CS Lewis once said that "grief is like the sky, it covers everything." In recent weeks, our family has found that this is so very true. It seems that there is no right or wrong way to travel this path of grief. I have created this blog in hopes that some day we will be able to look back on our journey and see written proof that our great God never leaves us. God is good all the time.

Celebrating Laynee

You might want to scroll to the bottom of this page and pause the music before playing this video.

Friday, December 25, 2009

MERRY CHRISTMAS LAYNEE


Wherever I go, there I am.  I can fly to another part of this great country that I live in and yet, the sorrow and grief go with me.  There is no escaping it.  As Christians, Christmas comes regardless of where we go, what we are doing, or the level of sadness in our hearts.   In Florida, the sun shines brightly, lifting my spirits considerably.   The ocean tide sweeps in and out, it's vastness reaching further than the human eye can see, a reminder of how awesome and mighty our Creator is.  The ocean serves as reminder that I am so small, a mere speck on the earth's face.  I am nothing, I have nothing, I give nothing but that which my God allows.  He gave my Laynee, one of the most precious gifts I've ever received, and He took her, exactly as He had planned when He created her.

On the beach, my heart clenches at the sight of little children toddling in the sand.  Sun hats, shovels, buckets, smells of sunscreen, all remind me that I no longer have a tiny little girl.  Oh how adorable she would be here.  How fascinated she would be with the waves, and the sea birds.Yesterday I wrote carefully , in large letter in the sand, "Merry Christmas, Laynee".  I wonder, can she look down from her place in heaven and see how badly we want her here with us?   I noticed that many beach walker read the words there in the sand.  One woman even stopped to read it aloud to her children.  Yet no one, but our family, understands the significance of the words.   It likely never crossed a single mind that those words were for a 2 year old in heaven.
We celebrate Christmas!!!  Even here in Florida.  Last night, Christmas Eve, my nieces, Amelia and Chloe, and nephews, Drake and Stoner, came to our condo to make and decorate cookies. This morning we ate our traditonal Christmas breakfast, we opened gifts, this evening we will be with exteneded family.  We celebrate Christmas because it is Christmas, with or without our little girl sitting here beside us. Laynee Grace is not here on this earth but life goes on.  No matter where we go or what we do, life continues on.  Minutes turn to hours, hours to days and days to weeks.  Holidays come and they pass for those who remain.  We survive.   Though every breath hurts, we survive. 
 
Chloe, Jade, Jamee, and Amelia making Christmas Cookies


We brought Laynee's bag along for the trip.  It is filled with her swimsuit, sunglasses, pink jacket, Tennis Shoes and Sandals.  Just right for little girls who should be going to the beach with family




 Jamee, Moise, Brock, Jade, and Grant Christmas Morning



Jamee and Jade with the Angel Wings from Ashley.



Monday, December 21, 2009

New Traditions: Not what I always dreamed of




I love setting traditions for my family.  We have a certain "special" breakfast every year for Christmas day.  We always open a couple of presents on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas morning.  We always make cutout frosted cookies.  The list goes on and it seems we keep adding new traditions.  This year is no exception, but the traditions we've added are not ones that bring joy and excitement.  We decided that Laynee needed a Christmas Stocking.   Sunday after church, we all drove to the cemetary and stomped through the pristine white snow to where the cold mound of dirt lay and placed a red stocking with a snowman on  it. How I wish that stocking could have been stuffed with fun little girl things...new pink toothbrush, first "big girl" panties, new socks, and little toys and candies.   Instead, the girls and I wrote "love letters" to her and Brock added a "moo" and a "hee hee" and placed them in the stocking.  I am fully aware that this traditon is not for her, but for us.  I know that she's not there beneath the dirt, but this simple act felt like something tangible that we could do to remember her.  Somehow it brought a sense of healing. Anyone wishing to place something in her stocking is welcome to do just that.

We also decided that each year that she is away from us we will  purchase a special ornament to remember her.  This year's ornament has an angel carved into it and says "keeping you close to our heart."  Earlier in the season we were given an ornament with Jesus holding an infant with the inscription"Safe in the Arms of Jesus."  We also received 3 ornaments as gifts today.  One was a white angel with gold wings.  My sister Rita and family brought us an ornament reminding us that she is "spending Christmas with Jesus."  and my niece Ashley brought an adorable one that is bright pink feathers made into angel wings for our "prettiest angel" So it begins that we collect ornaments that help us to remember our beautiful angel.  I never imagined that I'd ever have to establish traditions like this. 

We will flying to Florida tomorrow.  I truly am looking forward to the trip, yet something about this feels inherently wrong, as though I'm leaving a part of my soul behind.  It feels like I should be packing for her.  The truth is that she's probably closer to us now than she ever was while she was on this earth.  So why is it that she feels so far away?

The ornament that Rita gave us had a poem with it.  This is the same poem that was at the preschool Christmas Program .
 Merry Christmas From Heaven
I still hear the songs,
I still see the lights
I still feel your love on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes and all of your cares
I'll even remind you to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you, you still make me proud
you stand head and shoulders above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment, to stay in His grace
I came here before you to help set your place

You don't have to be perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip, if you continue the climb

To my family and friends
Please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a new special way

I love you all dearly
Now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Mother



This morning I wrote a letter to send to Jalayne's biological mother as I have every year in the winter, around the time of the holidays and her January birthday.  I know that she is aware that Laynee was taken from us and I am thankful that I do not have to be the one to give this news to her but still, the letter was painful to write.  In years past, the letter was filled with all the news of the things Laynee has learned, how she's grown, how silly she can be, how she makes us smile, and oh how we love her.  Today, as I sat down to write I felt lost.  There were no words.  Every word in the English language falls hopelessly short of expressing our grief, our sorrow, our remorse, or the deep love we had for her child .  For me, there is an awsome sense of responsiblity for my adopted children.  The knowledge that someone has entrusted their child into my care, to love them, nurture them, to protect them has always left me feeling humbled.  To tell this biological mother that I loved the child of her womb with all of my heart, but I could not save her, has left me feeling grossly inadequate.  The letter expressed our deep regret in the best way that words could allow, but it was also filled with much gratitude for the beautiful gift she gave to us.  I hope that the words I wrote can, in some small way, convey to her that we gave every part of our hearts to our precious little one.  I hope she can read between the lines and know that we treasured and cherished every aspect of Jalayne.  Though I do not know the feelings of one who loves her child so much that she places them for adoption, my heart aches for her and for the others who would have adored Laynee as we did under different circumstances.  Yet,selfishly, I am so glad that it was I and my family who watched her grow and blossom for 2 1/2 years.  It was my family who was blessed
beyond measure by her simplistic radiance. We were the recipients of her wondrous hugs, her infectious laughter and heart melting smiles  It was I who had the awesome pleasure of being her mommy and being called "muum."  Thank you biological mother and thank you Lord Jesus for sweet Laynee Grace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reflecting on Christmas





Tonight I find myself reflecting on the Christmas Season, and the birth of our Lord, in a way that I had never done before we lost Laynee.  Since Laynee died, my mind  repeatedly mulls over one question...... Was it more painful for God at the birth or the crucifixion of His Son?    I can visualize the furrowed brows and confused looks as people read that question.  The answer seems obvious, does it not?   The Birth of our Lord and Saviour was the greatest, most joyous moment since the creation of the earth. Conversely, the Crucifixion was the most awful, gruesome, heart wrenching moment known by mankind.    It is for this reason that we celebrate these holidays accordingly.  The Christmas season buzzes with excitement,  while the Easter season is much more solemn, a time of reflecting upon the greatest Sacrifice of all time.  I ask the question again, did GOD experience more emotional pain at the Birth or Crucifixion of His only Son?  We feel more pain when we think of how our Lord died, but what about His father?

While this is certainly no attempt to understand the mind of God, or to add to or take away from scripture in any way, I cannot help but give deep thought to the question.  Obviously, God had a devine relationship with His son that is far beyond the capacity of human comprehension.  Yet there still had to be a seperation of body. The fresh pain of having to give up my sweet innocent child drives me to my knees as I think of the price that God paid when He allowed His Son to be born into this world.    The pain that Jim and I are experiencing is incomprehensible, even though we fully know that she is now in paradise.  We have the assurance that she is free of any afflictions, that she has no pain, no sorrow, no tears, but still our hearts ache with heavy sadness.   Imagine giving up your child, knowing  that he will be rejected, scorned, beaten, hated, shamed, and ultimately, murdered.  He knew that while on the Cross, Jesus would have to ask "why have you forsaken me?  He knew that by sending His son, He was sentencing Him to 33 years of  pain and betrayal, the likes of which, no human would ever experience.  I stand in humble awe at depth of this love.

At Jesus death God knew that soon, very soon He would bring His Son back home to Him.  I imagine that while he despised what Jesus was enduring, there may have been a sense of joy, perhaps even excitement,  knowing that the time of seperation was complete.  His Son had walked every step and breathed every breath that was ordained for Him.    The plan that had been orchestrated was complete.  Jesus Christ, His Son, had won His race. 

Just as the world sang praises to welcome Christ to earth, I know that angels sang when Jalayne was escorted into heaven.   The angels rejoiced because Jalayne had finished her race.  She touched every life she was sent to touch.   As my heart aches to give up my beautiful daughter, did God's heart ache to allow the birth of His Son?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son  


Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Without Her

"It's the most wonderful time of the year,"  "It's the hap-happiest season of all,"  "....Holly Jolly Christmas, It's the best time of the year"   Those are the sounds that fill the air these days.  The radio, stores, the television,  everyone singing of glad tidings and good cheer.  Christmas is coming fast but I don't want to have Christmas without Jalayne.

I want to see her wide eyed wonder at all the beauty of Christmas.  I want to constantly say "No, No" as she goes for the bulbs and bows and lights on the trees.  I want to take her through the streets and point out all the beautiful, glittering lights;  red, green, blue, white and silver. The girls and I aren't especially fond of the big inflatable snowmen, reindeer, Santas and other characters that some choose to put in their yard, but we would show them to her because they would bring a smile to her lovely face. Perhaps that is why some people put out such decorations, for the simple fact that they bring smiles to small faces.    We would show her the figures of baby Jesus in the manger,  her little arms would cross in front of her and she would rock back and forth, her sign for baby.  She probably wouldn't fully grasp the meaning of the birth of our Saviour but she would know, because we would teach her, that there is something wondrous about this particular child, Jesus. 

I don't want to make Christmas cookies without her.   How she would love licking the batter off the beaters and smearing frosting on the cookies.  I can picture, in my mind's eye, her radiant smile as she's covered in flour with green and red frosting on her face and in her hair.  I need her help to wrap the presents, with crumpled paper, too long pieces of tape and scibbled name tags.  I don't want to do any of it without her.

On Tuesday of the past week,  at the preschool she attended two mornings a week, a Christmas program was held.  I've added some pictures  of how they chose to remember Laynee on this day.  I know that in spirit she was probably there, smiling down on all of her little friends.  I'm grateful for the way she was honored, but I so desperately wanted her to be singing with the others.  Today I have opted not to go to church because I know that the program to remember Christ's birth is to be held by all of the children.  I know also, that Laynee should be up there and somehow I know that she would steal the show.  But she won't be there.

Anyone who knows me, and has had the priviledge of spending much time with Moise and Jalayne, knows that I love hats. Winter hats are, of course, needed for keeping little ears warm, but they are also an expression of  personality.  I so enjoyed putting hats with balls and baubles on Moise as a small child, and then Jalayne. Somehow they made the long winters just a little more bearable.    I so long to see Laynee's round face and pink, rosy cheeks beneath the silly hats on these cold, dreary days.


Under my bed is a box containing a baby doll .  I had bought this baby early, before the fateful Sept 7,  for a Christmas gift for Laynee.  The baby has a pink dress with large buttons, zippers, snaps,  velcro and ties that would serve to develop Laynee's fine motor skills.  She would have loved that baby.  She would have carried it by it's neck or arm and probably would have thrown it to the bottom of the stairs from time to time.  Gentleness was not one of Laynee's finer traits, but nevertheless, she would love that baby.

 The girls and I so loved shopping for her and dressing her up.  We did go little girl shopping this year.  We shopped and picked out two Christmas outfits that we know she would have been beautiful in.  We chose a beautiful silver dress with sparkly sequins and a glittering silver sweater, perfect for standing up front in the programs.  Another oufit, cream leggings with lace at the bottom and a red and cream ruffled top, festive and warm for going to all of the Christmas gatherings.  Even though Laynee has no need for these things this year, for she's wearing something more glorious than the human eye can comprehend, we bought these special things for a special little girl.  Nebraska "Braska" Larae Woods is a precious little sweet heart who also has Down Syndrome and was born just a couple months before Laynee.   I met her mother, RK, on an online Down Syndrome Board and have the priviledge of reading about Braska's growth, silly ways, and joy through her blog.  Though Braska is her own unique, individual self, as I read about her and look at her pictures I'm remined so much of my own precious girl.   RK graciously agreed to our sending these clothing items for Braska to wear this Christmas.  I boxed up the items with a deep, aching sadness and eyes filled with tears for I wish that they didn't have to be sent away.  I wish that I could have ironed them and hung them in Laynee's closet, waiting for the special day she would wear them.  Yet, in some strange way, there was healing in this simple act.  Shopping was something tangible that we could do to remember Laynee and knowing that they will be worn, rather that hanging useless in the closet brings a sense of quietness to my heart.  And so.... to dear, precious Braska,  "MERRY CHRISMAS" sweet  little one.  I love your beautiful face, your beaming smile, the parts of you that don't work quite the same as other children, but most of all, I love the joy, peace and love that emanates from you and all that you teach those who love you.  You see, Braska I know that you teach valuable lessons by simply being.  I know this because you are so much like my Laynee.

We are going to be spending Christmas in Florida this year, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Glueck, who so wisely foresaw how painful the season would be for us.  My sister,Gail. and brother, Dale, along with their families will also be in different parts of Florida and will spend Christmas Day with us.  I am grateful for their willingness to do this and hope that fun in the sun with cousins will ease some of the pain for all of us.  Because we will be gone from the 22nd through the New Year, we decided not to put up all of the decorations this year.  We did, however, put a candle in each of the front windows.   Each time I leave or apprach our driveway and see the light in the windows I am reminded of Jalayne Grace Holmes and the love and light that she brought to our family, our hearts, our home.  I know that in time the lights in the window will grow dim or need to be replaced, but I pray that all the things she taught, the light she brought to our world will never burn out.  Despite the way that we long for her to be with us again, it cannot be.  However, if we allow it, if we choose not to let bitterness, anger, and confusion to reign over us, her legacy will shine forever in the hearts of all who were touched by her.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Sadness


 The past several days, perhaps because of the holidays, there has been a very deep feeling of sadness.  At times it is difficult to put a name to whatever it is that we are feeling.  I find that the best way to understand feelings is to recognize their physiology. Sadness presents itself as a thick heaviness.  My limbs, shoulders, chest, and throat feel like they have lead weights attached to them.  This heaviness seems to come from the very depths of who I am.   I go through the motions of the day.  I allow schedule to dictate what I do, where I go.  I eat because it's time to eat, not because I'm hungry.  I sleep when the clock says it's time to sleep, otherwise I'd stay in bed because I seem to always be tired. I exercise because I know it's important, not becasue I feel like it.   The busier I am, the less I notice the heaviness, but sometimes I need to just sit and take note of this heavy feeling.  Sometimes I need quietness, to allow the sadness to be what it is, to feel the aching, to let the tears  flow.

I have a large picture of Laynee in my bedroom, directly across from our bed.  It's my favorite of all pictures ever taken of her.  I get this sense that her big, expressive eyes are on me wherever I am in the room.  Thousands of times I've stopped to kiss that picture. I've talked to it and traced her lips and ears.  I tell that picture how much I love and miss her.  Sometimes I stop, sit on the edge of my bed and just look at it.  I look into her eyes and I feel the deep penetrating sadness.  It hurts, but in some strange way, it know that it is necessary.
Today was the Christmas Program at the preschool where Laynee had just begun attending 2 mornings a week.  While I was at work in my coffee shop, directly across from the preschool, I watched from the window as parents came to see their children.  I watched some of the children walk from the school to the church.  I knew that there were flowers on the altar and a large picture in memory of Laynee, but my little girl was not there.  The sadness that comes from missing Laynee so very much sat very deep and heavy within me today.
I know that in time this sadness will ease to some degree.  I will never think of my Laynee without some level of sadness, though JOY will come again.  But for now, the sadness is there, it is very real.  To deny this sadness is to deny my very existence.   

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How many children?


Whether I like it or not, the holidays are upon us.  I'd give just about anything to be able to skip over the holiday season this year.  It's not that I don't wish to remember the birth of our Lord, this year I'm just not into celebration and all of the other things that go with the holidays.  One of those things I'd rather not do, but do, for the sake of normalcy for my family, is Christmas shop.  I enjoy the giving part of Christmas but never have been one for crowds, pushy people, and long lines.  Shopping is enjoyable if the girls are with me, but I always take some time shopping without them in order to purchase their gifts.  Today was the day that I set out alone to brave the crowds.

One of the stores that I went to had a rather long line, but there was no way around it.  If I wanted to make my purchases, I was going to have to get in that line.  Soon after I stepped into the line, a woman with a newborn wrapped in a snuggly pouch around her came right behind me.  I remember from my own babies that newborns are a great converstion piece.  There's something about seeing a tiny miracle that makes women want to share experiences.  Be it birth weight, bith stories, sleeping and eating patterns,  or parenthood issues, newborns prompt discussion.  This baby was no different.  The woman in line ahead of me instantly began gushing over the baby.  As the mother pulled a blanket back to reveal a tiny head of dark hair and pink face, I said "she's beautiful.  It's hard to believe my own babies were once so small." The two women, between whom I was stuck, wanted to talk babies and children and decided to include me.  While under different circumstances, I wouldn't have had a problem with passing the time talking to these two, today I knew that this conversation was going in a direction that I did not like. Not wanting to appear rude, I politely smiled and answered questions directed at me.   My palms began to sweat when they began talking about how many children they had.  Naturally, they turned expectantly to me as one asked, "how many do you have?" My mind searched frantically for the correct answer.  Do I have 5 children or 6? Does having one child in heaven reduce the number by one?   My heart pounded as I said "I have 6." Apparently they thought this was a huge number because suddenly they and another woman who'd stepped in line wanted to know more.  "Girls or boys?"    "Three of each"   "What order?"  "Girl, Boy, Girl, Boy, Boy, Girl"  The next question left my knees weak and shaking.  "What are their ages?"  I don't know how to answer that question. Perhaps it would be less complicated to say I only have 5.  But I don't have 5, I have 6!!!  I have loved and nurtured and been mommy to 6 children!!!! If I have 6 children, how do I tell someone their ages without telling that one is in heaven?    Laynee would be three in less than three months.  Do I forever refer to her as my 2 1/2 year old?  Will it someday be easier to say that I have one in heaven?  To my horror, my voice cracked and tears formed as I answered  "17, 15, 13, 11, 8 and my youngest would be 3 but she's in heaven."  I suppose the tears were indicative of the still raw pain because these three women whispered "I'm so sorry," the new mother drew her baby just a bit closer and an awkward silence ensued.  A thick fog closed in around me and there was a loud roaring sound in my ears.  I have no memory of paying for my items, and the rest of the day seems like a hazy blur. 
I still feel shaky from this experience and I still don't know the correct response to these questions.  These are questions that I've never had reason to give a second thought to.  The answers, once so natural and simple, have become complicated. 

Friday, December 4, 2009

Reality

My brain cannot seem to wrap itself around the finality of death.  Every day has a surreal quality to it, as though I'm enveloped in a thick blanket of fog.  My heart cannot, or maybe it simply chooses not to, face the cold, harsh reality that Laynee Grace is not coming back to me.  There are moments  in every day when the habits formed in life with Laynee and and the reality of life without her collide, and truth nearly knocks me to my kness.  At night my mother heart needs to check on my baby; reality is that she is not there.  At dinner time, habit tells me that someone needs to put her in her seat, her seat remains empty.  As I leave the house in the morning I feel as though I'm forgetting something important.  When I leave work, my car wants to automatically head toward Kathy or Karen's to pick up Laynee.  A painful blow to the heart reminds me that I must go home alone.  In the car my eyes make the cautionary sweep from outside mirrors, to rearview mirror, to where Laynee sits.  Her seat is vacant, void of car seat and curious eyes watching out the window.  There remains a sense that Laynee is away and now it's time to go get her.  Perhaps I'm locked in a nightmare and I'm going to wake up soon. Something's missing, something's empty.  There's a void that I cannot fill.

At times my mind wonders if I imagined all of it.  Was Laynee just a beatiful dream filled with love, joy and happiness, the kind of dream that brings a smile to a slumbering face?  Did those 2 1/2 wonderful years really occur or was it just a figment of my imagination?  She came to us so suddenly and unexpected, like something one only reads in a book.   The time that she was with went far too quick, like a breath, a blink, a heartbeat.  Could it be those years were all fictional,  it didn't really happen?   My heart knows that this aching is not imagined.  It is painfully real.  Truth and reality is everywhere.  Her room tells me that indeed a beautiful little girl occupied that space, a little girl who loved her heehees, tore at the window shade, and threw all of her clothes from her drawers.  The tree outside, planted in her memory, reminds me that she was here and now she's gone.  Tears in the eyes of my children at the mention of her name remind me of the love and pain that we share for one blessed child.   The dark mound of dirt in Tremont, the mound that's smaller than most, is proof that I held a precious baby who now rests in Jesus'  arms.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Forever Changed

Though I can't say exactly why it is, going to church is extremely difficult for me since Laynee died.  Perhaps the difficulty comes from the many memories of her at church, knowing that her feet barely touched the ground with the many people needing their "Laynee fix" for the week.  It may simply be from being with so many people in one place at one time, and the awareness that life remains normal for most of them, while ours has been turned upside down. From many, I sense an awkwardness upon meeting; an obvious loss of what to say and how to act.   My heart, mind and soul seem to run the whole gamut of emotion during any given worship service.  The Sunday morning song service seems to produce buckets of tears and honestly, I'm tired of crying so much.  Every ounce of my energy is required to keep my thoughts focused on the words being spoken.  Maybe it's one, or some, or all of these things but whatever it is, I come home from church with a pounding headache and feeling emotionally spent. 

While music and lyrics are and always have been a great ministry to me, here is a glimpse of the direction my thoughts often take during a song service in recent weeks.  Today we sang "Awesome God" a truly beautiful song of praise.  My mind added words to the lyrics that went something like this.  "Our God is an awsome God, he reigns from heaven above".........he could have saved Jalayne.  "With wisdom, power and love, our God is an awesome God".........but he still let my baby die.  Back and forth, like a mighty pendulum, my thoughts go.  I praise Him....I don't understand.   I praise Him...... I feel angry.  I praise Him....... I don't know if I can do this.  'Round and around I go and I want to yell at someone to stop the ride, I want off!!!!

Today as I struggled to keep my mind on the Word that was being preached  (sorry Pastor Doug) I was suddenly struck by the knowledge and certainty that I have been forever changed.  The person that I was the morning of September 7, 2009 will never be again.  One cannot experience this level of grief and sorrow and still remain the same.   I do believe that a degree of healing will take place though I do not for one moment believe in the cliche "time heals all wounds."  It is not time that heals, but the love, mercy and grace of our Lord and Saviour.  We are healed, not by time, but by His spirit.  While I trust that little by little we will experience a lessening of this all consuming pain, I sense that an ache will always remain.  The journey through grief is forever. 

As an amputee heals, yet remains forever changed, so am I in the loss of this precious part of me.  I will always be my mother's daughter, my brother's sister, my husband's wife, and my children's mother but I do not think or feel the same.   My little girl, through her life, but especially through her death, has changed who and what I am.  She has changed  the way that I view life, what is important to me, my hopes, my goals, my expectations. 


Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them that are called according to his plan.  This is one of the very first verses that I recall committing to memory as a new christian.  I believe that the Lord, in everything that He brings or allows to come into our lives, is constantly molding and shaping us into exactly who he created us to be.  Yet as I struggle through these dark, murky waters of pain and loss I find myself questioning,  "How Lord?"  "How are you going to work good from this?"  "How is this good for me?"  "I'm struggling! I'm sinking!  How is this good?" Even as I type these questions I see Laynee Grace in my mind's eye.  I imagine that she knows exactly what His plan is for me.  The picture that I've added is of her showing me "who's the prettiest girl in the world."  I suspect she might look just like this as she says "Don't worry momma, God is SO BIG and he is taking care of everything.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I just can't understand it!!!

Tonight I admit to feeling a bit angry.   I cannot even begin to understand why our sweet Laynee was taken from us.  Nothing about it makes any sense at all to me.   I know that she is heaven, but I don't want her to be there, I want her here with us.  I know that heaven and all of it's glory is beyond human comprehension, but she had a really good life here with us.  She had so many people loving her.  Her brothers and sisters adored her, doted on her.  Jim and I often laugh about how all of the 20 acres that make up the property that we and Karla and Marty live on belonged to Laynee.  It was all hers.  Her house, her swingset, her chickens, her golf cart, her heehee's, her Uncle Marty, her goat, her Garrett, her Brock, her Moise, in her mind it all belonged to her.  She was thriving and blossoming.  We needed her to touch our lives, our hearts our souls.  We were not ready to let her go.  We want her back!!!!  I feel frustrated with my own inability to convey how desperately I want/need her back.   
Jim reminds me over and over, and in my head I know, that God has our lives planned out before we are formed in the womb.  He knows the number of hairs on our head and the number of days in our life. He knew when He placed Jalayne Grace in my arms on February 2, 2007 that He would take her from me on September 7, 2009.    I know all of this and on good days I find peace in knowing this and accepting it.  But why is it that my children and nephew, Garrett, had to experience the horror that they did the night of Sept. 7th? Why did Grant have to return from hunting in time to see his baby sister surrounded by paramedics deperately trying to save her life?  Why did my 11 year old son, Brock, have to watch as his Uncle Marty and I tried to breathe life into her tiny body? Why does my 13 year old daughter have to wonder if her sister would still be alive if she had stayed out to play just a little longer?  Will the ear splitting scream that penetrated the air when Laynee was found reverberate in these children's mind's forever?  And why, oh why did my 16 year old daughter have to be right there to see that precious little body in the water? Why did she have to be the one to dial 911?  Why do they all have to have the image of death, the ashen lifelessness, branded in their minds?  I can't help wondering if some of them will ever be able to close their and rest without the awful memories coming to squeeze the air from their chests. 
I can rest in the assurance that Laynee's work on earth was done, even if I think she still had much she could have done here, but I simply cannot comprehend why these children must suffer such memories.  I want so desperately to help all of my children through this journey of grief, yet I know that I can never take the memories from them. 
  

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Giving Thanks

As we approach Thanksgiving my heart struggles to find a balance amidst the onslaught of emotion we've all been facing.  We have so much to be thankful for but it's difficult not to dwell on the fact that last year we spent Thansgiving in Florida and Laynee was there with us.  It was her first trip to the beach, she had only recently learned to walk, and she was beautiful. Her laughter was infectious and she brought out the best in all of us.   This year her abscence leaves a wide cavernous hole in our hearts. 
Even though our hearts ache with sadness, we know that our family has much to be grateful for.  We praise God for good health  and the comforts of the home and land that we live in.  We keep in close contact with Moise's birth mother in Haiti and know that she lives in poverty, she lost her home to flooding and every day she wonders how she will feed her son and where they will sleep at night.  The things that we take so for granted, that we just know will always be there, would be great wealth to some.  It is difficult for us not to be grateful for how God has formed us and to have appreciation for basic bodily functions when we watch Moise struggle every day for  things that the rest of us give little or no thought to. 

I am so grateful that through this horrifically painful loss, God has so strategically placed people in our lives to offer support and love.  There have been so many who have held us up when we have no strength, prayed when we have no words, and reminded us of hope when hope seems lost.  I so appreciate Laynee's "other" mommy's, Karen and Kathy, who make regular visits in which we can be together. We are three women who have loved deeply, lost, and now grieve for one special little girl.   I love them for the way they loved my Laynee as though she were their own.  My dear friends, Ruth, Karen, and Georgia have braved wind, rain, and cold to ensure that I get exercise and that important endorphine surge so critical to staying out of the clutches of depression.  These three have prayed with me, put their arms around me, cried with me and laughed with me.  They understand that sometimes words are unnecessary and are not afraid of silence.  My bible study gals, Joyce, Janet, Sheila and Karen, who've been with me for so many years and so many life moments are always there as a constant source of encouragement.  They hold me accountable and keep me grounded in the Word, reminding me to keep looking up and Praising Him. Together we have "hidden his word in our hearts" and it is there in my weakest moments.  Of course, I thank my God for my wonderful husband and beautiful children.  Though Laynee is gone, we now have a new sense of closeness as, together, we walk through the valley of  "the shadow of death." We share a deep love and memories that even death cannot take from us. 
I thank my great God for every priceless moment of Laynee's life.  I am thankful for a birth mother who loved her enough to let her go.  I praise God that, as I look back over Laynee's life, I have not one single regret.  We loved her with everything we had in us.  We shared her that other's might love her.  We taught her, we learned from her and now we long for her. 

Most of all I am thankful for HOPE, for without this we would have nothing.  It is HOPE that keeps me from the downward spiral of desperation.  Each morning when I open my eyes and feel that now familiar pain in my heart, it is HOPE that gives me strength to rise from my bed.  There is HOPE in knowing that my God is Jehovah Rophe, the one who heals.  Somedays I truly wonder if we are going to be able to make it through this but I am drawn back into the arms of HOPE, knowing that the Lord is the strength of my life, the strength of my heart.    Habakuk 3:18  Yet I will joy in the Lord, I will rejoice in the God of my salvation.



Sunday, November 22, 2009

Dear Laynee

My precious Laynee Grace.  I miss you so much this morning.  I want so badly to hold you.  Today is daddy's birthday.  I wish you could help him blow out his candles.  I'm asking Jesus to give you an exrta tight squeeze today just because I love you so very much.  Be a good girl Laynee Grace, be good and watch over all of us here.  Someday soon we will dance again.
I LOVE YOU
Mamma

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thanks RK


Special "THANKS" to RK who personalized Miss Laynee's blog to make it fitting for her.  RK and I "met" on a Down Sydrome forum in which several of us would go and share about our beautiful special children.  RK's daughter Braska is just a bit older than Laynee would be and she is lovely, much like Laynee in so many ways.  I often go to Braska's blog and read of the new, funny things that she does.  Though I've never seen her, she has become dear to me.  The peace and joy that radiates from Braska makes me miss Laynee and yet, in some strange way it fills a longing at the same time.

RK and I have been communicating via email to produce this background and making sure it was "just right" for Laynee.  It occurs to me that some who read the blog may not know what some of the little pictures or sayings are meant to represent.  If you've read more than one or two of my posts, then you know that Laynee loved horses and called them "heehee's."  My sister, Karla and her husband, Marty, live next door to us with their children, Danielle, Corey and Garrett.  Marty and Corey work diligently with their horses and the pasture lies between our homes with several horses running or grazing there.  While we no longer have a horse of our own Laynee never got tired of seeing uncle Marty's heehee's.  She would watch out the windows for her heehee's and made a beeline for them when we went outside.  I suppose we took her love for heehee's for granted as just one of those very normal things in our life, because I never got a picture of Laynee and her heehee's.  I will forever regret this omission.  Daddy placed one of her little toy heehee's in her hand at the visitation and she's still holding it. 

The pink cowboy boots along the side banner represent Laynee's "tomboy princess" nature.  The boots representing her tomboy side and the pink being oh so feminine.  Laynee had her own boots just like these.  The boots were placed on her casket at her funeral and at her burial. I hated to see those boots for the last time, but also found comfort in having them there with her. 

The words inside of the lasso say "the prettiest girl in the world." Laynee was beautiful in every way and we told her so often.  Laynee learned to raise both hands to the air when anyone would ask "who's the prettiest girl in the world?"  This brought smiles and laughter from many people.  She knew without doubt that Jalayne Grace Holmes was the prettiest girl ever.  My mom once told me that we should probably stop telling her she was so pretty, she might think too much of herself,  but I didn't agree.  Laynee would undoubtedly meet many challenges in her life and needed all the self confidence we could instill in her.  I know that she never questioned if we thought she was beautiful, she KNEW we did.  She was beautiful and smart and ever joyful.

The words "Our Forever Love" above her picture represent a song www.youtube.com/watch?v=VPlvDtpYi_g  that Jamee was singing just prior to the accident.  Laynee unknowingly became a vital part of molding and shaping each memeber of our family into who and what we are.  She is and always will be "Our Forever Love."

The picture of her with angel wings and the words "there are angels among us," believe it or not, was done before Laynee's death.  Last spring, Aunt Christine was babysitting for Laynee and took pictures and added the angel wings and words for a graphic design class.  She was much like an angel in the way that she touched lives. 

The background has a peaceful feel to me as I look at it.  There is also slight pang of aching regret.  I know that I cannot blog as most people blog.  I cannot tell of all the new exciting things that Laynee is doing.  I cannot brag about her accomplishments or post pictures showing her growth.  There will be no more funny stories or even frightening moments.  The background will not change with her.  This blog can only be filled with memories, many, many precious memories.  I thank our great God every day for Laynee, for every moment that we had with her, for enriching our lives with her very presence.  I pray that somehow, someway, He, in his sovereignty will work to bring good even from the painful loss of our Laynee.  Romans 8:28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God.

Thank you again RK for making Laynee's blog just perfect for her.  I know that she smiles when she sees it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Shopping

These past weeks and months my very least favorite thing to do, which causes me a great deal of pain, is to go to the store.  I never would have believed how many things I bought strictly for Laynee.  It seems that nearly every aisle has a painful reminder of Laynee.  Being the only baby in the house she needed things that the other kids didn't have use for.  In the health and beauty aisles are her  baby soaps, shampoos, wet wipes, etc.  In the grocery section it is limitless, her yogurt, her crackers, her pretzels, her cereal, her fruit cups, her bananas, and on and on.  Her diapers are there but I don't need to buy them.   I go through the clothing section and see little articles that I know I'd be buying, if only.  All the adorable holiday clothes are out now and Laynee would be so sweet in them.  I stop, I look, I touch, I feel and I probably look like a crazy woman but I can't help myself.  There were an adorable pair of boots hanging on the end of an aisle and I could picture her marching around in them, thinking she's really neat.  She needed new boots for winter and these are the ones I want her to have. 
Laynee and I went shopping together, and what a joyful job it was with her along.  She'd sit in the cart and wave to everyone that walked past.  She'd happily point to all the pretty things on the shelves.  As I'd push the cart sometimes I would lean in close to her and breathe in deeply of her sweet scent.  In the cart she's  the perfect height for kisses on the top of her head.  As the cart filled more and more, she  would grab things from the back.  She squished loaves of bread sometimes or ate an unwashed grape when I was turned away.    On more than one occasion we had to be buy something from the checkout candy aisle because she grabbed something and tried to bite through the wrapper.  When we went through checkout the cashiers adored her.  There was one particular cashier who seemed to appreciate Laynee and Moise so much.  She knew them by name and would talk to them as if she was their closest friend.  I have to confess that I avoid going through her checkout at all cost now.  I know that she will ask me "where's Miss Laynee today?"  and I know what my answer must be, and I know that it will devastate her. I know that her question will turn my knees to jello and snatch the air from my lungs.  I don't want to tell her that my Laynee died, that she's in heaven, that she drowned in our pool.  Those are words that no mother should ever have to say.   It's backwards, it's not the way things are supposed to be.  She's supposed to be with me when I go shopping.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Shattered Dreams

Before this awful experience of losing Laynee it had never occurred to me that in the loss of a child, you not only lose the child, you lose every dream you had for her.  We had dreams for Laynee, not big dreams, but dreams nevertheless.   She was going to take dance lessons soon.  Oh how she would have loved to go to a place just to dance.  In  February she was going to begin school in the early childhood classroom here at Tremont.  Her teacher, Miss Ennis, was excited to have her there as was Mr. Dill, her principal.  I dreamed of Laynee having her little friends over to play.  I know that twins, Jamie and Jaycee, would be in her classroom, maybe they would be her friends, or Karis or Lily at church, or cousins, Sienna, Paris and ShaneyB. Probably the very next Sunday after she died we would have taken her to Sunday School for the first time.  She would get to go up and sing on the risers at the Christmas Program.  I couldn't wait to buy her a beautiful red dress to wear, and maybe, just maybe, the bow I would put in her hair would actually stay in long enough for everyone to see it.   She would sing loud and beautiful, with no inhibitions.  My other daughters are drawn towards sports and athletics, but I imagine that Laynee would be the family cheerleader.  I'm certain that no one would have more school spirit (for both teams) than Laynee Grace.  I couldn't wait for the day that she helped me in my coffee shop.  She would be the best table wiper and condiment filler ever and probably chatter to all my customers.  I suppose my business would be booming because everyone would come just to see her smile or feel one of her hugs. My heart aches so desperately to hear her footsteps on that hardwood just one more time.  I dreamed of Laynee staying with Jim and I forever, keeping us company and just loving us.  She wouldn't go off to Univerity or big jobs, she'd stay with us.  She would go to the local college and probably find a job but stay with her mama and daddy.  She loved to help with Moise, she was going to be there forever, helping with Moise.  I know that she would be able to talk to Mo in a way that know one else can do, I just know it  I dreamed of the first time she would read a book to me, how she adored her books. I want to see her march onto the school bus like a little lady, to watch her wave "byebye" from the window until she can't  see me anymore.  Jamee and Jade dreamed of "coming home" to her.  They thought it would be so fun to call her up, after they moved out of the house, and say "Laynee, get your shoes on, I'll take you bye bye."  She'd get to stay overnight at their houses when daddy and mama went away.  Jade was going to take her shopping to make sure she had up to date clothes.  In July she was going to be Jenna's flower girl.  The picture's here are of her and Jenna and Corey, the groom.  Her Aunt Karen and I think she would probably steal the show from Jenna, but Jenna said "that's okay because it's Laynee."  I will not get to see her march up on the stage to receive her diploma when they announced her name "Jalayne Grace Holmes."  Daddy didn't get to do the 5th grade pumpkin carving with her.  She didn't get to dress up for "biography day."  I never got to teach her how to tie her shoes, write her name, ride her bike, or sit tall on her hee hee's.  I wanted her to bake cookies and plant seeds in the garden with me and help me water flowers. 

There are so many things that we never had an oppurtunity to teach her.  Our dreams, simple as they may be, were crushed in one moment of time, in one final breath.  I know in my heart and soul that Laynee is not missing out on anything.  She's doing things far greater than we could ever dream.  It's hard to imagine that she's not missing us as we miss her.  Some day she's going to greet us in heaven and say "that was quick, let me show you around."  The Big Dream, the ultimate dream, is to have all of our children in heaven.  Laynee simply skipped over all the rest. She's living the big dream.  For those of us here, we hurt, we ache, we miss her and all the dreams, but for her........it's HEAVEN!!!!



Saturday, November 14, 2009

Love Language


In October of 2001 our soon to be 9 year old son, Moise, was 10 months old and was given a devastating diagnosis.  We were told that he had Cerebal Palsy, Severe Mental Retardation, and Profound Deafness, among a host of other medical issues.  His prognosis was grim and I shall never forget sitting in the room of the specialist's office and being told that he would likely never walk or talk. For a long time we grieved for the many things that Moise would never do.  Any hopes, dreams, or expectations that we had for him were wiped away in that one day.  The life we faced with Moise was, and still is, filled with uncertainty and great challenge.  However, the single thing that I mourned most was his lack of hearing.  I wept bitterly over the knowledge that he would never hear me say "I Love You"  and that I, in turn, would never hear those words from his lips.  This, of course, was before I knew that he would be a candidate for cochlear implant and that he would hear me say those words, even if he will never speak them.   In retrospect I realize that this was a rather silly thing to mourn, for words are quite insignificant in the language of love.  

Today while I was kneeling by Laynee's grave and telling her how much I love her, it occured to me that I never heard those words from her.  We all spoke those three beautiful words countless times a day to her.  I can hear Jade's voice as she kissed her each morning as she went out the door  "Bye Layne,  love you, you're so pretty, 'kay."  Our love for her was not in those words as much as it was in every touch, every every kiss, every brush stroke of her hair.  Love shone through the books we read and the song's we sang like "Laynee, Laynee give me your answer do, I'm half crazy all for the love of you....." or "Laynee Bug, Laynee Bug, HEY Laynee, Laynee Bug."  It was there between her hand and ours as we helped her learn to walk.  It was in the soft blankets we covered her with each night and in the ties on the cupboards to keep her safe. It was in the sing a long videos that drove us crazy but watched over and over again just because they made her so happy.    Love was there when we rocked her.  It was in giggles, laughter and sometimes even in discipline and in tears.  Never, not for one single moment of her life did Laynee Grace wonder if she was loved.    
She was just beginning to talk and we never had a chance to hear her sweet, baby voice say "I Love You, Mommy.......or Daddy, Jamee, Grant, Jade, Brock, Moise."  Though we never heard those words, her love was in her beautiful, radiant smiles and eyes the got lost in those smiles.  She told us of her love with her hugs and arms raised to be picked up.  Her love beamed at us every morning when we went to get her out of her bed.  The kids knew of her love when she melted every morning as they left for school. Daddy was greeted with love every day when he got home from work.   Her love was a guarantee when she cuddled up to me in sleepiness with two fingers in her tiny mouth. 

I am reminded of the love that our great God has for us.  It is my very firm belief that the greatest way that we can grieve our Lord is to doubt His powerful love for us.  I have never audibly heard those words of love from my Lord, but I know that His love has been with me every moment of my life. He gave up His Son in love for us.  Never before have I understood that depth of love like I do now.   I don't pretend to understand why He would take our Laynee, but I do know that is is NOT because He ceased to love us. 

Here is a link to a song by Michael W Smith.  A beautiful reminder of His ever present LOVE

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Tonight the pain of missing Laynee is nearly palpable.  Every aspect of me hurts.  My hands ache with longing to touch her. My head spins in turmoil: the beautiful memories of her life conflict with the horrific memories of her death.  My heart aches from the knowledge that she left a wide gaping hole in the hearts of so many. My eyes are sore from the strain of trying to see her smiling face within my mind's chaos of the awful memories of Sept. 7th.  My chest fights to find air to breathe just one breath that doesn't hurt. The pain seems to come from the very depths of my soul.  The weariness that comes from the intense level of emotions feels like it has settled around me like a cloak.  Sometimes my throat constricts with a nearly uncontrollable urge to scream.  At times, when I'm alone I speak her name out loud because there's an unspeakable need to hear and feel her name on my lips. Each night when I go to bed I struggle to overcome the fierce need to go check on her, make sure she's comfortable, that she's covered, and in Laynee's case, that she's still wearing her PJ's. The evening feels incomplete without doing this.  In the scripture we read of people who, in times of great grief and despair, would "rent" their clothing.  I find myself having a very clear understanding of such a dramatic expression of emotion.    Sometimes I wonder how I am ever going to make it through this journey of sadness, mourning and grief. Yet I am keenly aware that there are no options.  We go on, somehow, someway, we go on.  In these moments, when the searing pain is incomprehensible and threatens to suck the life out of me, my only help comes from The Lord, His Spirit, and His Word.
 II Chorinthians 12:9  And He has said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness"
Psalms  34:18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit
Therein lies the answer to "how am I ever going to make it through this journey"

Glasses


My friend Jody mentioned Laynee's glasses in a comment to me this morning.   It brought a smile and I just have to share a lovely Laynee story. 
Just a few weeks before the accident, Laynee's eye doctor prescribed glasses.  We knew we were in for a real treat, and what a treat it was.  We had a hard time finding glasses to fit her as she has very little bridge to her nose.  We tried several pair on and decided on a pair that seemed to work well but just needed to be the next size bigger.  We went ahead and ordered them only to find that this size wasn't a great fit.  We tried this pair for a few weeks before deciding we were going to have to get a different pair, made specifially for kids with Down Syndrome, but never got that oppurtunity.  I'll never forget her smile when she first looked through the lenses, as if truly seeing for the first time, if only they stayed up on her nose.

She notoriously hid those crazy glasses.  True to that eager to please attitude, she always told us where she hid them.  One day we could not find the glasses.  I kept asking "Laynee where are your glasses?"  She would walk into the laundry room and just stand by the door next to the washer.  We looked around the washer but no glasses.  We kept asking and finally when she went to that door I said "Jalayne Grace Holmes, you tell mommy where you hid your glasses!!!"  She beamed one of her gorgeous smiles at me and pointed to a hole in the back panel of the washer, put there I assume, to be able to see the hoses.  This hole is only about 2 inches square.  Grant and I pulled out the machine and I peered down the hole with a flash light and there was the glimmer of her lenses.  We unscrewed the back panel and there were her glasses along with a few toys and spoons.  I wondered what was happening to all my spoons.  This is such a perfect example of our Laynee.  So ornery, such a little stinker, but always so eager to please us.  Our Tomboy Princess.  I stuffed a rag in that hole to keep her from hiding anything else in there.  It's still there and though it's not easily visible, sometimes when I go out that laundry room door I catch a glimpse of it and it hurts. 

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Heaven

I suppose it's natural that I find myself thinking alot about heaven these days.  Actually, I've always thought alot about heaven, but now I think about it in a very different. way.  Heaven seems so mysterious, so unknown and so very far away right now.  I have so many questions that I know will not have answers until I see heaven myself. 
It's hard for me to grasp the idea that Laynee is not missing us as much as we miss her.  Tonight Jim and I were sitting together looking at pictures of her that he had in his phone.  The night seems pitifully quiet without her babbling and laughter.  There's just not as much to do in the evenings.  Bath and Bed time is something that Jim and I always did together.  We would work together to get both Moise and Jalayne bathed, snacked, medicated, teeth brushed, hair combed and finally, hugs and kisses and into bed.  Jim had a silly song he'd sing to her wehn he washed her and she would stand and hang onto the bar in the tub to be washed as soon as he started singing. He also loved to blow dry Jalayne's hair.  It was always so soft when he finished.  I can see her now in her little pj's and bare feet with pink cheeks and smelling so good.  Now there is only Moise to prepare for bed and it feels so strange.  We miss her so much, how can it be that she's not missing us?
I go to the Word and there are little glimpses of what heaven will be like, yet it leaves so many unknowns.  I know that she has a mature, Christlike mind but I can't begin to fathom that.  How can my little girl, who just a few weeks ago was toddling around here feeding grass to her bawk bawk's (chickens) and climbing onto my lap for stories, have a mature mind?    I go to her room and am surrounded by her belongings and I ask "where are you, Sweet Laynee?"  Is she there in that room,  does she come to the table with our family,  is she there when I talk to her at the cemetary? Is she watching over Moise?  Is she smiling at Garrett and his new baby heehee?  Can she hear me?  Does she remember how much we loved her?  Can she see our tears, our hurting hearts, our empty arms?   Is she sitting on Jesus' lap or is she dancing and singing?  Has she seen the face of God?
The other morning I got up early and was walking through the kitchen and noticed the reds and purples in the eastern sky as the sun rose over Karla and Marty's place.  I stood there watching for awhile and wondered if Laynee is in that sunrise.  Almost everytime I drive in my car I look at the sky and wonder "where is my baby girl."  Is she somewhere above the clouds or hovering right beside me.  Is she in the bright beams of  sunlight or one of the glittering stars?
Revelation 2:17 says "....and I will give him a white stone and a new name written on the stone"  I wonder what her new name is.  I always loved her name.  The girls and I came up with Jalayne together and Laynee just sort of happened and was so ideal for her.  Saturday afternoon the girls were arguing over who gets to give their first daughter "Jalayne" as a middle name.  I finally settled it by saying "why can't you both use it?"  But what might her new name be?  I'm sure the Lord has beautiful names that I can't pronounce but I think their meaning might be something like "sunshine", "joyful" or "purity." 
Revelation 21:4  "And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain.  For the former things are passed away."  This verse should tell me all that I need to know about what heaven is like for Laynee, yet I find that I want to know more.  The night after Laynee was buried Grant said "I can't wait to get to heaven to see her"  Indeed heaven is so much sweeter knowing my Laynee Girl is there.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

7:25

Today was an emotional day.  Jamee ran the state meet and, as some have already commented, she ran a great race.  This morning she said that her goal for today was to make "All State" which means to place in the top 25.  Just before the start of the race she was teary. For those who don't know, cross country is a very emotional sport.  There is a great deal of mental preparedness and it is physically grueling to run 3 miles at race pace.  Added to this,  it seems it's impossible to do anything without aching for Laynee Girl.  It was a splendid sunny day.  Jamee finished in 22nd place with a 3 mile time of 18:48.3.  She made All State for the second consecutive year.  She was very pleased but also very tired and ready to let her mind and body rest. I've attached a few pictures of the meet.

Today, the 7th day of the month, is Laynee's 2 month angelversary.  Tonight I got into my car and the digital clock read 7:25.  My heart came into my throat at the awful realization that exactly, to the minute, two months ago, Laynee was pronounced dead.  I hear the solemn words nineteen twenty five over and over and over in my head.  I recall  wanting to scream at somebody to "DO SOMETHING!!! SHE"S ONLY 2"  One by one the nurses and doctors stepped away and she was so tiny and so beautiful, so still and I was so powerless. I wanted her to get up, she needs to ride her heehee's again.   I remember the feeling of having to leave her there, it goes against every mother instinct born into us to walk away and leave our little ones.  I still struggle with that feeling every time I go to her grave, I don't want to leave her there.  I need to take care of her.

I  also remember the whispered words "God is good all the time."  In my heart and soul and mind I know that God is good but.......... He took my baby and it hurts so much.  I want her back.


Jamee and cross country

Today Jamee will be running in the stae cross country.  It breaks my heart that Laynee can't be with us.  The few meets (Jamee's and Jade's) that she did get to go to she loved cheering for the runners.  She didn't know the  Tremont runners from all the rest so she tirelessly cheered and clapped for every runner.  At one meet in Morton she was clapping at a time when there were no Tremont runners around and looked up at me as if to say "why aren't you cheering."  I'm all for cheering everyone on, but I didn't have the valiant stamina, like she did. to keep cheering the entire time. 

At another meet for the middle school, there was a young runner from Galesburg sitting on the ground, tired and sweaty from her run.  Laynee walked right up to her and gave her a big hug.  The poor girl had no idea who Laynee was and I doubt she knows that she was given such a gift that day.  That is who and what Laynee was.  LOVE, pure and simple.  She was no respector of persons, she just loved them all.

Laynee would have been Jamee's biggest fan today.  I have to think she's watching her from heaven.  She'll likely be clapping her hands and yelling "aaaaahhhhh" because she doesn't know what else to say.  And I'm sure that in spirit Jamee will get a Laynee hug.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Missing Down Syndrome

If I've heard it once, I've heard it hundreds of times...."Laynee was so lucky to be in your family."  First, I believe with everything in me that "luck" had nothing to do with it.  Laynee was lovingly placed into our home by a God who is all powerful and all knowing.  While she may have been blessed to be in our family, the greatest blessing was ours and the very fact that we had the honor of loving and caring for this truly remarkable little girl.  Laynee's abscence and the finality of death leaves a wide aching hole in the hearts of many. Not only Jim and I and the kids, but cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents, and friends, many who knew her and even some who did not, mourn and grieve for her. 

I miss Laynee and the sunshine and joy that seemed to radiate from her presence.  I also miss Down Syndrome for it is this, which some may think of as imperfection, that was the very essence of who Laynee was.  While her wide spaced toes, slightly flat forehead,  slanted eyes, low set ears, low muscle tone and the line across her hands were trademark symbols of an extra chromosome,  so also was the joy, peace, happiness and simplicity that emanated from her.  What we gave to Laynee cannot begin to compare to what she gave to us and everyone fortunate enough to know her. 

Since becoming Laynee's mommy, I have had the honor of coming to know many others who parent these very special children.  I have witnessed grief in those who are newly aware of their child's diagnosis.  Most parents who learn that they have been or soon will be touched by Down Syndrome, mourn the child that they thought they would have.  They fear the challenge and uncertainty of life with special needs. It is not long before  these same parents often learn that their little one is a unique, priceless treasure and that they have more to offer than anyone can ever imagine. 

A few weeks ago we attended the Down Sydrome Buddy Walk, in which over 100 friends walked in memory of Jalayne Grace.  There, we saw the slightly unsteady gate, the radiant smiles, and so many other traits that link them together in a category of their own, a category to which Laynee belonged.  We learned that there is nothing quite like the Down Syndrome hug.  The soft, squishiness that comes from low muscle tone is imposssible to resist.  Hugs, love and affection are given freely, without hesitation.  These children are free of pretenses.  They are 100% true and pure.  What you see is what they are.  They have no need to hide emotion, whether happy, excited, sad or angry: it is exactly what it is.    Anyone who knew Laynee had the beautiful oppurtunity to see love in it's purest form.  Laynee took love, knew love, gave love without inhibition.  She held back her love from no one and expected everyone to love her in return. 

When we got in the van after the Buddy Walk, 17 year old Jamee said, "When I am a mom I WANT to have a baby with Down Syndrome."  This simple statement is a small testimony of just a part of the treasue that Laynee was to all of us.  I cannot begin to understand our great God and why He took our baby long before we were ready to give her back.  However, I do know, without question, why He gave her to us.  He needed us to learn from her.