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, September 30, 2011

We Can Do Hard Things

Today Jim and I celebrate 21 years of marriage. I'll be honest, I have no visions of flowers, chocolates and fine dining dancing around in my head.   Jim and I have ushered in our anniversary in a rather unusual way.  Today Moise is scheduled for an EEG (sleep study)  in hopes of getting to the root of some strange things that have been going on with him.  So it is, that on the eve and very early hours of our anniversary, Jim and I have tag teamed to keep our very sleepy 10 year old awake.  Jim took the late night hours while I am taking the early. We do this per doctor's orders,  in hopes that he will sleep for his sleep study.  As far as tonight goes, our own lack of sleep, coupled with a long, out of the ordinary day for Moise and I, is probably not the best recipe for a romantic anniversary.

As I sit here typing in the wee morning hours, big black eyes staring at me in complete bewilderment over the fact that I will not allow sleep to overtake him, I reflect over the years of our marriage.  Twenty one years ago we were young (only 20 and 21 years old), crazy in love, and idealistic.  We had hopes and dreams and were completely unsuspecting.   We had ideas of what would be our life.  Those ideas missed the mark of reality by a long shot.  Children were definitely in our plans, but disabilities and child death never even entered the scope of our imagination. 

I suppose that we entertained thoughts of having a strong marriage but we never had a clue of just how strong we would have to be together.  Sticking together then was dramatically different than what it is today. 
I won't pretend to have a perfect marriage.  We don't. We have weaknesses, character flaws, communication issues and things that drive us crazy about each other.  Still, tonight as I type, weariness oozing from my mind and body, there is one thing that stands out above all else.  Jim and I have learned that we can do hard things. 

I marvel at the awareness that 21 years ago, as Jim and I pledged our lives to one another, our Lord knew exactly what was in store for us. He knew that ours would not be a typical marriage facing typical challenges.. He has not been surprised by a single one of Moise's problems or the wearisome effects that they have on us. For him, Laynee's accident was not unexpected or devastating.  He is not surprised by the fact that our marriage has not been strengthened by great success or achievement, but by challenges so great that words defy explanation.  He knew that the unspeakable pain of child death would bind us together in a way that nothing else has ever been able to do. He knew that, together, Jim and I would have to do hard things, the very hardest of hard.

Happy Anniversary, My Love

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Hope Blooms

This post serves two purposes.   First, it is granting Jamee's request that we post pictures of Laynee's garden, which is positively bursting with color right now.  Jamee is the only one of my children who has ever really shared my love for gardening.  She would, without question, prefer to be in the garden over inside cleaning or cooking.  Secondly, this post is to share the hope that Laynee's garden brings to me.

When I think of gardening and flowers, I think spring and summer.   I've never really thought much about fall being a time for flowers.  But around the time of Laynee's Heaven Day anniversary, her garden seemed to come alive.  Every plant has exploded into it's most glorious state.   I know that this is due, primarily to the selection of plants. Since it was planted in the fall, most people chose to bring fall flowers.  The color serves as a reminder to me that Laynee, though she left us one early fall day, is very much alive.  Her spirit lives and though we cannot see her, she resides in glorious splendor.  Though we are in a season of living without her here, one day we will see her in all her glory.

Waiting for that day!!!!

The mums in her garden are easily the largest I have ever seen.
The church was full of mums for her visitation and funeral.

The climbing clematis on her trellis is a brilliant white with the
sweetest scent.
Jamee, notice the new walkway border the
Russ just finished.  All that's left is the ground cover
between the stepping stones.  

Our neighboring land owner, and beloved friend and mentor
of Jim's had this tree planted in our yard in Laynee's memory.  The
last two years it's blossom's opened on exactly September 7. 

Love you, Laynee Grace.

Sunday, September 11, 2011



I awoke this morning with heavy heart, not for my own grief but for the grief of thousands of families who lost so  much in the attacks on 9-11. Perhaps the fact that it comes so soon after the anniversary of Laynee's accident makes me even more aware than I would have been otherwise.  While none of us will ever froget the horrific events of that day, I know that the families of the victims were thrown into a life long path of grief and sorrow.  I know that when untimely death strikes a family, the pain lasts a lifetime. 

All of us remember that day in great detail.  It was a day that made history.  It was the greatest devastation that our generation has ever witnessed.  It was a devastation made worse by it's nature, not an act of God, but a direct act of hate and violence against thousands of innocent and unsuspecting human beings.  My heart aches for the those whose hearts feel freshly wounded today.  Those who have, by the grace of God, gone on but are forever changed.  For many of these families, the term "lost a loved one" is truly appropriate as many bodies were never recovered.  These families did not have the closure of saying good bye and a proper burial or cremation.  There are those grieving today who lost sons and daughters and life's natural cycle was interrupted.  Others lost fathers, mothers, husbands, wives and some lost multiple loved ones.  Some struggle with Post Traumatic Stress and will never be the same as a result of having witnessed something so unnatural and heinous.  The enormity of this event and it's effects, not only on our country but on the entire world, is too much for the human mind to comprehend. 

As for myself, I, like everyone else, clearly recall that day's events.  Moise was only 9 months old but much like a newborn.  After months of being in the hospital, we were finally home with him and trying to adjust back to a normal life.  Brock and a little boy I was babysitting were here playing in the living room.  My friend Ruth had stopped by briefly, though I cannot remember why.  Jim called and told me to "turn on the TV because the Twin Towers have been hit by planes"  I really could not comprehend what he was saying.  Okay so planes hit the Twin Towers, so........?  Jim's voice has a sense of urgency and he said "it looks like a terrorist attack."  As I turned on the tv I still wasn't really getting what was so big about this, my mind was so focused on being mommy and the survival of my youngest son.  But then I saw.  I saw what "planes crashing into the Twin Towers" meant.  I saw that without a doubt this was a deliberate act. I saw the ripple effect of the impact on the towers, the impact on the entire nation.   As I sat there on my knees with my baby in my arms and a little boy flanking each side,  in front of the TV, I watched as first one and then another Tower, buckled and fell, taking thousands of lives.  The two little boys watched my face closely with concern as tears ran down my face.  My my sister and her husband, an American airlines pilot, were moving into the house across the street. I thanked God for his saftey.   I stayed glued to the tv that day, my emotions raging between anger, fear and sorrow. 

It was a day that is etched into the minds of all but for the families it is the day that their lives crumbled right along with the towers.  My small human mind cannot begin to know how to specifically pray for these families.  So I just pray, lifting them up and knowing that we have a powerful God who knows the needs of each one.  Our God was not surprised by the events of 9-11.  He was grieved, I am certain, but not surprised.  And somehow, though sometimes it's hard to understand, I know that God is good.........all the time.



Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Forever Love

My Dear Sweet Laynee,
The last few days have been difficult for many of us here on earth.  It seems almost impossible to grasp the reality that it has been two years since you went to be with Jesus.  Two years since we got to hold you, kiss you or hear your sweet bubbling laughter.  I thought of you all day today.  Sometimes I would think of you and smile, other times I just couldn't keep the tears from falling.  Whether I am smiling or crying there is a pain in my heart that never stops hurting. 

Today I visited you at your grave three times.  First Jade and I stopped by, then Joyce and I stopped on our walk.  But then I went again because I needed to be alone with you there for a little while.  As I sat there in the grass, looking at all the beautiful flowers and gifts around your grave, I couldn't help noticing that many hearts were broken the day you went to heaven.  Many people hurt today because many people love you. 

Sometimes my own heart feels overwhelmed by how much I love you. Perhaps my whole purpose in being your mommy was to show you what it means to be love.   I think that I loved you even before you came into existance.  The first moment I saw you, you were loved.  When we brought you home and the kids gathered around for their first glimpse of you, you were loved.   All those nights of sitting and rocking you in the chair, I love you.  It was because you were loved that you endured surgery on your tiny little heart.   Out of love, we sang to you and read books to you and danced with you in our arms.  Love bathed you and dressed you and combed your hair.  It was with love that I made your large bowl of rice cereal and strawberries every morning.  Love was with you when you wandered out of sight and into the pool.   It was love that tried to breathe life back into you and every compression upon your chest was filled with love.  Love followed behind the ambulance.   A multitude of love fell upon knees of prayer for you that night.  Tears of love fell upon your silent, peaceful face.  Love went with you when your body was placed beneath the earth and love said good bye one last time.   Because of this great love, pain is etched into our souls.  Love remembers the way you smell, the sound of your laughter and the light of your smile.  Love both laughs and cries at your memory.  For two years, love has remained and has not diminished.  Out of love, we ache for you and long for heaven.  From the very beginning, til the very end, and far, far beyond, you are loved.  Love never fails, love never ends. Forever Love.


Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Life Is Not Fair.

It seems unfair that Laynee died on a holiday. Not only was it a holiday but it was a holiday that does not fall on the same day of the month each year. So it is that the calendar has us remembering the anniversary of her death, not once but twice.

It is obvious by the content of the cards and emails that we have received, most people connect Laynee's accident to Labor Day. And they are right. They are absolutely right. I was constantly reminded of that dreadful day yesterday. As evening came upon us, I found myself reliving the horror of that Labor Day two years ago. Sadness settled around me and devastation took my breath away. As I stepped into the shower last night I had a sudden memory of doing that same thing late at night on Labor Day '09. I recall thinking how inane the concept of showering was in the face of my daughter's death. The duties and activities of life had lost meaning and significance in the span of one nightmarish evening.

Today I spent the day suspended somewhere between remembering the day after she died and the day before she died. In essence, today is both. It is the day after Labor Day but also the day before her Heaven Day.   The seventh of each month always brings painful memories.  With or without Labor Day, Laynee left us on September 7th.  It was that day,  sometime between 6:15 pm and 7:25 pm that our life became divided into "before" and "after."

This matter is trivial.   I know that.  Still, somehow it feels like another twist of the knife in my already wounded and hurting soul. Whenever I think of something being unfair,  I am reminded of the words of one of my college instructors.  The words were spoken many years ago, but left a lasting impact within my 19 year old mind and it rings clear to me today.  She said "Life is not fair, but life will go on."   When I ponder the idea of something being unfair, I look to the cross and there I find proof that, indeed ..........Life is not fair.

The problem of expecting to live in a perfectly fair world
 is that there is no grace in that world,
for grace is grace, only when it is undeserved. 
Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised 

Monday, September 5, 2011

A Story Without End

It seems my life is filled with wishing these days.  Wishing is good but not when the wishes we wish are impossible. I wish that things were different, that I could change the way things are.  I wish that I could turn back the hands of time and do Labor Day 2009 all over again. 

Where Laynee is concerned, there is no end to the things that I wish for but lately it seems that one of the things I wish for most is that I could lay beside her in what would be a big girl bed by now and tell her stories.  I can only imagine how nice it would feel to have her tucked into the crook of my arm as I tell her stories.  She would smell like lotion and powder from her bath.  The sound of my voice and my continuous stroking over her hair would lull her into a deep slumber.  I would not take for granted,the steady rise and fall of her chest as she breathes deep.

Tonight as I was walking with Moise it occurred to me that if I could tell her a story tonight it would go something like this:

Once upon a time there was a mommy.  When this mommy was younger, she always wanted to have 6 children but she only had 4.   Then a little boy came and she became his mommy.  This little boy caused a lot of work for the mommy and she didn't think too much about having 6 children anymore.   Even though she didn't think about having more children, she always felt like something was missing or incomplete.  This mommy didn't know it, but she needed another little girl, a very special little girl.  Then one day, when it was very cold outside, a little girl was born and this mommy, who needed another little girl, became her mommy.  The little girl was happy and so beautiful.  In fact, she was the prettiest little girl in the whole wide world.  The little girl made the mommy and the daddy and the brothers and sisters very happy.  She was funny and made her family laugh all the time.  The mommy thought her family was complete with all of the 6 children.  But one day, angels came and took the beautiful little girl to heaven.  Just like that the little girl went away from the mommy. Just like that, the family was incomplete once again.    The mommy was so very sad, she missed the little girl so much.  She knew where the little girl was, but she couldn't see her or hear her.  She ws sad because there is  something missing again.  The mommy knows that now it will be imcomplete for a very long time.  No matter what, if her children get married, even if she becomes a grandma, there will always be something missing without the prettiest little girl.  But someday, when the mommy gets to heaven, it will all be complete again.  Someday the mommy and the pretty little girl, and the daddy and brothers and sisters are going to live happily ever after.  This story is a special story because it does not say "The End"  It does not end until the mommy gets to see the little girl in heaven and then.........it will be the beginning.