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, July 25, 2010

Never Say Never

As we vacation in North Carolina, my mind keeps going back to this time last year. As a general rule, I have never been one to travel without my children.   However,  the age span between our biological children and adopted children, coupled with the challeges of special needs, has made traveling interesting, to say the least.  While we do travel a great deal with Moise, there are some adventures that our teenaged children like to do that are impossible with wheelchairs and strollers.  Such activities include, hiking, mountain biking and white water rafting.   In the past several years we have taken one trip each summer without Moise.  In addition to allowing us to do more strenuous activities, this trip also gives all of us a necessary respite from the 24/7, round the clock roll as caregivers which is physically and emotionally draining.

Last year at this time we took a trip to Colorado and left both, Moise and Laynee, in the care of people that we trusted to give them quality care while we were away. We had taken both  of them with us to Florida in the fall, almost a year before the accident, and found that Laynee was actually a very good little traveler. While I am fully aware that activity packed trips such as the ones we take in the summers will never be possible with Moise, I spent that entire trip regretting that we did not have Laynee with us.  I missed her desperately and knew that while Moise would not enjoy the activities due to the severity of his disabilities,  Laynee would.    On the way home from Colorado, Jim and I and the kids discussed how we would never take another trip without her. When I returned home I told Karen, who had watched her for our trip, that Laynee would always travel with us from that point on.  Never again would we take a trip without her.  Never say never!!

We did not have an oppurtunity to make good on that promise. Six weeks after that trip, Laynee was taken from us.  The thing that I said I would "never" do was taken completely and irrevocably out of my control. Now,  reality is that "never again" will we take a trip with her. 

This is our fourth trip since the accident and each time it feels a little more painful to leave home without her.  This time feels especially difficult as I reflect on the promises I made a year ago.  Just before leaving home, I visited her grave and as always, I felt the need to say, "I'm sorry, Laynee, that we are leaving without you.  I'm so sorry."  As we travel, enjoying the sights and fun activities my soul aches for her.  There are children everywhere we turn at this campground and I can imagine her wanting to make friends with all of them.  I can see her standing and watching every move they make.  I know that many would be treated to one of her famous Laynee hugs.  I wish that I were chasing her up and down the rows of campers.  As I opened my eyes to this morning's light my heart wept with longing to see her smile in the bed right next to mine. 

We are enjoyinf the trip immensely despite missing her.  This land in NC is powerful testimony of God's artistic majesty.  He is splendid in all that he does.  Today we visited caverns and hiked in the mountains.  We walked across "Mile High Swinging Bridge" from which there was simply no denying that all of this was created by a mighty deity.  I was reminded from a place which was seemingly "on the top of the world" that the God here at the mountain top is the same God that walks in the valleys with us, the same God that goes into the darkest pit with us.

Despite all of these things that I know, I cannot shake the feeling that she is supposed to be here with us.  I promised never to leave her again.  Soon after the accident, Jade tearfully exclaimed "I miss her so bad when we go on vacation without her, I don't know if I can stand never seeing her again"  While I know that we will see her again in heaven, the remainder of our life here, on earth will be without her.  Tonight as grief weighs heavily upon me, I echo Jade's words. I don't know if I can stand never seeing her again.

Saturday, July 17, 2010


Camping is a summer highlight for our family.  We've enjoyed camping for as long as I can remember.  Usually we take short camping trips but occasionally we feel adventuresome and take the camper for a longer trip.  Next week we will be heading to Asheville, NC with the camper.  In preparation, Jim brought the camper close to the house so that I can get it cleaned and packed.   Though we typically camp several times a year, this is the first time in the camper since July 4th of 2009.  That camping trip was one that will stand out in our memory for a long time.  First, because it rained and rained and rained.  Also, because it was the last camping trip with Laynee. 

The rain stands out in my mind because Laynee, at 2.5 years old and full of energy managed to find every puddle that she could. We were with a large group of people who, undoubtedly, remember the challenges of keeping her out of the mud.  We made the rounds through all of our family and friends campers, trying to stay dry, while she wreaked havoc in all of them.  I clearly recall that she kept everyone laughing that weekend by simply being who she was. 

As I was cleaning the camper this week, I found, hanging from the stereo dial, a forever reminder of that trip and my little girl.  Things like this always have the same impact on me.  They come, first as a kick in the stomach, snatching the air from my lungs.   Then, as the shock wears off, they  become a cherished, priceless, treasure.  A reminder of the beauty and innocence that once graced our home in human form.  This reminder was a beaded necklace that the kids in the group had made for her.  Stashed in the cupboard of the camper is a box full of assorted beads and elastic for occasions such as rainy days.  I smile as I recall even the boys in the group holed up in the camper making bracelets and necklaces.  I suspect that Laynee was unwilling to wear the necklace for long, which explains it's presence on the dial.  Nevertheless, it was made for her,  she wore it on her neck, against her skin, she touched it with her chubby little fingers, and if my guess is right, she probably threw it across the camper when she tired of it. Upon finding it, I pressed it to my lips, I held it against my face as visions of  muddy hands and feet danced through my head.    This little circle of elastic and plastic is worth more than gold or silver to me. 


Friday, July 16, 2010

Prayers for Preslee

My heart weeps for a the family of Preslee Jo Sullenger  who has finished her life's race.  This family is living the horror of drowning death and of saying good bye to their beautiful daughter long before they were ready. 
My brain cannot begin to wrap around why these things happen to good people.  I am grateful that the Sullenger family seems to have a very close walk with the Lord.  He can and will carry them through this pain.  I know that God is good all the time but I simply cannot understand.

Please pray for this family.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Joy and Pain

This weekend was a classic example of how joy and pain can coexist within the human heart.  The weekend was filled with moments of deep heartache along with great joy.

On Friday, my long time friend, Rachel was here from Minnesota and we had an opportunity to spend several hours together.  Rachel is one of those friends with whom time and separation fall away instantly and we pick up exactly where we left off.   Rachel understands me in a way that very few do.  She and I always share much laughter when we are together.  Likewise, I know that Rachel understands my sorrow as few others can, as she too has buried a child.  While our situations were vastly different, we both know the pain of having a child ripped from our arms.  Rachel also understands my longing for heaven, where we will see our babies, Clark and Laynee, once again.   Rachel was with me while the finishing touches were put on the wagon for Jenna's wedding.   My heart was heavy and sad but I was very much aware of the beauty of having my friend by my side for this painful task. 

On Friday evening, despite the fact that Laynee was not here to be flower girl, Jim and I were invited to attend the wedding rehearsal dinner.  Our hearts ached in light of the fact that our purpose for being there was not here, but in heaven.  At the same time, we could feel that the air was filled with the nervousness and excited anticipation of the wedding party. 

Saturday was painful in a way that defies explanation.  I awoke with the weight of knowing what this day was supposed to be, but was not.  It was Jenna's wedding day, but I had no flower girl to dress and make ready.  The excitement that we should have been feeling was absent.  When we went to the wedding, I was prepared for seeing the wagon. I had, after all, seen it many times.  The sunflowers springing up out of the wagon were a perfect memorial to Laynee.  They seemed to dance as the wagon moved, their dazzling yellow representative of the sunshine and joy that Laynee brought to every day.  I knew what the wagon would be like.  Still, the pain of not seeing her walking by the ring bearer's side surged through every member of our family, producing agonizing tears. 

 Amidst the pain, I was joyful for Jenna and Cory.  They had waited a long time for this day that had finally come. Jenna was beautiful.   Even sorrow so great as what we were experiencing could not take away  the joy that we felt for this bride and groom and their families.

At the reception we were seated at a table with our friends, Joe and Erin, right next to the dance floor.    It pained me to think of how Laynee would have loved to go out and dance on that floor.  I could see, in my mind's eye, her little feet tapping to the music, body moving with not-so-great rhythm.  I could imagine her laughing, smiling and charming every person there with her pure and natural simplicity.  Thanks to Joe and Erin's company, we laughed alot that evening.  Erin was not afraid to allow me to talk about Laynee.  She too could imagine our little princess being the life of the party.  Somehow on this day, one of the most painful days since Laynee was taken from us, I laughed more than I probably have in the past 10 months. 

God's mercy and provision is clearly evident in the way that he orchestrated the events of this weekend.  It was not by chance that Rachel would be here on the weekend of Jenna's wedding.  Mere happenstance did not place Joe and Erin at our reception table.  God knew that we would need laughter to help make the pain bearable, and in a way that only he is capable of, he provided. He placed exactly the right people, in exactly the right place, at exactly the right time so that we could be happy, even when we are so sad.   God is good and God does good..........all the time. 

Blessed are ye which weep now
for ye shall laugh
Luke 6;21

Tuesday, July 6, 2010


For when I am weak, then I am strong
II Corinthians 12:10

This week is proving to be a difficult week.  Sunday night after a fourth of July celebration, I began to feel an increase in the ever present weight that seems to have settled around me.  Jim is also missing Laynee desperately.  It seems that nothing I do can take the weight from me. I go to the word, I pray, I listen to inspirational music, but sometimes I long for something tangible.  I need something that I can do or touch that can help to ease the pain.  There is nothing.  No words nor actions bring relief. After spending some time in the word this morning and then going out for a run and finding that the weight has not diminished even a little, I came home to find that this verse II Corinthians 12:10 had been sent to me in an email.  While it does not necessarily ease the pain, it does remind me that God is in this. 

For all those who read, please pray for our family this week as it is a painful one.  On Saturday our friend Jenna will be married.  Jenna is the daughter of my friend Karen, Laynee's Aunt Karen.  Jenna and Karen were an active part of Laynee's life.  They were with us from the very beginning, from the time Laynee was first placed in our arms until the time that she was taken from us.  Laynee was to be Jenna's flower girl and without doubt she would have been the most beautiful flower girl ever.  The flowers themselves would have been brighter because Laynee carried them.  I desperately wish that we were scurrying around, putting final touches on a beautiful dress for Laynee.  I wish that Jade could be practicing and working and figuring out how we will do Laynee's hair.  In Laynee's place we have prepared a beautiful wagon, which we will fill with flowers, for the ring bearer to pull down the aisle. 

I'm sorry for Jenna because every young bride longs for a flower girl to toss petals on the aisle for her.  I'm sorry for Aunt Karen and Mr B, whom I know will feel sadness on this very exciting day in their lives.  I'm sorry for every guest present that knew Laynee, for they to will only be able to imagine what  Laynee's beaming smile would have looked like.  And, in some sad, strange way I am sad for Laynee, because even though I know that heaven is more beautiful than any flowers here, I think she would have loved being Jenna's flower girl.

Today I am weak, there is no other word to describe it.  As I read this verse I say to myself, "really? is it? can it really be that even now when I am so weak, I am in some way strong?"  It seems unimaginable and yet I can hope and trust in it, knowing that it is the word of our Lord. 

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Happy 4th of July Laynee Bug

I'm missing my sweet girl even more than usual.  How I would love to take her to see fireworks tonight, to watch her wide eyed wonder at the sights and sounds associated with Independence Day.  Laynee had an adorable little Red, White and Blue outfit that she wore last fourth.  I went through my files of pictures, in search of even one picture of this outfit.  I found one.  She's with her dear Jenna in this picture.  Upon seeing the picture, I had to see the outfit.  I had to see it, touch it, smell it, as if somehow it will bring her closer to me.  The middle drawer of her dresser is filled with Laynee.  The clothes are thrown in the drawer in a wild disarray.  The mess is so sweet to me for I know that she did this.  Her beautiful pudgy fingers touched these clothes, pulled the pants over her head, put her head through the arm holes and then stuffed everything back in when told to clean up. Touching them is like touching her.  I sniff desperately for a faint lingering scent of her.  I love this picture of her.  I love the childlike way that she is stuffing snacks into her mouth.  I love the messy hair so familiar on my not so ladylike girl.  Most of all, I love the toes, the wider than normal gap between the big toe and the second, a trademark of Down Syndrome.  There is nothing, not one single thing on this sweet child that I would have changed.  She was like a great fireworks display every day in our home.  She was joyful and vibrant and her messes were explosive. 

 I know that Laynee is celebrating freedom today as well.  Every moment is a celebration for her. 

Missing you sweet Laynee girl. Missing you so much!!!!!

Friday, July 2, 2010


As we journey through life, our identity is formed by our experiences. Typically, others identify us by the context in which they know us.  As we move on from one thing to the next a  part of our identity is altered somewhat. 

I am known by many different roles that I play in life.  If I walk into the paint store I am Jim Holmes' wife.  At the High School I am my children's mother.  There are many doctor's offices in which I am known as Moise's mother.  Many older people in my community, because they cannot tell my sisters and I apart,  know me simply as "one of the Glueck girls,"  or perhaps "the youngest Glueck girl."   At track meets people will ask "are you Jamee's (or Jade's) mother?  Often in the past two years I have overheard small children refer to me as "Java Junction Lady."  Not long ago I was in the medical office where I was formerly employed when a newer employee said "so you are the Karol that everyone wants to have draw their blood." My identity has been formed by the things that I have done. 

It feels as though the events of last summer have dramatically changed my identity.  Though I will always and forever be Laynee's mommy, it seems as though my identity or title as such, no longer exists.  While I am aware that this perception may simply be my own heightened sensitivity, it feels very much as though my identity as Laynee's mommy has changed to "the woman whose baby drowned."  It is an identity that I do not wear proudly, an identity that feels heavy and sad, an identity that I fear will stay with me for the rest of my life.  I am afraid that the glaring, ugly reality of tragic death somehow negates all the other identities that I have formed through my lifetime.

 There are times when I can feel it.  In the store or in a restaurant and especially around young people who have not quite mastered the art of tactfulness, I sense it.  Sometimes I see sympathetic looks.  Other times I can see eyes upon me while people whisper.  I know that I am being identified as "the woman whose baby drowned."  Sometimes when I introduce myself I can almost see the wheels turning in the mind of the other person.  I can see as it registers in their mind and they struggle to piece together facts. Sometimes they stumble around the dreaded question..........."are you"............"did you"........ "was it your? I long to spare them the misery of asking and just say "yes, it was my daughter that drowned." 

Though at times this new badge of identity threatens to discourage me and drag me down, I am able to remember who I am first and foremost.  I am a child of The Most High God.  I am forgiven and redeemed by the blood of Jesus Christ. I am created in His image and adopted into His family.  I am His servant. I am chosen and dearly loved by the creator of the universe. All other identities by which I am known are trumped by this one truth.  I AM HIS. 

For as many as are led by the spirit of God,
they are the sons of God
Romans 8:14