Follow by Email

Thursday, August 28, 2014

My Birthday Without You

Dear Caroline,

     Today was so hard. One of the hardest days of my life. It was a day I wanted to forget. A day where I wanted to stay in bed, and not feel anything. I wanted to lay in the darkness, and just feel sad. But I couldn't do it. I knew that it was just another day, another day of pretending. A day where I smiled, and I laughed. But deep inside, all I felt was sadness. All I felt was pain. All I felt was empty arms. Today was my birthday, but I had no reason to celebrate.
     How could I celebrate my birthday, when we would never celebrate yours? How could I celebrate my 27 years, when you didn't even get one? How could I celebrate all that I have accomplished, when all I really want is to be your mom?
     This afternoon, the clouds were dark and heavy. The skies were grey, and the wind blew strong. As I walked through the wet grass, I saw your special place. That small rectangle of dug up grass, where your body now lays. Today I brought you the only thing I can truly give. A silver and pink pinwheel, and some bright pink roses. I wanted to share this day with you sweet girl. I wanted to celebrate my birthday with you. So I sang, as the wet ground soaked through my pants. I sang through my tears. I sang our songs, as I pictured your beautiful face. I sang happy birthday, but not for me. It was for you my Caroline. It was for all the birthdays we will never celebrate together.
     The wind blew strong as the storms blew closer overhead. It just seemed so very fitting. Sitting there in the cemetery I felt like a storm was raging inside. I never felt a pain so great. I never felt tears so deep. But Caroline, in that moment, as I watched your pinwheel spin endlessly, I thought about you. I pictured those beautiful blue eyes watching me from above. Then I made a decision. A hard and difficult decision. I decided that since you were watching me from heaven, I wanted, no I needed to make you proud. I needed you to see how much your mommy loves you. So I smiled. I smiled through the tears. I smiled through the pain. I smiled through the storm that continued to rage inside. I smiled a real, true smile for the first time that day. My smile came from you sweet baby. It came from all those beautiful memories I have with you. It came from the joy that your short life brought to mine. But most of all, it came from the love that I hold so deeply within my heart.
     My birthday never really got much better. The storm still raged deep inside. The pain still clung to my very soul. The tears continued to fall. But in that moment, I knew that I had to celebrate for you. I had to make you proud. I had be happy, because I know that is what you would have wanted.
     Caroline, my life is never going to be the same. Each special occasion is so hard, because you are suppose to be here to celebrate with us. In this moment, I don't know how I will make it through. I don't how I am ever going to survive the holidays that are looming ahead. But I do know one thing my precious girl,  I know that the God who is now holding you in His mighty hands, will also hold your mommy in His hands. He had been so faithful to me throughout my whole life. I do not doubt that He will be faithful to me now, and in the days to come. All I can do for now is cling to His promises, and know that He is not going to let me walk into these moments alone.
     Caroline I missed you so much today. Words cannot even begin to say how much I wanted to have you here with me on my birthday. I wanted to rip up the dirt, if only to hold you in my arms once more. But through the pain,  I know you were there. Your sweet smile was there beside me. Thank you for being my greatest present. The present I can hold in my heart forever. I love you my princess. My heart beats with love for you each moment of the day.

     Till we meet again,

You are loved forever my angel.

     Your mommy

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Light a Candle

On Sunday I sent out an invitation to join me in lighting a candle in honor of Caroline Joy. When I gave out that invitation I had no idea what to expect. The result was absolutely beyond my greatest expectations! That night I was filled with such sadness, knowing that it has been two months since we had to say goodbye to our sweet little girl. However, that sadness was quickly dissolved into joy, as I watched so many amazing people lighting candles in her honor. It touched my heart in a way that I will never be able to express in words. It truly was an amazing testimony to Caroline's life. Thank you from the very bottom of my heart to those who joined me in lighting a candle in her honor. It was an evening that I will never forget. I know that it brought me to tears at the beautiful outpouring of love. I have included just a few pictures of the many candles that were lit on the night of August 17th. There were just too many pictures to share, and many others told me by word of mouth. It was absolutely amazing! Thank you to all for helping me remember our precious miracle baby in such a special and beautiful way!

Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, "I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life."
                                                                                                John 8:12

Light a Candle

Light a candle,
see it glow,
watch it dance,
when you feel low,
think of me,
think of light,
I'll always be here,
day or night,
a candle flickers,
out of sight,
but in your heart,
I still burn bright,
think not of sadness,
that I'm not near,
think of gladness,
and joyous cheer,
I have not left,
I am not gone,
I'm here to stay
I'm your little one,
so when you light a candle
and you see it glow
and you watch it dance
in your heart you'll know
that I would never leave you
even when you feel so blue
I'm sitting up here with the Lord
and now watching over you

Moments to Last a Lifetime

I am so incredibly honored to be able to share this video with you. Josh worked very hard on putting this video together, and we were so happy to be able to share it with our church family on the day of Caroline's Memorial Service. I have had many people request to be able to see it again, and I know many have not ever seen it. Last night Josh was able to work his magic and was able to put it on my blog! However, you will only be able to view it on a computer, not on a mobile device. I am sorry for the inconvenience. But I would really encourage you to grab a box of Kleenex, and to watch as our journey comes to life through these beautiful pictures.


Sunday, August 17, 2014

2 Months

Dear Caroline,

     This morning I woke up at 5:00 am. It was still dark outside, and I could hear the birds chirping outside of our window. Everything else around me was peaceful and silent. But your mommy watched the clock as those precious minutes ticked away. Then the moment came when the bright red letters flashed 5:16. My precious girl, in that moment I could remember you so clearly. I remember the cold bright room. I remember the faded voices of the doctors and nurses. I remember the kind and reassuring words being spoken in my ear. I remember seeing some part of your body pressed up tight against my stomach, oblivious to what was going on around you in the outside world. I remember laughing with the nurse as we saw you wiggle around inside of me. I remember being numb, and watching you disappear from my view as a blue sheet was raised. I remember feeling such indescribable peace. I remember your dad coming into the room and sitting beside me. I remember holding his hand, tightly. I remember waiting, knowing we were going to meet you very soon. I remember feeling the pushing and pulling as I knew it was almost time. I remember hearing the words "the baby is out". I remember the nurses exclaiming how much dark hair you had. I remember seeing them pass you to the neonatal doctor. I remember waiting. I remember turning my head to try and see my first glimpse of you. I remember watching them gently place you into your daddy's outstretched arms. I remember the doctor's reassuring voice telling us we made the right decision. Then everything froze. The only thing that mattered my sweet girl, was seeing you. All those months of wondering and guessing what you would look like, and now you were finally here. You took your mommy's breath away. I never dreamed you would be so beautiful. 
     Your little body was gently placed onto my chest, and I could feel the warmth of life. Your mouth was open, and I felt your little chest rise with breath. You were the most perfect baby. Your tiny little nose, your silky soft cheeks. The dark curly hair that covered your head. Your mommy remembers placing my finger in your perfect, tiny hand. My sweet girl, you were everything I had dreamed for and so much more. In that moment, I told you how much I loved you. I told you how beautiful you were. I kissed your fingers and your wrinkly forehead. I know that you felt me. I know that you heard me. But most of all my little Caroline, I pray that you will always know how much I love you.
     Not a moment goes by that I do not think about you. Each time I feel my heart beat, I know that it beats for you. My precious daughter, you were and will always be my heart. I love you so deeply that it hurts. Sometimes the ache I feel is so great that I cannot move. I have never felt such pain throughout my entire body, as I feel when I am missing you. But Caroline, I know that this pain comes because of how deeply I love you. The truth is that having those 19 minutes with you, and having those 35 weeks with you, was worth every single second of pain that I must face now. If I had the choice, I would go through the pain over and over again, if it meant that I could have just one more second with you in my arms. 
     This morning as I watched those 19 minutes tick by, I was lost in memories. That day you were born was so joyful and happy. I felt such purpose, as I held you so tight. In those moments, I did not think about how I would have to give you away. Instead, I rejoiced in the beauty of the moments. I watched as your grandparents held you in their arms. I watched as your aunts and uncles gently passed you around, and gazed at you with such love. I watched as our families laughed together and cried together. I watched as your daddy held you so carefully. I watched as your daddy fell in love with you. I watched as you were baptized. I watched as we prayed over your tiny body. I watched as the nurses gently cared for you, and treated you with such love and respect. But most of all my precious baby, your mommy memorized you. I memorized every detail of your beautiful body, and I hold those memories deep inside my heart. Even two months later, I can still remember what it felt like to comb your silky black hair. I can still remember holding your tiny little fingers. I remember kissing your soft cheeks and nose. I remember how perfectly you fit in my arms. I remember how right it felt to have you there.
     This morning in the dark silence, I cried tears of joy, and tears of pain. It hurts to be alone my sweet girl. I want more than anything to have you back in my arms. I want those memories to be only the beginning, the beginning of a happy and healthy long life with you. But instead, I realize those are the only memories I have, and so I must cherish them forever. I will hold them close to my heart always. 
     Today your daddy and I went to visit your grave. We brought you purple flowers to place inside your vase. As we walked through the damp grass, I saw your pinwheel spinning in the distance. I knew that you were that watching over us. Your daddy held me close as I cried. I cried for everything we are missing with you. I cried for the two months I have been aching with empty arms. I cried for the life I wish we could share with you. I cried with the deep pain of missing you. I cried just knowing it is only going to get harder with each day that goes by. But most of all Caroline, I cried because of how much I love you, and how I wish I could whisper it into your ear just one more time.
     I wish I could tell you that it gets easier as time goes on. But I truly miss you more now than I ever did before. Each day that goes by gets a little harder, as I am forced to move forward without you in my life. I will miss you every moment of my life Caroline. 
     Yet as difficult as this day has been, I have been blessed to feel joy. The memories that flood my mind remind me of that happy day two months ago. That day when my life stood still. That day when we met our beautiful gift from God.
     Caroline, I want you to know that no matter how much time goes by, you will never be forgotten. Your mommy will continue to honor your life and share your story for as long as God gives me breath. But most of all sweet girl, your mommy will love you more deeply than I ever thought possible. I will cherish the memories of that special day two months ago, and I will hold you in my heart forever.  Your mommy loves you so very much my beautiful Caroline Joy.

Tonight I would like to invite you to light a candle in honor of Caroline. As you watch the steady flame flicker, we can be reminded that she is being held safely in the arms of Jesus. Please join me tonight by honoring the life of my sweet little daughter. I would love to see a picture of the candle you lit in her honor. Please share a picture in the comment area below, or on my Facebook page.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The New Normal

My last bump picture. This was taken the day before Caroline was born.
The day before my life changed forever. 

    I found this poem today, and I just wanted to share. This is my life now. It will never be the same. Day after day I am reminded of this simple fact. Nothing will ever be the same. Gone is the carefree life I once lived. Gone is the stress I used to feel over the little things in life. Those things that once seemed so difficult and that I wanted to avoid, are now overshadowed by this dark and empty void. I will never be normal.
    I had a really honest talk with a very special person yesterday, and it has stayed in my mind. Once you experience a loss so great, you will never be the same person you were before. Your life is forever changed.
        There are things you can no longer do...
Going shopping is so incredibly difficult for me. Not only do you see the looming baby aisles, filled with all those perfect pink frilly clothes I want to buy so badly, but I also see pregnant moms and newborn babies. I see the magazines in the checkout line with headlines proclaiming celebrity baby bumps and newborn pictures. That should be me. I should be taking Caroline grocery shopping. I should be buying her all those adorable summer baby clothes. I should be in the checkout line smiling at the happiness of others. But I can only look away from those things for so long, I try to avoid them, to tune them all out. Yet it does not help. The pain enters into my heart. It becomes so real that I can feel it sitting tight in my throat. I cannot talk, in fact, it is hard to even walk. So I leave. I leave my groceries behind, and as I walk to my car the tears begin to fall. It becomes more than I can bear. Too many memories, too many lost dreams. But you learn, you learn how to cope. I now go to Meijer early, so early in the morning. Everyone else is still fast asleep. Now I can push my cart down the empty and silent aisles. I can completely avoid the baby aisles. I can check out quickly and not have to wait in line. I can actually get my groceries out to the car, and not shed a tear. I have learned how to cope. It is a new normal.
     There are things I can no longer look at...
We have a room filled with baby things, that are now hidden from my eyes. A room that should be filled with smiles, baby smells, and tiny little clothes, is only dark and closed. We talk about cleaning it out. But we can't. I just can't touch that handle. I cannot open that door. When we found out in February that we would not be bringing our baby home, I scooped up all of the baby things that we had scattered around the house, and I piled them in that room. It should have been HER room. Those should have been HER things. But I put them away, and I have never looked back. I cannot go in that room. I cannot look at those things. It is a new normal.
       There are songs I cannot sing...
Each morning and evening, I would sing to Caroline while she was still inside. The song we would always sing is Jesus Loves Me. It is such a beautiful song, and it has such a beautiful promise. I held on to that promise during those 35 weeks we had together, "Little Ones To Him Belong". My Caroline has always belonged to Jesus, right from the very first day she was formed. When I sang that song to her, I knew it had so much more meaning than ever before. I knew that she would be with Jesus soon, and singing that song reminded me of that beautiful promise. Caroline belonged to Jesus, and she will always belong to Jesus. She is now safe in His arms forever. I still hold onto that promise each day as my heart longs for her. But singing that song is so difficult. Because now I must sing it alone. The only time I sing this song is when I am sitting beside her grave. I sing it to her each time before I leave. The words still hold the same promise to me as they did before. But now I cannot sing it to my sweet baby as I rock her in my arms, I can only sing it to her memory that is deep inside my heart. It is a new normal.
       There are memories in everything that I do...
Every time I cook or bake, it reminds me of how we used to do it together. Every time I get in the car, it reminds me of all the places we went together. Every time I get dressed, the clothes that I wore while I was pregnant taunt me. Every time I look around our house, I am reminded of how she should be here. Every time I lay in bed, I remember her moving and wiggling around to remind us that she was there. Everything in our house holds a memory. Everything that I do reminds me of her. You see, it is different when you lose a baby. When you get to take your baby home, you get to make new memories. The memories of being pregnant are overshadowed by the memories you are making each day with your sweet little baby. But for me, those memories are all I have left. I do not see them as only a moment in time. Those memories are everything to me, the only connection I have left to my baby. I will never get to make new memories with her. So instead I must hold on to the ones I have been given. Some of the memories are good, and they bring a joyful smile to my face. Some memories bring painful tears to my eyes, as I desperately wish to go back. It is not the same as before. I will always have those memories, the good ones and the painful ones. But loving her is worth it all. I am learning how to cope. I am learning how to handle the memories. I am learning that life is not the same. It never will be the same now that she is gone. My life is forever changed.
     There are dates that I wish we could skip...
Each month that goes by is not a milestone. It is not something to celebrate. It does not hold a special day. There will not be pictures of my one month old, two month old, six month old. We will not have pictures of her first smile, her first laugh, her first steps. We won't have pictures of her first birthday party, or her fifth. Even the thought of the upcoming holidays just makes me want to cry. I want to skip those dates. I want to skip them all. I can't bear the 17th day of each month. I can't bear the thought of Thanksgiving, Christmas, or New Years without her here. If I could skip those dates I would do it in a heartbeat. Those days I wish so badly I could look forward to, but now they only bring deep pain and anxiety. Last year during the holidays, I was beyond excited, and could not wait to enjoy those special days and moments with her. But now it will have to be a new normal. The holidays will never be the same. The 17th day of the month will never be the same. I will learn how to cope. But she will never be here to celebrate, and so it will never ever be normal.
     The innocence I once held is gone...
I now know that there is a very real reality that bad things do happen. We cannot just walk through life thinking that it is going to be easy to have a family. Ask me a year ago, and I would not have had any concerns or worries. But I have now experienced a loss so great that it has completely changed my life. As I have said before, nothing in my life will ever be the same. I am a completely different person.This reality is something that no one can truly understand until you have had your hopes and dreams stripped away.
     These are only a few of the ways that my life had changed. I could continue to write for days about how my life has changed. Each day is another day that this becomes painfully real. It never gets easier, in fact, with each day that goes by the pain and heartbreak only intensify. But the truth is, you learn how to cope. You learn how to get through events, moments, and days without feeling or thinking. You learn how to hide on the outside what your heart is screaming from the inside. You learn how to hold back the tears. You learn how to act and look normal.
    It is so sad, to think that you must hide. It is so sad, to think that you must try and make people believe that everything is okay. It is so sad, to think that you must act like you are back to normal. But that is the sad reality of going through a loss. You have to keep moving forward. You have to find ways to cope. I am not the same person as I was before. I am no longer the carefree and innocent person I was before. That is my new normal.

The doctor told us it was time to go. We were about to meet our baby
for the first time! Smiling through the contractions! 

Our last family picture with our sweet Caroline still safe inside.
Mommy and Daddy could not wait to meet her!

The New Normal

'This is now what "normal" is...
Normal is having tears waiting behind every smile when you realise someone important is missing from all the important events in your family's life.
Normal is feeling like you know how to act and are more comfortable with a funeral than a wedding or birthday party... yet feeling a stab of pain in your heart when you smell the flowers and see the casket.
Normal is feeling like you can't sit another minute without getting up and screaming, because you just don't like to sit through anything.
normal is not sleeping very well because a thousand what if's & why didn't I's go through your head constantly.
Normal is reliving that day continuously through your eyes and mind, holding your head constantly.
Normal is having TV on the minute you walk into the house to have noise, because the silence is deafening.
Normal is staring at every baby who looks like he is my baby's age. And thinking of the age they would be now and not being able to imagine it. Then wondering why it is even important to imagine it because it will never happen.
Normal is every happy event in my life always being backed up with sadness lurking close behind, because of the hole in my heart.
Normal is telling the story of your child's death as if it were an everyday, commonplace activity, and then seeing the horror in someone's eyes at how awful it sounds. And yet not realising it has become part of my 'normal'.
Normal is each year coming up with the difficult task of how to honor your child's memory and their birthday and survive these days. And trying to find the balloon or flag that fit's the occasion. Happy Birthday? Not really.
Normal is my heart warming and yet sinking at the sight of something special my baby loved. Thinking how he would love it, but how he is not here to enjoy it.
Normal is having people afraid to mention my baby.
Normal is making sure others remember them.
Normal is after the funeral is over everyone else goes on with their lives, but we continue to grieve our loss forever.
Normal is weeks, months and years after the initial shock, the grieving gets worse sometimes, not better.
Normal is not listening to people compare anything in their life to this loss, unless they too have lost a child. NOTHING. Even if your child is in the remotest part of the earth away from you - it doesn't compare. Losing a parent is horrible, but having to bury your child is unnatural.
Normal is taking pills, and trying not to cry all day, because I know my mental health depends on it.
Normal is realising I do cry everyday.
Normal is disliking jokes about death or funerals, bodies being referred to as cadavers, when you know they were once someone's loved one.
Normal is being impatient with everything and everyone, but someone stricken with grief over the loss of your child.
Normal is sitting at the computer crying, sharing how you feel with chat buddies who have also lost a child.
Normal is feeling a common bond with friends on the computer in other countries, but yet never having met any of them face to face.
Normal is a new friendship with another grieving mother, talking and crying together over our children and our new lives.
Normal is not listening to people who make excuses for God. 'God may have done this because...' I love God, I know that my baby isn't on earth, but hearing people trying to think up excuses as to why babies are taken from this earth is
not appreciated and makes absolutely no sense to this grieving mother.
Normal is being to tired to care if you paid the bills, cleaned the house, did laundry or if there is any food.
Normal is wondering this time whether you are going to say you have two children or one, because you will never see this person again and it is not worth explaining that my baby isn't here on earth. And yet when you say I have 1 child
to avoid that problem, you feel horrible as it you betrayed your baby.
Normal is avoiding playgrounds because of small, happy children that break your heart when you see them.
Normal is knowing I will never get over this loss, in a day or a million years.
And last of all, Normal is all the things that have become "normal" for you to feel, so that everyone around you will think that you are "normal"

- author unknown