July 16, 2017

Eyes to See Wonder...

This post has been running around in my head for some time now. It's not only something that is close to my heart, but something I consider so utterly important for so many families and children. Something important to everyone. 

A while before having Adalyn, my lovely sister-in-law recommended the book "Wonder" by R.J. Palacio. It was a book that brought tears of joy, inspiration, and at times....sadness. (Side note...if you haven't read it, run to your local library or buy it here. If you're not a reader, no problem. There is a children's book of it that's amazing! Buy it here )

A simple overview....it's the story of a young boy with significant facial malformations (hate that word....I'm going to call them extraordinary features). It's his journey of taking a courageous step and starting public school....the cruel bullies....genuine souls....and self worth he discovers in the process.

Little could I ever grasp at the time how significant that story would be in my life. 

Flash forward to our time with our own Wonder.....welcoming Adalyn into our world.

As I looked into her little face for the first time, I saw none of the malformations the doctors had forewarned us about. I saw my perfectly beautiful little girl. I saw her brave soul...her perfect face, toes, fingers and sweet lips. Throughout our time with her, my eyes were continually opened to how beautiful and loving she was.

So often in the time that she has now been gone, I find myself pondering what life would be like with her here. My mind plays out two scenarios. The first, she's completely healthy, happy and growing....discovering her world each day. The second, she still has all of her health problems...and we continue to soak up the good we have with her. How would that be? In either case, we would remind her each day how special she is...how  wonderful.... But how would others be? Would children be kind? Would they point, stare and mock....blind to what I could see? Would parents rush their kids by and tell them to look away? Would she know her features don't take away from her beauty....rather...they add to it?

Or would she, like August  in "Wonder," be afraid of the cruel way people respond?

These days when I see a parent of a child with any type of special needs or illness...my heart floods with countless emotions...

In my mind....I can see the way they make their child feel loved. I see the sleepless, tear-filled nights they spend wondering what their child's future holds. I see their fight for their child's life...to make beautiful memories regardless of circumstance. I see the drain of countless doctor's appointments and hospital stays. I see the tired eyes when people point, stare...and rush by. The ache of wishing someone would just treat them like a real person....and say hello to them and their child. I see how brave they are for even leaving the house.

Most of all.... I see their child. I see how brave and strong their souls are. I see how they have fought for this life. I see the joy they bring, even amidst trial. I see they could have a Doctorate degree in teaching love and kindness. I see the depth to life they have given to all those who surround them.

So often in today's society, I think we are too quick to pass judgement and condemnation without even attempting to understand. We are far too quick to be cruel...and push out kindness..

Though this was brought to my mind originally because of special children....I soon realized that it's a problem that seeps into every aspect of our lives....raging like a unrestrained wildfire...

Today, if someone has a different opinion then our own, they are horrible. If someone likes Donald Trump, they are stupid and uneducated. If someone likes Hilary Clinton, they are a naive rock hugger. If someone is vegan, they are a crazy hippie. If someone eats burgers and steak.....they support animal cruelty and hate the environment. If someone is from the Middle East, they must be a terrorist. If someone has a tattoo.. they must be a hoodlum. If someone dresses nicely....they must be a snob. If someone is a stay at home mom, they lack goals and dreams. If someone is a cop, they must be a racist or quick to kill.... This list could go on and on...

It's like a poison that has affected everyone... it breeds mental illness, depression, self doubt, anger and feelings of inadequacy...Feeling like one needs to constantly defends one's purpose.

How did we get here??? When was it that we stopped respecting each other, as people, regardless of differing opinions? When did "trolling" even become a thing? When someone disagrees with us, when did it become the norm to belittle and put them down....shoving our opinions down their throat until they agree in defeat?

In the children's book "We're All Wonders" by R.J Palacio I think she states the remedy...

"Far far away, the Earth looks so small. I can't see any people, but I know they're there. Billions of people. People of all different colors. People who walk and talk differently. People who look different, like me!

The Earth is big enough for all kinds of people. I know I can't change the way I look, but maybe, just maybe, people can change the way they see. If they do, they'll see that I'm a wonder! And they'll see they'e wonders, too!"

Each and every person wants to be loved and valued. Each person has a story. A journey. A wonder within their soul..

So maybe, instead of rushing your child past another with special needs, whispering to them not to stare..walk up to them. Smile. Teach your child that life isn't about seeing differences...It's about seeing wonder. 

Next time you want to belittle someone for having a differing opinion...open your eyes to actually see that person. See that you can share your different opinion without being cruel. Seek respect. Seek to find the good. 

Anytime we lump any one group of people as "terrible," "stupid," "ugly," or "worthless," we slowly lose our empathy and compassion for each other. And that, my friends, is something this life so desperately needs. This world has enough violence, injustice, and negativity without us adding to it. 

As R.J. Palacio's children's book concludes she states "Look through kindness and you will always find wonder." 

There are so many incredible, beautiful wonders in this world. So much good waiting to be seen. 

Each and every day, I feel grateful and humbled that our sweet Adalyn helped open my eyes to wonder..It took a perfectly pure little girl who radiated love to show me that physical issues and trials we may face cannot take away the beauty, strength, and wonder of the soul.
Image result for look through kindness and you will always see wonder

Because of her...and so many other wonders we have met in this life, I will strive my hardest to teach her bright little brother to have eyes to see wonder in all things. After all, it's something that already shines in his big, blue eyes.

June 2, 2017

6 Months 11 days...

That's how long she lived.

Tomorrow....Camon will be 6 months and 12 days old.

I told myself I wouldn't look at what day it would be on the calendar. I told myself I wasn't going to let myself notice...But it was too late. I already knew....and all week long it has felt like a wall I was going to smack into...

In the end, I wasn't prepared for the emotions it stirred up in my heart....or for all the different reasons today would be hard.

Our beautiful friend Donalee gave this picture to us....We love it so very much! It is everything I would imagine!

As I placed Camon down for his nap today.....I figuratively attempted to put on my floaties..and open the flood gates...And because I find out my emotions best by writing....I ended up here.

So far today, I watched Camon try to chomp on everything. Watched him try so very hard to crawl. Changed both our outfits twice due to heavy amounts of spit up. Took little walks. Sat in the shade. Cleaned. Changed diapers. Played half a dozen rounds of peek-a-boo.. And made lots of ridiculous noises to make Camon laugh...

Yet...at this time with Adalyn, she was dying. We were holding on to her desperately....knowing angels were surrounding her, waiting to sweep her up into her heavenly home. That thought still haunts me in some ways. And so often these days, I find myself in Camon's room in the middle of the night....having to just feel that he is breathing. I have to physically feel that he is still here.

Maybe I'm afraid that if I'm not on guard constantly, he too will be swept back home. As I type that out...I know it sounds rather silly, I know I can't control those things. That past couple of years have shown me all too well that there is so much in life that we can't control.... But clearly, that doesn't stop me from trying...

I guess I always thought, during the time we had Adalyn, that if I just fought hard enough. If I believed enough. If I prayed enough....I would never have to say goodbye... That November morning of watching her take her last breath....everything I thought I knew....everything I thought I was....shattered. 

Camon has helped some of those shattered pieces come together again.... But those pieces are now changed. They don't fit where they used to. They are forming a new shape. The new version of who I am now...

In many ways, today was that reminder. A reminder of so many things.

It is painful to think that Camon has now physically out lived his sister..

I wish memories were tangible. I wish I could pick one up...and just for that moment...re-live it. To smell it...to feel exactly what that moment felt. I wish I could smell exactly what my clothes smelt like after giving Adalyn a bath...and holding her wet little self close before we got her all ready for bed. I wish my arms could instantly feel they way they cradled her. I wish I could feel exactly how it felt to have her hair rub my cheek...

Yesterday, Camon was so very fussy and so very tired. Normally, I just place him in his crib for naps...but he wouldn't have it. Nothing was working. My mind wanted to just say..."Sleep child! You're tired!"

Finally...I snuggled him close and bounced and bounced. Amazingly, he fell asleep. It has been quite some time since he has let me snuggle him close while he sleeps. As I watched him, my anxiety was washed to the side. I think he know how much I needed those snuggles. How much I have been missing them with Adalyn. I wanted that moment with him to become one of those tangible memories that I could replay over and over... I want to remember how his little red nose looked...and the way his fingers kept rubbing my shirt. I wanted to soak how his hair smelled like sunscreen and fruit. I wanted to memorize the flutter of his eyelashes...

I'm not sure of much these days. I still tend to question myself. I wonder if I am enough. I wonder if I have enough faith. I wonder if both our sweet babies know how very much I love them....

One thing I do know....one of many things Adalyn's life has taught me in her 6 months and 11 days...is that I will never take for granted those quiet...small...simply beautiful moments. 

Her 6 months and 11 days taught me gratitude. To be grateful for time. 

In 6 months and 11 days she taught me how to be a mother. To focus on what matters most...and let everything else wash away.

In 6 months and 11 days...I learned hard things happen. I learned what it feels like to be completely and utterly devastated. I learned that having faith doesn't mean bad things won't happen.... And when they do happen....it doesn't mean that your faith wasn't enough. I learned to honestly pray to my Heavenly Father...in anger, in humility, in love, in gratitude...and in defeat. I learned that no matter how hard I try, I am not in control of this life.

I learned that one little, pure, noble life....can change countless other lives forever.

And now?

In Camon's 6 months and 11 days....he has taught me to laugh again...and really mean it. 

In his 6 months and 11 days, he has taught my heart that it is still capable of loving so deeply. He has brought us so much joy!

During his 6 months and 11 days, I have once again faced my fears of losing David....and was again...given so many physical angels, (especially family) to carry me through.

For 6 months and 11 days, I have proudly worn the constant smell of spit up. I have been frazzled over sleepless nights.... And quiet often, I have been an anxious....worried mess...

But for 6 months and 11 days... I have be so completely grateful for a little boy named Camon, who loves me without restraint.

I am realizing more and more....that we never know what life will hold. So it is up to us to hold to what matters most to our hearts. I never imagined living life after losing Adalyn. Much less...having another child...

If you have made it this far in reading, I apologize if none of this has made sense.... I guess, as emotional as I have been today...I have realized I would do it all again. A part of me will always wish it were different...I will always wish she were still here.... But even if it couldn't be different, I wouldn't give back one day.

Marrying and loving David has changed me. Adalyn changed me. Our friends and family changed me. The kindness that has been poured into our lives has changed me. Camon has changed me...

I hope....that someday...my life can reflect my utter gratitude for those changes.

To you, my sweet Addie baby, I've been finding so many pennies these days. I like to believe they are your reminders that you are near. We have been taking Camon swimming lately, he sure loves it sweet girl! I think you would have enjoyed the water too. Especially with your love of baths.You are carried, my darling, each and every day in my heart. 

I love you always!



May 22, 2017

6 Months..

Happy 1/2 Birthday little buddy!

It has been amazing to watch you grow over the past 6 months. You just soak up everything you can each and every day.

After we love your sister, I wasn't sure we would ever have another baby. When I found out I was pregnant with you so soon after Adalyn returned to heaven, I was so shocked and afraid! What if we lost another baby? Could my heart survive that?

Now that time has passed, and we have been in our lives...I know that you are exactly what our broken hearts needed.
Shout out to our lovely friend Kara for the balloon!

You have brought such happiness with you in such a small body! Your laugh always melts my heart. You love to smile and giggle!

I love how you adore being outside. I love that when you get really excited, your arms and legs go wild. I love that you are my little best friend each day. I love your love of dance parties with Daddy and I. You think we are the funniest ever! (Just keep thinking that kiddo...) Your binkie has still has your heart, and you are getting more and more coordinated in putting it back in your mouth!

You are a mover. Constantly. Even in your sleep! I love hearing you jabber away in the mornings when you wake up. On the mornings when you wake up far too early....and I try to convince you to keep sleeping by pulling you on the bed with me, and closing my eyes...and you respond by smacking my face, and continuing to jabber...I secretly can't help but be so grateful you are mine. 

You are a lover of fruits. So so much. You tolerate veggies...but I have a feeling you are going to have my sweet tooth. You are still a champ at rolling only one way. You still have no interest of rolling from your tummy to your back.  Instead....you are attempting to crawl. So far, you successfully stick your bottom in the air and can get on your knees...which often results in face planting into the carpet.

Look at those leg rolls! Be still my heart...

Grandpa teaches all the best things..

You popped two teeth through this past week! Thank goodness! You were a rather grumpy grumpster there for a while.

Cute outfit courtesy of our dear friends the Grafs! Clovers..courtesy of Daddy

We adore you Camon. We love your expressive personality. Your long, luscious locks of hair. Your bright blue eyes...Most of all...we love your loving heart. We feel so lucky to have a link to heaven in you. A link that reminds us each day of the loving sister that you have. At times when you stare off and smile, I like to think she is close by, giving you a reason to smile!

6 months is a big deal buddy. Because of your sister, we count each "monthie" as a gift! When Adalyn turned 6 months, we threw her a little party. We thought you deserved the same! And though you can't have cake yet, we are going to give you the next best thing this evening...some pureed fruit!

I hope you always know how special you are. How loved you are.... And how you are always, always watched over by your angel sister. Thank you for giving us purpose again. Thank you for letting me realize that a broken heart is still capable of loving so very immensely. 



P.S...I thought it fitting to include some pictures of your sister from this day 2 years ago...and some from her half birthday party! Goodness how we miss her!  I adore that she and Daddy have the same "Brown Frown"

I adore this picture so much. The famous Brown Frown!

May 2, 2017

Because of You

Happy Birthday my sweet Adalyn Grace!

How is it possible that you are 2 already?

Every part of me sure wishes that we could have spent the day watching you run around and play...getting messy cake and ice cream finger prints over everything you touched. What I would give to see your dark hair, bright blue eyes and smiling face!

We didn't want to spend the day being sad.. Though, I'll be honest here...I did shed a number of tears. Instead, we had a party to celebrate you. To celebrate the day you came into our world....and all of the ways you have changed our lives. The day you were born was incredibly special. That day, I saw firsthand that miracles are real.

I wanted to let you know a few of the many beautiful gifts that came into our lives because of you.

Because of you:

  • I learned what it felt like to become a mother.
  • I learned to pray hard....desperately, sincerely, frustratingly..and eventually....humbly.
  • I felt what the scripture "Perfect love casteth out fear" meant. The moment you were born and I heard that perfect cry, my fears went right out the door.  I was absolutely encompassed in love. Love for your Daddy. Love for God. Most of all...love for you.
  • I learned that the purest strength lies in the heart of babies like you.
  • I realized that physical disabilites cannot restrain the ability of the spirit to love...Goodness how your love was so strong!
  • I was taught to focus on the moment I was in. I clung to moments of feeling your softness in my arms....To lavender scented baths...walks in the park...and your sleepy sighs. 
  • I learned to fight for the ones you love the most, even when all seems to be against you. 
  • I learned it was possible to feel depths of love that words could never fully describe. 
I realized that hope isn't just a passive belief, it becomes a rod that one holds to desperately.

Giving you back into the arms of angels is the absolute hardest thing my heart has ever endured.... Even so Adalyn, I would never take back one second of our time with  you. I could go on forever on all of the ways your beautiful life has changed me.

Because of you, I have been changed for the better. I like to hope that I am a better mother for Camon because of you.

So until we can celebrate with you....

Happy Birthday my darling! You are the bravest, most graceful, loving and noble soul that I have ever known. How lucky I feel to have held heaven in my arms!

I hope that today you felt how much and how deeply you are loved.

I continue to see you in every soft sunset. Every warm breeze. Every simple, quiet moment. Every stare into Camon's big blue eyes. I miss you Addie baby, so very very much.



We had a fairy party for you sweet babe, I like to think you and your angel friends stopped by!

Camon sure had fun celebrating too!

But his fist is still 

We sent off balloons and sang you Happy Birthday! You are so loved! 

April 22, 2017

A Broken Hallelujah..

Our sweet Camon is 5 whole months old today.

He loves to move, and especially loves to jump in his jumper. I think he wishes he could just be crawling already. He loves to look at himself in the mirror (with his looks, of course he would!) He loves being outside and going on walks. His big blue eyes still soak up every little detail in his world.

He is enjoying eating solids these days...he loves carrots, green beans, bananas and apples. He refuses anything to do with sweet potatoes. He is still hooked on his binkie. Chomps on everything in site and could fill a small pond with his drool. He is a champion at rolling over onto his tummy, but still can't quite figure out how to roll back. He has so very much curly hair...with a mind of it's own  (I may never cut it)...He also has a newfound love of holding his left foot....

He is rather particular and strong willed. And though he still hasn't quite figured out the whole sleeping business, he has captured our hearts. He absolutely radiates joy. When he is happy, his entire face  lights up!

It has been a while since I have last written anything. It has been just over a month since David's last surgery. His surgery went really well. He is getting much better blood flow than he was before. His surgeons were thrilled, because no one has ever done a valve replacement on a heart quite like David's. He is feeling much better than he was at the beginning of this year. We are definitely hopeful that he will continue to feel better!
Just pondering the meaning of Dumbo..

That time around, he had to stay in the Cardiac ICU. Right next to the Pediatric ICU.. Walking in the waiting room....the sites, the sounds, the smells...transported me back in time. Part of me half expected to walk through the doors and find Adalyn there...

Sometimes it is amazing what the heart yearns for the mind to believe. In some ways, it was a hard, but needed reminder that she is no longer confined to such struggles. She dwells with the angels in a place far better.

In the weeks since, I've been rather reflective. Especially as the month of May draws closer....and we celebrate our sweet girl's 2nd birthday.

A line from the song "Hallelujah" has gone through my mind a long lately. To take it out of context... the line says "It's not a cry that you hear and night...and it's not somebody whose seen the light, it's a cold and broken Hallelujah"

Hallelujah, meaning, "praise ye the Lord"

Many days I still feel as if I'm walking on uneven ground, Many parts of my heart still feel so very broken. I have such a longing for our sweet babe. I have such fears from watching what both she and David have battled. I feel like the past couple years have been like going through the spin cycle of a washing machine....

Yet, as I watch Camon drift off to sleep.....or hear his giggle....or listen to David play with him, I thank God for giving me two of the most special babies. I feel so grateful to have the love of David, and for the countless miracles that have kept him here.

I feel so grateful for Adalyn's brave and beautiful soul that forever opened my heart to the deepest kind of love. I feel grateful for time...though in some ways I feel time holds me hostage....I am truly grateful for the time I get to spend watching Camon figure out his little world.

Oh the many faces of Camon!

Maybe the line from that song is right. Maybe Hallelujah isn't always the shout made when life is going well. Maybe it's not always a tender cry when a prayer is answered. Maybe it's more like a quiet whisper....uttered from a broken, devastated heart. A heart that has endured sorrow, tragedy or sorrow. 

A whisper, though shaky and unsteady, that still believes that there is light to be found when darkness seems to prevail. A whisper that is continuing to try, even when discouraged or disappointed or lost. A whisper that believes in and praises a God that is aware of those dark, tear-filled, and uncertain moments when faith seems too hard. A whisper that isn't quite a full shout yet...but still can be heard in the quiet.

Maybe that "broken Hallelujah" is part of learning to live a life with both sorrow and joy. 

Though I still haven't quite figured out how to live with both sorrow and joy, and though I'm still rather prone to tear-filled nights, I am trying to cling to the light that I do have.

The light that comes from Camon. The light that David shines. The light I find from our sweet Adalyn.  The light that comes from our wonderful family and friends. 

To you my sweet Adalyn, goodness how I have been missing your softness lately. How are we already so close to celebrating your birthday already?? I'm trying to focus on being present in the moment I am in. To let myself feel, both the hard and the beautiful feelings I have. I've been too good at putting my heart on a numb setting for the past while. Spring time reminds me so very much of you...Spring, to me, is a reminder of your beautiful life, hope, warmth, and goodness. 

As I watch Camon sleep sometimes, I hope that he gets to dream of you my darling. He definitely is our little link to heaven. 

I love you Addie baby, always and forever.



P.S. Sometimes when Daddy naps with Camon, it takes me right back to him napping with you!