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.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Kissing Hand

"The Kissing Hand"......... it's a story that most mama's know and probably most children.  I cannot say that I remember the story all that well but perhaps if I dug through the stack of books in the "game" closet I would find it.  Or maybe we passed that book along to someone else, another mama and child, somewhere along the way.  I don't really remember all the details of the book but I clearly recall the concept, the idea behind the beautifully written story of a mama raccoon who sends her baby off to kindergarten.  I know because we lived it for many years. We incorporated it into our daily routine as, one by one, I sent my children off to school.

My children are close in age.  All four of my biological children born within 5 years.  They had great fun with each other and with our neighbor children during their first, formative years.  Then I began sending them to kindergarten.  It happened fast, first Jamee, a year later Grant, two years later Jade and then Brock.  And just like that my babies were all school agers.   Each time I saw one of them off to kindergarten was horribly beautiful.  I wasn't at all sure that I was ready for them to leave toddlerhood behind.  Yet their was so much pride in seeing them left their chins, square their shoulders and,  inspite of all their fears, step tentatively into independence . 

 They were, and still are, quiet in nature, each one of them.  While I don't really recall alot of tears from any of them that first day of school, a couple of them hit a road block a week or two into it and decided they'd had enough, they weren't going back.  They wanted to be at home with mommy where all was safely familiar.  So we got creative and on my dresser sit two cherished pins, one a tiny blue bird, the other a St Louis Cardinals pin (we are Chicago Cubs fans by the way, but that didn't matter then:).  Two of my children needed these pinned to their shirts every day to get them through kindergarten.  They would pin them close to their hearts and when they felt sad or needed to see me, they would rub that pin and remember that soon, very soon they would come back home.   Eventually the pins were forgotten and they would realize that they can get through a day without me. They didn't really need the pins. 

We read "The Kissing Hand" sometime before Jamee went off to school and the idea stuck for us.  The idea was that if they kissed my hand and I kissed theirs and we placed our fresh kissed hands to our hearts, we would be together in heart throughout the day.   They needed this.  I needed this!  So began each new school day.  I would pack lunches, do their hair, make sure clothes were properly adjusted and shoes tied.  I would feed them a healthy breakfast, and supervise while teeth were brushed.  And then? Then I would squat down before each of them place my hands to their sometimes syrupy smelling lips, while they placed their hand to my own lips and kissed.  We would place our hands to our hearts, sealing us together for the day.  "I love you, have a good day" and off they went.  Every single morning. There was a time when I kissed four growing hands each day.  The routine was sometimes rushed and eventually it was done more out of habit than need.  Sometimes, on really hectic mornings, one or more of them would rush back to me, a look of sheer panic on their face, hands outstretched, "WE DIDN'T KISS HANDS." Or sometimes one of them would need just one more kissing hand.   The worry was so easily removed, a quick peck on the hand, the hand to the heart and all was well once more.  And then somehow, without any of us noticing,  in order from oldest to youngest, they stopped needing the kissing hand.  I remember the bittersweet day when I watched the bus pull away and realized I hadn't kissed any hands for awhile.  My children were growing and needing me in different ways.  It hurt a little but it was sign that marked maturity and independence, good things in the life of a child.  They were on their way to becoming who they were meant to be.

This past week and a half I have thought of the kissing hand each morning.  Not really longing to kiss the hands of my grown and nearly grown children, but that of my youngest, the one whose hand I cannot kiss.  For three years I have gone to her grave and placed my kissed fingers to her picture on the headstone.  I have placed kisses on the photos that hang on our walls.   But now my insides writhe with needing to kiss that little hand and place it to her heart, to place my own kissed hand to my heart.  I suspect that Laynee would not need the kissing hand nearly as much as I would.  She was a child that loved all and feared none.  She drew people in and captured them with her exuberance and joy.  With her bigger than life personality, I doubt that she would have faced much apprehension.  Still, we would have done kissing hands. Maybe because she needed it, maybe because I needed it or maybe just because it is a beautiful expression of the love between mother and child.  We would have done "The Kissing Hand."

Friday, August 24, 2012

Feeling Irate!!!!

It's a little thing..... I know that.......I shouldn't feel so angry about something so ignificant.......I know that too.  But I am angry!  I am so angry!

I stopped at Laynee's grave today.  As I pulled up I noticed that her backpack was unzipped and hanging open.  As I went to zip it back up I realized that the crayon and markers that I put there for her were gone.  Someone STOLE her crayons and markers!!!!!!

I know that it is irrational to get so upset over this.  I have thought of every imaginable possiblity that might make me less angry.  Things like....."maybe whoever took them does not know the story of Laynee, how much she is loved and missed."  But her grave site tells the story of a little girl loved and lost.  The very fact that she is there tells a story, not to mention that her grave is adorned with many trinkets telling of our love for her.  I've reasoned (and this is most likely the correct reasoning)
that it was likely a child.  I see children playing at her sight all the time, while their parents walk around the cemetary.  They play with the pinwheels and stuffed animals and I always imagine Laynee smiling down at them from heaven.  But if it was a child why would their parents not tell them to put the things back?

I am so angry.  I am angry that someone stole from Laynee's grave...........Who does something like that?!?!!!??  But more than anything I am angry that she is gone, that her body lies beneath the ground, that I have reason to visit the cemetary on a regular basis. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012


I should have coaxed her awake early this morning and fed her a warm, healthy breakfast.  I should have dressed her in new clothes and new shoes, rubbed her in sweet smelling lotion and done her hair up in ribbons and bows.  I should have gone through her new back pack, making sure all the necessary supplies were there. Each item with the name "Jalayne" carefully penned across it in black marker.  I should have placed that backpack over her shoulders and stood her at the front door for pictures with her siblings and some of just her.  I should have put her in the car, video camera in tow, and driven her to the school.  I should have sent my little girl to her first day of kindergarten with kisses and hugs and "have a great day."  I should have stood with other mothers, watching the line form and then the children filing one by one, through the school doors and out of sight. 

I likely would have felt the sting of tears.  But they would have been bittersweet tears.  Tears of "I can't believe she is so big" and "I'll miss her at home all day" and "I am so very proud of her." They would have been tears that mark one of a child's greatest milestones....the first day of kindergarten. Instead my eyes burned today with tears of raw, gut wrenching agony.  They were tears of missing her in the depths of my soul, of not having held her for three ruthlessly painful years. 

I went about my day as if nothing were wrong in my world.  I sent one off to our local college, 2 off to high school, along with our foreign exchange student.  I sent Moise to his first day of middle school and moved Jamee to her new apartment at SLU.  I sent 6 beautiful people off to school, all the while, keenly aware of the one I was not sending.  This reality has hung, heavy and burdensome, upon me for several weeks.  I felt it as I bought the seemingly endless amount of school supplies, as I met with teachers, and signed papers.  This morning like a vice around my heart, I felt the glaring truth that Laynee will never attend school.  She will never ride the school bus. 

Earlier in the week I gave in to the need to purchase a backpack for her.  I chose one that I knew she would love, pink with princesses on the front.  I also bought new crayons and markers and placed then in the backpack.  I bought them, not because she needed them but because I needed them.  I needed to smell them, to touch the tips of each new crayon and feel the weight of the pack on my arm.  I needed to see her lovely name printed upon that bright pink fabric.  I needed the satisfaction of buying something for my little girl.  I needed to remember what should be and forget, just for a moment, that all is not well, that life is incredibly, brutally painful.  I took it to the only place that feels like hers........her grave.  I hung it there and hope that it tells the story that she cannot, that she is a big girl now, big enough for kindergarten. 

She should have started kindergarten today.........but she didn't.


Tuesday, August 7, 2012

That Time of Year

It's that time of year again.  I can smell it in the mature corn that surrounds us, feel it in the morning dew and in the chill of the evening, hear it in the sound of the cicadas, see it in the steam rising from the pond in the early morning.  It is there in the nervous excitement of back to school and in the daylight hours that grow ever shorter.  It is that time........the time of year that Laynee died.  Memories of her life and her death seem to permeate the very air that we breathe. 

Sometimes I marvel at the human mind and how the senses have so effectively captured and preserved the memories of those days before the accident.  It is as if somehow, instinctively, my soul knew that my time with her was drawing to a close and so the senses grabbed and clung to every possible reminder.  There are times, still, when I forget.  I expect her to come running around the corner, to hear her soft bubbling laughter.  I wait for her.  But then.......then I remember. Then the pain crushes, once again. 

Last week a piece of mail came.  It was addressed to Jalayne, not Holmes, but her birth name. It obviously came from a long outdated mailing list.  But still, it was for her. It was her name, that beautiful name, Jalayne.  It brought a jolt of painful reality and disrupted the act of carrying on that occupies every moment. 

It hits me most in the peaceful, early mornings when the world awakens to sounds, all the sounds except her jabbering in her bed.  And in the evenings, as heat begins to leave the earth and quietness begins to settle around us, I think of all the should have beens.  And late at night, shrouded in darkness,  I awaken to her name on my lips and the crushing, sometimes unbearable, weight upon my heart.  That's when it hits me most. 

 I still wonder "how am I supposed to do this?"   I have asked that question an infinite number of times but have yet to hear the answer.   Some may say that I AM doing it, but my heart......my heart just can't stop hurting.  Jade's words from three years ago, reverberate in the very depths of my being....."It's never going to be okay again."


They say time heals all wounds,
but that presumes the source of the grief is finite” 
-Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Prince