifetime.

I can look back and see how my wound has been healing.  I know it's not as raw as it once was.... even yesterday.  But my scar is the remnants of a battle I didn't choose.   It's the way my life, my heart, my soul, my body are forever changed because of a little girl named Rachel Alice Aube (yes, I just 'accidentally' wrote Rachel Alive, as usual!) who came and went much too quickly. 

I will never be like I was before this wound.  And I don't want to be.  So if I could make a (please hear my humble tone here) request.... instead of praying that I will be healed and get on with my life so I can look like everyone else again... could you pray that God would help you to accept me just the way I am - the new me - and how to be a friend to someone who has a scar like mine?  Could you pray that He would send me friends who can handle my need to talk about her?  Friends that won't judge me or pick apart what I do?  Could you pray that I will find great comfort in helping others who are in pain and in the hope of eternity, even while it still feels so far away?  And while praying these things, can you trust that God is working in me JUST AS I AM...Battle scar and all... introverted, sometimes emotional, and always missing my girl...  believe that HE knows what he's doing and that I am in tuned to His voice more now than ever before. 

I'm okay with how she has changed my life - I actually like it more now than I ever have.  I'm okay with what I'm capable of doing - or not doing... and with how much I smile and cry.  I am okay with how far I've come - even though it's not nearly as far as I would have expected to be by now, back when ignorance was bliss.  But I'm okay with it because I know God has led me through this and He has guided my every step along the way.  Perhaps if I didn't know this to be true, I'd be concerned too.... But God allowed my baby to die and He is using my pain.  His purpose is so much bigger than we see.  And He never claimed it would be fun.  But He hasn't left me yet.  He sees my scar and He knows I fought - and still fight - this battle for Him.  I trust He's not disappointed with the time I'm taking to recover.  And I'm sure He knows that scars don't mean healing didn't take place.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

43 Day Countdown

There are 43 days left until Rachel's birthday....not that I'm counting or anything....

I'm sure many of you remember (and were a part of!) what we did for her 1st birthday last year.  We asked for gift cards from Walmart or Target to help sponsor a couple of young, struggling families who were having new babies - and we were blown away by your response!  We received $843 all together!  It was such a huge blessing and we got them both everything they needed.

So, I have been praying about who we should bless in Rachel's memory for her 2nd birthday.  I like her life to be 'our gift that keeps us giving'.  For months I have been waiting for the perfect answer from God. 

You must have read that after Rachel's 2nd race in August, we decided to give the total profited funds to Family Builders Ministries and not keep the money we originally planned to save for the 501c3 application that we need to do this year...  I think that moving forward in our tax-exempt status will enable us to continue to reach people for Christ through Rachel, and minister to the hearts of families who share our pain.  I think this is a way to help many people for years to come - and I believe at this point, this is the mission that God has in front of us.

So, this year, for Rachel's birthday, I'm asking people to join us in reaching the financial goal to make that happen.  The application is $850.  That's about what was donated last year. 

This number feel huge to me - and I'm not gonna lie, I'm scared to even put this out there for fear of rejection.  I'm so nervous about Rachel's birthday in general this year.  We had such an amazing turnout last year and I'm so worried that nobody will show up this time and my heart will break twice that day.  Part of me wants to hide away and play it safe.... but that's never been my style.... so here it goes...

We had a puzzle made (I got this idea from my friend Jenn's adoption website).  There are 110 pieces.  We put it together and gave each piece a number.  #43 we purchased for Rachel.

Now it's waiting to be reconstructed...  and we need your help!  Each puzzle piece is $10.  As we receive the donations, we will put it back together, piece by piece - until every one but Rachel's is there.  We will then hang this on our wall as a reminder that even though she is gone, we are surrounded by so many people who love us and support us in keeping her legacy alive.  As each piece is purchased, I will write the name of the donor on the back to serve as a keepsake of all the people who helped make this happen.

It's my heart's deepest desire to have this puzzle back together and hanging on our wall by her 2nd birthday, December 3rd.  This is my purpose for announcing this early - and I thought having 43 days to do it seemed symbolic.  I figure if she can change the world in 43 short minutes, we should be able to do this in 43 days!  Please help us!

I will keep a running list of all the puzzle piece purchasers - as well as post weekly pictures of the progress we are making with the puzzle.  To buy a puzzle piece, you can either use the donate button on the side of my blog or mail a check or money order to:

Baby Rachel's Legacy
PO Box 454
Rochester, NH 03866-0454

These can be made payable to Baby Rachel's Legacy and please note "puzzle piece(s)" in the memo line.  If you want to buy one in someone's memory (I did that with Jenn's puzzle in Rachel's name) please make a note and I will do that. 

I have one more little request... over the next 43 days, if you could... could you tell someone about my girl?  I feel her becoming old news and it hurts.  I would love to know that you are still sharing about her and how her life has impacted you or people you know.  And if you want to share that with us too, you can mail a note to us (or email) and we'll save it for her birthday and read them on that day - maybe we can read them as we eat her birthday cake.

Thank you all so much for your continued support and for caring enough to keep reading about little old me - especially when little old me gets my big old mouth going.  I know it's been a rough ride and I am amazed that any of you still love me.  I will never understand fully why my journey with Rachel has reached so far... I will never know why God saw me fit for any of this... but I am humbled to be her Mama and for all of you to care about that.  I don't get it, but I cannot begin to explain what it has done to help my heart over these past... I don't want to say it... 2 years.  Ugh.  I can't believe it's been almost 2 years. :o(   Thank you.  I need you all so much - even when I don't know you're 'here'.  If that makes any sense?

Friday, October 19, 2012

Her Daisy Dress

The other day I was holding Rachel's little dress, trying to remember what she looked like in it.  Most of the photos I have don't show it very well.  My mom had brought it (and a few other things) as gifts on the day she was born.  I wasn't expecting that, but it's one of the things that blessed me the most that day.  She wrapped up gifts just as if Rachel was going to live.  Just like she has for each of my other babies.  It was the only dress I got to put on her.

Today I went and stood in the rain at her grave again.  Winter is coming and I don't feel ready.  Next week I need to bring some fake flowers because the live ones aren't holding up anymore.  I hate the winter.  I hate what it does to her flowers and the ground that stands between us. 

I got home and found an email from Lisa - she had decided to edit another photo of me & Rachel.

I needed this on this Friday....
♥ My sweet girl. She looked so cute in her dress ♥ 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Celebrating Life

Two years ago today, we had a celebration of life for Rachel.  I put together an invite telling everyone how I knew they might be surprised that we would choose to have a baby shower, but that we were proud to be Rachel's parents and wanted to celebrate her. (I think the pictures are still in the sidebar down below)

It feels like forever ago and yesterday at the same time.  I remember the intense desire for people to celebrate her with us - and how awkward that was for some.  I remember being so blessed by the people who were able to act like she was still alive.... because she was.  And how hard it was to open a card at my baby's shower and see the words "with deepest sympathy" and smile and say thank you as if my heart wasn't being torn apart deep within.

I didn't plan her shower on the same weekend as the Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day on purpose - but it did prove to be meaningful in the long run.  We had around 85 people who came that day.  I had asked people who wanted to give gifts to donate to Rachel's Playground fund and we were blessed with over $1,600 that day. 

As much as I have seen the worst in some through this trial, I've also been the best.  Throughout my pregnancy and beyond, I have continuously seen people pouring out their love - and Christ's love - on us.  Looking back, some of it is hard to believe.

So yesterday was Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness day.... but today was the day I woke up with a heavy heart missing my girl.

Within 10 minutes of being awake, I saw Asa go walking across the kitchen floor out of the corner of my eye!  He had taken a few steps here and there - but where did he learn that?!  While sleeping?!  And now all day long, he's been walking everywhere. (and grabbing stuff off the table!)  He has been giggling and squealing - he is so excited about his new talent.  I have smiled so many times today watching him, it's impossible to count how many.

I couldn't help but feel like it was a gift just for me on Rachel's day.  The day we celebrate life.  A day on our journey where she was alive and that was the focus.  When she danced at her own party and I still knew there was a chance I wouldn't have to live without her.  When nobody tried to avoid the subject of her.  It was ok - and sometimes even insisted on when I wasn't up for it - to talk about her because she wasn't old news.  When people put aside their comfort levels to be with us and walk with us - if only for an hour or two. 

October 16 will always belong to Rachel.  But today, Asa made it one of his big days too.  I've refused to let Asa steal any of the spot light from Rachel, but today he deserves some.  And I'm pretty sure Rachel would agree.... I'm positive if she were here with us, she would have been laughing right along with the rest of us as she watched her little brother walk around. 

And I'm wondering if she didn't put a request in with our Father for a special gift for me today ♥ 

I am so blessed and so thankful for every second I get to spend with each one of my children as I watch them grow.  And I'm even thankful for the way it makes my heart ache knowing how much I've missed and will miss with Rachel - because it means she was real.  She was here.  She was alive.  She exisited.  (OK - I just wrote that and my entire house shook.  I started writing that I thought we had an earthquake - which I've never experienced before - but thought I'd sound crazy so I deleted it - and then I talked to my mom and I guess there really WAS an earthquake!  I guess my girl is still dancing.  Maybe she took up clogging :o))

I wish I could have seen her walk.  Somebody once posted this on my wall....She never walked, but she did always dance.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Help Please?

I just spent another afternoon working on.... yep, race stuff.  (your tax receipts are on their way!!) This is so time consuming.  I've teetered back and forth over whether or not I can realistically keep this up for years to come.  My life is so busy and this has turned out to be a year round part-time job.  That would be no problem if I didn't have a full-time job taking care of - and homeschooling - my other 4 kids, a part-time job at the Y and a house to keep and food to cook.

But honestly, I can't NOT do it.

I need to confess a little secret.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  I have faked my way through every application, every form, every event.  From her playground to the last two 5K's - I was clueless and I flew by the seat of my pants.  And for the most part, things have gone pretty well.  God definitely has made up for my shortcomings and provided in the midst of my uneducated guessing. This year's 5K was a little easier because I had the experience from last year - but last year we put that race on in just 6 short weeks of planning and with me having only been to 1 race before in my life, the month before! 

In the beginning of this year, Baby Rachel's Legacy (BRL) became a Non-Profit Organization.  This was so exciting, but somewhat intimidating.  I have little understanding of what I really need to do to keep this all afloat, not much time to figure it out, and emotions that complicate it all.  I have done each step as they have come, but if I'm honest, there is more that I don't understand than that I do.  For instance, I had to pick a year end for BRL and I picked September.  What that means?  No clue.  I know there are fees I have to pay for the non-profit status and to the Charitable Trusts Unit.  When and how much?  Don't know.  Will they tell me?  I have no idea.  I have ideas for how to better minister to people through their losses that I would like to incorporate into the organization - but totally confused as to where to even start.  I don't know if I'm over complicating it or underestimating the seriousness - and if I'm doing one or the other, I don't know how to do anything different.

I'm just a Mama fiercely fighting to not let my baby's life go unnoticed or without making a difference in the world she left behind.

So, this is where I need to ask for help. 

The next thing in line, I really need help with is our taxes.  I have no idea where to even start, what forms need to be filled out, when they should be done, if I have everything I need or am going to have a lot of work getting this stuff in order...  I need someone who can help me.  I'm hoping for donated/discounted time from someone who is qualified to file taxes - or someone to aim me in the right direction from here.  It's too important to do this like I've done everything else, although I'll admit I'm totally tempted because I keep wondering if it's really that hard. 

I'm okay as long as I don't think about it - but as soon as I start to wonder about this stuff.... look out - my stress level triples.  I don't want to mess this up and I'm not a numbers girl - I'm a words girl.  Give me a writing assignment and I'm all over it - but taxes?  Um, help please??

You can email me at RachelsMama@ymail.com if you think you can help! 
(Being local to me is necessary.)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Places: On The Map

It took 4 years of coming to the same place on vacation to notice a couple of major 'Rachel' signs.

The road we take to get to the camp has a name and a route number.  We've always referred to it by the route number.  We borrowed my grandparents GPS for the trip this year and when it said "Take a left onto Hope Road" I looked at Matt....  "Is this really called Hope Road??"  and then we saw the sign tucked in the trees on the side of the road. 

I couldn't believe we had never noticed it.  I guess I knew the next town over was called Hope.  Last year Matt went to a church called Hope Community.  But I never made the connection that this little piece of heaven on earth was on the road to Hope.

Then as we were entering the cottage one afternoon, I decided to stop and read the notice posted by the door.  It has hung there every year, it's in the background of the photo I have of me proudly cradling my Rachel belly in August 2010.  But I never read it until this year.  I can't say I was totally surprised to see all the 43's (box #, Zip code & phone #), but the timing of it was a blessing.


God knew I needed to feel her there with us - and once again He provided for my heart.  He never lets me down.  He is in the details - even down to when I notice them.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Set Your Alarm Clocks! Please Pray With Us!!!

Our friend Billy has been fighting a most humble and brave fight against pancreatic cancer for quite a while now.  He has done this with a better attitude than many have on a good day.  He reached the point recently where treatment was no longer helping. 

I'm hoping you can all pray with us.

Here is a part of an email I received from his wife Dawn:

"Billy's priest, who married us and loves us dearly, is in Medjugorje, Bosnia right now. Medjugorje is considered by many Catholics to be very holy and a place of many miracles. Father Paul will be saying Holy Mass there this Friday morning at 10AM. He is "offering" the mass for Billy, which means that all the prayers at that mass will be offered up for him! (Billy cried about this too). Our intention is to get up at 4AM and be praying at the same time that Mass is being said. Because we are doing the enthronement the night before it will be really special, waking up to do that with the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus there with us...
We are asking people to join us in prayer for Billy this Friday morning at 4AM (in your own home, of course!!) or, if you can't imagine waking at that time, please pray Thursday evening. Time is running out, I feel that we are in the garden at Gesthemene. God's will be done, until then we are praying that this cup will be taken from him."
I know many of you are on a different time zone, so just aim for around the same time - ultimately we know that God is bigger than time and so your prayers at any time are greatly needed and appreciated.  From my experience, it is very powerful when there are a lot of people lifting you up in prayer.  I remember the days when hundreds of people were praying for me and maybe that is how I was able to walk through those days like I did.  Please remember Billy and Dawn in prayer as we wait on God for his healing, knowing that this might not happen this side of heaven - but that our God is able.
If you wanted to send any notes or words of encouragement to them, you can use Rachel's PO BOX and mark on it somewhere that it is for Billy & Dawn:
Baby Rachel's Legacy
PO Box 454
Rochester NH 03866-0454
So set your alarm clocks now!!  Friday morning at 4am, even if you just pray for a minute and go back to sleep, please join us in this.  It will mean so much to them and I know he will feel your prayers.  And PLEASE share this!  (check the box below if you are praying...)

Monday, October 8, 2012

A Couple of Tunes :o)

This morning at the Y, my little man took his first few steps!  I actually got paid while watching my baby learn how to walk (and teaching Des and Zaya about Pyramids while bandaging Sam's leg, but that's another post).  Does it get much better than that?!  I am so thankful that I am blessed to spend my days with these precious kids and don't miss any of these gifts.  I made up a little song to go along with his new milestone...
(add fun tunes here)  "He learned to walk at the Y - M - C - A!"  :o)  Love this boy.
This picture is just to show off his climbing skills... He's made it to the top of our really steep, wood stairs a few times already.  Apparently he's not only strong, but fast.  I have a feeling he will keep me busy!!  Looking forward to chasing this little crazy boy around!  Pray that my kids will remember to close the baby gates, (the doors, the fridge, the toilet!!) behind them!

And while I'm in the mood for singing...  (add fun tune here)...

"Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday to you, Happy Birthday dear Caleb.  Happy Birthday to you!!"
My nephew turned 5 today and for his birthday he asked to bring me & the kids all McDonald's.  Isn't he sweet??  I reminisced with him about his first birthday, which I was honored to be present for and I can hardly believe it's been so long.  Time really does fly.  Love you Caleb!
They sat like this for a few minutes.  I wonder what's going thru their minds??
♥ Cousin Love ♥

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Hard-Won Dirt

I woke up feeling hung over from all my crying last night, but felt okay.  I made it though most of worship before the last song took every last bit of composure I had left and I had a complete overflow of emotions.  I ended up downstairs with another grieving friend and we both cried our way through the morning... but at least we were together.  That does two things... it helps me to feel understood (even though our losses were different) and it helps to keep those lovely 'silver lining' people away since I was already talking to someone.  It sounds like a horrible morning, I know... but I do believe God was providing for me in so many ways this morning.  I left exhausted, but I needed that cry.

I had planned to get back to Rachel's grave on Friday and it wasn't possible.  I wanted to Saturday and it didn't happen.  Today we finally got over there.  We got her a different mum plant, same color and I brought hers back home to plant here.  I always like to bring things to her that have been here a while and bring things here that have been there a while.  It helps me feel like we still share things - like part of her is here and part of our home is there.

Back in May when I left that bracelet I had made for her on the retreat,  I continued to wear mine daily since then.  I assumed hers wouldn't hold up as well as mine.  Hers has had the harsh weather of the cemetery to hold up to and mine was just on my wrist.... I guess it's rather symbolic to me that hers is actually in much better shape than mine.

Mine has to do life.  Hers just got to rest and soak in the sun.

I swapped them out and as I slipped hers onto my wrist, I thought about how well she is taken care of.  I'm thankful that she doesn't know the pain of this world... that she never has a chance to reject her Savior... that I don't have the possibility of messing up with her.  She has it all.  She wants for nothing.  Her cloth will never wither and fade. 

Matt brought Asa out of the car and he crawled over to her stone.  He broke her little dancing daisies... I guess it's appropriate that her little brother would break her things...  and he threw her pumpkin around.  I stood back and noticed he was sitting directly above where her little body is buried. 

His bracelet is still white... he is oblivious to the realities all around him.  And maybe that's why I want to keep my kids young so badly.  Maybe it's not about missing them being small as much as it is about knowing they will not be able to avoid the hurts and pains of life.  As they grow, they will realize more and more how much easier it is being a child, but they can never go back.

I fear losing them, their hearts being broken, not being able to save them from making the mistakes I have made.  I fear them walking away from the Only One who can save them from hell.  And I just want to hold them tight forever.  I don't let the fear take over, I let it spur me on to be a better mother and to always put them first, knowing that life is not guaranteed to last a second longer than this very one.  And honestly, as I look at my baby sitting in front of a headstone with my other baby's name on it, I don't care what anyone thinks about that.  If he died tomorrow, as he very well could, I would not regret the time spent with him - even at 2 am because no, he does not sleep through the night and I'm okay with that. I have yet to resent a single night time need and that is a blessing from Rachel. What I wouldn't give to 'have to' nurse her at 2 am.

Every spec of dirt on my bracelet has been hard-won.  Every fray, every germ, every stain.  I love my messy, hard, busy, crazy life.  With all it's ups and downs and in betweens.  I love every long day, every fresh shirt puked on, every chance to live another moment with my family. Even when it hurts or when someone else's bracelet looks prettier.   I'm learning to be content with my dirt.  I actually kinda like it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Memory Fails

Tonight has been hard.

I realized I don't think we got a print out of Rachel's heartbeat from before she was born and began looking. I looked. Looked some more. And kept looking.... It instantly became an I-need-to-find-this thing that I couldn't let go of. We have ultrasounds, but since I didn't have a regular labor, they only monitored her long enough to make sure she was still alive. And I don't know where that paper went or if I ever even had it, but I needed to know.

In the process of searching, I've watched a ton of ultrasound videos (in hopes I could print it off of there), smiled as I saw her dancing around inside of me, looked thru her memory box, smelled her clothes, searched through photos from her birthday and cried more - and harder - than I have in a long time.

I miss her. I can feel her birthday coming and it's almost 2 months away still.

Isaiah passed by and saw me crying. He came back and gave me a hug. He asked if she wore the dress I was holding and I showed him a picture of her in it. I showed him one of him holding her and asked if he remembered meeting her. He said "Well, I do, but I can't remember what she feels like." His words made it hard for me to deny that my fears are coming true...

She's getting harder to remember.

Oh dear God help me remember what she feels like.....  I don't want to forget what it felt like to hold her. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

There's Always Hope.

On Monday, my friend Mel came into the YMCA while I was working, her little girl carrying a single daisy for me.  If that wasn't a sweet enough sight all by itself, she told me that she spotted it while driving (by Exit 13) and got out of her car and ran up the hill to get it.  I'll admit, I was thankful to not feel like the only person in the world who goes a little far for my girl.  Thanks, Mel.

If you remember, on Rachel's 18 month birthday, Exit 13 was covered with them and a huge blessing to me. See post here.  They've been gone for a long time.   I guess for her 22 months, it had just one return. 

I wrapped a wet paper towel around it.  I said "I just want it to stay alive long enough to bring it home" and I felt a jab to my heart as I remembered saying the same thing about Rachel before her birth.  I kept it with me for the 3 hours I worked and then brought it home in the diaper bag.  You can imagine it was in rough shape by the time I finally got it into water.

For 2 days it was completely hunched over, hanging really low.  Until yesterday...

It's now standing tall on my window sill.... life after death. There's always hope.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

My 1st 5K

I went to the gym tonight to run away my broken heart...

I decided to cover up the screen and see how far I went if I was just going based on what I could handle and not trying to beat my last distance.

I got to my limit and took the towel off.

2.39 !!!!

That is .06 more than Saturday!  I was so excited.

I walked for .10 and started running again.  Here is the song that kept me going - I decided I would run until it was over....

(hoping this brings comfort to all the mamas who are missing a baby they have lost - as well as the mamas who are missing a baby they still long for)

The song ended and I looked... 2.90! 

I covered it back up and decided I'd cool down for the rest of the next song.  It was "Not Alone" by Jamie Grace, which I've blogged before so I'll just share the lyrics that especially spoke to me tonight.  The last line (bolded) gets really intense.

His arms are holding you
His love will see you through
When you smile and you laugh but you're fakin'
Cause you don't know how you're gonna make it
You feel so much pain
And you can't see your way
You're not alone
You're not alone

His arms are holding you
His love will see you through
When you try not to cry but to take it
All the stress, and the hurt and heartache
You may feel pain
But not as great as His name

You're not alone
No you're not alone
When the song ended, I looked at it was exactly 3.10.  And my heartrate was 143.

My 1st 5K. 

Happy 22 months in heaven baby girl. ♥  Mama's still running for you.

"Just Because"

My friend Lisa just posted this on my facebook page tonight.  Seems like something I could have written myself.  This is all so familar... The reactions of others and the needs of my heart.

Just Because

 Just Because time has passed
doesn't mean that all is fine.
My sadness, and my grief
Hasn’t diminished with time.

Just Because I am smiling
doesn't mean that I'm not down.
I cry for my little baby
when no one is around.

You ask me how I'm feeling,
but do you really want to know?
The moment I try telling you
You say you have to go

How can I tell you,
what it's been like for me
I am haunted, I am broken
By things that you don't see

You ask me how I'm holding up,
but do you really care?
The second I try to speak my heart;
You start squirming in your chair.

Everyone avoids me now,
because they don't know what to say
They tell me I'll be there for you,
then turn and walk away.

Call me if you need me,
that's what everybody said,
But how can I call you and scream
into the phone,
My God, my child is dead?

No one will let me
say the words that I need to say
Why does a mother's grief
scare everyone away?

I am tired of pretending
as my heart pounds in my chest,
I say things to make you comfortable,
but my soul finds no rest.

How can I tell you things
that are too sad to be told,
of the helplessness of holding a child
who in your arms grows cold?

You cannot imagine
what it was like for me that day
to place a final kiss upon that cheek,
and have to turn and walk away.

If you really love me,
and I believe you do,
if you really want to help me,
here is what I need from you.

Sit down beside me,
reach out and take my hand,
Say "My friend, I've come to listen,
I want to understand."

Just hold my hand and listen
that's all you need to do,
And if by chance I shed a tear,
it's all right if you do to.

I swear that I'll remember
till the day I'm very old,
the friend who sat and held my hand
and let me bare my soul. 

A Long Day

A long day.

I'm wiped out... physically, mentally, emotionally.

How can the number on the calendar make such a difference?  Or maybe it's just the stale icing on the already burnt cake.

A friend has been working on a drawing of Rachel for me.  Today at our lunch break at our homeschool group, I went to the van to look at the rough draft she sent me last week.  I felt like I needed to see her.  I've never looked at facebook from my phone before and I saw that at the bottom of my page, it listed the years.  I reluctantly decided to open 2010.  There was a update on October 6, 2010 with a picture of Rachel... updates that talked of the blessings God was bestowing on us just before her diagnosis, messages from people as they asked people to pray for us on Rachel's birthday.

Deep sigh...  went back in and did life, all the while, feeling the heaviness of death.

I went to Rachel's grave and found it, yet again, in shambles from this bird feeder.  Her mums are totally flopped over, there were broken open sunflower seeds plastered all over her stone.  It was raining.  I was tired.  I wiped them off with my hands as best I could, sloshing water all over the place in the meantime... and my finger got caught on a pointed part of the bottom of her stone and cut it.

Tears started to fall... I put my arms out to the side and looked around me. 

I've memorized every area of this cemetery and most days I think it's quite pretty.  Today as I stood in the rain crying, thoughtful decorations having taken a turn for the worst, I resented the way these squirrels have trampled over her space... my space... the space I wanted birds to enjoy... the space I dedicated to welcoming life to this ugly part of my journey.

I don't want to do this anymore Lord.  I hate this.  I hate cemeteries.  I hate this cemetery. 

And after I let Him in on how unhappy I am with what He deemed an appropriate plan for my life, I got back in the van and continued on.  As I do every day.  As I do every 3rd. 

And I told her I'll be back on Friday to fix this mess I created.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Places: By the Fire

The quaint living room at the camp held some very special memories this year.  Late night conversations, cribbage, warm fires and s'mores... laughter and tears. 

Isaiah mastered the art of starting a fire all on his own (he even helped cut some of the wood!)  He was so excited and he marveled at the outcome of his hard work.  He 'taught' me how as he prepared it and I thoroughly enjoyed pretending like every step he instructed me on was new information to me.  

Desirae sat at the end of the couch as I lay and listen to her talk.  She was telling me all about her computer game.  Normally I would be too busy to listen to this cause I don't actually care about her computer games - but as she talked I realized how much I miss out on when I don't stop to listen to what's going on in her world.  Because as she told me about her 'virtual family' she shared how important it was for her that she picked a husband who wanted a lot of kids.... she was talking about the game, but as she did, I entered into her heart space and saw bits and pieces of her hopes and dreams for the future.  I didn't know until that night that Desirae wants a large family - or how incredibly funny she is and how animated her stories are - she's usually so quiet.  I was able to speak into her life as we talked about what she will look for in a husband, what she wants to do for a job, and what she will name her kids.  It brought me so much joy to see her trust me and talk to me like that.  She is growing up so fast.

Samuel ate lots of marshmallows, most of which were on a stick, but not toasted!  He seemed to enjoy them just the same.  He would stick them on and start eating away.  I smiled as I watched his shear excitement over everything.  He is such a happy boy and just thrilled with life.  Every time we left he would ask "When are we goin' back to summer camp?"  He reminded me how great 'simple' is.

Asa was intrigued by the fire, loved to rock and cuddle, and ran over our toes repeatedly with his walker.  I can't remember what life was like without him and I don't want to.  He had a few 'firsts' on our vacation, not the least of which was a marshmallow, Samuel style :o) 

It's been a long time since I've built a card house... the kids thought I was cool :o)
That doesn't happen very often!!

Yes, I bribed him... a back rub for a s'more.  This kid will do anything for sugar!

And after the kids went to bed, I sat on the couch missing my sweet Rachel.  My heart was so full from all the fun with these guys and I just wished she could have been there too.  I got up and walked towards the bathroom and as I passed the woodstove, I noticed this by the fire....
I stood silently looking at the heart-shaped cardboard that had managed to survive the flames of the fire... perched on the edge of the stove while we bonded as a family in our favorite place on earth.  Seriously, do these things 'just happen'??  I don't think so.  I picked it up and smiled.  I miss her more than words can describe and often so much it confuses even me at times.  I didn't know it was possible to miss someone you hardly knew this deeply.... but I know she is ok and she's not that far away.  In this place, it felt like she was not only close, but right there with us.

Monday, October 1, 2012

Slow and Steady

Remember back in January when I had started the 'Couch to 5K' plan in an attempt to run in Rachel's race this year?

On day 5, I fractured my tibia (stress fracture) and couldn't walk, let alone run, for over 8 weeks without being on the verge of tears.  I obviously didn't get to run in Rachel's race (which is fine cause I'm way too busy directing it to run in it!) and I have stayed completely away from any high impact exercise.

The doctor had told me "You could stand to lose 30 - 40 pounds".  (um, yeah... just had 2 babies in a row... but yes, I know)

So, for the last 9 months, I have be eating better and exercising consistently.  And I knew I felt stronger.  I knew stairs were easier.  I knew I lost the 40 pounds the doctor asked of me.  But last month I took a cardio dance class and my knee and leg hurt for days.  I was beginning to wonder if I would ever be able to use my legs like I used to....

Until Saturday.  I decided to do a little jogging on the treadmill Friday night.  I went a mile all together and walked a bunch of it cause I was so scared to fracture anything and have to start all over on the healing.  I felt okay.  But what really struck me was my endurance.  I was scared to hurt my bones, but I felt like I could just keep going - which has always been my struggle.  I've always had the strength physically, but not the endurance to get far.

So Saturday when I got out of work, I decided to go for it.

I couldn't believe it...I passed one mile.... two miles... and I was tempted to push for the whole 5K, but I made it to 2.33 before I had to talk my determination back down to reality and I went back to walking.   I felt awesome. 

All I could think was about my last question on my last post... "will I always feel this delicate?" 

I always here people talk about "training for a 5K" and I guess I thought there was a 'right' way to do that.  I figured it included a treadmill - or running outside - or running in place.  I don't know, I thought it needed to include running.  At least that's what everyone else seemed to do if running a 5K was their goal.

Well, I've been so careful to give my body time to heal that I have not run at all since January (minus when I lost my speech at Rachel's race right before I had to give it!! I ran all over looking for it and was praying the whole time my knee wouldn't re-break!)  I have used the elliptical and the stair machine and done light weights - and taken some spin classes.  My workouts all summer long were less than 30 minutes and mostly just to keep myself in the habit of going.  I'm not one to spend hours in the gym.  I had no idea that while I was seemingly NOT training for a 5K, I was in fact getting closer to one.

My couch to 5K plan was supposed to be a 9 week plan... but back then 'day 5' was killing me and that was basically 'run for 90 secs, walk for 90 secs until you reach 20 minutes' and it was really hard for me.  I was so weak after having Rachel and Asa.  I was afraid to lose them so I took it VERY slow during my pregnancies. (and per Rachel's request ate lots of chocolate and caramel) :o)  I haven't run as far as I did on Saturday since I was a kid.  Sure, it took 9 months instead of 9 weeks.  Yes, many people could do it in less.  And no, I'm not all the way there....

But to see that a little at a time... slowly but surely... when it looked like I was so far off and not doing the types of things that most would deem necessary to achieve it...

I was getting closer to my goal.

And I have to believe that my healing process is the same.  I need to give my heart the same freedom to heal without too much impact, just as I did my knee.  I need to choose activities that don't cause pain and as the doctor told me back in January about my leg "let pain be my guide".  I need to not force it to do more than it can endure - regardless of what someone else might be able to handle.  And I pray that one day I will stretch my heart a little and find that it's stronger than I thought - that while I was giving it the time to heal, it was doing so much more.  That it wasn't just getting back to where it started before Rachel, but that it was exceeding that.  And I truly believe that God is not only capable of that, but that it is in fact what He is doing.

Our hearts and souls should be given just as much understanding as broken bones, but unfortunately that is not usually the case.  They are just supposed to keep going and not allow the pain to dictate our lives.  While everyone is able to empathize with someone who is physically incapable of doing things, most don't have that same level of compassion for a hurting heart.  They don't make casts or braces that say to the people around you 'I am broken and still healing right now."  

I cannot compartmentalize my grief into a separate part of my life that only gets visited when it's convenient or won't make anyone else uncomfortable.  I don't think that would be healthy or aid in my long term healing either.  It's part of who I am now.  And I'm positive it would do my relationship with God no good to try to put on a facade and not be real with Him or others.  He knows it all anyway and not only can He handle it, but He loves me just the same.

Ultimately, if I didn't give my bones the time they needed, they would be more likely to break again the first time my foot hit the ground wrong.  If I would have pushed myself back in May when I was convinced it should absolutely NOT take that long to heal a broken bone, I wouldn't have been running like I did the other day.  And so the speed at which someone gets back into things after being broken doesn't reveal the true condition under the skin - or guarantee any long lasting positive results.

Most often in my life, joy has not come with happiness, but in spite of it's absence. It is a gift from God and has been given to me in this valley and it goes so much deeper than what is visible on the outside.  He is reforming the pieces of my broken heart and it will happen in his perfect timing. I surrendered to His plan over 2 years ago and I need to just keep doing that and not worrying about what anyone thinks or expects of me. My concern over what other people think of me has been a downfall my entire life. I need to concern myself only with what He thinks of me.

The moral of this story:  Just because someone is out and smiling does not mean they are okay.  And just because someone is home and crying does not mean they aren't.

Sometimes the tortoise isn't as far behind as he seems.