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.

Friday, December 25, 2009


Wherever I go, there I am.  I can fly to another part of this great country that I live in and yet, the sorrow and grief go with me.  There is no escaping it.  As Christians, Christmas comes regardless of where we go, what we are doing, or the level of sadness in our hearts.   In Florida, the sun shines brightly, lifting my spirits considerably.   The ocean tide sweeps in and out, it's vastness reaching further than the human eye can see, a reminder of how awesome and mighty our Creator is.  The ocean serves as reminder that I am so small, a mere speck on the earth's face.  I am nothing, I have nothing, I give nothing but that which my God allows.  He gave my Laynee, one of the most precious gifts I've ever received, and He took her, exactly as He had planned when He created her.

On the beach, my heart clenches at the sight of little children toddling in the sand.  Sun hats, shovels, buckets, smells of sunscreen, all remind me that I no longer have a tiny little girl.  Oh how adorable she would be here.  How fascinated she would be with the waves, and the sea birds.Yesterday I wrote carefully , in large letter in the sand, "Merry Christmas, Laynee".  I wonder, can she look down from her place in heaven and see how badly we want her here with us?   I noticed that many beach walker read the words there in the sand.  One woman even stopped to read it aloud to her children.  Yet no one, but our family, understands the significance of the words.   It likely never crossed a single mind that those words were for a 2 year old in heaven.
We celebrate Christmas!!!  Even here in Florida.  Last night, Christmas Eve, my nieces, Amelia and Chloe, and nephews, Drake and Stoner, came to our condo to make and decorate cookies. This morning we ate our traditonal Christmas breakfast, we opened gifts, this evening we will be with exteneded family.  We celebrate Christmas because it is Christmas, with or without our little girl sitting here beside us. Laynee Grace is not here on this earth but life goes on.  No matter where we go or what we do, life continues on.  Minutes turn to hours, hours to days and days to weeks.  Holidays come and they pass for those who remain.  We survive.   Though every breath hurts, we survive. 
Chloe, Jade, Jamee, and Amelia making Christmas Cookies

We brought Laynee's bag along for the trip.  It is filled with her swimsuit, sunglasses, pink jacket, Tennis Shoes and Sandals.  Just right for little girls who should be going to the beach with family

 Jamee, Moise, Brock, Jade, and Grant Christmas Morning

Jamee and Jade with the Angel Wings from Ashley.

Monday, December 21, 2009

New Traditions: Not what I always dreamed of

I love setting traditions for my family.  We have a certain "special" breakfast every year for Christmas day.  We always open a couple of presents on Christmas Eve and then the rest on Christmas morning.  We always make cutout frosted cookies.  The list goes on and it seems we keep adding new traditions.  This year is no exception, but the traditions we've added are not ones that bring joy and excitement.  We decided that Laynee needed a Christmas Stocking.   Sunday after church, we all drove to the cemetary and stomped through the pristine white snow to where the cold mound of dirt lay and placed a red stocking with a snowman on  it. How I wish that stocking could have been stuffed with fun little girl things...new pink toothbrush, first "big girl" panties, new socks, and little toys and candies.   Instead, the girls and I wrote "love letters" to her and Brock added a "moo" and a "hee hee" and placed them in the stocking.  I am fully aware that this traditon is not for her, but for us.  I know that she's not there beneath the dirt, but this simple act felt like something tangible that we could do to remember her.  Somehow it brought a sense of healing. Anyone wishing to place something in her stocking is welcome to do just that.

We also decided that each year that she is away from us we will  purchase a special ornament to remember her.  This year's ornament has an angel carved into it and says "keeping you close to our heart."  Earlier in the season we were given an ornament with Jesus holding an infant with the inscription"Safe in the Arms of Jesus."  We also received 3 ornaments as gifts today.  One was a white angel with gold wings.  My sister Rita and family brought us an ornament reminding us that she is "spending Christmas with Jesus."  and my niece Ashley brought an adorable one that is bright pink feathers made into angel wings for our "prettiest angel" So it begins that we collect ornaments that help us to remember our beautiful angel.  I never imagined that I'd ever have to establish traditions like this. 

We will flying to Florida tomorrow.  I truly am looking forward to the trip, yet something about this feels inherently wrong, as though I'm leaving a part of my soul behind.  It feels like I should be packing for her.  The truth is that she's probably closer to us now than she ever was while she was on this earth.  So why is it that she feels so far away?

The ornament that Rita gave us had a poem with it.  This is the same poem that was at the preschool Christmas Program .
 Merry Christmas From Heaven
I still hear the songs,
I still see the lights
I still feel your love on cold wintery nights

I still share your hopes and all of your cares
I'll even remind you to please say your prayers

I just want to tell you, you still make me proud
you stand head and shoulders above all the crowd

Keep trying each moment, to stay in His grace
I came here before you to help set your place

You don't have to be perfect all of the time
He forgives you the slip, if you continue the climb

To my family and friends
Please be thankful today
I'm still close beside you
In a new special way

I love you all dearly
Now don't shed a tear
Cause I'm spending my
Christmas with Jesus this year

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Another Mother

This morning I wrote a letter to send to Jalayne's biological mother as I have every year in the winter, around the time of the holidays and her January birthday.  I know that she is aware that Laynee was taken from us and I am thankful that I do not have to be the one to give this news to her but still, the letter was painful to write.  In years past, the letter was filled with all the news of the things Laynee has learned, how she's grown, how silly she can be, how she makes us smile, and oh how we love her.  Today, as I sat down to write I felt lost.  There were no words.  Every word in the English language falls hopelessly short of expressing our grief, our sorrow, our remorse, or the deep love we had for her child .  For me, there is an awsome sense of responsiblity for my adopted children.  The knowledge that someone has entrusted their child into my care, to love them, nurture them, to protect them has always left me feeling humbled.  To tell this biological mother that I loved the child of her womb with all of my heart, but I could not save her, has left me feeling grossly inadequate.  The letter expressed our deep regret in the best way that words could allow, but it was also filled with much gratitude for the beautiful gift she gave to us.  I hope that the words I wrote can, in some small way, convey to her that we gave every part of our hearts to our precious little one.  I hope she can read between the lines and know that we treasured and cherished every aspect of Jalayne.  Though I do not know the feelings of one who loves her child so much that she places them for adoption, my heart aches for her and for the others who would have adored Laynee as we did under different circumstances.  Yet,selfishly, I am so glad that it was I and my family who watched her grow and blossom for 2 1/2 years.  It was my family who was blessed
beyond measure by her simplistic radiance. We were the recipients of her wondrous hugs, her infectious laughter and heart melting smiles  It was I who had the awesome pleasure of being her mommy and being called "muum."  Thank you biological mother and thank you Lord Jesus for sweet Laynee Grace.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Reflecting on Christmas

Tonight I find myself reflecting on the Christmas Season, and the birth of our Lord, in a way that I had never done before we lost Laynee.  Since Laynee died, my mind  repeatedly mulls over one question...... Was it more painful for God at the birth or the crucifixion of His Son?    I can visualize the furrowed brows and confused looks as people read that question.  The answer seems obvious, does it not?   The Birth of our Lord and Saviour was the greatest, most joyous moment since the creation of the earth. Conversely, the Crucifixion was the most awful, gruesome, heart wrenching moment known by mankind.    It is for this reason that we celebrate these holidays accordingly.  The Christmas season buzzes with excitement,  while the Easter season is much more solemn, a time of reflecting upon the greatest Sacrifice of all time.  I ask the question again, did GOD experience more emotional pain at the Birth or Crucifixion of His only Son?  We feel more pain when we think of how our Lord died, but what about His father?

While this is certainly no attempt to understand the mind of God, or to add to or take away from scripture in any way, I cannot help but give deep thought to the question.  Obviously, God had a devine relationship with His son that is far beyond the capacity of human comprehension.  Yet there still had to be a seperation of body. The fresh pain of having to give up my sweet innocent child drives me to my knees as I think of the price that God paid when He allowed His Son to be born into this world.    The pain that Jim and I are experiencing is incomprehensible, even though we fully know that she is now in paradise.  We have the assurance that she is free of any afflictions, that she has no pain, no sorrow, no tears, but still our hearts ache with heavy sadness.   Imagine giving up your child, knowing  that he will be rejected, scorned, beaten, hated, shamed, and ultimately, murdered.  He knew that while on the Cross, Jesus would have to ask "why have you forsaken me?  He knew that by sending His son, He was sentencing Him to 33 years of  pain and betrayal, the likes of which, no human would ever experience.  I stand in humble awe at depth of this love.

At Jesus death God knew that soon, very soon He would bring His Son back home to Him.  I imagine that while he despised what Jesus was enduring, there may have been a sense of joy, perhaps even excitement,  knowing that the time of seperation was complete.  His Son had walked every step and breathed every breath that was ordained for Him.    The plan that had been orchestrated was complete.  Jesus Christ, His Son, had won His race. 

Just as the world sang praises to welcome Christ to earth, I know that angels sang when Jalayne was escorted into heaven.   The angels rejoiced because Jalayne had finished her race.  She touched every life she was sent to touch.   As my heart aches to give up my beautiful daughter, did God's heart ache to allow the birth of His Son?
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son  

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Christmas Without Her

"It's the most wonderful time of the year,"  "It's the hap-happiest season of all,"  "....Holly Jolly Christmas, It's the best time of the year"   Those are the sounds that fill the air these days.  The radio, stores, the television,  everyone singing of glad tidings and good cheer.  Christmas is coming fast but I don't want to have Christmas without Jalayne.

I want to see her wide eyed wonder at all the beauty of Christmas.  I want to constantly say "No, No" as she goes for the bulbs and bows and lights on the trees.  I want to take her through the streets and point out all the beautiful, glittering lights;  red, green, blue, white and silver. The girls and I aren't especially fond of the big inflatable snowmen, reindeer, Santas and other characters that some choose to put in their yard, but we would show them to her because they would bring a smile to her lovely face. Perhaps that is why some people put out such decorations, for the simple fact that they bring smiles to small faces.    We would show her the figures of baby Jesus in the manger,  her little arms would cross in front of her and she would rock back and forth, her sign for baby.  She probably wouldn't fully grasp the meaning of the birth of our Saviour but she would know, because we would teach her, that there is something wondrous about this particular child, Jesus. 

I don't want to make Christmas cookies without her.   How she would love licking the batter off the beaters and smearing frosting on the cookies.  I can picture, in my mind's eye, her radiant smile as she's covered in flour with green and red frosting on her face and in her hair.  I need her help to wrap the presents, with crumpled paper, too long pieces of tape and scibbled name tags.  I don't want to do any of it without her.

On Tuesday of the past week,  at the preschool she attended two mornings a week, a Christmas program was held.  I've added some pictures  of how they chose to remember Laynee on this day.  I know that in spirit she was probably there, smiling down on all of her little friends.  I'm grateful for the way she was honored, but I so desperately wanted her to be singing with the others.  Today I have opted not to go to church because I know that the program to remember Christ's birth is to be held by all of the children.  I know also, that Laynee should be up there and somehow I know that she would steal the show.  But she won't be there.

Anyone who knows me, and has had the priviledge of spending much time with Moise and Jalayne, knows that I love hats. Winter hats are, of course, needed for keeping little ears warm, but they are also an expression of  personality.  I so enjoyed putting hats with balls and baubles on Moise as a small child, and then Jalayne. Somehow they made the long winters just a little more bearable.    I so long to see Laynee's round face and pink, rosy cheeks beneath the silly hats on these cold, dreary days.

Under my bed is a box containing a baby doll .  I had bought this baby early, before the fateful Sept 7,  for a Christmas gift for Laynee.  The baby has a pink dress with large buttons, zippers, snaps,  velcro and ties that would serve to develop Laynee's fine motor skills.  She would have loved that baby.  She would have carried it by it's neck or arm and probably would have thrown it to the bottom of the stairs from time to time.  Gentleness was not one of Laynee's finer traits, but nevertheless, she would love that baby.

 The girls and I so loved shopping for her and dressing her up.  We did go little girl shopping this year.  We shopped and picked out two Christmas outfits that we know she would have been beautiful in.  We chose a beautiful silver dress with sparkly sequins and a glittering silver sweater, perfect for standing up front in the programs.  Another oufit, cream leggings with lace at the bottom and a red and cream ruffled top, festive and warm for going to all of the Christmas gatherings.  Even though Laynee has no need for these things this year, for she's wearing something more glorious than the human eye can comprehend, we bought these special things for a special little girl.  Nebraska "Braska" Larae Woods is a precious little sweet heart who also has Down Syndrome and was born just a couple months before Laynee.   I met her mother, RK, on an online Down Syndrome Board and have the priviledge of reading about Braska's growth, silly ways, and joy through her blog.  Though Braska is her own unique, individual self, as I read about her and look at her pictures I'm remined so much of my own precious girl.   RK graciously agreed to our sending these clothing items for Braska to wear this Christmas.  I boxed up the items with a deep, aching sadness and eyes filled with tears for I wish that they didn't have to be sent away.  I wish that I could have ironed them and hung them in Laynee's closet, waiting for the special day she would wear them.  Yet, in some strange way, there was healing in this simple act.  Shopping was something tangible that we could do to remember Laynee and knowing that they will be worn, rather that hanging useless in the closet brings a sense of quietness to my heart.  And so.... to dear, precious Braska,  "MERRY CHRISMAS" sweet  little one.  I love your beautiful face, your beaming smile, the parts of you that don't work quite the same as other children, but most of all, I love the joy, peace and love that emanates from you and all that you teach those who love you.  You see, Braska I know that you teach valuable lessons by simply being.  I know this because you are so much like my Laynee.

We are going to be spending Christmas in Florida this year, thanks to Grandma and Grandpa Glueck, who so wisely foresaw how painful the season would be for us.  My sister,Gail. and brother, Dale, along with their families will also be in different parts of Florida and will spend Christmas Day with us.  I am grateful for their willingness to do this and hope that fun in the sun with cousins will ease some of the pain for all of us.  Because we will be gone from the 22nd through the New Year, we decided not to put up all of the decorations this year.  We did, however, put a candle in each of the front windows.   Each time I leave or apprach our driveway and see the light in the windows I am reminded of Jalayne Grace Holmes and the love and light that she brought to our family, our hearts, our home.  I know that in time the lights in the window will grow dim or need to be replaced, but I pray that all the things she taught, the light she brought to our world will never burn out.  Despite the way that we long for her to be with us again, it cannot be.  However, if we allow it, if we choose not to let bitterness, anger, and confusion to reign over us, her legacy will shine forever in the hearts of all who were touched by her.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009


 The past several days, perhaps because of the holidays, there has been a very deep feeling of sadness.  At times it is difficult to put a name to whatever it is that we are feeling.  I find that the best way to understand feelings is to recognize their physiology. Sadness presents itself as a thick heaviness.  My limbs, shoulders, chest, and throat feel like they have lead weights attached to them.  This heaviness seems to come from the very depths of who I am.   I go through the motions of the day.  I allow schedule to dictate what I do, where I go.  I eat because it's time to eat, not because I'm hungry.  I sleep when the clock says it's time to sleep, otherwise I'd stay in bed because I seem to always be tired. I exercise because I know it's important, not becasue I feel like it.   The busier I am, the less I notice the heaviness, but sometimes I need to just sit and take note of this heavy feeling.  Sometimes I need quietness, to allow the sadness to be what it is, to feel the aching, to let the tears  flow.

I have a large picture of Laynee in my bedroom, directly across from our bed.  It's my favorite of all pictures ever taken of her.  I get this sense that her big, expressive eyes are on me wherever I am in the room.  Thousands of times I've stopped to kiss that picture. I've talked to it and traced her lips and ears.  I tell that picture how much I love and miss her.  Sometimes I stop, sit on the edge of my bed and just look at it.  I look into her eyes and I feel the deep penetrating sadness.  It hurts, but in some strange way, it know that it is necessary.
Today was the Christmas Program at the preschool where Laynee had just begun attending 2 mornings a week.  While I was at work in my coffee shop, directly across from the preschool, I watched from the window as parents came to see their children.  I watched some of the children walk from the school to the church.  I knew that there were flowers on the altar and a large picture in memory of Laynee, but my little girl was not there.  The sadness that comes from missing Laynee so very much sat very deep and heavy within me today.
I know that in time this sadness will ease to some degree.  I will never think of my Laynee without some level of sadness, though JOY will come again.  But for now, the sadness is there, it is very real.  To deny this sadness is to deny my very existence.   

Saturday, December 5, 2009

How many children?

Whether I like it or not, the holidays are upon us.  I'd give just about anything to be able to skip over the holiday season this year.  It's not that I don't wish to remember the birth of our Lord, this year I'm just not into celebration and all of the other things that go with the holidays.  One of those things I'd rather not do, but do, for the sake of normalcy for my family, is Christmas shop.  I enjoy the giving part of Christmas but never have been one for crowds, pushy people, and long lines.  Shopping is enjoyable if the girls are with me, but I always take some time shopping without them in order to purchase their gifts.  Today was the day that I set out alone to brave the crowds.

One of the stores that I went to had a rather long line, but there was no way around it.  If I wanted to make my purchases, I was going to have to get in that line.  Soon after I stepped into the line, a woman with a newborn wrapped in a snuggly pouch around her came right behind me.  I remember from my own babies that newborns are a great converstion piece.  There's something about seeing a tiny miracle that makes women want to share experiences.  Be it birth weight, bith stories, sleeping and eating patterns,  or parenthood issues, newborns prompt discussion.  This baby was no different.  The woman in line ahead of me instantly began gushing over the baby.  As the mother pulled a blanket back to reveal a tiny head of dark hair and pink face, I said "she's beautiful.  It's hard to believe my own babies were once so small." The two women, between whom I was stuck, wanted to talk babies and children and decided to include me.  While under different circumstances, I wouldn't have had a problem with passing the time talking to these two, today I knew that this conversation was going in a direction that I did not like. Not wanting to appear rude, I politely smiled and answered questions directed at me.   My palms began to sweat when they began talking about how many children they had.  Naturally, they turned expectantly to me as one asked, "how many do you have?" My mind searched frantically for the correct answer.  Do I have 5 children or 6? Does having one child in heaven reduce the number by one?   My heart pounded as I said "I have 6." Apparently they thought this was a huge number because suddenly they and another woman who'd stepped in line wanted to know more.  "Girls or boys?"    "Three of each"   "What order?"  "Girl, Boy, Girl, Boy, Boy, Girl"  The next question left my knees weak and shaking.  "What are their ages?"  I don't know how to answer that question. Perhaps it would be less complicated to say I only have 5.  But I don't have 5, I have 6!!!  I have loved and nurtured and been mommy to 6 children!!!! If I have 6 children, how do I tell someone their ages without telling that one is in heaven?    Laynee would be three in less than three months.  Do I forever refer to her as my 2 1/2 year old?  Will it someday be easier to say that I have one in heaven?  To my horror, my voice cracked and tears formed as I answered  "17, 15, 13, 11, 8 and my youngest would be 3 but she's in heaven."  I suppose the tears were indicative of the still raw pain because these three women whispered "I'm so sorry," the new mother drew her baby just a bit closer and an awkward silence ensued.  A thick fog closed in around me and there was a loud roaring sound in my ears.  I have no memory of paying for my items, and the rest of the day seems like a hazy blur. 
I still feel shaky from this experience and I still don't know the correct response to these questions.  These are questions that I've never had reason to give a second thought to.  The answers, once so natural and simple, have become complicated. 

Friday, December 4, 2009


My brain cannot seem to wrap itself around the finality of death.  Every day has a surreal quality to it, as though I'm enveloped in a thick blanket of fog.  My heart cannot, or maybe it simply chooses not to, face the cold, harsh reality that Laynee Grace is not coming back to me.  There are moments  in every day when the habits formed in life with Laynee and and the reality of life without her collide, and truth nearly knocks me to my kness.  At night my mother heart needs to check on my baby; reality is that she is not there.  At dinner time, habit tells me that someone needs to put her in her seat, her seat remains empty.  As I leave the house in the morning I feel as though I'm forgetting something important.  When I leave work, my car wants to automatically head toward Kathy or Karen's to pick up Laynee.  A painful blow to the heart reminds me that I must go home alone.  In the car my eyes make the cautionary sweep from outside mirrors, to rearview mirror, to where Laynee sits.  Her seat is vacant, void of car seat and curious eyes watching out the window.  There remains a sense that Laynee is away and now it's time to go get her.  Perhaps I'm locked in a nightmare and I'm going to wake up soon. Something's missing, something's empty.  There's a void that I cannot fill.

At times my mind wonders if I imagined all of it.  Was Laynee just a beatiful dream filled with love, joy and happiness, the kind of dream that brings a smile to a slumbering face?  Did those 2 1/2 wonderful years really occur or was it just a figment of my imagination?  She came to us so suddenly and unexpected, like something one only reads in a book.   The time that she was with went far too quick, like a breath, a blink, a heartbeat.  Could it be those years were all fictional,  it didn't really happen?   My heart knows that this aching is not imagined.  It is painfully real.  Truth and reality is everywhere.  Her room tells me that indeed a beautiful little girl occupied that space, a little girl who loved her heehees, tore at the window shade, and threw all of her clothes from her drawers.  The tree outside, planted in her memory, reminds me that she was here and now she's gone.  Tears in the eyes of my children at the mention of her name remind me of the love and pain that we share for one blessed child.   The dark mound of dirt in Tremont, the mound that's smaller than most, is proof that I held a precious baby who now rests in Jesus'  arms.