Sunday, March 30, 2014

What I've Learned Since Lily Died ~ Three Years Later

I've learned that there are way too many people in this world like us   

...and I had no idea...

I've learned that nothing can change our path in life...

I've learned that I will never be able to make sense of what happened that night on March 13th when my water broke -again- I still replay it over in my head all the time, Why didn't I trust myself?

I've learned that my body failed me again and our baby should be here today...

I've learned that so many people think that Lily is part of our past, but they are hugely mistaken.  She is part of our everyday, our present and our future.  We will grieve her loss forever...

I've learned that after cancelling two appointments I could survive walking back into the Ob's office for the first time three years later.  Only you baby loss Mama's know the truth in that...

I've learned that after three years when I go to a delivery at work I still look at the room we were in every time I walk by and that will never change...

I've learned that all the bargaining in the world won't bring her back...

I've learned that my children think about Lily way more than I ever thought they did...

I've learned that they talk about her to their friends, I never knew...

I've learned that their friends think about her too, they even remember her birthday...

I've learned that some people will let you down, that some people will forget her...

I've learned that my own Mom doesn't remember her birthday...

I've learned that it's okay though because there will always be that handful of people in my life who "get it" without having experienced it...

I've learned that no one has the right to tell me how I should feel because they have no idea...

I've learned that nothing will ever make things better...

I've learned that we heal a little each day and that some days we regress but that's okay, it's all part of our journey in healing and it's the only choice we have...

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Truth Is...

It's not that we didn't already know, that life isn't fair. Sometimes I feel like we are pros at rising above, holding our heads high when life is hand delivering us its worst.

The truth is, we are the face of knowing that life is anything but predictable.  Life is anything but certain and there is never ever a day that is a given.

Loss has hit us close to home once again.

Last week we unexpectedly lost a high school friend.  A man that my husband had formed this unexplainable friendship with as an adult.  He was "one of us."  A hardworking, genuine, independently successful man taken too soon.  His loss rocked our small town to the core.

My husband had just talked to him on the phone the day before, texting back and forth that night. No more texts, no more jokes, no more secrets between friends. How can this be real?

Paul was no stranger to living life on the edge.  He was fearless and lived every day to the fullest.  At the same time he also was one of the most giving men we knew.  He generously gave to causes and events that he was passionate about, including us here at Lily's Amazing Grace.  His kind, humorous and giving spirit will be missed all around us.   

The truth is, this isn't about us though. It's about who he was as a person, a husband, a father, a son and a friend.  It's about his surviving family who will hold the deepest loss, the deepest sorrow, the rawest grief.  It's about his wife, his son, his unborn daughter.

 The cardinal is a symbol in Christianity of hope and restoration.  
      They are here to remind us that at times when circumstances are dark 
and grim there is always hope.

As we were walking away from Paul's grave site on Saturday a family member of his quietly whispered to me, "Trust in the Lord."  How profound are those four words?  Today we don't know why, we may never know or ever understand. 

At times in our lives when things are most uncertain and there isn't an answer remember those four words, "Trust in the Lord," and know there is a plan for everything, even if you can't see it today.  

It took me over a year to figure out our plan, but I am honored to carry it and I won't ever stray from it.

Monday, November 18, 2013

10 Random Acts of Kindness

When we live in a world filled with challenging times sometimes it's hard to see that there is so much we have to be thankful for.

We rush around to the buzz of alarm clocks, appointments, deadlines and loaded schedules.

We live on an earth overcome with tornadoes, typhoons, hurricanes and tsunamis.

We worry, we are fearful, we are angry, we are anxious and sometimes we feel downright helpless.  

Although it's so easy to get wrapped up in all the worries of everyday life we can't let it consume us. It's often during the most challenging times of our lives that our families, our friends and sometimes even total strangers are the ones to lift us up and guide us through.  How have you said thank you lately?

Photo rights to Lucyintheskyblog

Here are 10 ways to say thank you and pay it forward as we approach another Thanksgiving Holiday. Thanksgiving is certainly a time for giving thanks, but it's not the only time to be thankful and to be gracious. Really, don't we have so much to be thankful for everyday?  I know I do...

1. Perform a random act of kindness, anonymously.  You don't need the recognition, it's all about how you feel inside.

2. Give of yourself.  At your local food pantry or soup kitchen, anywhere.  Give your time to someone, it's free.  

3. Volunteer.  Help someone else who needs your time more than you.  You'll be amazed at how much they appreciate it.

4. Share a meal.  Make extra at dinner.  Bring it to a loved one, a neighbor, the lady or man at church who lives alone. There's nothing like a home cooked meal. 

5. Pick up the tab.  Buy the person behind your their coffee, their gas, pay their toll.  You'll know when the time is right. I bet you they'll do the same.

6. Make a donation in someones memory.  It's a powerful way to be gracious and expect nothing in return.

7. Help someone in need.  Run an errand for an elderly neighbor, someone sick or a friend who can't make it out of the house.  

8. Remember an Anniversary.  Of a friend who's lost a parent, a sibling, a baby.  It will mean more to them than you will ever know. 

9. Create something and donate the proceeds.  Make bracelets, baby blankets, have a lemonade stand.  It's not the amount that you donate but the thought behind the process.

10. Say thank you, smile, hold the door.  Be gracious every minute of the day.  

We have no idea what other people are battling everyday. Your random act of kindness may be just enough to remind them that we will live in a world filled with good not bad.  We just have to keep our eyes open wide enough to see it and remember it, even when it's easy to forget it.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Mommy of an Angel ~ From the archives, this one can't be written twice...

I miss her terribly today.  Some days I feel her everywhere, and I mean everywhere.  She will somehow pop up in something I do.  My kids think I am crazy when I tell them that, "Lily was here today."  It's okay though, someday when they have a family of their own I know they will understand my craziness ;)

It's the little things that keep me sane; hearing someone say her name, seeing a butterfly hover around until it finally gets "noticed,"  the amazing pink sunrise that graces us some mornings...and my sweet children's faces.  I always wonder which one she would have looked like the most. 

Other times I feel like she is a million miles away, I feel like she didn't even exist. That's right,  It's so difficult for other people to comprehend the rawness of our grief when they didn't experience her like we did.  We are the only ones that know - the only ones that feel the depth of her loss  Don't get me wrong I know people care, and I am eternally grateful for that.

Each day we move "forward" in our journey of grief and healing.  We move forward to being one day closer to seeing who she actually looks like, who she sounds like, who she really is. 

This photo speaks volumes.  Really, really look at it - sometimes the pain brings us to our knees, literally...

~just imagine her secretly touching us and healing us...

~just imagine her being here every second of every day...

~quietly letting us know that it's okay...

And that one day we will see her again and all of our questions will be answered...

Monday, July 15, 2013

These Are The Moments...

I've been trying to soak up as much time as I can with my children. School got out so late this year it feels like summer is zipping by.  

We don't have a lot on our agenda and I love it.  No big vacation this year, just a few little trips to keep the adrenalin going.  I'm not a big camp Mama and thankfully neither are my children.  At the end of the day I rest well knowing my babies are at home tucked in their beds safe and sound.  

There are few alarm clocks (except for work of course) and more sleeping in for the kids.  Coffee on the deck, spur of the moment planning, late night dinners and as many trips to the beach as humanly possible. 

Our days are made up of gardening, sunshine, friends, volunteering and the beach.  We have continued with our sandwich making for the local food pantry and volunteer weekly to serve dinner.  Loaves & Fishes has become part of our routine and the kids love it.  They are amazed at the familiar faces they see each time and even more amazed at how HOT the kitchen can get in this 90' weather!  We collected books for the families last week and it was heartwarming to see my children peer at me out of the corner of their eye when kids their own age left with new books to read.  These are the moments. 

Our garden that is usually thriving by this time of year is just taking off. Our veggies didn't like the weeks and weeks of spring rain this year.  And the bunnies (how I secretly love them) have finally figured out they can actually go in the raised beds and ate half of our green beans!  Oy Vey!  And, Isabella found this pea pod the other day and instagramed it, "4 peas in a pod."  (Sigh) I love these days.  

We took a trip to the local quarry last week.  I am always amazed at the fearlessness of children.  We zip lined from a cliff 120 feet high and jumped off a cliff wall 30 feet high into the water below.   The kids do this without a blink of hesitation, I on the other hand get butterflies in my stomach every time it's my turn to jump and pray our harnesses are secure!  

Our trips to the beach are my ultimate favorite.  Thankfully the kids love the beach as much as I do.  We usually pick up mid afternoon and just go. It's only an hour to the shore and we don't need much more than nets for crabbing and a few towels.  By the time we make it to our favorite spot most families are packing up and the tide is just starting to go out.  We have enough time to sneak in dinner at our favorite fish shack and watch the sunset.  It's heaven on earth.

I wouldn't trade this time on earth for anything.  My children are growing up so fast, right under my feet.  I'm watching them transform from babies and toddlers into responsible young beings.  I'm so proud of who they are and even more excited to see who they become.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

No Regrets

I'm in a funk, a really big one.  A friend recently told me she misses my posts.  It's been months since I have written.

I started Lily's Amazing Grace over a year ago.  This was my sacred place to let go.  Here I put down the 1000's of thoughts that were racing through my broken mind and overtaking my soul every minute of every day. 

Lily's blog has been my outlet, my therapy, this has been the number one key in my journey of healing. 

Life at home is on level 10 every minute of the day.  I have two separate calendars to keep us where we need to be; between the kids sports, school activities, work in the NICU, public speaking, meetings, fundraising and Lily's blog we are stretched thin; really, really thin. 

I am so torn because I don't consider my work here at Lily's blog "work," but it's bigger than I ever could have imagined.  There isn't a measurement for the way I feel when I can give to another family but I am suddenly feeling like I am taking away from my own family.  My children are growing up so fast right under my feet and I don't want to miss a thing. 

Don't misunderstand me, I am not complaining.  Lily's mission is my passion, I love hand packaging every LilyWrap, every memory box and every care package.  I just wish the clock would move a little slower during the day so that time didn't slip away so fast. 

I would like to imagine that I will figure things out in time.  I just hope my heart leads me in the right direction without any regrets. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Mother's Day ~ From the Archives

Not in a million years would I have believed you if you told me I would be writing this post.  This photo sums it all up - it's the urn that holds Lily's ashes.  I must look at it and talk to her at least ten times a day.  We picked it out with our children, they liked the beautiful angel. I see more than just the angel, I see the four stars she is holding - each one represents one of my children. The last thing I do at the end of the day is run my finger over the four stars and tell her I love her.  

My first Mother's Day without Lily was pure hell, we had just lost her a few weeks earlier.  I was still in and out of the hospital - I was physically and emotionally checked out.  I was barely hanging on, the emotions were raw and the emptiness was massive. 

We attended church, the sermon was of course about Moms and all we sacrifice for our families.  My husband kept looking at me as my eyes filled with tears.  His eyes were telling me not  now - not here. After the sermon we quietly waited for the pastor in her study.  She hung up her long robe and sat with us to privately Baptize Lily.  Lily's delivery was so emergent that she was never Baptized.  I took her ashes out of the pink bag I had brought her in - anyone in church would have thought it was a purse, not knowing my daughter was safely wrapped inside close to me -
I unwrapped the pink blanket and placed her ashes on the table.  Tears streamed down our faces as we gently etched a cross on her with Holy Water.

I "gathered" myself in the car before we saw family - and I wore my smile, the one that was expected of me as if I was coping.  Lily was never mentioned.  I know Mother's Day isn't only about Lily, but it certainly will never be the same.  I'm not sure that outsiders realize how difficult Mother's Day is for anyone who has lost a baby or a child. It's isolating - I am beyond grateful for my healthy children but I am so torn with Lily in Heaven.

Mother's Day isn't just about Lily and I don't need anyone to remind me of that. I do celebrate the amazing children that I have here with me.  As their Mother I need to continue to show them that through the darkness there is light.  It's okay to cry -  it's okay to miss her.  It's not a weakness, it's being human.  I am strong enough to show them that it still hurts - some days more than others but it always will.  I have to know that Lily is in a place more beautiful than here.  Not "a better" place - because there is no better place for her but here with us.
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