Monday, July 29, 2013

Timing is Everything

Today has been 8 months since we buried our daughter. In a way it seems like it happened yesterday. In a way it seems like there was never a time without her.

I realized that timing is everything when you lose your child.

11:30: Time of birth.
11:30: Time of death.

Thursday: the day of the week I delivered her.

29th: the date she was born.
29th: the date she died.

November: the month she was born.
November: the month she died.

November 29,2013: the day after Thanksgiving. BLACK FRIDAY.
What should be the 1st birthday of our daughter, but is instead the 1st anniversary of her death.

As most of you know the Kisses for Claudie Project was started to give 365 kisses to our daughter in the form of random acts of kindness. This was to represent everyday of first year of life that we couldn't kiss her.

Please help us honor Claudette Elyse's life by doing a random act of kindness. We have had 30 random acts that mean so much to us and others. But as you can see we have a long way to go to reach our goal by her first birthday. Thanks so much for helping others in the name of our little girl!

On November 29, 2013 we will be having a huge birthday party in honor of Claudie and giving her gifts to the kids at The Children's Place of Kansas City. If you would like to do your random act of kindness by helping with the party let us know!

For more info about the Kisses for Claudie project: click here

Tuesday, July 23, 2013


Dead surrounds me. Death of babies. Death of mom. Death of patients. Death of former self. Death of future. 

But with all this, I am more ALIVE than ever.

You think are you invincible, then you lose something quickly and tragically. This is when you know life is short and fleeting and you are anything but invincible. 

However, the irony lies in that once death touches you, your life awakens and you are more ALIVE than ever before. 

In fact, you are so alive that the bereaved often try to numb the reality of it with food, drugs, alcohol ect. But I got to thinking yesterday that really it is a gift, this LIFE that has been handed to me. Most go through their lives meaningless and numb really. I know I was. I am ALIVE because there is no living in the dark now. There is no half-hearted sentiment that comes from me as it used to.

I have a deep appreciation for the futility of hanging on to earth's empty gifts. I long now for heaven. It has torn away the fear of dying that always held me so close and kept a part of me dead.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

July 21, 2012

As I was in the shower after a long shift at the hospital, it hit me what a year ago today looked like.

I ran into Party City to gather a large bouquet of balloons. Yellow for the grandsons and pink for the granddaughters. I asked them to blow one up not quite as big as the others and make it pink.
I pushed the balloons in the back of the mini-van where Dustin and the kids were waiting.

As we approached the cemetery, reality was setting in. This year there would be no large meal followed by an ice-cream cake. This year we wouldn't take pictures of the twins dressed alike even though they didn't plan it.. This year mom wouldn't scream in joy at every once of attention given to her in the form of gifts. This year we didn't celebrate July as her birth "month".

As we pulled up the grave site, mom's friends and family waited next to where her soon-to-be headstone would eventually sit. It had only been 9 weeks since her death. This is not enough time to make a headstone. I now know too many details about timing of funerals and visitations and cemetery etiquette. (Do you know they have regular potlucks at some cemeteries?)

Dustin parked the car. The kids, dressed in yellow,mom's favorite color, jumped out of the car running in joy. Their young minds too innocent to grasp more than that we were going to a mere birthday party.

Dad said a few words. I felt a few words too many and scolded him for front of everyone. I regretted it immediately. How could I ever put down my dad in any manner, especially since mom had told us on her death bed to respect and love him as she had. How could I belittled his words when he has used his tongue and actions for nothing but love and respect of his beloved soul-mate. I was proud of my dad standing there. I am so proud of my dad standing now. I am in awe of his strength and wisdom through what is undoubtedly been the worst year of his life.

Dad finished his words. We prayed. And I told everyone what the balloons represented. One yellow balloon for each grandson and one pink for each granddaughter. Mom's sisters quickly caught on to the fact their was a baby pink balloon. We were having a baby girl. I told them all our name we had chosen:
Tears filled the eyes of my mom's sweet sisters. Her named would live on. Hope filled our sad souls. But her name didn't live on. 
As July 21, 2013 approaches I realize that while "Claudette the name" is set in stone on not one but two graves my they are not dead, but ALIVE. Celebrating perhaps not with food and or earthly family, but mom is HOME and be assured she is CELEBRATING, so tomorrow we shall celebrate too.
 Claudie, give grandma a big kiss from all of us celebrating below!
Happy 64th mom! 

Friday, July 12, 2013

Adopting...a new way of thinking

So we are getting a lot of questions recently about where we are in the adoption process. I would have updated everyone sooner, but we were not quite sure how to answer.

I am not sure we are any more equip to answer that question fully today, but I do feel that some update is deserved especially given all the time, money, and love everyone has surrounded us so far in this journey.

We have met with a few adoption agencies and consultants and have some major questions to answer about which direction we want to go from here. We will pray fervently and try to go with the agency we feel best for our family and what God would have us to do.

The next real step is do what is called a Home Study. This is basically a mandated review of your home, your finances, and your health to ensure a child is being placed in a safe environment. The process will take about 2-4 months.

Once we complete that study we will be able to list with an agency or agencies. After we are listed our wait could be anywhere from weeks to years depending what happens from there.

I know this is non-specific but really we don't know much yet. We are in NO rush to adopt. The only pressure we have in this process is we don't want a huge gap between children and Amelie will be 4 this year.

Frankly, we like the fact that the earliest we will probably have a baby is next spring because I feel like we need that time to grieve. Just as a living child deserves their momma's attention for the first year or so of life, I think Claudette deserves the same. This spring we thought we were ready to bring home a baby ASAP, but as time has lingered we realize we are still very much grieving and while we will always grieve on some level we need at least a year before another child comes into our lives.

The best piece of advice I got was from one of the adoption consultants we saw this week. She said that when we grieve we try to occupy our time with other projects and things in order to avoid the reality of our grief. I feel I have spent the last 7 months doing just that.  I have immersed myself in two jobs, fundraising, adoption research and anything else that will help me avoid the grief. No this doesn't mean I don't think of Claudette constantly. Because I do. It just means I don't think about what it really means that she is gone. Because I don't.

The consultant suggested that I quit "busying myself" and spend quiet time in prayer and mediation about where God wants us to be. Yes, I know this is not revolutionary advice, but I avoid quiet time like the plague. The last time I had just 30 extra minutes of quiet time I ended up in the ER having a panic attack. Quiet time makes me face reality...and my reality is a difficult one to accept right now.
But the one consistent thing I hear from all adoptive parents is that adoption will force you into a new way of thinking...a way of thinking wherein your will is not your own. A way of thinking wherein patience and perseverance are no longer attributes but necessities. So here's to a new way of thinking...prayer and meditation it is!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Set in Stone

It has never felt so real.
It has never felt so raw.

A few moments before leaving work yesterday, I received a call from an unknown number. I was with a patient and unable to answer. The message left went like this:

"They are laying the concrete for Claudette's headstone today. It should be all set and reading to view by this evening."

It is no longer SURREAL. It is REAL!  

So real in fact it is officially set in stone. Here are some of the pictures of our daughter, Claudette's headstone.

"Lullaby and Goodnight" the last words I whispered in my daughter's ears.

Brother and sister taking it in...
If you include my shadow it is the first picture of our whole family.
Explaining to the kids...
Never did we think they would share so much more than a name.

 The back. The booties on either side represent our twins that Claudie got to meet before us.
If you look closely you can see the shadow of my feet between the set of booties. So I guess
I am still standing!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Breathing room please!!

I can't breathe. I am suffocating by the emotional, physical, and financial stress.
I have a huge amount of stuff that I could list to vouch for such stress, but I won't overwhelm you too.
Let's just say it's a LOT.

Then to add insult to my "empty-belly" injury, I keep getting asked when I am due. I mean like DAILY asked! It would be okay if were by mainly older people who know no better (I guess) but I get it from pretty much anyone on almost every day. The crazy thing is it sneaks up on me every time and hurts just as badly if not worse than the first time it was asked.

I get it I have been "blessed" with my mom's figure and with it comes a lovely bubble belly from delivering BIG babies mixed with genetics.

I so wish that next time I am asked I can snap back, "No! I am NOT pregnant, just a swollen belly from delivering almost a 12 lb baby mixed with the emotional stress of her putting her in a hole instead of a car seat for her trip home...oh and having 5 babies within 4 years time only two of which I got to take home from the hospital."

Think that would shut them up for the next unsuspecting victim?  Ya you're right, probably not...but it WOULD help me feel better.

Then I have my "helpful" friends who like to suggest I should just do "more cardio". If only more cardio would take this away. People like to assume I sit around eating Cheetos and am sedentary all day. That fact is I actually stay active and eat healthy for the most part. Surprising, I know by my physical appearance. If only it were as easy as hitting the gym.

All of the above is just another reminder that no one on this earth can walk this journey for me. It is mine but NOT mine alone. 

Proverbs 3:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

...easier said than done, huh?