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.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Beautiful Shades

Today I spent the better part of the day washing all of the windows in our home.   A big job.  We have alot of windows and I washed all of them, inside, outside, screens and hardware.  My thoughts were on Laynee most of the time.  Because this is such a big job and she was so very busy, she usually went to her dear Aunt Karen's on window washing day.  This was good for all, Laynee loved going to Aunt Karen's, Aunt Karen loved having Laynee and I got the windows done quicker. 

When I came to Laynee's room I stood at the door, which is always closed now, debating if I should go in and wash her windows or not.  I really didn't want to go in to do this job but I also knew that at some point the windows would have to be cleaned.  Her room looks a bit like a shrine, nothing moved from the way it was the last time she was in it, memorial items set up just so.  I decided to do it.  My heart ached inside of me as I opened the windows and allowed the fresh air in. Tears flowed as I talked to her, the words spoken and then lost in air. There were no answers, no little ears to hear what I had to say.  On her window is a shade with a large piece of one corner torn off of it.  It brought back a reminder of how, before falling asleep, she would always play in her bed for a bit.  She loved to look out the window and would pull at the shade to see out, eventually ripping it.  More than one person told me that they drove by and saw her sweet little face peeking out from the shade.  Painfully I remembered putting her in her crib and then heading out to work in the flowers, only to hear a tapping on the window and looking up to see her beaming smile.  I'd say "Laynee..........you're supposed to go night, night"  and she would just laugh at me.  I suppose to the average passer by, the torn shade in the window appears shabby and unkempt.  Perhaps people have wondered why I don't get a new shade.  I don't want a new shade: that shade is beautifully perfect.

As I went outside to wash the window, my mind kept thinking about how other's must view the shade. It occurred to me that there were some who saw Laynee in much the same way.  Some people saw Laynee as less than perfect.  Those were the people who didn't bother to look at how beautiful she was from the inside out.  Some thought it was sad because she didn't learn things as quick as most children.  This always baffled me because I never understood how one could feel sorry for a child who was larger than life, as Laynee was.  There were also those who thought that having two special needs children was somehow unfair to our other children.  These are the people who refused to look beyond what they could see.  Those who saw her as imperfect or felt sorry for her or thought our children were dealt an unfair hand are the same sort of people who see a torn window shade and refuse to consider that there is beauty on the other side. 

The torn window shade is a beautiful memory of a beautiful child who is in heaven but left her mark on this earth.  She left her mark on hearts and souls and beautiful shades.
for the LORD seeth not as man seeth;
for man looketh on theoutward appearance,
 but the LORD looketh on the heart.
1 Samuel 16:7

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Where 2 Are Gathered

Jim and I have always had what I consider to be a strong marriage.  We have our fair share of disagreements.  We've had some bumps on the marriage road but all in all it is good, very good.  We' ve weathered some fierce storms together.  When Jamee was just a baby Jim decided to go back to school.  I worked third shift for several years and stayed up days so that we didn't need babysitters.  When we were expecting Brock, Jim was laid off of his union construction job which eventually led to the formation of our own residential construction business.  I encourage anyone who thinks they have all of life's answers to start a business.  I assure you that your number one lesson will be just how much you do not know.  As business owners, many times we have gotten up only to be knocked down again.  As parents of teenagers we have experienced the same things that viritually all parents face during the lovely adolescent years.  All of these are essentially normal challenges that many couples face in varying degrees. 

Soon after we built and moved into our new home,  Moise came.  The challenges we had faced prior to his arrival suddenly seemed trivial as we faced the barrage of medical complexities that he brought to us.  Unexpectedly, our neat and orderly life was turned upside down by one after another medical crisis.   We faced the possiblity of losing Moise to life threatening illness. Together we struggled with the decision to adopt a child who would not grow and mature and learn as most children do.  We sacrificed sleep for several years as we cared for our fragile son.  Moise's place in our life, our family, our home has stretched us emotionally, physically, spiritually and financially. 

Through all of the joys and struggles of life and marriage, Jim is my rock.  He is solid and steadfast.  He works hard but more importantly, he is full of compassion.  Jim stands firm in what he believes and he has proven that he will make great sacrifices for the sake of love, respect and protection of myself and our children.  Jim is a man like few others in his love for children whom life appears to have been unfair to.  I am keenly aware that few men would be willing to sacrifice, to the extent that he has, to care for children with disabilities.  Jim is not perfect by any stretch of the imagination.  Like all of us, he has his share of faults and imperfections. Nevertheless, he is a rare gem,   I know it and appreciate it.

This journey of grief that we are on together has been the most horrific and, in some strangely sad way, the most beautiful jouney of our lifetime.   We have been warned by many of the effects of child death on marriage.  Statistics prove that many marriages cannot withstand the gale force winds of losing a beloved child.   I clearly understand this.  We are tired and sad and often irritable.  Life's small frustrations are somehow amplified in the face of tragedy, often causing great stress and short fuses.  We sin against each other, we get angry with each other.  It seems we constantly find ourselves asking for and extending forgiveness toward one another.  We grieve in dramatically different ways and while we try to respect these differences, sometimes it is hurtful and frustrating. 

When we remember back to the day of the accident there is all sorts of blame that could be placed.   We could say to each other, "why weren't you watching her closer?"  "Why did you take you eyes off of her?" 
"How could you just assume that the kids had her?"  But we don't.  Never, not one single time have such words of blame been uttered in our home. The truth is that when we all went outside that evening after dinner, there was an unspoken understanding that we all would do our part in watching her.  We would work together as a family because that is what we do.  As parents and siblings of 2 special needs children, everyone plays a vital part.  No one is exempt from helping out.  It is knowledge of this truth that relinquishes each of us from placing blame.  As we examine the situation, we each take our pointed fingers and turn them toward ourselves, wishing that we, individually,  had done differently.   Grant said it perfectly once when he stated that "I know that just 5 seconds of doing something different could have changed the entire course and the result of that evening."   This lack of blame is a powerful gift, a gift of mercy entended not only by our Lord, but from and to each other. 

 I am the one who does all the writing on this blog because it is healing for me.  I have found it to be a most effective means of expression.  Jim does not blog but he hurts.  People seem to be very aware of my aching mother heart, often forgetting or minimizing his broken father heart.  While our grief and pain is different, as our parent roles are different, the intensity of the pain is essentially the same.  Jim, like many men, has always had an awesome sense of resonsiblity to protect his daughters.  He cherishes them as priceless treasures. Laynee brought a smile to his face on difficult days.   On stressful days, her soft laughter and warm hugs helped him to keep life in perspective.  The loss of his precious, littlest princess has left him with a wide gaping hole in his heart.

As we travel this painful path we draw closer and closer together.  We spend our nights in each other's arms as the pain ravages our body and soul.   We draw comfort and strength from each other's presence.  While other family and friends are invaluable, it is Jim who holds me up when I cannot stand.  We are both very weak right now, but together we are strong.  We come together daily, crying out to our Savior to carry us through this valley.   Our souls speak in the only way that they can, through rivers of tears.  As the tears flow, they mesh, they mingle, they become ....not mine, nor his, but ours.  We have weathered storms before.  However, this time as I look into the face and eyes of my husband, whom I love more than life itself, I see an exact, mirror image of my own desperate pain.  It hurts to know his pain is so reflective of my own.  It is painful.  It is beautiful.

Ecclesiastes 4:9 Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour.
10 For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth;
 for he hath not another to help him up.
11 Again, if two lie together, then they have heat: but how can one be warm alone?
12 And if one prevail against him, two shall withstand him; and a threefold cord is not quickly broken

Saturday, April 17, 2010

How Can It Be?

How can it be that our Laynee is not coming back to us?  She was just here, so full of life and love and happiness.  How can she be gone from us?  How can it be that we are not going to hear her laughter again?  How can it be that I will never feel the weight of her in my arms again?  How can it be that she will never hold daddy's hand again or ride on Grant's shoulders?  Is it really possible that Jade will never do her hair again and Brock will never take her on the golf cart again?  Can it be that Jamee will never hear the words she so longed to hear Laynee speak?  Our precious little girl who was larger than life, can she really be gone?

Are we ever going to wake from this horrific nightmare and find that she's right here where she is supposed to be?  Wasn't this all a big mistake?  Shouldn't we be swinging her in her blue swing?  Shouldn't she be here to play in the sandbox?  Hasn't this gone on long enough?  Isn't it time to go bring her back home?
How can there be so many tears?  How is it possible that this hurting keeps going on and on?  Why do the days keep moving on without her?  Why does everyone keep living when our baby is not here? Will all of the "why's" ever have answers?

The memories are not enough.  The pictures are inadequate.  Her untouched room is void of life.  Her smell has been lost.  We need her back. 

She is healthy.  Her pacemaker works beautifully.  She's hardly ever had a cold or a fever.  She never had the stomach flu. She has had all her immunizations.  She's such a good eater and has a perfect diet.  I feed her all the healthy foods and give her vitamins.  She sees all her doctors when she is supposed to.  Shouldn't she live a long, full, beautiful life?

We love her!!!!!  Everyone loves he.  She makes everyone smile.  She loves better than anyone other human being that I have ever met.  How can she not be here anymore?  How can she not come back to us. 
HOW ?????    HOW..........CAN......... THIS..........BE!!!!!!!

Thursday, April 15, 2010


A wife who loses a husband is called a widow.
 A husband who loses a wife is called a widower. A
 child who loses his parents is called an orphan.
But...there is no word for a parent who loses a child

Track season is full upon us.  It's a busy time of year.  Track meets are long, eating up an entire afernoon and evening.  With both girls running, one in high school and one in middle school, we have several track meets a week.   I love to watch the girls run.   I am their biggest fan.  I have watched two beautiful girls of mine grow and blossom as a direct result of their hard work and dedication to running.  I have witnessed as they enjoy successes and stand strong against disappointments.  I have observed as they learn the valuable lesson that talent without hard work is nothing ,but hard work combined with talent is a gift. 

This year as I go to the meets, I feel an odd but unshakable sense of being lost.  There is a feeling that somehow I don't fit in, that something is missing.  Laynee is missing and it is blatantly obvious.  She should be running all over the place at the meets and I , in turn, should be breathless from chasing her and keeping her safe.  I should be holding my breath in fear that she will fall between the bleachers.  I should have a bag packed with sippy cup, pretzels and fruit snacks to keep her tummy satisfied as we watch race after race.   I should be pointing out to her that the girls are on the starting line.  I should be drawing her attention back to the track each time the girls pass the bleachers.  I should be holding her up so she can see and cheer on her sisters, her very favorite people.  But I'm not,  all of this is missing and I feel lost without it.  If Moise is there I can occupy myself with him.  It's a much slower pace as he manuevers his walker through the throngs of people, but it feels somewhat normal.  If Jim is there we take turns watching Moise, which leaves me with periods of feeling undeniably lost.

I feel cut off and hopelessly out of touch with other parents.  I know that this is in no way a reflection of others, but a feeling that is within me and me alone.  The heavy weight of grief has put me into a category in which few can relate.  I am in a place where those in my social circle have never been.  The shoes I wear, the ugly shoes of tragic loss, are tight and uncomfortable because so few have worn them before me.  It is difficult to find a subject to discuss with other parents because my every thought is clouded by searing loss.  There is a painful sense of disconnect, as though somehow, I have not only lost my child but the abiltiy to relate to other parents. 

Often I feel alone.  I do not wish to burden others with my own heavy sadness.  Always  I am aware of the inadequacy of words.  It is this loneliness that brings me to fall before my Lord over and over again. It is in His arms and through His word  that I find comfort and hope.  I know that my God understands my aching heart.  He sees every tear that is shed.  He too has lost.  It is in these times when I am alone, when the weight of isolation presses upon me,  that I most feel His love and His comapassion.  It is in these times that I hear Him say, "You are not alone, I KNOW"

Blessed are those who mourn; for they shall be comforted
Matthew 5:4

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Loss and Life

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, April 9, 2010

Just one more

Last night the kids got out some old home videos.  It is so fun to watch and remember the kids from the early years.  It brings a sense of sadness at how fast the time has gone.  How can these tiny little people have so quickly turned into teens and near adults?  The kids laughed at their own silly, childish ways. It's fun to see how their personalities have remained essentially the same through the years.  Their sparkling eyes and tiny sweet voices took me back to a day when life seemed so very simple.

While I thoroughly enjoyed watching the movies with the kids, my heart broke from all that we missed with Laynee.  So many things that will never take place.  So many videos that will never be taken.  Words that will never be spoken, songs that will never be sung, games that will never be played.  All because our time with her was cut far too short. 

Oh how I wish for just one more of everything.  One more hug and kiss.  One more time to comb her hair after a bath.  I wish that just once more I could snuggle her in her bath towel and hold her close, keeping her warm and inhaling her scent.  I wish that once again I could hear her playing in her crib when she is supposed to be sleeping.  I wish for dirty hands and face and feet and many changes of clothes a day.  I would love to see the kittens run for their lives under the car when they catch sight of her coming for them.  I wish I cold check her pacemaker again and have it tell me that her heart is beating perfectly.  I miss finding little treasures stuck in the pots and pans.  I want to see her dance "the worm" one more time.  I long to run my fingers through her hair as she sleeps a sleep that she would soon wake up from. 

The wishing, the missing, the aching, the hurting just keeps going on and on. It does not get better, but worse with each passing day.   It has become my constant companion.  It is there at dawns first light and remains as I turn out the lights at night.  If only I could have just one more of everything.   If only we still had time.  If only...........

Saturday, April 3, 2010


As I reflect on the Easter season and all that it represents, I find myself once again viewing the death and resurrection of our Lord from a totally different perspective than ever before.  I now view it through the eyes of a mother who has had to give her child up to death. 

My heart overflows with the knowledge of the sacrifice that was made for me.  Isaiah 53:5  He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities...........and with his stripes we are healed.  What an awesome display of love.  It hurts to think of the pain that our Lord suffered for me.   My aching, mother heart bleeds for the pain that Mary, mother of Jesus, must have experienced as she witnessed such heinous acts being committed against her son.   She must have experienced all of the stages of grief that all humans experience.   Surely she stood in disbelief and must have had the thought "will I wake from the nightmare?"  How her arms and heart  must have ached for her beloved son.  Never before has it occurred to me the level of anger that must have overwhelmed  her.  And desperation!!!!!  "Someone help him! Someone stop this!  He is innocent!  He's my son!  STOP!"
She knew that her son was born of miraculous conception.  She knew that He was innocent, perfect, in fact.  She knew that her son was sent to save the world but did she know, before this, did she know that he would be taken from her at such a young age?  Did she know that the natural cycle of life would be disrupted and child would die before mother?   Did she know the suffering she would endure for the sake of mankind?    It is beyond the capacity of the human mind to comprehend how far reaching was the loss and suffering as a result of man's sin. 

As painful as it is to remember the death on the cross, I cannot feel sorrow when I think of God, the Father.  Oh the joy He must have felt that day.  He was bringing his Son back to him.  No longer would he feel the pain of seperation from his only son.  His Son had won.  He had finished His race. God the Father and Christ the Son were wholly reunited, together in heaven.  My heart cannot even imagine the joy and elation in heaven that day.

Our first Easter without Laynee brings deep, deep sorrow.  There is no need to buy a frilly dress in pastel colors.  No need for a special Easter hat or new white patent shoes. We have no brightly stained fingers from egg dye.   There is no little girl to run, exclaiming over the hidden and found Easter eggs. No precious, innocent child to share the story of the cross with.  My soul aches for my pretty little girl.  However, our grief is not without hope. Someday, I too will be reunited with her. I have hope of seeing my daughter again, because of this, the power of the cross.  

Happy Easter   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Nwzt9jRUPNg