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, 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.

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


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"


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


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


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. 

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Everywhere and Nowhere

Laynee is everywhere and yet she's nowhere.  It seems that memories of her have taken up residence in every nook and cranny of our home. The memories are beautiful and painful at the same time. I have a shelf in a cupboard in the laundry room where I keep socks that have lost their mate.  The mate often shows up in the next load of laundry but the kids tend to just throw the socks in the cupboard rather then search for pairs.  Tonight I was matching up socks and there in the pile was one of Laynee's tiny pink socks.  The other day I went to get Jamee a pair of gloves from summer storage and found all of Laynee's winter hats.   I find her pretzel sticks under the sofa cushions, lost earrings, socks that she was always hiding because she hated them.  Ponytail holders with strands of hair still in them still turn up here and there.  I open cupboard and closet doors to find toys that she put there for whatever reason. When cleaning leaves out of the landcaping I found outside toys stuck in some bushes. Under the seat of the car was her little black purse with an old credit card and toy keys that she loved to carry around.   The cupboards contain foods that only she ate, her cups, her spoons, her medicines, her lotion,  shampoo, her hooded towel.  The linen closet holds her blankets and sheets.  Her singalong videos are there by the tv.  Her coats and jackets hang ready to be worn as it turns colder but she's not here to wear them.  Some of my windows are badly in need of washing but her fingerprints are there and I can't bear the thought of wiping them away.  I put my nose to everything that belonged to her, hoping to find a lingering little girl scent.  Her bedroom is filled with the essence of Laynee. I smell her there.   It is almost as if Ican feel her in that room.  I long to crawl into her crib just to be a little closer to her.  Her black and white panda bear has a yellowed nose from being sucked on every night as she went to sleep.  The bear smells so much like her, I can't get enough of it.  At night before I go to bed.  I go into her room, my arms throb with longing to hold her, my lips ache with the need to kiss her soft cheeks.  I kiss the large picture of her but it is just not enough.  It will never, ever be enough.  I NEED my Laynee.   

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

I wish everyone knew

Another sleepless night.  I come to the computer and look through all the photo files of Laynee.  Hundreds and hundreds of pictures of sweet Laynee Grace.  I keep adding more pictures to this blog.  I want so much for everyone to know her.  Her smile, her silly antics, her out of control bed head, that she sucked on two fingers when she was tired, that she loved books with heehees and tractors.  I wish everyone knew my Laynee.

Monday, November 2, 2009

8 weeks

This morning I awoke with the same feeling that I have every Monday since losing Laynee.  It is a feeling of heaviness and very deep sadness.  Each Monday adds another tally mark in my mind, another week since I've held her, kissed her, smelled her.  Today is tally number 8. 8 weeks without her sunshine. Again I am    taken back to that Monday, Labor Day.  That day we did so many things with Laynee, for Laynee, not knowing that it would be the last time.  That morning at the hotel I read her fuzzy duck book to her, I never knew that I'd never read it to her again.  We never knew that when she waved bye, bye to Grandpa and Grandma after breakfast at Crackle Barrel that they would not see her again on this earth.  When I changed her from her pink "Paris France Girl" shirt to her "It's good to be me" shirt, I didn't know that I wouldn't get to dress her again.  Grant didn't know that he was taking her for her last ever ride on the golf cart.  Aunt Karla didn't know that Laynee would never again help in her garden.  Danielle didn't know that she would never get to wash mud from her feet again.  Uncle Marty didn't know that  her heehee's were eating the last carrot from her hand.    Jade and Garrett didn't know that they were playing the last game of "chase" with her.  When she was laughing with Garrett on the trampoline that afternoon, daddy didn't know that he wouldn't hear her laughter again.  I didn't know that her cheeseburger would be her last meal or that when I wiped her face and took her from her seat at the table that she would not sit in her chair again.  She had her favorite shoes,camouflaged crocs, on just before the accident.  I loved those shoes and the way she always wore them on the wrong feet.  Now they sit empty on the shelf in her room.  And when she stopped to play in the bubbles in the garage,  Jamee and I didn't know that we were seeing her radiant smile for the last time. I don't remember the last time I kissed her.  I know without doubt that I kissed her many times that day.  It was impossible to pick her up without planting a kiss on her soft, chubby cheeks but I don't remember the last kiss.  I've asked myself many times if it would have been better if I'd known that these would all be lasts.  I think not, for surely if I'd known, I would have grieved all those lasts instead of enjoying them as I did.   Every moment of our life is priceless. 

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Sundays are tough

Sundays tend to be the most difficult days, especially for Jim. There are so many beautiful memories of Laynee and yet there aren't enough. On Sunday mornings Laynee would rise early and get to come into bed with mommy and daddy. Of course she didn't sit still for one second but we loved every moment. She'd try to stand up and walk across the bed only to stumble over legs or arms and plop back down, usually on top of us. If we would turn and face away from her she'd lean over us and stick her face right in ours. We would take extra care with her hair and clothes on Sunday mornings and then she and I would go to the girls bathroom to show them how pretty she was in her sweet dresses. She didn't stay clean and pretty for long. She'd usually run into her room and come out with a pair of shorts on her head....so much for fancy hair. On Sunday afternoons, after her nap, she would follow daddy around outside. He'd ride tirelessly with her on the golf cart showing her the heehee's and the moo's. Sundays are quiet now without her baby voice and laughter. One of the things I miss most is the sound of her footsteps walking across the floor. Daddy walks outside without his little girl holding his hand. The slide stands silent with no little girl going up instead of down it. The golf cart has not left the shed since September 7th but I look outside and see her sitting there next to her daddy, her hair blowing carefree in the wind and her face glowing with peace and happiness. Her swing glides empty in the wind, a quiet symbol of the emptiness in our hearts.


On February 2,2007 a beautiful little girl came unexpectedly to our family through adoption. We had previously kept other newborns under special circumstances while they awaited adoption so when our caseworkers name came up on our caller ID, we knew our life was about to be turned upside down for a time. This situation was different in that the child did not have a family waiting to adopt her. The baby, whom the nurses had been calling "Angel Grace" was born on January 30, 2007. She had a heart defect and Down Syndrome and her birth mother had signed adoption papers right after the birth. When we got to the hospital to see her the first time, the nurses had cut out pictures of angels and taped them to her isolette saying "we think she's a little angel." She was a beautiful baby and I was instantly struck by how she looked like my own biological children at birth. We agreed to take her home with the promise that we would consider being her forever family. We named her Jalayne Grace and a week later agreed to adopt her. Laynee was a beautiful, content child and she won our hearts instantly. She had a small atrial septal defect and a large ventricular septal defect in her heart that would someday need to be repaired. In April at about 2 1/2 months, Laynee went into congestive heart failure and needed surgery much sooner than expected. On April 24 the surgery was performed by doctor Fortuna at OSF. 10 days later the rhythm of her heart was still not able to synchronize and a pacemaker was put in her tiny heart. From that moment on, Jalayne's heart was paced 100% of the time.

Laynee blossomed in our home and family and touched the life of nearly everyone who met her. She was full of joy and happiness almost all the time. She rarely cried or fussed. She was strong willed and determined and radiantly beautiful in her pure simplicity. She was the perfect example of love without conditions.

On Labor Day weekend 2009, Jim decided he wanted to take Grandma Glueck to southern Illinois to see "Fat Man's Squeeze" at Giant City State Park. Grandma and Grandpa Glueck and our family spent a beautiful weekend together with Miss Laynee being the center of attention most of the weekend. Grandpa Glueck toted Laynee around on his arm most of the time and on Labor Day she learned to call Grandpa "PaPaw." We returned home on Monday Sept. 7th, 2009. After dinner we all went outside, Jim to his shed, Grant to hunt, Jamee and I to the driveway to wash our cars, Brock was working on homework and Jade and cousin Garrett were playing "chase" with Laynee. On one of the trips chasing Garrett and Jade around the house Laynee stopped to play in our soapy bubbles in the car wash bucket. With a soapy beard and a big grin she ran off to follow Jade and Garrett again. I was just finishing drying off my car and told Jamee we needed to make sure of where Laynee was so that I wouldn't run over her while putting the car back in the garage. We soon discovered she wasn't with Jade as we thought and we all began the search for Laynee. I, assuming she had followed Garrett to his house next door to see her beloved "heehee's" (horses), walked across the pasture to my sister Karla and Marty's. Laynee wasn't there either and panic instantly wrapped around my throat. The gate leading up to our deck surrounding our pool was open and Jamee was looking for Laynee around the pool. Instinct told me to pull the solar blanket off. With Jamee's help I pulled one section of the blanket up and there was our precious Laynee with her pink shorts and blue shirt boasting "it's good to be me" face down in the brilliant blue water. I pulled her out and frantically began trying to save my baby. Marty was there in an instant to help. Jamee called 911 while Marty and I did everthing in our power to make Laynee breathe again. Laynee was rushed to ER but soon after our arrival the doctor informed us that while the pacemaker was working, her heart would not respond. Our precious Laynee Grace had gone to be with Jesus.

Our life, which had been so beautiful all weekend, was turned upside down in a matter of moments. Time seemed to stand still, nothing would ever be the same without our little ray of sunshine, our very special little girl.

Losing a daughter, a sister is something we all think happens to someone else. The unthinkable has struck our family. The pain and sorrow is incomprehensible. We all, in our own ways, struggle to know how to handle this thing called "grief"