Thursday, February 11, 2016

links and such.

Thought I'd jump on and share a couple of neat things that have been or will be happening...
I was asked to be part of a really special video about courage.
Check that out here.
There's an amazing social media movement happening in just a few days!  
On February 15, please visit http://www.scribblesandcrumbs.com/ to read stories of tragedy, loss, beauty, grief, struggle and rising from the ashes.  Over 70 amazing souls are coming together to write their stories and unite the heart of pain and living.  
I am honored to have been asked to write the story of my heart and cannot wait to share with you.  Please also check out Scribbles and Crumbs on facebook and on instagram.  
I'll share more when I can.

One last thing, if you haven't already, please visit our new Mabel's Able website over at:
www.mabelsable.com

Order your RARE/ABLE leggings today!  

---
Thanks for loving us, as always.  

Monday, January 25, 2016

Many Rooms.

It's almost been an entire year since we moved into "the Mabel house."
It has been 3/4 of a year since Mabel left our arms. 
---
One part of our life story that I absolutely love is God directing our family to this home. 
Chris and I had been seriously dating for 2 years when we decided to move in together, yet we never actually spoke those words out loud.  Somehow we just found ourselves in the middle of this house, Mabel draped over his shoulder screaming, and knowing that it was the home for us. 

First there was the privacy that this house provided.  It sits alone on two acres at the edge of town, on top of a perfect hill- one where we can vividly see the sun rise and set.  We can cross the railroad tracks and walk anywhere in town, while still feeling very much like we are in the country. 
 
Mostly though I think we knew this was the house because of her room. 
To us the space seemed senseless otherwise.  It is a room directly inside the house, off to one side.  When you walk through the front door, this is the first space that you see.  I suppose it could possibly be used as an oversized office or even a family area, but for us it was always just meant to be hers.  I remember leaving that night and both of us saying excitedly, "that random room in the front is perfect for Mabel!" 
The walls are a pale blue color that I would never have been fond of but the Victorian style trim around the edges quickly made sense to me. 
So without wanting to change it, I chose rather to embrace what was already there and give her a theme that was suitable. 
A huge room with a very big-girl bed for our very big girl and absolutely fit for the queen!
 
A few months before moving in, my mom sent me a photo that I just had to have.  I printed it and before doing anything else in the house, placed it directly over her new bed.
 
Speaking of her new bed, that was also a really special piece for me. 
She had never had an actual big-girl bed until we moved to this house.  She went from a crib to a futon (because it was close to the floor and it made me feel safer when she jerked and flailed around), to a mattress on the floor (for the same reasons).  But when we moved to this house she had practically stopped moving and jerking and had also gotten a new weighted blanket for Christmas so I knew she would be safe in an actual bed.  At this point, I also knew that a big bed was necessary in order to allow all of us to crawl up beside her long body and cuddle. 

It completely served it's purpose.   

Mabel's room is large. 
So large that it was able to fit many people at a time.  It was transformed on more than one occasion into a space where several people gathered around her.  There was singing, laughing, dancing, eating, crying, praying, resting, wailing, but mostly-loving so intensely. 
Some of us walked into that room knowing that our baby would soon die.
And when we walked in and out of that room through the months, days and hours leading up to that moment, it was like a spiritual experience.  We sat together in chairs, and on couches, wrapped in blankets, her covering us, Dr. Peppers in hand, music playing, sometimes nobody saying anything at all. 
 
My mom sat in granny's old rocking chair and rocked as Mabel cried the most horrific, life-changing cries in her final days.  It was this same rocking chair in the corner of her room that I sat up in alone on so many nights, crying over my very fragile and sick baby.  I would pray, "God, just be near."
And He always, always was.
 
And then one morning, as the sun broke through a brilliant cloud right outside of our front door, Jesus was more near than ever before.  Our baby took her final breath and all at once met Him face to face. 
And none of us left that big, little room the same. 
We were forever changed.
 
That one room held us all, in many different shapes and forms.  All the while, we were simply holding onto Him in His only true form--faithful. 
In the days after Mabel's death, we would often find the kids sitting together on her bed.  Sometimes they would make pallets of blankets and sleep beside her bed on the floor.  Every single day the cat would lay in what quickly became 'her spot' on the edge of the bed.  Seeing her room and her bed so full continued to keep my heart full and it wasn't as daunting as I initially anticipated. 
But, much like I expected, winter came and the room suddenly didn't feel as bright or full as it once did.  The kids are back in school which has made the days long and the blue walls feel extra cold.  In the last couple of weeks, the cat hasn't even gone in to lay on Mabel's bed.  The couch where we used to sit and lay together has been overtaken by our coats, hats, backpacks and winter gear. 
 
Quickly the view of  Mabel's room became so full and clustered that it was more practical, impersonal, and empty than ever before. 
I thought to myself, "I just don't think I can walk by this door and see this empty bed for one more day."
But I didn't want to be impulsive.  "Maybe it's too soon and this is irrational," I thought.  But then I remembered that there isn't a right or a wrong way to walk through any of this.  There isn't a specific timeline.  I've learned by experience and have told hundreds of other people to make it simple and always do what you feel is right.  "Do the best you can with how you feel at the time," I remind myself. 

So I talked it through with the kids and both of them liked the idea of having a sitting room/tv area where all of her things remained.  Nora didn't have a bed frame in her room so we all agreed that moving Mabel's bed where it could be used made sense.  Chris was at work but I texted to ask and reassured him that if he wasn't ready, of course we would wait. 
But everyone seemed ok and almost excited for the change. 
Honestly, it just felt like time. 
Even though it appears more empty now than ever before, it was needed. 
Her drawers are still full of some of her clothes.  Her scent still burns in the warmer. 
Her diapers were still in the bins but I needed to throw them away.  And I needed to do it right at the moment when I felt like I could.  No other time would do.
 
But, in doing so, I definitely realized that I still feel very disconnected, like most of me can't comprehended what has happened.  Maybe I will never fully be able to.  Sometimes I pray that God would continue to protect my heart so I don't feel all the pain. 
Sometimes I reject the thoughts completely just so I don't have to confront them. 
Honestly, I just can't. 
 
Today the kids played in her room and Nora read a book in the chair.  Maybe soon we'll watch a movie together as a family all cuddled on the floor.  Last night I caught my brother looking at her pictures as I walked by.  I apologized for not knowing he was coming and therefore not warning him that I had changed it.  He said it was ok and hugged me tight.  I showed our friends at dinner and they all seemed to like it and told me that it was good.  Some were a little taken back but all were supportive, as always. 
 
Last night Nora fell asleep in her baby sister's bed, now in her room.  She said "I'm feeling emotional but closer to her than ever."  I assured her that both are really great things to feel.  I'm proud of them for expressing those things to me, when even I am having a hard time. 
And today, while cleaning up her room, I found this on her white board.
 
I am thankful for all the gifts in this life.  They are all grace and I am diligently keeping track.  A new notebook of thankfulness goes where I go so I will never forget.   I want to thank God for all of it as I go about both the mundane and very important tasks of this life because He has been so good. 
 
In it all, His love remains. 
Yesterday as I was changing and cleaning and rearranging the rooms in our home, I thought about our Father's mansion, the Heavenly place He has prepared for us.  He promised that in that place there are many rooms.  And I thought about my girl dwelling there for eternity.  I remembered that this place is not our home.  My heart longs for somewhere altogether different than here. 
 
My family...their eyes and hands and hearts-where they dwell is my earthly home. 
But my true home, and hers forever?
With Jesus. 
What Joy!  What hope!  What truth!
 
Thank you God for all of this life.  I wouldn't want any of it without the rest.  It is altogether lovely. 


Friday, January 15, 2016

Red Rover Red Rover, When Life Sends Grief Over…..

The following is a guest blog post, written by Rache.  I asked her to possibly write while she was on winter break from nursing school and today she sent me this.  I asked my villagers to each feel free to share their experience in Mabel's life, death, their own journey with grief, or anything that they feel led to write.  In doing so, I hope they will help me remember things fresh, grasp their experience through their perspective and even catapult me into sharing some of my own emotions that are tucked neatly away for the time.  
-----

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
My dear friend, 

Do you remember the moment that we sat together on your brown love seat and you asked me the question? You know the one. “Do you think she can hear?” And as blunt as your new bob hair cut I said “No I don’t” It was at that point onward that you and I and every other red lipped girlfriend of ours linked arms and played the biggest, longest, most excruciating game of red rover of our lives. Life sent divorce, and doubt, milestones missed and birthdays dreaded right on over. Without warning it launched a myriad of doctor’s appointments and disappointments. Our bodies lurched and rocked as we absorbed the shock of life’s blows. Along the way we lost some participants in that game, no doubt. There were those who just couldn’t hang and decided to flag down the ref and wave the white flag. It was in those moments that we re-grasped hands, tightened up the laces on our cleats, spit in our hands, dug our heels in hard, re-situated ourselves and told the ref to blow the damn whistle, break time’s over. We had a championship to get back to.

Diagnosis. Terminal. Hospice. Palliative. Choices. Decisions. 4 years old.


So many things led us there-to those moments, in that house, on that floor, with our baby. Undoubtedly looking like the sorriest bunch of red rover players there ever were.

-----------------------

Days leading up to Mabel’s death I stopped Ashley in the kitchen of Ramee’s house during one of our cookouts and said, "Ash do you think I’ll be ok to go?" Her head turned to the side and she reminded me of the uncertainty in it all. Matt and I had planned a get away for ourselves and we were packing bags to head to our favorite place-Southern Illinois.



 Only a few days into our trip and we found ourselves in the camping aisle in Walmart originally looking for a cooler, but then making plans to abandon our favorite place and haul home, quickly. But not before Matt would lose his wallet and have to go back into WalMart to find it. I remember quickly packing up our cabin. I frantically did weird things and walked in circles. I looked at laundry on the floor from the day prior and thought “how did we do that.. how did we wear those clothes while all of this was going on?” Bottles of wine that would have been used to reflect and celebrate love were left unopened and suddenly made me feel sick to my stomach. Everything felt twilight-zone to me and I wanted out of there. Instantly everything around me felt foreign. 




We made our way to the Burger King parking lot where I screamed at Matt about how unfair it was that we would go in here and attempt to eat. Once inside, the radio (of course) was playing Christian music that, in the moment, felt contradictory to everything I felt inside. I cried then ate. Cried then stopped eating. Looked out the window. Wiped tears frantically. Looked at Matt. Asked him more than once,"how we do this?" Watched him look at me with the saddest blue eyes and down-turned mouth. Once on the road we heard more songs that required quick flips of the radio. I had to stop at my school and turn in some paper. Again, this felt completely bizarre to me. I remember doing that. I remember telling Becky I thought she would make it in time. 




I also remember telling Becky I felt like the worst friend there ever was and she told me how weird it was to be doing laundry in Washington. There were front yard blankets and white wooden rockers. There were compression socks and water bottles. There were cell phones turned off and breaths being held in anxiety. There was an early morning sunrise and there was a really hard adjustment period that I went through going back home to my family. 



There was isolation that I felt by the people who encountered me, yet never asked me directly. There were cemetery breakdowns and there were Aunts that literally and figuratively carried my 5 year old daughter through every moment that she wailed out for her best friend. There were inconsolable shaking blue eyes. There were cuddled up redheads everywhere. There was a strong silent man who danced briefly with me in the hall to “Rain Down in Africa.” There was also a Mexican ad that changed how we would view Pandora as we knew it-I am an avid believer that sometimes God throws in some funny to keep it real-even in your darkest hour. 



You see, no one writes the handbook on how to be a friend to a grieving friend. A grieving friend who is newly in love and trying to raise 2 small children who are counting on her. For hope, for answers, for breakfast, for strength, for assurance of Heaven, for clean clothes, for a punching bag, for a soft place to question everything. There is no index in the back where you can quickly flip to “morphine” “hospice” “friend is crying then laughing” “what to say when you can’t say ‘I know’” “what to say when you find friend on floor in bathroom barely breathing” “coroner” “how to keep nosey people at bay” “how to pick funeral flowers” “how to tell siblings their sister is going to heaven” “how to politely tell people, 'please don’t bring casseroles.'”
I read a lot of books these days friends, but not one single nursing textbook has come close.  





I have always considered myself a pretty good, devoted friend. I feel like I give good advice, good laughs, and encouragement along the way. However, I can without a shadow of a doubt say that I have never felt as helpless and useless as a friend than in the day’s leading up to, during, and even still now, everyday after Mabel’s death. Humans want to fix. Nurses want to heal. Friends want to mend. Women want to understand one another. Life’s greatest heartache stole my ability to fix, heal, mend, or understand. I don’t know how to explain the sickening roll of my literal insides at the weight of my friend’s shaking, limp, helpless body dry heaving tears from itself. Hovering over a tiny casket. Walking down a hill alone past a dark long vehicle. Sitting graveside in front of your soon to be husband wearing a shirt with a yellow button on it. You do not forget those times and you do not ever want to relive them.  Remember that red rover game? These are the moments that make up the highlight reel and you will not want to watch it, let alone watch it in slow agonizing motion. 


Grieving alongside a grieving friend is one thing. Grieving alongside a grieving mother is a different kind of hard, especially when that mother is surrounded by all of your tiny children who are playing and going to school and wearing bows and….. living. 


There is guilt, absolutely. For what? I’m not entirely sure but it’s there. There is a place in my mouth from time to time where the right words should come out because I am her best friend but they don’t and silence fills a place that I hope is ok. There are drives home that I replay conversations and question if I should have maybe not said that. I scroll through text messages and think of alternative ways to say “God this is horrifying.” There is a quiet sadness that goes on inside, one that I feel like if I let out, would only make things feel heavier and worse. There is a sigh of relief when you see your grieving friend, really see THEM living and laughing and smiling. There is a sorrow that you may think has passed and is not felt heavily by those around you-it has not. There are times when I know my world is going on rapidly around you, so much so that I feel like I am making you sick and I’m sorry. I want to stop it but can’t. There is a selfishness that feels grateful when that friend hasn’t really changed all that much despite such profound loss.













The helplessness has been the worst for me, personally. My mind scrambles to what can I buy? What can I bring? What can I do? What thoughtful idea can I think up next? Who could I call? What connections do I have? And at the end of the day I have to remind myself that none of those things, no, nothing I conjure up could possibly change the end outcome of it all. My best friend lost her baby girl and I watched it unfold. That is the harsh reality. 



There is nothing to mend, fix, change or heal. My exhaustion is in vain because no one, not even Ramee, has asked me to do one single thing about any of it. God has stopped me in my tracks and commanded me to just be. Be there. Be consistent. Be a listener. Be a set of eyes to look into. Be a text message away. Be a memory sharer. Be a car in the driveway. Be in a link in life’s red rover chain. I cannot DO anything. But I can be-I can do that. 




In true God-like fashion I think that He calls us to throw up our hands and surrender our warped idea of control over this beast called grief. There is no wrangling it or rationalizing it. It has been best described to me as a minefield. We have no control over what lurks beneath our delicately placed footsteps. We gently place heel to toe and hope we make it out alive. None of this was ever ours to begin with though.. not these friendships, not the love, not the cooler in aisle 12 of Walmart in Carbondale, and certainly not her.




I am learning that the best thing I can do is to grab a quick drink, pull my laces so tight that my fingers callous and bleed, re-adjust my ponytail and get back in this game of red rover alongside my sisters, all grieving in their own ways. We’ve got some injured, some afraid to even be on the field, some charging the front lines, some giving first aid, some are even defending the innocent teammate in the penalty box. We are BEing. And it is hard. My God is it hard. But Rame, I am not leaving until you do. I won’t throw in my towel and I will buy as many freaking pairs of cleats as it takes to finish strong with you. WE won’t.



I loved the quote I posted at the top because of the word ‘powerless.’ I think I speak for our team of red rover-ers here when I say we have felt powerless and then some. We have been faced with the very real reality of the absolute lack of control we have over eradicating your hurt. We are helpless and we know it. We know you know it. But my God we love you. We love her. And we sure do love a good game of red rover from time to time ;)

Love,
Your friend who’s learning how to just BE and not DO



Thursday, January 14, 2016

drawn to you.

As I sat to write today, a good friend texted me to tell me that it's just hours now until her dad meets my baby in Heaven.  It has been a long battle for this friend and her family, her dad has been very sick for a long time.  And when treatments were no longer effective and comfort was their goal, they took him home and surrounded him with love, friends, food and family.  They have prayed and waited patiently for the Lord to come and rescue this man from suffering; my friend's dad. 
Her dad.
 
My heart is obviously broken for her.  I do not know this type of loss and though I can empathize, I can't understand it.  I can't even grasp at it.  But I can say that their journey has impacted my heart and I will never be the same because of it.  Soon after Mabel died, I had another close friend lose her mother after a year of sickness and unknowns.  Walking beside her in that journey changed me forever.  I know I will look back and see the heart-shaping that was done during this time of loving my friends through loss of parents and total heartbreak. 

I have said all along that I do not envy my family and friends in our own situation.  Watching me and loving me through Mabel's therapy, diagnosis, and ultimately her death had to be absolute hell for them.  When you worry about a loved one, your stress is heightened, you are constantly in fight or flight mode because you so badly want to help in any capacity.  Knowing that they couldn't- I can't imagine.  All I know is that I have the best of the best and I am so thankful. 
They are so strong and I am so lucky to have them as my backbone. 
 
This particular friend, whose dad is literally at the bridge between Heaven and earth as I'm typing, was a friend who entered my life after Mabel died.  Her voice was one that soothed my spirit in the early morning hours as I attended her yoga class.  I listened as she spoke about accepting ourselves for where we were in that exact moment.  For where our bodies were, our minds were, our hearts were.  Accepting ourselves for all we had endured, all we were capable of, all of the strength or weakness we felt.  Wherever we were, on that day, was to be accepted, appreciated, and loved.
Her words, her voice; they helped heal my heart morning after morning. 
I would cry as my body moved, rested and ultimately mended. 
She, probably without knowing it, was key in my grief and healing. 
---
Winter finally joined the party this week.  It's beyond frigid, with temperatures in the teens.  I can't seem to get warm and I'm exhausted.  Grief, I'm sure, has decided to unpack from the cold and camp out inside of me for awhile, making himself warm in my heart and my bed.  I cover myself up tightly, fully clothed (with layers even) but nothing helps.  And the bone-tiredness of life has reached deep inside as well.  But I give into that.  
 
When Mabel was alive she forced me to slow down. 
I didn't have a choice.  I had to sit for an hour every 3 hours to feed her a bottle.  I had to walk her constantly if she was crying.  I couldn't leave the house and eventually had no desire to do so-not if we were together here.  Sitting with her was always, always enough.
 But now, I've had to learn to make the choice to slow down.
Slowing down is now my choice.   
 
I'm busy, sure. 
I keep myself that way.  I'm working and exercising and having lunch with friends and keeping the house clean and running the kids here and there and I love it.
But I also take time to take care of me.  In very deliberate ways, I am conscience about what I need, physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually.  

My routine is really important.  It is helping me survive the moments that feel completely unlivable. 
Coffee.
Make the kids breakfast.
Help them get dressed.
Pack Braden's lunch.
Get them to school.
Exercise.
Take a hot bath.
Lay down for a nap, if possible.
More coffee.
Pick kids up from school.
Sometimes work.  Sometimes home to do household chores or sit.
Play games, cards, color with the kids.
Baths.
Dinner.
Bed.
 
And I don't derail from the schedule often.  In fact, hardly ever.  
The new routine that I've made for myself since Mabel died is working.  It really is critical. 
She died and I decided right away that I was going to live. 
Even before she died I had decided that.
That I would grieve but that I would not be overtaken by the entity that grief itself can become in me.   I do not want to always feel like I have already lived the best days of my life and good days ahead are impossible because she is not here with me. 
I want to live. 
 
I want to dream new dreams and do new things. 
I want to travel and see the world. 
I want to be a capable mother, a strong one.  Physically, emotionally, spiritually. 
I want to serve others.
I want to grow.  In many ways, as many ways as possible, in fact.
I want to be a light.  I want to encourage. 
I want to use the gifts I have to do great things for others.
I want to pursue the art of happiness every day.
I want to be at peace and continue to feel contentment in all things.
 
I do not want to feel defeated by death or the journey I experienced with my daughter.  I want to embrace it.  Grow from it, change because of it. 
I want to challenge myself in all ways; in new ways. 
---
I saw the Dr. today for a routine checkup.   I have experienced the grieving of my daughter very naturally.  I do not sleep well at night so I am on a daily medication for that but otherwise, I don't feel panic or anxiety or depression like I thought I may.  I encourage anyone who does feel those things to be proactive in your own health and get on something that will help you through this time.  Even if it's forever... it's so important that you don't neglect what could be crucial in keeping you well.
 
  For me, I still don't feel much of anything most days but I know enough to recognize that this is textbook grief. 
The fog is still very heavy over me.
 
I am exercising every day so that I can remain strong and can continue to gain strength that will help me endure the days ahead that may be harder than the ones I am walking now; the days when the fog has lifted and the pain is too hard to bare.
  For the first time in my life, the only reason I am exercising is truly for mental, spiritual and emotional strength.  Physically, I love knowing that I'm getting stronger but I am no longer concerned with the vanity that used to be my motivation when working out.  I go day after day because my mind is busy and it needs a release.  And after an hour each morning, my body feels taken care of and my mind is finally tired. 
And then... I nap...
Because I'm choosing to take care of me. 
 
First and foremost, if I'm going to survive and be a good mom, a good daughter, a good friend, a good lover, a good sister-
I have to make sure that my mind is right.  And my body is strong.  And my heart is open.
Right now, all of those things are true.

Many of you ask about Nora and Braden often.  Thank you!
The kids are both doing pretty well.  Braden saw a specialist this week for some behavioral concerns and has started some medicine that has already made a huge difference.  He, himself, has said that he feels better, happier. 
 
Nora is a cheerleader now and seems to have found her 9-year-old passion.  She had her first game last week and did amazing. 
 
Both kids had excellent report cards and seem to really enjoy school.  They have friends and come home happy.  We have been playing cards and board games together at night, thanks to Santa, and I'm grateful for the time together. 
 
We still really love our house on the hill.  Each morning the sun rises beautifully outside of our front door to greet me and each evening it sets outside the back door, bidding me farewell until morning.  It feels like such a personal gift from God every single day.  I'll always be thankful for all this home has given us.  
As I took a break from writing last night to spend some time with my sister, my friend's father passed away and joined eternity!  She texted to say "Such peace."  My hope is that now my voice will be to her what hers was to me in those days and weeks following Mabel's death-a beacon of strength, light and hope to her heart. 
 
I spent thirty minutes before I received her text driving alone on the highway, weeping for my friend and her heart.  There is such sweet relief when your suffering loved-one meets Jesus but then, eventually, the missing.  And though I'm so thankful for his eternal home, my heart is broken for the loss that this sweet friend of mine will always feel. 
Will you take a minute to say a prayer for their family today? 
--
Our hope is not rooted here and with that, such deep and perfect harmony can freely consume our hearts.  I yearn for my Heavenly home deep down in my belly.  I feel the ache and pull for somewhere other than this world.  I long for the day when I can join all of those that I love in a place that I can't even fully imagine.  The wonder of it all is what overwhelms my spirit and draws me to Jesus.  Lord, let me always be drawn to you.  

Friday, January 8, 2016

light of my life.

My friend, Michaela, writes beautifully here.
She writes about her daughter, Florence; about her life, her death, her diagnosis, her suffering, her mercy.
Her breathtaking story is one of grief, sorrow, and joy.  
She writes about being a mother to two children; one in Heaven and one still here in her arms.
She writes about being a wife, one who has a hard time cooking for her family and who has walked through the thinnest places with her mate, her love.    

I was drawn to her immediately because she wrote so transparently about it all.  I saw in her what I think (what I hope) others see in me:  raw truth and life altering, remarkable faith.  A journey that is written by the Maker, simply typed by her hands.  

We "met" on instagram, a small little community that is tucked away on the world wide web and somehow feels like home.  In my darkest hours, late at night and lonely, other moms of medically fragile, very sick, terminally ill children were awake and responsive to my need.
It was refreshing.  
---
Michaela's words are powerful and poignant.  Much more so than my own at this stage of grief.  I feel them but am unable to articulate them in the way that I see her doing.  I'm so thankful for this gift that we have of words at our fingertips.  
Social media, both a blessing and a curse at times, has been so good for my heart on days when my mind is full of aching and there is nowhere for the feelings to go, not even out of my fingertips.  They're stuck, the words.  So I read them from other mother's who I know feel the same and I am humbled that God has brought them into my life, even in this way.

[these vertical rainbows have been a constant sighting for Chris & I since Mabel died.  A few days ago on the way to school the kids got to see them as well.  We sure feel our girl in moments when we become truly aware of how big our God is.]
Yesterday we decided on a plaque for Mabel's stone. 
I miss her so bad.  
And that's it.  Everything else feels too complicated to write.  There's just nothing else to say.  I'm not avoiding grief, I just don't know where to begin.  It all feels too big.

I miss her feet and her slobber and her voice.  
None of it feels real.  And I just can't believe I'm here without her, or that this is now my life. 

 Looking back at my posts from last January, my writing was different.  I knew the changes were happening and I clearly sensed that Heaven was near.  But even in the fevers, and the screaming, and the seizing, I couldn't ever prepare.  I couldn't ever begin to know what this feels like.  I knew it was coming but I knew nothing at all.  She was so sick but she was my everything.
And now she's just not here.
---
I feel her everywhere, so much so that there are days when it feels like I'm still carrying her.  Like she's right in the next room.  But then reality strikes and I can't believe we are in a new year or that it's closer to being a year without her than to the time she died.  It's the most out of body, out of mind, out of control feeling I could ever try to explain. 
So I won't.  

I just miss her.  
And I'm thankful for everyone who remembers to tell me that they do too...
Please read Michaela's blog and join in her journey as well.  Tell her I sent you and send her a smile.

[light of my life; backseat passenger.  Just a few weeks before Heaven.]