Friday, June 16, 2017

Grieving While Everyone Celebrates

Grief is such a confusing and tricky thing.  What makes grief even more tricky is that is looks completely different for each person.  Justin and I grieve very differently.  I like to talk about Callie, post about her, and share while he processes things internally and doesn't like to talk about it as much.  Neither are wrong or bad but both need a balance.

One specific thing that makes our grief feel differently than most people's is that Callie died on a holiday.  A very specific holiday that falls on a specific day each year (unlike Thanksgiving and Easter that changes dates).  And to be honest, it really makes me mad that it had to happen on a holiday.  A holiday that you can't escape.  A holiday where everyone around you celebrates.  A holiday where you can hear parades and fireworks to be reminded that people are celebrating and having fun while we are grieving.

I remember after Callie died, it was hard to understand why not everyone's life didn't stop like ours did.  When I received that first text that had nothing to do with Callie.  When I saw the first post on a group page I was in that had nothing to do with Callie.  It really hurt.  You mean, other people aren't thinking about this 24/7? And even though that sounds completely crazy because of course we are the ones most affected by this. Of course not everyone is feeling like we do.  We had to learn fast that after a couple of weeks, the reality is everyone HAS to move on.  Everyone goes back to their normal ways of life while ours does not.

As so here we are just a few weeks away from the anniversary of Callie's death.  We have so many flashbacks of that day.  For me, flashbacks of getting the first phone call, flashbacks of the doctor telling us she wasn't going to make it, flashbacks of seeing Callie there in the hospital, praying out loud for God to save her, flashbacks of them trying to resuscitate her lifeless body, flashbacks of the doctor officially pronouncing her death, flashbacks of watching my husband holding her body sobbing uncontrollably, flashbacks of the staff workers placing their hands on me, and flashbacks of holding her in my arms, not wanting to let her go.

Walking into a store and seeing 4th of July decorations makes me cringe and feel sick inside.  Seeing anything that has to do with the 4th of July is simply painful.  I want to shout out, "do you not understand how horrible this day is?"  But of course they don't, they don't even know me or our story.  I wish we could just skip this day all together, but we can't escape it.  I know there is such purpose for the exact day that she died, even if I don't understand it.  Before she was even born, the Lord knew the day of her death.  This is not meaningless.  The very last picture I took of her with her 4th of July outfit has meaning.  I don't know it now, but I trust the Lord with this.

As I had mentioned before we are in the process of building a house.  Justin was ready to move right after Callie died, but I was more hesitant.  We finally found a floor plan we loved in a great location and decided to build a house.  We wanted it to be completed before Nolan was born but it wasn't going to happen.  Now in the Lord's sovereignty, our new house will be finished the week before Callie's Heaven day.  We will be moving that 4th of July weekend so we will be very busy and will be in our new house on the 4th.  I am SO thankful we will be out of our house as the thought of being here on that day was too difficult.  God's timing is always so perfect and I'm thankful for extra time being amongst our neighbors who knew and cared for Callie.  It really seems like the perfect time for us to move.

Maybe one day we will be able to do all the 4th of July things that we used to do.  Just as I mentioned in a previous post, life is a little less sweet now.  4th of July, Thanksgiving, Christmas, family vacations, etc are just less sweet without our Callie.  We miss her so so much, and sometimes the pain is so deep it feels like it happened yesterday.  It's really hard to believe it's been a year.  Just a few days ago Cooper was crying so hard and when I asked what was wrong he said he missed Callie and he missed playing with her.  So heartbreaking!  It hits us all at different moments.  But I do know this, Callie is free.  Just as everyone in the country is celebrating the freedom we have in America, we will celebrate Callie's heaven day, the freedom she has in Christ.  As a friend reminded me today, when we hear fireworks going off, we will think of the celebration Callie is experiencing everyday being with Jesus, dancing at his feet.  Callie experienced true freedom in Christ that day.  Instead of the fireworks bringing so much grief, I hope that it will be a reminder of Callie's freedom and the hope we have in Christ.  See you soon baby girl!

"It is for freedom that Christ has set us free...."  Galatians 5:1


Thursday, May 4, 2017

How Joy and Grief Collide

It has been awhile since I have written about my grief journey.   I've had a few blog posts started but I never finished them.  Entering the 6 month mark of Callie's death and dealing with grief has proven harder than I expected. Blogging came easier to me the first 6 months than it has now.  I have found it hard to find a good healthy balance of being open and honest with my grief and pain, but also seeing my heart of having hope and trusting God's goodness and sovereignty in our lives.  So I would start writing, but then never finished.

Life in general has been hard lately.  Grieving has also come in more frequent waves it seems.  We are so thrilled and happy that Nolan it here, but it has brought up a lot of emotions and painful memories.  I knew that it would happen, but you can never really prepare yourself emotionally.  Someone mentioned to me that joy and grief co-exist like railroad tracks running next to each other.  I thought that was a good analogy as I pictured it in my head.  The Joy we have in Cooper and Nolan does not take away the pain we feel for Callie.  But also the pain of losing Callie doesn't overshadow the joy we have in Cooper and now Nolan.  They just go together.

A big example of this is the birth experience we had with Nolan.  Physically, Nolan's birth was wonderful.  I enjoyed almost all of it and everything went so smoothly.  Emotionally, it was pretty exhausting.  The hardest part was having to continue to answer questions about our children.  Since we had multiple nurses and just a lot of other people in and out of our room over the 3 days we were there, everyone asked what number birth this was for me.  Of course I answer that it's my 3rd.  After I answer that question, I start to get anxiety as to whether or not they stop there or start asking more questions.  The question that usually comes next is what the gender of my kids are.   I would answer again and then usually try to change the subject.  I just did not have the emotional energy to get into our story and then make people feel bad or uncomfortable.  The worst was the day after Nolan was born and the lady who was doing his hearing test asked us what our daughter thought about having a little brother (after asking the usual first questions).  It caught me off guard and I pause and then tell her that our daughter died.  It still hurts to say that out loud.  We don't know what she would have thought about having a little brother or how she would have acted towards him.  It definitely stings.

To experience such joy and deep grief at the same time is a very strange experience.  Giving birth again and having a newborn in the house again does bring back some sweet but also painful memories.  I had one evening in the hospital when I grieved so deeply over Callie while everyone was sleeping, but then soon later being so thankful and happy to have Nolan.  It's such a mix of emotions that the joy that we have even brings the grief to the surface at times.  I wish that joy would take away the grief, but it just doesn't work that way.  We are learning to live our life with joy and grief, like a lot of people do on a daily basis.  I just never knew how hard it would be.

It has been hard, as expected to bring home a new baby without having Callie here.  We should have 3 carseats in our car now, but Nolan is now in the same place where Callie was.  I find myself accidentally calling Nolan "baby girl" a lot as I called Callie that all the time.  There should be more chaos and more stress with having 3 kids under 5 years old.  But it's more quiet,  and a lot easier (though still really hard) than it should be.  I've already done the 2 kid thing, and when I see people with 3 kids the same ages as mine, it does hurt a little.  Not having a daughter anymore really stings.  I once heard someone say that life will be a little less sweet and death will be a little less bitter.  Our life will never be the same.  We enjoy such sweet moments as a family, but they will always be a little less sweet.  We will always have someone missing and the thoughts of what our family would look like.

One of the sweetest things is seeing Cooper with a sibling again.  He is the BEST big brother and loves having siblings.  It was so hard seeing him lose Callie and not having a friend to play with everyday and I'm so thankful he has Nolan.  Cooper wants to hold him all the time and kisses him, hugs him and tells him he loves him everyday.  He is always asking where he is (because he is always sleeping) and he will tell Nolan how cute he is all the time.  It cracks me up.  I pray they will always be close and be best friends their whole lives.

There is a deep sting that the loss of Callie has left on us that is unending.  It's hard to know how to enjoy Nolan while grieving Callie.  How do I live in the present but not forget the loss we will grieve a lifetime?  How do I try not to have my grief keep me from bonding with Nolan?  It's a difficult balance.  It's hard that life is a little less sweet now, but it makes us depend on the Lord even more.  Nolan is such a blessing and a gift to us, and though he never knew his sister, I pray her life will have a lasting impact on him.



Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Nolan's Birth Story

As you already know, our sweet boy Nolan Asher was born 3 weeks ago on March 22nd!  I wasn't planning on writing his birth story out, but I do love looking back at Cooper and Callie's stories and wanted to remember Nolan's as well.  Thankfully, it won't be near as crazy or long as Cooper or Callie's since it was by far the easiest labor with no drama!  Woohoo!  Thank you 3rd child of mine xoxo.   So here we go....

I do feel bad that I never wrote anything about this pregnancy.  It's hard because I was grieving throughout the entire pregnancy so it was definitely different.  Nolan's pregnancy was my hardest pregnancy and I felt much bigger and uncomfortable than my other 2.  I started showing much earlier which made me feel more achy and tired by the 3rd trimester.  Besides the shortness of breath,  and the aches and pain I felt, it still wasn't too bad of a pregnancy compared to most women.  It was the first pregnancy I felt so DONE by 37 weeks though.  The last few weeks were just rough!  

That leads us to the week before my due date.  I had been going to the doctor every week at this point and every appointment, everything looked great and there were no issues.  Then at my 39 week appointment, I had high blood pressure.  It seemed to have come out of no where but I was pretty rushed and stressed getting to the appointment that day which may have had something to do with it.  They had me lay on my side for a bit to see if it comes down.  I also had protein in my urine so they were concerned about preeclampsia.  The worst part about it is that my doctor was out of town and wouldn't be back until the following week.  So the doctor there sent me home saying she wanted me back in 2 days to check my blood pressure again. I went back again 2 days later trying hard to not be stressed and to relax.  But of course I think it was mental at this point and I had high blood pressure again!  This time, she sent me over to the hospital to get monitored for a little while.  

I walked over to the hospital and they put monitors on me to monitor the baby and also kept checking my blood pressure.  Of course my blood pressure was perfect the entire time.  They say that happens a lot when it's high in the office but normal when they get sent over to the hospital.  Thankfully after just 30 minutes, they sent me home.  They told me to make sure to take it easy and not do anything like going to the Rodeo, or anything like that.  Hmm, funny because I had just gone to the rodeo 3 days before that...whoops.  She said jokingly that her blood pressure would definitely go up going to the rodeo.  All that to say, I hadn't been taking it easy at all the last week and knew I needed to rest more.  

Finally, I get to my due date and still no baby!  I go in for another doctor appointment, and again my blood pressure was high.  UGH!  I knew that with my doctor being back, she would be more concerned now that I had reached my due date.  She checked me and I was still barely 1 cm dilated and my cervix was still far back.  I was so discouraged!  My body was just not doing much, but with my 3rd high blood pressure reading and being past my due date, my doctor was ready to get the baby out.  I was definitely ready and excited, even though I was very discouraged that my body didn't seem to be quite ready.  The plan was that I would go into the hospital that evening to get cervidil to help soften my cervix to get ready for labor before being induced.  

I came home from my appointment and packed my bag and got everything ready for that evening. I picked Cooper up from school and took he and the dog to my parents house to stay for the nights we would be in the hospital.  I then just waited for Justin to get home from work which seemed to take FOREVER!  He had to get everything done since he would be taking a week off from work.  By the time he got home, we ate a quick dinner, he packed his bag, and then we were off to the hospital to have a baby!

I get checked into the hospital and we had the sweetest night nurse!  I just loved her!  Since I was being induced due to high blood pressure she had to check my blood pressure every 15 minutes, but of course my blood pressure was perfect the entire night.  My labs also came back completely normal and I knew my blood pressure was just fine, but who cares, I'm about to have a baby and I was excited!  

Before getting the cervidil, my nurse checked me and to all our surprise I was already 2 cm and 80% effaced!  Um what?  Just 8 hours ago, I wasn't even close to that.  We were so happy and relieved.  The nurse put in the cervidil and told me that I would probably go into labor soon and have this baby in the middle of the night!  We really couldn't believe it.  I was getting excited and knew it was an answered prayer that I had progressed that much in half a day.  My nurse leaves the room for a few minutes and then comes back in to say she has good news!  She said she talked to my doctor and my doctor was completely shocked at the progress I had made when she had just seen me.  She said my doctor really wants to deliver me so she is going to take the cervidil out so that my doctor could deliver me the next morning.  It was all a whirlwind of information but I was just very happy that we would be seeing Nolan soon and that I was progressing on my own.  I was not happy, however with having to try to sleep that night being hooked up to monitors, IV, and blood pressure cuff.  I didn't get any sleep that night but hey, I was too excited anyway.  

They started the pitocin at 4am and I tried to sleep off and on after that.  I started to feel the contractions but they were minor so I kept trying to sleep and get some rest.  Of course Justin is over there snoozing away getting great sleep which is so frustrating.  Dads do SO much, especially Justin, but this is the one time I think we can all agree on that Dads have it so easy (insert wink face emoji).  Anyway, I digress....at 7:30am I see my doctor and we chat and she breaks my water.  I'm about 3cm at this point.  Her famous last words were "now, don't wait to long to get the epidural!"  She must remember the infamous birth of my dear Callie Grace where I did wait too long to ask for the epidural and then the anesthesiologist had an emergency C-Section to go to and it took him FOREVER to get to me.  By the time he got to me, I was so far along with hardly any break of contractions. And then it only worked on one side and Callie was born right after that.  It was so not fun at all and I would not repeat that mistake.  I love me some epidural and have no shame about it!  

About an hour after my water broke, I got my epidural and it was perfect!  It worked on BOTH sides and wasn't too strong as I could still feel everything and could still feel the contractions.  I want to write her a big thank you note and send her flowers by how perfect the epidural was.  The next thing I know, my nurse checks me and I'm 8cm already.  And I was SO thankful I had the epidural since I knew I would progress very quickly.  It seemed like just 15 minutes later, I was feeling TONS of pressure and said, HE'S COMING!  The nurse checks me and was like "Yep, you're 10cm"  My nurse had a student with her the entire morning and it was her very first birth to witness.  She had the student check me and the student said with the sweetest giddy voice, "I'm feeling his head!  Oh wow, it's your baby's head!"  It was very cute how amazed she was.  Another contraction comes and I'm like "HE'S REALLY COMING, WHERE IS THE DOCTOR?" It actually felt like he was going to just fall out with all the pressure I was feeling.  The doctor comes in along with the rest of the hospital workers, it seemed, and I'm ready to push.  She starts to tell me how to push and I immediately got distracted and started to tear up and tried so hard to pull it together and not just start crying my eyes out before I even started pushing.  I was so emotional. I couldn't believe I was about to meet our son.  So my first push wasn't that great, but then I got the hang of it, and literally 3 pushes and he was out!  Nolan Asher was finally here!! Born at 10:24am...





They place him on my chest and I immediately start crying.  It's such an amazing miracle.  I just couldn't believe he was here.  After all the grief and pain we have experienced, in that moment, all I felt was pure joy and thankfulness.  It was such a sweet and special moment.  I was able to nurse him right away and keep him on my chest for a long time.  After awhile, they took his measurements and weight and I could finally see his sweet face.  




He weighed 8lb 1oz and was 21.5 in long.  The nurse kept saying how long he was.  The pictures make him look a lot bigger than he really is but he's not as chunky as he looks in the pictures.  He is very adorable and precious!






Our families came to visit later that day and Cooper got to finally meet his baby brother








It really was hard not having Callie there.  I pictured her there the entire time.  I held it together fine, but inside my heart was hurting.  Kind of like my everyday life.  I so wish she was there.  I wish I could see her with her little brother.  I brought her lamb to the hospital because I knew I wanted to honor and recognize her in our first family picture.  Taking family pictures will always be hard, for the rest of our lives, I will always think of her.  




All in all, this was the best and easiest birth I have been through.  It was quick and really could not have gone any smoother.  I'm so thankful for a birth experience I was fully able to enjoy!  We are so thankful for Nolan Asher and the Joy he will bring to our family.  I'm so thankful to have another son and for Cooper to have his first brother.  We are all smitten with this new little life!  








Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Grief Share


Grief Share....even the title of that can make you want to cringe.   Justin first found out about grief share a few weeks after Callie died and suggested that we go.  I told him he could go, but there is no way I wanted to go.  Sitting in a room with strangers talking about grief was not something I wanted to do at all.  I especially didn't want to sit by someone who had no idea what it was like to lose a child because I thought my loss was way more significant than theirs.  My attitude definitely wasn't the best, but I was still dealing with shock, so we just put it on the back burner for awhile.

The Lord really worked on my heart and was using other people to slowly lead me to give Grief Share a try.  I had 2 different people at different times tell me how Grief Share was really good for them after losing a child.  I was able to ask more questions to them since they understood my loss and started to be a little more open minded about it.  I then found out David and Nancy Guthrie were the main narrators in the video series and they endorse it, so that also helped me to see what a great program it was.  I had already read some of Nancy Guthrie's books and I really respected her.  After looking into it a little more, we decided to give Grief Share a try.

Last week Justin and I finished our last Grief Share meeting.  It was really good for us and I'm so thankful we did it together.  I wanted to share a little about our experience in case you were skeptical like me.  Grief Share is a Christian based 13 week program for those who have lost a family member. They have the program at most churches around you and you can just choose what day/time works best for you.  This is the big reason for why we really loved it: it's Biblical!  I was very concerned that it would be more self help stuff and just giving you steps to help you with your grief.  That wasn't something I was interested in.  It is filled with scripture, it focuses on God's sovereignty, and leads you to put your trust in the Lord for comfort, not people.  There is a workbook and you have homework that only takes less than 10 minutes a day.  The scriptures and questions were SO good for me to work through.

One thing that grief share taught us was the importance of leaning into our grief.  To not push it away and go on with your day not thinking about it.  We learned that talking about it, journaling, going to grief share, discussing it together or with others was really good and necessary for us.  I think it was especially good for Justin.  He works long hours during the week and really has to force himself to block his grief out of his mind so he can work.  He comes home from work and is a loving husband and father and just doesn't have a lot of emotional energy left to work through his grief.  Grief Share really helped him work through it, talk about it, and learn from it.  We were also able to discuss together the things we were learning and working through which helped a lot.

If you have lost a loved one, I highly recommend going to Grief Share.  I will say this, you have to give it at least 3 weeks.  There are a lot of people who come once and never come back.  It IS awkward the first meeting.  It's not fun to open up to strangers about something so very difficult and personal.  I cried the first 6 weeks every time, at least.  I compare Grief Share and working through grief to exercising.  You dread having to do it, but you know it's good for you.  And you never ever regret going once it's over.  You feel better after doing it.  And then every week, it actually starts to get easier to go.  You realize like exercising, that you are seeing how good it is for you.  And at the end of it, you actually look forward to going.  That was how Grief Share was for me.  I dreaded going for about 5 weeks.  My parents came over every Thursday night to watch Cooper for us, and if it wasn't for that, I'm guessing Justin and I would have decided at the last minute not to go during those first few weeks at the last minute especially the nights he worked late.

We were also very blessed with an awesome group.  The Lord placed us in the perfect group for us.  There were 3 other people there who have lost a child, which I've heard it is unusual to have that many in one group.  The rest of them have lost spouses.  We were like a family at the end of the 13 weeks as we have walked through so much together.  The facilitators were wonderful and compassionate.  We also learned a lot about other things that were going on relating to grief.  We learned about surviving the holidays seminar that I attended, and we learned about the worldwide candle lighting service for those who have lost children.  We wouldn't have known about these opportunities otherwise.

My heart also really softened to people who have lost their spouse.  Grief Share obviously doesn't compare grief but losing a child and losing a spouse I would say are the most difficult since you are living with that person and see them every single day, and your whole world changes.  I learned a lot about what it's like for someone to lose a spouse and grew more compassion towards them when before I felt that it wasn't as significant as my loss. I also heard of people going who have lost a mother or father and that it has been very helpful for them too.

The Lord really taught us so much through this ministry and we made some really great friends through it all.  A lot of people go through Grief Share 2-3 times because you learn something new each time.  I won't be able to do it again for now since baby Nolan will be here soon, but Justin is thinking about doing it again.  I really think I will do it again in a couple of years as I know it will be good for me to process my ongoing grief even years later.  I really am thankful for this ministry and  recommend it for anyone who has lost a loved one.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

A Name and a New Year


Well we officially have a name for baby #3.  Nolan Asher Cummings.  I figured I would go ahead and share since so many people have been asking me.  From the very beginning, we have felt that this baby is going to bring JOY to our family again.  I knew right away that if this baby was a girl, her middle name would be JOY.  When we found out the baby was a boy, I had some friends look up boy names that mean joy or happiness to share with me.  One of them was Asher.  I loved the name right away, and debated about it being his first or middle name, but finally decided on it being his middle name.  Nolan was going to be Callie's Boy name if she would have been a boy.  We usually come up with 2 different names for each child (Cooper's girl name was not Callie), but I thought it would be special so have something even as small as this that relates to Callie.  And the fact that we both still loved the name Nolan, which is how we came up with Nolan Asher.

Asher means "Blessed, Happy One".  I know that Nolan is going to bring such joy and happiness to our family.  He already has.  Cooper talks about "Baby Nolan" all the time.  He hugs and kisses my belly and asks me if he could listen to his heartbeat a few times a week.  He wants to show Baby Nolan new toys and he also wants to get bunk beds so he can sleep on the top and Nolan can sleep on the bottom.  He is so thrilled to have a brother and of course I already know he's the greatest big brother ever and Nolan is so blessed to have Cooper for a brother.

There is something very special to me how baby Nolan was first created, literally days before our Callie died.  They were both with us at the same time for a very short time.  God purposefully created Nolan before Callie passed away.  He purposefully had me find out the day after her funeral. It may not seem like the best timing in my eyes, but we know His timing is perfect.  We know there is no such thing as coincidences.  And I had to learn very quickly that joy and sorrow can co exist.

We know that Nolan is not God's way of replacing Callie to us.  It is impossible to replace her.  Nolan is not some consolation prize and not someone who is supposed to replace our grief.  Yes, he will bring us joy and we love him so so much, but we will still grieve Callie.  We know that this joy will not replace our grief.  Our grief will not go away when Nolan is here.  We will still grieve the loss of Callie and she will always be missed.  The day Cooper meets Nolan for the first time, I know I will think that Callie should be here too.  Callie is his big sister, and our family will never feel complete this side of heaven.

I have also learned going into a new year that it's really good not to have expectations on my feelings of grief.  For so long, I was dreading December, REALLY, REALLY DREADING.  Her birthday and Christmas and celebrations etc, was too much to think about.  I kept thinking, once I get to 2017, things will get better.   Saying goodbye to 2016, the year from hell, will be such a great feeling.  A New Year will feel good.  Nolan will be here, we will move into a new house and will have lots of things to look forward to.  It will be better.  But you know what?  It wasn't better.  It actually became worse.  I got through her birthday and Christmas, and seeing happy intact families and pictures everywhere, but I just wasn't expecting New Years to be hard.  And because I wasn't prepared, or even worse, I was thinking things would be better, it hit me like a ton of bricks that we had to start a whole new year without Callie.  I was depressed and sad a lot.  Though we had so much to look forward to, the thought of going through a whole new year without Callie was heartbreaking.  It was reality again of the finality of it all, this side of heaven.  I know we will be reunited again, I know I will see her again, but thinking of going through year after year without her was overwhelming.

We are SO SO excited to meet baby Nolan and for a sweet new addition to our family.  But I am going to be more prepared with my grief this time.  Having Nolan here will add JOY to our family, but it will not take the grief of missing Callie away.  It will not just automatically make things better, like I thought starting a new year would.  In some ways it will add to our grief.  I know I will have to finally make decisions on packing up her room.  I will have to trust the Lord in ways I never imagined every time I lay him down for a nap.  I will see Callie in him.  I will miss being able to see Callie as a big sister.  All the baby toys will bring back some painful memories.  Our added joy will add grief as well.  Missing her will always be there.  Every family event, every holiday, every birthday, every mother/daughter bond she will be so missed for the rest of our lives here on earth.

Nolan Asher is such a blessing already and though there will be major pain and grief, we truly are thrilled to have another baby again.

"The fact that our heart yearns for something earth can't supply is proof that heaven must be our home"




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Callie's Birthday Celebration


Saturday, December 17th was Callie's Birthday.  Ever since the funeral was over, all I have thought about was how am I going to get through her birthday without her.  I just couldn't imagine it and I dreaded it for over 5 months.  I would cry every time I thought about it.  I would cry every time I saw other people celebrating their child's 2nd birthday.  The pain at times was unbearable.  I had thought so much about what would to we do this day.  At times we talked about doing nothing and just being at home the 3 of us.  At times we talked about doing something different and just being around other people.  At times Justin and I were on completely different pages on what we wanted to do.  I preferred being around people and he preferred being alone.  Even though it may not seem like a big deal, these "firsts" dates are really, really hard.  The reality is, the weeks leading up to a significant date in a loss can actually be harder than the actual day.  The anxiety and anticipation of the date is so hard.   I wanted to write to remember Callie's first Birthday in heaven and how we celebrated her life. 

After much discussion, Justin and I decided on having a casual celebration for Callie with our close friends who have been there for us through this difficult season.  We originally wanted to do it at a park, so it would feel more laid back, but the weather was crazy that weekend and predicted rain and I didn't want it to get rained out.  I think it worked out better doing it at our house in the long run.  I really wanted it to be as stress free as possible so I didn't do any food besides cake and drinks.  I didn't want it to feel like a big birthday party, but more like a celebration if that makes sense.


We knew that we wanted to spend part of the day with just the 3 of us and visiting her grave and just having some time alone.  Waking up was hard. It was hard not to picture what this day would have looked like if she was still with us.  The Lord is so good though and immediately after we started getting up and getting our day started, we had some neighbors come to our door.  They came with some balloons, a poem, and cards written by all different people in the neighborhood.  They told me  some neighbors have put up balloons outside their homes for Callie's Birthday.  It was so meaningful and special to us and the tears started flowing.  Right after that, I had another friend bring us over a homemade breakfast for our family.  Then shortly after that, we had another neighbor stop by to bring us a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  We already felt so loved and it was just 10am.  More importantly to me, I felt that Callie wasn't forgotten especially on her birthday.


Though we had a good morning, we did have a time of deep grieving.  We missed her so much.  We missed her running around our house and her voice and all her cuteness.  A sweet little 2 year old, I still can't believe she is 2 years old now.  We know that grieving and tears are sometimes necessary in our grief journey, but it did hit Cooper hard. My heart just hurts for him.  He also started crying hard and saying that he missed Callie.  We all hugged and cried and talked about how Callie is so happy with Jesus, but we are sad because we do miss her.

We then headed out to the store to pick up some things for Callie's Celebration and on our way out we started to see pink and white balloons outside some of our neighbors homes.  At first I thought it was just our cul da sac that had balloons out, but then we realized that it was a lot more than just that.  I could not stop crying as I kept seeing more pink and white balloons out.  It was so special and so sweet!  It was the small gesture that just spoke to me that Callie was not forgotten.  It's unbelievable how such a small gesture like this can be so meaningful.  We then got to the store and picked out some balloons to put on her grave stone.  Cooper picked out a Toy Story small balloon that reminded him of Callie since he was Woody and she was Jessie for Halloween last year.   After picking up some things we headed out to the cemetery to spend some time there.  Justin is always so diligent about cleaning her stone so he spent time doing that first, and attached some balloons to her flower vase.  We also put a Peppa Pig toy on her stone.  We tried to spend some time sharing our favorite memory of Callie, but Cooper was too busy digging in the dirt.  We were told that no matter how much we plan for a day like this, it will never go how you expected it to go....mainly because nothing will ever be good enough for a day like this.  We did sing Happy Birthday to Callie with tears running down our cheeks.  Justin always likes to have some alone time there at the end as it's a special time for him to think and pray so Cooper and I walked back to the car to give him some alone time. 



We then went back to our house to get ready for Callie's Birthday Celebration.  I went to pick up the rest of the balloons I ordered for the balloon release.  It was a very cloudy day outside without any sun most of the day.  On my way back home as I was about to pull into our neighborhood, I saw these rays of sunshine streaming down through the clouds that looked like they were going right into our neighborhood.  I didn't see the sun out the rest of the day.  I don't even know how to explain it, but it was like God telling me that he loves me.  He loves our family and Callie is with him.  She was our little ray of sunshine and she is with Jesus.  It  was a sweet moment for me.

Shortly after that we had our Birthday Celebration for Callie.  I tried to keep it as simple as possible to not add any stress to an already emotionally stressful day.  We had close friends come over and they all brought some helium balloons which was helpful. The kids played outside for awhile and then we wrote messages for Callie on some of the balloons.  We then went out to the cul da sac for the balloon release.  We all sang Happy Birthday to Callie and then released the balloons.  The kids seemed to enjoy it and it was beautiful to see all the balloons and the love floating up to the sky. After the balloon release, we came inside and ate some cake and the kids played some more.  It was a sweet time and nice way to honor Callie without it being too much or too stressful or overwhelming for us. Our good friend Josh put together a video of the celebration to send to us and it was so meaningful and something we will always treasure. 



We are so thankful for everyone who sent messages, cards, and texts that day. People who did small thoughtful things to celebrate Callie and remember her.  We know not every birthday will be like this, but it was a relief to get through her first one. Every single birthday without her will be hard. All the what ifs flood through your mind.  What would she be like?  What would she look like now?  What would our life be like if she was still with us?  It will never get easier.  And right after we got through this difficult day, we already started thinking about how we would ever get through July 4th.  It's interesting how these days are always on our minds.



Happy Birthday again my sweet Callie.  Words can't even describe the depths of pain we feel missing you and wishing you were here with us.  You have blessed our lives more than you know.  I know you had a beautiful birthday celebration in heaven.  And as silly as this sounds, I hope we made you proud celebrating and remembering you here.   

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Happy 2nd Birthday Callie



My Dearest Callie,

Happy 2nd Birthday!  Today is your very first of many birthdays in heaven.  What an absolute JOY that must be for you to experience your birthday in heaven.  What a party you will have today.  I'm so thankful you are with Jesus, even though we miss you so much here on earth.  I know our earthy separation is temporary and I cannot wait to reunite again soon.

Though I know you are experiencing such JOY, we miss you so much, especially on your birthday.  I wish so badly I could have one more day with you.  I wish I could hug and kiss you, hold you, and talk with you one last time again.  I wonder what new words you would be saying right now.  You picked up on words so quickly, so I'm sure you would have had a huge vocabulary by now.  I wonder what changes in your personality I would have seen if you were still with us.  You were always so independent and had no fear, I'm sure you would be exploring the world around you every time you got a chance.  I wonder how beautiful the curls in your hair would look like.  I wonder how long your hair would be now.  I miss fixing it everyday in order to get it out of your face as it grew so much the last couple of months. I wonder what new toys you would be into right now.  You loved Peppa Pig the last month you were wth us especially and I always think of you every time I see it.  I wonder what kinds of trouble you and Cooper would get into.  You both loved making huge messes together.  He loved playing with you so much and I know he misses you.  I miss your sweet brother/sister relationship.  It was a true joy to watch.   I wonder what cute new winter outfits you would be wearing now.  And cute winter shoes as this would have been your first winter walking.  You would have loved the Christmas Tree and looking at christmas lights with us.  I'm sure you would still be a great sleeper and adventurous eater.  You made my job as your mom so easy.


You are missed so so much.  I'm thankful you don't have to experience the pain of missing us like we do with missing you.  There are so many moments when I still think I hear you crying in your room.  When I think you are waking up and I need to go get you.  When I think I hear your cute voice down the hallway.  But I instantly have to remember that you aren't here with us and it hurts so badly.  I wish I could have watched you grow up like everyone else gets to do with their daughters.  I wish I could have seen your personality blossom over the years to come.  But God had a different plan for all our lives than what we ever expected.  And as much as that pains me, I am again so thankful you are with Jesus, experiencing the most amazing things anyone could ever experience.


Happy Birthday again my beautiful daughter!  You are so so loved by many people.  Your daddy and brother especially love you SO much.  We miss you every second of everyday.  I thank the Lord for allowing me to be your mommy for 18 short months.  I so wish it could have been longer, but for now I just want to say we will see you very soon!  xoxoxoxo