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.

Monday, April 29, 2013


Tonight I had the pleasure of presenting Laynee's memorial scholarship to a young lady that I know will prove herself worthy. 

Each year the nominees for Laynee's scholarship are asked to write an essay detailing their attitude toward the word retard in name calling. This year there were 9 nominees and, as always, each of the essays were very well written.  And, as always, there were  a couple that stood out among the rest.  The essay that we chose proved that the young lady who wrote it clearly understood the offensiveness of the "R" word.  We feel confident from her writing that she not only will avoid using the word, but she will make a point to educate others who do use the word. 

It is always with a heavy heart that I stand before the senior class to present Laynee's scholarship.  It seems, in so many ways, surreal to talk of Laynee and our love for her, of what she meant to us and to all who knew her.  It pains me to talk about he "R" word and the bitter taste that it leaves in the mouths of those touched by intellectual challenges.  Yet, as I look out among the many faces before me, I can see the light of understanding on several of them.  I can see that it has never occurred to most of them how it might feel to our family and others with disablities when we hear that word used to demean another.  I can see that some will walk away with a determination never to utter that word again. I can hope with everything in me, that those who have learned tonight will share what they learned with others. 

My mind can barely wrap around the fact that already we have given 3 of these scholarships in Laynee's memory. 

Tonight we proudly presented the third Jalayne "Laynee" Grace Holmes scholarship to Miss Taylor Haggerdorn. 

Make Laynee Proud Taylor.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Unique bond

I met a woman today, one who faces the unthinkable.   Our meeting was not a pleasant one.  It was filled with soul searing grief.  I watched as, in the span of one converation, her facial expressions went from clawing panic over the inevitable to quiet, mournful resignation of what is her life's harsh and brutal reality.  My heart lodged in my throat as she spoke of her daughter, saying "It should be me.  I should be the one dying but she is going to go before me. I am going to have to bury my daughter." 

I had purposefully avoided telling her of my own situation.   That I had already buried my daughter. I did not mention how I know that she stands at the brink of a pain so great it defies explanation.  This was her story, her grief. It was not the time or the place for my own.  I wanted her to know that my sorrow was for her, not for my own situation.  So I kept silent and just listened.   But as we talked, we learned that we have mutual acquaintances.  She knows people that I know.  And then she asked where I live.  I told her and she asked "do you live in the one with the pool?"   When I clarified that we did have a pool but it's gone now.  Her face registered clarity and recognition. I knew that she had connected the dots.  Suddenly she knew.  She touched me as she said "You know.  You know what it's like to lose a daughter."  All I could do was nod and tell her that I do know.  That I am so, so sorry.   That no mother should ever have to bury their child.

I am glad that I chose to keep silent.  At the same time I am grateful that she discovered the truth.  For with the light of recognition in her eyes came an instant connection, an inexplicable bond that is shared only among parents whose children are gone (or in this case "going") too soon.  I had no words of wisdom, nothing that could bring comfort to her.   I could only embrace her with a promise to pray, knowing that even that seems somehow empty. 

Long after we went our own ways, this mother stayed with me in my thoughts.   It occurred to me, not for the first time, how very few people that we know personally have experienced child loss.  But for those who do know, the bond is immediate. It is a bond that runs deep and connects souls intimately.   Each time we see each other, we do not speak of our loss, words are unnecessary.  Still........we know. We just KNOW.

Friday, April 5, 2013


My heart has been heavy for my little girl lately.  Reality is that the heavy, aching heart never really goes away.  It's there... always... with every beat... with every breath.  But some days are extra heavy. 

As much as I love the balmy, springtime weather that those of us in the midwest have been enjoying this week, I cannot help noticing that warmer weather brings greater aching.  Perhaps it was her almost obsessive love for the outdoors that causes me to be more keenly intuned to her abscence when the weather is nice. Or perhaps it is the dreadful fact that she died there, in our back yard. 

I absolutely love this weather.  The sunshine seems to reach down into my soul and transform me, making me almost giddy.  The warmth, the new life, the color, the fresh smell of spring dirt add a sense of  exuberance to ordinary day.  I cannot get enough of spring time

And yet.

There are sharp stabs of pain- pain that comes from being too long without my youngest daughter.  Sometimes it is almost as if I can feel her there beside me as I work in the yard, most especially, in her garden.  I picture her, in my mind's eye, running and dancing through the grass.  This image brings nearly knee buckling pain.  The sun, rising and setting, paints marvelous pictures this time of year, pictures that never cease to remind me of her.  The more extraordinary the color, the more I long for her. 

 Today, for the first time, I placed Kruz in her swing hanging from our swing set and my heart clenched tight.  I wonder if, in spite of the fact that by now she would be too big for it,  I will always think of it as hers.  This evening as I was preparing to bring Moise and Kruz in from outside I missed her so desperately, knowing, instinctively that she would be a little mother hen to her baby brother. She would be such a big helper.  It seems that everywhere I turn there are little reminders of what should be but is not. 

At times I feel exhausted with the constant, unending task of trying to balance grief and joy.  How do I, forever, allow the sorrow to be exactly what it is, without allowing it to steal the joy that is my life? How do I do this from now until forever?