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.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Missing Her

Some days are worse than others.  Today I miss her with every beat of my heart.  There are so many things I wanted to do with her but didn't get to. 

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Super Baby

A friend of mine who has moved to Australia, sent some pictures of Laynee that she had taken on her own camera.  These are pictures I'd never seen.  When I opened the attachments to see the photos I was struck by two things.  A) Raw Pain  B) Awe, once again by how beautiful she is.  As I told Nancy,  every picture ever taken of her was priceless.  There can never be enough pictures of her.  I have her pictures in computer files, on discs, flash drives and prints.  I have an almost phobic fear of something happening to one or more of these pictures.
The email from Nancy also brought back a rush of memories.  These memories of happy times with Laynee cannot be printed, they are stored in the compartments of my mind.  Again, a reminder of a merciful God.  The same God who allows us to blot out some of the painful days, as mentioned in a previous post, allows  the human mind to treasure that which is precious.  My memory reminds me of a little girl who danced through life with quietness and smiles and hugs for all.  The life of every party she ever attended.  The little girl loved by all who knew her. 
Thank you, Nanc,  for the new pictures.
Jody, Paula, Erin, Nanc.....This one's for you, Super Baby!!!!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Snow Laynee's

My brother in law, Matt, has been in the hospital for quite some time.  As a result, we have had the pleasure of having our nieces, Mya and Shane, at our house more often than usual.  Shaney and Laynee were good buddies.  Kerin and I traded off babysitting for awhile.  A great set up but for the fact that Laynee ran Aunt Kerin ragged.  I think maybe I got the better end of that deal.

Shane is so refreshing in that she never hesitates to ask whatever she wants to know about Laynee.  She has no need for etiquette, it doesn't occur to her to tread softly around the subject of Laynee.  She asked "Aunt Karol, do you miss Laynee?'  To my answer "yes," she replied, "I miss her too."  Discomfort never entered her mind. She asked, I answered.  She and I talked freely and openly about Laynee.  Mya also talked about Laynee.  She informed me that she reads Loving Laynee and she likes the pictures because "they are cute." They both stood for a long time with elbows propped on the counter, chin on their hands, watching the slide show of Laynee on our digital picture frame. Talking about Laynee is so good, so healing.  Why is it that adults shy away from talking about those who've gone to heaven?

Having the girls here has given me reason to venture outdoors again.  Today we went out to Laynee's hee hees and bawk bawks. While I desperately wished she was there, it was good to be on her turf again.  Shane chattered constantly and made sure to shake her booty when I tried to take pictures.  After a few minutes in the barn, Shane and Mya went to play in the snow.  They made snow angels which they both announced were really "Snow Laynee's"  I was struck once again by the fact that my little girl was larger than life.  She impacted so many lives.  She's being remembered in ways that I don't even know about. 

Shane and Mya,
I just know Laynee was smiling while she was watching you with her hee hees.  Shaney B, I bet she laughed and laughed when the baby cow ate your glove.   The Snow Laynee's were beautiful, just like Laynee.  And Shaney B, we miss her so much, but she's having such a great time in heaven that I don't think she misses us.  Jesus is taking care of Laynee, and that is even better than a mommy and daddy taking care of us.  She's okay in heaven. We don't need to worry.
I love you both.
Aunt Karol

And a little child shall lead them
Isaiah 11:6

Sunday, February 21, 2010


In my last post I mentioned that I have little or no memory of having been in our yard since the accident.  Upon pondering this fact, I realize that I have very little memory of anything that happened in the days, weeks and months following Laynee's death.  The first clear memory that I have is of being in Florida for the holidays in December, more than 3 months post accident. 

I do have some memories of the accident and the days immediately following but they seem fragmented and misplaced.  They come to me as frozen images on the pages of my mind, as though someone has pushed the pause button during a horror movie.  The next few months seem to have passed in a hazy fog, like standing on the outside looking in.  There are events that I know took place, places where I know I went, yet they do not show up on the radar of my memory.  For example, I know that both Jamee and Jade, competed in and did very well at the state cross country meets.  I know also that I was there, but I do not recall anything about either of these events.  I know that I have gotten up every single day since we lost Laynee.  I have never given in to the powerful urge to pull the covers over my head and not face life without her.  I know that I have fed my family, gone to work, and done all the other things that are a normal part of my life.  I know it, but I cannot remember it.   It is both disconcerting and comforting to have such a large chunk of time blotted from memory.

To the medical world this abscence of memory may be called shock.  Psychology may refer to it as a level of dissociation.  Most would likely say that I have been functioning on "autopilot."  I call it MERCY.  I stand in awe as I realize that our Creator, even as he designed the human mind, was filled with merciful compassion.  He, in his infinite wisdom and might, knew that the human race would endure unspeakable suffering and grief.  He lovingly created us so that, in the face of devastation and loss, our mind has the ability to protect us.  It occurs to me that if our minds were to retain all of the anguish that overwhelms the soul in times of great loss, we would be hopelessly unable to endure. I have no desire to remember the details of days following Laynee's accident.  Even without remembering,  I know that they were indescribably painful and praise Him for a mind that has the ability to wipe it from memory.

As  I type tonight the words of a beloved song,  Wonderful Merciful Savior,     http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiVvHxgHL5Q   play through my mind. Counselor, comforter, keeper........ he offers hope when our hearts have hopelessly lost our way.  Even without remembering I know that He has guided me when the blinding pain has blurred my vision.  He gives the healing and grace our hearts always hunger for. He has shown me His grace in numerous, miraculous way.  I believe that this ablility to forget is a gift, given that we might find healing.   Almighty, infinite father, faithfully loving  his own, here in our weakness he finds us falling before his throne.  I am weak in a way that I have never been before, yet my God is on his throne and will not leave me to struggle alone.  For this I praise Him. 

I cannot begin to understand the ways of almighty God but I can see, even in something as simple as forgetfulness, that he is a God of mercy and love.  The mere fact that he allows us to forget is testimony to his unfailing love.  In times of darkness and great weakness he intercedes for us in mighty ways.  God is good all the time.

  And he said unto me, my grace is
sufficient for thee;  for my
 strength is made perfect in weakness
II Chorinthians 12:9

Thursday, February 18, 2010

The coming of Spring

Today the sun is shining brightly and while it cannot exactly be considered warm outside, it's much warmer than the bitter cold of a few weeks ago.  Mid February brings with it the promise of brighter days.    The snow is beginning to melt.  A few brave birds are making an appearance. The hours of daylight are growing.    Winter's days are numbered.  It is inevitable that spring will come to Central Illinois.

Normally, the hope and promise of springtime would stir excitement and hope in me.  This year the radiant sunshine beaming through the windows fills me with apprehension and anxiety.  I feel a sense of dread, knowing that sunny days will bombard us with memories of a little girl who will not be here to welcome springtime with us.  Though I am very much an outdoor person,  I have spent little time outside this winter.  I am faithful to getting out for exercise, but otherwise I've spent the cold months indoors.  I've barely even stepped outside the door to the deck or backyard.

I'm terrified of the memories and subsequent pain that lay waiting on our property.   I know that I've been out in our yard since the accident.  Surely there were many splendid days in September and October when I was out with the kids.  Looking back at past blog posts is proof  of  time spent outdoors since the accident.  The odd thing is that I have no recollection of having been in the back yard since September 7.    It undoubtedly holds a host of painful memories that I will soon be faced with. Laynee couldn't get enough of outdoors.  So, for the first time in my  life, I look forward to spring with heavy heart and dread. 

Monday, February 15, 2010


And the child must know that since the beginning of the
world, there has not been, and until the end of the
world there will not be, another child like her. 
Pablo Casals

In case anyone ever wondered how loved our Laynee is.  Her grave site is testimony of a child deeply loved, cherished, treasured. She has the most adorned grave in the entire cemetary.    There are so many tokens of love that there is barely room for anything more.  Jim and I and the kids put many things there but  I do not know who brings some of the items.  It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is the depth of love that she brought to the lives of so many.   Someone wrote in large letters in the snow    
"Laynee , You are so loved!"   And she is. 

Grief Language

I love Valentine's Day!  While I hope that I convey daily to my husband and children how much I love them, Valentine's Day is a day to take just a few extra steps to show it.    We have a tradition of sharing a candle light dinner here at home,  all together as a family. I take extra time and effort to prepare a dinner that all are sure to enjoy.  I prepare cut out heart cookies personalized with each persons name.  I try to bring it all together so that in some way I cater to the love language of each individual member of our family.  I do this because they are so special and I love them so much. 

Most of us are familiar with the Five Love Languages.  Because every person is unique we have different ways of feeling and expressing love.  It is helpful to understand the love language of those whom we love.  My own love language is that of acts of service and quality time.   While I enjoy being given gifts, they mean little to me as compared to an act service or just time together.   For my birthday and Mother's Day, Jim prepares a beautiful dinner for our family, giving me a night off from the kitchen.  No gift could ever mean more to me than this act.  Our children have their own love languages as well, each of them unique and individual.

I am beginning to wonder if their is such a thing as "Grief Language."  We have seven people in our home and it seems that we all have different ways of dealing with and expressing our grief.  I'm apt to conclude that the differences in the way that grief is felt and expressed are even greater than the differenct languages of love.  This can be challenging at times.  Trying to find balance in a house filled with raw emotion is exhausting.    Jim wants to surround himself with people,  I crave solitude.  I want to remember all the things I love about Laynee, others in the house do not want to talk about her at all.  Some members of our family process the night of the accident out loud, while others seem to just want to forget.  Some shed many, many tears, others hardly ever cry.  Some want to visit her grave, others do not.  So many family members, so many ways of dealing with the pain.   Is there a right or wrong way to grieve? 

I love my children so much.  It is because of them that I find the strength to get out of bed each morning.    My love and appreciation for them has grown deeper in the face of Laynee's death.  I am achingly aware of the fragility of life.  I am painfully conscious of the fact that they could be taken from me in one final heart beat.  The fact that Jim and I miss and ache for Laynee with every breath we breathe, does not mean that our 5 living children are less important to us.  It means that sorrow is the more powerful of our emotions at this time.  At times sorrow is the only emotion that we can indentify.  Somehow Jim and I must lead the way as we navigate this path of grief, a difficult task when we often feel lost ourselves.   We must demonstrate that grieving is a vital, healty part of healing.  We must show them how to live and mourn simultaneously.   For the well being of our children, we must learn to understand and speak their grief language.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Happy Valentine's Day Laynee Love

I Love You To The Moon And Back


A few nights ago, as we prepared for bed, I asked a question of Jim.  In truth, I didn't really anticipate a reponse.  Some questions have no answer.  Nevertheless, I asked, perhaps only because I needed to voice the thoughts that had been rolling around in my head.  "Will I ever feel normal again?" 

"Normal" is a relevant term.  It's meaning and definition changing and dependent upon many variables. Most likely, at some point, we all have pondered the question, "what is normal?"   Normal in one situation is abnormal given another situation.   Our household, by average American standards, would probably not be considered normal.  Most families do not plan their events around wheelchairs and walkers.  Most do not purchase vehicles based on how easily a wheelchair can be lifted in and out.    When selecting schools, most parents do not give a passing thought to acoustics in a classroom or bathroom accessibility. Vacation plans to the beach are typically made without consideration to how a 9 year old will get through the sand. Comparatively speaking, our family has not been "normal" for many years.  However, we have adjusted and conformed to the individuality of the members of our family.  We have so completely adapted to what is abnormal that for us it is normal. 

There are some things that, no matter how you adjust or conform, will never be normal.  For parent to bury child goes directly against the natural cycle of life. The sudden death of a  2 1/2 year old child is not normal.  To find one's baby face down in the brilliant blue of a swimming pool is not normal.  For children to embrace the body of their dead little sister is not normal.  To hold nothing but memories of a beautiful daughter and precious sister is not normal.  There is no way to adapt to something so abnormal.  It is not and will not ever be normal.

Much of what I am experiencing physically is a normal part of grief.   Exhaustion unlike anything I have ever before experienced, a weariness that seems to seep from my bones, is expected in this process of grief.   Also normal, is the ever present nausea brought on by the searing, blinding pain.  The physical aching in my arms, which comes from the palpable need to hold her again, is common among grieving mothers.   There is an overall feeling of heaviness, a sense that someone has placed to great a load upon my shoulders.  Lack of energy, enthusiasm, and desire, while foreign to me, is normal for in the face of great loss.  I am able to recognize these physical aspects of grieving as normal.  I have hope and confidence that in time, perhaps a long time,  these things will lessen and subside.
  Loss of such magnitude necessitates change.  Normal, as I once knew it, will never be again.  The mighty, powerful hand of grief has reached into the depths of my soul and stirred up havoc.  It has changed who I am, what I am and who I will become. I have experienced Gods' sovereignty and been forced to release my grip on that which I have no control.   I have stared directly into the face of darkness and horror and wrestled mightily against the forces of bitterness.  I have experienced emotion that I did not know existed. I have stood at the proverbial edge of sanity.  I have known weakness so great that I question where my next breath will come from.   I view life and relationships in an entirely different light.  I have a new edge of intolerance toward that which is petty and insignificant.  My values, those things which are important to me, have undergone dramatic transformation.  My faith has been stretched to great limits. I have seen with startling clarity that my God is one who will go to the deepest depths of despair with me.  One cannot walk on this path in the hope of ever returning to the place which was once called normal.

 I surmsie that the answer to my own question, "Will I ever feel normal again?"  lies deep within myself.  The answer is dependent on my willingness to accept the grace and mercy extended to me by my Lord.  Intuitively, I know that the waves of grief and sadness will never recede completely.  Deep sorrow has taken up residence in my soul.   The vacancy left by sweet Laynee is a new, abnormal  part of me, a cavernous hole that cannot be filled by anything this side of heaven.  I must find and master the art of allowing joy and sorrow to coexist within my  heart.  My ability to be pliable clay in the potter's hand will determine if I can find a new place called "normal"   Jeremiah 18:6 As clay in the hand of the potter, so are you in my hand

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The Last Time I Saw Her Face

I struggle a great deal with the need to care for my little girl, even in her abscence.  Mother instinct still calls me see to her comfort and well being.  On cold, blustery winter nights I want to snuggle the covers over her little body, to make sure her feet are covered.  The thought of her being cold nearly drives me crazy.  On rainy days I think of that mound of dirt, the mud, the wetness, and it makes me angry that the rain would dare to fall on my baby.  The cemetary shows signs of a mole digging near her grave and it bothers me, I don't want a mole or any other creature going anywhere near her.   I know that these are all irrational concerns.  Laynee is in heaven after all, she's not really there in the ground.  My head knows this, yet my mother heart has failed to grasp the reality that my baby is not here. My heart cannot fathom that Iam not needed by my child.

A few weeks ago I struggled with what may seem like a morbid need.  A need so desperate that it bordered on obsession.   I needed pictures of Laynee in her casket.

While  the days and weeks following the accident are mostly a hazy blur, with large chunks of time that seem to have been wiped from my memory,  there are some very clear details that I recall.  I have very little memory of the visitation and funeral but this one thing I know, my little girl was beautiful in her casket.   I recall the girls and I picking out the dress she would wear.  There were several new dresses hanging in her closet and we debated between a short sleeved pink and brown dress and a red and white gingham dress with a mock red jacket.  We chose the red one, the one she was supposed to be getting her pictures taken in.  We chose the new little black shoes and white socks.  We wanted her to look just perfect.  My Aunt Diana graciously agreed to do her hair, putting it in precious ponytails with black and white polka dotted bows, a perfect match to the bow at the top of the jacket.  I put the tiny black earrings in myself,  the perfect finishing touch.   I recall seeing her for the first time in the casket and how she took my breath away, she was so beautiful.   I vaguely remember those last few moments with her, knowing I needed to move away so they could close the casket, fighting the urge to climb in with her.  I wanted so desperately to lift her out of there and hold her close on more time.  I couldn't kiss her enough.  I tucked her blanky around her, I wanted her to be warm, I wanted her to feel safe.  I made sure her hee hee was secure in her hand and that she had her favorite book.  For all these months I've struggled with the knowledge that she is in that box, in a vault, in the ground.  She was so beautiful the last time I saw her and I didn't take a picture.  It's like forgetting the camera for your daughter's junior prom. 

I held out a small hope that my Aunt Di may have taken a picture when she did her hair.  Or maybe Uncle Fred took one.  Upon asking them I learned that they hadn't.  I needed a picture so bad and they seemed like my only hope.  Then one day it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe, my brother in law, who also happens to be the mortician,  may have taken a picture.  So I called him and asked the question that most people never imagine having to ask,  "did you take a picture of my daughter in her casket?" He said that normally they do not take pictures, but this time he did.  I cannot describe the odd sense of relief I felt.

A few days later he sent two pictures of her via email.  It was quite awhile before I worked up the courage to open the attachments.  Finally, with deliberate movements and controlled breathing I dared to look at the pictures.  What I saw was not what I expected.  She was beautiful of course, stunningly so.  She looked just like my mind remembered.  My beautiful little girl with long lashes, flawless skin and light, wispy hair.  Everything about her was perfect and yet, something was missing.  I suddenly saw with startling clarity that this was not my Laynee.  The face in the casket was lifeless, void of expression.  The face was a picture of perfect peace yet it lacked sparkle, joy and mischief.  The hair remained perfect for 2 full days.  There were no food smudges on her face or dirt in her fingernails.  The shoes were not yanked at first oppurtunity. Even in sleep, Laynee had personality.  Her low muscle tone allowed her to sleep in what appeared to be impossible positions.  Never would she lie flat with hands neatly in front of her.  My Laynee was full of life.   What lay in that casket looked like my Laynee, but my Laynee was not in the casket.   The pictures showed me that the beautiful body that identified her was nothing more than clothing.  Jalayne was carried away by angels.  She is not in that vault, nor is she beneath the cold frozen ground.   She is not cold even on the coldest nights, neither is she wet when it rains.  My sweet Laynee Grace no longer needs her mommy.

The sweetly perfect little body was not what we loved. We loved the vibrant personality, the laughter, the silly gleam and twinkling eyes.  We loved her exhausting business and sheer determination.  The spirit of the child we all loved so dearly is not here.  She is in heaven, waiting for us.  The desperate need is mine and mine alone.  She will forever be my child, but she no longer has special needs.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The First Time Ever I Saw Her Face

Although Jalayne's birthday has come and gone, I cannot help remembering that it was three years ago on February 2nd that we received the phone call telling us of her existence.  On February 3rd, 2007we saw this beautiful face for the very first time.  I recall the whirlwind of events of that day in very fine detail.  I recall the feeling of overwhelm as I contemplated adding another special needs child to our family.   I even recall being a bit afraid to look at her for the first time.  I remember sitting in the rocking chair of the NICU with tears dripping onto her blankets.  My hands shook as I dressed her, I really couldn't believe I was taking this baby home with me.  What was I thinking, was I insane, had I lost my mind?  I recall the cold air as I buckled her into the car seat for the very first time.   But more than anything I remember the awe on my children's face when I carried her, still strapped in her car seat, into our home. So tiny, only five pounds and so, so perfectly formed.   I can still picture them kneeling up on the barstools and sitting on the countertop so they could see her better in those first moments. I had no way of knowing the profound impact this child would have on our life.  I didn't know how much joy she would bring.  I didn't know how much sorrow she would bring. 
What I did know, from the very moment I laid eyes on her, was that I loved her, that I would always love her.  I did, I do and I will.............always love my Laynee Grace