Emily Grace Gutreuter
Memorial website in the memory of your loved one
Her legacy
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Sleep... 2/9/06  
...and rest should be a precious thing.  It used to be.  But when you have your child die in their sleep, it moves from the realm of desireable and precious, into the realm of fear and scaryness. 

There has not been one night since Emily died that we have slept without fear.  Without the fear that Katie will die in her sleep.  Every single morning when I go to get her up, every single afternoon when I go up to get her up from her nap, I feel myself feeling apprehensive until I walk in and either hear her breathing or see her sweet face light up at the sight of Mommy. 

Right now she has a cold that is causing her to breath heavier.  I went in to check on her this morning (4:15 am) before leaving for the gym and she was very stuffed up with a messy nose.  It just makes us both so nervous.

For some unexplainable reason, neither Brian nor I have this fear about the boys.  Maybe it's because they're older and Emily was so young.  I don't know.  I just know that the fear that we feel is REAL.  I don't know how or when it will pass, or if it will EVER pass?!  I guess that's something that only God can take from us - when the time is right.

Sleep should be a parent's reprieve.  A time to breath easy and a reward for the day's hard work.  It is neither for us, right now...
Running For Emily 2/1/06  
Last year, at the beginning of my weight loss journey, I participated in the 29th Annual Indianapolis Mini-Marathon.  I was not conditioned to do the whole thing (13.1 miles) so I participated in the 5k and I walked/ran it.  My goal was to run the whole thing in 2006, however when Emily died, I couldn't even imagine putting the emotional or mental effort into the training that is required.

I graciously bowed out, to the disappointment of my closest friend, Cheryl.  Last night, however, she presented me with an idea that I think might be good.  Since losing 100 pounds in the last 10 months, I do have something to celebrate.  We are going to run this year's Mini Marathon FOR EMILY!  We are going to have shirts made up with Emi's picture on it, as a tribute to her.  I can just see that beautiful girl up in Heaven cheering her Mommy on!  I know that she'd be proud of me - and if I can mentally prepare myself that I'm doing it FOR HER, then I have no doubt that I can train, prepare and FINISH!!! 

So, the next several months will be filled with lots of running, walking, cross-training (which Cheryl and I have already begun) and it will all come to and end on Saturday, May 6, 2006 with lots of hard work, sweat and no doubt, TEARS!

Emi, Mommy's gonna do this one for you, sweet baby girl!!! ;)

***UPDATE*** Emi Grace, Daddy decided that he's going to run this year's Mini for you too!!! :)  This will be his very 1st Marathon too, so I know you'll be so proud of him!  I hope you can see down from Heaven on us and that you'll be smiling when you see dozens and dozens of people wearing shirts with your beautiful, bright smiling face on their backs!!!   We love you Beautiful Girl!!!! ;)
This Nightmare IS Reality! 1/30/06  
There are many times when we just wish for this nightmare to end, and that we could wake up, only to find our precious Emily in our arms.  And then when I think things like that, I quickly realize that while this FEELS like a nightmare, it is, in fact, quite our reality.  Stark reality. 

Brian and I have had a rough couple of weeks.  Usually when he's down, I'm a little more up, and vice versa.  I think God does that on purpose so that one of us can hold the other up.  He's gone to sleep crying the last couple of nights - just such an aching inside for our Emily.  Usually I end up having a breakdown on Sunday nights after watching Extreme Home Makeover.  The stories are always so touching and it usually is all I need to get a good cry going.  I didn't watch it last night, however, so maybe I needed a little reprieve.

Emily's 3rd birthday is coming up in about 5 weeks.  We plan on taking that day as a family day and possibly keeping the boys home from school.  I don't know exactly what we'll do, other than go to the Cemetary, but I do fully expect that it'll be a difficult day. 

10 days after that, we will go back to WI, to spend the weekend with family.  We will go back to our sister/brother-in-laws' home to stay, which is where Emily died.  We know that it is going to be VERY HARD, but it's something that has to be done, and Brian seems to think that it will be a hurdle that, if we can jump, will greatly help in our healing process.  Of course, we love our family and want to spend time with them, we don't want to avoid going to their house, but we're also not naive, we know that it's going to flood back all of the memories of that awful, awful morning.  It has to be done, though. 

We still have not heard from the Forensic Pathologist.  I almost feel silly calling the Coroner again, because I trust that if he has info, he'd call us.  He's been very compassionate every time we've spoken with him, assuring us that Emily hasn't been far from his thoughts, almost daily.  

What we're seeing, clearly, is that our Emily Grace has touched many, many lives.  The counter on her website (as of today, almost 3500 hits) tells that story very clearly.  We just have such a hard time understanding God and why, if she has been such a blessing in her life and now in her death, to so many, He didn't just allow her to remain here with us and continue to bless many.  It just doesn't make sense.

Of course, as you can imagine, there isn't much that makes sense these days.  We're just trying to face each day as it comes and make it through.  Some days, that's a VERY tall order!  

Thanks for your continued thoughts, prayers, phone calls, emails.  We still desperately need support.  Sometimes it seems like everyone else gets on with their normal lives and here we sit.  I know it's just our grief, but sometimes it can make you mad.  That's one reason why it still touches us so much when people reach out to us ~ it reminds us that we have not been forgotten, nor has Emily Grace been forgotten. 

We will never forget...We love you Emi Bear! xoxo
3 Long Months.... 1/15/06  
...It seems like a LIFETIME ago that we held our beautiful girl in our arms.  A lifetime ago that we heard her giggle, her sweet silly words, and were blessed, daily, with her love for life.  Yet, it's just been 3 months - exactly 3 months ago, today, we lost one of the most precious little girls that God ever, ever created.

In a lot of ways, I can't believe that it's been 3 months - it's been 3 full months of a painful, agonizing void that cannot be described with mere words.  Emily would be very close to her 3rd birthday, if she were still with us.  She wanted (what she called) "my birthday - I want my birthday, Daddy!" so bad!  The day that they came to pick me up from returning from my Mission Trip back from New Orleans, Emi and the rest of my family went to her best friend's (Ally) 3rd birthday party.  It was then that she told her Daddy, for the first time, "I want MY birthday, Daddy!"  Of course, her Daddy told her, soon baby, soon it'll be YOUR birthday!  Little did we know....she'd be celebrating her birthday with Jesus, in ways we can't even imagine.

Where are we, 3 months later, in our grief?  I can surely tell you that we've moved out of the shock, horror and disbelief stages.  But we still ache.  We ache for the absence of one of the most vibrant, beautiful 2 year olds ever created.  We are going to start counseling soon, which I believe will be good, because there are times where I think that we may be dealing with a little bit of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) just based on the things that will flash into our minds that seem so terribly awful.  Things that I wouldn't even dare describe, but suffice to say that they're horrible thoughts about things that *could* happen our other kids - things that a parent would never think of being possible, I guess until you're faced with an unexpected, totally unanswered death of another child.  There are still so many days where we go into Katie Joy's bedroom to get her up, gripped with the fear that she may not be breathing.  When we go in and hear her breathing, I cannot even tell you the sigh of reflief that we feel.  Again, there's no logic that can combat these fears, because there was no logic behind finding Emily, who was perfectly healthy, dead and not breathing.  If you don't have a frame of logical reference to combat these fears, then how do you do it? 

There are still many "grief bursts" that occur, not quite daily, but sometimes they are everyday.  There is, of course, not a day that goes by when we don't miss our sweet angel, and of course there's not a day that goes by that we don't think of her and miss her contribution to our wonderful family.  We talk about her daily and are constantly recalling sweet memories and verbalizing these to her little sister, Katie Joy, so that Katie doesn't forget who "Emi Gwace" is.  :)  The other night, after looking out her window at the moon, Katie exclaimed "Emi Gwace in moon with Jesus!"  Sweet, huh?  But also painful to hear. 

Of course we still have so many questions - and no answers.  I think that as time passes, we are coming to realize that maybe God will not tell us WHY - not now, anyway. 

What we do know is that Emily's life and Emily's death have touched MANY, MANY people.  People that we don't even know.  I cannot begin to tell you how many emails we have received from people who have stumbled across Emily's site, many who were directed here by friends, etc., and how many of them have told us what an amazing blessing the contents of this site have been to them.  Many have told us that reading our story has caused them to cherish their children more - putting into perspective the truly important things in life, like spending more quality time with their children, putting off those bills that need to be paid until after they're in bed...The list goes on...

We are grateful that, in some way, our story, our family can be a blessing to others.  Yet, what a high price that comes with.  A price that I cannot honestly tell you, yet, is worth it.  Couldn't God have chosen to use us to bless others in some other way?  Did He have to take our gorgeous daughter away from us to do so?  I guess so - but it sure doesn't make sense to me.  I am reminded of the verse in the Bible that says "...His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are higher than ours..."  I guess that would apply here.

If you are reading this, please pray for our family.  Please pray that God would continue to comfort our hearts and apply the healing balm to our lives that we desperately need.  Please pray that He would give us some sort of vision of Emily playing in Heaven - we so desperately want/need that.

If you are reading this, please pass this site onto someone else.  The more people whom we can share Emily's story with, the more we can carry on her Legacy.  She was (and still is) such a beautiful, amazing little girl - and if she lit our Worlds here on Earth so brightly, I can only imagine that she's BLINDING those in Heaven with her bright, beautiful sunshine!!!

We love you Emily Grace, so very, very, very, very much.  We cannot imagine living out the rest of our lives without you sweetheart.  But God says that it has to be done.  That being the case, just know that we absolutely cannot wait to get to Heaven to be reunited with you - to play with you - to hold you - to kiss you - to love on you and make up for all the time that we have lost with you.  Until then precious baby girl, Mommy & Daddy love you!!!! ;)  xoxo
That Empty Feeling Inside 1/10/06  
Never have I felt such an empty feeling inside the deepest part of my soul, my being.  Never have I (we) wanted something to change so much - and never have we been so helpless in that situation changing.  Many times in life when we want something bad enough, as adults, we can do something about it.  We can go out, work harder, do whatever is necessary to achieve what we are desiring.  Not so in this case.  We want our sweet baby girl back.  Yet, we have absolutely ZERO say or control in that.  It leaves you with the most hopeless feeling known to man.  Sure, God is with us, but so far, that hasn't taken away the feeling of total helplessness that we feel. 

Last night was an emotionally tough night for all of us.  I could tell that the boys were missing Emily a lot, as they put her CD in their player to play, on repeat, all night long.  They both also asked for her fuzzy elephant and fuzzy ducky to sleep with.  We saved these for Katie, but ironically enough, they have held great meaning to the boys, so we let them sleep with them whenever they want.  These were 2 stuffed animals that Emily adored and didn't go to nap or bed without.  We had them in her casket and then were sure to retrieve them before we buried her. 

Brian and I also felt that sadness last night...It's strange how it comes in waves sometimes.  :( 

I am finding that my personal struggle right now seems to be believing that God really *wants* to answer our prayers.  When you go so long and see so many prayers unanswered, it's hard to believe that He truly *wants* to bless you. 

We pray for so many things - things that certainly line up with His will.  Most specifically right now, we've been praying blessing on Brian's work.  He has invested 100% of who he is, talents that he has and effort, and things are not paying off.  You can only hold out so long when you have a family to feed.  So he is praying for direction ~ whatever path that leads him to, as long as it puts food on the table and pays the bills, we really don't care.

The last words I breathed last night before falling asleep were "God, please tell Emi how much we love and miss her; and please give her a big hug and kiss from us!" 

Just a few random thoughts from a Mommy sitting in her robe, one cup of coffee down, and who needs to get her butt to the gym to go to spinning class.  There are no words that can do justice to how much I miss my beautiful Emily Grace ~ no words at all.
Been Doing A Lot Of Thinking... 1/3/06  
...About the morning of Saturday, October 15th.  As you can fully imagine, it's a day that we'll never forget, and one that still replays over and over and over in my mind.  There isn't a day that goes by that my mind doesn't, in some form or fashion, take me back to the tragic events of that day.

That said, I just had to write a bit about the wonderful people that God Divinely hand-picked to be around us that day.  I don't think it was any mistake that we were in Wisconsin, 350 miles from home.  Had we been in our own home, sure, there would have been good friends here in a heartbeat to hold us up, but God saw fit to surround us with our family and a few very close friends the day that Emily met Jesus.

We were so grateful to have Gramma Sally, Grandpa Larry, Beth, Beetle, Aunt Julie and our dear, dear friends Rob and Renae with us.  Each of them came flying to our sides when they learned what had happened.  We love each of you.

But even beyond family, I want to talk about several people that we met for the first time that morning.  Brian and I are so grateful for the Police, Paramedics, Investigators and the Coroner that was on the scene.  The first thing I remember is after making the dreaded 911 call, that the Paramedics seemed to be there in a flash.  I don't remember any of their names, but I will NEVER forget the look on the face of the man who came in and took Emi from my arms.  His face said it all.  There was a team of them that took her out to the ambulance and one or two that held me up by my arms as they walked me out to see her and say goodbye.  They just kept saying over and over, "we're so sorry ma'am, we're so sorry."  If anyone from the Madison Police Department reads this and remembers who those men were that morning, PLEASE pass on Emily's website to them so that they can share in her spirit and her life - it is not fair that the only chance they had to meet her was after she was dead.  The baby girl that they saw that morning didn't get the chance to show them how precious, beautiful, goofy, silly and just plain wonderful she really was!! ;)  

After the Paramedics, we clearly remember Bernie Gonzalez and Sean Ziegler being the two main Officers on the scene.  I know that they are both Christians.  I remember, as if it were yesterday, Sgt. Gonzalez walking out to the ambulance with Brian, the boys and me and he sat up in there holding my hand as we prayed over Emily.  She was gone and we knew that, but he put his faith with ours and his love for God shone through for us as he tried to comfort us, in some way.  I remember that when we got out of the ambulance, again, I could barely stand up, Bernie said to us:  "God works all things together for good..." (Romans 8:28) He said "You may not feel it now, but you will one day..." 

Sean Ziegler was the officer assigned to questioning us about the events that lead up to us finding Emily.  He had to take each Brian and I off separately to ask his questions, as as a Dad of 3, I know that had to be very difficult for him.  I remember just being wrapped up in a blanket, feeling sick to my stomach, tingling and shaking from head to toe from hyperventilating and laying on the bed when he was asking me questions.  Yet, through it all, he was very gentle, very respectful. 

The same rings true for Dets. Vicki Anderson and Al Rickey.  Vicki began her questions at the house, but had to follow us to the ER where I was taken, by ambulance, to be checked out because I was hyperventilating and felt as though I would pass out at any minute.  She sat in the room where family goes when they learn that they have lost a loved one, and with that same blanket wrapped around me (My sister in law sent that blanket home with me and it now holds a special meaning to me), she gently and with respect, asked me the tough questions that HAD to be asked in order to see that, clearly, nothing other than an unpreventable, natural death had occured in our daughter. 

Barry, the County Coroner was also one of the first on the scene and his professionalism and care with us was also evident.  Since that day, he has taken time to speak with us on the phone and has repeatedly offered himself anytime we have questions or just want to talk.  He has been an advocate for us in the effort to gain answers in a situation that just makes no sense. 

The morning after Emily died (Sunday morning) and before we left to drive back to Indiana, one of the Officers stopped back by the house to drop off a card that they all signed for us and in it was a monitary donation for our family.  Again, something they did not have to do, but because of their character, it proves the compassion that they showed to our family in this horrible situation.

Why did I feel it necessary to write this all out?  I guess in a way to give public THANKS to a few men and women who did an extraordinary job one Saturday morning.  They came upon a scene that was undeniably the singlemost difficult thing that a family would have to face, and they handled themselves with professionalism and they treated us, during the most vulnerable time of our lives, with dignity and great respect.

So, Vicki, Bernie, Sean, Al, Barry and all of the other Officers and Paramedics who came and shared with us a few hours of Emily's post-life and the beginning of an entirely different life for our family, we thank you, from the bottom of our hearts for all that you did for us and for the ways in which you took a horrible situation and made it a little more bearable for us.  Evidently, the ways in which you treated us have touched us, as we still remember it, even in the middle of our grief and pain. 

It is obvious that God has placed each of you in the professions that you're in, for a good reason.  Continue to do the great jobs that you each do and I know that you'll touch many more lives as you have ours.  I just pray that no other family has to meet you all and experience your goodness under the same circumstances that we did. 
Spoke With The Coroner 1/3/06  
Well, Brian and I dialed in on a 3-way call to Barry, the Coroner who came and took our precious daughter that awful morning.

The latest is this:  The Forensic Pathologist is still communicating with other Doctors at UW as well as conferring with Emily's Pediatrician and her medical records and so the brain tissue study is still out. 

The Tox Screen, however, did come back -- COMPLETELY NEGATIVE, as we fully expected.  So, that's 1 test that we now have results for.  Like I said, we fully expected that the tox screen would come back negative because both Brian and I knew that Emi didn't get into anything, coupled with the fact that the autopsy showed no traces of anything that might have been ingested, resulting in organ damage or organ failure. 

Barry did say, however, that he wouldn't have expected any answers on the path studies to be in before the middle of January.  He went on to say, though, that the longer the study is out there, the more concerned he grows that they won't find anything. 

So, we continue to play the waiting game.  Like I've said before in my journaling, even if we do get an answer, it will only tell us HOW and not WHY.  I guess God is in charge of answering the WHY question ~ someday. 

WHY is the biggest, yuckiest 3-letter word in the entire world!!!!!  :( 

Thanks to all who've inquired about the test results...We will surely keep you posted.
Ready For A New Year, New Beginning - Still No Answers 12/31/05  

Exactly 12 weeks ago, our world changed forever.  We still have no answers as to why Emily died.  Early next week, I will try to contact the Coroner to see if he can give us any idea as to how much longer the studies will be out.  Although we anxiously await SOME sort of answer, we understand that no matter what comes back, if anything at all, it might answer the HOW, but will never answer the WHY.  

Grief is just such a weird thing.  I am learning that these "grief bursts" can hit at anytime, any place, no matter what else is going on around you.  Last night, we were surrounded with probably 16,000+ people at the Indiana Pacers Basketball Game.  It was a second attempt at a night out with our boys to take our minds off of our current situation.  The first time we attempted to get down to see a game was 11/20 and that's the night our house caught on fire.  Obviously, we never got to the Fieldhouse to watch the game.  So last night, we're there and the game is just about to begin...Suddenly, the camera went to our own Indianapolis Colts' Head Coach, Tony Dungy, who was in the crowd.  Everyone gave him a standing ovation and a very warm applause.  You see, just 9 days ago, Tony's 18 year old son commited suicide in Tampa, FL.  He flew down for the funeral and to be with the rest of his family, who resides in FL, and about a week later, came back to resume his responsibilities as Head Coach.  It was so good to see him there and I know that the warm welcome from the crowd blessed his heart.  As for Brian and I though, it set us on the sad track in our minds.  For the rest of the game, I thought of Emily, cried a bit and then when we left and got into the van and the boys wanted us to pop in "Emily's Song" on CD, I just lost it.  I cried the entire way home.  

I am to a point in my grief where I am just pissed off.  Not a bitter anger, just a real, true anger.  I feel (and I speak for both of us, not intending to make this exclusive, it's just my thoughts I'm typing out) so cheated and ripped off.  I am angry to know that I will never see my daughter again, as long as my Earthly life continues.  I am angry that we have been robbed of all the wonderful things that Emily would have done, shown us, given to us, etc.  I am angry that in 13 years, we will think of her as she would've turned 16 years old, wondering what she'd be like, how sweet she would be...There is not much comfort that I take right now in hearing others say "Yes, but you will spend Eternity in Heaven with her..."  Ok, while that's true and a nice sentiment, it doesn't help right now, because Eternity seems as though it will be an eternity away...So, another peek into a grieving parent's heart...Sometimes the things we think are comforting, even with the best of intentions, are not.  One day, these same things will bring comfort, just not right now.

It does continually amaze me how one moment I am ok, and the next can be just riveted with pain, anguish and anger.  Grief is an uncharted territory for us both (certainly in the realm of losing a child) and so what comes is so foreign and unexpected sometimes.  My sister Amy continually reminds me that it's a good thing that we are dealing with the feelings as they come, as opposed to bottling them up, denying them or pushing them down.  I agree with her.  As much as it hurts to feel these things, I know that it's all a part of the healing process.  It's a process that just plum SUCKS.  Yet somehow, through it all, God is still present, God is still good.  My head knows that right now, it's my heart that yearns to feel that again.  In due time.

Thanks to all of you who have continued to support us through this.  Thank you for your phone calls, cards, candles lit, tributes written, etc.  We couldn't make it through without each and every one of you.  I've said it before, but I'll say it again:  We'll need this support for a long time to come...if we are to make it through this tragedy with any semblance of sanity.

We love you all.  ;)

Christmas - Without Emily 12/25/05  
We knew that Christmas would be hard this year...probably to some degree, every year.  I can't even begin to tell you the void and emptiness that we felt this morning watching 3 of our children open their presents.  The room was so void of the excitement that Emily would have contributed.  She would light up even the darkest room with her smile, her voice, her personality. 

The boys enjoyed opening their presents and Katie, who's still just a year old, opened a few, but would get too distracted to follow through, so Brian and I would end up opening many for her, and then showing her what she got.  Yet the whole time, amidst the excitement that the kids felt, I couldn't help but wonder...What if Emily were here? 

It's times like this where it's still so unreal that she's gone.  The stark realization that just hits us in the face:  We will never see her beautiful face again, until it's our turn to go to Heaven.  NEVER.  God that hurts.  It's more of a deep pain than either one of us have ever known.  It truly cuts to the soul. 

We had planned to go visit Emi's grave today, but it rained for the first half of the day and now it has turned to a very slushy snow/rain...So it'd be way too sloppy to trek out there...But the boys have the entire next week off of school, so no doubt we'll make it out there at least once to visit her site. 

I remember when Christmas was a time to rejoice and get excited - excited because of the joy that lay in our children's hearts and faces....Gosh, that was just last year.  I have a feeling that it won't feel that way again, for a long time to come. 

I wish for normalcy this coming year.  I know that to truly have that would be to have Emi back, so I know my head is in the clouds, but nonetheless, that's what I wish for ~ I miss my precious baby girl so much...It hurts so bad. 
It's JUST Tylenol!!! 12/19/05  
Ok, it's pretty amazing the toll that fear and a lack of answers can take on a person. 

So Katie Joy is sick now, running an average of 103 fever (that's normal for her when she's sick - she's gone as high as 105/106 before!).  We have not given her ANY medication since Emily died, 9 weeks ago, just because our fear still runs deep.  While we KNOW that the cold medicine that we gave Emi the night before she died didn't cause her death, the notion still messes with you.  We know that the med didn't cause her death because a) we gave the same stuff to Katie that night, and b) the autopsy revealed no signs of poisoning, etc.

But anyway, fear is still a very real thing.  So we gave Katie her first dose of Tyelnol yesterday and of course, she did fine.

We were also VERY nervous about putting her down to bed in her own crib last night...After all, the last time we put Emily down to sleep when she had a cold and slight fever, she died.  Holy crap!  SIGH...

We left Katie's door open all the way last night and she did sleep through the night, waking early at 6am this morning.  She's been a fussy girl, still having a fever today, but she's here and that's the most important thing!  ;)

It's amazing how when we face life's biggest tragedies, that it puts into perspective how truly trivial the other things that we tend to worry about, on a daily basis, are.  I hate that it had to take such an AWFUL life event to come to that realization.  

So as you're out this Christmas Season, fighting the crowds, doing last minute shopping, etc., this week; or even returning gifts next week - please don't get too aggravated that you're waiting in line for a long time - don't treat others rudly because they're foaming at the mouth - realize that just the simple fact that you're OUT THERE, means that you're alive and that you've been given the gift of another day to live.  Now, if I can just remember my own advice! ;)
Christmas?? 12/14/05  
...It almost seems pathetically pointless and very difficult to get into the spirit of Christmas this year.  Everyone floods the streets, the malls, the stores...and I wonder...I wonder if any of them have the same experiences that life has dealt us in the last 2 months?  Have any of them ever lost a child?  If they have, how did they get through the first Christmas?  How will we make it through this Christmas??  There are so many things that I wonder now...

We don't have the 1st decoration or even our Christmas Tree up yet.  It's no wonder - we still have contractors coming in and finishing their work as a result of our recent house fire.  Today, they're laying the kitchen floor and putting up some cabinets.  Things are still in total disarray, no doubt adding to my lack of desire to put up a tree or do anything remotely "Christmas-like".  If it weren't for Brian, we wouldn't have our tree up this year.  He thinks we need it up though, at least for the kids.  So I guess it'll go up this weekend. 

This morning, as the guys were here working, Katie and I were sitting and watching her favorite show, "Diego" on Nick Jr., and like a wave, the stark realization just hit me:  "I cannot believe that I am sitting here, at home, with only one child."  I miss Emily so much.  She was such an integral part of my day, adding SO much joy and sunshine to every moment of my day.  It's so different without her.  We do believe that Katie senses her absence ~ how can she not?  There have been times where Katie will just seem sad ~ I have found her off in the corner at times just sitting there, looking sad.  There was one instance, this past weekend, when Brian put her down for her nap, and after she was asleep for a while, she just cried out, a horrible cry.  Bri went up to check on her and she was just totally inconsolable.  He tried to rock her, but to no avail.  So, he set her down on the floor and she just walked into the closet in her room and just stood there, crying.  It is so heartbreaking.  It's hard enough for us, but to try and imagine what our baby girl must be thinking.  And how does she deal with it?  She's too young to talk about it; too young to process it.  All she knows is that her big sissy, Emi, is gone and has been gone for,in her small mind, forever now.  Just heartbreaking.

We got an email from one of Nick's (age 11) teachers today saying that she's concerned because in the last week or so, his attitude and behavior has changed, greatly.  Nicholas has never been an over-achiever at school, but it's always been a performance issue and never an attitude or behavior issue.  He's acting out with other kids, trying to "impress", I guess you could say, the "bad kids", etc.  So it was a little disconcerting to hear this.  We did speak with his counselor this morning though, and she feels like it's perfectly normal for him to act out a little bit, considering what he's been through.  She said that honestly, she rather see him act out a little bit than not at all, because that would mean that he's internalizing everything and not letting it out, which wouldn't be healthy.  So, all that to say this:  Please continue to keep our family in your prayers.  Please pray specifically for:

      * Our Kids; that they would be able to process this grief in a healthy way ~ in a way that would ultimately have a positive outcome on thier character and how they are shaped as young men.  That they would learn, through this, to totally rely upon God and His mercies.

      * Brian's work; that he would be able to focus as fully as possible on the tasks at hand, even through his own grief.  It's been hard for him.  Pray that he would be given others to work on his team so that he can be promoted to District Manager and that his salary would stay steady and that commissions would start to come in like crazy.  The last thing that we truly need to be concerned with right now is finances. 

      * For Brian and Me; that God would continue this healing process in us.  There are many times where it doesn't feel like we've even begun to heal.  We still hurt so bad and miss Emily more than life itself.  The pain is so real and yet we still have to somehow go on living our lives and being the best parents that we can be for our other 3 children.  Pray that in all we do, we carry on Emily's legacy, her memory, her spirit, her joy.

This has been a good outlet for me to share my feelings and insights into this journey.  We are so blessed and surrounded by such love, compassion and concern.  Thanks to all of our friends and family who have continued to rally around us ~ we will need that for a long time to come.  Please especially remember us in your prayers and thoughts as we try to make it through this Christmas season. ;)
From Mom's Heart... 12/8/05  
There isn't really a place for journaling on here, so I thought I'd create one.  I feel the need to update and share feelings along this most difficult journey...

It's been almost 8 weeks since our beautiful baby girl died.  I can't believe that I even typed that.  It is SO not right.  This couldn't have happened to us - it only happens to OTHER people ~ not us.  Don't get me wrong ~ we are not in denial.  We are fully aware and understand what has happened in our family.  Trust me.  We live with the sadness and reality of it every day.  But it's just still so unbelievable to us that our daughter, who was in perfect health, went to bed and didn't wake up.  We still have no answers from the Coroner or the Forensic Pathologist's offices.  They anticipate that it'll take a full 2-3 mos. for the tests to be finished and even at that, they told us not to count on finding anything.  Many people ask if we've gotten answers yet, but we have not.  And by the way, it is ok to ask that question.  That doesn't cause us more pain.  It's also ok to talk about Emily, ask about our memories, share your memories, etc. ~ We have not nor will we ever forget Emily and we will always talk about her, so it's ok for others to do the same.  It will not make us feel uncomfortable ~ quite the opposite actually.  If you don't mention her, it will hurt us ~ she was and is still so much a part of our family and a part of who we are.  Just a little inside info from grieving parents.  :)

Last night we started at Brooke's Place ~ a place for young people who are grieving.  It's primarily for the kids, but when the kids are in their sessions, with other kids who've lost either a sibling or a parent, there is a support group for the parents.  Our group last night consisted of about 10 people, all parents, all who've lost a child.  It was so sad.  One Mom's son commited suicide at the age of 21, almost a year ago.  One parents' daughter was killed by a drunk driver, on their residential street (We actually knew this family). One couples' daughter was diagnosed with Lukemia in Nov. '04 and died by Jan. '05.  One Mom was there whose 3 year old daughter drown in her bathtub in April of this past year.  One guy lost his 16 year old son in a car wreck, with 3 other teens, in 2001.  The leader of our group lost his 2 year old son, 2 years ago, in their backyard swimming pool.  Needless to say, it was a room filled with much sadness, many questions, and tons of people saying "THIS SUCKS!"  But overall, it will be good to be acquainted with people who know, first-hand, as a parent, what we're going through.

The boys definitely enjoyed their time last night.  We'll go on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of the month and they said in the van last night, "I wish it was every Wednesday!"  So, that's a good thing! :)

Christmas Season is upon us.  I can't say that I care much this year.  I think that's completely normal.  I don't see myself getting cards out this year.  After losing Emi and then suffering a house fire 5 weeks later, I doubt that anyone really expects us to be sending Christmas cards.  If they do, then I'm thinking they have some serious issues.  :) 

We have been surrounded by a lot of love and support during this time.  Even though none of our friends or family truly know, as parents who've lost a child, what we're experiencing everyone has been very loving, gentle, concerned and supportive toward us.  For that, we are very grateful.  We certainly don't minimize the pain that we know our family and friends feel, however.  We know that 2 sets of Grandparents lost their granddaughter.  4 Aunts lost their neice.  4 Uncles lost their neice and many many friends lost a little girl who was so near and dear to them.  Brian and I know that our pain is far from exclusive!!  ;)

This morning I had to meet with the man from the grave marker company and had to finalize the selection for Emi's headstone.  Just another thing added to the list of things I never thought I'd have to do, don't want to do and think is just completely unfair.  Wilson owns his own company though and he's been just wonderful to us.  Speaking of wonderful, we can't say enough about Dustin Miller, the Funeral Director at Shirley Brothers Mortuary here in Fishers.  We have been so blessed by his compassion, gentleness and love for our family.  I personally could never imagine having his job, but he is obviously very cut out for it ~ no doubt it's his calling. 

We are still trying to get our house in order from the fire.  There are still several things that the Contractors have to finish, so until those things are done, we're still in complete disarray.  We have had so many wonderful friends take tons of our laundry to get that done for us - since all of our clothes (yep, every single piece) had to be washed to get the smoke and soot off of them.  People are surrounding us from every side and each day asking "what can we do for you?  what do you need?", etc.  It's been a blessing and we are definitely rich with wonderful friends. :)

This is long enough, for today.  It'll be good to read back on these as the days, months and years pass, to see how the grieving process takes shape.

One Little Girl Touched Many Lives  

As Brian and I have reflected upon Emily's funeral service, we stand amazed at how many lives our precious baby touched.  We knew what an amazing little girl God gave us, but we truly had no idea of how many others lives were changed or touched because of her.

There were several people at her funeral who got up to speak of these things.  There were many who wanted to, but just couldn't.  We understand and we know that you loved Emily very much.

As we hear stories of how Emily or the funeral service or simply watching us walk this road now touches people, we will be posting these stories for you to read. 

We sure don't understand why God allowed Emi to go Home so early, and as the song that's playing now says, "Never have we questioned more the wisdom of God's plan...", but we know that God promises to work all things together for good and so we are FULLY counting on Him to make good on that promise!

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