Category - Grief, Love and Survival

Not Ready Yet
Candle Lighting
Morning Has Broken
A Glimpse
Work to Be Done

Not Ready Yet

This is a difficult week for our family. Every year I think it’ll be easier and every year it almost is. But this year, 6 now since Rebecca has been gone, the days and dates are the same. What I mean is, the 11th was on a Sunday, this year and then. The 15th is, this year and was then, a Wednesday.

I wanted to tell you Rebecca’s story this year. Whenever I read about child’s death, I want to find out what happened. Not so much morbid curiosity, but…I don’t know what really. Maybe I just need to understand. Maybe I just want to share the grief. So I wanted to share with you, and anyone coming here looking for comfort after the death of a child, just how and why Rebecca died. There are lessons to be learned, because her death was completely preventable. Except that it was her time. Sweet little baby.

But it is just too much still. Maybe another time.

This week we will just do those little every day things that need to be done and try, TRY not to think of what wasn’t done and what should have been done differently all those years ago. We will run and not grow weary, we will walk and not grow faint.


Six years ago and half a world away, a sweet baby came into this world.   We brought her home from the hospital on Christmas Eve and we all fell in love with her.  God entrusted her to our care for just a short time, but we are so happy that He gave us the chance to love her and be loved by her in return.

Happy Birthday, Rebecca.  Our lives are better for having had you.


Candle Lighting

How are your holiday preparations going?  I don’t mind saying “holidays” instead of “Christmas” because there are many celebrations at this time of year, which include the Feast of St. Nicholas, St. Lucia Day, the Immaculate Conception, Our Lady of Guadalupe and continue through New Year’s Day and Epiphany.

This time of year can be so wonderful, the beauty of the decorations, the thrill of impending presents and the love and joy that abounds everywhere.   But all that happiness and love and togetherness can be very difficult for those of us who have lost a child.

The phrase, “at least we’re all together” rings hollow when a child is missing from the gathering.  All that merriness can be a bunch of bah humbug when your heart is broken.  And all that talk of a child being born – ack, can it get any worse?

This coming Sunday, December 13 is the annual Worldwide Candle Lighting to remember the children who have died.

I would like to invite you all to participate.  At 7 PM local time on December 13, just light a candle and keep it burning for one hour.  In this way, we can create a wave of light for 24 hours to remember the children.

I ask you to do this for me, to remember our Rebecca.  When you do, please say a prayer, not just for me, but for all the families who have been left behind.  Please remember especially, those families who have lost a child this year.  Please also pray for those who do not have a faith to rely on, or who have turned away from God in their grief.  But lastly, please thank the Lord for those children who, though they stayed with us too briefly, brought us immense joy.


Five years ago today, our sweet baby Rebecca entered our Lord’s Heavenly Kingdom.

I’d like to say that it has gotten easier, but it hasn’t.  You don’t really recover completely from the death of a child.  It’s not the natural order of things.  It’s just not right.

The pain does dull over time.  It’s like a scar – it’s always there, a constant reminder.  Sometimes it hurts so badly it feels like you’ll never be able to stand up.  But as time goes by, it doesn’t hurt as sharply.  But it never goes away.

Our family not only survives each day without Rebecca, but we are managing to thrive.  Not because of some great inner strength, but because of faith.  Our God has promised us that we will see Rebecca again and be with her for all eternity.  We know that she is basking in His glory right now.

I’m happy for her.  I really am.  She was wonderfully and perfectly made and she is now free from all human trappings.  She is the lucky one.

But I miss her. I miss her fat legs and soft cheeks.  I miss the way I’d stroke her head while she nursed and she’d grab my hand.  I miss her turning my cheek to kiss me.  I miss the mischief in her eyes.

When an adult dies, we mourn for what used to be.  When a child dies, we mourn for what should have been.


We’re busy getting ready to move.  Not just move, but retire and buy a house, too.  We’ve gotten rid of a lot of things and yet we still have a ton of stuff.  I took down all the children’s drawings, awards and what-not they had taped to their walls, along with the Mickey Mouse Wall Stickers in the playroom.   I keep crossing things off the list, but it doesn’t seem to get any shorter.


We’ve been going to family grief counseling for a few weeks.  It’s been helpful for all us, even though poking at the hurty spot is never easy.  The counselor is working with me for PTSD.  It’s weird to think that I have that, I thought I was the healthy one in the family!  But it does explain the strange anxieties that have been creeping into my head lately.  In a way, it feels better to know that they are caused by the trauma of Becca’s death, rather than me starting to go crazy.


We’re flying to Colorado next week to buy a house.  The children are not as excited as I thought they would be.  They told me that they don’t want to move.  We’ve lived here for 4 years and while they do remember living other places, we’ve all put down some roots here.  Maybe after we have a house, it’ll be easier.


When I told Pumpkin Girl’s piano teacher that we are moving, he said, “Oh no, not my piano prodigy!” I’m not sure what to make of that.  I had suspected that she is gifted in piano, but I wondered if I was just seeing what I wanted to see.  But then again…she’s got me as her mother.  (toot toot)  (that was me, blowing my own horn).  I told her teacher that when she plays Carnegie Hall, we’ll be sure to invite him.


Philip’s retirement ceremony is June 10th.  I’m quietly freaking out about it.  We need to choose a design for a cake.   (Remember the cake at his last promotion?)We’re thinking about a big fish, with the words, “So long and thanks for all the fish”.  But we’re not sure if enough people will get it.  Another option is a thumbs up with the words “Well done”.  Or a car driving away with “Outta here”.  What do you think?

Morning Has Broken

Thank you for all your kind words, prayers and support.  It’s nice to know that if you’re going to fall apart for the whole internet to see, that people will be understanding.

But like the song says, morning has broken, and spring has arrived and I’m doing much better.  It seems like I should get rid of my notebook, but I can’t.  It’s a snapshot of how my life once was and to throw it away would be to throw out a huge part of me.  But it needs to find a home.  After some thought, I know where to put it, and it’ll be safe and I won’t ever stumble upon it accidentally.

So…the shamrock cookies turned out well!  Rolling them out thicker definitely helped and so did using a dough board.  I’ve got yucky linoleum counters, so I use a dough board with a cloth for pie crusts, it just never occurred to me to use it with cookie dough.  Duh.  The combination was a winner and I was able to roll out all the dough, cut out and bake all the cookies in under an hour.

And I promise to finish the rest of my Rite of Election story this weekend!!!


I was going to tell you how my shamrock cookies turned out.  And about what happend after the Rite of Election all those days ago.  And about how one of my friends is moving away in a couple of weeks, and we’re moving in a few months, but I can’t because I’ve been laid out flat.

I’ve been sorting through the house, getting ready for that move because it’ll be here before you know it, and that’s how I got hit upside the head and had to send the kids out to play and started typing in run-on sentences.

I found The Notebook.  No, not the novel, but The Notebook I had to start keeping when Rebecca died.  I couldn’t remember anything at all and there were just so many details to keep track of, so I had to write it all down.  And I kept that notebook with me always, so it became a journal when I had too many thoughts in my head.  The worst sorts of memories are in this notebook, funeral details, the wording of the memorial service invitation, notes and questions for the hospital’s attempt to stonewall explain the situation.

It’s a generic, green steno notepad, but when I picked it up I was pretty sure what was inside.  I should not have read past the first page. I should have closed it and moved on. Instead, I skimmed through it.  It was like breaking my heart all over again.

So here I am again, feeling like I’m going to fly apart into a million pieces and trying not to throw my shoe across the room because I’m really angry and I can’t fix it and nobody can and death sucks and the only reason I’m not going to throw my shoe isn’t out of a maturity I’ve gained through life’s experience, but because it is a wooden Hannah Andersson clog and it would break whatever it hit.

And now I have no good ending for this post, because really, what else is there to say?


No doubt you’ve heard of the death of John Travolta’s son.  I won’t even bother to link to a story, it’s everywhere.  You know what I think is so sad, beyond the tragic loss of life?  The way this story is played out in the media.  All the details are being broadcast, from the desperate father’s plea for his son to wake up, to who is going to do the autopsy.  The EMT who responded to the call has done an interview and people are even speculating about whether the boy was allowed anti-seizure meds.

John Travolta is a big star, I know.  But can’t we leave these people alone?  Is the death of his teenage son newsworthy?  Yes.  Are all the agonizing details our right to know?  Absolutely not.

When Rebecca died, there was a standard investigation.  Philip and I gave separate, sworn statements.  They came to our home and took pictures.  Word spread quickly through our small community.  But none of it was published for the world to read and comment and pass judgement on.  Things that needed to stay private stayed private.

When a child dies, life is never the same.  Even the most ordinary things change, things you wouldn’t even think mattered.  I cannot imagine having this played out on a world stage.  I guess in some way, being a celebrity at a time like this might bring comfort – knowing that strangers care about you.  But there is just not enough money in the world that would make me want to share my grief with the world like that.  What the world knows is only what I’ve chosen to share.

I don’t know what my point is exactly.  I feel badly for John Travolta and Kelly Preston and their surviving daughter.  Such a long road stretches in front of them and the world gets to come along to watch.

A Glimpse

However good this life gets, it pales in comparison to heaven.  Five years ago today, we were given a glimpse, just a glimpse of heaven, as our daughter, Rebecca was born.  For just 8 short months, everything was perfect.  We honestly couldn’t ask for anything more.  She was all toothless grins, fat little legs, big brown eyes and deep dimples.  Life just didn’t get better than that.

If life could be that good, imagine what heaven is like.

But we don’t have to just imagine, we’ve already seen a glimpse.

Happy Birthday, dear sweet baby.  Eternity won’t be enough time to hold you again.

Work to Be Done

Well, it looks like our PC may need a reformatted hard drive.  Alas, poor computer, I knew it well.  At least we’d been doing daily online backups, so if I really wanted, I could restore all our files right to the laptop.  Except that I have a love-hate relationship with Windows Vista (WHERE is “my computer” already?!?!).

I was all set to tell you how Philip and I get to sponsor our neighbors and friends into the Catholic church.  We had a very interesting Rite of Initiation at mass today.  But later in the day, we lit our candle for Becca during the World Wide Candle Lighting.  In doing so,we unleashed the proverbial flood of tears in Boo.

Boo had a tough time when Rebecca died.  He has always loved babies and he was very close with her.  He was only 5 years old when she left us, old enough to remember.  He surprised me tonight with the amount of details he recalled and with the level of grief he is still experiencing.  It’s hard to guide a child through that kind of grief, you just don’t know how they’re truly doing.

We watched a lot of TV that first year.  I was pregnant with Bip, wading through my own grief, still schooling Boo and Pumpkin and overall trying to survive.  We watched Oprah and Dr. Phil whenever the subjects were OK for the children to see and Boo wanted to go talk to Dr. Phil.  We did see a family counselor during this time, but he had wanted to work with just Philip and I at first, then we moved before he got a chance to talk to Boo.

Boo doesn’t like to think about Rebecca because it hurts too much.  That makes me so sad, because they loved each other very much.  All three of my oldest children had such happy times together and those times are worth cherishing. Boo needs to reach a place where he can remember her for the blessing that she was.  He says that he would like to go talk to someone who can help him, as long as that person is nice like Dr. Phil.

It’s been 4 years now and Boo needs to heal.  I don’t know what sort of stuff Boo has been bottling up this whole time, but he needs to set himself free.  He needs to grieve completely and get to that place – I guess it would be “acceptance” on the grief chart- where he can be at peace.  Though none of us will really accept Rebecca being gone.  We just learn to live with it.

My boy has much work to be done.  Please pray for him as we start this new journey together.

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