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Starting To See Emily Grace’s Purpose Fulfilled ... 8/28/06  

As the pain-filled months have passed, so many people have offered up words of encouragement to us. While many probably feel like they’re sharing just mere words, so many of those words or notes of encouragement go deep for us. They mean more to us than we can say in a simple “Thank You”. Brian and I have felt, from very early on, that God would use our journey, use Emily’s life and memory, for something unique, something very special. She was an intensely special little girl when she was here on Earth, so how could she not carry out an equally special mission after she left? She has to! :)

As I said, I have received many, many notes that have, in essence, thanked us for sharing our story, because in turn, it has caused the person writing to us, to love their children more, hug them more, kiss them while they’re sleeping and not care if they wake up. We’re seeing people just appreciate, so much more, their children because they have a new perspective after hearing about Emily’s sudden and unexpected death. We are never promised a tomorrow, yet we all just figure that we’ll have tomorrow. Knowing that tomorrow may never come, can truly cause us to re-evaluate our lives and appreciate the things in our daily lives that we so often take for granted. I want to share with you a few excerpts, with permission from their authors, from some of the private notes/emails that I have received. Here are a few to start with, but I will continue to add more as I stumble across them and as they continue to be sent our way. They have blessed us as we’ve read them and I hope that they bless you as well.

 ***Just a little itty bitty disclaimer:  As I have read over the following testimonies and incredibly kind words that people have offered up, it has made me personally squirm a little bit.  ;)  I read the words and feel like "they must be talking about someone else" or "I want some of what they just drank!" LOL  But in all honesty, I have not felt a lot of God's presence in my life since Emily died, I guess my heart hasn't had a lot of extra space due to all of the grief, but yet, I know that He must be there.  What I can tell you is that if you're seeing strength, if you see courage, if you see someone who's taking time to encourage others in the midst of her pain, just know that it is NOT ME - it's GOD IN ME.  God puts amazing people in our paths; sometimes for a long season, other times for a season that passes - He's done both for me.  One person, however, that has been a constant in my life and has been a ROCK to me, is my husband, Brian.  He and I grieved differently for the loss of our sweet Emily, but our pain was equally intense.  I am so grateful to God for the gift of my husband.  I can tell you that if you're proud of what you see in me, you'd be just as proud - if not more - by what you see in him.  Ok, carry on, disclaimer over.  ;)  ***   

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Wendy, I don't know if “thank you” is the right thing to say but I want to tell you again how much I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings about Emily with us. I feel so bad for everything you have been through but I want you to know that it affects me on a daily basis. Especially the last week or so I have thought about you daily. Hannah has been SOOO bad recently, a royal brat of sorts. I don't know exactly what her problem is, terrible twos I guess some would say, maybe she is a bit sick or maybe she is getting her two year molars. I'm not exactly sure I just know she has been driving me up the wall. One minute she is fine then the next minute she is crying, sobbing, screaming for no apparent reason and nothing I say or do will make her happy. I find myself getting SO frustrated with her and yes at times screaming at her because I have reached my wits end at that moment. But I often find myself thinking of what happened to your precious girl, knowing that it could happen to me too and that any given day could be her last. I know it is unlikely it would happen but I know you never thought it would happen to you either. I think what if today WAS her last day on this earth and I had screamed and yelled at her, can you imagine how horrible I would feel? I'm not sure I could ever forgive myself or live with myself if that happened. So when I feel the rage creeping up I have really been trying to hold back from yelling at her and try to remember that something is wrong even if I don't know what and to try to show her love and kindness every day instead of being mean Mommy. What if she had that "sense" that it was her last day or something and that turned out to be the reason she was so clingy and whiny that day....or whatever? You get the point I'm sure. So I just want you to know that you have literally affected the way I am handling my child. I still lose it sometimes but I remind myself how precious she is and how lucky I am to have her no matter how bad she acts. (((HUGS)) Again, remember how much I love you too girl!! 

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Wendy, I have started this e mail so many times, but always get interrupted. I am sure you know how it is with little ones. I have visited your little girls website. I have to tell you what an inspiration you are to me. When I started looking into this journey of having weight-loss surgery, I was a little apprehensive about doing anything more than doing what I needed to do to get my surgery approved. However since finding this website and reading postings by people like you, I am so inspired and motivated. At one of the support groups Kendall got up and spoke and said one way he does things is to find someone that he wants to be like and imitate them. After reading your post and learning more about you I have to tell you are that person that I would like to imitate. I know that may sound a little weird and I promise you I am not a stalker LOL...You have been where I have been with my weight and now where I want to be. Even though we have never met I feel like I already know you. I read some of your journey with the tragedy of you beautiful Emily and was so touched.

Again you inspired me to go in last night and give my 2 year old little girl a big hug and kiss and not care if I wake her up doing it. At the same time my 16 year old had just gotten home from a friends house and did not do what she was told and instead of lecturing her I sat and just talked to her about her second day at school. After reading you website I will never take for granted my time with my kids as it can be so limited as you have learned. Thank you for that. One last thing you have inspired me with is that you have successfully gotten pregnant after the surgery. We would love to have one more child, but have found it difficult to achieve this. I know my weight probably plays a factor in it. Once I decided to have the surgery I thought that would be it for having more children. Again seeing you post has given me hope that we may be able to have one more child after the surgery if God has that in his plans for us. I am hoping you are going to Mike's dinner as I would love to meet you and your family in person. Well I have babbled long enough...Again thank you for the inspiration and being so caring about the rest of us.... 

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Wendy, thank you for letting me into your life and sharing your story with me.  I can't say it's a beautiful story, because it's a story NO one should ever have to write.

You are such an inspiration. I am totally amazed that you can sign onto the surgery support site each day & be a support & strength to so many people. But we both know that life does go on even when we think it should stop. I so connected with you when you wrote that six months have gone by & people have stopped asking you how you're doing. And to them it's just been 6 months. I so remember on the day of my husband’s funeral riding in the limo beside my 3 kids (ages 15, 14 & 10 at the time). Out the window of the limo we passed our IGA store & Wal-Mart & people were actually go into them shopping like everything was fine & normal. To them it was just a normal day but I knew my life would never be normal again. When a friend or loved one of mine has lost someone I always try to call them 2 weeks later, a month later, etc & check on them. For me it wasn't the first few days that were the hardest, it was the weeks & months that followed when everyone went back to living their lives & my life was still in a shambles.

I pray you someday find an answer to Emily's passing. It is so hard to believe a child can just slip away in their sleep. The thought just terrifies me. And especially now that I have babies again. With all of my kids I have always breathed a sigh of relief when they reach their 7 month birthday. When I was 14 years old I spent the night with my aunt & uncle. Their precious baby girl Amy was 6 months old. Amy had woke up about 6:30 am & I got her out of her crib. My aunt got up with us & warmed her a bottle. I feed her the bottle & then placed her in her crib (on her belly back then) with my aunt looking over my shoulder. I covered her back with a blanket & we left the room. About 10 am my aunt commented that Amy sure was sleeping in & she left to check on her. The scream she let out in the bedroom is one I'll never forget. She ran out into the front room & ran out the door to her mom's who lived next door. They called the paramedics & tried cpr, but she was stiff & long gone. The official diagnoses was SIDS.

With our two new babies we bought the Angel Care Monitor that sounds if they stop breathing. I am so thankful for it since Jackson is now 6 months old. The last week he has been sleeping thru the night and thanks to that monitor I'm able to sleep also. But your story reminds me that so much is out of our control. And that only God has the real plan even though in our pain it is so hard to see what he's thinking.

And I do believe life goes on in heaven. I find comfort in believing that they can look down on us & see us. Friday night my 15 year old son Jerret played in his first high school football game. His dad was a big football fan. Jim played all 4 years in high school and volunteered as a coach after high school. Our oldest son Justin was not into sports at all. So he never got to see a son play football. When Jerret got to go on the field the other night, scored a touchdown & they announced it over the loud speaker. I couldn't help but let the tears flow. In my mind I pictured Jim up in heaven jumping up & down saying "That's my boy." I could actually feel his warmth & feel how proud he was feeling of Jerret. I have no doubt that they see was from heaven & find ways to let us know that.

I'm sorry, I'm rambling as I sit here with tears pouring. I in no way mean to share parts of my life as a way of trying to minimize your pain. I can't even begin to fathom your pain. And again I am so amazed that you are able to be such a support to so many others. May you blessed in your life ahead with your beautiful family. 

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...I have done a total 180 on my time with the kids. Needless to say more so with Briana than Shilo. Shilo is a toddler and we are always with her and giving her hugs and kisses. Briana is a teenager and not around very much. Needless to say I take more time with her to talk and see what is going on with her and I also say "I love you" more. Your experience has truly opened my eyes.... 

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...I am one of those touched by you! I am so sorry you lost your "Emi Bear" but I love you for what you have made me see. I am so blessed to have my beautiful son. I am so blessed to hug him everyday. I am so blessed to have you be a part of my life. Thank you! For everything I have learned from you and Emily.

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Wendy, I feel so blessed to have met you...you are beautiful, inside and out! And the fact that you continue on, with such grace and courage after such a life altering event amazes me!! Your children are so lucky to have you .... as we all are! Even though it might be an odd thing to say, "Thank you, for sharing your pain, your stories and your joys with us! Because of you, my life is richer!" 

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Wen, I wanted to thank you for all your posts, encouragements, etc. I read Emily's site on a daily basis; every morning and every nite. And find myself crying both times. I, too, have found that your experience made me realize that life is too short. To enjoy your kids each and every day, each and every second, as it may be the last. To not get upset b/c of a leaking sippy cup on the "just shampooed" carpet, or not get upset b/c you NEED to be somewhere at a certain time and your teenager is taking FOREVER to get ready.

There were times I would just be too involved in something and just shoo my kids off to bed and not kiss them nor tuck them in. Having heard your experience and wondering what would I have done if I had shoo'd them off to bed because I was "too" busy to give them a mere 20 minutes of my evening -- and something happened to one of them in the middle of the night. Or being frustrated because I was just simply too tired to make my son pancakes in the morning before school...and handed him the box of cereal and said "here, eat this"...what would I have done if that was his last breakfast?

Going to Emily's viewing was very heart breaking...seeing her lifeless beautiful body laying there, knowing that my little daughter is around her age, and that ANYTHING can happen and I could be right there in the same exact situation as you. Would I have felt like I did my job as a Mommy? Would I have felt like I gave all I could give to her? NO

I had decided that night after leaving the funeral home that I was going to step up and be a better mom, spend more time with my kids, give my kids more hugs, more I love you's, more kisses, etc. And I did -- for a few months. Then I slacked off. Life gets hectic, but nothing should interfere with loving and showing love to our kids.

4 weeks after Emily died I found out I was pregnant and wondered...God what am I going to do? A single mom, raising 3 and now pregnant AGAIN. I cried, and cried and asked day after day WHY GOD? WHY ME? How can I follow thru my promise to myself if I have to "DEAL" with being pregnant and yet another child? (*selfish huh?*) In February I found out I was not only pregnant with ONE, but TWO!!! Gawd was I ever mad at GOD. Again the “WHY ME's?” At the end of March I go into labor. The Doctor tried time after time to stop it with no luck. I ended up delivering the babies -- twin boys, soooo VERY small. My attitude changed when I saw those precious little boys. Completely on life support. I spent day after day, night after night at the hospital with them...right beside them, crying and pleading with God to forgive me...to let them live and I would change my act. I would focus 150% on my kids and nothing or no one else. Six days later, God took those precious little boys into His arms. Heart wrenching! So less then 6 months after being at Emily's viewing I found myself in the SAME place as you -- burying my babies. Could I stand up there and look into those caskets and say I gave all I could give to those precious souls? Yes I did WHEN they were born, BUT not while I was pregnant! I honestly think that God did this to open MY eyes -- to remind me that I broke a promise to Him.

It is very hard to live with. I am dealing with some very hard times right now. Having had a total hysterectomy in July due to cancer and now my babies days are over. I ruined my "last" chance by being SELFISH! And now I am in a very loving relationship with someone that loves me unconditionally and treats me like a total Princess and reminds me DAILY that my kids come BEFORE him....and he has NONE. We will NEVER have our own..NEVER!

Sorry to ramble on, but I want you to know Wendy, you are thought of and prayed for on a daily basis by me. And because of your daily posts I have opened my eyes. I have come to the realization that life is TOO short.

As someone said on Emi's website..."Find someone you like and imitate them". I am going to imitate you if you don’t mind! 

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Hi Wendy! I just wanted to let you know that I thought of you and Emily last night. My son had been a real butthead last night. We had open house at school and he had a TON of homework (why do they do that?) and he was bouncing off the walls at the school and at home. We screamed and yelled about homework (the after school study thing hasn't started yet) and I threatened, he threatened...it was awful. I put him to bed and he was still spouting off at me and I walked out and he yelled “WHERE IS MY KISS AND MY HUG?!” So I went back in and gave him a little kiss and hug. I was just so upset, I cried. And then I thought of you and Emily. And I went back in to my son’s room and told him I loved him and kissed him goodnight (of course, he was asleep and had no clue, but at that point it was for me as much as for him). Anyway, I wanted to let you know that you are often thought of and last night, you helped me so much.

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I finally got to Emi's website...! Oh my, how brave you are. Girl, you are such a huge blessing to sooo many people in so many ways. Not to exclude Brian, he is a huge blessing to me, personally, but, he has such a gift for comforting even in such awful circumstances. Do you ever think about the anonymous people whose lives YOU touch so intimately?

I am aware that you have days from hell!! And days of sweet and precious memories. YOU have a gift from God that I've not seen in anyone else. Ever!  You have a truly loving heart without condition, while most of it is torn to shreds, you still journal (which is incredible writing) to those you don't know
and who consider you such a friend in THEIR time of need and are such an inspiration to them. I can't even imagine what it would be like to be you. 

How do you do it? How do keep from hating everyday, every lost minute, keep from having a shaken faith, and go on with a heart of gold that has been SO TOTALLY SHATTERED for no explainable reason??? Tell me how you and Brian and the boys get up every day and try to develop a "NEW NORMAL"? Is that a GOD Thing? I guess staying in the Word is a good way to start a day. Comforted by the fact that you ARE so giving and unconditional to all you come in contact with. I don't think I could ever do what you do. Four kids, pregnant and a husband that needs you. I'd want to die too. I just can't express how awesome it is to be your friend! You ARE amazing and if nothing good ever comes from Emi's passing, know that something GREAT came to ME!!!! You are my HEROS!!! I'm so glad you told me about the website. I think I understand you a little better and I know that any time you need to or want to come and cry with me... you KNOW I'll be here waiting for you.

I can't wait for the days that you and Brian and Bob and I sit and watch tearfully as our grown children walk down the aisles as husbands and wives.  We'll sit there wondering where the time went and how we all survived it. Good days are ahead because God promised us that. Cherish every moment (not that you need to be reminded of that but, I DO).

Thank God for Ambien and friendships like ours!!!!!!! 

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Ministering Through Song ... 8/27/06  

Twelve days ago, was 10 months since Emily died. I can't believe that. I can't believe that she has been physically gone from our lives for that long. I cannot believe that in 10 months, they still have not ruled a cause for her death. The Coroner is trying SO HARD to find something. Right now he's trying his last effort to find another, very experienced Pathologist that might just review her reports - just to see if by chance they overlooked something. If not, he will have no choice but to rule it officially "undetermined".

You know how God will use both unique and individual means in which to minister to someone?  Well, for me, it seems to be music.  It helps to heal hurt, express feelings, lots of different things.  Be it listening or singing (as I recently sang at my Grandpa's funeral), it seems to be my "venue" that God touches/speaks to me.  Anyway, I have had several songs on my iPod since her death that I have listened to, on and off, more on, when I was not pregnant and running was a regular part of my weekly exercise regimen. I recently put together a CD for my drive-time around town, etc. and it's filled with songs that have deep meaning to me right now. There is one song that I feel like is totally my "life's signature song". It's one of those songs that you feel was written TOTALLY FOR YOU - for where you are right now. That's what it is for me. I wanted to share the lyrics with you. Although right now, it turns on the water fountain of tears and stirs up intense pain, I know that one day, it will be more of a blessing than I can possibly know.  I hope it blesses you. 

There are several more songs that are really ministering to me right now, and I will share those as the days go on, but for now, I really wanted to share this particular one...

You may also be able to hear this song by clicking here:  I'm not positive if it will work, but give it a shot!http://www.4shared.com/file/3055178/a5662e3a/beauty_from_pain.html

"Beauty From Pain" by SuperChic[k]

The lights go out all around me
One last candle to keep out the night
And then the darkness surrounds me
I know I'm alive but I feel like I've died
And all that's left is to accept that it's over
My dreams ran like sand through the fists that I made
I try to keep warm but I just grow colder
I feel like I'm slipping away

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

My whole world is the pain inside me
The best I can do is just get through the day
When life before is only a memory
I'll wonder why God lets me walk through this place
And though I can't understand why this happened
I know that I will when I look back someday
And see how you've brought beauty from ashes
And made me as gold purified through these flames

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain

Here I am, at the end of me
Trying to hold to what I can't see
I forgot how to hope
This night's been so long
I cling to Your promise
There will be a dawn

After all this has passed, I still will remain
After I've cried my last, there'll be beauty from pain
Though it won't be today,
Someday I'll hope again
And there'll be beauty from pain
You will bring beauty from my pain


Some Very Bitter-Sweet "Katie Moments" - 8/12/06  

8/10/06 - I just have to share such a precious "Katie moment" that happened tonight.

We were putting her to bed, for like the 100th time (because we tried to let her sleep in Emily's big girl bed tonight) and finally she said that she wanted to sleep in her crib. So I'm covering her up, talking to her - she was EXTREMELY talkative tonight and very articulate in her word choices, etc.

So, I am covering her up and I said "Goodnight precious, Jesus loves you" and she must have thought that I said "Emily loves you" because she immediately and ever-so-clearly said "I love her too and I miss her"

Ok, I'm ready to cry at this point. She is so aware that Emily is not here anymore, yet she remembers her and talks about her as though she has EVERY clear memory in the world.

She also, has named EVERY baby doll that she owns "Baby Emily Grace"

What a beautiful and sweet baby girl we have and what evidence that Big Sissy is clearly present with her in her heart and watching over her.

As heart-warming as that story is, it hurts so very, very much.....

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8/12/06 - Mmmmmm.   Katie was just sitting on the couch and she heard an ambulance roar by. We live right off a busy road, exactly 1.2 miles from a firehouse, so it's a daily occurence that we hear fire trucks +/or ambulances.

Anyway, she asked Daddy if they could get up to see it in time - so Brian jumped up to show her. They sat back down and she asked what it was called (a famous question of hers these days - "What's it called?") and Brian told her it was an ambulance. Then he said to her "Ambulances go to rescue people" and Katie says "Yes, it came to rescue Emily" to which Bri replied, with tears, "Yes, but unfortunately it was too late..." And that provoked Katie to say, again, "I miss her" ....

I'm probably boring you all with these stories, but I guess it helps me to share...It's like she's just maturing in front of our very eyes - it seems like she's gaining such a more clear understanding of Emily's absence - which although painful is heartwarming because a fear of mine has been that she might not remember Emily as the years go on, because Katie was only 18 mos. old when Emi died. 

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I guess if I'm journaling about Katie's precious, priceless comments about Emily, it's only fair to share the moments or reality too - For example, her "not-so-sweet" comment last night....When I was up close and talking to her, she said "Get outta my face!"  Oh yeah, the joys of having big brothers who talk sweetly to one another...Of course, she was corrected and hopefully won't say it again....but she is the most FEISTY among all of my children...


Long Icky Day 8/8/06  

Why does it surprise me that there are still many hard days? Surely it shouldn’t. Today was one of those days. It’s been almost 10 months since our world was rocked beyond belief and still there are days where it’s as fresh as the first days. Did I mention that today was one of those days?

It started out kind of gloomy outside – I was unusually tired and just felt plain BLAH. It didn’t really get better as the day went on – everything just seemed to be a task. I really don’t know if the grief is the main source of days like these or if some days are just bad and it’s easier for the grief to rear it’s ugly head and take over. Whatever the case, it still sucks. I pulled up Emi’s site, listened to her song, took her picture that is framed on my desk, clutched it, kissed her face and cried like a baby.

How is it fair that I’m kissing her PICTURE and not her FACE??? How is it fair that our beautiful, gorgeous, perfect-in-every-way 2 year old Princess is not here anymore? How is it fair that even in light of these horrible, awful circumstances that 10 months later – count ‘em: 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10 months, we still have no closure or answers as to why she died? How is it that in today’s world, where they can figure out crimes that are so craftily planned and executed – the culprit NEVER thinking they’ll get caught – and they can’t figure out how our daughter died? HOW is that possible?

Why are we being forced to live a “new normal”? Why didn’t we get a choice in this? We were not (are not) bad parents! We aren’t someone that our child needed to be rescued from…We loved with every ounce of our being – just like we love our children now – Will this make sense one day? I don’t know but I know that somehow, in my mind’s currency, it has to – it will NEVER be worth it – I don’t care what good comes from it, I cannot put a price tag on my daughter’s life – but at least some answers, some understanding would be nice. 

Obviously all rhetorical questions...I know that no one has the magic answers...Sometimes it just helps to write - to get it out...Somewhere, somehow there's healing in that - even if I can't see it, touch it or taste it now.

I guess it’s obvious that it’s been a long day. Thank God for Ambien.


Absolutely Outraged!!!!! 8/3/06  


I have to journal about an issue that really has my emotions stirred up and at a peak right now. A few weeks ago, Indiana started running some TV Ad Campaigns that are intended to raise awareness and “protect” the children of our state. They are run under the authority of a division of Family Services, called “Kids First”.

The 1st commercial that ran was of a family out on their back patio, with swimming pool, lighting a birthday cake for one of their children. Mom looks away for ONE SECOND to light the candles, and her baby/toddler apparently falls into the swimming pool and the next thing you hear is the sheer HORROR and PANDEMONIUM of Mom and Dad screaming, “BREATH! BREATH! SOMEONE CALL 911!!!!!!”

The tag-line at the end of the commercial says: “It only takes one second for a child to drown.”

The 2nd of the series of commercials that just began airing is along the same premise, however it includes a Mom who discovers that her new baby is not breathing. Upon discovering the horror, of course, she screams at the top of her lungs for her husband to call 911, shouting “She’s not breathing – she’s not breathing – call 911!!!!!!!!” Again, the tag-line at the end says something along the lines of: “Don’t ever allow your child to sleep with you…” Something like that. Even though it clearly shows Mom sitting on the couch, in the living room…So I’m not quite sure how they tie that point in.

Anyway, my point? I am OUTRAGED by these commercials. Sure, they are trying to do some good and raise awareness of the dangers that can harm/kill our children. What they have failed to realize, however, is that there are parents out there who will view the commercials who, by no fault of their own, and certainly by no neglect or ill-will, have had to deal with the SHEER HORROR and NIGHTMARE of finding their child dead. 

This latest commercial, especially, has really sent me into a tail-spin.  I think that I can safely presume that the people who developed and produced these commercials do not have first hand experience of walking in only to discover that their child is not breathing.  Seeing it and hearing the Mom scream LITERALLY takes me back to the God-awful Saturday morning of October 15, 2005 when I walked in to my worst nightmare, finding Emily not breathing, and screaming out exactly that:  OH MY GOD BRIAN, SOMETHING'S WRONG WITH EMILY - SHE'S NOT BREATHING - OH MY GOD - CALL 911!!!!!!!!" 

I cannot begin to express the emotion that this has stirred up in me. The solution? Don’t watch TV? Don’t think so. Sure, I could turn the channel, but to do that means that I have seen the beginning of the commercial, and that’s enough.

I have started the hunting process of trying to find someone from the State whom to contact to share my views/opinions and thoughts with.

I will be certain to update my journals when and if I get anywhere with this.

I am sick because of this – it just upsets me so much… 

By the way, not in any way to push their campaign or glorify what I'm talking about that is so upsetting, I'm including the link to the site where you can take a look for yourself - if you want to see what I'm talking about, you can view the ads online.  But be forewarned, parent or not, they will stir up some emotions that may not be very pleasant.  

http://www.in.gov/dcs/kidssafepsa2.html


Update 7/16/06  

Our trip to Wisconsin went better than expected. Of course, from my last journal entry, you know that I was petrified to go back ~ even though it wasn’t the 1st trip back since Emi’s death, I remember the horrible feelings that accompanied that 1st trip back, and I didn’t want to relive that.

I think that what made this trip so much better than what I expected was that we totally changed up scenery. For the first time, we stayed with close friends of ours and we socialized our families, all weekend long. We also got to see our family ~ and Beth & Beetle, our in-laws, moved into a new house…Which not only was great for them, but great for us, because that means that we don’t have to re-visit their home where Emily died. I know that Beth understands that…It’s not that I don’t like her old house – it’s the memories that are associated with that house, now, for us. She and I have talked about that and she totally understands.

From WI, we came home for one day, and then headed up to MI for the weekend. It was good to see old friends and some family, too. As great as all that was, it was good to get home ~ you know there’s no place like home. As with vacation and travel goes, we all lacked adequate sleep and so I accurately predicted that Katie would end up getting sick…not something that I wanted to be right about, but I was. She has had a fever and viral throat infection since Friday ~ I feel so bad for her because I can tell when her throat hurts by the way she talks…It’s as if she has a bubble in the back of her throat…And it’s quite swollen, too. L Poor baby – but she’ll get better soon…just lots of TLC, Motrin and fluids.

My pregnancy is going well. Noah is getting big and kicking regularly. He’s gonna be an active little guy ~ like his big sister Katie. I nicknamed Katie “My little kick boxer” when she was inside of me. Now, Emily, on the other hand, was as docile as can be, in utero, and that matched her sweet, easy-going personality after she was born. She was so much more of a cuddler, a lap baby ~ totally content just to snuggle. It’s amazing how our kids start to show their personalities, even before they’re born. J I am almost 22 weeks; just a little over half way – woo hoo! The Braxton-Hicks contractions are starting to be a very regular thing…If you know what those are, you know that they’re not painful, but they are quite uncomfortable.

Other than all that, summer is going well – the boys are officially “bored”, despite their outside toys, pool, TV, Playstation, etc. It doesn’t take long. This week, as are most of you, we are experiencing a huge heat wave – way too hot to even play or swim outside…YUCK!!!!

Thanks for reading, thanks for visiting Emi’s site and most of all, thank you for your continued prayers for our family. The sting of Emily’s death is still as real as ever and a very painful reminder, every single day of what we no longer have with us.


Scared...6/30/06  

It’s no doubt that the heartbreak that we feel after losing Emily is real. It’s as real for any parent who’s lost a child – unfortunately a common bond that we share with many in the world.

I guess the depth of that heartbreak really struck me when I woke up crying last night out of a sound sleep. I was having a dream and in my dream, I was replaying the loss of Emily and crying in my dream – but I was also crying in my actual sleep. Brian woke up and reached out, asking me if I was ok, and I woke up enough to tell him what I was dreaming and why I was crying … It was at that moment that I thought “Man, how deep this runs is really unexplainable.”

For so long I have been praying that I would have GOOD dreams of Emily; a dream where I can see that she’s safe, happy, complete in Heaven. Something that would put this aching Mommy’s heart to rest – at least a wee bit – because my emotional heart cannot understand that she’s ok without us; that she’s not scared without her Mommy and her Daddy. Of course my brain knows that must not be true because when you’re in the presence of Jesus, you are complete – but try to tell a Mom who’s lost her baby; the one who nurtured, cared for, protected her each and every day of her life….It’s not quite that simple to just “get”.

As we get ready to travel to Wisconsin, again, for the 4th of July weekend, I have so many fearful thoughts running through my head. I’m doing laundry today and trying to get the house in order. Hmmm, I did those things before we left for WI back in October of last year. Something I try to do before we leave town, just so that it’s nice to come back to a clean house. Yet, it turned out to be a very useful thing last fall, because little did I ever imagine that I’d be coming home to a houseful of 40 people … Waiting to embrace us after learning of our tragedy. So, you can see how my mind goes back to associate that. Maybe I should leave the house a mess, because maybe somehow, some way, that means that nothing bad will happen this trip. I know it sounds a bit ridiculous, but it’s just the thoughts that I’m having.

I’m also having a lot of mind association because we are in the process of potty-training Katie Joy. We have a potty chart up for her, books in the bathroom, etc. It was just 2-3 weeks before our WI trip last year that Emily was potty training. It was such a proud time for us; and then we had to come home, without Emily, with her shiny star-filled potty chart just STARING us in the face. So, similar events, you can see how the association takes place.

Please just pray for us; For me. It is SO not easy yet (not even close) to make the trips to WI. I am so fearful, so scared that something might happen again. Yet, we need to make these trips, because we have family/friendship relationships to maintain. Yes, they can also come to us, and they have – but we know that we can’t stop reaching out either, in the midst of our pain and healing. I guess it’s one of those things that however painful and unpleasant the memories are, you just have to do it. I’m not sure that if it weren’t for Brian, that I would be going…In fact I’m sure I wouldn’t.


It seems safer to me to hide, here, where it’s safe and nothing tragic happened. To go back is to walk into the heart of the tragedy and the middle of where our nightmare began.

Thanks for your continued love, support, prayers and tenderness toward us. Time may go on, but we still need those things more than ever!!!


Emily Kissed Her Brother ... 6/24/06  


The baby that I am convinced Emily kissed on the head and sent on its way to my tummy – we found out today is a baby boy! His name is Noah Luke and he is due to arrive on Thanksgiving Day – although my Doctor says she’ll bring me in the week prior, so that I’m not feasting on turkey in the hospital ;)

Truth be told, we were thinking (and hoping) it was another girl – we so wanted to give a girl Emily’s middle name, to pay tribute to Emi – but of course, we love, very much, a boy and that is what God has chosen to bless us with. We don’t understand His ways – that’s for sure – but we have to believe that He knows that another boy will be what our family needs right now.

When we got home from the hospital after our ultrasound today, already having chosen our boy and girl names, and now knowing that he is Noah, we looked up to see what Noah actually means. We were both very surprised to see that Noah means “REST and COMFORT” – How crazy is that? I think God is saying something here….

Anyway, Emi, thank you for taking care of this baby for us – thank you for sending him to us with a kiss and a blessing – and even though you won’t get to play with him on earth, we know you played with him in Heaven and we PROMISE you that we will teach him all about YOU - his BEAUTIFUL big sister, Emily Grace Gutreuter – our beautiful Princess whom we miss every moment of every day.

~ We love you baby girl and we miss you more than life itself. xoxo

To view a slideshow of Noah Luke - click here: http://tinyurl.com/ehm5n


Almost 8 Months.... 6/7/06  

I absolutely cannot believe that in 8 days, it will have been 8 full months since we have held our precious baby girl. 8 months since I nursed that beautiful little girl with precious red curls. She and I were so bonded ~ in a way that I never knew a Mommy and daughter could bond. There was something so unique and special there. There was a reason why she nursed for 2 ½ years and was difficult to wean. I tried. I remember Brian and I took a few weekend trips in the summer of 2005; one to Chicago and one to New York – both for competitions that he was in for work - and both times, I said that it’d be a perfect time to wean Emily – I mean, she would go the whole weekend without her “nu-nees” (that’s what she called nursing) and so I figured it could be a good start to weaning. Yeah right! J I remember coming home from New York and not being in the house for 3 minutes when I held her and she quickly lifted my shirt looking for her nu-nees. LOL She was crazy about that. And I was a very willing Mom, because it kept us close. I knew I was going to have to wean her soon, but it was something that I was, in no way, looking forward to. The forced weaning that took place through her death was NOT what I had in mind, that’s for daggum sure!

There are days when it seems like the longest, most agonizing, unbelievably surreal 8 months of my entire 34 year existence. Don’t get me wrong, the pain isn’t surreal – unfortunately, it’s ALL TOO REAL ~ but the whole experience….can we possibly be living this nightmare? Why did God choose US to endure this pain, this burden? I surely don’t think we’re anyone extraordinarily special ~ certainly we possess no unique strength that the rest of our friends and family don’t possess. So why? That is still such a HUGE question mark in my mind and still, we have no answers. 

Not only do we have no answers to our WHY questions, but we have no answers to the HOW question, either. It has been 3 months and 5 days since we last heard from the Coroner. That was when he asked us for our permission to dig a little deeper, telling us that he just couldn’t bring himself to sign Emily’s death certificate ~ at least not until he knew that he had personally exhausted every last effort to find a cause of death. Of course, we gave him our full consent. We still have heard nothing. I oftentimes think that I should call him, but I guess I just think that if he had any answers, he’d call us. I think that I will just give in and call him next week. It may not get me anywhere, but at least I know I tried.

The question still remains. How does a perfectly healthy, beautiful, full-of-life 2 year old go to sleep and simply die? Obviously, it happens, because Emily’s not here anymore, but does it really? The statistics of SUDC (Sudden Unexpected Death in Children) are STAGGERINGLY low odds. The chance of losing a child to SUDC is 1 in 100,000. WHY did our sweet Emi Grace have to be that ONE????? Now don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that we’ve been given a formal cause for her death, but the unknown does have a name to it, which is basically a diagnosis of exclusion. If you are interested, you can learn more about it at www.sudc.org

These are just a few ramblings from an aching Mommy’s heart, late one night. Tomorrow, Brian and I will celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We sit and marvel at what we’ve endured during a short 4 years. We’ve gone through more than many couples will ever see in an entire lifetime of marriage. Not anything to brag about, for sure. What is worth bragging about though, is God keeping us together through it all. Have we had our struggles? OF COURSE we have ~ but through it all, our commitment to each other has remained in tact and we cleave to one another through the unbearable days ~ the days that we think we just can’t go on. I’m grateful for my husband, my lover and my very best friend. He’s the best husband and father that anyone could ever ask for. 

Bless you all today. ;)


Thoughts From Mom & Another Song... 6/4/06  

I know that it's been a while since my last entry - I could say that things have been crazy busy around here, which they have, but that's really not the whole reason.  It's been hard to write lately.  I have really been having a lot of hard days, missing Emily, trying to understand WHY God has let all of this happen and still is SO silent through it all - giving us no answers, no seeming comfort ... It's been difficult for me.  

We put up a soft-sided pool in the backyard for the kids last week.  The whole time we were working on it and then afterward, Brian and I just kept thinking about how much Emi would have LOVED the pool.  She absolutely LOVED to swim and one time, when we were swimming with her, after about 2 hours in the pool, Brian said to Emi, "Emi, are you a little fishy?"  and Emily very maturely looked at Bri and said "No, I'm just Emily!"  :)  That was our sweet Princess!! 

In 11 days, it'll be 8 months since we lost Emily.  It seems like a lifetime ago, and yet it seems like the horror just happened yesterday morning.  Never in my entire life have I had a time frame like that filled with so many emotions, such raw and real pain ... It's just something that's so hard to put into words.  There are many days where I don't want to go on -- but I do, because I have a husband and children and a soon-to-be-born-baby, who all need me.  I am not the master of my time, I know that God is, so I still have to wait till He says it's time to be with Emi -- one day, I will NEVER ever have to let go of her again....EVER!

I heard another song yesterday, on the radio.  It was another one that I've heard a ton of times before, but never really, truly listened to the words.  I thought they were so appropriate, for where I am at now.  Granted, I am still struggling through anger and disappointment with God, but I do sense that He's gonna pull me through this - hopefully sooner rather than later.

Here are the words:



Praise You In This Storm   by   Casting Crowns

I was sure by now
God You would have reached down
And wiped our tears away
Stepped in and saved the day
But once again, I say "Amen"
and it's still raining

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God
Who gives and takes away

Chorus:
I'll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am
Every tear I've cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I remember when
I stumbled in the wind
You heard my cry You raised me up again
My strength is almost gone
How can I carry on
If I can't find You

As the thunder rolls
I barely hear You whisper through the rain
"I'm with you"
And as Your mercy falls
I raise my hands and praise the God
Who gives and takes away

Chorus

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

Repeat

Chorus
Very Poignant Song Lyrics 5/8/06  

As I was driving yesterday, all alone, a song came on the radio that I've probably heard a hundred times before.  It was one of those songs that even though I had heard it many times before, even could sing along, I really had never "listened" to the words - never really let them sink in.  I'm sure you know what I mean.

Anyway, as I did truly LISTEN to the words, I just lost it.  Yesterday was a pretty tough day for me emotionally.  Some days are just like that.  Good days and bad days - yesterday was a bad day.  

So, I wanted to post the lyrics to the song since it touched me so deeply.  I am still very much in the anger phase, but even amidst the anger, I know that God is still there.  I know that He loves us and that He doesn't harm us.  I know these things...I just long to one day, again, feel these things.  

He Will Carry Me - By Mark Schultz

I call, You hear me
I've lost it all
And it's more then I can bear
I feel so empty

You're strong, I'm weary
I'm holding on
But I feel like giving in
But still You're with me

And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me

I know I'm broken
But You alone
Can mend this heart of mine
You're always with me

And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need
He will carry me
He will carry me

And even though I feel so lonely
Like I have never been before
You never said it would be easy
But You said You'd see me through the storm

And even though I'm walking
Through the valley of the shadow
I will hold tight to the hand of Him
Whose love will comfort me
And when all hope is gone
And I've been wounded in the battle
He is all the strength that I will ever need

He will carry me
He will carry me
He will carry me


Depression 4/26/06  
As it's probably very apparent from yesterday's post, I am battling depression right now.  Depression has never really been something that I've ever struggled with, despite many ups and downs in my life.  I have always been a very happy person and a tough outer-shell and a smile has gotten me through.  

No smile is big enough to get me through this.  I think that the last 6 mos. have finally caught up with me.  It's not that I have hidden from the grieving process - God knows that's not true - but I just think that the enormity of it all has come to light and I am really struggling.  

My Obstetrician has started me on some Wellbutrin.  It has only been a week and a half, so it's too soon to feel the positive effects of that yet.  I am hopeful that it will do what it's supposed to.  I just know that with the intense hormones that I have racing through me right now with the pregnancy, coupled with the incredible stress of losing Emily, it's no wonder I'm dealing with this.  

I've been doing research and talking with my sister, who's  a Therapist, and it seems obvious to the both of us that I am also dealing with clear symptoms of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).  I am having regular flashbacks of the morning I found Emily and they are so hard to shake.  They are haunting and unbelievably horrifying.  The flashbacks, coupled with several other symptoms, it's pretty obvious that's what's going on.  Hopefully the meds will help - along with counseling.  I begin therapy next week and am looking forward (in a weird kind of way) to that.  I know it's gonna open up doors to things that will be far from pleasant, but I guess that's not too different than life right now -- right?

I can openly admit that I am dealing with anger.  I am angry at God.  If that shocks any of the "religious" who think that it's a sin to get mad at God - get over it - it's not.  God is the Author of our hearts and He is certainly big enough to handle my measly emotions.  As grounded in my relationship with Him as I was before Emily's death - and I was - I am just, right now, finding it VERY difficult to wrap my brain around the thought that the very God who allowed this to happen - who EASILY could have stopped it, but didn't; and the very God who knows EXACTLY what happened to Emi and hasn't given us a shred of answers - is the same God that I am supposed to be turning to for comfort and healing?  I know in my HEAD that's true, but daggum if it's not near impossible to reconcile that one in my heart...I know there's a time for everything and I know that God totally knows where I'm at - there will be a day when I have been healed and will be able to look back at this time and marvel at the road traveled - that day is just not today.

Anyway, all this to say:  After re-reading my journal from yesterday, it's probably way obvious that I'm very down.  I just thought it good to be honest and share where I'm at, maybe in hopes that it'd help someone, maybe just to put it out there, and maybe to help those who are praying for us, to know how to pray.

Even though it's almost impossible to feel it, I have to hang onto the belief that brighter days ARE ahead... 

I love you Emily Grace and I hope and pray that you're able to feel that love from afar.  I long so much to hold you, to kiss you, to stroke your beautiful red curls.  Never have I longed for something so desperately - something that is so completely out of my reach - yet something that , with every beat of my heart, is such a deep and agonizing desire.  I yearn for the day when it's "my time", because then, finally, I will get to spend the time with you that I should be spending right now - I love you sweet baby girl.  I miss you with every fiber of my being. 

Does The Pain EVER Go Away??? 4/25/06  
You know, it seems like for.... well forever now .... that there has been this gaping hole in our hearts that no matter what we do, what we say, how we try to live life, just doesn't go away.  As a mother, I believe it never will go away.  I believe that just like when you give birth to a baby, and your heart GROWS to permit more love for the new child, so does a part of your heart get ripped out, when you lose one of those very precious children that God gave to you.  Certainly not speaking as a pesimist, simply a realist, I don't believe that, this side of Heaven, that gaping hole in our hearts will ever go away.  I think it's just a fact of life that we'll have to learn to live with.  And therein lies the problem.  

How do you learn to live without your child?  You never, EVER want to forget - of course not...but to remember, at least right now, is such a stark reminder of what has been stolen from us - what we DON'T have.  

Today I was cleaning the house, in preparation for our Home Study tomorrow.  Side note:  Brian is legally adopting the boys, although emotionally, they were adopted 4 years ago...Anyway, I digress.  So, I was cleaning and just kept running across trinket after trinket of things having to do with Emi.  Pictures, cards, a little ceramic lamb that made me cry, thinking about her as our "little lamb", her obituary - something you should NEVER own for your child - just things that made today an exceptionally difficult day.

People don't ask so much anymore how we're doing.  I mean, maybe in general, but it seems as though the questions and inquiries about how we're coping and managing through our grief, both good and bad, pretty much subside.  That's a reality, but quite honestly, one that hurts.  For us, it's ONLY been 6 months since our daughter died.  For many others, who's daily lives go on, it's been 6 months.  We're not upset with anyone, just being honest, as I try to be in my journals.  And that's certainly not to say that NO ONE asks us how we are or reminds us that they are thinking of or praying for us - there are those of our friends/family who DO - and they know who they are - we are so very grateful for each of you.  I guess my feelings are that it's just generally not a widespread question anymore.  I don't know, maybe that's normal and maybe my feelings as it relates to this are not normal.  I know that life goes on - it seems that way anyway, except for the family who has lost a child.  

When I feel overwhelmed with the pain, I sometimes have to stop and remind myself that it's ONLY been 6 months.  6 months is not that long - yet sometimes, when you consider the pain and agony, it seems like a dauntingly long time...

I have to believe that brighter days are ahead...They have to be.
   This entry wasn't supposed to sound like such a downer - but I guess it ended up that way.  Sorry.

Sweet Thoughts Amidst Still Sad Days.... 4/13/06  
You know, when we found out that we were expecting a new baby, a few thoughts immediately flooded my mind/heart.  I thought it would be just like the Lord to allow Emily Grace to meet and play with this baby, in Heaven, before actually sending him/her to us.  At least for me, it was a sweet, comforting thought.  But truly, who's to say that doesn't happen?  Who among us is scholarly enough, or knows the ways of God, enough, to say that CANNOT happen?  No one!  

I was talking to a good friend last night who, out of the blue, asked me that very question.  She said "do you get a sense that Emily already knows this baby brother or sister?"  And then she went on to explain what she meant.  She felt like the Lord was clearly speaking to her last night, trying to communicate some things to me, since I have had a difficult time "hearing and feeling God" as of late.  She said that she very strongly felt that the Lord DID allow Emily Grace to meet, play with and kiss this baby before breathing its life into my womb and that the words Emily probably spoke to the baby were something along the lines of "Go now baby - go and meet your Mommy & Daddy - they are wonderful people and I will see you again someday soon..." 

When she shared that with me, it just resonated in my spirit with what I've already been feeling and of course, I cried like a baby.  How could any mother not?  I have such a hole in my heart because of Emily's death - and it's a hole that will never be fully filled, until I hold her in my arms again.

There has not been anyone who's had guts enough to criticize us for getting pregnant again, so soon.  And there better not be any.  If people are truly our friends, and truly know Brian and me for the people that we are, they know that we didn't choose to have another baby to "replace"  Emily.  For God sake, she is completely and utterly IRREPLACEABLE!  The reasons that we chose to have another one are personal and not up for judgment.  You just know that probably somewhere, there is one person who likes to stand in judgment and think they know best....Like I said, we have not encourntered any yet, and my hope is that we don't - because I don't want to have to come unglued.  ;)  My favorite saying as of late, is:  "Until you've walked a mile in someone's shoes...."  

There are not many people out there, thankfully, that know, first hand, the pain that we've endured, and still endure to this day, from losing a child.  I pray that no one reading this will ever have to know that pain, personally.  No one. 

Anyway, the point of this entry was to share the sweet, sweet thought of Emily meeting her baby brother or sister already and sending it on its way with a sweet kiss and a blessing.  I believe, with my whole heart, that happened, a mere 2 months ago!  ;)

Emily's Going To Be A Big Sister (Again!) - March 26, 2006  

Yep, that's right - finally some happy news in our family; a reason to smile.
Last week we found out that we are expecting baby #5!  We are very happy and feel God smiling down on us.

My due date is November 12, 2006.  The first baby in 5 that won't be an April or March baby.  Strange!

We know that Emily already knows this baby.  I believe, in my heart, that God allowed her to play with this little one before sending him/her to us...I think that Heaven is like that. :) 

There, of course, is sadness in our hearts that Emi isn't here on Earth to play and to be the amazing big Sissie that she was, but we just have to take comfort in knowing that Eternity will be given for she and her new baby brother or sister to bond and play all day and night.

We appreciate  your prayers for a healthy and safe pregnancy and delivery!

God is good! ;)


Emily Grace's First Birthday In Heaven 3/7/06  



3 years ago today, we were blessed with the birth of the most beautiful baby girl ever created.  We were just getting to know one another, that is of course, between pain killers for Mom, and naps.  It's hard to believe that in such a short 3 years, we have been so blessed by such a wonderful little girl, and that yet today, we sit without her - never in a million years would we have imagined that our lives would have taken this turn.  Emily was SO looking forward to this birthday, as her awareness of such things were just coming into full bloom.  At the end of September, after attending her friend Ally's 3rd birthday party, she just kept saying "Daddy, I want MY birthday, I want MY birthday!" 



It is very sad to not have her here to celebrate with, to buy presents for, to have her blow out her candles on her cake...all the things that a perfectly healthy toddler girl SHOULD BE doing!   I know that she must be having one heck of a birthday bash up in Heaven -- my logical mind knows that -- but my heart is having a hard time wrapping around that thought.

Today we all stayed home.  Granted, Nicholas was sick with a fever, but it was nice to all be home to just hold each other close and recount different memories of Emily. 

I made a birthday cake and cupcakes.  I just finished frosting them and we'll eat them after dinner.  We've been trying to think of where to go for dinner, trying to recall Emi's favorite places...and we all unanimously remembered PIZZA!!!!  Oh did that girl LOVE pizza!!!!  So after we get home, we'll sing to our Baby Girl and eat some cake for her.

We went to the cemetery and decorated her grave with some pretty pink flowers, some happy birthday balloons that we could stick in the ground and we released 5 balloons into the Heavens - one for each of us - and we stood there, in the chilly air, and watched them until we couldn't see a trace of them.  Going to the cemetery is definitely NOT how I thought I'd be spending my daughter's 3rd birthday.  It's unreal, really. 

I know that we've been wrapped up tight with thoughts and prayers today.  Thank you.  Thanks for the phone calls, emails, candles lit, etc.  We appreciate knowing that we are not alone in this awful journey...

Happy Birthday Sweet Emily Grace.  We love and miss you so tremendously and we're praying that you have a SPECTACULAR Birthday celebration in Heaven!!!!!  


Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby!
I wonder what it's like--
First birthday in heaven--
It must be a sight!
With angels to sing to you:
"Happy Birthday, Emi Grace"
and family and friends around you,
How happy you're sure to be.
Happy Birthday, Sweet Baby
from down here below.
We all miss you so badly,
and we still love you so.



Still Some Hope?? 3/3/06  

...On the heels of getting no answers from the Forensic Pathology study on Emily, last night we received a phone call from Barry, the Coroner who took care of Emi when she died.

He said that he cannot bring himself to issue her death certificate.  He said that if he had our permission (which we gave him willingly) that he’d like to obtain some more med. recs. on her and confer with another Pathologist.  He said that while there’s no guarantee that they’ll find anything, that he has unrest about not finding anything the first time around.

I just wanted to let you all know, as this phone call was encouraging to us.  We understand that there may simply be no answers, but we feel good knowing that these professionals, who probably issue hundreds of death certificates, yearly, care so much about our family and our daughter, whom they never had the pleasure of knowing while she was alive.

Please keep our family in your prayers as they continue to search ~ As most of you know, Emily’s 3rd birthday would have been next Tuesday, March 7th, so as we face yet another painful “anniversary” with her not here, we are grateful for those who surround us with love and support.


Time Keeps Ticking... 2/23/06  

Each day that passes, seems like a further reminder that we don't have Emily with us.  Of course it is - life keeps going on and while it's another day closer to being with her again, it's also another day spent in the pain of not having her here with us. 

As her 3rd birthday quickly approaches us, it seems as though I am dealing with more anger, more often.  Not anger toward any person, just a general anger that we won't get to see her celebrate her birthday as she so longed to do.  I journaled a few months ago that on the day that Brian and the kids picked me up from my trip down to New Orleans, that they went to a friend's 3rd b'day party and Emi kept saying "Daddy, I want my birthday!!"  Of course, not knowing the tragedy that lay just 2 weeks around the bend, Brian happily replied "You're gonna have your birthday soon, baby!"  Little did we know...

We have some awesome friends who are putting together a memorial night at our church on Friday, March 3rd, to remember Emi, support us, celebrate her birthday, etc.  I am very much looking forward to that as I know that many dear friends will be there to rally around us - I often think that people might not realize that even 4 mos. out, we still need tremendous support and love.  It's not that I think that they intentionally forget, it's just that everyone else's lives go on...as they should...but like I said, every day is a stark reminder to us of what we're missing.

Katie Joy is just the sweetest (well, ok, most days) thing ever - she talks about Emily as though she is just in the next room, going to walk in any moment.  Sometimes it's sweet, other times it cuts me like a knife.  She talks about Emi on a daily basis, many times a day.  She often says that Emi's jumpin' on the moon with Jesus, or sometimes when I get her up from her crib and am rocking her, she'll be in a half-dazed, sleepy state, and she simply mutters the words "Emi's in Heaven..."  How precious (and sad) is that???

Recently, I've uploaded several songs onto my MP3 player...most of the songs are inspirational and many sad kind of "I can't believe you're gone" type songs...They are healing though, albeit sometimes difficult to hear.  When I go to the gym in the mornings, I put this on when I run - there are a few songs that because of the upbeat tempo, I feel like I could run a marathon in a half hour, but then there are others that I feel, while running, like I could just melt into a puddle on the floor...Sometimes it's hard to see it at the time, but I really do think that there is something healing about music. 

There are a few songs that I am really into right now:  One of them is called "Emily's in Heaven" and I don't know the artist.  It's got a lot of harmonica in it, kinda bluegrass sounding...Anyway, it was as though it was written for our lives...Talks in the beginning about how he was half asleep when he heard the news; sad words on the phone.  He goes on to say that he could hardly believe his ears, he couldn't believe she's gone...Hearing that takes me back to the morning that I found Emi and made a bunch of phone calls - that I don't remember making - and when everyone heard the news (be it by us or a chain of calls made by friends), that was the common response:  "What?  You must be wrong - not Emily!!" 

The other song that I really like is called "Beauty From Pain" by a group called SuperChic[k].  The song, again, seems as though it was written just for us.  It really take the Scripture in Isaiah where it says that God will give us beauty for ashes...That is a promise that, while it seems impossible to my finite mind, and we may not see it happen today or even tomorrow, I am totally holding God to...


No Answer is THE Answer... 2/12/06  
...We got a call from Barry, the Dane Co. Coroner today.  He said, sadly, that the Forensic Pathologist has finished his findings and report and that the cause of Emily's death is formally, UNDETERMINED.  :(  He said that it's his first undetermined case in 2 years.

The brain tissue was studied, taking into consideration that Emi had an upper respiratory infection (common cold) and even with conferring with a Doctor at University of Wisconsin, they couldn't find a reason for death.

This, of course, hurts us.  I mean, it's not like an answer would bring her back, but now we will never know...That is, unless God decides to reveal the cause of death, somewhere down the road.

So, it's official - we have no answers.  This is just so hard, so sad...so undeniably wrong...
Difficult Day - 2/10/06  
Today I received an email about a talk that our very own Indianapolis Colt's Head Coach, Tony Dungy, recently gave at a Superbowl Breakfast.  He spoke a lot about his children and much about his son, James, who 2 days before Christmas, commited suicide down in Tampa, FL. 

Someone asked Tony, after the funeral, if knowing what he knows about Heaven (and knowing that James had accepted Christ as his Savior), would Tony wish him back here to Earth?  Tony, with confidence, said "I wouldn't.  As much as I know about Heaven, I know that James is safe and warm and in the arms of his Heavenly Father.  That is comfort to me." 

Since Emily died, I have asked myself the same question, countless times.  Knowing what my finite mind knows about Heaven, would I take her back if given the choice?  I have to be honest with you and say that my answer hasn't been as selfless as Tony's.  I would want her back.  I know that sounds so totally selfish and immature, but my pain just runs that deep. 
 
I cannot express to you the longing in my soul to hold my daughter in my arms again, to rock her, to kiss her, to nurse her again.  It's pain that I never knew humanly possible to feel.  It's pain that I have wrestled with God and asked him time and time again why He felt we needed to bear.
 
For some reason, today has been a very difficult, dark day.  I took Nicholas to school this morning and as I was driving back home, in the dark, this huge and sudden wave came over me - it was like total shock, horror and disbelief.  I said out loud "I CANNOT BELIEVE THAT EMILY IS GONE AND IS NEVER COMING BACK!!!!"  And then I started bawling.  I wrestled with God and reminded God that while He called Abraham to (almost) slay Isaac, that at least He gave Abraham a chance to prove his faithfulness to God.  I cried out and said "GOD!  You didn't even give us a chance to prove our faithfulness, you just TOOK HER AWAY, with no forewarning, no chance to say goodbye, nothing!!!!"  And then the thought occured to me -- If God would have given us a chance to give Emi back to Him...would we have done it?  Dear Lord, I cannot say that I would've been as faithful as Abraham. 
 
I don't think that's what this is about - but it's just an insight into the wrestling match that I am in with God right now.  Why'd He have to go and make me all skinny when He knew I'd be down on that mat with Him?  LOL  KIDDING!!!  Maybe it's just a reaffirmation of my weakness so that He can be strong...I dunno...I don't know much of anything these days, EXCEPT that I love and miss my daughter so very, very much - and that SOMEHOW, in this, God is still good.  He's still on the Throne and one day, He will give us the comfort that we need...One day.
 
I went to the Cemetary today and her headstone has been delivered.  I have such a hard time, at this point, going to the gravesite because all I can think when I go there is "Dear God, my 2 year old precious daughter is in this freezing cold ground..."  That is SUCH a difficult thing to get out of my head.  Brian tries to assure me that SHE is not in there...that SHE is warm and safe in Heaven...and the logical part of me knows that, but the MOMMY in me just sees that my baby is cold and alone and lifeless...So, going to the Cemetary is not yet a healing thing for me...I pray that one day it will be.
 
It's quite amazing how you can go days, maybe even a few weeks, and be "ok" (understanding that after your child dies, OK is a totally relative term) and then one day, BLAM!  it just hits you as though it were one of the very first days following death.  It's crazy.  I am learning that there is no rhyme or reason to grief.  Nothing that anyone can say is "normal" - I just think that wherever you are in the process, is normal for you. 

Ok, enough psychobabble for one day.  ;)  Thanks for "listening".

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