death, faith, family, grief, gun laws, guns, hope, school shooting, sisters, suffering

Staring Down the Barrel

“Hope holds a broken heart together.”

~Ann Voskamp


I am sitting in the thick blanket of nighttime, listening to the steady rain beating the drum roll of its sixth hour on the hollow-sounding roof.  The intense piercings of a familiar pain keep me from my slumber, and I am delicate in my constant re-positioning and pill-swallowing to avoid waking the mounds of purring sleep close to me.  My bedroom started out far less crowded tonight, but as the starlit veil fell, came the padding of feet and the tiny, emotion-filled voices describing fear of the dark, tumultuous dreams, and loneliness that needed the quiet comfort of my presence near by.  So here we all are, their chests finally rising and falling with the rhythm of their dreams, and me wondering when things will go back to normal.

This was a headline week for guns.  A few state lines over, lives were shattered as another troubled youngster unleashed explosive fury on rooms full of unsuspecting  teens and adults, cutting short the futures of many who had planned on having more time.  All the articles and bar-room-conversations and social media statuses are blasting loud the positions and rules and amendments and movements that each are convinced will bring an end to this terror. All of this buzz about bullets and laws and security and the NRA, and all I can think is how will these kids face tomorrow?  Closer to home, how will my daughters face tomorrow?



Just a few days after the most recent school shooting in Florida, my girls experienced their own kind of horror at the barrel of a gun.  My two, along with a roomful of other innocent, energetic young girls had come together to kick off the Spring season of cheer leading.  The room was full of ponytails, giggles, and camaraderie.  As they finished tying sneakers and warming up tight muscles, a new and horrifying ambiance sliced through the room.  My oldest daughter had slipped out for one last dash to the restroom before practice, and when she rounded the corner to go back into the gym, she ran right into him.  No one knew, so the coach opened up the door and let them both inside.  The next 90 seconds were so brief, but stretched eternally in the burning scars of terror that now streak the memory of everyone watching.  A few odd but indubious remarks were made to strike up a conversation with their coach as he positioned himself closer to the cash box where each parent had given the weekly dues.  Then, beneath his slouching hood, he grew expressionless and in the longest instant, the dark, round metal of a gun contradicted the innocence of the hairbows and glitter, and the giggles turned to a fear that would not be forgotten.  My girl, still the closest to him, tried to make a subtle move for a cell phone, but his instincts were fast and he tucked the metal box and dashed for the door.  Then the knee-jerk reactions of the coach slamming her shoulder into the door corner as she lunged after him, the instant tears of the little sister who felt the hysteria of watching her sister so close to a ruthless bullet, and the mayhem of the entire crowd as adrenaline was unleashed.

I am still incredibly grateful that this tasteless man had a thirst for money rather than for blood, and my girls got to come home safely that night.  What was no longer safe though, was their security and peace of mind.  Tears upon tears from the two of them and the best friend as they clung exhausted in an embrace of profound emotion in my kitchen that night.  Panic, flashbacks, sweating whenever they found themselves in a room too far from the safety of knowing a trusted adult was arms-length away.  An incessant need for the security of a cell phone pressed closed whenever they have to leave the house. Nightmares and sleep-screaming through the deepest hours of the night, peace divided by having to learn that sometimes these things happen for no good reason.


Tomorrow my girls will face walking back into that gym.  My oldest will relive the details of his coat and his birthmark as she walks through the same hallway where he first cut into her memories.  My youngest will remember the powerful emotions of watching helpless, wondering if she was going to see her sister’s future rewritten.  They will have to come to terms with these memories and these fears, and I will support in them whatever ways that they need, but I can’t help but wonder… what about the kids who watched friends and classmates and teachers gunned down in front of their eyes this week?  How will they find the courage to walk back down those halls?  I truly cannot grasp it.

Everyone has an opinion about what needs to happen.  More guns, less guns.  More restrictions, more screenings, more freedom, less.  So many different points of view.  I have an opinion too, but I’m not going to share it right now.  Right now all I can think about is the downright brokenness of it all. The terror, the pain, the distrust and the loneliness that has gone down in irreversible ways.  The truth is, regardless of what decisions are made about whether or not guns are legal and what the process will be to get one, there is an issue at the foundation that is something we all hold the answer to.   This world needs people who care more for the hearts of their neighbors than about how their status will suffer if they are seen breaking bread together.  It needs hearts that can anticipate the needs of others, and read from the eye motions and the face lines when someone needs an extra dose of kindness.  This world needs people who are wholly committed to seeing each other for what they are; other humans who are hurting and struggling and trying to make it, and in desperate need of being loved, accepted, and understood.

We don’t need gun laws, whether for or against, in order for this to happen.  We simply need to look up, and look around, and reach out with everything we’ve got in order to say, “I see you, and I know you’re hurting, and I’m going to walk you through it.”

We all just want to be seen.  Have you ever stopped to think that maybe you are part of the answer?  What is it that’s holding you back?



faith, grief, suffering, trials

Look Up

It was 4:00 in the morning when I left the hospital, and as I hit the first traffic light, the dam that had been holding back all of my fear, anger, and desperation crumbled into a million broken pieces. Tears coming from a depth beyond understanding carved slick rivers down my neck and pooled in my shirt.  I was aware my car was drifting between the painted lanes of the empty interstate, and I glanced for blue lights that would assume I was drunk.  My voice scraped raw as I screamed my questions to a moonlit sky, daring His promises to be kept.

Knowing my other little ones were tucked sleeping in a quiet house, and needing to do something tangible that felt productive, I pulled off into the only store open at this desperate time of morning.  Despite trying to slow my heaving sobs in the parking lot, hot drips still occasionally seeped from my stinging eyes as I wandered the empty aisles.  I chose a few items mindlessly, that I thought at the time would bring comfort, and I trudged my way to the lone check out stand with a flickering light.  A slight embarrassment prickled over me as I became aware of the frightening sight I must be with my blotchy face and swollen eyes.

The checker grabbed my things and began swiping them across the counter without looking up.   “How are you today?” he beamed. “I’m ok.” “That’s good,” he replied.  He continued to ring up my things and take my payment without ever making eye contact. As I grabbed my bag and turned to leave, he swung the hammer one last time.  “Have a great rest of your day!” 

If you have spent much time around me, you may have noticed that often when someone asks me how I’m doing, I don’t ask the same question back.  It may come across rude.  It is not because I don’t care though, it is the exact opposite.  I don’t ask because I either know that that person was just asking to be polite, and they don’t really want the true answer from me, or because I know that I am not at a time or place I can truly give thought and caring to their answer.  I ask how someone is doing because I sincerely want to hear their heart, and not just the glossed over “I’m fine, how are you” that we all are guilty of giving sometimes.  I’ve learned to pick out the people who honestly want to hear how the real me is doing, and the people who would be completely uncomfortable if you let them see beyond the surface.

When I am standing in line at the grocery, I know that there may not be the time for me to be a listening ear to someone’s bad day, but on the other hand I do not want to ignore the person in need of some encouragement. If I notice a rude or grumpy employee, I will leave them with an “I hope your day gets better.”  They didn’t have to share what is weighing on their mind that day, but they will know they are seen and given validation.  I will not ask you how you are doing or how your day has been unless I authentically have the heart to hear the good with the bad.  I’m ok with you taking the time to tell me what you are struggling with, and will not make you feel ashamed for not finding the good in a new day of life.  The truth is that life is hard, and we should stop conditioning each other to put on a brave face and pretend everything is fine. 

I challenge you to stop your robotic motion and your scripted lines, and look up.  There is a world out there of hurting people.  People who in the sticky messes of their daily lives may not need you to spend an hour listening to their problems, but need to know that they are not invisible, that their pain is not ignored, and that we are all in this together.

faith, grief, miscarriage


When Mark and I were young in marriage, we had no trouble agreeing that we both would be happy with two children.  We had a strong, adventurous son for our first, experienced a miscarriage when we started planning for our second, and then were elated to bring a gorgeous, healthy baby girl into the world.  The perfect pair, a matched boy/girl set; we had what we wanted.  Then, somewhere down the line, up to our ankles in parenthood, we started itching for another, and joyfully welcomed our second daughter.  Our next baby, we agreed, would be adopted, and we started that journey, which took a sharp right turn and brought us through fostering, and unexpectedly, but joyfully welcoming another biological baby of our own.  We agreed that she would be our last.  That’s the thing though, our best laid plans are ever moldable by a God whose plans are better.  Giving our youngest daughter back to Jesus was the most heartbreaking and life-changing moment in our lives so far.  It caused a shift in our paradigm, an about-face in our priorities.  We realized that in the ranking of importance in our lives, our children are one of the most precious pieces of our story, and our hearts are drawn to gather them around us in a big, loud, challenging, loving, fulfilling clan of family togetherness. From that point, we were no longer daunted by the thought of a big family (well, let’s be real, MARK was no longer daunted; I grew up in a family of 9, he is an only child, it was more of an adjustment for him). We decided by way of biological children, and adoption, we definitely want to grow.

It’s funny how everyone else knows what’s best for us, right?  At the mere mentioning of having more children, we’ve had friends and family who immediately tried to discourage us.  We should be grateful we’ve made it with the healthy kids we have, we shouldn’t risk putting my body through any danger, we should not put our children through anymore big changes, or take on the financial responsibility in such an expensive world.  I hear ya, and I try to see where you’re coming from because surely this is you just trying to protect us. I love that someone said it’s ok that people don’t understand your journey, it’s not their journey to understand. I don’t have the answers, and I know it seems scary, or even crazy, but I’m trusting God to do it. I truly believe He is the one that has placed this desire in our hearts, and if He called us, He will equip us.  I’m resting in that.  I don’t have to know how or when, I just have to believe He has our best at heart.

After some of the responses we have been met with when we have shared our enthusiasm to grow our family, we decided to simply sit back, keep our plan in the hands of the One who knows it best, and let Him quietly take it from there.

With the physical challenges I have faced over the past few years, we had come to a place of accepting that our future children will come from adoption, and not from me.  That was a hard place to reach, not because we don’t want adoption, because we absolutely, wholeheartedly want that to be part of the story, but it’s a big chapter to finish, and I was still filled with desire to carry another baby of our own.  I spent months wrestling, in fact praying that God would take this desire from me, because it was so painful to hope for something that would never be.  I did not understand why He would let me have such strong desire, but not allow it to be fulfilled.  It was a dark and powerful struggle to come to a place where I could completely submit that, hand over my desire, and trust the outcome would be gentle to my aching heart.  It brought freedom though, and excitement for how He is going to work.

This summer wound down with our minds refocused on the legwork of adoption. We started drawing up plans and timelines and praying for the fatherless that we hope will someday be part of our quiver-full.  Imagine our surprise then, when against all the odds that had been given us, we were staring at the very realness of another little one… of our own

Coming in 2016

As we drove to Kansas to throw a baby shower for my little sister, who was expecting in a few months, I squealed with delight at the thought of finally getting to share a pregnant picture with someone so close to me, something I had dreamed of.  We would get to raise our babies being the same age for most of every year; we were so tickled.  Even Mark, who is usually slower to give to giddiness, was openly excited and marveling at this miraculous blessing that had been given to us. 

Pregnant Together

I am terrible at keeping surprises, and t was difficult for me to wait until we thought it appropriate to share with the other kids.  They eagerly shared our enthusiasm and excitement. You can watch that hilarious conversation here:

We began to shift our thoughts to planning for the big changes we would find in 2016, with Mark retiring from the Air Force at the beginning of the year, and then welcoming the little one we affectionately began referring to as “Sixlet.”

Being pleased that I actually felt better during early pregnancy than I had in a very long time, I was a bit alarmed one day when my hot flashes came back with a vengeance, and I started cramping. I already had an appointment with my OB the next day though, and she eagerly assured me everything looked great, and shared excitement that this truly was a special gift.  I was happy for the good report, but something still didn’t sit right, and I couldn’t shake a feeling of unease.  I whispered prayers through the moments of my day, praying protection and health over our little one. 

The deep of that night woke me with excruciating pain in in my back and legs.  Terrified, I ran to the bathroom, but besides the pain, nothing seemed unusual.   I was awake most of the rest of the night, unable to lie still or get comfortable… moving from room to room trying to relax the pain away.

The next morning, Mark was away early, in a mandatory course preparing him for retirement.  It was in the early hustle of breakfast and packing backpacks that the crimson slashed through the hopes of my future.  Somehow the kids knew.  They read the shadows of my eyes and the sigh of my spirit on the drive to school, and one of the oldest asked the brave, unanswered question… did our baby die?  My heart knew, but I kissed them away and told them to pray, and reminded them that no matter what, Jesus would walk with us. 

The only communication I could have with Mark was by text that day; he couldn’t escape his class, and for the second time, I sat alone in a cold room staring at a dark ultrasound, void of the flicker of life.  While I waited to be taken back to my room, they sat me in a hallway outside the ultrasound rooms.  I sat in paralyzed agony, watching woman after woman stroll to the exam rooms, plump, ripe, life-bellies cupped beneath pregnant hands.  I bitterly scowled inside, already hurling the questions that I knew I probably wouldn’t get answers to on this side of eternity.

Hours huffed by, as it seemed everyone was avoiding being the one to tell me what I already knew.  I grew restless and frustrated, and by the time there was nothing left to do but tell me, there was no comfort, no apology, just facts, and all I wanted to do was run.  I texted Mark the words that spilled his glass half-full, and drove mindlessly into a gray afternoon to gather up my little people and begin a life without Sixlet.

I was having an impossible time sorting out my emotions, knowing that if I dwelt in anger, bitterness would take me places I didn’t want to go, but finding it very hard to accept that another loss, another shattered dream was part of a great, good plan for my life,  Knowing I had to take a stand against letting this destroy me, I sat alone in my car and loudly starting repeating, “I trust You.  I know You are good.  I know there is a reason beyond my understanding.  I trust You.” I hoped the enemy could hear me, but not see my heart, because in fact I was preaching to my own battered soul, trying to convince myself.  That’s when the song “Blessings,” by Laura Story came on the radio, and I turned the corner to see a brilliant, color blocked rainbow streaked across the gray horizon.

Watching precious life bleed away, tiny footprints slid from safety, never to grow bigger, is a soul-stopping grief, but my God has not forgotten me. He has promised not to abandon me, and to give me the future I hope for.  It’s inexplicably hard, and some days, I hear the lie that it’s only fitting that my story end with loss, but I refuse to believe that. If this is the journey I have been called to, then I am going to walk it out, and I choose to believe that what He has for me is greater than any of the pain.

It was so hard to tell our little people that the little brother or sister they had been waiting for had gone straight to Heaven.  There was much sadness and questions we couldn’t answer, but we did what we do, we celebrated.  We worked together to make cake and special balloons and thanked Jesus for holding our hearts, for holding our babies, for making us stronger than ever through our weakness.  We celebrated for the reunion to come, because friends, it is going to be amazing.

       Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

child loss, grief, Mothers Day

Seen and Unseen

I am struggling with what to say for Mother’s Day because it’s not just about my motherhood, but about my mom and the loss of her son, and it’s about the children of my friend Kara, recently slipping away to Heaven, and leaving them wondering what to do as their classmates create Mother’s Day crafts to bring home to a warm embrace. It’s about driving Kara’s van and thinking of the time she spent in that seat, speaking love and kindness into the hearts of her children, and the echo now in the silence of her absence.These losses forever change the innocence of a day that is supposed to be about flowers picked by tiny hands, and home-made coupon books for chores, and backrubs, and breakfast in bed.

There are mothers that long to be acknowledged, validated, understood by our tired eyes and ponytails and minivans, and insanely proud-happy smiles when we look in the faces of our little sweetlings.  There are also mothers unseen, with a sadness behind their eyes and perfectly vacuumed cars because the little ones that made them mothers have slipped from this life, leaving aching holes that aren’t filled, and often aren’t acknowledged.

Have a compassionate heart this Mother’s Day and climb into the shoes of a grieving mother or a motherless child, and just sit with them right in the middle of their tears; just be.   There is salt poured into an open wound on this day, and souls just wanting, needing to be recognized, loved, met where they are.

For all the mothers, seen and unseen, this day is for you.  Even separated by life and death, you are still a mother, you are.

For all the children  with hearts aching for the love of a mother, or grieving the loss of a mother, you are her baby, you will always be her baby, from now until forever.

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!
faith, grief

I Can Do Hard Things?

I am a binge blogger, and when much is on my mind, much spills out.  Writing spells the words I can’t find to speak, and sometimes they’re words of encouragement and hope, and sometimes there is nothing to overflow but yuck.  If you’re not up for yuck, or will fear for my faith, or need to correct my doubting, just skip this post…

I tell myself I can do hard things.  I tell others I can do hard things.  And maybe in the night of the doubting I am really saying that phrase to try to convince myself of something I fear I am not capable of.  Truth is, I am tired of doing hard things.  I am tired of facing valleys and begging for rest.  I am weary of feeling like I have spent it all just to face a new day of having to rally for “more” that I don’t have.  What is it God is asking of me?  Does He know what I’m up against?

I want to be whole.  I want to wake not sinking, drowning in pain.  My voice is worn out from screaming for help.  I don’t want another battle; to be surrounded from all sides.  I want the peace, the restoration of ashes that is promised… even for just a short time.

It is hard to trace the hand of God in it all.  Restore me. Pull me from this shadow.

The uplifting Ann Voskamp speaks reassurance through my inbox today… “It isn’t about maintaining control of everything.  It’s about maintaining your gaze on Him in the midst of everything.  It’s not about getting through everything.  It’s about letting Him carry you through everything.”

Ok, ok.  I believe no trial comes except with His permission and for some wise and loving purpose which perhaps only eternity will disclose.  Armor up.  I can do hard things.

Friends, please tell me there are days your valley is so deep that you are screaming too… that my tears aren’t the only ones falling… that we can get through this together?

Please leave me a comment, it lets me know you’re listening!

faith, grief, Mothers Day

A Day for Mothers

As Mothers’ Day dawns, bright flowers and sticky painted hand prints will shower the women who get to be called “Mom.”  In this 24-7-365 kind of job, this day is set aside to say thanks for the late night feedings, the story-time snugglings, and the driving from here to there.  These hearts may feel tired or weary or discouraged, but the love lavished upon them from those sweet, chubby faces will give them new strength to do all that comes with the privilege of muddy footprints, Legos in foot, and piles and piles of laundry.

With all the joys that come with this Sunday, I know there are just as many hearts with wounds salted deep by the imposition of this day.  There are souls aching for mothers passed on, tears spilled over empty wombs, and pangs of grief from arms where a child last slept.

On this day of thankfulness for what God gave us in motherhood, may joy flow in each embrace of your little ones; may hope soar to each waiting cradle, and peace blanket each knee bent graveside.

Me and my Mom

You made me a mommy


faith, grief, losing a child

Half a Year in Heaven

A few people still ask how we’re doing.  We tell them we’re doing ok, we’re making it, we’re getting through.  These statements are true in a microscopic way, and most importantly give people the assurance that we are not plummeting into a sea of grief that is going to claim our sanity or our ability to function.  These statements are the easiest way to share just enough honesty without exposing the snarled webbing of volatile thoughts and emotions that hold captive our reality. 

The truth is, we get up and face each morning because it’s one of the few things we have been able to choose.  We didn’t get to decide when our daughter would enter the world.  We didn’t get to pick when she would be strong enough to come home.  We didn’t vote on which battles she would have to fight, and we certainly didn’t elect to have to send her soaring back to Heaven after only 4 and a half months in our arms.  All of that was decided for us.  What we do have a say in is how we will respond.  So we resolve to embrace each moment, whether it brings tears or laughter, and continue to point back to a plan that we know is bigger than all of us.  Is it easy to do?  Does it feel good?  No.  But we know it is healing us and shaping us, and hopefully leaving a legacy that will mutiply with each new “yes” we choose.

January usually means a clean slate.  A fresh new start and a chance to overcome the shortcomings of the previous year.  For Mark and I, it’s a reminder of a world that is going on even after ours stopped.  I hate the constant calculating in my head; the math that tells me how old she would be on the 2nd of each month, and the equation every 14th that measures how many months my arms have felt empty.  We don’t talk about March.  We don’t want to imagine the birthday she never got to celebrate.

This month I thought I was ready.  I grabbed a few boxes and headed for Ellianna’s bedroom, having convinced myself it was time to make a more functional space out of the room she vacated 6 months ago.  Looking around, I saw the warm green paint that the girls had helped me sweep across the bare walls.  The lacy white curtains that give the perfect balance of femininity without being pink.  The whimsical canopy that I stood on tiptoes to hang just centered over the rich wood of her crib.  The simple white ‘E’ that boasts the elegant beauty of a name so carefully chosen.  All of these symbols whose meanings translate to things that will be missed instead of things yet to come.  All these meanings, and I couldn’t change a thing.  I couldn’t tuck the soft and delicate of all that was hers into boxes to be put away, slipping from daily sight and becoming memory. I thought it might ease Little One’s tears to not daily soak in the empty fabric and the hollow quiet of her baby sister’s room.  But I didn’t have the strength.  Often I find her sitting, shoulders hunched, tears streaming, surrounded by memoirs of her sister she has carefully laid out in array around her.  I took a picture when she didn’t know I was watching, but I think she heard the sound of my heart break.

Last night she told me “I just want to go to Heaven now.”  Even more painful than my own grief is the inability to soothe the pain of the Little 3.  To watch such tender hearts have to bear such a great burden is a dagger that sears hot and deep.  I pray daily for grace with which to press forward and for faith that is bigger.  Big enough to overcome the fears I feel and big enough to mend the wounds that are all around and through me.

Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you’re listening!
Christmas, grief

Christmas, unraveled.

Christmas will be different this year.

I tried to get my Christmas shopping done quickly because I felt so panicked everytime I had to go out.  Seems everywhere I went I was ambushed.  Racks of little Christmas dresses and matching shoes seemed to mock me and stockings embroidered “Baby’s First Christmas” left me feeling punched in the gut. 

There is just such an emptiness, and it feels like in all the cheerful anticipation and bustling, my precious little girl has been forgotten.

People seem to put a time limit on grief, and it seems the older your child is, the more time that is allotted.  I don’t understand this, because there is tremendous grief whether you lost a child that was 10, or a baby that left straight from your womb.  We don’t have Christmas memories to grieve, but we grieve the Christmas memories we will never create. 

Christmas has come although we hoped to wake finding it had already passed this year.  We are thankful to be surrounded by family and are holding our littles ones tighter than ever and breathing prayers of thanks to have them here to share in the joy and the pain. 

Every time I hear “oh hear the angel voices”… my eyes fill with tears because I know my little girl’s voice has joined that angelic choir this year.  I am clinging to the promise that one day I will join her and get to hear that beautiful music for myself…

Until then… I am wrestling this pain and determined that I will choose hope in whatever pit I may find myself standing.

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say,
It is well, it is well, with my soul.

                                                                        -Horatio G. Spafford

Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you’re listening!

Amanda the Panda, grief

A Bit of Cheer

We wanted to share something special with you that has been a blessing to us this month…

A few weeks ago we found two large boxes on our doorstep.  We dragged them inside, eager to see who they were from.  Inside was a letter addressed to us from Amanda the Panda.  It said this was a Holiday Cheer box, sent to us because a guardian angel had contacted them on our behalf.  Amanda the Panda is an organization that reaches out to families who have lost a loved one.  Inside the boxes were twenty-five wrapped gifts, one for each day until Christmas, to bring a smile on days that undoubtedly will be some of the most difficult. 

The first gift was for all of us.  An Amaryllis bulb.  A beautiful red flower with a single lonely stalk that with a little loving care will bloom year after year.  We tenderly tucked the bulb into its pot of soil and are anticipating the beauty of Ellianna’s Amaryllis when it blooms in a few weeks. 

Every morning after our advent devotion, the kids dash to see whose turn it is to open the gift for that day.  Smiles and cheers erupt, and for a moment there is a sparkle on faces that have been worn by frequent tears. 

People shrug and say children are resilient, they will be fine.  I disagree.  Children are wounded just as much as adults.  We spend many nights holding tiny hands, rocking small bodies wracked with tears and heartache as they try to mend the pain of their sister being torn from their lives.  It is a long and very painful road, which makes moments of joy and laughter mean all the more to us.  We are deeply grateful to all the people that had a part in bringing us some much needed cheer and something to look forward to on some of the hardest of days.

Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you’re listening!
faith, grief, losing a child

Empty Space

Two months have gone by since we gave our little girl back to Heaven… a blink in the face of eternity, but it feels like so much longer in the lonely expanse of the days spent without her. Some days I am able to smile as her sisters talk about her coloring up in Heaven, or when I feel relief that I don’t have to protect her from anything. Most days though, I’m just sad. I feel jealous when I’m around other families who are smooching on tiny cheeks or rubbing rounded bellies that are about to burst with fresh new life. Then I feel guilty for feeling that way and wish that I had more grace to bestow.

I feel alone and left behind. The rest of the world has moved on, and I am still swallowed by a sea of grief. No one can possibly feel what I still feel when I walk down the hallway and see her bedroom untouched, her tiny diapers still in a neat stack.

No one knows how I swallow tears when I buckle the other kids in our van, which seems too big now with that empty seat. No one thinks how every time I see the precious pictures of her on our wall that there won’t be any new ones to add. She was here, and there are pieces of her everywhere. Pieces that stir such emotion, it’s enough to break a soul. The first days after she died, I felt numb. Numb allowed me to keep going, to get through what needed to be done. Now I find myself wishing for that numbness instead of this shattering pain.
When my 3 children walk side by side I see a space… a hole where my littlest girl will never skip along beside them. When other people see us, they must not understand why we have anything to be sad about. They tell us how lucky we are to have the children we do…. They say how nice it must be to just have one child at home during the day… they say she was lucky to have lived as long as she did. I am not at a place where I can see the glass half full yet. Although I am happy to know Ellianna is whole and well and living in glory, I still miss her and yearn for her here… and I will, until I go Home.

It must be terribly awkward for people. People do not like to see pain. They want to know we are ok, that we are moving forward, and that we won’t break into tears in the middle of a conversation. That’s the thing about grief… it’s not something that goes away in a month, 6 months, a year… we are in it for the long haul. At Christmas when there is an empty stocking, we will be sad. 5 years from now when she is not starting Kindergarten, we will be sad. When there is no prom, no high school graduation, no wedding…we will still feel the pain and sadness of losing Ellianna. Many people are afraid of that; afraid to see us hurting… so they distance themselves, afraid to say or do the wrong thing. Well the wrong thing is to ignore it. We still need to know you’re here for us just as much as the day that she died. We need to know that you’re not too nervous to be around us, that you understand when we cancel because we have been hit by a new wave of grief, that you’re willing to talk about her, to say her name, to let us know that you have not forgotten.

Please leave me a comment; it lets me know you’re listening!