Oils

drive inTonight I got a glimpse of something that used to happen all the time.

I used to paint quite a bit in college, with oils mostly. Before painting something I would envision the imagery that I would hope to translate onto canvas.

I would get my messy white bucket of oily tubes of paint out. And find whatever type of surface I could use at the time as a palette and start mixing. Mixing the colors was just as fun as painting sometimes.

I used to be able to see a color on something I wanted to paint in real life and be able to run through the spectrum of colors in my head and determine which ones in this messy white bucket could accomplish the color. Ask me now, I have no earthly idea.

It’s been so long since I’ve pulled out paintbrushes for something other than footprints or watercolors with Bubby. It’s an awesome trade, don’t get me wrong, but I do miss the unfortunate toxic aroma that oil painting fills the air with, and the smell of fresh gesso on a newly pulled canvas. And the way it feels to push paint around.

To create. To be still in that moment with the colors that can move an audience. Or help your heart like music.

I was thinking of Jenna on the way home and I have an idea of something I’d like to paint of grief. A picture of grief.

I don’t know what will come of it, or if I’ll even be brave enough to share it on here.

But just thinking about it, and getting the vision of something that could really be a painting again, it was refreshing.

Oils.

Oh my.

I dream in color.

And I miss her with every breath I take.

The Carousel

The birds are not singing yet this morning. It’s too early I suppose. I’m turning in earlier these nights, and enjoying early, early mornings before the babies awake. I hope I can keep this going. I ran once this week. My feet hurt for three days. Does that tell you how desperately out of shape I am? I hope to run Monday. I was sore, all over actually, but it felt so good to push myself that way.

Lately I’ve been thinking about life and how it doesn’t stand still. Instead it pushes along like the music on a carousel dances the horses and ponies, dragons and lions along, going round and round, only your carousel doesn’t go round and round. It goes on. And on. And in my deepest corner of my pieced-together, fragmented heart, I fully expect to come ‘full circle’ on this mocking carousel of life. Somewhere along the way, I have started to believe that life is not just one horribly cruel joke… but a gift. And somewhere along the way I began to  crave a real relationship with God again. On this carousel ride, I’ve stepped off the broken mustang that nearly threw me off the God-forsaken ride completely. I ventured over to the friends and family that held my hand and heart through the deepest nightmare of my life. And as the years grew on my grief, I felt a little braver and stepped out into the world, rubbing shoulders with those that know nothing about the loss of a child but know how to be a friend.

Somewhere along the way I found laughter again. And freedom in it.

Somewhere along the way I forgot how horribly distraught I felt pulling off of the broken mustang’s back. Weak. Broken. Guilty.

And here, among friends and family. Between whispered prayers and singing songs with the rainbow babies I find this carousel ride a complete joy.

I find myself curled up on the couch, beneath a whirling, buzzing fan and the dark morning hour. The wall of our lives is on the hanging  in misaligned black frames throughout our house. I catch a glimpse of the one with the three of us. Holding our first girl for the first and last time.

I ask God,”What was that?” Almost like he made a horrible mistake. Still wondering where I stand in all this. Fully questioning how that horrible moment in my life fits into the life we now lead.

THAT is your story. It’s so clear this time of day, without distractions.

I collapse in a shredded retreat. Why couldn’t my story be something easier to talk about? Something people don’t click away when they read about, and something people don’t try to make into some fantasizing fairy tale? My daughter died. That is usually such a tie breaker when we meet new people, and our conversation finally “gets” there… minutes or weeks later.

I feel a bit clumsy thinking out loud today, asking God about this. I don’t regret any of it, I just wonder at life. It streams effortlessly along, like this forever long carousel ride. Almost as if it is so sure that you will make it off the broken mustang’s back just fine. The music plays while your heart is shattering into one million and one pieces…

The music keeps playing when you feel so alone…

Until one day you wake up, and the same tune is playing somewhere in the background of this life you never wanted to love again.

But you do.

And you realize that life doesn’t wrap so tightly around this fate of grief anymore.

In fact I had a dream about her on her due date, last Sunday. It was the third dream I can remember having of her since she died. And like the rest, it wasn’t good. This one was just plain mortifying. But in a weird way it assured me that she doesn’t belong in this world.

So however jarred I might feel whenever I do share about her and the incredible way she changed our lives, it’s okay. For whatever reason God gave me this story. I don’t take that lightly.

This carousel also makes me cringe thinking of coming “full circle”, or in this case having the other shoe drop… and starting all over at square one on that broken mustang’s back that sent excruciating pain throughout my soul with every jib and jolt of this carousel ride.

Many days I can stand on the brink of the ‘what if’ and wonder how long the carousel must keep going before lightening strikes again. And there are days, like last Sunday, that it’s hard not to question it all. How on earth was I ‘fit’ to mother a dead child? I feel like I don’t do enough for her, talk about her enough? And to some, maybe too much? But who is ‘fit’? That begs me to question why not me? 

One day, I cannot wait to ask God these questions that pound my head this early in the morning. Until then I have to believe there is so much more to this story than I can see. I will hold onto that hope today.

And believe with my whole heart that she was always meant to be our story.

the carousel ride

The Thing About Grief

The thing about grief is that it has no end.

Only some days it feels like it has ‘ended’.

When out of nowhere it takes you by surprise,

and makes your heart cry yet another thousand or so tears,

or shuts you up in silence, making for an awkward social gathering.

But the truth is, that grief has visited your heart once again.

At full throttle.

the thing about grief

And since it’s not like envy,

It has no color, and cannot be recognized but by those fellow grievers.

Whose hearts understand the uncompromising visits from this friend and foe.

The thing about grief is that you actually learn to love it.

Not the sadness, but the strange way it makes you feel love again.

Because the truth is grief only exists where love lived first.

So really, grief is love.

And if you could ever really convince your head and heart of this matter, you might be a much better social gatherer person.

And social events might not be so hard.

And you might do better at the most unsuspecting moments when the tears want to fall and you want to question why…

but then grief would not be grief.

It would be this Pandora box, that no one would ever open.

And while you might never hurt again,

you might forget the love too.

So you embrace every last savory and unsavory bit of this friend and foe, that the world has labeled ‘grief’.

But to you, it is not a label or even an emotion.

This is your life. Not in a box, but the way your heart beats.

And the melody to which your soul dances from tears to joy in a matter of seconds.

You wouldn’t have it any other way.

Because you know that love like this cannot possibly ever die, and you know that it will not always be such a tearful existence.

linking up here + here

Independence Day (and a new look)

drawing with sparklers

fourth of july pix

Well I am awake. I’ve been up since before six in the morning and I am hoping to change my sleeping habits slowly. For years, actually since Jenna died, I have been unable to go to bed at a normal time. I suppose I am just tired of feeling tired. I remember I would try to go to bed at a normal time and I would just toss and turn until I remembered the baby loss blogs and I would get out of bed and read and read until my eyes were literally so exhausted that I could just crash once I hit the pillow.

I’m tired of living that way.

I want normal sleep.

I crave it.

I think my body does too.

So here’s to a start.

You might have noticed the new look around here. I notice a trend lately. When I start feeling uninspired to write, a lot of the time it’s because this space doesn’t reflect what is going on inside. If you’re reading from an email subscription you can click over, I’d love for you to see it. It’s simple, and it’s exactly what my heart was going for.

with brave wings she flies

It’s Friday but honestly it feels like a Monday! We had a full and beautiful day yesterday.

I mentioned on Instagram how Jenna had been on my heart a lot. I spotted two signs from her. I almost never get any these days. But I knew it was her. First there was a tattered old leaf in our garage in the shape of a heart. I caught a glimpse of it while trying to load up our car to head to the beach.

And then a tiny white butterfly. This butterfly floated right past our tent and across the shore line.

I found a stick at the beach and started drawing Jenna’s name, and a beach butterfly underneath. What I loved was that a few moments later Joseph picked up the stick and said he was also drawing butterflies. I wish I would have got a picture of that!

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I saw this tutorial on Instagram, and in case you still have some sparklers laying around you have to try this! You don’t need a fancy camera. According to the tutorial, a regular point and shoot will work.

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linking here and here today

Coffee Date

maxi skirt

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If I had the chance to sneak out of my house for a quick cup of coffee, I would throw on some comfy flip flops, tie my hair in a loose bun and grab my keys before my husband could change his mind about watching the kids for me. Honestly, he’s really good about it. But I hate leaving them more than I have to, so my guilt would be playing tug-of-war with my need for a little space to think.

But I’d take the opportunity and run as fast as I could to the nearest Starbucks and eagerly wait to see you.

I’d order something delicious and fattening.

I’d open up Instagram while the barista makes my drink, and gawk over the photos of prettiest beach in Florida or laugh out loud because I caught a glimpse of Angie’s Kate doing something completely awesome in the rain.

I’d squeal inside as I saw you pulling up, because even though I’m almost thirty I feel like a kid inside. I still get excited about friends. And hanging out. And laughing at ourselves and oftentimes other people…!

I’d tell you over my cup of iced coffee with a mountain of whip cream on top, that my heart is so happy that July is here. I’ve felt a movement in my soul for the past few weeks.

There are times when I have seriously questioned if there was really a God. Short lived moments, but honest nonetheless. Yet when I know my heart is searching and feeling so far away from anything spiritual, I can feel him there. I can see him in my children. I can hear him speaking. Softly. And more each day.

It encourages my heart. That even though I’ve had my own version of ‘hell and back’, he still wants to be in this mess. Maybe someday he’ll show me how to pick up all these pieces too, without injuring more parts of my soul.

I’d tell you that Bubby’s baby phase is gone… and has been for a while. But just lately I am really seeing his boyhood taking over. The way he is forming sentences… pronouncing ‘big’ words… asking questions.

I’d laugh as I told you that he asked me if we could take Jesus some cookies yesterday. He pleaded and pleaded to ‘go see Jesus’ and used the cookies as his final plea. I did the best I could to explain things that I wonder how much he really knows (more than I think, I’m sure!).

I’d tell you that Evie reached six months and that I can hardly wait to start really planning her birthday party. Yes, I am thinking ahead. I’d tell you that Pete turned down my idea to rent ponies for pony rides… but that I’m going to still check prices. Dream big, right? ;)

I’d tell you in all seriousness that even though at first having a little girl in our world again was extremely bittersweet, that today life is the sweet side of bittersweet. I think about what the three of them would have been like together… a lot. It makes me so happy. And sad. I remember growing up always wanting a big sister… and to think that Evie did… does… yet at the same time she doesn’t. That kind of breaks my heart.

I’d tell you that the other night I cried for the first time in what feels like forever. We were at the drive-in of all places. Evie was snoozing away, Bubby was watching Monsters U, and I looked up. I guess the movie wasn’t really all that, but the experience of the drive-in… priceless. Movie under a starlight sky? Yes. Please. But anyway, I looked up, and the quote about the stars being the love of our lost ones to show us how happy they are… it crossed my mind. Tears rolled off my face. I think they were happy and sad tears. I love thinking about Jenna being happy. Even though I never imagined I would want to be happy again in this life after we buried her… God has given us so much that fills our hearts. And happiness lives here. Happiness found it’s way back into our world, more than we ever dreamed. To think of her being happy… it’s a beautiful thought to say the least.

I’d tell you that I started my very two last designs. And that I am so ready to plunge head first into new things for the shop. I’d tell you that I am obsessed with gold spray paint, glitter and newspaper for projects.

I’d tell you that we need to go swimming soon, because it’s like a hundred and four degrees outside. And we could both probably use a little more sun? :)

I’d ask about you. Your dreams. Your heart. Your babies. Your world.

And I’d hope that we could do this again soon, soon, soon.

Evie

linking up here today.

Why We do What We Do

white signs of grief photoAmy, on the left, is my best friend who lost her six year old daughter, Nevaeh, in 2011 to Leukemia. Dansha on the right is a dear friend and was like a sister to Neveaeh.

I’ve said it a million times before, and I’ll say it again.

I am a completely different person after the loss of our first daughter. And to tell you the truth (because, you know, we haven’t had enough guts spilling around here lately…) I am still wandering through this life trying to figure out who I am… who God wants me to be… and how faith and this broken life can live in harmony once again.

It’s coming, I know that it is.

But there are a few things on my heart today.

Why we do what we do.

Talking about our babies gone too soon. Taking pictures of things that remind us of them. Sharing our tattoos. Sharing the pictures we have left of them. Spreading the word. Making movies and films to help break the silence.

Because our hearts are broken. And we have found that so are countless other hearts around the world. Broken hearts, and families. Lives with devastating aftermath, with weary souls trying to pick up the pieces… the ones left behind anyway.

But most of all, because there is HEALING in reaching out. I get emails and facebook messages nearly every week from loss moms around the world telling me about their story, their loss and how thankful they are to find a story that they can relate to. It’s all so bittersweet. What is hard to explain is that as much as I am thankful to provide our story to the world, a part of me does this for me. I know that sounds selfish, but at the end of the day it’s true. It’s healing for me to share Jenna with the world. It’s one of the ways I’ve found healing in this storm. And by continuing to say her name out loud, and share our loss and story of healing, I believe ultimately, that is the silence breaker, the encourager to help others who have been hushed and silenced for years… to open up at their own free will and talk about their own children gone too soon.

Return to Zero is the first film in history to be based on the story of a stillbirth. I have to say it is going to be an extremely sad evening the night we choose to watch this, but I am going to. This film is breaking the taboo of child loss, and the pain that grieving parents live every day of their lives behind closed doors. They are making tremendous progress at getting this film into theatres all around the world with actors like Minnie Driver and Alfred Molina. You can pledge to see this film here.

The STILL Project is a grassroots project to make a feature length documentary film to break the silence that surrounds the loss of a child. The STILL Project is spearheaded by a brave and inspiring power couple, Jonathan and Carrie, who are using the loss of their daughter Elena to show the world that loss is real. And it can happen to anyone. And if/ when it does, you are not alone. The plans they have for this film are unreal and very exciting for the loss community.

I am donating $5 to the STILL Project from every sale on this piece below. I created it especially for their beautiful cause and am excited to use my shop to help their efforts any small or big way that I can.

Still loving you

 

Tonight at 7pm PST I will be joined by a few special guests on a Google Hangout hosted by the STILL Project to talk about some exciting news and updates. Be sure to stop by the facebook page, where I’ll be sure to post a link to the hangout. If you are unable to make it at the time we go live, you will still be able to watch it later on YouTube.

Summer, how I love you.

Memorial weekend always feels to me like the unofficial launch of all things SUMMER.

Friends, I am so excited.

fuchsia sunset

Summer usually means business slows down a bit, which actually is okay with me. You see, when Jenna died it was around this time of year. Summer was about to begin and as much as I don’t love the heat, the heat of the summer that first summer without her was one of the most bittersweet memories I have.

Summer is like the sigh of relief after a rough couple of months every year. I feel it building after Christmas and building, and building. Until May 18th comes around and I can feel my chest split wide open.

And then, almost like magic, I can breathe again.

This is summer.

Maybe not officially, but I feel that revitalization in life again.

Inspired a bit, actually a LOT! I am working on a project with a handful of other artists and I just can’t wait to spill more about it. Sometimes I wish I could tap away at my keyboard and make money doing just this, because writing to me is like therapy.

Maybe one day. But until then I will squeeze moments throughout my day to keep at this. It helps me process life. And release whatever my heart is struggling to put into words on so many occasions.

But summer. Oh, summer. I cannot tell you how glad I am that you are almost here.

I can already taste the strawberry lemonade and the feel the damp humidity that lingers well into the evening. And while you bring a plethora of mosquitos and sunburns along with you, I welcome you. Because you are the constant, faithful reminder that life is here. Life is now.

And I am so, so ready.

I have a few things on my bucket list so far… do you have a bucket list for summer time?

Also, four days ago this young man lost his battle against cancer. His legacy is pretty amazing. “You don’t have to find out you’re dying to start living.”

ps… I wrote on the MOB Society yesterday on childhood memories and the magical outdoors!

Fighting the Sadness.

Nelly – Just A Dream by Nelly – Just A Dream on Grooveshark

It amazes me that this well, this well of absolute sadness and grief is never ever empty. There is always something down there.

Something that motivates me to be a better person.

Something that brings me to tears.

Something that moves my soul like nothing else in the world has ever moved me before.

Something that can make a perfectly good moment burst into a wild goose chase of what ifs and could-have-beens.

The well is sometimes low… and on the days it is low it would be easy to forget it altogether. Life is easy to carry on. Life almost seems NORMAL.

And then there are days that the well is full, tears are behind every smile, and you just feel like a complete mad woman. Running from happy to sad to a blubbering mess in a matter of seconds.

Today the well overflowed. The well wasn’t just present. It wasn’t just full, it pretty much washed over me.

Realizing what tomorrow is.

I am at the point where I am sick and tired of being sad. Just fed up with it. Sadness is so endless… because the loss of a child is infinite in the fact that it transpires into every facet of life.

I know as a Christian we should seek comfort in the word of God, cast our cares on him. But today I had a thought that I just wanted to be happy.

Is that okay?

I just don’t want to feel it. Because something about that deep dark black hole, it has a sucking power. And it’s easy to get lost in. It’s almost too comfortable at times.

We had a fantastic double date tonight, and on the way home it hit me like a ton of bricks. What the heck was I doing? Laughing, carrying on? I was beating myself up, wondering how on earth I could be so ‘okay’ when a day like tomorrow is on the horizon. The day she died. The day I vowed I would never forget. The day that made me question whether or not I’d ever be happy again.

And here I am, four years later. So okay. Yet, so incredibly sad.

The tears will come regardless. Whether I fight them to the teeth or not.

But there is something I plan to do tomorrow, and that is at least one random act of kindness.

And possibly blasting my music much too loud. But I’ll save that for the car.

During birthday week, on her birthday actually, I did a random act of kindness and it was the most exhilarating, rewarding and humbling feeling. I wish I could have captured the person’s face in a photo.

IT WAS PRICELESS!

I was the only person in line at Starbucks one Sunday evening. I was hoping there would be someone behind me to pass this RAOK on to. But alas, it was just me and the cashier.

So I went on with my order, purchased a drink and a $5 gift card. She was swiping my card, asking me my name and then I asked her if she actually liked the drinks there. Because you know, sometimes after working somewhere (even Starbucks!) you might get burned out. She said she did. I pushed the $5 butterfly gift card into an envelope and handed it to her.

RAOK

“This is for you.” I said. My voice was shaky. I was too scared to react.

She was STUNNED. “Are you serious?!!” She looked down at it. “Are you serious?!”

I nodded, and suddenly realized why this whole random acts of kindness movement is so dang popular. BECAUSE IT IS AWESOME.

We ended up chatting a little bit more about birthday week, our daughters and the reason we are doing it. We connected through instagram and she has been so inspired to do this herself.

So tomorrow, if you would like, I would so love it if you took part in the RAOK in Jenna’s name.

Tomorrow, this well might be overflowing, but I will do everything I can to keep my head above the water. Laughing through the tears. Fighting the sadness. And doing everything I can to make sure my baby girl knows she is so loved, so missed, and too incredible to let this day slide by without making someone else’s day… with even the smallest gesture of kindness.

***UPDATE***

If you decide to join in and share your RAOK’s on Instagram/ Twitter, please use the hashtag #RAOKJENNA so we can see them!:)

Remember Me

mother's day for loss moms

This Mother’s Day,

remember me.

The mom who holds her baby’s hand in the NICU.

The mom who wants nothing more than to take her newborn baby home, and free her baby from the medications, the doctors and the smell of the hospital.

The mom who misses the baby she lost.

The mom who has sweet littles to care for here, but visits the cemetery because a piece of her motherhood is gone.

The mom who has carried life inside of her, but has no children to celebrate on earth this day with.

The mom who dreads facing another Mother’s Day reunion with a facade of ‘okayness’. This day to her will never be the same. It will forever serve as a painful reminder of the missing. That oftentimes goes forgotten, by the rest of the world.

But today, in the midst of restaurant lines, family gatherings, church, gift giving and cards…

remember me. The mom who lives the unimaginable every single day. Still living. Still breathing. Still remembering the child that made her a mother.

If you have a moment (actually about an hour and a half :), this clip is breaking the silence, and making history for bereaved mothers around the world on Mother’s Day. If you are a bereaved mother, you are most definitely not alone. Our heart is with you, and we mourn for your loss today, and everyday.

This Mess

messIMG_1174 IMG_1176 IMG_1179 IMG_1182 IMG_1189 IMG_1191 On a typical day, this is what my living room floor looks like.

Dump trucks, stuffed animals and books scattered all over our worn out carpet. Rubbed out spots on the floor, from peanut butter or ice cream.

Laundry covering the smaller sofa. I can hardly keep up these days. I think I’ve given up actually, and I’m okay with it really.

That saying about having a messy home, but happy kids… it’s kind of true.

The other day I was spending some time on the living room floor with my babies. My world. The mess of a typical day surrounded us. All I could think of was how happy I am to have the chance to clean this up.

Because there is only a mess where there is LIFE.

My son’s days are spent tirelessly, effortlessly sorting through games, toys and books. Dragging mud pies through our kitchen, and not-so-accidentally tossing play dough off the kitchen table, making semi-permanent red and blue stains throughout our kitchen floor.

I look forward to seeing what Evelyn will choose to do. What her mess will look like.

Sure there are days, where life can just feel chaotic and tiring. But this mess… the never-ending task of putting the dump truck back, re-shelving the books, vacuuming the nabisco crackers off the carpet for the hundredth time in a week… it’s something I’ll never be able to do for Jenna. I often wonder what her mess would look like had she lived. What books and toys I would be looking forward to storing away, to someday pass down to her own kids. What toys would have been her favorite.

Her mess looks a lot different than I imagined it would. But it’s a mess nonetheless. A mess that I look forward to picking up and sorting through each day. The art, the cards, the canvases, the emails, the connecting with other bereaved moms… all remnants of the life she lived.

There is only a mess where there has once been life.

Conversations With My Rainbow Baby

Sometimes she whispers.

Sometimes she’s far.

And it’s almost like it never happened. It’s easier for grief to be so close it hurts. Isn’t that so backwards though?

In the beginning it was unimagineable to think that I’d have to carry this pain for the rest of my life. And now that ebb and flow of life has gifted us with some amazing, amazing new memories and times, the raw place of grief is a rare place my heart visits.

It’s easier to celebrate her with tears. And I use the word ‘easier’ because I can’t think of another way to describe it. It’s a terrible word to pair with grief actually, but I hope you get the idea. Tears are visible. They let the world know I have not ‘moved on’, and I have not forgotten. They strangely make me feel close to her again.

The remembrance ceremony was more emotional than I imagined I would be, but the hospital did an immaculate job at making it such a special time for newly bereaved parents. The nurses even hand painted rocks for the babies! That, I think, was my favorite part. Well they also had a harpist (harp player?) present, which was magical. That might have been my favorite. Either way, every part of the ceremony was carefully thought out.

And I cried, during the speech, after the speech… but since then, I feel that sadness leaving for now. It’s almost a sense of relief. An allowance to breathe this most bittersweet week of the year for me. Maybe this is just what happens when you’ve reached the four year mark from holding the baby you never imagined you’d lose?

Maybe I’m in denial?

Or maybe, just maybe… I am ready to truly celebrate her with everything I’ve got. I honestly don’t know. I suppose this week will tell. As the kiddos get older, I don’t want them to always associate Jenna with tears and sadness, because she is more than a sad something that happened. She was a miracle. She was a fighter. She continues to be such an inspiration. And she is their big sister… who lives with the Jesus Joseph is learning so much about these days.

photo-1 photo

Lately it’s not uncommon for Joseph to mention Jenna in conversation. It usually goes something like this. A short conversation, but a treasure nonetheless.

I’ll be in Evie’s room, changing her diaper, with Bubby close behind me. He sees two big brown, cardboard boxes opened enough to see part of colorful odds and ends – toys to him.

“Mama, this Evie’s?” pointing at the white pony stuffed animal, resting on top of one of the boxes.

“No buddy, that’s Jenna’s”.

He looks down at the pony, a little confused, but eager to know more.

“Jenna’s your BIG sister…” I glance back at him, wondering if he might understand this a little better now that he knows what a sister is.

“Where’s Jenna?” so not a question I was ready for.

Without hesitating I blurted out,”she’s in Heaven Buddy.” breathing now, relieved I got those words out without a blubbering mess. “With Jesus.” I added, thinking he might actually understand it better.

“Jesus alive!!” He didn’t even blink. Thank God for his Sunday school teacher who planted this beautiful seed in his heart.

“Yes Buddy, Jesus is alive.”

If his little heart can believe in his childlike faith that Jesus is in fact alive, then knowing his sister lives there too, I suppose it can’t always be sad when we bring her up. Because if he is alive, then she lives too. And what a beautiful hope.

Birthday Week

I’ve had blog posts drifting through my head but I’ve barely had enough time to even check my email these days. The blog posts usually happen when I’m driving, almost asleep or feeding the kiddos…

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but if I could tell you what’s been on my heart you’d get a modge podge answer that goes something like this…

… lately our little man has had a terrible stomach bug. just when we think he’s getting better, he’s not. we went to the doctor today, and she says it just has to run it’s course, and believes we are at the tail end of this thing. *fingers crossed*

… i am so looking forward to next week. my best friend and i have this ‘birthday week’ thing planned. see, both our girls have birthdays on the same week, hers is the 2nd and jenna’s is the 5th. we are planning an overnight stay at the beach, trip to the cupcake bakery from the other day, a ‘random acts of kindness’ day, a baking cookies/ bring them to school day… and a few other things. this helps my heart. it kicks off with the remembrance ceremony at texas childrens’ tomorrow, where i’ll be speaking (yikes!), the march of dimes walk on sunday… what a weekend! actually, what a week! it will end with a big bang on saturday, the 4th with bubby’s 3rd birthday party.

… i’ve decided that no matter how much we do this side of heaven for our girls will never be enough. i always end up feeling this emptiness. and it’s okay, really. the absence, the loss, the sadness, the grief… it’s all the mark of love.

… evie is getting so big so fast. four weeks ago she outgrew her 0-3 month clothing. two weeks ago she outgrew just about everything that is not 6-9 months. this girl is on a roll! but it is such a beautiful thing to watch her grow.

… hubby went to working nights, so it’s making my anxiety crazy lately! it’s making our old ‘schedule’ nonexistent, and the days oddly longer. it’s temporary, and really i can’t complain. i am so thankful he has the work.

… i heard this song recently, and i can’t stop listening. it’s soothing. music is so healing. also? the cellist from the Lumineers is a goddess!

… on may 1st we are going to ask anyone who wants to, to wear pink or purple as a way to honor their birthdays during birthday week. if you would like to join in, please feel free to share a pic! you can email them to us, or tag us on instagram:) @smallbirdstudios (that’s me!) and @amy_nevaehsmommy (bestie’s IG!) // also if you asked us to add your baby on our shirt, we hope to get a better picture of all the names (the lists are quite long, sadly) soon.

… sometimes the grief flows through my veins so deeply that i can hardly believe i survived. as her would-be fourth birthday approaches, a big part of my heart is somewhere in the past. holding her. remembering the time that i first became a mother.

dream BIG

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I have this dream. It’s pretty close to my heart. It might not be big to others, but it’s big to me.

It’s what I’ve been talking with my husband about lately. He’s welcomes the idea, but he’s skeptical. He says I’m already so busy, and he’s so right.

But it’s hard to shake a dream. Especially when you feel like you’re free falling, in a very good way. A dream is like an itch you can’t satisfy, a vision you can totally see happening. And a reality so terrifying because you know so many ways it could go wrong.

But what if it didn’t? What if it was even more amazing than you could ever imagine? I won’t tell you all of it, but I will tell you it has to do with bereaved mothers… and creativity.

I visited Sugar Rush Cake Gallery with my bestie the other day, and it felt like a push… to just do this thing. The owner lost a little girl five years ago, and chased her dreams to own a bakery. (see news clip here)

I wrote down a list of dreams I have last night, as a way to not forget them, but more so to not lose the courage to chase them.

One of my dreams is continuing our lantern releases each year. The release last year was magical, beyond words.

This year Amanda and I already feel so much more organized. We already have so many donating monetarily toward it, as well as supplies. We cannot wait to light the night with love this year, again. You can find out more about this little dream of ours on our website.

Dream big, friends. Dreams are also gifts. At least that is how I feel. This life I’m living, everything I’m doing… it’s all a gift I feel she left behind. These dreams are ways to mother my daughter that I can’t hold in my arms.

The dreaming, I’ve discovered, never ends… because my love for her will never end.

Infinite

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Last night on Still Standing’s facebook page I posed a question about describing your grief journey in one word. The response was overwhelming. Many hours later, that status was still active, and all kinds of words were popping up. Words like ‘heavy, broken, confused, raw…”

My heart sinks reading those words. These words are being typed by real mothers. To real babies. Who have died very real deaths. Probably very recently. I remember feeling every one of those. It’s disconcerting to think that someone else is experiencing tremendous pain. Right now. Raw pain. Hopeless pain.

If I had to describe my grief today in one word it would be infinite.

My grief is infinite because it was the result of great love. And love has no end. Most definitely not the grave.

My grief is infinite because it is something that I do everyday. Some days I grieve openly. Some days I choose to keep her memory close. Some days I need the tears to pour over me. And some days I need laughter, music and ridiculous fun.

My grief is infinite because it continues to weave itself into every facet of my life. The small things. The big things. The things that naturally have nothing to do with death, yet grief has a way of making it’s presence known. Sometimes grief is obnoxious. And sometimes it is comforting, too.

My grief is infinite because I will never fully understand it.

My grief is infinite because nothing I do to satisfy the empty place she was meant to fill, will ever be enough.

My grief is infinite in that it never rests, never exhausts it’s ability to manifest itself to me on the most unsuspecting moments. It doesn’t ask me if I’m over the last tide that swept over. It just rolls in, effortlessly, merciless, and faithfully.

My grief is infinite because it continues to fuel my passion. Create new dreams. Dreams that are so big, so precious and dear to my heart that I could seriously burst… knowing it’s all a gift she left behind.

Thank You

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This has been on my heart since the Google Hangout a few days ago with STILL Project and a few other amazing people in this loss community. At the very end Carrie asked us what we would say to everyone who has supported us, and just anyone out there listening in. My first instinct was to say ‘thank you’. Of course I got carried away with anxiety and nerves, and forgot! I had so much I wanted to say, but this is what was on my heart the moment she asked us for the closing remarks.

Thank you.

Thank you for letting me talk about her.

Giving me a place in this world where her name is welcome, remembered, shared, loved, talked about, and cherished.

Thank you for giving me liberty to grieve.

Thank you for taking time out of your busy world to write my baby girl’s name in the sand, snow, in your garden, on your window, in the Canadian ice, in rose petals, and in so many other creative ways. You have no idea how each of these got me through.

Thank you for holding my hand when no one else could (even if it was through a computer screen)

Thank you for the comments, the emails, the texts, the late night blog posts that gave me something to look forward to when the world was sleeping and my mind was racing with insomnia.

Thank you for not making me feel crazy.

Thank you for encouraging me, when so many couldn’t understand how any of this was even helping.

Thank you for teaching me to be brave by talking about your babies too.