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, April 11, 2010

Loss and Life

Last week when we returned home from our trip to Gulf Shores we found that, as promised, our pool had been removed and taken away.  Though we do not know who all had a part in this, we are deeply appreciative  It had to be done, the pool had to go, and doing it ourselves would have been a long drawn out affair of remembering all that was lost there.  I'm not entirely sure what happened to the pool, I believe it was sold to someone, though I'm not certain.  It really doesn't matter, so long as we don't have to look at it. 

I can't really explain the myriad emotion that we experienced as we pulled into our driveway after our trip.  Intense relief mingled with deep sadness.  The sadness was not only for the loss of our child but also for the closing of another part of our life.  The pool was a monumental part of our summers.  There are so many beautiful memories of days and nights in the pool.  When the older kids swam in the pool I could see and hear them from anywhere I was in the house; kitchen, living room, laundy, office.   I loved hearing the laughter of the kids and their cousins as they swam and made up imaginative things to play in the pool.  There were countless games, contests and races.   At times, without their knowledge, I would stand and watch them for long periods of  time.  It's amazing what you can take in as an unseen observer.  Sometimes Dad or Uncle Marty would jump in and oh what fun that always evoked. I wonder why it was much more rowdy when the dads were in the pool?  So many beautiful memories, which still remain sweet, even in the shadow of the one monumental, horrific memory of loss.

The abscene of the pool changes the entire look of our yard and the back side of our home.   The vibrant color has been removed and in it's place a lifeless hole.   The barreness seems representative of the void and emptiness in our life.  It doesn't look right.  It doesn't feel right to have this big part of our life missing.  The pool was nothing more than a structure, a place where memories were formed and yet it's abscence is somehow symbolic of another, far more painful loss in our life.   Like the hole in the backyard, there is a cavernous crater in our home, our family, our life. There is a missing piece that cannot be replaced. 

My sister, Fern, unexpectedly spent yesterday helping me around the yard.  We both celebrated birhday's this weekend.  I turned 40 and she, 50.  Because she would otherwise have spent her birthday alone, she came to visit me and somehow was roped into yard work.  Her help and presence was a blessing as I had been dreading the task that, on any other year,  I would relish in.  We have a large yard with a lot of landscaping and I typically love working in the dirt with the new spring growth. This year the job was painful as Laynee's memory is everywhere outdoors. Jim was busy, working on another large project, so together Fern, Jamee, Jade and I worked at sprucing things up.  While we worked I thought of her chasing the kittens right through the flowers.  I pictured her throwing things through the deck railings and into the flowers.  I recalled one of the bushes that chose to open it's first blooms the day after the accident.  It felt strange to not have to be constantly calling out to "come back over here."  My mind's eye could see her exuberance at each new flower that would pop up this spring.  At 3:00 I was aware that, if things were normal, I would send someone in to get her up from her nap.   Though my mind remained on Laynee much of the time, conversation and companionship helped to ease some of the pain. 

Even before the pool was removed, Jim and I and the kids had decided that we would fill the empty space with a memorial garden for Laynee.  In so doing, we will take the ominous reminder of death and transform it into a beautiful representation of life.  Laynee's life was vibrant, filled with color and exuberance.  Her very presence exuded peace, love and happiness.  A tragedy far greater than that which we have already experienced would be to remember her as anything less than she was.  With this in mind we will carefully select, plant and nurture life in the place where the angels gathered her into their arms.  We will plant color to signify her zest for life.  There will be a place of quiet rest to remember the peace that could only come from eternal innocence.  Perhaps there will be a fountain flowing as love so easily poured from her existence.  My family has offered to purchase an engraved stone, on which we will proclaim that she was and is and always will be "Our Forever Love." 

Laynee's garden will require much effort.  It cannot happen on it's own. This too is an appropriate portrayal of life since the accident.  Mere survival has demanded that we take that which is unhealthy and weed it from our lives. We have persevered only through the love and compassion of friends and family. We have found hope by being firmly rooted in our faith and in the word of God.  We have had to face the unpleasant aspects of grief and loss, not going around them or stepping over them, but digging right through them.  Laynee's garden will not grow overnight.  Just as our healing takes time, so also will  Laynee's garden.  It will  require digging, planting and pruning.  Sunshine, as well as rain will be required.  We will watch as Laynee's garden grows.  The garden will be a statement of life, not for those who are gone from us but for those who go on living. 

I will turn their mourning into gladness.
I will give them comfort and joy instead of sadness
Jeremiah 31:13


  1. Karol and girls,
    Thank you for letting me be a part of your spring yard work. Even though we worked our
    tails off it made by birthday extra special.
    When I got home I imagined that new garden
    that will be made of Love and beautiful memories of our Laynee Girl! The flowers will
    be colorful and vibrant, the butterflies will
    spread their beauty over the garden, God will
    send rain and sunshine for all to grow. I hope
    that I can be a part of making this garden. I
    know that in our hearts, Laynee Girl will be
    right next to us. She will be digging in the
    dirt and eating it, leaving a brown little ring
    around her mouth, the new blooms on the flowers
    will all be picked off, the sprinkling can will
    be emptied before the flowers are planted, her
    BEAUTIFUL hair will be blowing in the wind, and the working area will be filled with her
    laughter and giggles. Karol, I believe this
    garden is going to be so beautiful and God is
    going to help fill it with everything Laynee
    Girl was made of - LOVE and more LOVE. God is
    so good, and we pray that he continues to heal
    as only he can. We thank him for our beautiful
    memories and I believe her smile will be in
    every flower, shrub, and tree planted in that
    garden - Oh, it is going to be so beautiful.

    We Love You,

  2. What a wonderful idea a garden is for remembering Laynee by. God seems so much closer in a garden where everything from the breeze whispering in your ears to the colors that He loves so much is so peaceful. Jesus himself went to a garden to talk to God, not to a church or a synagogue but a garden, when he was heavy hearted, the Garden of Gesthsemane so we know they must be special places to him. It will beautiful Karol!

    Love ya,


  3. What an awesome idea to remember your precious little Laynee! Taking your grief and pain, and turning it into something beautiful. I just think how peaceful gardens are and how much comfort I get sitting amongst all the beautiful flowers with their vibrant colors, and sweet fragrances. What a wonderful place to sit and think of you precious little girl and think of all the memories you have of her! We love you guys!
    Praying always,

  4. Karol,
    When I e-mailed you the other day about ordering the engraved stone - I was thinking how beautiful it would look in a garden - but so much more perfect in Laynee's garden - with "Our Forever Love" on it - what a wonderful idea. When you look out your window you will see the beauty of it and so full of life - just as your Laynee was.

    And the butterflies that it will attract!!! I will never forget the day of Laynee's funeral I mowed the cemetary and when I mowed around Laynee's grave, there were 2 beautiful monarch butterflies circling it. Something I have never seen before - but every time I see a butterfly I think of it and imagine Laynee chasing them in Heaven.

    Will look forward to seeing the "Laynee Garden"

    Love you, Rita

  5. To remember all that is lost is a true pain to the heart. Every day I imagine what our Isaac would have been to us, and what the last year should have been like. It pains my soul. Today marks a year since we buried him.

    I think the garden is a marvelous garden. I would have made the same decision to remove the pool as well.

    Loving you....


  6. Was thinking and praying for you all during this time of transition in your home. So glad you made the decision to plant a beautiful garden, and spent the day together working out there. We planted a tree... and 2 years later are just getting things together to complete that corner of the yard into a garden. Hoping to get a small fountain and a bench or swing so that I have a peaceful place to reflect.
    It feels like a "re-claiming" of our back yard... and has helped in our healing. I look forward to the times we will finally spend out in that yard again this year. New special memories will be made... and many sweet memories will be remembered.
    I know you all will enjoy the same things..
    Blessings to you all
    Brayden's Mommy