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.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

It's Official

I have officially committed to being a St Jude Runner.  This year our little community has joined together to form a team of Tremont to Peoria Runners.   Jamee committed to it a while ago and Jade had wanted to run as well.  However, there is a strict minimum age requirement of 16 so Jade will have to wait for next year.  If Jade does run next year I will have to run with her as anyone under 18 must be accompanied by a parent.   I've put off committing this year, not knowing if I am really capable of doing this.  But alas.......the fundraising  letters are typed and on their way so there is no backing out now.  Here is a copy of the letter

Dear Friends and Family,

For the first time, our family has decided to join in the effort of fundraising for the children of St. Jude. Karol and Jamee will be joining a team of runners in “Jog for Jada” the first Tremont to Peoria run. To date, St Jude runners have raised $22.7 million. This is an astounding number with 100% of every dollar going toward the research, treatment, and care of childhood cancer.

Childhood cancer first left an impact on Jamee’s life when, in kindergarten, her little friend, Nicholaus, lost his battle with the disease. A few years later, Lexi, another child from our school also died of cancer. Brock, a student just 2 years younger than Jamee, has also battled this mighty disease. Most recently, in January of this year, Jada, 5 year old daughter of Jamee’s youth pastor was diagnosed of Clear Cell Sarcoma of the Kidney and began her battle against cancer.

The death of our beautiful daughter and sister, Jalayne, nearly two years ago, has made us painfully aware of the unspeakable sorrow of saying goodbye to a child far too soon. While we cannot prevent all childhood accidents and death we can do our part in joining in the fight against childhood cancer.

Karol and Jamee are looking forward to joining the many other St Jude runners in the race against cancer on Saturday, August 6th. We will begin running in Tremont and will run the 35 miles of back roads to downtown Peoria. We will run in memory of Nicholaus and Lexi and in honor of Brock and Jada, knowing in our hearts that our sweet Jalayne will be cheering us on.

If you would like to donate to this wonderful cause, your contributions will be greatly appreciated. You can send a check made out to St Jude Runs to us at 6290 Broadway Road Groveland, IL 61535 or donate online at www.stjuderuns.org/kjholmes.

We understand that not everyone can donate monetarily. Still, we ask that you remember us and all of the runners on this day. Most importantly, remember and pray for the little warriors, those who have lost, won, or are still fighting against childhood cancer. It is for them that we run.

May God Bless You All,

Karol and Jamee Holmes

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Father's Day

Dear Laynee Grace,

It's Father's Day today and days like this make your abscence seem very loud and evident.  There is a hole here on Father's Day because daddy's littlest girl isn't here.  Your daddy is pretty quite about how much he misses you. He works alot and that helps him keep his mind busy but it doesn't make the hurting stop. 

On Friday we all went and picked out a new chair for daddy's office. You would have had so much fun trying out all the chairs in the store.  I was a little sad thinking about a new chair because I miss seeing you sitting on daddy's lap at the computer.  Daddy was always the only one who could get you to sit still for a few minutes. 

Daddy made a pyramid with three of you pictures on it that he hangs from his mirror in his truck.  He sees it wherever he goes to work each day. 

Each time I go into daddy's shed I see your jacket that he hung on the bulletin board.  Daddy was a little frustrated with you that day when you got into his oil bucket but now he keeps that oil stained jacket where he can see it everyday.  It reminds us that life is precious, life is fragile, life is shorter than any of us know.

I miss seeing you run to the door to see him each day and crying when he left without you.   This morning as I remembered that silly, loud greeting he always had for you, my heart squeezed so tight.  I want to hear that again but I know it would not be right for anyone but Daddy's Laynee.  Daddy thought you were so very pretty and he still does.  Whenever we talk about you he always says "she's so pretty."  And you are, the prettiest girl ever. 
I love you sweet Laynee girl.  Watch over your daddy extra close today.  His heart hurts for you

Friday, June 10, 2011

Summer and Sorrow

In respect to summer, I find myself in a place that I have been many times in the ebb and flow of this seemingly endless grief journey. It is a place wherein the heart, soul and mind meet in quiet resignation of what is and will forever be. I accept that, for the rest of time, summer will bring a sense of sorrow.

Summer, being Laynee's final season on earth, was the time in which we loved most and lost most. That summer, as her beautiufl personality began to shine through, we delighted in her every moment.  We loved her like crazy.   Then, that same summer became the time when our grief journey began. Our clearest and fondest memories of her were during that final summer. Likewise, our most tragic moments are forever stamped upon the pages of summer memories.

I know, understand and accept that I will never again look out the window to see the vivid green of summer trees and grass serving as a backdrop for Jim's walk around the lake, without wishing that our little girl was holding his hand.  The smell of the fresh lake water will forever bring to mind golf cart rides with her beside me.   Every time I get on my bike I will recall that my time with her in her bike seat was cut tragically short. When I hoe my garden or work in the flower beds, I will always feel a sense of longing for my little girl who should be there to help me. I miss the sweet combined scent of little girl and the great outdoors.  I miss the sound of her wailing because someone went outside without her. Lady bugs crawling upon blades of grass, stir up a deep need to see my Laynee Bug.   The brilliant colors of summer...... the blue sky, the fluffy white clouds, the rainbow of flowers......will always remind me of her unrivaled zest for life.

Even as summer is reminiscient of days when we loved her so much, it reminds us of the time when we lost so much.  The crystal clear blue of a swimming pool and the clean scent of chlorine will forever bring haunting memories of her lifeless form beneath the solar blanket. The once simple task of washing the car will always bring a sharp pang of regret as I recall the mistakes that were made that day as Jamee and I washed our cars. Today as I was working in the yard, with children playing nearby, I heard the words "COME ON." Words, so simple, so ordinary, yet etched upon the pages of my mind. With those words came a moment of reliving, of being transported back in time, when the words "COME ON, LAYNE" were followed by life's greatest mistakes and ensueing nightmare.   The sights and smells of summer usher in a deep desire to go back and change that which cannot be changed.
Though I do not like that this wondrous season is now viewed through the lens of grief and tragedy, I know and accept that it is so.  While tragedy has not robbed us of love and laughter, the new reality is that summer and sorrow go together. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

On Forgiveness

The concept of forgiveness is one that is confusing to many.    Most of us have long ago given up the idea of "forgive and forget."  In truth, without even being consciously aware of it, we may "forgive and forget" multiple times during any given day.  Small offenses are easy to forgive.  We accept that as human beings, others will fail us.  We acknowledge small mistakes or offenses, shrug them off, and move on, knowing that we live in a fallen world.  But what about those things that are not so easily  forgotten, that wound us to our very soul and stay with us forever?  How does one know if they have truly forgiven?

It is my experience that there are no lightening bolt moments of forgiveness.  We do not wake up one day with a sudden awareness that we have forgiven someone for a particular deed.  Forgiveness is not an emotion, it is a decision.. In John 8 Jesus makes a decision to forgive the woman taken in adultery.  Likewise, in Mark 2 He decides to forgive the paralytic. Jesus forgiveness was not based on emotion, they were decisions made quickly and with great assurance.   Because reality is that there are some things that the human mind cannot forget, for some offenses we must make the decision to forgive over and over again.  If we are deeply hurt or betrayed by someone, either by acts of commission or acts of omission, every time we see that  person we will be reminded of said betrayal and choose, again, to forgive.  In Luke 23, Jesus spoke the greatest words of forgiveness of all time "Father, forgive them for the know not what they are doing."  He wasn't likely to forget the torture that he was subjected to but he chose to intercede and forgive them. 

Forgiveness, in most cases, is more beneficial to the the forgiver than for the forgiven. Often, those who hurt us are not even aware that they have hurt us.  Others are aware of their actions, but do not seek forgiveness.  We are not called to forgive only those who ask for our forgiveness but any who offends us.  An unforgiving heart is a breeding ground for anger and bitterness.

It is my experience that forgiveness is characterized by abscence.  As we make the choice to forgive, we begin to notice that our desire to strike back or retaliate has been removed. We are freed of resentment and hostility.   We no longer have the intense longing to understand those things which we cannot comprehend. With forgiveness, the anxious writhing within the soul begins to cease and we find that there is simply nothing left to be said.

We often hear that it is more diffiult to forgive ourselves than to forgive others.  There is nowhere in the scripture that we are commanded to forgive ourselves.  Christ already did this for us. We do not need to forgive ourselves, we only need to accept that we have been forgiven, that the price for our sins was paid on the cross.    Every evening, as I close my eyes and the images of her death play over in my mind, I choose to remember that I am forgiven.  Upon seeing a child that reminds me of her and brings renewed regret,  I know that I am forgiven .  As I work in her garden, pruning flowers instead of wiping dirty little hands as I so long to do, I accept that Christ already forgave me.  I hurt.... I ache for her..... I wish that I could have a second chance.... I long to turn back the hands of time......but since I cannot, I accept the shed blood of Jesus.

 I have struggled with the question "Is it possible to forgive God?"  At surface level, the question seems absurd.   God is perfect and without sin,  he makes no mistakes. How then can there be a need to forgive him?  The answer is that God is in need of nothing, least of all our forgiveness.  Forgiving God is not for him but for the health of our own souls.  It is not only possible to forgive God, it is pertinent.